I’m new to horses. I only really started riding last spring. So I speak from limited experience when I say that Traveller is a good horse. But I’ve heard others say it so I know my assessment is not too far off.
This is not to say that Traveller doesn’t have his uppity moments when he wants to “run the show” as Deb says. Apparently this is “the thoroughbred in him”. Like when we were out on the dykes last week and he was determined to turn back toward home long before we had any intention of doing so. Nor is he above a testy head toss or a nose prod if saddling up is taking too long, as it usually is with novice riders like myself.
But those aren’t the things that stay with me after spending an afternoon with Traveller. Rather what stays is something I can only describe as a type of kindness. It comes from the way he looks at me obligingly when I approach him in the field with the lead shank, and the way he nuzzles in against me when I give him a soft brush along the side of his face, and the way he stands patiently in place while I mount then dismount because I’ve forgotten my helmet then mount and dismount again to fix my stirrup length.
Traveller is an old horse as far as horses go and Deb was telling me over lunch at Cheesecrafters about his varied past. He was raised and trained as a calf roping horse then was later scouted for a dude ranch in Maple Ridge. After a stint as a privately-owned recreational horse he was returned to the land to herd Highlander cattle. All of that before being delivered into Deb’s hands three years ago where he’s giving the last of his working years to teach us urbanite wanna-bees to ride like cowboys.
It’s strange the affect a horse can have on you. I left the ranch today sad to bid Traveller adieu even if only for a week. He, incidentally, was completely indifferent as regards my departure, far more interested in the sweet-smelling scatter of hay at his feet than in my random comings and goings. I know he’s not my horse. I like to think I have stakes all the same.