It's not always warmer in the indoor ring, just less windy. Usually. And more dusty.
I put on a couple layers of shirts and my winter parka, made sure I had plenty of glove and earband options, and an extra fleece jacket, just in case, and off I went. We had a two hour delay of school because of snow this morning, so once everyone had gone off to school, I was on my way.
I chalk quite a lot of my orientation to work and to passions and dedication up to my long early training as a dancer. I'm sure it bores the hell out of you for me to always bring it up, but it was formative in a way I only just now realize as an adult with the ability to make my own choices.
It was time for my riding lesson, and below-freezing, bitter cold or not, I was going. It's what you do. You suck it up and deal.
Holy moly. It was COLD.
I am afraid of riding in small, enclosed spaces. I always feel like I don't have enough room, or like the horse is going to run into something, or try to scrape me off on the wall. My trainer's indoor ring is quite tiny. I doubt you could set up a small dressage arena in there.
Champ was behaving like a champ today, though, that's for sure.
Every time I ride him, I feel like another piece of the puzzle just clicks into place. My trainer tells me he is like a foster child. You know he came from someplace less than ideal, he may have been yelled at a lot, or beaten, or told he wasn't good enough. He surely wasn't groomed or loved on a whole lot. He wants to do the right thing, but he is afraid, or nervous, or just generally anxious. Sometimes, he is just mad, especially if he thinks it's time to eat and I want him to do something else.
I ply him with treats, and soft talk, and hugs, and praise. I don't allow him to push me around, or kick out when he is being groomed, or paw the ground while cross-tied. I push him to work for me, and do the job he really can do, and in return, I love him, and tell him he's a good boy, and treat him respectfully and kindly. I want him to trust me.
Today, in that teeny ring I am scared to ride in, we worked on lots of bending, and stretching at the free walk, and we trotted circles, and generally got moving forward with something that resembled rhythm.
I managed to get him to do a passable turn on the forehand. Then we spent some time working on leg yield, in both directions. I had a hard time getting him to stay bent to the right to move left, so we'll be working more on that. It wasn't perfect by any means, nor was it especially beautiful, but we did it.
And we jumped. A cross-rail set up off center, about 18"-24" at it's middle, and we went both ways, trotting to it and working on timing. I have to learn to stop flapping my elbows over and after the fence. I'm not even sure why that is happening. But it's a minor issue in the scheme of things because I only got slightly left behind once, and only jumped ahead slightly once. The rest of the time -- great timing on the release, something I have struggled mightily with in the past. I even managed to get him to land with the correct canter lead once!
I don't think I can express just how monumental all this is. To use Noah's new word which he learned in preschool last week, I am positively jubilant about my riding these days. I didn't even get unseated when Champ shied at the pickup truck that lumbered unexpectedly by outside the barn.
Next time I ride in this kind of cold, I will NOT fail to put chemical heaters in my boots, though. I only had to stop because my toes were completely numb.
It took me several hours, a BIG bowl of soup and a cup of hot tea before I felt like I had warmed up, and even now I am exhausted.
But oh, so jubilant!