A Circling We Will Go…

The Round Pen, to be exact.  I’m sick. Given Hudson’s state of mind and my NyQuil induced stupor, I decided riding would be foolhardy.

But that doesn’t mean one of us can’t work!

He’s doing some decent trot work in the Vienna reins, and beginning to give up and relax into the stupid fracken circles he so enjoys.

I’m happy to see his fitness plan is so clearly working through the neck and shoulders.  I can see it behind as well, but we have a lot farther to go to get the back, abs and rump well muscled.

He’s a funny guy.  What made him happy? He was working in the rain.  Hudson’s opinion: real horses work in weather!

Into the Equine Heart of Darkness…

Dear Equines and Bipeds,

Hudson here. I am in existential angst.

My life is…boring. It’s a dreary endless round of circles and grooming.

I’m a little cranky.

Jane is furious with me.  Bella is furious with me. Woodrow is…not amused.

I ask you, when you are in existential angst, at whom do you lash out? The people closest to you, naturally.

Well.  Woodrow just happened to be the closest to me at the moment I became overwhelmed with ennui. But this was forever ago.

(Jane said to tell you it was the day before yesterday, whatever that means.)

True. He – ah – might be limping a little on the leg all the antiseptic-smelling people were trying to fix.

And – ah – I might have thoroughly alienated his massage therapist, a delightful woman, who happened to have just finished working on Woodrow’s problem areas.

And – ah – I might have fallen slightly into a habit of lashing out at Woodrow during dinner, which,  if I’m honest, could be a contributing factor into why he’s not getting better according to the vet’s projected schedule. Who knew a little regular slipping and falling could hurt him?

Fine. If I put myself in his horseshoes I wouldn’t be very happy with me either.

I’ve been banished. I’ve also been told in no uncertain terms by Jane that I am not allowed to feel sorry for myself, and you are not allowed to feel sorry for me either.

(No “poor Hudson” comments, please.)

I formally apologize: Woodrow, I am sincerely sorry, from the bottom of my stomach, that I have been a big, mean, bully and caused you both psychic and physical pain.

I do not trust that I would not do it again.  Sorry. I hope you will take this as a sign of my personal failings, not as a sign of any dislike of you.

Jane is taking me to something she calls “counseling”.  I do not quite understand the concept, but she says it involves a long succession of wet saddle blankets, that I will become quite tired on a regular basis, and I will be doing something new.  When pressed to know what this “new” thing is, Jane merely says “I don’t know yet, Hudson.  Please shut up before I hurt you.”

(Hurt me? Why?)

Humans.  So confusing.

I just hope it won’t be as it’s been: circles at the trot on the buckle. Circles at the trot on the bit.  Circles at the walk on the buckle. Circles at the walk on the bit.  Circles of the canter on the buckle. Circles of the canter on the bit. Tiny circles. Medium circles.  Large circles. Giant, arena-sized circles.  Circling the barns on the access road. Circles carrying yourself like this.  Circles of carrying yourself like that. I am not a merry-go-round horse.

I miss all the decision-making I got to do running steers.

I want to know what the new thing is.

Do you know?

Nudge,

Hudson

Roping Practice Wednesday

At home, waiting to be loaded:

Hudson is smiling.  This is a huge smile for Hudson, Master of Understatement.

Dinero is catching some Zzzz’s.

It was  hotter than blazes all day. Which meant a most excellent evening in the hills: T-shirt warm, and not too hot to rope, um, spectate. It probably was hot if you were hurtling after a steer.

Hudson was overjoyed to lose the two pound dressage saddle (?!?), and feel the heft of a sixty pound roping saddle.  (He’s such a guy.)

Once a cow horse, always a cow horse. He doesn’t understand he’s awesome in dressage.

Below, A rare photo of Hudson with his ears forward. Note: his attention is fixed on the arena gate.

The roping arena: it’s level, the footing is light and fast, and it’s HUGE. Think football field. It may be my favorite arena ever.  It’s certainly Hudson’s. We rode with Trixie and Bella before practice while they warmed up.

