Her name is Velvet. She is 14.3hands(or 59 inches at the shoulder), a lovely deep brown- so deep it should be called black, with a long flowing mane and tail; she is an excellent example of her breed: the Morgan Horse.
You know...Justin Morgan had a horse. Yeah I drank too much of the Kool-Aid in Vermont, but they are incredible horses. Imagine, a breed of horse supposedly traced back to a single sire. Even the noble Thoroughbreds were developed from three stallions.
But I don't want to give a lesson on equine history. Velvet lives in the here and now. And she lives in my barn.
Velvet is here for Mr. W. to ride, but since he works during the week(I didn't put the quotations around work- I am evolving)my friend Anne offered to ride with me. She used to ride Cosmo the Good Doober, until his passing last year (yes, I still miss him.) Nevermind that Anne now has her own "pony" - a 15 hand large boned Haflinger who lives in our sheep pasture until her barn is built. Oh and the "pony" has never been ridden- another small detail that needs attending.
Anne is tall, Velvet is not. No matter, Velvet is a Morgan. They are mighty. It finally stopped raining. So Anne and I saddled up and headed out. I mounted first and Tucker bounced a bit in excited anticipation. Anne swung her leg over Velvet's back...and away they went.
Let me make it clear that Velvet never did anything wrong; she never even broke out of a walk.
Tucker and I followed at a nice, brisk, forward walk. But Velvet was gone. She was fading into the distance, tail bouncing back and forth, head in the air, mane flowing in the breeze created by her speed. Tucker broke in to a jog to close the distance. Anne pulled back on the reins and Velvet slowed, turning around and chomping the bit in...anticipation? frustration?
Anne laughed and made like a train: "Choo choo. We've left the station!" And it's an express. Tucker and I caught up and off we went. Tucker gave his speedwalking all to no avail.
Velvet faded into the distance and we trotted to keep up. It was not a ride for conversing much, unless you count shouting. Mainly stuff like, "We're coming!" or "We'll get there!" or "Trotting up on your right!"
We passed the Hunt Kennels, the hounds were bellowing at two ladies walking their two dogs.
"Are your horses used to dogs? They're so pretty!"
I glanced at the cacophany of foxhounds, howling and barking. Um, yeah, they're used to dogs. Though Velvet was doing her best to imitate a giraffe as she surveyed her domain...
The one loose dog, a Lab, bounced around the horses' legs and wanted to follow, but he got tired an gave up once Velvet turned on the afterburners. Anne pulled her up a ways down the road and waited. Tucker sighed as I pressed my legs against his side and asked him to catch up.
Tucker pulled alongside and Velvet jumped slightly. I think she fell asleep while waiting. Either that or the large boulder on the side of the road was harboring a saber-toothed chipmunk, but Tucker usually finds those.
To get home, we had to climb a hill. Now, I use this particular stretch to condition Tucker- it's a great butt workout for him. I thought maybe, just maybe, it would slow Velvet down a tad.
I called out the turns as Velvet flew up the incline- still walking- while Tucker cantered, yes, cantered to keep up. With her walk! Did I mention that Velvet is 14.3 hands and Tucker is 5 inches (mostly leg length) taller? And Tucker has been ridden at least five times a week (when the weather is good); he's in fairly good shape. Velvet gets ridden...whenever someone has time.
We got closer to home and I was a little worried that Velvet, with her excessive speed and dense coat, would be overheating. Nah. She was a little sweaty, but her eyes were bright and eager. Anne and I could almost hear her saying "Well, that was a good warm-up, where to, now?" (Gotta love Morgans)
Tucker, however, was definitely looking forward to getting off that train.