Thursday, April 14, 2016

Catching Up's been a while since I posted!  So let's's what my March looked like, riding-wise:






(Shar was gone to Hawaii the first couple weeks of March, and I was sure I'd finally be able to have a month of getting more miles of riding in than her, between riding solo now that Arya was doing better about that, and also riding with other buddies, but the weather sucked, so I never rode while she was gone.)

When Shar got back from Hawaii, we talked about doing a quick ride together, but she was beat, so I went to her place anyway, and saddled up to ride solo.  We headed out down the road, all was well at first, but then Arya dove for home.  I pulled her into a circle, but she just kept her feet headed toward home while her head was turned to my foot.  Um...  I tried whapping her with the whip, but that didn't work very well, since we were trying out the rump rug I'd bought, so it just made a bit of noise, but she couldn't feel it at all.  Whoops.  I was trying to nudge her around with my feet, but between my panicked brain and her determined feet, was not successful.  I decided to hop off and school her from the ground rather than let her gain ground toward home with me panicking.

I got off, made her CANTER circles around me, both directions, for quite a while, until she seemed contrite and focused on me instead of her buddies at home.  Then we continued on down the road AWAY from home.  We'd proceed down the road for a while, do more circles, etc.  A couple of times, we did loop-de-loops where I walked away from home in a straight line while she did circles around me.  When she seemed to have learned that this was not going to result in us turning for home any time soon, I tried mounting up.  She wouldn't stand still, and the second I put my foot in the stirrup (she normal stands still for mounting very well), she headed for home.  Oh no you di-int!  I worked her in more circles.  Circles, circles, circles.  Canter, trot, and walk.  Then walking both directions on a slack lead, mirroring my pace whether I was trotting, walking or halting.  Working on some lateral stuff, too.  Tried mounting again.  Same thing.  Well, poop.  Can't head home yet, so kept heading away (very slowly, while doing circles and etc. the entire time).  It was starting to get darker, and I hadn't planned to be out past dark so I wasn't wearing any reflective stuff, so I needed to start heading back.  But we were DEFINITELY not going directly back.  Headed that way, doing more loop-de-loops.  Stopped, walked, stopped, backed up.  Went the wrong way at the intersection for a bit.  More circles.  Etc. and so on.  When we got to the last turn (on roads, before turning into the driveway) for home, we kept going straight.  She only tipped her head as if to ask "but isn't home that way?" but wasn't insistent about it.  Good girl!  We walked that way for a bit, then turned, circled, headed toward home, circled, etc.  There was a puddle at the intersection, so I asked her to walk through it.  She avoided it the first try, then plopped both front feet straight into the puddle.  "See mom, I can be a good girl!"  Passed the driveway a couple of times before turning in, then tied her up at the trailer (no treats) while I went in the house to hear about how their Hawaii trip was for a while so arriving home wasn't a reward.  Ugh.  Apparently trying a solo ride after not riding a few weeks, at dusk, wasn't the best idea.  Who knew?  So we'll ride with buddies again for a bit, then try again in less trying circumstances, I guess...  (And without a rump rug)

Then another week or so went by, and we finally rode with Kirstin out at Maston, which was nice.  We scoped out the trails for our event we were holding there, did a little geocaching, got some sun.  It was a great ride, and at 12 1/2 miles, a nice long one for us.

The following weekend was our mock endurance ride at Maston.  With Shar having been out of town, I took care of most of the organizational details, and a couple things fell through the cracks, but it went pretty well.  It was COLD, but we all survived.  :-)  Hopefully we converted a few previously-non-endurance riders to the sport, and gave even experienced endurance riders a pre-season opportunity to work out some kinks.

Then the next night is when I noticed my oldest old lady kitty was not herself, and I ended up making the heartbreaking decision to have her euthanized Tuesday, so that week was taken up with dealing with the before and then the after of such things, and there was no riding.  :-(

Finally last week I rode again for the first time in a few weeks once again, a couple of miles one evening, mostly walking.  But it was nice to get back out there.  (Shar also hadn't ridden Dalai in quite a long time, which is partly why we went slow.  The distance was mainly due to the fact I wore sunglasses and left my regular glasses back at the house, and it was nearing dusk.)

Then, finally, last night we had another nice ride.  Took the ponies down the long steady hill, then back up it.  Did a couple of trots on the flats before we got to the hill, walked down the hill, let them eat a bit at the turnaround point as well as along the way back (Shar is reinforcing to Dalai that home isn't always the best place to be, and being out on a ride can be pretty darn awesome), and then trotted most of the way up the hill.  And I once again took a deep breath and asked Arya to go ahead and canter.  She did, broke back into a trot after only a couple strides, then I squeezed her back into a canter again.  Both those sessions had been on the right lead, so I tried asking for a left lead after she slowed down.  Nope, right lead again.  So we'll have to find out if she HAS a left lead, or whether I'm just not asking right at some point.  But yeah.  That was nice, to be feeling confident enough to canter after the rough patch of that horrible solo "ride" and just a ton of time off from riding lately.  She got winded and tired out pretty fast, though, so it was probably only a total of 15 strides or so in the three brief sessions.  I let her walk for a bit to catch her breath, then we trotted the rest of the way up the hill.  GOOD girl!  Both mares were very good on last night's ride, and we made a couple of "wrong" turns in directions other than home, and they were pretty good about that too.  (I was sure Arya would be fine in that regard--she's really only barn sour any more when she's out solo and ALL her buddies are at home.  With a buddy along, she's almost as happy to be out as she is to be home, though she definitely knows which way is home.)  We actually took them around a country block neither of us had been on before, and they were fine.  Woo!

We may ride tomorrow, weather permitting, for a little bit, probably in an arena for Shar to work on saddle fit issues and use the impression pad, and then the next big goal is Grizzly.  We're going to ride Arya and Dalai on the 10-mile "intro" ride loop.  It's the loop I did last year (Shar's done it lots of times, as it's also the final loop to the LD ride), so it'll be nice to be on a fairly new-to-us trail, yet have it be somewhat familiar.  It's supposed to be HOT, so that'll bring its own challenges for all the horses and riders.  Then two weeks later is the Still Memorial ride, and it's clear that neither Arya nor I are fit enough to try an LD, let alone one with as much elevation change as that one has, so we'll have to see how many intro rides we feel up to attempting.  And hopefully Flash will be back in commission (he got a sore back after his first LD of the season, which was VERY hilly) so Nathan can ride (either Flash or Dalai, depending on Shar's priorities etc.) with us then.  We'll see...

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