Orion is a morning person—uh, horse. Part of the reason is because he hates flies so much. Some horses can usually ignore a few flies, but Orion is bothered by them more than most. As a result, on summer days he’s much happier if he goes outside early while it’s still cool, and then spends the hot part of the day resting in the shade away from the bugs. After his early morning breakfast, he loves nothing better than to begin roaming his large pasture at a slow walk, just cruising.
There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason for the walk, other than he simply enjoys it. Each day his route changes slightly, but there are some spots he always visits. He goes up the fenceline, stops to look across at the Other Pasture, and then heads for the Far Back. Sometimes he sees a deer or two, and he promptly scares away these interlopers with a big fancy trot and perhaps some blowing.
He’s never in a hurry. He always walks with a loose and casual, yet steady and purposeful gait that eats up the ground and gets him where he wants to go without working too hard. You can almost imagine him with ear buds and an iPod.
Eventually, he finds his way to the Scary Gate to the Big Field. The gate is always left open, and Orion is always allowed to go in there if he wants—but for some reason, he doesn’t like walking through the gate. But exploring the Big Field is always a draw, so Orion takes a deep breath and then quickly skips through the Scary Gate, spending as little time within it as possible.
Once past, Orion continues the morning walk, sometimes going all the way to far corner of the Big Field. This is usually where he stops and has a snack of tasty grass.
Eventually, when he decides it’s time to go back to the barn, his route brings him back to the front gate, where, walk completed, he waits expectantly for me to come and feed him.
So, for what it’s worth, here is Orion’s morning exercise philosophy:
- have fun
- exercise every day
- get up early
- work easy; don’t push yourself too hard
- enjoy the wildlife
- a bit of adventure is good
- stop for snack breaks
- know when to call it quits
- watch out for bugs!
Daniel Johnson is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He’s the author of several books, including How to Raise Horses: Everything You Need to Know, (Voyageur Press, 2014). Dan’s barn is home to Summer, a Welsh/TB cross, Orion, a Welsh Cob, and Mati and Amos, two Welsh Mountain Ponies. Follow him at www.facebook.com/foxhillphoto.