February 26, 2014 1 Comment
The Polar Vortex III is coming to town. Most sequels suck, and I don’t expect this one to be any different. The ground is frozen and everyone is grumpy – Tucker even made a legit attempt at a bite the other night – way out of character for him. We are all sick, sick, sick of this weather. However, God in is good grace made britches out of Wind Pro and underwear out of merino wool and those lovely toe-warmer thingies (which I kid you not I buy by the gross) and so – we ride. We complain but we show up, and we ride. Christy even did a post about the determination her crew has displayed this winter.
That said, things aren’t ideal. There are some nights it’s been too cold to do much, and due to some exceptionally icy conditions, the horses have been stuck inside – a lot. The muscle has melted off them – even Derby, who carries a lot of muscle for a TB, is now sporting a pencil neck and droopy top line. Happily for both of us, my riding is continuing to improve as I get stronger in places I never thought possible through my Pilates work.
I’m coming off a three-week travel jag during which I rode very inconsistently (literally and figuratively!) But I got a real surprise on Saturday when I finally clambered aboard for a ride.
I was fiddling with my position, really trying to feel and engage my lower core muscles, and was working on big trot/little trot, a little exercise we do in which I ask for a
larger gait down the long side and a smaller one around the short side, while staying connected. The ‘ask’ comes from half halts, nothing else. We were heading down the long side at a spanking working trot and it felt great – forward, round, connected, back up, rider balanced – one of those ah-ha moments. Going into the short side, I half halted, and Derby sat down and halted. Okay, he took a couple steps but we did come to a stop for which I was not prepared, and subsequently there was grabbing of the horse’s neck required to stay aboard. There’s no doubt that my half-halts can be stronger, so I spent some time after that incident working on tuning the strength of the half-halt, so I could get a transition within the gait, not a full-halt.
I told this to Christy before my lesson on Monday and she confirmed my continued improvement. The trot work is looking good and our next step is putting the canter back together and wow, it is frightful.
As we plunge back into the sub-zero deep freeze for the next few days, most of my plans are on hold. I’m planning on getting on both Tucker and Derby for mostly walk work – we’ll set up some cavaletti and work on lateral responsiveness. This weekend it should be a bit warmer (in the teens, oh joy.) The 10 day forecast isn’t offering much encouragement at the moment but for the love of God, it is almost March. Mother Nature is bound to end this bender soon, come back to her senses and give us some normal temperatures. (We hope.)