Sunday Story Time: Henry the Huge Draft Horse

I rode today.

I should probably be more excited about it, but riding has made my heart hurt just a little since I lost Image. I’m sure it’ll fade, the same way it did when I lost GP, but after being so sure Dorada was coming home to me (she has been sold to someone else, which I only know because I stalked her advertisements online), it seemed fresh again.

Still, I forced myself to go to J’s. I knew it would be good for me, and good for the green bean draftie machine. I arrived at the barn, and J and I discussed our impressions of Cavalia (that is a separate post in the making!). She went up to the house, and I positioned Henry on the cross ties. I swear to you, there isn’t a sweeter draft on the planet. He really is the softest, squishiest teddy bear of a horse. It’s hard not to love him when he lips your nose, wiggles his lip in your hair, and asks (very politely) for ear rubs.

Since I had last played with him, J had gotten him a nice, custom-sized Australian saddle. I was actually quite excited to ride in it, despite it being a little small for my big fat ass. I had purchased an Aussie saddle for Image right before I lost him, and didn’t even get a chance to try it out before I sold it.

Once I had picked the tangles out of his tail, I eagerly went into the tack room to grab the saddle and the pad. The pad was easy to figure out, and I positioned that on his back with ease. The saddle, however, gave me a bit of a surprise when I swung it up and over my head (literally — I can’t see over Henry’s back!). Much like English saddles, Aussie saddles have stirrup leathers that can be removed. Well, one of them wasn’t set on the stirrup bar correctly, and it went careening over my head. I spooked, Henry spooked, and the horses watching to make sure Henry didn’t get any treats from their stalls spooked when it hit the ground. Oops!

Once the saddle was positioned on his back, I stared at the girth. It looked like your typical English girth, but…not. One side had a billet strap attached to it, and there wasn’t any elastic anywhere. I tentatively lifted up the saddle flap on one side, and noticed a ring that was conveniently placed where a second billet strap should have gone. I followed my gut and girthed the saddle up, looping the billet strap on the girth through the hole and back on itself through the buckle. The other side was more straightforward. I hoped I had gotten it right!

J entered the barn just as I was getting ready to bridle him, and gave my girthing attempts a thumbs up. I checked the girth, snapped the chinstrap on my helmet, and climbed (no, really, I had to climb a ladder!) into the saddle.

I was immediately reminded of how wide this horse is. Have you ever watched a little kid ride a horse and not a pony? Their legs barely reach down past the saddle, and any cues they’re giving are kind of lost on the horse because they literally cannot reach the horse’s side. I feel a bit like that whenever I ride Henry! I really can’t get my leg on him, and end up having to use my heel a lot more than I like. I toodled around the yard while J got herself situated on her bike, and reacquainted myself with Henry. Fortunately, he is a tolerant greenie, and allowed me to wiggle around up there until I felt comfy.

We just rode on the road, J riding her bike and me on Henry. He was a good boy all by his onesies out there, with only one spook that I didn’t blame him for (some kind of nail gun went off; scared the pants off of me too!).  I do love riding him out on the roads…people just kind of stare at the big, palomino beastie as he’s wandering down the road with a round but short person on his back! We even had one lady slow down and stop to talk. She was complimenting his looks, when all of a sudden, a little black and white head with BIG ears popped up in the window.

Oh my good lord, it was a baby French bulldog.

My immediate response.

I squee’d appropriately, wishing briefly that I was on the ground so I could go snuzzle the adorable ball of cute. It barked at Henry (and at J’s two dogs that had come along for the walk). Henry pricked his ears and shuffled closer. It barked again. Henry dropped his head and stuck his nose out. Then…then, this happened:

HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS CUTE.

We all exploded from cute. Thankfully, the kind lady in the van was also a horsewoman, so she was thrilled with a big ole’ draft head in her passenger seat!

The rest of the ride was much less eventful, though there was a small rear in protest of being asked to stand still, and the discovery of a too-tight curb chain (which was 100% my fault; I didn’t check it before getting on!). The little spook at the nail gun caught us both off guard, but I didn’t hit the ground and ended the ride on a good note.
J’s horses: Henry, Einstein and Monte
I’m going to try and get out there every Sunday as much as possible this fall, just for my own mental health. I miss my barn, and I miss my barn atmosphere, but it’s hard to go back there right now. L doesn’t have much for me to play with at the moment, so I mostly feel out of place. 
I know things will settle back into a routine eventually, but right now, I’m feeling out of sorts and more than a little lost. Trying to keep positive and keep looking forward. Time (and giving Henry’s big soft nose some kisses) will hopefully help the process along.

6 thoughts on “Sunday Story Time: Henry the Huge Draft Horse

  1. Wordwitch September 10, 2013 / 1:06 am

    OMG CUTEST EVER!!! 😀

    Love Henry, BTW. My first-ever time bareback was a big palomino draft mare with a knife ridge for a backbone (ouch!) at a summer camp when I was about 7-8 years old, and I have very fond memories of “Ironsides” Charlie, a Percheron cross that I rode frequently way back when I was taking lessons. And I'm a short (5'1″) somewhat round woman too, lol!

    Like

  2. Aoife September 10, 2013 / 11:53 am

    Cuteness overload!
    Drafty-types are the best, have myself a FriesianX that I bought in November, but she didn't get out here to me till January. She is a big ball of love too, whereas my other beastie is much more aloof & hands-off unless I have treats.

    Like

  3. Amanda September 10, 2013 / 1:30 pm

    He is SUPER sweet! Big ole' teddy bear of a horse!

    Like

  4. Amanda September 11, 2013 / 1:08 pm

    I am a sucker for lovey, cuddly ponies. The big teddy bear types are the best! 😀

    Like

  5. Amanda September 11, 2013 / 1:13 pm

    I totally feel like that 7 year old kid on the big horse when I ride him — I also get off and waddle around until my hips get reacquainted with their sockets! ;D

    Like

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