Yes. Very astute, indeed.
Today I was getting ready to hit the trails with the mares and Madeline, and Willy was at hand thanks to a school district workday...so it seemed like a good opportunity to see if he was sincere in his recent interest in riding lessons.
Start with cleaning up the horse.
Hana is a big believer in dust bathing.
I don't think Willy realized that anybody as cute as Hana could be this dirty!
Yup, gotta get the tangles out of ALL the parts of her mane.
And clean out her feet, too.
I encouraged him to adopt the traditional "farrier stance" for feet cleaning, but he prefers this posture.
It must be nice to have a young spine with limited milage.... I'll never be in that position again, alas.
Tacking up: I demonstrated on Fiddle, then guided Willy through the process of tacking up Hana. She's so little, he practically has to kneel down to reach her girth.
Madeline has worked for several years as a sidewalker and assistant at Little Bit, so I was totally comfortable with her doing the sidewalking instruction for Willy's first trip around the pasture.
I stayed close by (on Fiddle's back) and took a ton of photos.
And dismounting, gracefully.
After dismounting and walking a few steps, he nodded his head at me. Now he understands why cowboys walk that way.
Mads and I spent a few delightful hours on the trails in the sunshine. I was too relaxed to take a lot of photos, but I did document the Eating of The First Salmonberries of Summer:
Please note that Madeline and Hana are BOTH eating salmonberries. Mads prefers to eat just the berries, though; Hana likes the leaves and stems also.
After a nice ride, Willy, Mads, and the dogs joined me on a trip to the river to cool off. Temps have been in the 90s here lately, unseasonably hot for the Swamplands. Some of our bogs are dry enough to start crunching underfoot!
The Stilly is pretty deep and fast, so we just waded. Later in the summer when the water slows down, we'll swim.
It's pretty easy to tell that this water is recently-melted snow. Cold! But...refreshing.
Shelties are too small to go in the deep water, but they like to sit in the shady sand and help people eat Goldfish Crackers.
Life is good for all of us, even for the dogs.