Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vacation = Riding!

Two words: Vacations Rock!

Tonight is the last day of my five day Thanksgiving vacation. It is snowing, so of course I am wishing for a snow day tomorrow. LOL! But that is silly. Really it was just so nice to have time off. I am still in withdrawals from being a stay-at-home mom for four years, so having five days off was a treat! :)

I was able to ride three times, which was fantastic. I have a student named B who is also an intern at C's preschool. She agreed to come over and watch C for me in the mornings so I could ride. Yes, I would have to pay to ride, but it was SOOOO worth it! She came over on Wednesday morning and I got in a good dressage ride. We worked on trot leg yields and got a couple of good canter departs to the left. I only rode for 30 minutes, since Ms. Dreamy is out of shape, but it was a good solid 30 minute ride. We are not setting the world on fire, but I was pleased.

Of course, Thursday was Thanksgiving. :) Did not get a ride in, as S hunted all morning and then we ate dinner here with family at 3PM. That was OK though.

Friday B was going to call me when she got out of work at 2PM. It would have been perfect, as I could have ridden and then done chores. However, I have been staying up TOO LATE this vacation, so when C asked me to lay down with him at nap time (1PM) I completely fell asleep. I don't even remember laying there for long, so I am sure I needed the rest. Bad part though was we missed B's call at 2PM. I called her at 3:30 when we woke up and sheepishly explained what happened. She was fine with it, but I felt like a heel. Of course I missed out on a ride. Oh well.

Then Saturday.....again I was going to call B when she got off work at 2PM. But this time S came home early from hunting at noon. He wanted to relax and go back out around 2PM, so I took the opportunity to ride! It was cheaper....LOL! I called B and felt bad about it, but she ended up working a double shift at work, so I felt better. Saturdays ride was good. We worked on working walk and long and low walk.....she is getting so good about keeping bit contact! We did some trotting, nothing exciting, just working on a steady connection. Then I tried the canter just for half the 20 m. circle and she picked it up NORMALLY in both directions! YAY! Her right lead canter depart was actually pretty fabulous! No head tossing, throwing herself into the gait! Just a smooth canter with her back up and on the bit! :) That was so cool!!!!

After two good departs in both directions (the downwards need some help.....but one thing at a time!) we did more walk work. We did leg yields (again, as I did them in warm up) and then walk turns on the haunches, turns on the forehand, and then walk pirouettes.

Sunday (today) was supposed to be sunny in the AM with increasing clouds after lunch, with eventual snow. :( But of course it was just overcast and cold all day....with snow that started right at feed time tonight!

S stayed home all day (wonders never cease!) so I did stalls around 9AM and figured I would just ride at nap time. Instead, S decided to do some yard work for about an hour and a half with his father and of course C wanted to be right with them. So it made more sense to ride at 10AM and then get some school work done during nap (yes I had five days and I waited until today...it was only an hour's worth though!). So after two good "work rides", I decided it was time to just hack her out. Plus, at 10AM without any sun, the ground in the field was still rather frozen .

So we headed up the big hill (Pease Hill Road) which gets very little traffic as it is a dead end road in the willywags of western Maine. LOL! We actually did not see one single car in our 40 min. ride! The road is tar and turns to dirt. The tar road was fine, but it got kind of icy on the dirt as we climbed the hill. I was able to get a nice bit of trot in at one point, but that was because the sun had been able to shine in that area. Most of the dirt part of the road is very shaded, so the road was tricky. There was plenty of good dirt to ride on, but there were icy spots you had to be paying attention to. At one point, I just turned around because it was actually dangerous. The entire road was ice and I could not see any point in trying to continue on, as the rest of the road was all shaded and not likely to improve. But that was just fine, as we still got a good ride in.

Dreamy has become so much better about trekking out on her own. She still wants to be spooky in the first 10 minutes of the ride. It is like riding a stuck horse.....leg leg leg leg. She does listen to me and she is MUCH braver than a few years ago, but her "stickiness" makes her bob and weave like a drunken sailor! It is not a fun ride at first. Right leg says GET THAT BUTT OVER, then left rein says KEEP THAT SHOULDER THERE! And on and on.....The best part is that noise effects......she does a funny "fluttery" noise when she is worried. LOL!

About half way into the ride, we trot and she realizes I mean business. Why is it that when you trot the horse relaxes? It is like at a show, if she is being stupid in warm up, I put her right into a trot and she relaxes. Anyway, her fitness is no longer at that point, so I had to deal with the silly noises and drunken bumbling for a bit.

She was good though as she did just what I asked. On the way home, she is a normal horse. Gives me her big old swinging marching walk in a completely STRAIGHT line and I ride her on the buckle. Ah, mares! This is why I love owning a mare.

She certainly would never be barn sour or take off for home, but it is a very obvious sigh of relief when she can turn around and head back into familiar territory. My mare does not want to be a trail blazer! Another good trot on the way back. No head fussing, just a nice rhythmic trot. During the last leg of the ride, I consider teaching her to neck rein at the walk, since when she gets in the Standardbred Zone (I'll define it in a sec...) she is autopilot and I always end up riding along with one hand on the reins. LOL! My little western horse! She does rather like to plop along without contact, so I allow it on the trail at the WALK. I don't dare allow her to do it at the trot, because she is still not 100% convinced to go WITH contact yet. I do make her keep contact 100% of the time now when we "work" in the ring/field. I think she knows the difference between working and hacking out.

OK, so the Standardbred Zone is when she will either walk or trot completely straight, huge swinging gaits and just motor along. It is a comfort place for them I think. On the track, they exercise everyday in a big trot/pace and go straight (pretty much). I mean they go much straighter on the track turns than a 20 m. circles So I swear it is a Standardbred thing to literally get into a straight and marching zone on the trail. She does it on the track when we marshal too. It is just point and shoot.

So I had a good vacation. Yeah, it snowed twice (AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!) but I got to ride three times and they were all great rides. Here's hoping the footing will stay good so I can continue to keep riding.

Now I have to clean my tack. Nothing like a winter woolly horse to make your bridle a mess! :)

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