Sunday, July 6, 2008

All traveled out

I'm tired.

Today I returned home from my travels. My grandmother's funeral in North Dakota was lovely and sad. My mother delivered the eulogy and read some excerpts from some brief autobiographical jottings my grandmother put down a couple years ago. Highlights included descriptions of driving the horses for her father during hay cutting, and bopping a bully on the head with her lunch pail.

Next I was off to San Antonio for a business trip. My coworkers and I put in long hours selling books and ate good food along the riverwalk. I really do like San Antonio.

Then came the purely vacational part of my travels: visiting Wolfgang, Suzanne, and Ted at their new ranch and training facility south of Blanco, Texas. They had literally just moved in, and the house is still undergoing renovations. The property had been vacant for a couple of years, so there's lots of mowing and watering to be done. But it's a really cool place. The Texas hill country is just gorgeous. Go see Devil's Backbone if you're ever in the area.

Ted generously allowed me to ride his draft cross, Sterling, twice. I just adore getting on different horses. I love the first ten minutes--posing a series of questions to the horse and seeing how he answers. Sterling was the first draft I've ever ridden. I expected him to be heavy and stiff, but he was just the opposite: very light to the bridle and amazingly supple and lateral. I overrode him the first day but had a blast on the second day, once I'd figured him out.

Sterling! In all his glory.

Feeling him out. The arena is under construction so we rode in the front yard, among the crepe myrtle.

I hadn't ridden with Wolfgang in almost two years! It's always a privilege to have a lesson with him.

Happy Fourth of July! We are a patriotic duo.

Asking for a bit of lengthening.

Half pass.

Obviously, I had some trouble keeping the connection in the canter.

Good boy, Sterling!

Sterling actually reminded me quite a bit of a Lipizzan stallion I once got to ride (in feel, not in size :) ) He was naturally quite collected, and his canter was very self-contained and lofty.

On my last day, we invited people over to see the place. My friend Kathy, whom I knew from my Lubbock days, came by. I hadn't seen her in almost two years. She, her boyfriend Justin, Ted, and I all trooped down to a couple of the fig trees on the property and picked figs. I'd never had one before. Yummy! I think we picked about five pounds. See the bucket on the table?

Ted, me, Suzanne, and Wolfgang.

I picked up the dogs at the kennel on my way back from the airport. They are happy to be back in the land of sofas.

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