The Tainted Color of Blue




My rides have been less than inspiring lately. The weather has just not cooperated with, well, anything. It’s either been raining, cold, icing, snowing, frozen or just plain awful. Or it gets nice out and Frankie feels funny…


He had a swollen knee. Well he still has a swollen knee. I have self diagnosed this as water on the knee.


Now I was never good at Operation, it’s a much tougher game than you’d expect. Instead I’ve just been using liniment. There was never any heat. The swelling was soft, gushy, and he wasn’t lame. Though was a little funny for a few days.

So he was given a week off. That ended last Friday and since then I’ve been slowly getting him back in shape.

This has been the worst riding winter ever. Even compared to tiny indoors I feel as though Frankie has lost more conditioning over winter than he ever has. So we are doing chill hacks, long and low, transitions, and otherwise kind of boring work.

But yesterday was going to be a breakthrough day. 80 degrees. Yep, that’s right 80° F. Now I couldn’t let myself miss such a glorious opportunity at sunshine, warmth, bathing, grooming, okay maybe some shitty tack cleaning, but mostly the riding, bathing, and grooming. All in the warm sun. Joy!

I vowed on this perfect day to just enjoy it. To embrace it. No photo’s, no phone, no nothin’. Just me, Frank, and the sunshine.

I started with some power grooming. Mane pulling. Frank’s favorite. He fell asleep in the cross ties. Man that horse is strange. I tried to get as much of his nasty wooly mammoth coat removed, but that hair wants to stay. I will make sure I get a second body clipping in next year. This hair is out of control.

After I made him look dapper as hell, it was time to get my ride on.

Frank had been begging for a trail ride so I figured after a little warm up, I’d oblige.

We warmed up in the ring for about 15 minutes. Just enough to make sure all the parts were working properly, and the kinks were worked out.

Then I headed to the field. Hoping for a little gallop action.

Too wet.

Oh well. We trotting in spots where the grass was thick, got a few canter strides. But mostly walked.

Totally fine. I mean we’ve been cooped up, Frankie is out of shape, so no pressure.

Out to the trails.

Totally swampy. Bummer man.

I was really looking forward to at least some nice trotting. I wasn’t planning on galloping. I mean I would have a whole lot of horse under me and with not much conditioning. Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.

That’s fine. We walked, a few trot steps here and there. But it was really wet. We did work on walking through water, and mud. He was great. There were tire tracks that were a good 6-8 inches deep that he walked in. I mean he would have rather not, but I asked and he didn’t balk. Good boy Frank!

I didn’t go very far. It looked like there were people up at the house and someone in one of the barns. It kinda weirds me out. Even though we are allowed over there. I only know two vehicles, and neither one of those were there. So I opted out of maybe meeting some backwoods strangers.

Well, it was far from an epic trail ride. But it was off the property. Which is something.

He was sweaty. I was sweaty. Mission accomplished.

Now time for a bath.

Okay I couldn’t help but snap a picture. He was being cute. Plus I had to document this epic horse washing event. Right?


He was ready as hell for some scrubbin’. He’s been an itchy ass horse that’s for sure.

So I started the hose. I do the legs until the water warms up. I was in my own little blissful world. Carefree. Contemplating riding and plans. Considering some showing in our future. Maybe. Dressage? Hunters? What? Yep, just my usual internal conversations.

Then it happened.


While trying to wash winter off Frank I was unfortunate enough to over hear gross horsemanship negligence. For example, not going to ‘A’ shows because they “still have to ace him.” And the misuse of spurs and bits. Along with a bunch of poor excuses for bad riding.

Basically all I heard were shortcuts to ribbons. How many ribbons can one accumulate before they are officially a good rider? 50 blues, 20 reds, and 15 yellows…?

How about none.

I don’t expect everyone to want to improve their riding. But I feel like I should be able to expect people to put their horse first in the experience. Sure you might make mistakes, use poor judgement sometimes, bad guesses. I’m not expecting perfection.

But the barn is my sanctuary. Frankie is a partner in sport. I don’t like to get pulled into the mud by ribbon chasers. Even just by overhearing the conversations.

I accomplished my bathing. And Frankie officially became a clean horse.


I put him in his stall so he could get his rolling done and hopefully stay mud free. For a day.

I skipped tack cleaning. The only good thing about the awful people. I always like an excuse to get out of tack cleaning.

But this experience has reminded me that sun is great. But the cloak of darkness holds less shadows for me and Frank. We can have fun without all the bullshit.

Frank Dark