This evening, my teacher told me I’d reached a plateau and in this case, it’s a good thing! I am IMPROVING!!! I’ve gotten vastly better at keeping my leg underneath and still which makes my sitting trot better which improves my 2-point. 2-point looks more like the way a jocky sits; butt up off the sadle but not leaning forward. It’s what I need to do for jumping even though I do not jump (no, no, no). Although I do bounce quite a good deal up in 2-point, boingboingboing!
Monthly Archives: August 2006
If only for the geat pictures, both photo and old engravings, take a peek at Small Farmer’s Journal. I bought a copy at our local Border’s because I was drawn to the oversize nature of the publication, the brown kraft paper cover, and the story on horse’s body language. There’s lots of cool stuff in the publication about issues I had no idea existed, like a government move to keep track of farm animal with chips. And have you ever heard of the foot plow? It’s like a bicycle on sterioids. Ve pump you up!
What I also like about the publication is the intersection of people who went back to the land in the 70s, people going back to the land now, and Plain People. And there’s lots of pictures of draft horses, all the way from mega big guys down to fjords and haflingers. Lots of stuff on haflingers.
While I’m a suburban dweller, I am also a former country dweller and reader of The Mother Earth News, which I found annoying for the relentlessly peppy tone of the prose but enjoyed for the ideas. As far as country living goes, I didn’t like it, wasn’t very good at it, and made $9 one summer from The Green Beans That Kept on Growing and Refused to die.
These days, my husband and I share a subscription to an organic vegetable farm with another couple and my riding stable is way out in the country (for now). Yes, I like the country, the air, the challenges, the birds, the woods and water, and then like to come home to the AC and my computer and the big TV and the basement rec room and the gas grill and general cul de sac niftiness. Suburbia and the sound of lawn mowers! I like it!
Besides, it is the way of my people.
Mopey is a little old Morgan horse who is teaching me a lot about riding. He has adorable little hooves and is about 14.3 hands. He’s very good at bloating so getting the girth tight takes several (several) tries and Leah alway, always always has to tighten it again once I’ve been riding for a few minutes. He knows that he gets a treat from me both bfore and after the lesson, so when he sees me coming he makes low-key happy “feed-me” noises and fixes me in his gaze with an eager eye until said treat is presented. He has the following issues:
- Equine scoliosis (mentioned at least twice in other posts but man, is it ever obvious that he’s crooked!)
- Fear of brooms
- Fear of a certain blue barrel out in the ring even though he was just out there in the same ring running around the same barrel earlier in the day
- Fear of trail riding due an unfortunate incident involving a cat and a squirrel inwhich a squirrel ran up over his shoulders and a cat followed, both animals using Mopey like a skate-boarder’s ramp. The Mopester has never been quite the same.
- Ability to cut corners in the ring and a bit headstrong about being asked back into the same corners.
We trotted a lot as I worked on my two-point last night. The Mopester had lots of energy and we sailed along in the deep, deep sand of the inside ring while tornados threatened the next county over. But were were fine, all of us in the ring, and didn’t know anything about the warning until much, much later.
It’s Monday morning and the theme of HBO’s “Deadwood” is humming along in my head. “Deadwood” is famously loaded with swearing and blood. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, plus it under-utilizes actor Brad Dourif (my husband’s observation) and the returning troupe of actors who gripe about stuff but never get to act (my observation). But the language is dandy and if you can stand the dirt and the grit, it’s Must See TV.
Aside from that, the opening credits (also loaded with blood) feature horse galloping in slow-mo through streams crowded with miners panning for gold, through pine forests, and finally into the muddy streets of the miserable town of Deadwood. Meanwhile, a rollicking and then haunting tune featuring the fiddle runs up and down behind the images. Finally, there’s a close-up of the horse, the face in full-frame, the eyes enigmatic.
Violence, filthy bargains, mayhem. The horse can only be a horse.
I was late the other day to a lesson, and so went over to my friend Laurie’s house to pick up my share of our vegetable subscription since I was too late to meet her at the vegetable handoff. I was all decked out in my riding togs because I loooove having an excuse to parade around in my dusty half-chaps: “Look at me! I’ve been HORSEBACK riding! Don’t you with you were going HORSEBACK riding?” and so the subject of horses came up.
Turns out she’s been following the fortunes of Barbaro pretty close and has come to realize that she’s interested in horses. Not interested in riding them, leading them around, feeding them, or even touching them, but interested nonetheless. I’ll check with my teacher next time I go out for a lesson and see if I can bring Laurie along some time. Maybe we can bring an extra chair for her and she can sit and watch. I think that’s what she wants to do, but I need to make sure. She also needs to feel safe while she does it. You know, when horses snort and stomp and whatnot, it’s pretty scary if you’re not used to it. And they are so darned big!
