Saturday, February 28, 2015

Me time

It's a Saturday morning and it's not a horse show day. I'm sitting on the couch, in my pajamas, with my coffee, reading the internet. 'Reading the internet' is my own code for scrolling through my Facebook feed, checking out Pinterest, opening tabs in Chrome for  articles I find I want to read, and doing some Amazon browsing for books and other stuff. It's not necessarily an ideal Saturday morning, but it's fairly peaceful. Nobody else (but myself and Noah) is up yet, so it's quiet. I've fed the dogs and the guinea pigs, and I am intermittently working on some things I need for a meeting this afternoon.

I am a person who highly values my time alone. I have always been this way, but never really realized how important it was, or how much of an impact it had on my well-being until later than I would have liked. 'Know thyself' has always been one of my personal mottoes, but it probably should have been 'Life is a constant state of learning to know thyself', because that is more like what has happened over the years I have spent so far.

My "perfect" Saturday morning would include some solitude. Depending on a number of factors, I would choose to be riding early in the day, or working on some creative project. In the winter, it's easier to want to spend the time at the sewing machine or with paint or clay or glass. I don't like to be interrupted, though, and my best, most favorite times are when I can work alone for a few hours until the creative drive is generally assuaged.

The state of "flow" is one of my most comfortable places to be within myself. I spend a lot of time in my head, so this isn't surprising. I've found this remarkable state while running, riding horses, sewing, and working glass, and for the uninitiated, it's a hard thing to describe. I guess if I had to commit, I'd say my ideal Saturday morning would include time spent in that state. It's an addictive place to be, because it makes me feel powerful in a way my daily life doesn't really allow.

Today, I'm not there. Today, I'm here, on the couch with my coffee. I'm writing, so that's something, but soon I'll have to get up and get started on this day. I think I'll consider a project that I can start tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yep, Still Winter...

After more than a week off because of almost a foot of snow and frigid temperatures, I was back in the saddle today for my lesson. I was really glad I put the chemical heat packs in my boots because I did not once have to concern myself with frozen toes. You know it's cold, though, when I keep all my layers on, including my down vest, which I normally do not ride in. Too sweaty. But not today. It was maybe 20 degrees when I got tacked up and into the (indoor!) ring.

Joe is still wonderful. I love a big horse, I really do. And I think I do prefer geldings, even though sometimes their work ethic can be questionable. I know all my mare-loving friends always gush about how a mare will lay down her very soul for you sometimes, but maybe I haven't been riding the right mares, because I have never had that experience. Oh, I've had mares tolerate me and do what I asked only because they sighed heavily first and got on with it, and I've had mares scare the ever-loving hell out of me by telling me how the job is supposed to be done, regardless of my input, and I've had mares for whom the word 'consistent' just doesn't seem to be a part of their working vocabulary. The only consistent thing about some of the mares I have ridden was that I had no idea what kind of day it was going to be -- smooth, excellent working relationship, great work, or crazed terror, dump-you-on-the-ground-and run-like-hell, or hell no, I ain't doing any of that no matter what you say. That, for someone who likes to be prepared and organized, can be something of a nightmare, especially when riding alone, or going to a horse show.

Joe, though, he is consistent. He consistently kicks out if I use the whip too much or too hard. He pins his ears when I hug him around the neck (even though I have told him I'm a hugger and he'll just have to get used to it). He can get cranky and kick and buck (a little, nothing too major) when I ask him to do work, especially if he's not warmed up, or if I've taken too long of a walk break and he thinks we should be done. He can be stupidly spooky about really dumb things, but he doesn't run off in a panic.

But he's also consistently a beautiful mover with a lovely, easy to ride trot and canter. He understands his job, even if he doesn't always feel like doing it. He bends like he is on rails, and can cross his legs in the leg yielding as though he had ball bearings in his joints. He likes apples. He does listen to my voice and seems to like being talked to and sung to (poor Joe, I can't sing worth a damn). He enjoys having his picture taken and actually hams it up for Travis' camera.

Today's lesson gave me a few more insights into this guy. I realized the reason my reaction to all the pictures I have of me riding him has been "OMG, just shorten your reins!". He needs a lot more contact than I had been using. Today when I really asked for balance and flexion and attention, he gave it to me. And that outside rein? Yeah, that's the one that tells him to carry himself. We even worked on some trot lengthenings and actually got some glide. I sat through a tantrum and a period of backing up, and once I yelled at him, he actually got his act together and moved on. I feel like I turned a huge key in one of his locks today, and when I did, he was so gorgeous. Rideable, comfortable, smooth. I hope I can keep that key and find more. He really is fantastic. And I do know what to expect from him. There's really no brilliance without some quirks.