Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gaited Horse Fun

A woman that lives near me that has ties to people I ride with asked if I wanted to help her bathe on a nice day when Chris was away last weekend. Of course I wanted to... I love the sun! It was such a nice day and we chatted about how we were connected, who we knew, and what we knew. I got the run down of both of her horses and she wanted me to come back to ride one while she rode. Horse 1: Paso Fino Horse 2: Saddlebred Cross (potentially). Both are beautiful horses, nearing their 20's and in great shape for their age.

I was riding the saddlebred cross when I went back, and her daughter was on the paso. From bathing the paso before, I knew how pushy he was, and he was a bit pushy being ridden. I mean, it was to be expected after not being ridden in a year, but he was rude nonetheless. The saddlebred cross thing was good once he calmed down. You can tell he has nervous energy when you get on, but he's a dream on the ground. You could ground tie him and he'd stand all day.  He had also been off a year after going through bits upon bits to determine that no bit is the solution! I rode in a hackamore that still cause him to flip his head a bunch, but he listened well. I almost want to see what Spyder would do bit-less, but I'm afraid to try. I guess it will be worth a try when we start out in the round pen, if he can be ridden again. Oh Spyder, I miss you.

I stuck to walk and trot, and I was surprised that from his looks, we didn't get a running walk or another type of gait. He's SOOOOOO comfy, and I rode in the owner's austrailian saddle for added comfort. Gosh, I need a comfy saddle! I rode him until he relaxed and kept it on good terms, good horse. He could use some "you will do what I tell you to do when I tell you, not when you feel like it" fixing, but he's a great horse. Of course we stayed in the paddock because trail riding was not in the near future for these guys having been off so long, but we hope to get them out and ride together again soon. Trails this fall.. maybe?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Arab Ride x3!

Before getting into the ride story, I did want to mention that I rode in my English saddle for the lesson. What I used to love and have known my whole life, I'm questioning. My dressage saddle and the endurance saddle with the long stirrups I've been riding in made my lesson painful and left me wondering if I should get rid of the thing. I never in a million years thought I'd say that, but man, I've been missing out. Yes, my English saddle is comfy, and yes, I should have gotten off to increase the length of the stirrup, but I'll have to wait until next time. I hope I end up liking it again because I've had such a hard time getting rid of it when I know I need to upgrade.

Another arab ride, and man was it fun! When I got to the barn, we had planned on doing a quick ride to beat the rain. That quick ride quickly turned into 16-18 miles and 3 hours later. We went right out and started with a bunch of trotting. We turned off of one trail and did a little bit of walking before a REALLY long canter... then asked for a gallop. We had one episode of the horse I was on scooting out and grabbing the reins like he did before, and I finally figured out that the more you give him, the more he slows. Putting him "on the bit" means he grabs the bit and goes much like a racehorse would. Why I figured this out ride 3, I have no idea, but I'm glad I did.

In the gallop phase, we just WENT! It was SO much fun and the other horse caught up to us eventually. The owner kept saying sit back, sit back to get him under control, and when I did, two-point, two-point. I did also get a, "don't hold back, he's not going anywhere. Look at this long road!" While reassuring, it was also nerve wracking because "real horses" canter/gallop and I haven't done that in quite some time. Breathe, Jess, just breathe. I had to keep reminding myself. I did lose a stirrup during all of this excitement so I yelled over to the owner and we came back down before picking up a more controlled canter.

CANTERING!!! I forgot what it was like! It's fun when you're not getting run off with, and the horse calmed down about 10 miles in! HA! We found some water stops along the way to have them drink, came across the state park police, and even went through a campground to find some people out there in the middle of no where. We took it easier on the way back. Both horses were pretty beat as we pushed pretty hard through some deep sand. I love my back yard and I love the pine barrens!

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Lesson Back

My lesson Friday went well. I left work early since I didn't take a lunch so I could walk Spyder and get the horse I was riding tacked up. When I got to the barn, I was told to grab Barbie, a palomino which I would swear is a pony, but she just made being a horse. The little girl that was leasing her had fallen off and broken her arm so I'm sure she needed to be worked. I know from when I rode her one other time that she's not the best for kids in the canter because she's a quick little thing. She's improved so much since last time, though. Her trot is so slow (she was probably an ex-western horse of the sorts), and her canter transition was better. I did have trouble getting her to relax because I wasn't relaxing, and she feeds off of rider energy. She hates when people are in her mouth and you basically have to give her her face to get her to lower her head and you can't play with the bit or her neck goes right back up in the air - the EXACT opposite as Spyder. It was good to get on something so different.

After controlling the trot, I tried to control the canter, but it's tough when you feel like you're being whipped around the ring! The trainer kept saying, "she's not going anywhere." I was just nervous from knowing how she was before and thinking about how I didn't eventighten up her girth myself before getting on. She's cold backed so she needs to be walked before tightening and would sometimes rear or buck if she wasn't happy so the owner did that for me. That made me feel great before I even got on! Since her transitions stink, we trotted a bunch and since we both couldn't relax, we had to come back down a lot before trying to get it again. It was work and it was different, but it was a "real horse." It felt nice to canter even though it was not the most comfortable of situations.

