On Friday morning, Marty and I went out on a farewell tour of the common.
My friend Samantha had planned to take her son’s pony out for a walk in hand (as part of an exercise and diet regime that would make Fato Xato roll his eyes back in horror), and asked if I wanted to join her. I was torn! It didn’t seem like an entirely sensible thing to do, given the state of my finger; I still have an open wound, and the skin that’s regrown across the pad is very fragile and “not properly attached” so I’ve been careful not to knock it. It’s taken such a ridiculously long time to heal already and I don’t want to risk going backwards.
But … it would probably be my last chance before we move. I checked in with Ben and he was confident that I would be fine with Marty. After all, Marty’s a pro at this hiking game; and being light and easy to handle is what we expect of all our equines.
I also realised that if I lead from his right, I wouldn’t need to put any pressure on my right hand. I hold the slack in that hand, but it’s my left hand that directs, holds, or leaves well alone as required. I don’t have the hand strength to hold a cup of tea, but I can hold the end of my mule’s rope….!
Marty was a bit funny to begin with, which I think was a combination of not having been out since our last big hike and the fact that he apparently does not approve of New Forest ponies. Poor Radish! She tolerated his ugly faces very well.
The funny thing was that if Marty was following, he would stop and plant himself every few minutes; he wouldn’t try to go anywhere, he’d just stand with his neck stretched forward in typical mule fashion. If he was level with her, it was Ugly Town in Martyville. If he was in the lead, he’d stride out with his ears pricked forward and never give Radish a second thought. I thought that was quite bizarre!
I have spent most of my time here exploring the Punchbowl, as I’m terribly antisocial and like to have the trails to myself; but we have had some fun times on this common:
– that time I rode on the common on my own mule for the first time
– that time Marty didn’t do any jumping
– that time we caught a horse who’d galloped loose for 6 miles
– that time Xato bolted with me … hang on, that wasn’t fun, but it was a learning experience
It was a thoroughly lovely couple of hours and I’m really grateful to Samantha for not only suggesting it, but for taking so many brilliant photos of us as well. I will miss these trails and my friends very much, and having photos to look back on means a lot.