Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Riding in the New Year

Our traditional New Year's Eve celebration is watching a bunch of movies, creating and enjoying a fabulous multi-course meal, and drinking lots of wine. Just the two of us. Well, three if you include our warm and comfort-seeking dog named Jake. Temperatures were mild enough to start the evening on the porch stoop and drink a cocktail, the barn and shrubs ablaze in sunset.  Most of the meal was sourced locally: a standing roast from High Point Farms, a creamy soup of leek and rutabagas from Country Side Produce, chocolate ice cream from Cayuga Lake Creamery, wine from J. R. Dill and bubbly from Lucas Vineyards. It was another perfect evening.

Early in December we made reservations for a New Year's Day trail ride at Painted Bar Stables in Burdette. Neither of us having ever been on a horse, we nervously made our way into the stables, all the while getting safety tips and riding instructions from Erika, the owner. I was to ride Dozer, a sharp looking chestnut gelding. Duchess, a solid paint palomino mare, was saddled for Kevin. We mounted, and with my stomach in my throat, I gingerly directed Dozer to the trail head and I stopped. I can't do it, I thought I said to myself, but Erika--ever present and alert--heard me, and made a suggestion. "Hum a tune, and you'll get over your fear. And don't forget to breathe. The horse will sense that you are nervous, then he'll get nervous. Oh, and don't micro-manage the horse. He knows how to walk through the mud and ice. Just gently suggest what you want him to do." I did, and he did, and all was well.

Creekside, my fear took over again, but with kind encouragement from Erika and the other riders, I kept calm, leaned back and let sure-footed Dozer manage the slope into the water. Slow and steady. That wasn't so bad. All in all, it was lovely ride on a mild winter day through corn fields and meadows, and I can't wait to go horseback riding again. Perhaps this will be a new tradition for us--riding into a Happy New Year.