I have several posts in the works, but no time to complete them. Official Ramble Alert.
Alice and I took the boys to the dentist (road trip!).
I was unable to have a life because I had to watch every second of the World Series. (GO GIANTS!) I am so NOT cut out for fandom. I can’t take the suspense. I had to do something, or I’d chew my fingers down to the knuckle. I ironed maniacaly instead. First time in years we have no ironing pile.
I was watching the game, ironing as if my life depended on knife pleats, and intermittently running to the door to hurl candy at little kids in costumes (Halloween still occurs when the World Series is on? That’s wrong). Moms were shepherding their kids, and the dads are leaning into the door frame, wild-eyed. “Is that the game? What’s the score?”
I shoot out all the pertinent information while tossing candy into bags: “bottom of the 5th, three-zero giants, 2 strikes, Posey up with 2 and 2.” On TV, the crowd roars. I glance over my shoulder. “Make that 3 and 2.”
It’s as if I learned to speak Greek overnight.
For those who followed the last Giants post, here are the tracking collars. I’m thinking there’s a whole horse market out there for these. Horse-size and Rider-size:
Tomorrow? Alice and I are hijacking Bella’s rig and Dinero, and going for a real, honest to goodness, Jane-hasn’t-been-on-one-in-a-kazillion-years trail ride. A trail! At Point Reyes National Seashore. On Hudson, the rock star. I’m very excited. The bummer is Bella sprained her ankle and can’t come.
I’d been keeping tabs on the boys dentistry recovery. I’m not sure their teeth hurt past the first day or so, but it was clear their jaws were sore, despite the consideration and care shown by the dentist. Hudson got bute for a couple of days, and jaw massages. He hasn’t been totally himself: we’ve just been walking. Dinero has been much more together, (but he also didn’t need as much sedation) and I had some terrific rides on him. (Reference: Bella’s sprained ankle.)
This afternoon, I planned to give both horses solid workouts, to improve the odds of having Steady Eddie’s on the trail. The big arena was out of commission. I took Hudson into the indoor arena. A trainer was giving a child a lesson. Other than that: empty.
We’re good. I’ve ridden around this pair a lot, and the trainer knows I will help by staying out-of-the-way or setting an example if asked. (Read: Jane will play Follow the Leader, because really, she’s a big kid.)
Hudson hates the indoor. He can’t stand the noise. He’s also a big horse in a narrow space. No 20 M circles here. More like 18. Oh well…he’s going to have to ride in it all winter. He’ll live. The geriatric crowd picked the lock on their paddock again, and are trotting gleefully around the property, congratulating each other: “Hey DUDE, you still TOTALLY have it!”
I ask the mom if she’d mind holding Hudson while I round-up the jail-break crowd. They’re skittering around the outside of the arena, and I’m worried they’ll spook the little girls horse, who is starting to get a hairy eyeball. Hudson is yawning. Mom is gracious and a learning horsewoman: she holds. I grab a lead rope and go for the boss mare. Get her in, and the rest will follow. No biggie.
I come back: mom is staring dreamily into Hudson’s eyes, and he is blissfully zoned out in nose-stroking land, showing himself to be every inch the kind, older, gentleman. She’s in LOVE. “He’s so sweet, I never noticed that about him. What a good horse! We’re having a moment.” She laughs, but doesn’t hand over the reins. “We’re bonding”, she says, every so gently stroking his face, which is practically in her arms.
I’m in a hurry, but how can I speed THAT up? It’s lovely that she sees him in there. I wait. When she says, “He’s incredibly mellow, I always thought he was a hand full!”, I think: correct…and…correct.
Hudson plays to his audience. We walk calmly around the arena, warming up: stretches, spiraling in, spiraling out, half pass, leg yield. Honestly, until I gauge the tone of the lesson, I can’t ask him for anything bigger. I can tell mom wishes she could ride him, just once?
