January 4, 2011 1 Comment
These winter nights, when it’s dark and cold, are sometimes hard to face. After a long day of work, the prospect of carousing around in the freezing dark sometimes doesn’t appeal. I was feeling tired and sluggish this afternoon – and while I’m truly happy to be back in my riding routine, as the sun sank the prospect of the barn became daunting.
I pulled on breeches, wool socks, turtleneck and fleece, and ran out the door before my darkening mood could sink my plans.
Arriving at the barn, I hot-footed it across the cold parking lot, and into the not-much-warmer barn, teeth chattering. I realized too late that I really should have added some long underwear to my evening’s attire. As I hustled around, greeting the mare, setting her beet pulp and alfalfa cubes to soak and fetching my tack, I started to warm up. Mads was standing by her door, ears pricked. I pulled her out. scratched her jaw for a minute, and put her in the cross ties.
As I groomed and tacked up, I got warmer, and happier. I slipped Mads a few extra mints – she seemed pretty happy with the proceedings too. We went into the arena, and mounted up. From the get-go I had nice contact – none of the hanging-on-the-rein nonsense from last night. We warmed up, stretching down, flexing right and left, doing a little shoulder fore and some serpentines. We trotted off, and Mads was simply gorgeous. Light and responsive, responding to my softening inside rein. I hopped up into two point and let her cruise for a minute, while I stretched out my hip flexors. Mads trotted on, ears flopping.
Picking up my post and the reins, we started doing some slightly more interesting work – circles and serpentines in varying directions and sizes. Mads remained nicely round and on the bit. We worked on transitions within the gait – I half halted and reduced my post going into the short side, not quite collecting, but asking (and getting) shorter strides and a nice connection. Turning down the long side, I gave Mads a little cluck, and elevated my post. Bam! There was my nice trot! We rolled down the long sides, and she came right back to to me on the short sides. Good mare!
I was thrilled, and, I’m sure, beaming. My dark mood and lack of motivation had melted away like the last snow in spring. It was joy, pure and simple.
At the end of our ride, we hustled back into the barn. I dove into my coat, and put a heavy cooler on the slightly-steaming mare. After I cleaned her up, we hung out in the aisle, both pleased with the other and enjoying each others’ company.
Finally, a special shout-out to my friend Liz, author of the Loving Cloud, blog, who is recovering from surgery. Cloud misses you but wants you to know that he’s getting lots of attention, and things aren’t too bad. Still, he’s like you to hurry back to the barn please.