Sunday 2/23: Added another to my resume! One of the teen boarders was out of town wisely escaping to someplace warmer for a week, and Christy’s been a rockstar about matching the horseless rider to the temporarily riderless horses, so yours truly got to score some extra rides. Little Mister Sherlock is a 6(I think?)-year-old grey bet-you-will-never-guess-the-breed gelding:
Before H bought him, he’d been training for the breed circuit…he’s done some English, some Western
(but, y’know, essentially the same thing under different tack), trail rode, etc. but is new to Dressageland. I’ve seen him ridden a few times, and the main thing H is working on is getting him to stretch into true contact rather than curling his neck up like, well, an Ay-rab.
So that’s what I attempted to work on too. He’s a good little dude. Our ride went reasonably well– nothing spectacular, but a nice solid experience of “getting on unfamiliar green horse, figuring him out, having him going better by the end of the ride than the beginning” under my belt. He was good but there was something that felt odd to me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I was walking him out. It was just the feeling of getting on a new horse. I’ve been riding other horses (namely Derby and Prior) besides Pearl so it’s different from the usual “haven’t ridden another horse besides my own in forever” disorienting jolt. I’ve been riding my Opposite TB Crew for long enough that when I get on them, I already know what it’s going to feel like. But whenever I get on a new horse for the first time, I guess my body subconsciously expects them to ride just like a Pearl or a Tommy, and I confuse myself when New Horse doesn’t respond to “their” aids. A good yet bittersweet reminder of why you need to keep on trucking and riding new horses and figuring out their own buttons and quirks.
Up next: Prior. Kim had hopped on her earlier that day but wasn’t feeling well and they didn’t do much, so she asked if I wanted to ride as well. I didn’t want to blow her sassy red mare mind by tacking up for two separate rides– she’s not the type to get pissy about working per se, but she does have some of the TB mindset of “dude, we already did this today, why are we doing it again.” So, we had a lungeing session instead– also a good day for this since I’d already got part of my riding fix via Sherlock, so I didn’t have to feel like I was skipping a riding day. Yes, yes, there is more to horses than just riding them, but a 3 hr round trip to the barn without any saddle time is a bit depressing. She was a doll, as always– she’s getting the hang of this whole sidereins business, so I was able to take the kid gloves off a bit and send her forward without worrying about any “wait I don’t get this, I’ma run backwards instead” episodes. I kept it light, considering that she’d already been out that day and does not need to be expending any extra calories. She relaxed quickly enough at the trot that it was a good day for some trot/canter/trot transitions– I want to build up that hind end strength, but she’s not really at a point mentally or physically to do many under saddle. Coming from a background where lungeline crazytime is often used as a substitute for turnout or adequate riding, I am a huge snob about only lungeing with a goal other than “wear the horse down.” Miss Prior did really well– sure, some of her upwards transitions were a little more run-into-y than I’d like, but I am confident that will only be temporary. And the hunter in me can’t stop drooling at her long, lopey stride…
Then, because the cobbler’s children have no shoes, Pearlie was relegated to handwalking. Made up for it by slathering
us her in poultice and wrapping afterwards.
Monday 2/24: I guess you can’t call them mental health days if a) you don’t have to show up for work every day anyways and b)
nothing will ever they don’t significantly improve your mental health, but I needed to hang with my ponies on a date that will be permanently, awfully burned into my mental calendar.
Thing 1: Look, she’s almost starting to get a neck back!
After cringing at last week’s videos, I tried to focus as hard as I could on getting my chest up and open, my hips open, and using my seat to turn and regulate pace, without going into “omg must focus on equitation” mode. I think it worked at least somewhat, because I did have a more responsive mare underneath me. I’d set up a pole parallel to the long side down centerline, and we practiced circling and figure-eighting over it. Also a very good test of straightness and keeping her between my aids side-to-side, because if I didn’t she’d squirt off the pole to one side or another.
Then, I got on my best girl, my rock and my reason for keeping breathing these last 14 months of hell. She’s a little less cooperative about standing still for pictures
but she’s practically perfect in every way and I truly would have given up living by now without her. She of course was not pleased that Austin and Tucker got to trot and she didn’t, but humored her mean momma. And she got lots of kisses and cuddles and cookies.
Wednesday 2/26: It was frigid and the wind sounded like it was going to blow the barn down, so what better time than to get on the baby Arab? He was pretty chill about it, though, and I felt like I “got him” better than the last time. We had the arena to ourselves so it was a good opportunity to work on changes of direction and regulating pace throughout. Even with the wind causing some occasional “there’s a horse’s head in my lap” moments, I could feel that we were getting a trot that consisted of legs moving more forward and out rather than up and down.
The mare got walked in hand– partly because
I don’t have a death wish if she dumps me and goes hooning around the arena that sort of defeats the purpose of slow careful rehab and partly because she got her monthly Pentosan shot and I would’ve felt bad sticking her with another needle. This turned about to be one of those few times I actually made a good decision, because Christy can testify she did some fairly impressive Lipizzaner impressions that would’ve landed me in the dirt.
Friday 2/28: Motley Saddle Club member Grace came in from DC for the weekend to hang out help me with the latest move. With a disclaimer that she should keep an eye out for anything that could be an excuse for shenanigans, she was recruited to walk Pearlie while I did Sherlock. Obviously, sorta-matching horses required sorta-matching outfits.
Both ponies were good. Sherlock felt better than the last time, with longer strides and even a little stretching. Pearl seized every opportunity she could to sneak in a couple trot strides (“aw man, I thought you guys would just not notice”) and looked exceedingly proud of herself when she succeeded, but was otherwise a lady, and calm enough that I
demanded requested G snag a little video. Of course it’s about impossible to video one moving horse off another moving horse, but we got a couple seconds here and there.
One of them is a little better at standing for post-ride pictures than the other (are you seeing a pattern here?)
Then Pearlie got all wrapped up like either a fancy show pony or a broken Hot Wheels car (your choice, Dear Reader) in preparation for the next day’s move.
Saturday 3/1: Moving day…again. It gets a little easier each time at least. Longer, more picture-filled post TBC, but all went well, Pearl and her buddy Tucker settled instantly, and while the reason for the move is (as always) sad, it’s about as ideal as I can get for her.