Roller Coasters

cute jumpYesterday the Chicago area flirted with record high temperatures, reaching 66 degrees.   Wind and lots of rain also visited the area.  But what a difference a day makes.  Right now, temperatures are headed down to 10 degrees, and snow is covering the ground.

The horses have been in for a few days, and between the chaotic weather and being trapped inside, they’re starting to get a little loony. I was traveling Monday and Tuesday, and Derby wasn’t well behaved either day for the girl I had lined up to ride him.  She’s a lovely rider (much better than me,) and normally they have great rides together. However, Monday he would not go forward – refusing to do anything but a shuffling jog, and Tuesday he had a puffy leg and a nick just above an eye, so he just got a hand walk.

This morning I got up early to visit Derby before starting work.  I suspect his puffy ankle is from an aggravated bed sore on the front of the fetlock. He’s sound and there’s no heat.   The eye looks fine too, it’s superficial.  I was relieved.

In anticipation of riding tonight, I put Derby’s boots on for a little early morning exercise.  Once we were in the arena, I set up a little X for him.  He started taking himself over it even before I asked, and had a lot of fun jumping it both ways.  Not wanting to make himself sore, I took the X down before Derby was really ready to be done with it, turning it into trot poles which Derby then trotted and cantered.  Afterwards, he got a long walk, a good currying and some cookies in his haynet to help him pass the time.

When I went to tack him up tonight, however, I noticed that his wither area was a bit sore.  Not super bad, but not great, and given that he’d had some issues over the last few days, I left him in his stall, and went to fetch my good buddy Manny.

During our lesson, Christy noted that my hands were staying nice and quiet, and I told her that I believe I finally have the “feel” for carrying my hands independently.  Riding Tucker a couple weeks ago, I had a bit of an epiphany, and for the first time could really feel what I was doing in terms of following the movement with my seat but keeping my upper body and hands quiet.  Since that ride I’ve been able to replicate it, so I hope this means that it’s officially a new habit.

What produced this epiphany?  It’s hard to nail down.  I have been doing the work, riding different horses and working on my seat, including dropping my stirrups.  And I have been diligent about doing my homework, practicing what we work on in my lessons, and looking to the horse for feedback on how I’m doing.   Ultimately, I think that I’ve become a good student, able to synthesize and apply what I learn from Christy.

So yay.  Progress! Just in time for some wicked cold that is threatening to keep us grounded tomorrow.  We’ll see.