I guess you could say this day was bound to come sooner or later. People always say that in hindsight, don’t they? I go to the barn almost daily with my roomie and everything just seemed hunky-dorey. I should have known better…
We pull down the gravel road as the sun slinks behind the barn. I’m tired, and it’s later than our usual time; some barrel riders are wrapping up. I blink feebly, stifling a yawn.
“I’m sleepy,” I mutter. We trod down the hill to Apple, the lamps flickering on. We go about our normal routine: I brandish the Magical Horse Catching Tots and lure Apple into my grasp, cross-tie her and we begin to tack her for lining. I figure this is a get in/get out kind of night. It is a fact that lining nights are markedly shorter (something Apple fully endorses) but I don’t know why I assume anything anymore… my momma taught me better than that.
There are a few minutes of silence as we wait for the riders to finish in the ring, a decision reached by silent knowing glances between my friend and myself. We were both quietly hoping they were almost ready so we could get our antsy Apple going (did I mention she doesn’t adore standing in ties?).
Suddenly, my friend looks over at me with a huge grin. I know something horrible was just concocted in that mind of hers.
“You’re going to line her tonight.”
Yup, there it is.
My roommate gets her started up, showing me the finer points of line control and the even finer points of lining Apple in particular. I would like to take this moment to comment on just how much I apologize to Apple. I think she hears me say, “I’m sorry for about what you are about to experience,” about four times a day, which is more than the average human, invariably the average horse. With that said, the lines and lunge whip are placed in my hands and I follow up my inevitable apology with a “whup trot.”
It definitely took some time getting used to, this controlling of a horse’s mouth from the ground. The dizziness took a bit, too. (Yes, I’m a wuss … I apologize for that as well.) There was a bit of awkward pulling and foot-work; I don’t know why, but the concept of controlling from one side was throwing me for a loop.
I kept the circle way too small and wouldn’t put her out on the rail because I was unsure whether I should loosen the lines; a concern quickly banished by my friend.
“Outside line … more strength on the outside line.”
It seemed for all my efforts, I was unable to apply correct pressure to the outer line.
I was hesitant, but I finally got it together and pulled really hard; hard enough that I reversed her accidentally and without warning. She really liked that.
All in all the much longer, heavier woven lines truly took some getting used to. Besides the dizziness (I guess you could say I’d do anything for that horse) and blurry spinning (I have learned now that this is avoidable), I really developed a deep enjoyment of this thing called long-lining. It’s pretty nifty!
In the end, I snuck Apple a few extra treats and thanked her profusely for not eating me and putting up with my wretched instruction. I’m going to try it a bit more each time I see her … she should love that.