Sometimes You’re the Windshield…

I’ve been workout riding every day, and felt I was ready to start adding horses to my catch ride string.  I’m not sore, and my seat is returning.  As the show season winds down, and the icky season comes closer, people will spend more time fireside, instead of more time in a soggy parka wrenching boots out of the mud, so they can ride their higher-than-a-kite horse during another driving rain storm.

Hey it works for  me!  Win-win.

I’m not sure who I’ll be riding this winter.  Two of my guys moved (I’ll miss them, despite the fact they were on my Kingdom Come list).   I still have Hudson and Tiny.  Pops’ owner asked if I’d pick him up one day a week.  I have room and I like Pops, so I said yes.  But it’s a little problematic riding a horse like Pops only one day a week.  He was a super successful racehorse, and he retains a sense of entitlement: “oh you’re one of the minions I don’t need to remember”.

Today was my first Three Horse Day.  Three full workout rides.  For the non-horsey, this is the equivalent of 3  consecutive  hour-long-each kickboxing workouts.  With different sized instructors.

Did I really do this last winter with 5 horses??


My eyebrows hurt.  My teeth hurt.  I believe that burning sensation is my hair follicles hurting.  Each horse requires different muscle use from me.

Ow ow ow ow OW.

Hudson: rocket propelled, needs a quiet rider, and complete stillness.  He rides off very subtle isometric shifts of weight, balance and minimalist aids.  I have to be careful not to think too loudly: he can hear me.  Aids must be small and precise, I have to keep muscular white noise as close to zero as possible. Hudson and I worked on making accurate gymnastic figures.  That’s a lot of isometrics.

Tiny:  a gigantic Shetland pony: huge, round, heavy, and close-coupled.  Tiny is in rehab after The Accident.  Lilli believes his best interests are served by riding low level dressage, and trail. This is true.  If anything happened to Lilli, fist fights would break out over who could spend the most money to buy him.  Because of dressage work, (he was) in excellent shape, strong as an ox, gymnastic, and wonderfully quiet. Tiny’s life long dream is to be My Little Pony. He believes he would build muscle faster if we fed him carrots more often.  He expresses this thought frequently during his rides.   Tiny is a rescue from school horse hell: six adult beginners a day.  Imagine six hours of pounding, yanking, and being blamed for everything.  He was 3 when they started using him for this.  His early abuse left him moderately deaf not only to muscular white noise, but to actual instructions.  What?  Did you say something?  Huh?  Come again? We are always working on turning up his hearing aid, and he’s come a long way.  But it still takes legs of steel to encourage him to move forward, very soft upper body and shoulders to leave an opening for ‘forward’ and a lot of lower back muscle to keep those two parts of my body moving independently. Tiny is extra wide.  I’m going to walk like a bowlegged movie cowboy tomorrow.

Pops: XL  Thoroughbred built like a Warmblood tank. Elegant and perfectly proportioned.  Enormous movement.  Startling movement.  I Dare You to Try to Sit My Trot movement.  Built uphill, with a butt a quarter horse would envy. He can float at will.  The things horses will teach you about good dressage riders:  floating plus BIG vertical and BIG horizontal movement is a difficult space in which to stay soft, deep and centered.  Have to ride Pops strongly off my Abs, and chest/upper back muscles.

Pops can DO dressage.

He’s convinced he will race again someday:  today?  That works.  It doesn’t help that I hate his bit.  I’m told it’s impossible, but this bit feels severe to me (?): no give, no subtlety.  It’s a shaped mullein mouth.  I feel like I’m riding a sensitive horse using an old truck steering wheel.  I miss the fluid power steering of his ergonomic eggbutt snaffle. The combination of being extra cautious with my hands (my gut keeps telling me it’s a severe bit on him!), and his desire to brace and race = my neck is killing me.

I’m turning 52 in a few weeks.  What was I thinking?  Could I have had a smidge of common sense, and added an extra horse a week? Noooooo.  Gotta do it all NOW, because it’s FUN.

I’m afraid to wake up tomorrow.  Kafka, Gregor Samsa…The Metamorphasis…what if I’m the BUG?!

Note to Daisy: you may NOT tape a sign to my back saying Smash Me.

11 thoughts on “Sometimes You’re the Windshield…

  1. Love the discription of your rides!!! Sorry to hear how sore you are – can relate. Have solo chores for a few days plus lessons (some got cancelled this week so it’s a lighter week) to give and riding, at least I think I’ll get time to ride. Plus hours of sitting at soccer games, yelling myself silly and eating corn chips and almonds to be fortifified for more chores…not a pretty sight for anyone.

    Sigh. What happens if you sneeze if you’re on Hudson? 🙂

    1. That is an excellent question. It’s happened! The sneeze sound didn’t even register on his radar. The violent ACHOO of my body, however, rocketed us to the other end of the arena. Apparently I squeeze when I sneeze.

      Bella told me before my first test ride on Hudson, years ago, do not, under any circumstance, make a kissing noise.

      You know how we commonly cluck or kiss with a gentle leg aid to indicate to the horse it’s time to start walking?

      That’s the signal for Hudson to drop everything and go immediately into a dead gallop.

      I forgot. Once.

      The good news is I no longer need a facelift.

      Yay that you get time to ride! You should tell us about your rides!

  2. Hey, it’s the best exercise in the world, and you get to ride lots of different horses – sounds pretty fun to me, but I bet it’s a real workout! I find it really instructive to ride different horses, because each one needs something different from us.

    1. I think I like it more (at this point in my life) than owning one horse and perfecting how to communicate with my one horse.

      I am not so great at dressage, but I’m very good at reading horses and adjusting: getting that right feels amazing.

  3. Yay! You’re riding again! I love reading about your dressage rides as much as you love reading about my jumping! I can pretend to be a DQ instead of a Hunter Princess!

    And seriously girl, 52?! That’s nothing! There’s a woman at my barn in her mid-seventies who competes in the 4′ jumpers. She is tough as nails and if you keep complaining… well I’ll just have to tell on you and she doesn’t tolerate excuses. 🙂 I bet you’re a lot more fit than you think.

    Plus riding lots of horses IS fun. And if you’re sore, well, that’s why we have Ibuprofen. (Oh, and Tucker shares his liniment with me. Sore No More is awesome stuff — try it out!)

    1. Sore No More: topical Liquid Ambrosia. I advised Shaun to add it to our stock portfolio. That stuff is the bomb. And no more smelling like Absorbine Sr.

      I know I know. I shouldn’t kvetch. 🙂 I’m young-ish and fit-ish. I’m lucky to get to ride *these* horses. Our barn owner is in her 70’s, rides many horses, shows dressage, wins, and I wish I had her figure.

      Cake is not my friend. I wish I could remember that. Pilates IS my friend. I wish I could remember that too!

        1. I agree. *sigh*

          Ben and Jerry are the kick back friends listen in minute detail to all your problems and sooth you.

          Pilates is the Rich Potential Significant Other that you really want to like, because the benefits are enormous: carrying yourself with class, a better body, better riding skills, and finally you can prove that yes, you do have discipline.

          Problem is I’ll go for goofy, slouching friendliness, love, and trust over discipline and results every time.

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