The shorter version is this:
I went to the field, at dusk, in the rain, because my dog needed to get out. Fed horses their sweet-feed treats. Toweled Champ off and saddled up and we headed out.
The saddle was making a weird noise. A popping-clicking kind of noise. I went through the normal horse stages of panic:
1) Oh god my horse is making that noise. He's going to die!
2) Wait he's not limping. Perhaps it's my equipment.
3) Where is that damn noise coming from? Oh god my saddle is going to fall apart!
We headed for home, and Cersei was really cute on the way. We pulled up at a clearing in the trail that had thick lush Bermuda for Champ, and watery deep old ruts for Cersei to play in. She worked on her Ibizan hound impersonation, boinging in and out of the deep brush. She did the crazy lab butt-tuck in and out of the water. She miscalculated a crazy circle and ran into Champ's head at one point, but I am lucky enough to have the world's best horse. He snapped his head up like he couldn't believe what had just happened, then pinned his ears and went right back to grazing. To finish her performance, she managed to roll in some sticky weed seeds and got covered. Truly amazing, because I have never seen anything (other than mud) that managed to stick to a wet Lab coat.
I did not just slouch along in the saddle. I managed to "find" my elbows! I planted my little fingers on the swells of my saddle and kept trotting til I could feel the bending, then trotted a bit more with my hands low but not touching and got the muscle movement in my head.
When we got back to the truck, I curried Cersei (a metal currycomb works great on dog-weeds, btw) then had a FIT at the horses. See, they were hanging around the opposite side of the truck hoping for more of that sweetcrack. Champ decided Dixie was too close to him, so he did his slow-motion exaggerated bite-your-neck thing. She'd had it with his shit so she squealed and spun around and kicked him in the head. I yelled something, put the currycomb in my tack box, turned around, and they were on either side of me, ears pinned, about to start again. I screamed at them to knock that shit off around me and shook my finger at them and generally made a big angry fuss til all three horses were ears-up watching ME.
Horses fight. I'm not going to try to roll back the tide. But horses do not fight where I might possibly get caught in the crossfire. That means I don't get too near strange horses, but it also means MY horses do NOT fight near ME. It's in the same category as biting or running over me. It does not happen.
They're good horses, so they set their disputes aside. I think perhaps sweet feed is too wonderful and I should switch back to oats. :o
I looked over my saddle, and nothing is obviously broken. It was raining and almost dark, so I'll bring it in the house and look at it more closely tomorrow. :(