Here there be dragons...

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

I'm back.

Alright so it's time to get back to business...   Some of you may be aware that my darling grey mare (lately irreverently known as Her Royal Greyness) has been, ummmm, shall we say less than a priority as of late...  I can count on one hand the number of times she's been ridden since November, and on both hands the number she's been worked in any way, shape or form.   From she who has always been 100% dedicated, this is unheard of.  But then, my world did kind of implode.

Anyways -- I decided to run away for a week and allow the real world to start when I got back.  I got back on Thurs.  Figured I'd start riding back on Friday.  Deemed sleep was the better option *g*  AND it *was* Valentine's, so felt I really shouldn't hang around after work to ride.  Saturday the pieces finally came together and my high-as-a-kite pony got lunged.  All good and appropriate for the first work in who-knows-how-long...  Sundays I've been trying really hard to keep as "lazy Sundays" that I can either hang around and do nothing, or spend time with friends and family, or - get this - both!  hahaha but I *am* making a concerted effort (at least until show season) not to book anything then.  So it was a given she'd have yesterday off.

Today all ready to go.  Hit the gym, got a number of chores done, on my way out the door...  And Jen calls. Jen who moved to France last summer.  Who I never get to see and very rarely get to talk to anymore.  Yes, she outranks Lexi.  Esp an unfit, untrained Lexi...  Sorry all, but two-legged family before four in this case.

Alright so I hang up at the last possible second before I have to go teach.  Feeling moderately guilty and disappointed with myself for not working my horse, but sobeit.  Getting to the barn however, I discover I only have one student.  Strange -- although not so strange when I realized it's reading week and suspect all the uni students have gone home...  But still, unexpected.  And usually when a group lesson ends up with only one person, I do a half-hour private instead.  But then it occurred to me, why not ride?   Wouldn't be the first time I've ridden and taught at the same time.  Admittedly that's usually reserved for cross-country, but hey -- it's all good.   And the one rider who was there was both competent (so if Lex was an idiot, I wouldn't have to worry about causing trouble for her) and easy-going enough to go along with this whole idea :)   So figured we'd do the whole time, but I'd ride as well.   Realistically Lex wouldn't last an hour anyways, so I was reasonably certain that my student would still get a decent amount of coaching time.

Sounds great right?   What could go wrong with this?  Lexi's been ridden at night before.  Once.  Months ago.   She hasn't been ridden since about two weeks before vacation.  Barn manager told me she was spun today.  She's been ridden with other horses eight times in her entire life -- including the five clinic days ;)  And the last one was the Hyde clinic in October...   Oh, and one boarder, two kids, and Sasha were also all in the ring.  Definitely setting us up for success ;)

And I won't be lunging before mounting.  She's slightly cold backed and hasn't been sat on in ages.  Arguably a poor life choice, but sobeit.

You know what?  She was awesome.  Stiff and cold -- there was definitely a rather large buck hidden there when I got on, but she never threw it.  She was super nasty to the boarder's horse -- going to have to work on riding her w/ strange horses...  And the rider (who was finishing up as we got there) was awesome about giving us extra space.  We played a little bit of follow the leader with Athena, which gave us more forward gaits than I usually get.  So that had me grinning.  Then she even managed some independently.  Cantered - on *both* leads - calmly and mostly under control.  I say mostly because the steering left something to be desired ;)   But I have faith we'll get that back shortly.  Even jumped a couple small fences.  Woohoo!   She's feeling very gangly and uncoordinated...  But then she's grown since she was last in work and she's super unfit, so really -- what could I expect?

Then she really earned her gold star, by remaining focused in the walk and a little trot while my student was cantering and doing other such fun things; an impressive surprise.  Of course it's possible she was *slightly* tired at this point ;)   Earlier, when I'd gotten off her earlier to set fences, I had asked Faith to hold her -- reasonably certain she wouldn't go anywhere...  To put this in perspective, Faith's still several years from being a teenager and thus very short.  I wish I'd had a photo as child comes up to Lexi's shoulder and pony's head was *way* over hers...   We're in an indoor ring, L's ground manners are good, and F has grown up with horses.  I wasn't too concerned but kept an eye on them just in case.   When we were done I gave Lexi to her to hold for a bit (after declining her offer to hop on and cool her out for me -- don't quite trust Lex *that* much yet!) and pony's head was down by Faith's hand, and she followed Faith around as quietly as could be.  Super cute, but one tired pony.  After all of about half an hour - mostly at trot.   We're going to have a LONG way to go to be event fit by summer!   But that let me set fences for the rest of the lesson while Lexi cooled out :)

So yeah -- did we do anything impressive?  Nope.  Anything even moderately acceptable to be seen in public?  Nope.  But you know what?  I had *fun*.  With my horse.  Imagine that :)   It's been a while.  And she was significantly better behaved than I'd even dreamed.  That counts for a lot.  Her pony brain was challenged and she still tried.  A good sign for upper levels :)   Lots of carrots...

And side note -- I was SO happy with Sasha.  She was playing with a lunge whip and when told to leave it -- did.   Lexi was growing noticeably concerned about the giant snake coming up behind her -- I wasn't sure how that was going to go.  Esp as she tends more toward the fight than flight instinct...  Yes I like my horses to get used to *everything* -- part of why kids and puppies are welcome in the ring when I'm schooling young ones, and why all my schoolies no longer blink at anything -- but sometimes even I have to draw the line ;)  Good puppy!   I've actually been super happy with several tests of Sasha's training lately.  Not that there's not still lots to work on, but still...  Can't wait till we can go back to agility :)

Oh yeah - I was in Cuba for a week.  It was amazing ;)   And yes, it will get a blog post.  Too long for tonight -- thought I'd just write this short one instead.  Yes, I said short.  You're not new here ;-P   Summary of Cuba post:  35 degrees and sunny on the most beautiful beach I've ever seen.  No need to hate me - I'm back in reality now.  Tanned - but back >;-P