I have decided to pony Trudy just in case she lags behind. My choice of horse to ride is always Clifford. He is stumbly now because he can’t bend his left knee, but hasn’t lost his spritely vigor, and his withers twitch with anticipation.
But Trudy isn’t cooperating. Come to think of it, I can’t remember a time when I have ever attempted to pony her off the back of Clifford. She doesn’t seem to appreciate it. She is pulling so hard that it’s taking every ounce of strength I have just to hold the rope.
Her neck is stretched out to its full magnificent capacity, her nose forward, her eyes rolling back in her head as she reluctantly plods along, dark-skinned and glossy and recalcitrant as a seal being hauled up on the ice by a harpoon.
Finally, I give up. I dismount, take the saddle off Clifford and throw it on her.
Now it’s Clifford I have to pony. These guys are both in their twenties and they do not mind being left behind. They’ve been up and down the road so many times here, that I worry they will elect to just stay and eat grass.
Clifford clip clops along on a loose lead, heeling like a well-trained dog. But as soon as Trudy starts walking, I can feel the reason for her reluctance. She is stiff, perhaps due to the six-hour trailer ride.
“Oh for crying out loud!”
I get off her and we start walking. I am thinking how absurd this is — I’ve got three horses, and can’t ride a single one of them.
We hoof it on foot all the way down to Clifford’s Bay. When we reach the sandy fork in the road, I tell Trudy, “Okay, this is a soft surface, and we are going to soak your feet in Lake Huron. So I’m getting back on.”
She stands while I climb aboard and we clump along through the trees. Jr prefers to lead, even though he has never seen this place before and to my knowledge, has never seen a lake that looks like an ocean.
We reach a gap in the thick woods, and he stops briefly and stands there looking. The cove is unfurled beneath the gray sky, flat as ice, the trees dark and pointing upward. The grasses are sharp and poke through the water’s surface. There is no beach.
We squish down the two-track toward what was once the expanse of sand. The water seeps up over the horse’s hoofs, and before Jr knows it he is ankle deep in Lake Huron.
He dips his nose in, once, twice, then splashes around. He hangs close to us, circling Trudy, crowding and bumping her. He keeps his head down so he can slurp and blow bubbles in the water.
Clifford stands comfortably in the coolness, just looking out over the bay with eyes half-closed, enjoying his soak.
Jr is not nice to Trudy in the field. He bullies her, bites her, doesn’t share food. But this day, she is his mommy. He clings close to us; so close I am pushing him away. Trudy just tolerates it, although she does offer to kick him when he bumps against her rump.
He finally sloshes over toward Clifford, who is eating the tall shore grass, and he takes an experimental bite.
The colt’s excitement is evident because he doesn’t stay in one spot very long. He is enchanted with this bay; the air, the water, all of it.
In watching his antics, I understand why the adult world is so enthralled by youth. There is a voyeuristic appeal in watching someone see and experience things for the first time. The freshness, the wonder serves as a gentle reminder that we came from somewhere, that we were once the new, excited witness to the beauty of this earth.