Saturday, January 15, 2011

Frosty Snowy Ride~Badger my Hero


Cold.
Snowy.

What a perfect day to do something, anything.
I walked out to the horse [mule] trailer and waded through the deep snow to grab Badger’s bridle.
He hadn’t been ridden since early November, but I’d been missing my ‘mule fixes’ and he was an easy cure.

His breathing had eased up since November with the onset of cooler weather and no dust or molds in the air. He was happy and back with his other gelding buddies in the woods.
Lately though, he had been standing by the gate staring at the house. It makes you wonder. Was he missing his human company?

I’d been making it a point to stop what I was doing almost every day and step inside the gate and give him an ear rub. He always accepted it and if I forgot he’d give a small quiet bray as I hurried past on my way to do other chores.

I slung the bridle over my shoulder and picked my way through the icy paths that were covered with fresh snow. The wind was blowing from the west and where my coveralls had been damp, they were now frozen.
When I opened the gate and stepped in, the other mules…Fred, especially, spotted the bridle and moved away watching over their shoulders.
Not Badger. He came willingly. I’d warmed up the bit with my bare hand and slid it up his face.
He lifted his head as if to say…*Naw, I really don’t want that.* But offered no real resistance.

He followed me out of the pasture, me picking my way and holding on to his shaggy mane for balance.
*Good mule,* I murmured as I picked up a 5 gallon bucket when we passed the water pump in the yard.

He stood quietly while I fumbled and used the bucket to crawl rather ungainly to his back. He sighed.
We walked off down the driveway and headed to the ‘summer’ meadow. He was warm underneath me.
He picked his way over the plowed snow-burm and we got into the deep stuff.
The snow was up to his knees.

I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Badger’s methodical yet careful steps were something just short of heaven.
I gauged his breathing as we rode.
He was doing great. Not perfect, but much better than he had been last March.

We walked around the meadow looking at deer tracks and rabbit trails.
It wasn’t a long ride, but just enough for the two of us to enjoy each others company. My hand stroked his neck…good mule.

When I put him away, he made as if to follow me back out of his pasture.
After I went inside the house to warm up, I glanced out the window and saw him standing at the gate staring at the house.

I waved, though I doubt he saw me. I felt calm and relaxed. Funny how even a short ride on a good mule can do that for you.

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