Horse and Rider
With the horses in their stalls, the morning fog lights up with the rising sun. Through the trees and the dew covered webs left from the day before lies a meadow. The smell of fall is in the air and the colors are singing.
Out in the barn, the light spills through the windows. In the chilled air, steam rises from the horses' bodies while they eat from their hay filled bags. With the horses satisfied, she grabs a shovel and begins mucking the stalls. She tosses the day old shavings and lines the ground with lime powder. The horses gives their approval after new shavings have been laid out and the water buckets have been filled.
Pulling out her saddle, the shine from the oil takes its shape over the worked leather, bringing the dulled material to life. Hanging the reins from the horn to dry, she then moves to the fender. The well conditioned saddle, free from cracks and wear despite years of use, stands like a badge of honor.
The curry comb leaves small circles on the mares coat after being brushed. Quick flicks of the wrist cast off the loosened dirt. If Lady didn't already feel pampered, she certainly does now as her tail is gently being combed.
Next to Lady stands Buxton. He is a handsome colt whose hooves need to be picked. Lifting his foot by squeezing the tendon, she catches his hoof. Rocks and mud fall to the ground as she scrapes around the frog. Before they go out, she is sure to make use of the fly spray.
Lead rope in hand, they head to the paddock for some ground work. Wanting to strengthen the bond with his rider, Buxton watches for direction. When given motivation, he lunges through all the gaits. What goes left must also go right. The symmetry of a horse is a beautiful thing.
Open fields, the smell of alfalfa and leather reins. Having spent years on horse back, she breathes in the fresh air and moves her horse forward. Asking for a walk, then a trot, and at last, a lope. The wind at their backs, horse and rider barrel towards the edge of the property. The horse does as she asks, responding to her subtle queues. Taking the reins, she slows and stops to remain in the moment.
The trees fade into the sky while the fog diffuses the sun. Against the haze, the horses graze on the grass. With their hooves striking the ground, the herd rounds the corner with two small shadows driving them.
The ranch dogs have been let out to round up the herd. While pushing them to the front pasture, the horses rear up and challenge the orders barked. After the excitement winds down, they take to each other like old friends.
Lauren began cultivating her relationship with horses at the age of five, when she participated in gymkhana equestrian events with a cousin’s pony. Even before that, she pined for a horse of her own for every birthday, Christmas, and holiday. Finally, at age 10, she got her wish – a young Arabian show mare of her very own. She worked at the barn where he was boarded in exchange for riding lessons, which granted her the benefit of even more exposure to horses.
This lifelong relationship with horses has developed into more than just a hobby for Lauren. She remains fascinated by the subtleties of communication necessary in connecting and bonding with a horse. Body language is the foundation of communication between horses, and so humans must learn to communicate with them in the same way – to convey meaning through a look or a gentle touch. In doing so, the horse effectively becomes an extension of the rider. The compromise inherent in the partnership between humans and horses also resonates with Lauren on a personal level; the fact that horses don’t just agree to be the larger part of the whole in the partnership, but that they are actually willing.
Lauren rides as much as she can, but also believes in the importance of maintaining the connection with her horses simply by being around them – saying hello, petting them, checking for injuries. This daily contact reinforces the bond between horse and rider. The daily chores keep one grounded and in tune with the horse’s needs.
Buxton, Lauren’s stunning half Arabian Quarter Horse, has been with her for 6 years. Buxton is a perfect fit for her riding style and personality, with the intelligence, heart, and determination of the Arabian and the down-to-earth working mentality of the Quarter Horse. Soon, another horse will join Buxton at the stables – a filly with a reined cow horse as her sire and a foundation bred quarter horse as her dam. The horse will bring versatility to the ranch – from cow work to trail riding. To say that Lauren is excited to get her and begin groundwork is an understatement.