Yesterday, Alison and I snuck a ride in between squalls. Autumn weather in the northwest is fairly predictable – cold rain until spring – so when there’s even a little break in the falling wetness, it’s best to take advantage of the moment and saddle up. That’s one of the very cool things about The Urban Herd. We have the flexibility in time, space and horses, to be able to take a ride outside after one rain storm stops and before the next one starts, whenever that might be. Gotta remember that when the poop cart gets heavy.

Al and I had best laid plans for the day, but you know how those go. Still, we came close. To start, Alison put some tack on Spartacus and gumbied her way up the side of the Big Man for some arena work, while I did a few barn chores. Sparty has been harboring some disagreeable thoughts about riding lately, but a couple weeks ago he was seen gazing from his paddock into the play field, watching other horses and riders canter through the short grass. We can’t know his mind, but he definitely seemed to be considering how much fun that might be. So Alison’s been riding him more. First in the round pen, then in the arena, next the play field. Yesterday Alison asked him to drop her off at the railing that runs around the viewing deck in the arena. It’s a little taller than the mounting block and with Sparty, you need every inch you can get. He kindly parallel parked himself next to the rail so that Al could slide down – on the right, mind you – and then climb back up again. He’s got an amazing trail horse living inside him.

After the success of getting such cooperation from Sparty, Alison was ready for her next mount. I brought Briana into the arena for her while she went out to fetch Ranger for me. We brushed them off, put bareback pads on them, and attempted to climb aboard. Briana walked up to the mounting block and Alison was on in seconds. Ranger was having none of it! He was difficult coming in from his paddock. He was difficult being brushed. He was difficult being tacked up. He was difficult with his bridle. And when it came to the mounting block, he ratcheted his “difficult” up to “fractious”. So Alison offered to trade me horses. She’d take the one with the attitude and I could have the happy smiley one. Nice! I agreed to this plan that so clearly favored me, and we swapped.

Apparently Ranger’s problem was with me specifically, because when Alison got on him, he became a perfect gentleman. He was so soft and willing that we decided to take them out for a walk on the property. Briana was a little twitchy in places, but Ranger was calm and relaxed the whole time. Once out of the confines of the arena, they were both bright-eyed and ears forward. Like anyone, they were happy to have something different to do. And so we had a great time all four of us. Sparty and Nury came to greet us at the driveway. And Mija, out for a hand-graze with Nate, joined the party before we broke it up for lunch.

We all know that it is rare to be able to spend your days with friends and in the company of horses. We are grateful for every minute with The Urban Herd.