There is something special about the time just after sunrise. It is, more than any other time of the day, a time for solitude. I love rising early in the morning to go for a walk. Out here where we live, 5 miles from the village, it is always quiet, but the stillness you get at this time of day is of a different quality. I saw a doe yesterday in the entrance to the forestry and she watched me almost without fear as I stood and looked at her. Then I thought it would be nice to go for an early morning ride, something I hadn’t done in a long time. So today I got up early, Máire arrived at 6 and after a quick cup of coffee we headed out to the field to get Ben and Cassie.
It is a soft day. The land is shrouded in mist, the cobwebs in the hedgerow are glistening with moisture and the gate to the field is hung with drops like a string of pearls. The horses are resting under the trees. Cassie spots me standing at the gate and makes her way over.
We bring Ben and Cassie into the stables to groom them and tack them up. By the time we are ready to ride, a light drizzle has started. We walk the horses down the track to mount at the bottom of the hill. Cassie feels calm and confident and she stands quietly and without fussing or fidgeting until I ask her to move. I feel proud of her. We set off at a leisurely pace. It is lovely to be out, even in the still persisting drizzle. The hedgerows are full of Meadowsweet, Purple Loosestrife and Valerian, the last of the honeysuckle is almost finished. Summer has passed its peak.
We ride into the forestry. Ben and Cassie are barefoot, no boots, and when the ground gets too rough Máire and I dismount and lead the horses.
There are always situations when I would get off and lead my horse, especially with a young horse. Sometimes it’s just easier to deal with things on the ground instead of from the horse’s back. Having a barefoot horse has made me more aware of the ground they have to put their feet on. I can feel it when Cassie finds a surface hard to deal with and then I don’t think it’s fair to ask her to carry me. So I get off and walk beside her. It’s companionable to walk side by side for stretches of the route and I’m sure Cassie appreciates it.
When the ground improves, we get back on and continue to ride to a little river nearby. Cassie doesn’t like going into water and I want to practice that with her. When we get to the stream I walk in first and after some encouragement Cassie follows. I lead her in and out a couple of times and stamp my feet and jump around a bit. When Cassie follows me without hesitating I let her stand in the water. It’s a great way to soak her hooves and let her gain confidence at the same time. The water flows fast and Cassie seems intrigued. She dips her lips in and starts splashing water around. She catches some weeds on her nose, which she smears on my shoulder when she can’t shake it off.
After a while we walk on. The mist hasn’t lifted and all the views are veiled by a milky film that the camera can’t focus on. On the way home I can feel Cassie is getting tired and she is beginning to look for reasons to spook. I have to work for a bit to bring her attention and focus back, but we are both getting better at this, our communication is improving all the time and Cassie soon settles again. At home, we are eagerly awaited by Minnie and Rosie who by now are anticipating breakfast. Máire and I are interested in breakfast ourselves too, so we feed the horses and then go in to the house for fresh coffee and scrambled eggs. An excellent way to start Sunday morning!