Allergies plagued me all day in my classroom, and it did not help to think about the fact that last week this time I was sitting on the porch at the hotel in Taos, drinking a cup of coffee and enjoying the perfect weather after a perfect motorcycle travel day. All in all, I did not feel like doing anything tonight, but I told myself that once I got to CARA, I would be happy that I was back in my element. I was right.
I didn’t get on the horse, Inky, right away. When I walked into the barn, I saw Dorie working with another rider in the arena, but I thought I might sit there for a few minutes to get myself together. I was feeling unambitious, and wanted to talk to Dorie. Actually, I wanted to ask her a million questions, but I knew that would not be appropriate. So, I settled on a few.
The barn looks deceptively empty:
While I sat there, the resident barn cat came over. This is the little cutie with the tip of her tail missing. Dorie thinks a horse might have nipped it off, but she never confirmed that. The cat didn’t tell! I love cats and miss them at my house. The little cat wanted to be petted, and she actually jumped onto my lap as I talked. I “scritched” all the places that cats love to be touched, and her little claws poked my skin through my riding pants as she pleasurably kneaded my leg. It was so relaxing.
I was talking to Dorie about a horse I’d seen advertised for sale. When I finished the conversation, I knew he was not the horse for me, although he is incredibly beautiful. Arabians are not generally accepted as the best horse for dressage, but they are what I am used to riding. I will keep this Arabian gelding in the back of my mind, though, because I think he is gorgeous. Of course, the proof would be in the riding. I know what I would have to feel and experience when I am riding him in order for him to be the “right” horse, and I am almost afraid to do that. What would I do if he was actually “the right horse”? It’s a lot of money to spend.
I finally got up and moved, and went to get Inky out of her stall. I brushed her off quickly, picked her feet, and trudged back to the tack room to get the saddle that I use. I realized (finally) that I’d left my nice Coolback saddle pad at home, didn’t even think about it until then, and I ‘d have to use one of the thin, nearly non-existent ones in the tack room. Inky already had a scab on her withers that I was sure was going to tear off when I rode her, and I felt bad. This is what it is like to ride a school horse. When I put Inky’s bridle on, there was a strap missing, and I had to go get it off one of the other bridles where someone had moved it.
At last I was ready, and I led Inky out of the barn to the arena. I checked the girth one last time, tightened it, and got on. I started out walking along the outside of the arena while another rider was inside working with Dorie. It just makes me so seething mad that less capable riders are mounted on better horses than what I have at the moment. It is definitely an uncomfortable, unusual feeling for me.
Inky is a sweet horse, but she was, as usual, lazy. She made me work for every little thing I got out of her. She resists my attempts to collect her, she stops trotting once in a while because she doesn’t feel like continuing, and I have to coax her with the spurs – again. She even bucked a little bit when I was trying to make her “trot up,” in other words, move faster than “slug” speed. I didn’t care, I was trying to work. That attitude from her makes it so hard for me to work on what I need to in order to become a dressage rider. I have a lot to learn, and it sure would help to have a cooperative horse. One of the reasons I learned saddle seat riding so fast when I was younger was because I started out on a horse that knew everything and helped me learn it while I rode him, instead of him trying to figure out how to do as little as possible and make it more difficult for me.
I dropped my stirrups and rode for a good part of the time without them. That technique gets me in the riding position where I am supposed to be, so my body “learns” the correct position. I don’t feel like I can do it at the canter yet because Inky is “rough as a cob” as my mom used to say. No rocking horse canter like my horse had. The canter used to be my favorite gait.
I was riding on my own, not in a lesson, and since I wasn’t feeling great to begin with (thanks to allergies), I didn’t work as long as I wanted to. I felt like didn’t ride well at all because of my week off, and it was somewhat disappointing. On the other hand, I felt that my body position was improving, and I am slowly making gains.
I untacked Inky, hosed her off, and then put her back in her stall. I noticed when I took her out that she didn’t have any hay, and there still wasn’t any in her stall when I returned her. She is fat, so maybe they are feeding her less. I noticed when I saddled her it wasn’t as difficult to find a girth that went around her, but then again I wasn’t using that extra saddle pad either.
Inky, back in her stall with her fly mask on:
Jetting home at twilight with a million thoughts swirling in my head:
I wasn’t super-tired on the way home, but my mind was spinning with all the information, the wants vs. needs, the dreams that may or may not come true, the goals that have yet to be set. I am thinking of exploring a different avenue over fall break. I need to think about the whole picture, and the long-term goals, whatever those turn out to be. And I need a “horse person” to talk to for more than five minutes to get some help defining them.