I had the best dressage ride ever: round, forward, relaxed, on the bit…he was so light in the bridle that holding his mouth was like holding a sheet of paper. At every gait. Wonderful leg yields, nice turn on the haunches, perfect in every way.  Luckily, on roping saddles, the stirrups are not set as far forward as other western saddles.

Big arena, room to gallop: I let him go. To my surprise, he merely stretched out, relaxed, and cantered on. He was humming with happiness. Only minor blip: acceptable. Jigging near the box…

My laugh of the day: technically, I know how to hold split reins. I’m good as long as I don’t have to move. Unfortunately, at some point while riding, you have to move? It seems to be part of the deal. (I ride the halt at Olympic level, if I do say so myself.) I appeared to be hauling up or dropping anchor every time I adjusted rein length. Hudson didn’t care. At all. That’s how happy he was.

Bella and Dinero in the box:

It’s quite possibly the most beautiful ranch I’ve ever seen.  The box is shaded by old trees, the late afternoon light filters down, and everything glows.

So. Here’s the thing:

  • I had a blast
  • Hudson had a blast
  • We were still doing what I love
  • I have no interest in showing dressage
  • The whole atmosphere is relaxed, inclusive, and welcoming
  • I felt no need to be perfect
  • Just because Hudson can DO dressage doesn’t mean he likes it

Maybe I should consider…?

Bella generously said, of her extra roping saddle: “If you can lift it, you can borrow it!”

I’ll just be the one down at the barn, doing dead lift saddle reps…

and one and two and three and four and….make those biceps burn!

The Bad Thing: Hudson’s Perspective

Dear Jane-Readers,

Please forgive me, but I am going to address all the equines out there, who surely will comprehend my pain.  No offense meant to bipeds: it’s one of those “until you walk in my hooves” sort of things.

Dear Equines,

The misery has compounded. For weeks, Jane has rushed in, apparently aimlessly deciding what to do with me, and then forgetting what she decided.

She has been driving me crazy.

Legitimate grievance #1:

I’ve learned to handle the grooming. I’ve adjusted my philosophy and even put my preference on the bottom.

  • Groom and let’s go.
  • Don’t groom and let’s go.

Legitimate grievance #2:

For nearly 4 weeks, all I have done is WALK.  I refuse to count one trot circle or one canter circle as something besides walking. I’ve walked:

  • on the buckle
  • on the bit
  • stretchy
  • booming
  • lazy
  • on the road
  • in heavy sand
  • while ponying Dinero
  • while being ponied by Dinero

Sometimes all in the same “riding” session. I have dutifully walked with gentlemanly forgiveness, and reasoned with Jane. Despite her abundant faults, Jane usually listens. 

Every. Single. Day. I politely suggested we add to the mind numbing walk program.

Every. Single. Day. Jane said “not now, Hudson, sorry”.

I am not lame.  I am healthy. I am fit. There is no medical reason I must walk.

Many of you may identify with my frustration. {Tucker, Fee, Ginger, Solo…need I go on?} I’m trying to handle my retirement with grace, and embrace my new career (gag) as a dressage horse.

I’m a point and shoot kind of guy, okay? I need to work.  I mean, come on: plod plod plod, turn the corner, plod: hey there’s those turkeys again. And how about that manure pile? You knowI think the sun might have moved a notch…

It’s water torture. Drip drip drip.

Then, The Bad Thing happened…

Continue reading “The Bad Thing: Hudson’s Perspective”

Hudson, Here. You Have No Idea What I Put Up With…

Hudson, here, hacking into the blog.  Tip of the carrot to Smokey; thank you my lady, for tiptoeing on the keyboard.

Jane’s been tending to a sick family member, barfing (whatever THAT is) dog, and healing the wheeled box that brings her to me. Yes, I do know it’s called a car. But it can’t haul a trailer.  Therefore, it doesn’t deserve to be recognized appropriately.

Jane. We need to review. Again.

I am aware you have limited brain capacity, and can’t help it; humans are simply born that way. (Listen to the Lady Gaga song. Finally, a human that gets it.) Trust me, I take your disability into account daily.

