Working during the day and living in a metropolitan city makes night riding unavoidable. Usually this is a good thing, the ring is less crowded and the barn is more peaceful. My car spends less time sitting in non-moving traffic on a highway. There is, of course, no amount of maturity that can turn off feeling like my axe murderer might be around every barn corner (mid-twenties and still afraid of the dark).
I also am given the freedom to redecorate the ring with copious trot poles without getting in anyone’s way. Because we are in the phase of butt muscle building but still mostly confined to the indoor (spring, get with the program), it looks like a game of pick-up-sticks at times.
Riding at night also affords me the freedom to do those embarrassing self-torture equitation exercises. I prefer the light of day not see me ride in driving reins with one stirrup in a two-point with eyes closed. Kidding, but I do like to ride a fair bit without stirrups and a lot of times the world does not need to see that.
As silly of a problem as it is, I do sometimes wish there was at least one other person in the ring. Past me would react violently to this confession; a large part of my history includes delicately riding a landmine horse who was hypersensitive to his surroundings. Barn cat? Spook. Another horse? Spook. Pole drops? Spook. Lights turn on? Spook. Chair scraping sound in viewing area? You better pray to a higher power that you will survive that spook.
The mare is not that type of horse (thank HEAVENS). We do have a really minor “I am so happy to canter” issue sometimes in large groups, but it is more caused by excitement than fear. It would be excellent if we could work on it more often, hence why riding alone is not always the most helpful.
Another reason why I do not like to ride alone at night is because of show preparation. There is a tiny detail about showing that is the bane of my existence called “warm up rings”. It is absolute and utter stress. I do horribly in warm up rings. I would rather walk in after a quick walk/trot/canter than try to bob and weave my way to a shared jump in a warm up ring. Riding while distracted is me trying to play chess while running on a treadmill and dodging paintballs being shot at me. No thought – all panic.
This is contrasted greatly with the calm, quiet ring at night when no one else is around. We get to work on relaxation, lengthening/shortening, straightness, pace, lateral movements, self-carriage, etc. without worrying about other people. Real life is other people being there, and it would be nice if we could practice doing all those things with others around too.
I am trying to remember the grass is always greener on the other side. I will take the quiet for now, because surely it will not last.