Wow. It’s been a while. Things got a little crazy between the 100+ degree heat, getting whatever cold/flu was circulating the office, and falling into a bit of a funk because half of my horses were injured (Ben is still living life in a full leg stacked wrap because he’s feeling delicate but that’s for another post).
Looking at my old posts, I’m really behind on updates. Heck, I was behind before I took my little hiatus. Let’s see…where to start? I left off with Catalina and Valeria, so I’ll update with Aria.
Having her home and riding has been so, so good for me. Granted I didn’t ride when I was sick and I didn’t ride when it was over 95 degrees, meaning there was about 2 and a half weeks were she either sat in her stall or was turned out/lunged. In that short time she managed to lose some muscle and pack on fat. Which, isn’t a horrible look for her and means I can finally keep up with her (it’s a bad thing that I want my horse less athletic, right?).
We are definitely focusing on getting miles over any real work which is fine for now because I’m really enjoying our rides. Some days we ride patterns and work on geometry and some days I only care that she goes the speed I ask so I can work on my seat. We are focusing on rhythm and timing. Mostly my timing because my cues are not as refined as Aria is used to. It’s good for both of us. I’m learning to cue more clearly and she’s learning to fill in the blanks when I’m not 100% on top of things.
We’ve been on 4 trail rides! She’s very mellow and level headed on trail, which is a bit contrary to how energetic she can be in the arena. Our first time out was in a large group and she ended up being a supreme bitch to all the other horses, hikers, cyclists, and dogs on trail. It made me laugh but only on the inside because it’s not cool to cackle like a villain when your horse tries to eat a child on their bike. I can confidently report that was a singular incident and she has kept the raging mare caged on all subsequent trail rides.
Admittedly on our third trail ride I came off. Aria has an issue with uneven terrain. I can’t explain it any better than that. Any slight ruts in the trails or shallow channels created by rain send her into a tizzy and she cannot comprehend how to navigate these vast Grand Canyons. You can watch her start to fall apart when we near any ground she considers questionable. She’ll give it a hard look and try to walk around it. When I don’t allow her to walk around it because I want to stay on the trail and not bushwhack through the surrounding foliage she’ll stop forward movement but won’t stop her feet and we begin to mimic a Paso Fino. It reminds me a little of a toddler stamping their feet in a tantrum at which point I start pony club kicking her to get any forward movement possible.
Most of the time she’ll scramble over. I understand she’s a very clumsy horse and I think that might play into her concerns. The time I came off we were tackling a rut in the trail that was worn in by all the horses that ride it. We had some poison oak questionable vegetation on our left and a large tree on our right. I should also mention it was very humid and we were at about our 6th mile. Guess who didn’t check their girth once? So Aria is doing her little song and dance and I’m trying to boot her across this 2 inch deep, 10 inches across rut and just as I feel her lift up to get over it she decides at the last minute to scuttle to the left.
Normally I have no issues with a horse that wants to change directions like that. My seat is pretty good in that regard. Even with a loose girth, which I am notorious for riding in, wasn’t an issue. The huge tree trunk coming at my face was very much an issue though, so in my infinite wisdom of self-preservation I leaned right. Aria continued left. See where this is going? At some point time slowed down enough for me to realize I was riding on the side of my horse, not on top of my horse. I noticed the ground was close enough that I could put my arm out and touch the ground, so I kicked out of my stirrups, let go of the reins, and nestled into the f***ing rut. LOL.
I got up, dusted myself off and stood looking at Aria with my hands on my hips. She’s trained to come back to her rider if you fall, so she’s standing there looking at me with a very worried ‘wtf’ and I reply out loud with ‘wtf horse??’. It was a good way to break the tension because clearly she wasn’t sure what was supposed to happen next. She was a little unsettled by that whole event but after I fixed the saddle and walked a bit down the trail until I found a stump to mount (because we were both so sweaty I couldn’t get a grip on anything, I tried twice) she settled and we continued down the trail like nothing happened. It ended up being a very good experience!
We’ve been out on trail once more since and she’s getting much better about uneven ground. She still wants to put on a whole show but now when I give her the boot she goes forward instead of sideways. I guess she learned her lesson. Haha.