Saturday, February 20, 2016

Life Without Horses

During my recovery, it had occurred to me to wonder if I were approaching a stage of life that didn't have horses in it. A worthy question and one I've asked myself the few times I have hit the ground hard enough to either break something or damage myself into months of downtime and healing. I think only a sane person would wonder if continuing to put themselves in position for such things to happen is a good idea.

Then, there is the money. Non-horse people have zero idea how much money we plug into our sport, our hobby. I am currently in the process of closing a deal on an F250 I absolutely would not require in a life that didn't have horses in it. My trailer shopping budget is between 14 and 18k. Money that could go a bunch of different things . . . sans horses.

Except for days like the one in my last blog. And today. A day spent at the barn, doing barn things, smelling barn smells in the company of friends doing the same. Scrubbing buckets, hanging them back in place, petting the residents in their stalls, and watching my own two beasts down in their pen below unsuspectingly waiting their turn.

The glorious ride on Royal. I find myself posting around the arena, a little out of breath, a little off balance but he's keeping his cadence and I'm working on keeping up. I am not afraid. If you have followed my blog you know the fear demons that have beset me. I wondered if they'd raise their unwelcome heads again. That's another thing about a horse-less life. You never have to swallow back your fear and put your foot in the stirrup one more time. I have a feeling, though, the fear really has nothing to do with horses whatsoever but more the emptiness inside a person that lacks confidence in themselves. So, then, probably find that guy again some other place, horses or no.

I'm posting around, enjoying how very solid he feels. How straight a line he cuts, how nicely he rounds or squares into the corners depending on what I'm asking. During the warm up, I want him to come onto the outside rein, yield to my inside leg. To the right is tough. I go to put my right leg on him and it doesn't hurt, thankfully (no horses, less pain? maybe) but it also doesn't do put much strength into the effort either. He doesn't want to round into the small circle. His rib cage bumps my leg. I bump it back. Get over there.

We mess. I am looking for him to relax his underline, his throat, underside of his neck. It happens and his ears are right, his feet are right and his brain is between his curly ears where it belongs. This is what "putting them up on a good note" really means. I think back on how angry I was that Peter had me ride Royal after that steer when I was completely terrified he'd go to bucking again. Riding into that arena took every bit of steel I have in me. It worked out and I am so grateful that I rode. I got back, four months later on a horse I had faith in rather than one I had just shattered bones on. He had faith in me, too. World of difference.

Our 20 meter circles are decent. I know where the marks are now and Greg and I chat about the Shaggy show coming up first weekend of April. I had really hoped to move us into Training Level this year. I had not planned on several months of down time setting us firmly back in our schedule.

I am pleased though that we are not reinventing the wheel, Royal and I. We are both in a good place and we remember what we are doing. We will ride the Intro tests, for sure.

I look ahead. We are coming to the time if we were taking a lesson that Becky would say, okay when you hit M, round the corner, sit a few beats and ask for the canter.

I had almost ruined Royal's canter transition. I'd exaggerate my cues to set him up, do too much, get in his way. He was so annoyed with it all he'd stopped wanting to. Becky said, stop all that movement in the saddle. Sit like a princess, put your leg on him and EXPECT him to canter.

So we round at the bottom of the arena. I sit a few beats, put my leg on him and  . . . ka dum thump, ka dum thump, gorgeous little three beat canter. I'm so excited (he's not bucking or even thinking about bucking, he's on the correct lead, this is gorgeous   . .  this is  . . aw shit.) We lost it and trotted around. I gather him up and my ask the next time is not as natural and he pounds his trot into the ground. No canter from here. Can't happen, won't happen.

Come around again, sit back. One, two, three. Leg on. Here we go . .  . so lovely

Greg had to go and he took his big pony out. Royal's ears snap forward in a hard point. I'm being left? Oh no! This won't do!

That Royal. That's the one that gets in trouble. I circle him, working those ears, one pinned firmly to the barn door, the other flickering back and forth. With me, leaving me, with me, leaving . . . now, finally, both with me and we are back after it.

Other way, we get the canter super easy. I sit back, he floats. This is what it's supposed to be like. This is what it is, the deal. You don't get moments like this in a life without horses.

You don't get soft nickers from the other horse tied to the wall, his eyes not on the horse coming back toward him but fixed on YOU. The soft muzzle playing lip games, the big bald Painted face tucking to your chest when you rub a knot out of his neck. You don't get to see them sigh with relief when you help them relax, find confidence and let down from their worry.

There are so many things you don't get to have in a life that doesn't have horses in it, I'm not sure it would be worth living for me. I' m pretty glad it doesn't have to be that way. We are going to ride Training level too. No reason why not.

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