Rain, Rain, Go Away….

While I still would not trade rain for freezing sub-zeroes, it certainly does put a damper on riding when you don’t have an indoor.

Lots of rain means no riding. Wump wump.

When I was told my lesson was cancelled…

Luckily, I am one of those people that just loves being around the animals. So a day at the barn without riding is still pretty great.

When told I can still spend time with horses though….

I mostly have been doing an extensive clean up and hand walking job.

The property we ride on has a nice path that goes along the entirety, so my thought is if you do 3 or so laps, it’s probably a mile? This is a totally unofficial guestimate, possibly to not feel guilty about a package of Whoppers I get on the way home from the barn.

It’s good to reconnect with your horse on the ground. While frustrating that we cannot ride given the good streak we were on, I think it’s overall a positive thing to pause.

Right now, I have been doing some soul-searching as to what we each need to get to the next level. For him, continuing his progress on his weaker left side. Slicker and “uphill-feeling” downward transitions. Higher sensitivity to leg.

Excuse me, could you stop that whole squeezing me with your leg thing?

In order to get him there, I need better straightness in my body (I am a leaner). I need to not rely on the spur so much. And I need to be more precise and curt with my asks.

My forever battle is keeping my reins short and my fingers closed. Soft elbows. I could go on and on.

One thing I was reminded of in my recent COTH thread that I started is that it’s okay to have days as well where you are just enjoying your horse. They need those “lighter” days too. Especially with Q occasionally being used in other lessons and being ridden by other people.

One thing that is nice about the rain, it really creates reflection (yes, this is both a water pun and a real fact of my recent activities).

How do you all handle short-term downtime?

Smile Worthy – Fall Weather

Something I’ve admittedly missed is getting to ride in fall weather! I dislike winter (I like the feeling of my fingers, thank you very much) but fall offers literally the perfect riding weather.

AND the leaves look a brilliant fiery explosion. It’s like nature is celebrating as well. Horses are less sweaty, people are less sweaty, you can still kind of ride outside.

I’m waiting for any negatives here.

Since being in California, I miss out a bit on the magic colors and this awesome season. However, I do get to ride outside year round… So I am sort of torn on that one.

What is your favorite riding season?

Old fall riding shots ruined by the uninvited guest: overactive shoulders. Shoulders need to CTFO, man. 😛

(K)Night Rider

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.

Patiently waiting…

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.

That horse, all the time.

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.

Oh so amused.

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.

Bring on April Showers

There comes a point at the end of winter where everyone is just done. Done with the cold, done with the indoor ring, done with blanketing…. Surprisingly in Canada, the winter is not as bad as advertised because everyone seems so well-equipped (snow tires are a real game changer, folks).

But I admit, my enjoyment of this sport is affected when I can no longer feel my fingers, and no amount of preparedness for winter can take away my love of summer. And summer is coming.

I chanced it this weekend to take the mare outside for the first time. Riding outdoors for the first time in a season has always been risky. I never really owned the safe and steady type, and I often find myself riding… spirited… horses.

IMG_1245 (1)
I don’t even know where to begin…this photo gives me stress.

For instance, in university, I took the horse I leased to walk out along an outdoor path after hacking in the indoor ring with a friend. Mind you, the horse I leased was 18 (a fit and fiery 18, but damn he was 18). Holding the reins at the buckle, we were replaying a particularly wild university night and my horse spooks, gallops (bucking, broncing, farting — pure explosion), and hightails it across an open field back to his barn stall.

Miraculously I stayed on. The iPhone in my breeches pocket was never seen again.

You live and learn. I spent many rides working with that horse to bring down the level of spook from OH MY GOD THE WIND, IT BURNS to I am slightly more excited to be out here. Also at the time of the incident it may have been a good idea to be, oh, I don’t know, paying attention up there instead of gabbing.

The offending fart-rocket… He is truly an awesome horse.

When Tango is in the outdoor ring, I happily only have to worry about brief outbursts, where she might get strong, but will not do anything too malicious. That is not too say I am not cautious (see, I can be taught). The first couple of times around the outdoor ring, my heels pushed so far forward I looked like I was riding a Harley.

Tango acted like a perfect lady; I was super proud. The only questionable moment happened when a horse in a nearby paddock made an offending sound. We had a brief “Weeeee” moment but quickly came back down to Earth.

Here’s hoping to many more outdoor rides.

Accurate depiction of her head to body ratio 😉