I’ve been workout riding every day, and felt I was ready to start adding horses to my catch ride string. I’m not sore, and my seat is returning. As the show season winds down, and the icky season comes closer, people will spend more time fireside, instead of more time in a soggy parka wrenching boots out of the mud, so they can ride their higher-than-a-kite horse during another driving rain storm.
Hey it works for me! Win-win.
I’m not sure who I’ll be riding this winter. Two of my guys moved (I’ll miss them, despite the fact they were on my Kingdom Come list). I still have Hudson and Tiny. Pops’ owner asked if I’d pick him up one day a week. I have room and I like Pops, so I said yes. But it’s a little problematic riding a horse like Pops only one day a week. He was a super successful racehorse, and he retains a sense of entitlement: “oh you’re one of the minions I don’t need to remember”.
Today was my first Three Horse Day. Three full workout rides. For the non-horsey, this is the equivalent of 3 consecutive hour-long-each kickboxing workouts. With different sized instructors.
Did I really do this last winter with 5 horses??
My eyebrows hurt. My teeth hurt. I believe that burning sensation is my hair follicles hurting. Each horse requires different muscle use from me.
Ow ow ow ow OW.
Hudson: rocket propelled, needs a quiet rider, and complete stillness. He rides off very subtle isometric shifts of weight, balance and minimalist aids. I have to be careful not to think too loudly: he can hear me. Aids must be small and precise, I have to keep muscular white noise as close to zero as possible. Hudson and I worked on making accurate gymnastic figures. That’s a lot of isometrics.
Tiny: a gigantic Shetland pony: huge, round, heavy, and close-coupled. Tiny is in rehab after The Accident. Lilli believes his best interests are served by riding low level dressage, and trail. This is true. If anything happened to Lilli, fist fights would break out over who could spend the most money to buy him. Because of dressage work, (he was) in excellent shape, strong as an ox, gymnastic, and wonderfully quiet. Tiny’s life long dream is to be My Little Pony. He believes he would build muscle faster if we fed him carrots more often. He expresses this thought frequently during his rides. Tiny is a rescue from school horse hell: six adult beginners a day. Imagine six hours of pounding, yanking, and being blamed for everything. He was 3 when they started using him for this. His early abuse left him moderately deaf not only to muscular white noise, but to actual instructions. What? Did you say something? Huh? Come again? We are always working on turning up his hearing aid, and he’s come a long way. But it still takes legs of steel to encourage him to move forward, very soft upper body and shoulders to leave an opening for ‘forward’ and a lot of lower back muscle to keep those two parts of my body moving independently. Tiny is extra wide. I’m going to walk like a bowlegged movie cowboy tomorrow.
Pops: XL Thoroughbred built like a Warmblood tank. Elegant and perfectly proportioned. Enormous movement. Startling movement. I Dare You to Try to Sit My Trot movement. Built uphill, with a butt a quarter horse would envy. He can float at will. The things horses will teach you about good dressage riders: floating plus BIG vertical and BIG horizontal movement is a difficult space in which to stay soft, deep and centered. Have to ride Pops strongly off my Abs, and chest/upper back muscles.
Pops can DO dressage.
He’s convinced he will race again someday: today? That works. It doesn’t help that I hate his bit. I’m told it’s impossible, but this bit feels severe to me (?): no give, no subtlety. It’s a shaped mullein mouth. I feel like I’m riding a sensitive horse using an old truck steering wheel. I miss the fluid power steering of his ergonomic eggbutt snaffle. The combination of being extra cautious with my hands (my gut keeps telling me it’s a severe bit on him!), and his desire to brace and race = my neck is killing me.
I’m turning 52 in a few weeks. What was I thinking? Could I have had a smidge of common sense, and added an extra horse a week? Noooooo. Gotta do it all NOW, because it’s FUN.
I’m afraid to wake up tomorrow. Kafka, Gregor Samsa…The Metamorphasis…what if I’m the BUG?!
Note to Daisy: you may NOT tape a sign to my back saying Smash Me.