How I wish humans could think in concrete, logical terms.

Exhibit A:

I am not going to leave this on.

Continue reading “Hudson, Here. You Have No Idea What I Put Up With…”

Shhh, Don’t Scare the Cows…

I have a new riding plan.  It’s unorthodox, but it’s working.

I’ve watched lots of dressage videos, imprinting my memory, to emulate the good riding later.  Sort of a visual aid to my brain: see this footage?  Do that, K?

I know this works for many riders.

Frustrating. It doesn’t work for me.  I went back to concepts that I understand in my body.

  1. Whatever I am physically holding, the horse can’t use.
  2. Look for the places I brace my body.  Those will be the areas the horse can’t relax in, since I’m bracing against him.

Holding:

it’s not always bad. Quiet holding with my body can be a powerful tool to keep a line straight or block a ribcage from drifting.  The concept also helps me stop unconscious holding: letting the horse have room to move forward within the outline, and not stop impulsion.

Bracing:

Oy.  Is there anywhere I don’t brace, at some point? (Gumby bracing.  Bend one part and another part stiffens!)  I discovered I brace my wrists (?!?!?), creating a counter brace in Hudson, making it very difficult for him to be soft.  He can be super light, but not soft. How do you soften wrists?  I’m still working on that one.

During the last few weeks, I’ve watched the video of Kathy cutting steers on Rhodie many times. She has something I want, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Stillness? Quiet? Relaxation? Yes, but the way she is doing it is different from what I do.

The next time I got on Hudson, I went through my checklist (it’s Hudson, there’s a little give and take):

Jane: Hmmm….what am I holding? [mentally going through body parts]

Hudson: Jane? I believe you are holding the reins.  Feel free to drop them.

He’s a humorous guy.

Jane: tension in body…where am I bracing myself? Good grief.  Who braces their ankles?!? I will my ankles to stop “bracing” against the stirrups.

Hudson: Don’t care if you brace.  Hellloooo, I’ll just brace back. Win-win. Can we GO already?

I picture Kathy on Rhodie: that quality of internal and external stillness  you need when approaching high flight animals. Why not try?  

Jane: Still.  Completly relaxed. I am one with my horse…I am one with the herd. Ohm.

Hudson: CATTLE?!? WHERE???? I’m on it.  Point me.

His head flew into the air, his ears swiveled wildly, and he became absolutely and totally silent.  He saw the cows in my head, he knew. My body was saying “get ready for cows”, and he was ready.

His reaction was the best possible positive feedback. I did it. I’m quiet enough for cows!

I warmed us up on the access road as if we were moving through a large herd of invisible steers.  He’d begin to amp up (seeing my imaginary cows) and I’d say, with my body “Shhh…don’t scare the cows.” He was instantly quiet. Our connection was electric, solid. For the first time, in his mind, we were partners. I finally hit teammate status with Hudson!

The change is profound.

In order to broadcast “safe”, I have to stay  emotionally and physically contained
in a way that is new for me on the back of a horse. It’s impossible to broadcast “unthreatening” if I’m not self-contained, relaxed, focused, and quiet.

When we went into other gaits, I imagined going through a herd of steers at the trot or canter. Whole new experience. I am GLUED like a pivot to the saddle: a very relaxed pivot. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start. Finally, I can feel the dressage axiom that was too abstract for me to integrate: my seat belongs to the horse.

This is why I appreciate good horsemanship wherever it shows up.  Apparently I’m too concrete of a thinker to apply spoken dressage axioms.

But watching a good cutting team, I suddenly could visualize it in a way that made sense to me.

Give me an imaginary herd of steers, and I get it.  I GET IT! Whahooooooo!!!

(Shhhh…don’t scare the cattle…)

If you try invisible cattle, let me know if it worked for you or not, and how you felt it went!

What unorthodox things have you done to “get” things in  your disciplines?

The Awful Little Voice

You don’t know what you’re doing.  Ha. You are  so ____!

Fill in the blank with your Awful Little Voice’s favorite dig.

My Awful Little Voice got out of control.  It became a threatening, seven-headed, sword bearing monster – that still somehow managed to be a supermodel.