Not a good idea. Their trainer does an excellent job of empowering her clients. She works the horses and keeps them in top training, so her clients can ride, feel what a great horse they own, and not have to make the horse great. It works well. Horses are trained beautifully, she irons out all the problems, and owners get to ride horses that might be a smidge too much for them still, and have the horses behave perfectly. I admire how she cares for both ends of her clientele: horses and people. Eventually, the horses and people meet in the middle: horses relax and feel safe, people learn to ride, and off they go on their own, ongoing major success stories. I love trainers like her. She sets everyone up for success and independence. She’s honest and thorough.
I doubt mom would be able to ride Hudson if he got a little strong. I can see by her following adoring eyes, that she is head over heels, and it’s thrown her. Her horses are beautiful, immaculate, perfectly proportioned show Arabians. Hudson, well I think he’s handsome, but to someone in love with Arabians as a show breed, he’s clunky.
I focus. Hudson is a funny guy. He likes to warm up by doing a western jog, sans hoof dragging. It’s slow, suspended, incredibly comfortable, and he uses his butt to lift his back up and go round. He makes me look like a magnificent rider. I don’t move, and he’s gorgeous.
We’re move on to other things, working on an 18 M circle, with the occasional oblong thrown in. He’s getting a bit excited, which makes me excited…does this mean…he’s enjoying dressage work?? This is new.
I drop my inside hip, and we roll into a collected canter that is heaven. We come back to a rising trot, and I push him inside the gait to extend, come back, jog, etc. He Luffs it. Hudson LIKING dressage work?
Trouble in River City. Right is my harder direction, I have a bum right leg. Well, it’s numb actually, so I can’t feel things like I do with my left leg. I have to pay a lot of attention to what my right leg is doing, so I can consciously send signals like “raise toes”, “drop thigh”, and “squeeze”.
I still can’t quite get the hang of the canter depart on Hudson. It’s too easy. Drop the inside seat bone. No fancy half halts, no outside leg, no getting oneself into a perfect position. Drop the inside hip.
I look at my hip, and will it to drop. It drops. We break out of the sitting trot into a dead gallop. Whoops. Too much drop. Fortunately, I didn’t ask him to canter in this direction until the student was brought into the center to talk to the instructor.
Wrong arena for a dead gallop. I use my core and shoulders to command him to turn into a ball underneath me. We’re flying, but now he’s super collected and round, perfectly balanced, and dying to hit the gas pedal. Trainer thinks he’s running away with me. He hasn’t even warmed UP yet on the running scale. I’m up there cursing the mistake. Hudson’s not running away, he’s running in joy: I need to keep the joy and still slow the heck down.
He’ll stop dead if I ask. But I’m not sure I can bring his speed down, he’s feeling very strong, very joyous. Well. Kid is safe.
Can I get him to come back on the very narrow short sides?
That would be: No.
He processes my request and balls himself up on the short side, both compacting his body, and lifting it straight up, keeping a perfect balance and rhythm, head straight out. It’s not dressage, it’s roping. I insist he drop his head, give me intense collection, stay on the bit. Now it’s dressage. We do two laps of the arena, and finish with two 18 M high-energy canter circles. I drop him into a trot. Sweat is pouring off me. Yuck.
The olympic-level dressage trainer is leaning on the rail at the short side. She once asked me, years ago, out of all the dressage horses I’d ridden at this barn, which one I liked the most. Hudson, hands down. She had no idea who he was. One day, she saw him, and her lips curled before she could hide it. THIS was what I thought was a good dressage horse? Puhleeze.
Great. Now I’m going to get to hear what an awful ride this was on a terrible horse.
She says: “Wow.” Pause. “Looks like you got a major dressage horse after all.”
What? She hates him. Thinks he’s a total waste. (I won’t take lessons with her.)
“I’m impressed”, she continues, as if talking to herself. “That might have been the best counter canter I’ve ever seen. The way you kept him in check with your seat, but forward. He was…outstanding. That was a nine.”
She continues to eye him critically up and down, as if inspecting a new horse.
I think this, but luckily, I DO NOT SAY it out loud.
I WAS ON THE WRONG LEAD…?