When a girlfriend called to invite me out riding last weekend, my first thought was that I couldn't go. My up-and-coming young gelding was nursing a mild lameness and couldn't be my mount. Then I remembered Tank, the old, retired rope horse who now spends his days as "uncle" to our weanlings. Perhaps he wouldn't mind a day away from the girls? I caught him up, pointed him into the trailer, and he willingly hopped in--perhaps with visions of his former glory days, in hot pursuit of steers.
The old guy didn't get to chase any bovines, but he sure did make my day. After riding a green horse for the last couple of years, I'd almost forgotten the difference between MAKING a broke horse, and HAVING a broke horse. Pre-ride longeing? No need for that. Self-protective worries about traffic and other spook-monsters? Never had a one. Battles over water crossings on the trail? Nope. The Tankmobile proved himself to be just as reliable, just as safe, just as seasoned, just as BROKE as he was the day he got turned out into our pasture, presumably for good. Though we never got out of an easy amble, I told my friend that I hadn't gotten as much pure PLEASURE from riding a horse since I was a kid, when the sole objective was to have fun. Not to train, not to school, not to make the horse better than on the last ride...just to get on, relax, and go.
Talk about a horse earning his keep. The ol' Tankster still knows how that's done.