Sunday 4/6: Hung out with Pearl, filled supp tupps, etc.
Wednesday 4/9: Horse herd instincts/dynamics are so funny. Pearl makes it very clear that she is a Mare and therefore the Boss and Tucker “gets back at her” by pinning his ears and snaking his head from the safety of his stall when I walk her past, but every time I pull into the barn they’re grazing within eyesight.
Was going to ride Eliot but he came up backsore, then as I was driving from barn to barn got a text (notthatIchecktextswhiledrivingoranything) from poor Sarah who was again tied up at work– why is being an adult with a real job with real and overtime hours even a thing, anyways? So I got a Derby ride in. He started off kinda grumbly inside so we kept it fairly light, but at Christy’s suggestion Derbs & I and Liam & Christy dinked around in the paddocks some
while I tried not to simultaneously imagine K rolling in his grave or urn or whatever the proper terminology is in that context over the very idea of riding in one of the mud lots or pastures or also think about how he would’ve had the outdoor harrowed and workable by now. It was nice to get outside and get some fresh air, and it brightened D up a lot, while also increasing the incentive for him to keep track of his feet. Derby and I may not have been in top form but Liam was in fine spirits as he demonstrated his tempi bucks changes.
Thursday 4/10: Had another barn date with my friend E, only this time I got to ride her pony(asaurus)! We’ve known each other since… 2009? 2010? and have finally got to a point where our schedules/my riding abilities/her horse’s training&trustworthiness have converged to a point where I got to take a spin on the big guy. It’s been really cool watching the pair of them progress over the years, and since we don’t see one another very frequently it’s a lot easier for me to make comparisons rather than someone who sees them day by day. Eagle is not an easy ride– big, forward, and opinionated, but as he’s matured he’s been progressing much faster. Plus, he’s been in full training all year while E has been away at school, so he has Buttons. Of course, said buttons involve that core concept of leg into hand rather than leg into nothingness-because-your-default-mode-is-don’t-touch-the-face-because-using-the-reins-is-bad-and-you-will-be-smote so it wasn’t terribly pretty, but it was again a great opportunity to get to work on me and my seat rather than “uh, I dunno the last time she was cantered so just try and not run into anything.”
And theeeeeen E’s trainer was like “oh, wanna get on Whistle too?” all casual like Hey I just* met you/And this is crazy/But here’s my 4th level horse/So ride him definitely. *OK not just, because I’ve been going to watch them at shows for years, but she’s literally never ever seen me ride. So as cheesy as it sounds, it was probably one of the best things that will happen to me all year, because as much as the horse world is filled with total fruitbatting weirdos that set off your Run Far Away-dar, there are some wonderful, kind, generous people out there that make it worthwhile. Could I sit on D’s horse and instantly bang out a 4th level test? Hell naw. But there were moments where I could shift my weight and he’d float off into a leg yield and maybe not this year, or this decade, or I hate to say it but maybe not even with this (as in my own) horse, but I WILL feel that again someday, and then maybe not that time but sometime after, it WILL be me who’s brought along my own mount from the track or craigslist or (hahahaha dream on) from an actual breeder to that level of sensitive athlete, so suck on that, Universe.
And it was actually also a fascinating…. social experiment? into just how much personal nuances play into training of both horses and riders. Like, that time way back in the fall (guh, did that really happen? has that much time passed?) when Christy put me up on Remy, she could pretty much just say “OK, do this, this, and this and yeah that’s a half pass” and it was really easy to put together the motions because she’s the one that’s put the buttons on both me and the horse, as it were. Whereas with Whistle, I had the damnedest time picking up a canter in one direction and as D was walking me through it, I was like whoa, you have a different way of explaining things. And both ways are right, they’re just different. And thank goodness I already knew that plenty of D’s other students have ridden him before so I didn’t give myself a massive “oh god I broke the fancy horse” panic attack, because y’all know how I roll by now.
Friday 4/11: Brushed my pony. We’re in between shedding rounds.
Then another Derby ride. Tacked up, walked to the arena door, decided I could not bear to spend any more time inside now that it’s finally nice out (insert obligatory acknowledgement that it could still snow again to appease the weather gods) so back to the paddock we went.
Derby seemed pretty cool with that decision. He was bright and forward at both walk and trot and I don’t think I’ve ever had him ask to keep on cantering before. As suspected, he also had an easier time holding his lead to the right in the bigger space. Everyone’s got a case of the cooped-ups. I wouldn’t want to ride him regularly out there without proper conditioning because it’s not actual footing, but luckily it was in the acceptable range of not shoe-suckingly muddy but not hard as rock either, so I’m glad we got a chance to enjoy some evening fresh air. Of course, it’s those clear quiet evenings, just as the light turns golden, when in another era I would bridge my reins and get up out of the tack and give Pearl a smooch and off we’d go round and round and round until neither of were tired but the one with opposable thumbs would make the executive decision to stop before someone blows a ligament or a blood vessel, that hit the hardest and highlight What Could Have Been…
But I can’t go back and fix it, and in some aspects there’s no longer an It to be Fixed. So I watched the sun go down from between a horse’s ears and tried to keep in mind that even though they’re different ears and a different backdrop, it’s still the same sun and while I’m not where I thought I’d be two years ago, I am somewhere and it’s not all bad.
And I do try to keep sight of the fact that I am lucky in many ways, because I still had yet another horse to ride. I got on Eliot and we had a good ride. I tried to work on adjustability in that giant trot, and we had some baby lookie-lou moments (HEY there’s another AISLE over there and PEOPLE are DOING THINGS in it) but I was able to get some focus and we even got a “nice stretch!” from C as she rode by.
Saturday 4/12: First I tortured my horse by washing her tail, because I am a big fat meanie pants. She got to chow on some mush for most of the process, and it looks a lot better when it’s closer to white than yellow, so I think she’ll live.
Then L and I took the Broken Pony Duo on our maiden voyage around the farm! OK, not L/Tucker’s maiden voyage, since they grew up there, but first time since Tuck’s been back home and Pearl’s first ride there. My submission for the “Horses Like Having Jobs” category: were were grooming and Pearl is kinda half-mast…she likes being groomed, but it’s not all that exciting. Apply one polo wrap and suddenly she’s dancing around pawing (yeah, I know she has terrible ground manners…it’s a work in progress) ears pricked all HEY YOU’RE PUTTING THOSE THINGS ON MY LEGS I KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
We had a good time on our little walkie. Ol’ man Tuck was fired up too. Between the two ponies we essentially did our own rendition that “discipline swap” video where the reiner and the dressage-r switch places. Because our horses are totally trained to piaffe and WP jog, natch, and it definitely wasn’t just a case of them both being unable to keep their walnut brains between their ears. We did a little loop down the mowed path next to the driveway, around the edge of the unfenced field, back up to the barn a couple times. P let Tucker show the way the first time but the second time we hit the path she was like “mkay cool I know where we’re going now, hey maybe if I’m reeeeeaaaaallllly sneaky mom won’t notice if I pick up a tro– oh darn, she did.” Poor punkin’.
There’s also a nearby trail system, but you have to cross the road and have a membership so we’ll figure that out later.
It also gave me a chance to finally use my new app, which previously fell victim to the sub-statute of Murphy’s Law that states that if you download a horse-related app, your horse will break and you won’t be able to use it.
Hell of a lot better walking around outside.