I was getting a little tired of playing duck-and-slap on the trail up the back of the property, ducking to avoid overhead leaves as I rode and getting slapped in the face by them when I miscalculated. It was time to do some trail clean up, and I needed to be the right height to do it -- the height I am when I ride.
Holding the loppers in my hand, I rode her to the trail. I don’t know what her problem was, but she never walked so slowly before, and it felt like two years before we got there, I clutching the getting-heavier-every-minute loppers, shifting them from hand to hand, excruciating aware that they would not be my friend if we ran into trouble.
When we finally got there, Hudson was very quick to learn the job: Walk a couple of steps, stop under the leafy branches, wait for me to lop the branches off, allow the branches to fall on her head, land on her reins, back, me, then move a half-step to the next one, halt. And so on. It was very slow, clumsy work, just the thing for Hudson, who hadn’t seemed to want to do much that night, anyway. As the branches fell around her, she sampled leaves from each and had a little leafy smorgasbord.
She was just as quick to figure out, while I was up there maneuvering the loppers around twigs and branches, some as thick as a finger, and using both hands and sometimes my body to apply pressure for cutting, that I was not holding the reins very well, if at all. So then, instead of standing still as I worked as a good ranch horse should, she opted to turn around and try to head back down the trail, or, more fun, walk straight forward into the branches, effectively burying us both in sharp shrubbery. This naughty behavior required my immediate attention, and correction, and almost left both the loppers and me hanging from branches more than once.
It was slow work, and there were several times when Hudson and I mosied up the trail with every bit of horse and human surface dangling leaves and twigs, looking like the worst-in-class in some bizarre camouflage boot camp.
We got home at dark, just before my husband donned his boots to come searching for us. A good night’s work on a somewhat recalcitrant ranch horse.