It is Thursday once again and I got in my car to drive out to Central Arizona Riding Academy where I am learning to ride dressage. I was already hot from having to do bus duty at the school where I work, and it was around 108° today. I looked down at the display that shows the outside temperature and that is what it said.
I wondered how it was going to be for riding today; I’d never ridden there while it was so hot. What made it worse today was that the humidity was up (for here) and it made the heat press down on me even more. It’s fortunate that I get cold easily, which means I can stand more heat.
When I arrived, there was only one car in the parking lot, but when I walked up to the barn I saw that other people were there. The girl who has her lesson before I do was just saddling up, so I relaxed. I thought I was going to be late, but it turned out I was on time.
I got Inky out of her stall and noticed with dismay that she was already sweating a lot. Carol, who was grooming another horse in the cross ties inside the barn, suggested that I hose Inky first so she would at least start out cool. So, I did that, and that was my “grooming” before riding. I left a dry patch on Inky’s back so the saddle pad wouldn’t irritate her back, and when I saddled her, I used a Coolback pad that I’d bought the last time I was riding horses fairly regularly. It’s big and soft, and it seems to help keep the horses from being too hot.
I got out to the arena and started warming up, both horse and rider. Dorie was working with a young girl, and she actually took a couple of small jumps before she was finished. Then it was my turn. I know that the level had been bumped up quite a bit from two weeks ago when I took my last lesson. The “just riding” session I had on Inky last week helped me a lot. This is only my fifth ride, and I have improved quite a bit. I am not saying I am “there” yet, but just that the improvement has been in leaps instead of baby steps.
I worked on the trot and canter, but I also worked on serpentines. It’s another one of those things that I know how to do but can’t quite do it yet. I know how to do patterns because of my equitation experience while riding saddle seat, but it’s so different in dressage. I will probably get it by next time, but sometimes it’s frustrating because of the big gap in my riding. All the while I was riding tonight, I was absolutely unaware of the heat, and of anything else but Dorie, Inky, and concentrating on my riding.
After I rode, I pulled the tack off the poor horse! I knew she was thirsty because of how she had her tongue hanging out. She does it on purpose as a clue, like, “get me to the hose quickly!” I had given her a bucket of water to drink before we started, but it was obviously past time for her to get another drink. Before long, I had her hosed off, hydrated, and returned to her stall, where she was happy to get back to the hay she had left when I took her out.
On the drive home, I saw that the temperature had dropped to the low 100s, but the best thing was that the sun was already down! It’s so exciting to know that the days are shortening and we are moving toward fall. As I drove, I talked to my dad on the phone. I like that he is interested in my riding, and we were talking about how different it is from what I used to do. After all, he is the one that got our family into horses in the first place. I think he is enjoying that I am riding horses again, and I am glad.
I know I certainly am enjoying it, and the goal of riding a top-notch horse is getting a little closer.