As I may have mentioned, this has been the winter of surgeries. (Not mine). Surgeries and no snow. Until now, spring. We're seeing more snow at our house than we have all winter and the fruit trees are blooming, the tulips are coming up, we've got the itch to be outside in the garden. After JC's last knee surgery, about a month ago, I set a goal for myself and my mare - to start as soon as he was able to get himself around enough to leave for a few hours. 30 consecutive days with my mare -riding 6 days a week and doing something else the 7th (grooming, hanging out, groundwork).
Well, I've already blown that all to heck by realizing that we have a camping trip during that 30 days - but rather than abandon the goal I think I've changed it to rides. 30 consecutive rides. Riding (or something) every day and then riding 2x a day to make up for the days I'll miss. (Thanks, Janet, for the suggestion!)
I began today - April Fools Day. It was the day after a storm and it was chilly, breezy, and a little cloudy. When the sun was out it was grand. When the sun went behind a cloud it was brisk. JC dropped me off and took the dogs for a walk and to work on the Rambler a little in anticipation of our next camping trip in it.
It had been a week or so since I rode last, but we've been having good rides all winter. Some challenging, some a piece of cake. She's come so far, and so have I in terms of trusting her and facing my fears. I do wear a helmet a lot more these days, and I bought a cute one. I guess my only complaint about it is that I do get a headache after awhile wearing it. Still, it gives me an extra shot of confidence.
She's such a fabulous mare. She eagerly comes to the gate of the mare pen to greet me and is completely agreeable to saddle and bridle. We rode around the grounds to settle in as the wind was flapping tarps all around and she seemed just a little bit jumpy about that. I took her around to see just about every tarp on the property. I love when I can feel her back relax and her head drops - that's when I know we're in sync.
She walked willingly out the gate and into the brush, and we wandered the dirt roads for awhile visiting trails we had not yet been on and winding around and through the sage. I headed for the track and between us and that was a nice sandy gully, which we dropped into and rode along the bottom for awhile. Climbing out we were on the same side of the track and I could feel her relaxed and attentive.
Once we reached the track we circled it and then I urged her into a trot. Up came the head and some tightness so I made a concious effort to sit deep and relaxed; I even sang to her a bit. I decided that transitions might be nice after a couple of times when she got really "rushy" and I had to circle her back to a relaxed jog. Counting beats I pushed her up into the trot and sat back down to the walk for a few circles, going left, and she relaxed into it. Turning to go right was 'head up' and back hollow again - so back into the transitions we went. A few laps and I walked her out through the brush again.
She let out her happy grunts and stretched her head down, and I almost walked back with this, but decided that I really wasn't happy with the head-up trot and ending that way. So back to the track it was and another trot, this time working the snaffle to get her to drop her head. It didn't take much and I should have done that from the start, as well as just stayed with her and let her work into relaxation at the trot, but I ended with her head down and I suppose that is something.
Back to the sandy wash, down the side and stopping at the bottom - to transition her into walking up the other side instead of rushing. She did great (we've worked on that before) and then it was pretty much the end of the ride. A little more walking around the home front and then back to the trailer.
I got to spend another hour or so with her as I'm working on evening up her mane. Last summer she wore big chunks of it off rubbing on the timbers that make up their summer corrals. I'm pulling the rest of the mane to match the 3-4" that has grown out since October but it isn't looking so hot yet! The front is going to have to get a lot shorter to match the back and she's going to look like a dressage horse when its all said and done. But it looked raggedy, and at least now it'll grow out even.
A good day, and I'm so looking forward to tomorrow. And the next day. I can't wait to see where we go.