I was so sore from riding and working out that for our Wednesday ride, I wanted to keep it simple and short. In all my amazing wisdom, I said “You know what is the perfect way to have an easy short ride? REMOVE THE STIRRUPS.”
And that’s what I did.
Not exactly brilliant. It was short but I forgot just how much muscle was required to even keep your legs correct at a walk! It was good for me because I was able to stretch my legs and hip flexors while walking with Scarlet. We did try some trotting. It was terrible. I have never been able to sit the trot. Follow the motion at a walk and canter? Hell yeah, I got that. Follow the motion at the trot? Whu? Scarlet let me know just how bad it was by sticking his head straight up in the air. I agreed with him and let us walk. I did a circle and half a lap at the canter, which I was pretty pleased with. And then I called it a much needed day. I was quite sore afterwards (no duh Alex. Work harder when you are tired. So smart)
Thursday is Scarlet’s day off from riding but I still went for a run. It wasn’t too bad.
Friday, Scarlet and I worked on transitions between the gaits. He was very good and pretty responsive. He edged over into too responsive when I did big figure 8’s switching leads via a simple lead change. My butt had to touch the seat just a hair longer than posting and he would canter off. Correct lead so I didn’t get on him too hard. We just did a few trot-sit-trot on moments to remind him that he does need to wait until I cue, even if he is smarter than me.
Saturday was the first time I’d been out on a weekend to ride in the morning time. It was quite nice. There was hardly anyone at the barn, which was odd. I wasn’t out there super early. It was around 9 when I arrived. But I had the arena all to myself still. There was only a horse in one of the turn out arenas and a couple of people using the round pens. I wanted to focus on getting Scarlet to move forward and be in front of my leg that ride with a tad bit of lateral thrown in for stretching.
After our normal two loose rein walk laps, I asked Scarlet to move forward and the walk and on the bit. He kinda ignored me and tried to pretend he was moving forward by dropping his head. So we did a bit of halt-trot transitions to get him remembering what forward was. Then we worked the walk and I actually felt his back come up underneath me. We moved into the trot and worked on keeping that back up. He got a bit distracted sometimes by things moving outside the arena but was focused overall and listening. We could get the connection back fairly quickly by doing circles.
I did some figure 8’s at the trot holding onto the front of my saddle pad to check how my hands had been doing while trotting. I’m pretty bad at holding them steady and I haven’t been focusing super hard on myself during the rides so I figured I should check. It was a good thing that I did because Scarlet was really unhappy with that. Which means I’d been letting him get away with tugging at my hands instead of moving up into them. So we did figure 8s and he eventually gave and moved forward correctly. It’s always difficult to do figure 8s without my hands. I do rely on my hand aids for direction more than I should. It’s a bad habit.
Our canter transitions upward were lovely and pushed from behind. After we had cantered a bit, I let him walk for a break. Then came the lateral work. We spiraled in and out on a circle both directions at a walk and trot. Then I asked him to leg yield both ways walk and trot again. It’s definitely hard for him but I got a few good steps both ways. The trot was better than I thought it would be since I haven’t been working on that with him. I let him canter off for some fun and then ended the ride.
I actually borrowed my husband’s Fitbit charge for the ride on Saturday to see how it did. It said I burned 477 calories for a 43-minute ride. My high was 145 bpm with the average around 125. Which seems about right but I don’t really have any other comparison for exercise using the Fitbit, let alone while riding. Though I rode with it to see if I wanted one of my own, I’m leaning towards no.
I ride in long sleeve sun shirts always. Even when it is overcast. I do this because I’ve already had one brush with skin cancer and do not want another. So I cover as much of me as possible and use sunscreen on the rest. So my arms have long sleeves and gloves on. Which makes it a bit difficult to see a watch. Not to mention, the reason I wear a watch while riding is to keep an eye on the time. Since the Fitbit has to be in contact with my skin to keep track of my bpm, it can’t be seen under my sleeve. My normal watch that I wear while riding is one I fasten over my sleeve.
I still do want a way to keep track of my bpm and calories burned while riding but I don’t think a wrist mounted heart rate monitor is going to work well for me. I’m looking into polar’s chest strap heart monitor. Its got great reviews and is supposed to be very accurate. My only concern is chaffing, which is why I’m going to try and see if I can find a store where I can touch/try it on to see how it feels.
Scarlet has been really good lately with the rides. I know that I could always be clearer and more direct with what I’m asking him to do but he tries to listen. He hasn’t thrown fits in the arena, even though we have only been here for two weeks. He pays attention even when horses are leaving the area or arriving. Sometimes, he is just a really good boy. I’m very happy with our riding recently and am very glad that he seems to be a content, fat happy horse as well.