With my half marathon over, I’ve been trying to get back to my normal rhythm of life. This first week back wasn’t quite normal but it was definitely closer than I have been recently. I was able to get out once on Tuesday and then Friday and Saturday. Monday I was too dang sore to get out period.
Tuesday was freaking cold. (Seriously winter why do you wait until the end of February to get here?) It was blowing hard and that made it about 20 degrees cooler than the actual temperature. I got Scarlet out and put him into an arena to run around a bit. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I was going to ride or not. It had been almost five days since I’d ridden him and it wasn’t calm horse weather.
He rolled and then had a fun little sprint down the line of the arena. I walked in and he lunged in a circle around me at a trot and canter without too many shenanigans so I decided that I could probably manage a ride.
He was so good for the ride. I’m so proud of him. He was tense for sure but he didn’t have a fit or spook and just kept going forward when asked. I just wanted to get him out and moving so I didn’t ask for much more than circles and serpentines as far as hard work.
Friday, I got out of work early due to having a meeting through my lunch hour so I was able to spend plenty of time grooming and fussing with Scarlet before getting on. I wanted to make sure that Scarlet worked for at least 30 minutes as he has definitely not been getting as regular of work in the last couple of months. After warming up, he was pretty sure we were done and needed to leave the ring. He just kinda slid sideways at the opening. I told him we weren’t done yet and he continued working.
It was only about 20 minutes in for our ride and I wanted to trot a lot more. Scarlet stocks up in his sheath area without regular work and trotting gets the blood flowing the best. But just trotting forever is boring. I decided I wanted to try to have him trot without much rein direction from me. I slid my reins to the buckle and we trotted.
It was hard. Scarlet speed up like nuts without rein direction. I know my hands do too much while riding and it’s something I need to work on. Sometimes we are good and he isn’t leaning on my reins but it takes a lot of effort to get to that point. He trotted without listening. I had to fight my body to not lean forward and thus encourage him to go faster. Leaning back, I tried to slow down my posting to encourage him to slow down as well. But I’ve never really understood how to do that without getting off beat on the posting so it didn’t go well. (If anyone has a good article explaining that, please let me know.)
After a bunch of circles and some voice commands to slow down, we ended up getting the idea of trotting at a normal speed down. I kept trying to use the reins to tell him to slow down but with my hands basically on the buckle, they really didn’t do anything so I had to really stick with my voice and body.
To cool off, I tried to get him listening to my body to halt from the walk. I shortened the reins and combined the voice command with doing my best to still my seat per what I’ve read in Jane Savoie’s books. I backed it up with the reins if he didn’t listen after a few steps. It got better as we went along. I’m hopeful we can figure out how to do this together.
Saturday was more just for moving around riding. Nothing new there.
After each ride this week, I took Scarlet to graze on the grass growing in the field. Hand grazing isn’t something we have easy access to at this barn. They don’t have a patch of grass they maintain that we are allowed to graze on. I really dislike it but it is what it is. The last barn had a huge lawn to graze on and I loved just letting Scarlet scarf up mouthfuls for half an hour or so after each ride.
I did find myself zoning out while hand grazing. Does anyone else find the sound of horses eating grass soothing? It allows me to get to an almost meditative state, just holding the line and watching Scarlet eat. I wish I could graze him more often but that’s CA for you. I’m making a point to take him to graze as often as possible while the grass still exists.