Strike that. This just in, from the Brain: the ALV is an astrophysicist supermodel gymnast. Who can sing.  And ice dances when she’s done creating World Peace.

Ignoring the ALV did not make it go away. It sent in tap roots, and spread. Apparently, Ignoring is a kissing cousin to Denial.  Who knew?

Pretty soon, according to my Awful Little Voice, I was getting up in the morning, dressing like an elderly troll, making Shaun terrible coffee, smearing on makeup in horribly unflattering colors, packing inedible lunches, walking the dog badly (?), tending a mediocre garden, eating like a pig, and working hard to become a worthless human being.

I didn’t notice.

The awful little voice saw its chance for new territory: Maybe you shouldn’t touch horses, you really have no business being around them, what do you know?

WHAT?!?

It finally hit something my confidence knows is ridiculous. Bonus: now I can see the little bugger.

It’s picked at my riding confidence, but never touched my horse skills. I am no longer ignoring.  I am holding a semi-automatic. Locked and loaded, ALV in the crosshairs.

KAPOW. Nice shot, Jane.

I forgot I could fight back.

All week I’ve gotten up in the morning, dressing casually in pretty colors, making excellent coffee, doing my makeup  just fine, packing interesting, healthy lunches, walking the dog into a state of bliss, tending a gorgeous, exploding garden, eating like a pig hungry person that needs fuel (a little backsliding on that one) and working hard at becoming a positive person whose awful little voice is deposed from dictatorship.

Yesterday, I got on Hudson, said to ALV: “I can ride this horse, and ride him well” and proceeded to ride him well, imperfectly.  We had a BLAST together.

“Imperfect” is no longer an opening for the Awful Little Voice. Things don’t have to be perfect to be right.  Hudson worked his butt off trying to be a terrific dressage horse who called me on my mistakes, and then willingly helped me correct them.

As a return gift for his generosity, I took him into the big arena.  We were in tune. I let him gallop: switching between on the bit and on the buckle.  He’s not a horse that needs the rider to tell him how to carry himself.  Incredible balance. He hit the gas on the long sides, and when I pulled in my abs and sat up, he came back willingly on the short sides. I told him “as much galloping as you want, just know we’re finishing collected”. He ran with it. As a reward for giving him room to be himself, the collected work he gifted me at the end was AWESOME.  I didn’t have to do a thing but sit still, square, stay in my body, and let him dance.

Take THAT, awful little voice!

I can ride.

Another Paddock Heard From…

Dear Jane,

You may remember me? We met many years ago.

This is your horse, Hudson.

As an extra incentive to get you to hang out with me, I’d like to point out that I have dirt on my butt.

Yes. Dirt.

And I do believe my coat is getting…dull. I may also be developing a slight case of thrush.

When the foal came, I thought, THANK GOD: Jane will have something else to dote on! She’ll ignore me, throw the tack on, and we’ll skip right to the part that includes galloping.

I had no idea you could dote twice as much.

What rider, when short on time…grooms?

I need a moment to gather my thoughts. I thought I knew exactly how I was going to discuss this issue. Ah well. Perhaps tact is over rated.

Since I’ve already hacked into your computer, I’ve left you a brand new welcome screen. You’ll see it when you boot up in the morning.  On it, you will find the barn’s address and phone number, complete with Google map, and a large, detailed, photograph of yours truly, tacked up. You will not be able to access your hard drive until you click on the carrots.

You will not be able to access your blog until you click on the Mrs. Pasture’s cookie bag.

Hinting?  Me?

Um. You do remember how to ride, right?

I heard Bella shocking you with the story that I would not let her catch me in turnout. Yes.  I deliberately acted out of character, knowing she’d mention this.

Attention, please. I need to be ridden.  A lot.

Bella just came home from the World Weight Lifting Championships, where she not only broke the former world record in dead lifts, she set a new world record: 320 lbs.  Since she was the former world record holder, this means she broke her own record. (BTW, Congratulations, Bella! YOU know how to work. P.S. your trophy cup would hold a large amount of cookies, and look stunning in our paddock.  Perhaps  you would consider displaying it with us?)

