Running your hands over a fine horse is about as good as your heroine running her hands over her hero…or visa versa. Ahhh yes it ,is a delight to feel all those muscles ripple beneath your palms, down a strong neck, over hard shoulders, muscled legs, a nice firm back strong enough to carry you anywhere, and a nice firm rounded butt. Is it any wonder horses enchant young girls?
The horse’s hair should feel silky and smooth except for the mane and tail which is course and thick. Their noses are velvety soft with whiskers that prickle. You run your hand down a front leg and you feel corded tendons, a knobby knee, bony cannon bone, long slender sloping pasterns and hard hooves like the hardest thumbnail ever because it is basically that. One curiosity is a crusty spot on the inside of his upper leg. I think that is a left over toe from the time a horse was as small as a dog and actually had toes. Over time they grew into a solid hoof.
You lift that hoof and find that you can run a finger over what is called a ‘frog’ the heart of the hoof that send blood back up the leg. Why that’s called the frog I don’t know but a healthy frog is ‘V’ shaped and you can run your finger along the lines. It’s not as hard as the hoof but still as hard as a the callouses of a hardworking man’s hands.
You bring your hand up along the arching neck that is supple and strong, brushing aside the mane and reach for the pointy ears the rotate to listen to your whispers. Moving slowly and carefully down, you caress his closing eyes with wonderfully long lashes, a large strong flat jaw bone that tapers to soft flesh and veins of his face tracking down to his mouth that nibbled for a treat, soft and curious. You splay your hand between his eyes across his broad forehead where the short hairs splay in different directions in the center, tracing possibly the marking usually there. You feel him nip your arm for the treat you have in your pocket because he had nestled it as if to say, “Come on. Give it to me. Please.” You give it to him and feel his lips possessively in your palm as he takes the treat.
It’s time to go for a ride and you pick up his bridle, feeling the stringy weight of the leather, the small buckles and straps and you lift it up to his ears, holding the iron cold bits between your first and second fingers. You place the bits before his front teeth and pinch with your thumb and first finger behind the teeth in the snobbery gap between his incisors and molars. You feel him open his mouth and let the bits glide in.
After attaching the proper straps you turn to the saddle. Brushing your hand along his back to smooth the velvety soft hide of any dirt particles that could rub beneath the saddle pressed down by your weight and lay a soft saddle blanket in place, feeling him shift and stomp. You lift the saddle. A western saddle (20 or more pounds) is heavier than an English saddle(10 or so pounds). You place the saddle down gently over the blanket and buckle the girth and walk around the horse with your hand dragging down his shoulder and across his chest to the other shoulder so he knows where you are, where you are going. He nuzzles you as you pass his head and reach for the leather girth and draw it up and buckle it, drawing it tight and feel his belly swell so keep it loose. Moments later you feel him take a breath and you tighten it so the saddle won’t slip down when you mount. You settled down on the saddle, feeling life between your legs,shifting with anticipation, strength as he steps forward. You pick up the reins and lacing them through your fingers. This is like touching a live nerve connecting you to your horse without the need of words.
Of course there is the wind in your hair as you ride over the moors and sunshine warms your face as you move in time with the horse. A walk is just that slow and methodical, one step at a time. A trot will bounce you because it is a two beat gait. But if you know how to ‘post’, which is rising on one beat of the trot and sitting on the next, the trot becomes almost a dance. A canter is likened to sitting a rocking chair or making love actually.As he drops back on a back leg, you draw your weight back with him; he rolls forward on two diagonal legs which brings you level and rolls onward onto the one front leg which swings you forward and then up, again and again. You lighten your touch on the reins and he moves faster and then faster, rocking you with him again and again. The speed floats across your face leaving you excited as a jump approaches. Ah yes, the lift, the climax, arching upward then downward like a ski slope. If the jump is wide, you may think you are floating before you land.
Did you know horses can dance liken to ballroom dancing? Yes Again, it is between only you two. And like dancing, you and the horse must learn the steps and become a couple reading each other’s mind.. But as a pair, move as one, turning, changing steps from walk, trot, canter, circling, crossing diagonally, going slow until you dance in place or do lifts that are heart stopping. This dance is called dressage.
When the ride or dance is over you feel his sides heaving between your legs as he gathers his breath, rejuvenated and feeling glorious as you do. You stroke his wet neck, lather from the reins rubbing there, soft, soapy and wet. You stop by the barn and dismount feeling his tail swish each direction and get stung like a bee by the long hairs. You reach up by the bit to lead him into stable and feel the slobber drip on your hand and his snort warm across your knuckles.
Ah yes, this has been a great day and you promise him and yourself that tomorrow will even be better.
Happy Valentines Day.
Enjoy this bit of Horse Dancing