I got to ride so much in the last three days. I rode four times!

Four times you say? How could you manage to do that with only one horse? Did you ride him multiple times in one day?

The answer to that is no. I got to ride two horses in one day! XD But that didn’t happen until Sunday so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Friday I ran again for probably the first time since my half marathon. I shouldn’t have let it go so long as all of my endurance totally disappeared but it is what it is. It was only a short two mile run but I could still feel it. Riding was a bit harder as a result since my legs were quite tired. This week has been a lot more exercise than I’ve been able to get recently. I’m very happy with this but the result is that I’m extremely tired.

Scarlet was well behaved and we did a bunch of simple changes across serpentines during the ride. But I was honestly too tired to really ask for much more. I’m hopeful that my stamina will improve now that I’m getting back to my normal routine. (My tiredness is probably¬† not helped by the fact that I stayed up late three nights in a row to read)

Saturday, I meant to get up before it got hot out to ride but did not make it. I had wanted to get out to the barn around 8:30 but that was when I woke up. It probably ended up being 9:30 before I made it out there. It was hot. Hot hot hot. It was one of the first days that I felt like it was really uncomfortable for both me and Scarlet. My plan for Saturday was to ride him longer and get him really working but I did not. I gave up to the heat (I’m a weenie sometimes).

Sunday was awesome. I am friends with a lady named K at my barn. Our paths don’t cross too often during the week since we have different schedules. On the weekends, if I get out in the morning, we can generally say hi or go for a ride together. She has three horses and offered to let me ride her horse M. I jumped at the chance. K is an eventer and M has gone up to Training level before. She is a much more trained horse that I’ve had the chance to ride outside of a lesson in a long time.

I set an alarm so I’d get out of bed on time and met up with K at 8ish at the barn. We got M and another of her horses, JC, ready for the ride. K had put up a grid of fences for the ride with her first horse and she adjusted it down to a trot pole, cross rail to another pole that would eventually be a vertical.

While I warmed up, M made me work for the ride. Not that she was naughty or lazy but she made you ask for real work and ask properly. A lot of my warmup involved really getting her through the outside rein and her shoulders not popping out toward the rail. We did a lot of circles and spirals in and out. K coached me a bit on how I needed to ask her. It took a bit but I got the hang of it.

One amazing thing about riding M was you could immediately tell if something wasn’t right. If her shoulders popped out, her trot got very bouncy and almost gaited feeling. It was really difficult mentally and physically to keep remembering what my body needed to do. Scarlet isn’t micromanage-y like that but he also doesn’t have a ton of difference between his bad and good gaits so I don’t know as quickly if there are problems.

There were a few trot poles set in the arena. One set was a bit short, so I had to remind M to keep it slow and steady. The other was set a bit long so I had to ask for a more open stride. I¬† must have asked too well because once we got over the first pole, M CANTERED through the trot poles. It was the weirdest and funniest thing I’ve had happen to me on a horse in a while. K was laughing as well and pointed out that she got all her feet in between the poles. Mare is flexible obviously.

After we finished warming up, K pointed me toward a couple of fences and reminded me to commit to the fence and taking off where I want to take off. My bad habit of throwing my upper body at the fence emerged and I had to remind myself at every stride to think “Sit back.” We got several good trot fences once I reminded M that we were waiting until we got to the fence, not taking the spot that is twelve feet away. We repeated for the canter.

Sufficiently warmed up, K sent me through my first grids ever. We trotted in and over the cross rail. The pole was left as is until I went over it a couple of times. K had to remind me to not act like I was jumping the pole, let it come to me. I also needed to lower my hands and let them follow M’s mouth. I did my best to improve and M seemed to appreciate it.

Then K set the pole as a vertical. M loved the extra jump and rocketed through the grid. Not that she was being overly fast. She just has this… force to her jump that I’ve never felt before. Mare reaches under herself and really gets up and over the jumps. It was fantastic. It felt so powerful and so much fun. We called it after a few go-throughs as the horses were sweating and the lesson kids were showing up. We put the jumps back in their original places and hosed our horses off.

