There. I did it. I started riding again this week. I think I deserve a gold star. Seriously! Did you ride this week too? Gold star for you too, then. ⭐️
Sometimes, it is all I can do to muster up the energy to work two jobs and feed myself. Then I have to try to find the motivation to exercise five horses in 20° weather, on an overcast, breezy day, on a sheet of ice buried in a foot of snow. I mean, seriously. What’s not to love about that?! How could it possibly be hard to find the motivation?! But I did it, and that’s why I get a star. So there.
Of course, with some time off, the minis (Coco and Delilah) have gotten fat(ter), and the skinnies (Charlie Horse, Lottie, and Turbo)… have not. But they are maintaining their weight, which any Thoroughbred owner will tell you, is a win all on its own.
Now ask me how my legs are feeling today. Go ahead. I dare ya !
Jello. My legs are jello. And here’s why.
Coco is so thick, she literally looks like she’s pregnant with twins, which gives the ol’ inner thighs quite the stretch. We have just been doing some walk-trot-canter work and continuing to work her over her back and thinking of putting her front end downhill. Yeah. Downhill, dudes. You want to know what happens if you ask Coco to lighten her front end? It comes off the ground, and we are rearing. Rear-trotting. Rear-cantering. Doesn’t matter. She can do all three gaits without her front legs ever touching the ground. So, whatever you do, do NOT ask Coco to come up in front. It hurts the brain to think about that, doesn’t it? It basically goes against everything I was ever taught.
Christian has me ride Coco like she’s a water wheel. The energy is constantly recycled, and the back of the wheel comes up, the front of the wheel has to go down, and all of the energy is contained by leg and hand. It’s interesting; I had read about the energy being recycled and contained by the aids etc. in articles before, and had it explained in a number of different ways, but you don’t really get a solid appreciation for that feeling until you sit on something as well balanced and freakishly uphill as Coco. Now I get it. The front of the wheel must go down. Or we all die.
Also, Coco has been jumping the jumps in the field in her spare time. Two separate days now, I have witnessed her running around with the herd and jumping the jumps. The others usually run at the jumps but veer around them at the last second. Coco always jumps them. Because why not? She’s Coco.
Then there’s Turbo. I’ve been letting him be a bit lazy during rides because he’s not had any sort of real work in… ever. Probably never in his life, if the truth were told. So, we would do some work then let him recover and eat cookies. However, now he thinks it’s really fun to just walk whenever he wants and flail his head side to side in search of cookies. He requires much convincing with the leg to keep the forward happening. Turbo is perpetually exhausted. (We have that in common.) He says it’s really hard to stand around and eat all day. It really wears him out. Sadly for him, I recently decided it’s time for him to start being a real horse and started carrying a stick. The stick seems to help. I think Turbo is still rather perplexed at his new life.
Oh, also! He spent the night in a stall, which was super adorable. Pretty sure he had never done that before. I was leading him into the stall, and he stepped on the stall mat, which made a weird sound. Gasp! Turbo freezes. He looks around like- what should I do?! He slowwwwly backs his foot off the mat. I show him his alfalfa inside the stall, which he can’t resist. He takes this HUGE, tippy-toe, slow motion step over the width of the mat, and buries his head in his food. Phew! We about had an actual crisis on our hands. Those wild Thoroughbreds…
Then there’s the rest of the loons. They require a decent amount of leg-seatbelt to not get launched to the next county, which of course, makes my legs even more jello-ey.
Dilly Bean has just been exuberant lately, and I have to remind her that the human is indeed allowed to half halt, and her neck does not need to be 3″ long after said half halt. I should buy a neck extension for the red one. And only ride her in molasses. Solid training plan. A+.
Charlie Horse is jumping allllll the things, AND his stupid human has finally realized it’s okay to help him. I owe Delilah and Coco big time. If you don’t tell them what speed to get to the jump, we jump everything like it’s a steeplechase fence. I think my brain is finally putting it all together and has realized that I can help manage all of the horses- even the babies. (I realize they’re not actually babies anymore, but they have baby-sized eventing records and baby brains, so they get to be “the babies” until I say so.)
Yesterday, I made the mistake of setting fences after I caught Charlie, so he had to go around with me (because we still can’t tie the beast without him trying to kill himself). Every time one of the jumps moved or made a sound, he was getting more and more worried. Really, Charles? He gets this worried look in his eye, and his brain goes 9.0 trying to escape the trap I’ve set, which of course is not a trap at all.
So I led him over all the jumps at a walk. (18″! Biggest jumps he has jumped in over a year! Progress is being made.) He stepped over all of them, but still looked a bit worried. So I tacked him up and fed him lots of cookies. Back in the field, he was still looking at the jumps out of the corner of his eye like they were not to be trusted. I told him, “Fine. You don’t have to jump them today. You can do them tomorrow.” And with that agenda off my plate, he returned to normal horse. He was like, “OHHHH. So we get to do dressage today?!😃”
Sure, Charlie. Whatever. I don’t really care. It’s January. We literally have nowhere to be. His attitude was content again, so I thought he should at least do the three walk poles and step over the pile of poles. He walks up to them and stops. He says he can’t do it. He turns to look for a cookie. I pat him between the ears. He whips his head around the other direction. I pat him between the ears again. Still no cookies to be found. Charlie goes through the thought process and decides maybe he should try stepping over the pile of poles. So he does, and then brings his head around again to see if that was the right answer. Good, Boyfriend. 🍪 He is then all proud of himself, and proceeds to canter all the jumps and be ultra civilized. What a weird beast.
Lastly, Lottie jumped all the things too, but it’s not nearly as exciting, because she always jumps the things. What IS exciting, is that there was less flailing around, more listening, and actual good flatwork between jumps. A little heavy in the hand, but we are working on that. Better all the time. The stick-horse likes to jump. And she also likes her new barefoot life. This is her first winter without shoes. Happy wallet, happy horse, happy Shallary.
And with that update done, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go torture some ponies.