Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

The best place by the fire...

Woohoo! Congrats to the Canadian Eventing Team for capturing silver at the World Equestrian Games!!! Awesome job!!! All six riders clear on XC, four even in the time allowed. Fantastic.

So I stumbled upon another #fridayflash blog entitled The best place by the fire which has a brilliant title and some good stories on it if you're looking for a read. Mostly though, I really loved was the quote in the header from Jim Henson:

“When people told themselves their past with stories,
explained their present with stories,
and foretold their future with stories,
the best place by the fire was kept for . . .
The Storyteller.”

Just had to share :)

So last week I had a few rides back-to-back that were unbelievably amazing. One dressage, one just goofing around, and one over fences. The world was good. And then I had a ride where I just couldn't get my act together at all. N my awesome little pony saved me! This is a HUGE step up from where we were a month ago that anything between two standards was scary and required a nearly perfect ride to get anywhere near. I was thoroughly unimpressed with my own riding (she shouldn't *have* to save me!) but equally thrilled that she did. Needless to say having that bad a day I wasn't about to risk screwing up all the work we've been doing, so we did something really easy and ended on that.

Well now that was yesterday. Today I had planned to go hacking -- a great low-stress way to reconnect and put the pieces back together. Except when I woke up it was cold and rainy. Boooo. Eventually it dries up and gets a *little* warmer and I feel obligated to go ride my horse. A little trepidacious about it -- I know from experience that when I have a ride like yesterday's it's usually because I've been trying too hard (although for what now I've no idea???) and the only real solution is to go have fun for a few days and then start over, but w/ all the rain xc and hacking were both out.

So I didn't really want to ride at all, but then that's not going to help either. Knowing this, I throw on dressage tack -- figuring that'll stop me from being inclined to jump (I built this new course last week that I'm quite proud of *g* It has some aspects to it that some of the h/j crowd aren't too sure about hahaha but for most it seems to be riding well). So we get out there and she's a little high. Usually she has awesome ground manners but today she didn't want to stand for me to adjust tack or mount which is not entirely normal. W/u and she's technically being very well behaved but tense tense tense. The type where you can feel every muscle under you quivering and you're just sitting up there waiting for an explosion. So I try some stretchy stuff to get her to relax. No go. Somebody had lowered all the jumps to cavelleti size so I let her trot over a few of those to see if it'd help. Nope. Willing enough to go over them, but no stretching and definitely no relaxation. Try the long and low canter thing, usually a favourite of hers... Yeah it was neither long nor low. *sigh* Do some basic lateral work, which usually gets her to focus and settle. Yeah not so much.

But the thing is, through all this, she never once put a foot wrong. She was always genuinely trying to do what I was asking her to do. She was just explosively wired and containing it was not working all that well. Certainly if I ever got on Zel (my last horse :) when she was in that same mood, I'd usually find myself on the ground within the first 15 minutes or so. But Si was really trying. It was just that bend isn't possible when you're so tense your muscles are locked in a straight line, and her trot resembled a sewing machine since she wasn't able to relax enough to stretch her legs.

So I put on my trainer hat and try to figure out what she needs most to be able to relax. Esp given that none of the usual tricks and techniques are working. Does she just need the day off? Well no, cause then she'd go back as tense as she came out; doesn't really fix anything. What she really needs, is to be a horse. To gallop and buck and play and let some of that energy out. Which she can't *really* do in her t/o paddock these days since it's mostly mud. hmmmmm ok. But there's nowhere I can safely gallop her. However, she could gallop herself...

I got a reasonable halt transition, patted her and dismounted -- just like we finish every day. I tied up the stirrups, closed the gates, and took her bridle off. And she stood with me like she always does.

And then I told her she could go... She trotted two or three steps away, looking back over her shoulder as though to ask "really?" Yes, really. And she was gone. Just tearing around the ring around n around n around. Sometimes randomly changing direction. Occasionally stopping for a heartbeat and a half to grab a mouthful of grass and then off again. @ one point I was afraid she was going to jump the fence -- but she would've ended up in a paddock so not tragic. I will admit though I was quite relieved when she changed her mind on that one :)

Tail raised and flying, ears forward. At one point towards the end she did the biggest, floatiest trot I've ever seen her do; I honestly wouldn't've believed she was physically capable of it. Made me wish I'd had my video camera :) Now we have something to aspire to under saddle *g* Although I'm going to have to become a lot more flexible to sit that!

I never chased her. Didn't tell her she had to do anything; didn't try to direct her. Just let her be a horse. And then when she was done, she was just done. Steam rising off her, I took her bridle and she met me half way; stood perfectly quietly while I put it back on.

And then I remounted. What a difference. Now she was forward -- instead of sewing machine I had long, seriously ground-covering strides. Still willing to listen -- her brain didn't get lost in the gallop (always good :), just very forward. Since that's usually what I'm aiming for, it's all good. I didn't work her -- no need. She got what she needed and a workout with it! So I just had her do a nice long stretchy trot with occasional changes of direction until her heartrate came back down (didn't take long - she's pretty fit this ottb of mine :) and her body temp returned to normal.

And in the end, we both got what we needed; she got to run and play and be a horse in a big safe area, and I got to have an easy fun ride and genuinely enjoy my horse. To be followed tomorrow by both of us having a day off. Perfect :) Then we should be good to go again :)


This sounds like a great break from things.


Post a Comment