Floods, fires, and flies
My plan for riding all the horses all the time was derailed by some exciting weather over the last few weeks. Springtime in Oklahoma is usually filled with tornadoes, but things got extra wild this year. The eastern part of the state saw 41 tornadoes during a 10 day period. Within that same 10 day period, the town where I live received 14 inches of rain. May was already a wet month, so the additional rain caused serious flooding. Roads were closed, and the water was high enough to drive a boat through. One evening, as Johnny and I sat in our storm shelter, the live weather feed I was watching switched to coverage of an enormous fire about five miles from our house; lightning struck an oil tank and blew it up. Luckily, Johnny, the animals, and I are totally fine. Our place is fine, if very soggy.
All of the rain meant that my neighbor’s outdoor arena was unusable. The indoor was occupied by her natural horsemanship trainer guru, who had groundwork lessons scheduled all month long. Trail riding was out. Longeing in my yard was out. Hacking around the hay meadow was out. The only creatures that seemed to be enjoying the rain and ensuing humidity were flies. They’re especially bad right now; poor Moe is covered in horsefly bites! Every so often I see the mares cantering around the pasture trying to escape them. Gina resorted to standing in the pond like a hippo to get away from the bugs!
The sun has been out for a few days and the natural horsemanship trainer finally left, so I rode on Sunday. Candy was surprisingly quiet. Maybe it’s not so surprising, considering it was 90 degrees and disgustingly humid. I suppose at some point I should stop being surprised when we have a decent-to-good ride. Candy has been consistently pleasant since her ulcers were treated, so I ought to raise my expectations for her! We spent a lot of time walking and trying to get some lateral bend happening. She felt very inflexible and largely ignored my leg. I might try a pair of tiny nubby spurs and see what happens.
Our trot work was unremarkable. Candy was counterbent at times, but nothing that a gentle squeeze on the inside rein couldn’t fix. She had some nice moments of accepting the contact, bending, and moving at a pace between ‘tired snail’ and ‘excited llama’. I opted to put in a couple of minutes of canter work since Candy was being so good. Her transitions vary wildly between pretty okay and hideous; Sunday was firmly on the hideous side. She rushed into the canter but steadied herself right away. She’s so much quieter at the canter than she used to be- there’s no zooming around, no drastic speed changes, and no extreme inward leaning. Her pace is fine and fairly consistent, and she can make a nice 20 meter circle. The downward transitions are improving. Candy still kind of splats into them on her forehand but gets organized quickly.
The canter is where I see the biggest change. Previously, she was frazzled and speedy all the time. She leaped into the canter. She gained speed as she went. It was unpleasant to ride! Now, her canter is a long way from perfect, but it’s way better than it used to be. It’s so much better, in fact, that I entered her in a schooling show this weekend. We’re only riding Intro B and Intro C, but it’ll be nice to get some feedback from a judge. Several of my friends are going too, so I can at least enjoy socializing even if my horse is a loon!