Note: pics are random from the internet. If I had tried to take pics last night I probably would have tripped and fallen on my face. Please let me know if you have the copywrite to an image here and want credit or it removed.
All week I've been telling my friends that "I have ride and tie practice on Friday".
Yesterday I wore my patterned riding tights and bright orange shoes, and a tech shirt I got at a race and informed people, when they asked whether I was going riding, that "no, I have ride and tie practice after school...".
It was a total blast. Even if I felt like a monkey with amputated fingers and frontal cortex when trying to find a good tree to tie to.
Stasi is this cute little gray arab gelding that M* is pulling out of "retirement" (he's been off for a couple of years due to various circumstances with humans - not because he is unsound or unsuitable) and we agreed that with me being a total newbie we would plan on using Stasi instead of Farley for at least the first race.
He canters like a rocking horse dream, is funny, full of personality. It's hard to remember that according to all the "charts" he's in his geriatric years, being the ripe old age of 20 or so.
M* and I met in the evening with the plan of riding a short little trail behind her house in the foothills.
GREAT! Perfect match right?
I didn't even consider all those other little things that could turn a partnership like this into a freakin' disaster.........
-M* admits that her pregrooming routine is to knock the dirt off the tack areas. (Thankgoodness!!!! what if I had ended up with a person that insisted that her horses be kept spotless??????????)
-M* admits she has a competitive side, even though this first race we are only focusing on FINISHING (What if I had ended up with a partner that either wanted to top 10, OR wanted to do this as strictly a recreational ride and smell the roses the entire time?)
-The post ride routine is to spray the sweat off the horse (OMG what if I had to give the horse a bath with SOAP after every ride?)
-Multiple other little things that we are similar enough in that I'm unlikely to offend or get booted off the partnership after one ride! (whoo hoo!)
With a relief made greater by the fact I wasn't even aware that there COULD of been a problem, we started down the trail.
This is how it's suppose to work:
-Person 1 takes off on the horse, Person 2 runs behind.
-Person 1 finds a good tie tree about a 1/4 mile or so (depending on terrain) in front of person 2 and person 1 takes off running.
-Person 2 runs up to the horse, unties, mounts, and races up to person 1.
-Person 1 and person 2 do a fancy, let's-make-this-look-easy hand off and person 1 races off with the horse.
-M* takes off with the horse, finds a place to tie
-I find Stasi, get on, and ride past M*, forgetting that I'm suppose to hand off. Oops.
-M* gets on, goes on up ahead.
-My shoes fill with these dang little stickers that are in the foothills and I swallow a bug while racing down hill.
-Because we are having conversations about technique and strategy, I'm close enough to M* that we switch places briefly, with me being the rider that ties......
-I do a lot of standing on the trail, holding Stasi and yelling back at M* "is this a good tie tree?". It usually isn't.
-I find out that when riding as fun a horse as Stasi, I have no judge of distance or time and I invariable go too long or too short before tying.
-We agree that more practices before our mid-October race are needed......
The hardest thing about RT is that it's all about teamwork and strategy - a LOT more so than endurance. M* assured me that as partners we will get into a routine and pattern, but my poor little walnut sized brain (Stasi had more cognitive power than me last night) I think a better plan for M* is to have me on some sort of shock collar that she zaps me with when it's time for me to pull over and tie.....
Here's what did go well:
-Even though I need to work on my RT skills like tying and choosing trees, at least it looks like my level of riding skill is sufficient. I can't keep my heels down as far as I would like with the stirrup length, but it's not a big deal and it makes it easier to mount!
-My run work out seems to be preparing me well for hilly terrain, even though I can't train on hills a combination of high intensity intervals, and progressively waited squats. When going up hills, I could feel the aerobic capacity going into effect that's developing from the intervals, combined with the power I'm developing in my legs from the squats. So while I'm building each component seperate in my training, it doesn't look like it matters!
-Absolutely no problems running on the hilly terrain or hills. In the past my IT band would hurt going down hill, and based on my experience of sliding down a ditch with Tess I was worried about the tread on my new shoes. No issues on either!
We spent 50 minutes running and riding and tying --> I slept good last night!
Wanna know the best part about the evening? M* is the researcher I worked for over the summer and I noticed her name was on the list of available mentors for the class. Mentors were assigned to students purely on first come first served basis, with the "start line" being noon on Monday. Exactly at noon I raced to finish the online application and submitted it, hoping that I was the first to request M*. I officially get notified today, but I knew M* probably knew before I did so I asked.....AND SHE'S MY OFFICIAL MENTOR!!!!!!!!!!! AND since administration made a point of telling us all that mentors are not just for career mentoring, but someone you can share activities with, my ride and tie stuff is officially part of her mentoring.....which means it's totally justifiable to take an afternoon off and spend it doing ride and tie practice or conditiong with M* because after all she's teaching valuable lessons like........ummmm........how to achieve balance between school and life? Yeah, we will go with that one :).
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