Friday, February 18, 2011

Mystery Mare Strikes Again!

For the most part, Miss Pia's "little mysteries" or "surprises" have been less than ideal, and usually involve me taking ibuprofen for a few days to recover.

Last night, however, that was not the case, but let me back up. 

I've been a negligent horsey mom.  Yes I've been showering her with ridiculous body treatments and love.  But my attendance at the barn has been spotty at best due to (very fun) but consistent interruptions (damn wedding!).

Yesterday I left the house with my barn bag fully packed anticipating an overdue ride after a long day at work.  I say long because yesterday I had the joy of driving (yes, driving) to Portland for a meeting (yes only one meeting).  "Gingham!" (you'd be thinking if you knew northwest geography), "That's like a 4 hour drive!" (you'd say... as you added up the 8 hour round trip time for ONE FLIPPING MEETING). 

Why, yes.  yes it is.

"Why wouldn't you FLY?!"

Well, for some reason commuter flights were three times their normal (reasonable) amount, and the company plane is parked (for austerity), so I got in my little car and just drove, drove drove.

If you're thinking this must have been a really fun meeting, you're also wrong.  I got to fire a customer.  Yup, a customer.  Why? because in spite of the fact that they still owe us six figures (a high six figures), they are continuing to ask for lower prices and extended terms.  Guess what customer?? WE DON"T MAKE MONEY DOING BUSINESS WITH YOU.  In fact, WE LOSE MONEY.  Money I would rather spend on my pretty, pretty horse...

Long story short, I was exhausted when I got back to home base and I had those flickering thoughts about just skipping the barn and heading home to wrangle  laundry, dishes and other "projects" necessary before actually getting the condo on the market. 

But, in a rare showing of will power, I turned east instead of west and pointed my nose toward the barn. 

It was snowing when I got there and P was fidgety.  I couldn't blame her, I hadn't played with the mare since Monday and the cold snap around here has all the horses snorting and stomping with extra energy.  I tacked up and made a mental note (as the barn was clearing out and I was being left alone), that if mare had any hint of crazytown, I'd just lunge and leave the ride for the next day.

True to form, she was a bit crazy.. completely with a mini squeal (what is that) when we started and some head waggling whenever I sent her forward.  But, she was REALLY BALANCED.  Her canter, even to the right, was more uphill and more balanced than I had ever seen on the lunge. 

Progress from the bodywork? or devil-fire inside just waiting to burst out?  I couldn't be certain, but I was so damn curious I decided to get on.
Carefully considering whether or not she wants to behave...
 I calmly told the snorting-dragon-monster that if she gave me 10 minutes of good trot work, we would be done.  I don't think my kind words got past the hellfire, but who knows.  I swung my leg over (tethered my vest to the saddle) and went for it.  Two steps of sticky, wiggly walk, then, BAM. TROT.

A happy trot!  A happy, forward, excited to be ridden (but not crazy) trot! (Mystery #1)

We marched forward and Pia kindly lowered her frame during our first lap and didn't stop or balk once on the open/gate side of the circle.  (eh?? Mystery #2)

We increased and decreased our stride, and I started my big circles and loops. I've been starting our rides off to the right, which is notoriously Pia's stickier side which leaves me begging (and kicking) for even a hint of a right bend. 

So as I prepared for a change in direction, and to switch our bend to the right my brain started building my outside walls, and preparing to kick, tap, kick the mare's ribs over.  I half halted, took a breath and at the slightest first nudge, P lifted her back, swung her ribs and stepped under with her right hind.  (uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Mystery #3)

I (pessimistically) assumed that it was a fluke and swung around for another figure eight.  Transition to the left was sticky and annoying (there's the mare I know and love...) then as we came around to go to the right... she had beautiful soft change of bend.  This time she carried the bend through the entire circle and stayed firmly in my outside rein. 

I immediately stopped and gave Miss P an early walk break and lots of hugs and pats.  Though I wouldn't be surprised if my "praise" sounded more like shocked profanities.  The rest of our ride was great.  Easy canter, responsive, forward and bending.  She was a little on her forehand, but I wasn't going to be picky.  Also, if anything she was bracing against my left leg and stiffer to that direction. 

I'd be frustrated with that if I weren't so freaking happy she was releasing to the right.  Maybe that Rolf session did us some good!

Her right hind did feel a little funny.  I couldn't tell if it was just moving more than I was used to or what, but especially at the canter something new was happening back there. I'm going to focus on it during our next few rides and see if I can tune in more. 

We rocked around the ring for another 30 minutes and P was a gem.  No ear pinning, no kicks, no bucks, no grumpy face.  Right about the time I was stretching her out for her last trot circles, I thought to myself "dang, she's being extra good considering I haven't ridden since Monday! what a mare!"  Then I realized, I didn't ride on Monday, I only lunged her.  When did I last ride my mare?  Oh yeah, LAST WEDNESDAY.  8 days!!! 8 Days off and this is the happy ride I get!?? (MYSTERY #4!!!)
GOOOOOOOD MARE! (happy human)
Couldn't be more pleased.... And P looked pretty happy with herself when it was all said and done as well.


  1. "See! I can be good! :p"

    What a smug-yet-pleased expression she has in that last pic. :D

  2. Wonderful! I'm so glad she's doing better! She really is a beautiful mare.

  3. Can I just say that meeting sounds like an absolute nightmare? Ugh.

    Glad Pia did so well.

  4. That is fantastic. What an amazing ride. Maybe you've discovered something else. Keep up that bodywork lol.


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