My mare’s nickname is Double Stuffffff. The extra letters are not a typo. Maya’s gotten so fat, it’s now a medical concern. She is one of those thrifty types (like her mother). A good deep breath results in gaining 3-5 additional pounds. (Yes, social justice warriors, she is now wearing a muzzle. But she has chafed her face so badly, she’s now in solitary confinement in a dirt lot for an hour a day. And yes, the vet is involved. Back off. Unsolicited advice will be ignored.)
I got my beloved mare a size 60 girth from the plus-size store for horses, but it still took two people to get it on her. So I broke down and bought a girth extender. Having never used one, I didn’t think to use a smaller girth...I’m a science fiction/fantasy writer (emphasis on fantasy), I do words not numbers. I didn’t have the slightest worry that maybe the girth just wasn’t tight enough as I walked down to the ring to ride. 🙄
When I went to get on her from the grace of the mounting block, the goddamn saddle slid and I’m hanging off of her side like a decrepit Spider-Man. I’m 52 years old. Not at all fit or agile. My knees are shit, and if I were a horse, someone would have put me down for health reasons. And here I am hanging off my mare’s side like a trick rider.
The first and last time this happened to me, I was getting on a fit and mischievous, off-the-track Thoroughbred. I got planted hard enough to earn a 5.2 on the Richter Scale. I still have the bruise on my leg, and that was six years! A tattoo the doctor called it. I’d rather get the real thing. Far less painful!
Anyway! My magnificent mare is a sensible sort. Her favorite speeds are stop and slow. A stick-and-kick ride in every sense of the phrase. This is in the interest of preserving precious calories. She took one step away from the mounting block, and I thought, “Let the rodeo begin. This is one way to avoid going back to work.” Again, my mare took ONE step, stopped, and turned to look at me with an expression of “WTF are you doing? Is this the new protocol? This is too many calories.”
Bracing my old, cranky knees, I slid off and promptly gave Maya every cookie and peppermint in my pocket. Rules dictate that if you fall off, you have to get back on. Holding my breath, I tightened the girth, best I could, and climbed back on. Saddle still not quite tight enough, I walked and trotted a circle in both directions and went back to the barn—my bravery meter shattered. “All hail Queen Maya, may your tiara gleam for all eternity!”