She also had a bad experience with a horse sneezing all over her some years back and doesn’t want to repeat the experience. It was gross and icky and it’s obvious that the memory of peeling off her jacket to get away from the horse mucus is still strong in her.
Wow! I had class on Monday and on Tuesday this week! By the time I got to bed last night, I was too tired to sleep!
(Isn’t that weird? How can one be too tired to sleep? Yet, this thing is true).
I rode Mopey (the old Morgan with scoliosis, a fear of brooms, cataracts, and a fear of rodents due to an old trail-riding incident involving a squirrel and a cat) for both lessons. Monday night was the group lesson and it was just myself and another student, and yesterday afternoon was a private lesson, also with the Mope-ster. It’s still very hard for me to keep my leg underneath. I push it forward (like a plowboy, says Leah — hence the picture) without any awareness of what I’m doing (or not doing). Plus I tense up, hollow my back, and push out my butt. One solution to the latter is to keep the abs engaged. That’s what I did yesterday and today I am feeling the fruits of doing so.
But isn’t that a wonderful feeling, to have sore muscles from having done the right thing? I feel very athletic and healthy. Gosh, if I could just ride every day!
So far, two of my lessons have ended due to thunderous downpours. And they are thunderous. Storms are bigger out in the country than they are at our home in the ‘burbs. The tilled fields give the viewer a broader look at what’s incoming (big dark clouds) and the trees seem to flail more than the suburban trees. It gets quiet (and by “it” I mean the air, the insects, the general milieu of the outdoors). Almost too quiet. I wondered if Mopey said to Ginger, “Ginger, it’s gone quiet!” and if Ginger said, “Yep, almost too quiet.”
Both horses were pretty well behaved though as the storm approached. I think I was more nervous than Mopey. And as lightening flashed e, I dismounted and brought him inside for a treat and a brushing.
Since it was raining so hard, I hung out for awhile and waited for the rain to slow down some rather than to chance the soaked roads and test the zero visibility. I helped Lean hand around the evening’s rations of hay. When we were done, I joined one of her daughters who stood half-in and half-out of the rain, catching water in our hands and cleaning off the itchy grass seed from our arms.
Oooo, yesterday we (me n’ Mopey) did some bending, that thing where the horse is going forward but his head is turned into the ring. It was cool! I’m so glad I took a Yoga class that morning, because I think it helped me to keep my shoulders in the correct alignment. The Mope-ster responded to pressure from my inside leg and because he’s very experienced and a darling, he ignored the pressure I unwittingly bestowed with my outside leg.
So that’s another challenge; to be aware what the outside leg is doing because I can’t ignore it. When I ignore it, my toes turn waaaay out and I’m pressing my heel into the side of the horse; a clear signal to move away from the pressure. With weirdo pressure on both sides (inside leg coming forward, outside leg doing God-knows-what), a horse other than Mopey might have . . . well, I don’t know what another horse would do but at least I do, so I can work on it.
I had a bad lesson about 3-4 weeks ago. It wasn’t traumatic or anything, but I got scared and once I get scared, that’s it. The fear invades my limbs by running in my veins and along every nerve ending until it’s all I can do to avoid the fetal position. What happened, I guess, is that Stalker (that’s the horse I’ve been riding) started and hopped to the side as another rider when past on the inside, saying something loudly to the other horse. Or maybe my horse or maybe me. I have no idea other than it spooked Stalker and it spooked me.
Now. I’ve sat through the same many, many times. Horses stumble, trip, flick at flies, nip at each other, and all you have to do is sit deep n’ stuff and it’s fine. But this time it wasn’t. I was discombobulated because I only recently started doing group lessons again and group lessons are a discombobulating experience. There’s horses going every whichway, the instructor is keeping multiple plates the air can calling out specialized instructions to the other students, some people are indeed working a pattern for their dressage test but danged if I can make any sense out of it . . . you get the picture.
So that was that. I kept insisting I was OK to my instructor even though I was quite clearly Not OK. And I got lots of support from another student also who told me that everyone has a bad day and that it’s OK, really, honest.
But the past few weeks have been a little trying and I’ve been wondering what the heck I’ve been doing — until last night when I rode Mopey.
This isn’t a dramatic conversion tale and there’s no choir of angels singing as my confidence comes racing back, but by Godfrey, I sure enjoyed riding little Mopey, a nice sturdy Morgan with equine scoliosis. I liked being on the little guy’s back and feeling like I was lots closer to the ground, like I had more of me in touch with more of him. Lofty fellows are wonderful but so are non-lofties.