Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More catchup!

So Sunday I rode all day. It was sunny and gorgeous and fairly cold, like I mentioned before, so I wore a couple extra shirts and my gloves.

My dressage lesson was frustrating, again. I cannot get that damn pony to trot for love or money. When she did condescend to trot (cause Hardy trotted by on his horse), however, we did something really cool. We jumped!

She chose to trot for me once, and we trotted the cavalletti. We came back to a walk, and Hardy and I talked for a bit, then we convinced Princess Val to trot again, and Hardy sent me over this completely tiny jump - like a low X jump set on its lowest side, really intended to be a trot exercise. I was all "Nooooo way!" and he was like "trot it!" so we trotted up to it... and Val gave a tiny little hop from the trot.

I did not fall off, and I did not yank on her mouth, and I did not even get really off balance. Pretty cool!

At the end of the hour, we swapped horses and Hardy, of course, barely had to squeeze to get her to trot. He thinks that my legs are still a bit too far forward. I am somewhat skeptical and suspect the horse loves to torment me, but I will go next week in a good attitude and try getting my legs a bit further back. I sulk on here, but I do try to listen, learn, etc. during lessons. ;)

After that, I drove up to my old barn and went riding with James. He was riding some big rangy horse he swore was gaited - not his, one he was reriding for the barn owner - and I got to ride SSB. SSB is James' very own young pyscho TWH/SSH. We went on a fairly long ride, over two hours. The trails there are just as bad as I remembered, nothing but deep ruts and slushy mud and roaring 4 wheelers.

SSB is a fun little ride. She's as bad as Dixie used to be about not standing for a rider to mount; you've really got to scramble on board and go racking away fumbling for the off stirrup. She has pretty good steering. When James got her, she was incredibly pacey - he's gotten her to where she does a tolerable and fast stepping pace. If yall are interested, I could go into a lot of detail about gaits, but I feel like I ramble way too much anyway.

SSB didn't have brakes at first, til she got used to the way I ask for a halt. I have a minor talent for teaching walking horses to woah - nobody EVER gives them ANY release, because you "gotta" hang on their mouths at all time. If I can get the first pause, I release really fast and they get absolute loose rein unless they start to move their feet again. It works, it really does.

We had a fantastic if chilly ride til we turned for home. The two long fields on the way back were absolutely brutal with the wind whipping by - my (uninsulated) thighs were numb and my (uncovered) face was burning from the wind. Ugh. When we got back, the flappy loose end of my girth strap was frozen stiff with icemud. Double ugh!

At one point, SSB slipped in the mud and went down on her knees and I was sure that we were both about to get a frozen mud facial. But astonishingly, I never went off balance and she scrambled right back up. And even more astonishingly, I wasn't terrified that I was going to end up dragged or trampled or launched into a tree. The lessons are paying off in so many ways!

I can't decide whether to feel guilty or not. SSB is pretty young and we rode HARD. If she was my horse, I wouldn't ride her that hard. But the thing is, she's not my horse and she gets ridden that hard all the time. I rode her balanced and with kind hands. I didn't push her to GO GO GO, she's just a young psycho who chooses to GO GO GO nonstop for miles. And if I hadn't ridden her, she wouldn't have gotten the day off - just ridden with hard hands instead. Sooo... not my horse, not my rules.

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