The spirit is willing but the body is toast!

Have you ever had one of those nights where you know you are just riding like shit?

It doesn’t matter how well you ride, it can happen. Your balance is off. Your legs feel like noodles. You know you are leaning in funny ways. You don’t feel secure. You know that if the horse decided to offload you, they could do it without breaking a sweat. You hope and pray they won’t take advantage, and try to just get the horse worked without doing anything too complicated.

When I was younger, I only felt this way when I was sick. I particularly remember it from when I was riding with pneumonia. Now? Could happen at any time, and it definitely happened last night.

We started with the SSBG (sorry Josie but that’s his name until he shows me he is not going to repeat his behavior!) and I decided it’s definitely time to go to a bit with him. If you’re going to slam your head to the ground pitching and rip the reins through my hand in a bitless or halter, then guess what, you’re going to learn to carry a bit. Now.

He’s not bad about the bit. I set him up and let him free longe in the round pen with the reins loosely knotted on the horn. He tested them and felt them out but he’s not terribly resistant to them – he’s normal for a green horse. Free longeing him is work. There are horses that will pretty much just go around while you stand in the middle and read your e-mail. He’s not one of them. If I took my eyes off of him for even a second – he stopped. He was always looking for an opportunity to spin and go the Preferred Pony Direction, so I had to be on guard and positioned at his hip to counteract that. It was probably more work for me than it was for him!

We also did a lot of work on stopping, but stopping without a rider has never been his problem. He stops great when someone on the ground tells him ho. When you ask for it on his back, no matter how gently, his first instinct is to throw his nose up and resist. So I decided we needed ground support. We put a rope halter on over the bridle, I mounted up and we just worked on walking and stopping. If he wanted to walk through my request to stop, he got reminded with the halter that this wasn’t an option. My whole focus with him for the next week or so is going to be all about installing brakes before we go any further. He was a good boy, although very distracted by all of the horses running in the fields – but that is the price you pay for using the round pen at twilight!

By now it was quarter to ten again (I know, I know, it’s just I have all of these horses to feed and waters to fill before I can even think about riding, plus the phone kept ringing) and I needed to ride the VLC. As soon as I climbed on, I knew I was just…mush. I was past tired, my coordination level was zero, and I just couldn’t quite pull it together the way I wanted to no matter what. I felt loose, I felt off balance and just not quite right. I hate that. But hey, it was the VLC, so he trotted around without any drama and everything was fine. I did have enough common sense to decide not to lope, and to work on something easy – stopping and immediately backing a few steps. He is figuring it out well, and is not resistant about backing. What a good boy! Josie makes fun of me because she can hear me when I’m in the arena in her aisle and I am always telling him he is the Best Colt in the World and Such a Good Boy. Well, he is!

To me, one of the primary indicators of a really good minded horse is what happened last night – the horse that does not take advantage when you’re not riding your best. Believe me, the horse knows if you’re off balance and weak. A good horse packs you around regardless. A dishonest horse goes, woo hoo, here’s my chance to offload her! We’ve all ridden both and, at this point in my life, I want to ride the good minded ones.

A couple pictures tonight of Honey, the BTM! They are blurry because it was twilight when they were taken, not because she was moving that fast. (The trot pics, yeah, those are so blurry you can’t even see them, ha ha!) These were from ride #2. Standard disclaimer applies, I am aware of my lack of a helmet and yes, I am riding in sneakers. Just think, you can use me as an example of how not to ride for your kids! 🙂
I see why Karen misses her so much. She is a snuggly Honey Bunny and was all over me for petting this morning while I was out watering. Anybody would love to have her around, and she gets along with the other mares so well. She and Lucy were mutually grooming each other – I wish I’d have had my camera!

Published in: on July 2, 2008 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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