Did You Hear That Ride?

That Sonic Boom you heard on Saturday?  Courtesy of Hudson.

I just happened to be in the saddle.  The good news: free facelift!  Amazing blow out.  Wow.  Big hair.

The bad news: hey…awesome…there isn’t any!

The best I can figure:

  • Hudson is uber fit and incredibly gymnastic coming off roping season. He wants to express all that fitness!
  • Bella trace clipped him: only hair left is on his face, legs, and saddle pad.  Add:
  • It’s cold.
  • His super blankets keep him throughly warmed up deep into the muscle without overheating him.
  • He’s on a new supplement.
  • He didn’t get enough of a work out on Thursday and had Friday off.

I made some excellent decisions. I decided riding him bareback (given the above) might not be the best choice on a chilly Saturday morning.  Whoa.  I believe we have witnessed Common Sense.  Wait until I tell Daisy!  She is going to be so proud.  We thought I didn’t have any.  I have a shred!  And I used it!  No prompting!  Yay.

That is our official Holiday Miracle.  Speaking of holidays (I’m going to veer off on you here), I have two new items on my New Year’s Resolution list:

  1. Find the self who could mount any horse from the ground.  I recently humiliated myself by (see Lock N Load) hopping around on one foot trying to reach the stirrup on the first ride of an amazing horse.  I hoped to look good for that ride (okay, at least seem competent!).  Not.
  2. Find the self who knew how to swing a western saddle lightly up onto a horse’s back.  No step stool, no ‘spotter’ (Sigh.  I need a back-up person when I saddle up.  Spot me: think free weights).  Lift ’em and place ’em.  Including a thousand pound roping saddle.  There should be no saddle Jane can’t lift and place.

I won’t bother with the rest of the NY Resolution list.  It’s exactly the same as yours, which we all know is exactly the same as last year.  (Food: less cake, more celery.  Body: turn into a supermodel.  Spiritual Growth: be nice to loved ones more than once a week.  Yadda yadda.)

Back to the ride.

I find someone to spot me.  Get the step stool.  (Really? Why bother making a step stool that is only six inches tall?)   I double pad Hudson’s back, flip the 100 pound right stirrup leather up and over onto the seat of the saddle, next to the 50 pound fore girth and 10 pound rear girth.  The right side is now clear and ready for take off.  One.. two…three…hoist and HEAVE.  Mayday Mayday! Spotter rushes in and saddle makes it over his withers.  Barely.

Hudson remains completely unfazed by all of this.  This makes me feel even more ridiculous with the whole step-stool, spotter, saddling via crane and organizational process thing.

I snag his regular roping bridle: plain old loose ring snaffle, very short reins.  This bit has slightly more Oomph to it than mine, should I need it.  If not: no big deal, gentle as can be.

I mount from the ground. Why wait for January?  I’m not prepared for it to resemble rock climbing, but I manage to claw my way up before lunch.  Piece of cake!  I’ll have this resolution sorted out in no time.

I stand in my right stirrup to rebalance the saddle to where it should have be, if I had’nt oofed my sweet time climbing aboard.  Hudson remains unfazed.  The I-feel-ridiculous component?  Squared.

This is what Jane thinks about upcoming ride:

Ah.  Here we are on a beautiful bright, sunny, chilly Saturday morning, in Hudson’s favorite humongous arena.  There’s a lot of activity: three horses being lunged, and a lesson taking place.  Hangers-on soaking up the rays from the rail.  Lots of room.  Hudson loves other horses in the arena, and he loves rail birds.  He is going to be so happy.  We’ll relax and noodle around, then do some good solid dressage elastic work.  Perfect.

This is what Hudson thinks:

Nice.  Sun.  Cool.  Rail totally open.  Little warm up.  Some speed drills. Roll backs.  Speed turns. Precision leg yields. Tons of galloping.  Lotta sudden whipping around.  Do some good solid roping work. Perfect.

We don’t know what each other is thinking.  Yet.

We’re in complete harmony during the warm up.  The working trot is where we find out we have different agendas.

He bombs into the biggest, strongest trot I’ve ever ridden.  It takes him two strides to pass the cantering horse.   Seriously.  Two strides and we’re outta sight.  Trainer yells out in surprise: “Wow, look at Hudson GO.”

Hudson knows exactly what she said.  She thinks THAT is all I’ve got in here?  Ha.

I pick up the reins, and post for my life.  I’m going to have to think about containment.

Trainer doesn’t help.  She says to student, “Look at Hudson, that’s the dressage trot we want on Paulie, push him.  See if you can get him to lengthen like that!”

Paulie gives Hudson an evil look.

How is it people believe that horses don’t understand us?

The rail is all ours:  I should let him canter it out.  Take the edge off.  A couple of laps and he’ll settle right down.  I check (etiquette) to make sure no one wants to move to the rail.  Nope.

I shift my inside seat bone slightly to the left and cluck for a nice soft canter depart.  We do not pass go.  We do not collect $200.  We can’t even see ‘go’ from this high in the stratosphere.

