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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It was just one of those rides

I always know when it's fall, and winter is just around the corner because I am overcome with the overwhelming urge to cook pot roasts and squash.

My best rides of the year are always in the fall.

In the spring time I feel frantic - finally good weather and sunlight, must. take. advantage. of. every. day. They are great rides but rushed and hurried.

The summer brings a lackadasial attitude. Yet another sunny day. Pony and I are sweating. I must admit that the ipod makes its appearance more than it should during the rides (or at least it did before the battery went on the fritz).

In the winter my rides feel stolen. More often than not I'm playing hookey from work, technically on a "long lunch" for 20 minutes of bliss to be in the sunshine on the back of a horse.

But it's fall where things click. If everything goes right, the pony and I have had the entire spring and summer to school and "work" on things. The weather cool enough that we both feel like moving out, but the confidence and trust from the many hours of summer is there so things don't get too crazy.

Last night I thought we could both use a break. She's been working hard in the arena and I just wasn't in the mood to actually "work"/school on anything. The trailer is in the shop so I tacked her up from the tail gate of my pickup and pointed her towards the open road.

Yes - the open road. If I "trail" ride from my stable I get to ride along side a busy, 55mph road with no shoulder for ~0.5 miles. Then I take a left and have 2 miles of dirt canal banks, straight as an arrow, intersected by little roads approximately every half mile. When I reach the end of this canal section I usually turn around for a total of 5 miles. This section of the canal runs through orchards and backyards. There is an option to go further, but at that point the canal bank is actually next to the road and I've grown chicken in my old age.

The canal bank is probably 10 feet wide. The canal itself is shallow - concrete and too steep and wide to take a horse across, but probably only 5 feet deep. I've finally concluded that if things go horribly wrong and I end up in the canal, it will probably hurt but chances are my horse and I are not going to die.

Farley and I usually take this "trail" at a walk/trot. Going out, sometimes we'll pick up the canter - one lead and then the other. Usually.

The trip out was done at a peaceful walk/trot/tiny itty bitty jog.

I turned her around and told her she could trot if she wanted. She counter-offered with a canter.

"What the hell," I thought, "GreyHorseMatters (see blog on right) got a beautiful canter transition yesterday and I need to work on mine". Canter transitions always go better out on the trail.

I cued her to canter and got a beautiful, upward, forward, balanced transition. Very nice.

So we rushed along at a pace I would normally allow for a few minutes before asking her to transition down, especially while travelling home on this trail.

But she felt so light, round, and balanced. I was able to keep a very light contact on the reins without her bracing.

So along we went at a canter and hand gallop. I practiced sitting, I practiced two pointing, I practiced rising and falling with the gait like a little cross country jumping or polo player (which is a feat in dressage length stirrups). When we came to the road intersections we transitioned down and after each crossing I got another beautiful canter transition. All with her staying supple, light, and in control.

We galloped/cantered the entire 2.5 miles home. It was absolutely fabulous. I've never gone so fast, so far, and felt so in control.

When I got back to the stable and took a look at Farley. No sweat, no foam, not even between the back legs. Not even breathing hard. Some sweat localized under the saddle blanket. And she has her winter coat! I think she's in pretty good shape....

At the end of this month it will mark exactly one year since Farley's first endurance race (LD distance). I think it's perfectly acceptable (terrain, weather, and safety permitting) do throw in a little speed work now and then. Keeps both of us fresh.


  1. Ah!! That sounds like a blissful ride!

  2. mmm....actually makes me wish I were a horsey person..


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