Back in the Saddle
It’s been a very rainy spring so far, but last week had a few consecutive days of hot, sunny weather. That meant I could both mow my hugely overgrown lawn and ride in my neighbor’s outdoor arena! On Thursday, I opted to ride first, and tacked up Gina right after she finished breakfast. Gina wasn’t happy about it; she’s fully embraced living life as a grumpy old mare. She’s also apparently very committed to being a hunt horse. As soon as I got on, she attempted to trot off as briskly as she does when she’s following the hounds.
I spent about twenty minutes reminding Gina that she’s actually a well-training riding horse who did hunters and dressage before foxhunting full-time. I only have myself to blame for her attitude and condition, though. She spent the majority of 2017 and half of 2018 being pregnant. The only work she’s done since foaling is hunting! It’s no wonder she lacks the strength and condition to do things like make a 20 meter circle without swinging her hindquarters out wildly. Even though her only job is hunting, I need to incorporate more dressage work into her routine to help her build and maintain strength. Gina’s not the only one who’s out of shape. Ten minutes of trotting in my jumping saddle had me feeling the burn!
I logged our ride with the Equisense. It’s so interesting to compare each horse’s data. Moe, Candy, and Gina all feel and look different, of course, but it’s neat to see measurable differences in the way they move. Gina’s got a big, floaty trot with lots of suspension. It’s bouncy to ride and beautiful to see. Her trot elevation typically ranges between 9 and 10 centimeters. Candy is a very average mover with a smooth, comfortable trot. Her trot elevation is usually in the 5 to 6 centimeter range.
On Sunday, I got on Candy for the first time in a month. I was not optimistic about how our ride would go. Candy was having A Day- she trembled in her stall after eating and spooked in the crossties at something. (A lead rope? A fly mask? Spirits of the dead?) I tacked her up anyway and headed to the indoor arena. We stood around while a kid finished her lesson and the friend I was riding with did some groundwork. Candy settled down, but was anxious when I mounted. She walked off as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup, so I laid across her back on my stomach until she stopped. It didn’t take long- she seemed totally confused after a couple of steps. I slid off, walked her back to the mounting block, and she stood politely until I told her to walk.
Aside from that minor hiccup, we had a very pleasant ride. We stuck to a walk and trot; I want to keep the work positive and easy right now. Candy was calm and attentive throughout our ride, and I was surprised and happy. A month off seems to be just what she needed- now I need to figure out what schedule works for her.
I’m not sure how much riding I’ll do this week. Heavy rain is forecasted for most of this week, which means the outdoor arena, hay meadow, and most trails will be too muddy for riding. My neighbor’s natural horsemanship trainer is in town until the end of the month, so her indoor arena has limited availability because he has lessons booked. All the rain is great for my pasture and this year’s hay crop, but not great for my riding schedule!