Scarlet got a really short ride again as I was exhausted by the time I got on him. I did get him over a crossrail a few times at a trot and canter. I wanted to see if I could feel a difference keeping myself back better over the jumps. I think I did feel it a bit but I’m not entirely sure. It’s a very different feel on him since he is a full 5″ shorter and not nearly as powerful.

I’m really grateful that I got to ride M. K would like to do it again as she thinks M needs to get out and be ridden more often. She gets her three out as much as possible but its not easy when you have three to ride and a day job plus a family. I’m very much on board with this plan.

Getting Back to Habits

*Adding pictures from Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC and Seattle for interesting media from my vacation*

I’m one of those people who lives by her habits. If it’s not something I do daily, it’s really hard to get me to do it at all. That’s not to say that I don’t have flexibility in my schedule. I have gaps of downtime to do what I want. But exercise, visiting the horse, chores and such, those need to be on a schedule so I do them.

My schedule has been all kinds of messed up recently so going out to the barn the first time this week was both amazing and hard. I’m glad I went and I feel much better for it but getting out there in the first place was hard. I felt a little off and everything felt a little weird.

We went on a duck ride tour! It was amazing. Cheesy and silly but well worth it.

It had gotten cold suddenly after a few days of 80-degree weather here (cold being 60s) and I hadn’t ridden Scarlet much lately so I wanted to let him out into the arena to get some wiggles out. I grabbed him out of his pen and got the lunge whip from the tack room. I was thinking I’d let him roll and then lunge him a bit. However, he saw the whip and was not interested in relaxing after that.

He was pretty snorty and did not want to trot around me. I haven’t used a lunge line in forever with him as he is pretty good about circling me and I don’t generally lunge anyway. This time, it would have been nice as he was not listening to my voice when I was asking him to slow down. I kept at it until he responded to me and transitioned down and back up as I asked.

Portage Bay Cafe had a breakfast bar where you could add whipped cream and tons of fruit options to your pancakes or french toast. Yum!

I quickly tacked up and we walked to the front arena. He power walked his way over. We’ve been doing laps around the barn more often so he is more comfortable walking around. It’s nice because it makes for a good warm up or cool down. I didn’t push hard while riding because we are out of shape. But we did a bit of trot and canter and I called it good.

Tuesday I worked on getting us nice and stretched out. Again, I didn’t push much. Not for Scarlet’s sake but for mine. I could feel my muscles protesting while I moved.

The bathroom stalls at Pike Place Market are… short. I’m 5’7″ and my head is completely over the wall. Awkward….

Wednesday, it was hard to get out. I had to leave 20 minutes later than normal due to needing to stay back for work stuff and then there was an accident and traffic. I decided to stop by the feed store and grab some shavings. While I was there, I bought a rubber stock tank to put his hay in. I’ve wanted one for a while but haven’t gotten around to getting one.

I dumped the stuff outside Scarlet’s pen and pulled him out. After giving him a quick grooming, I put the bareback pad on him and then walked around the barn. I have been trying to get him to venture toward the front after each ride as there is a trail setup in the far arena and I’d like to be able to use it occasionally. I’ve not got him past the back of the main barn yet as he gets tense. While I want to push him and ask him to go further, I also don’t want to make it a terrible experience. I don’t want to fight him. I want him to trust me when I say it’s okay for us to go up there.

We headed just past our normal jump arena and Scarlet got spooked by… poles? A small piece of plastic blowing? A mounting block? I’m not sure which spooked him but he decided to hurry in the opposite direction. And my heart leapt as I realize I was trying to push him out of his comfort zone with NO SADDLE.

I might be crazy.

After circling him, I made him sniff the things and then pushed forward. And he kept going. I kept my legs on but didn’t really push him much. Just encouraging without force behind it. And we kept going. We made it all the way to the front of the main barn and stood looking at the front arena. I was super happy with him and didn’t want to jinx it by pushing him further so I turned him back to end our ride.

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I moved his hay into the stock tank and cleaned up his stall a little before splitting open the shavings. Scarlet nosed his way through them and looked like he was trying to eat them. I had hoped that he would roll in them but he was more interested in eating. Oh well. I’m glad I got the shavings though. I’m going to work up to getting his shavings built up in his stall somewhat. I can’t fit too many bags into my car at one time though (Prius C) so it will be slow going.