Sorry, I digress.  Point: The first thing Bella did when she came home (after carrying her trophy into the house) was RIDE.

Could we learn from this please?

Doll up Barbie and dote on the baby.

When you come see me, scrape dirt off in a saddle pad sized area, toss on the tack, and let’s GO, K?

However, I do find the rehydrating spray soothing on my face.  If you would like to continue wiping it on, that works for me. Oh.  Refill the fly spray bottle.  We’re getting close to Annoying Season.

Please look long and hard at included visual aids:

(nudge)

Hudson

Eat Like the Wind!

My life is hurtling ahead of me, just out of reach, and I’m running to catch up.  If  I can’t catch it, I’m going to start throwing rotten fruit at it in frustration. And probably eat lots of highly sugared carbohydrates that contain a lot of fat. (translation: cake)

We had another flag-snapping wind day, with a very brisk cold edge.  Trainers working horses were dealing with explosion after explosion.  I turned Hudson loose to run it out before we worked.

You know, we really are a lot alike. Hudson, running eating like the wind:

I wanna go, I wanna go, I wanna GO, I wanna…

…is that…food?

He’s Gonna Blow!!!

By the time I get to the car, my legs are trembling from exhaustion.

I text Daisy:

Jane: U r totally feeling like riding the black stallion, rite? Gallop forever, wind in yr helmet….

Daisy: Um. What?

Jane: Shut up. I’m hypnotizing you: U feel a desperate need to gallop for hours on end…on big beautiful horse that runs like the wind. U want to be on horse that is super amped…you can’t wait to ride.  If only you had access to a horse like this…

Jane: Is it working?

Daisy: Um. No.

Jane: Drat. Just got off H… 30 minutes. THIRTY MINUTES of dead gallop, and he wants more.  Didn’t break a sweat. Not even puffing. I’m gonna fall off. Therefore, YOU feel like running like the wind….

Daisy: Um. No.

Jane: Bella is super sick. Alice is working OT.  You’re the only other person who can ride what he’s got.

Daisy: LOL. Um. No.

Jane: Not now. Tomorrow? Next Tuesday? He’s stuffed feelings down during dressage. He’s loaded and ready to fire. Need to wear him out.

Daisy: You do not want Hudson to be super fit.

Jane: I know I know. We’d never touch down. I used 1,000 lb roping saddle to tire him out.  Didn’t make any difference.

Daisy: Not. Riding. (No offense.)

Jane: Need to work on my hypnosis skills…

Not offended. Hudson and Daisy drive each other INSANE. She’s high energy, he’s high energy, somehow it all snowballs into crashing energy and clashing personalities.

Hudson’s had it up to the eyeballs with quiet walks and calm dressage work.  I can feel it building in him.  I need to channel that energy and release it into the wild.

I should contact Green Peace: I’m fairly certain he could power a small city.

When he gets enough run time, he comes back to earth, and walks like a normal horse.

When he doesn’t get enough run time, he amps himself into the stratosphere, and once he’s cantered/galloped, you can forget getting him to come down to a gait slower than a bombing trot.

Walking to cool out? Not gonna happen. He’ll jig, dance, try to break sideways into a trot/canter. I must admit, we had some decent Tranter work today. (He’s convinced he can sneak into a canter from a big trot and I won’t notice if they’re the same speed.)

He’s pretty much out of his mind when he represses too much desire to GO. He’s not being bad, not at all.  This is because he was so good for too long without enough fun.

This is my plan: roping saddle and as much galloping as I can stand without falling off, for the next week. He’ll have to go through correct paces first. And end collected. But between, I need to let him be who he is for a while. Once he’s had enough of that, he won’t care about going from a gallop to a walk. Or doing a shoulder-in.

I feel like I have to open the valve or we’re going to develop a problem.  Or six.

Well, there’s proof on the blog. He hacked into my computer. I have to keep the guy busy and content! A manifesto? Lord, save me. Breaking Barbie out of jail?

Hooves to dirt, here we come.