But, thoroughly buoyed by our string of fabulous rides and a day in the woods (uh, resort?) with P (the P) I was eager to get back to the Black Mare and see how she was. (For the record she was still cute, big, shiny and endlessly interested in her neighbor).
Having not ridden her in the indoor yet (S did, and it was... mediocre..) I was sort of
We tacked up, having those conversations in the aisle that turn into shouting matches in an attempt to drown out the roar of rain on the barn roof. Perfect. Just enough noise to drown out all comings-and-goings outside so that every horse/human/dog/car that passes by the open ends of the arena can seemingly appear from NOWHERE and scare the ever living snot out of the mare.
Shaping up for a perfect evening ride...
I tacked up in our regular gear with the slight exception that instead of shimming up the front of my saddle (as we have been doing) after I had tackled my fitter who was visiting another horse in the barn she told me to get my head out of my ass and shim the BACK of my saddle instead of the front. Because, well, because that might actually help my saddle fit better.
oh. thanks saddle fitter lady!
SO, we tacked up with a bump pad (circa 1996) and I had to admit, my saddle did in fact look more balanced. I hate when my brain tells me to do the exact OPPOSITE of what I should be doing.
As far as the ride goes, Prairie was 80%. I was tense and desperately trying to stay out of the way of lessons, and she was tense as she desperately tried to figure out why we were riding in a glorified box stall. The small children took many walk breaks which we used for our canter work and lateral stuff, saving our trot work for when I needed to be slightly more nimble. Prairie didn't ever spook or melt down, but she was dis-tract-ed. It was all I could do to keep her constant in the contact and sort of on my aids. We lost it nearly every time we had to pass by the gates on the short ends of the ring, although she did quite well with the openings to the barn aisles on the long sides. As time went on she seemed to get more and more revved up (even as lessons ended) instead of settling into her work. I'm pretty sure I wasn't helpful and ended up bracing when I should have just been correcting and quickly and getting out.
All in all, not rad, but not terrible, just not quite as relaxed and swinging as I know she can be.
Afterward I had a slight OCD moment with her mane (that parts perfectly down the middle) so I threw some braids in as an attempt to calm the crazy down a bit. Once we had braids it seemed only logical to take a picture (even if there were messy-toddler-braids) and give ourselves a baseline for a conformation shot.
So he she is. The loch-ness-monster herself, in all her glory:
|my mom is so. embarrassing.|
Solution? Ride in the AM. Only hitch there is that in theory I work from 9-5 (well, 8-5, but they're lucky if I actually show up by 9 and stay till 4...). Either way, not exactly a leisurely latte hour at the barn...
Unless I cleverly get to work early, hammer out a few things, then leave for a 9:30 lesson, grab lunch on the way back to the office and arrive having only been gone for 2 hours (plus an expected lunch hour). BRILLIANT.
I tried this new theory out and it was wonderful. For one thing as I ditched the office and zoomed to the barn, I saw this:
|camera phones never photograph mountains well...|
Which is what she was for our lesson as well. We pulled out poles and worked them at the trot and canter, figure-eight-ing (verb?) over them as we went. P2 even through in a couple changes on her own (go mare!) and we had a really fun, really relaxed, really steady ride.
No scooting about, no drama-llama moments, nothing stressful or bracing. Just a swinging back with adjustable strides and more consistent cantering than we've done together.
WAY TO GO MARE.
For her efforts she was rewarded with her sad-toddler-braids coming out (the mane is tamed! at least temporarily..), a tube of wormer (whoops! not a treat!) and getting put out on some grass in the sunshine.
What a star. She hasn't had a day off since last Friday but I can't stop riding her. Too much fun. Way-too-much-fun. But I promise I'll be good and let her rest soon... just not yet.