We then moved to jumping. It was just one jump which was a cross rail that moved up to a vertical (maybe 18"). Nothing big, but the horse had lost confidence in jumping, and I can't say I have much anymore, either. While I did have fun and we jumped a good 10-15 times working on rhythm and calming down, I couldn't help but think I was schooling the horse. Sure, I haven't ridden in forever so who am I to say that, but it crossed my mind. Heck, the horse schooled me, too.

I reconfirmed the 8th with the owner/trainer so that I didn't have to think about that, and I'm not sure I'm riding this Friday because of the Chesapeake. I'm still not sure if I'm going to watch or volunteer, but it should be a nice weekend for the ride either way. Details on Saturday's ride next. To throw in another thought, Spyder's injury and the trailer situation have been stressing me out a ton. I'm left to think about what happens if he doesn't heal. I regret this trailer and I'm not sure if I should fix it to get rid of it or keep it in hopes of a future with Spyder and traveling. Do I even want it at this point? I feel like I need to fix it either way to get anything for it, but what if it's bad news. This whole horse everything in my life just feels so wrong lately.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Lesson and Weekend Fun

I have a lesson scheduled for tonight at 6, a possible arab ride on Saturday morning (to make up for the 18 miler last weekend that got derailed to another horse - I'll be riding the same one again), and then the Paulinskill Valley Trail forever away (almost 3 hours) on Sunday morning. Could this be 3 days in a row of riding???

I was saying last night that I wish I could have another horse although the expense would be unreasonable, I know. My husband reminded me that I could take 12 lessons a month and it'd be cheaper than having another. Yeah, he's right... 12 LESSONS?! That is crazy, and I should enjoy all of the riding on other horses while I can. It's just not the same as having your own horse to ride/show/compete. Maybe when I retire? HA!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saturday Ride

Sunny, hot, and humid! Of course because I was going to ride, it'd be one of the hottest days of summer. It was close to 80 when I got on at 9:30 and it got hotter from there. Thank goodness for the woods, creek, and little bit of breeze! When I woke up, I knew I better put the water down if I was going to make it so I drank a half gallon before I set out. When I got to the farm, the guy's horse I was going to be riding with was a bit puffy and had a little bit of heat. He trotted him out on the lead, and he was a bit off. The nice part about having 3 horses and 2 riders is that he could take his other horse. The problem with that is he was planning to take his horse to a ride down in Fair Hill in 2 weeks. He'll have to take one of the others if he still wants to go, but what a bummer. I know all about swollen legs, ugh.

I still got to ride the horse I did last time, the cute and fun arab gelding. Instead of doing the 16 miles, we took an easier ride because horse #3 hasn't been conditioned and has been hanging out. Both horses were great, and we rode for about 2.5 hours, w/t/c over a bridge and into a creek which was fun. Horse #3 is super playful so his tack got taken off so he could play in the water. He was SOOOO funny splashing the whole ride out there in every puddle and even layed down in the creek to get extra wet. Taking the tack off was a smart idea. The horse I rode just stood in there to cool off with his tack on and used #3 as a scratching post while he got a break...

...and he needed one to clear his head. He's got plenty of endurance miles on him and he knows his job. He also knows that when another horse goes, he wants to go. Horse #3 was cantering quickly and the horse I rode tripped, caught himself, then tried to catch up. He's a lot like Spyder in that you know he's thinking about being bad. He doesn't hide it well. He cocked his head to the side and flicked his head then went. I sat back, enjoyed the ride, and then he calmed down. He couldn't have done it just once so he did it again, but I knew to expect it this time around. His water break was a good one! Good horse, clear your head.

The ride back he was a lot better in terms of the excitement (it wore off) and horse #3 wanted to catch a break in the back. I went forward and had the horse taking looks at everything. He doesn't spook, but he's a lot more cautious and still just as fun. He was better in the deep puddles on the way back, and was much better this time around getting hosed off. I felt a lot more confident in the saddle I had ridden in before and it was a lot more fun for that reason. Yay for riding!!! I'm not as sore as I thought I would be, and that is a great thing!

I am taking a lesson on Friday, and I may be riding up north to take another spin on a different arab. If I like him, the owner that I met at another ride ( through FB, but we talk all the time since we met at her first ride last year) is going to trailer him to the Chesapeake (the ride at Fair Hill) and we'll probably do the CDR together for fun and seeing if they can make it (or if we can which is probably more likely). They have a 30 mile endurance ride, but we're both not up for that challenge having not been able to ride much so we'll shoot for the 15 - to finish is all that is important if it happens. I know we'll have a blast if we go, and we need to decide very soon since it's so close!

As for Spyder, he's still being himself. His leg is still looking great as far as swelling goes, and most of the fluid is gone. He's got a bit behind the pastern still, and his hair is coming back in. October 8th will be exciting and is making me anxious to see how the healing is going.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Weekend Ride

Looks like I'll be doing 18 miles at a CTR pace this weekend on the same Arabian I rode before. If I never blog again, it's because I died. Haha. I've been running and have noticed that my legs are horribly out of shape since I haven't been riding consistently since May. I hope to start lessons up again this month so that should help out these legs. If I'm alive, I shall post the details.