Crap.  He’s on cruise.  Every cell in his body is asking for more.  He’s amping himself up.  This speed?  Negligible.  Maybe I can let him hit the gas a couple of times down the long sides?  He’s given me his back, but his head is at racehorse height, to free up his shoulder to grab more ground.  He is on FIRE.  Okay.  Last thing I want to do here is hold onto the bit.  Seat!  Use my seat!  I hold him back with my seat on the short side, and give very slightly as we come out of the corner.

He was waiting for that one.  I think we took the long side in four strides.

Trainer whistles: Look at THAT.”  Hudson scopes the turn, and before I ask anything, compacts his entire body into a round ball, so he can keep the speed and take the turn in perfect  athletic balance.  He’s preempted me.  I didn’t have a chance to ask him to “come back” because I didn’t need to: exactly what he wanted.

Trainer shouts to me: “That horse is unbelievable.”  I shout back, “I know.”

Hudson, first lap: “Can I go now?  Now?  How about now? Now? I’m not really going here, can I GO PLEASE?  Speed drills?  Can we do those?  I blister those. Go NOW?  Just a LITTLE more speed?”

By the third lap, I realize I am not taking the edge off.  I’m frustrating him, and he’s amping up into a fever pitch.  Dang.

When trainer brings student into center for discussion, I let Hudson hit the gas.  I highly recommend this for women over 50.  My face is smooth as a baby’s, if slightly stretched looking.

As we whip by, trainer calls out “Are you okay?” (i.e. are you being run away with??)

I yell back: “I’m holding him back.  We’re good.”   I want to let him rip. There is SO much more in here, and this horse can handle turns at speed. I am having a BLAST.

I hit the kid place.  I think when you learn “horses” as a kid, something different happens in your psyche than it does if you learn “horses” as an adult.  Maybe because kids are still forming, and have less delineation and organization inside.  “Horses” imprint on kids in a deeply experiential way that can become closed to us as we grow older.  I believe it’s a primal imprinting. Horses are not separate from our sense of self, they hardwire into our sense of self.

When I say “I hit the kid place” I mean: I’ve touched an ancient truth and am absolutely open, full throttle, to Hudson, to the experience, to myself, to life, in a way I seldom achieve as an adult.  I am in sheer JOY.

I am lucky.  I just may be the luckiest person on earth.

9 thoughts on “Did You Hear That Ride?

  1. So well put! I hit the kid place not too long ago and it was one of the most enjoyable things to happen to me in recent weeks! I love how well you capture that feeling and you took me right back there today!

  2. The Kid Place: I need to go there again SOON. But alas, the ground here is fruz solidly, and there will be no riding for at least a week until it thaws a little. Sigh.

    As for mounting from the ground: about 2 centuries ago, EQUUS magazine published a report about the physical strain and stress this causes for horse and saddle. I stopped mounting from the ground the day I read it (very persuasive article, apparently).

    Also, I’m really short, and my horse is tall; therefore, the VERY FIRST THING I taught her was “come stand next to this (bizarre) object so I can climb up and get on you.” She will stand next to *anything* for mounting (both sides), and will also climb down into a ditch so I can stand on the tall part and mount.

    If one cannot be tall and slender, one can at least be innovative.

  3. I 3rd the motion about using a mounting block 🙂 It’s better for their backs & saves your joints for more important things. I’ve always wanted to try riding western, but the saddle weight is honestly what keeps me from it. No thank you! I’m in Marissa’s camp: 5’3″ +WB size 17hh TB does not = mounting from the ground!

    1. Honestly? I always use a mounting block, no stretched leathers, no pulling on horse’s back, easy on. But I also knew I could get on from the ground in a snap as plan B, should I ever be without a mounting block (fence, slope, rock).

      I’m 5’6″ so it is easier for me. But I did use to be able to zip up on a close to 17hh horse without the rock climbing element.

      Maybe this is a mid-life crisis thing. The female version of the new sports car? Geeze, I’m a cheap date.

  4. Very funny, and cool too! Hitting the kid place doesn’t happen much for me anymore – but’s it’s great when you get to experience that.

    On your resolutions:

    1. I never mount from the ground – my knees and hips won’t take it any more – the benefits of getting older!

    2. See no. 1 – I don’t ride in a Western saddle because I can’t lift one – bad back – and I actually feel more secure in an English close contact saddle anyway!

    1. Maybe I need to make that resolution: mount normal sized horses from the ground and remember how to use a leg up properly? Oh wait. Melody is normal size. There goes that one.

      On #2, I’m with you, I feel much more secure in an english saddle also. I’m stubborn. I want to be able to hoist a western saddle as a matter of principle. Plus I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of my western friends.

      1. Fyi, I use the excuse that it’s “better for their backs” to use a mounting block. You’re free to steal it anytime. I’m only 5 feet tall, and Tucker’s 17hh, so mounting from the ground is an impossibility. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s