Thursday, April 13, 2017

When I Am An Old Horsewoman: In the Saddle at 50


"And I will be an embarrassment to all who will not yet have found the peace in being free to have a horse as a best friend."
For the record, best friends do fight.  If  you haven't ever fought, you're not truly best friends.  After all, isn't that what tests your friendship?  Anyone can be friends with a person who is always, 100% agreeable, but who will remain friends after a fight?  That is where friendships are tested.  That is where they are sifted out.  That is also where many people part ways.

Leah is my friend, and it was Leah who I took out on my 50th birthday.

We spent time in-hand on the trail obstacles:



And in saddle:



Leah did wonderful, as you can see, except on two obstacles: the mailbox & the labyrinth or maze.  Backing through the maze made her nervous.  It's a delicate placing of each of her feet, and a great deal of concentration, as our bodies communicate with one another in this fine, intricate dance.  Backing up, she can't see where her feet are going--which takes a great deal of trust in the rider.  She was trying, and she did it, but it heightened her anxiety.  She was giving up control---really having to think hard about bit, and leg, and seat, and feet, and hind, and front--you get the picture.

The mailbox aversion is strange, but I think it reminds her of the gate incident last year and that feeling of being pinned in.  I had her get as close to it as she could comfortably handle--several times--and praised her.

After the obstacles, we went out on the trail. She is barefoot, and it is extremely rocky, but she tore up ground like it was nobody's business.  So much for her laminitis.  I think we can safely say that has resolved.  I rode on a loose rein as much as possible, but there were times she thought about taking advantage of it.  Luckily for me, Leah gives a little warning before she bolts.  I can read her mind through her body.  So, I closed her exit and took away her rein before she could accomplish it.  I think trail miles and consistency will solve that issue, but this was her first ride out.  When she wants to bolt--always to the left, btw, it is pretty tough to stop her, so she must have been 50/50 on that to begin with.

When we got toward the end of the ride, I asked her to go through some large puddles--fairly wide, not deep--and she would have none of it.  She started to bolt to the left through the trees--I'd say she was about 90% committed at that point--maybe 95%.  I say that because she was going to fight any restriction I placed upon her, but a better rider may have been able to work with that small crack of possibility--that 5 or 10% she hadn't committed to bolting.  It was not in my ability to do so, and I knew it, so I released the pressure before she slammed me into the trees.

After that, I lost our connectedness.  She tuned into the gorgeous Fresian yearling who was being ponied along the ride.  She has baby fever in the worst way and would steal that baby right away from its mama if she could. 😂  Since I'm using percentages, I'd say our togetherness started out at 80% on the obstacles, dropped to 75% at the start of the ride, and dipped to 30-40% after the water crossing.

I'm going to ride with my trainer next time and prepare to spend a lot of time at the water--whatever it takes.

But my 50th birthday ride wasn't the time or place for that degree of lesson.

Instead, it was a time to hang out with some of my horse friends--both human and equine.  And yes, that is the yearling standing between us.  Can you blame Leah for wanting to steal her?


**Another successful day in the trailer, too***
**Pictures coming soon of the Cowgirl Cave!***

16 comments:

  1. It's a journey, isn't it?
    You are pushing her boundaries, that's the way to progress.
    Looks like a fine way to spend your birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, pushing her boundaries as she pushes mine. ;)

      Delete
  2. Love that poem - my Aunties & Gramma were like that! Gramma rode until she was nearly 90 & then, when her palomino died, declined to train another youngster "though she could do, if she had a mind to" & my favourite auntie still rides 2 horses a day (every day) & she's in her mid-eighties. I plan to follow their lead, if I have anything to say about it.
    Happy Birthday Linda, & Happy Easter also!
    p.s. I want to steal that baby too.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What amazing ladies!! You are lucky to have them in your life guiding your own path, in some ways. The people we love are our strongest role models. :) Happy Easter!

      Delete
  3. Happy birthday Linda...50 isn't old at all. I'm enjoying my 50's most of the time, just hate to spend so much of my precious time working at the clinic. An old complaint of mine. I turned 57 last January, so I've got you beat by a bit. :) I have no intentions of giving up riding anytime soon either. Glad you got to spend your birthday with Leah, what could be better? I haven't been on my horse in months, and it's still raining here. Except for a few days here and there, it's been raining since last October 1st - the wettest and longest winter I can remember in a l o n g time. I am so sick of it.
    I love that poem too! I first read that years ago, and that's how I envision myself...maybe I'm already there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to hear from you! I know how hard this winter has been, and it's not over yet. I don't even have words of encouragement except to say I'm experiencing the same thing and it's really hard.

      Delete
  4. I've heard about a few horses who have mailbox aversions. Some people can't ride their horses down residential streets because of it. Whenever I take a horse for a hand-walk in the desert, I make them help me get the mail and bring in the trash cans on the way back to the barn. I pretend like they are helping me, and I praise them. Sometimes Bombay will carry the mail in his mouth. After a while they get comfortable with the sounds, movements, and repetition. Bad experiences get replaced with good experiences. Although lately, my Arabs have been spooking at nothing and stampeding out of the barn while I'm working in it. Their endless fear gets old. I wish I could say it's because they are young and inexperienced, but that's not the case.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope this mailbox fear gets fixed. Last year I could not get her through the ladder or the over the tire, so that gives me hope.

      Delete
  5. I've always loved that piece "When I Am An Old Horsewoman". Happy Birthday Linda! And by the way you're not old at all and look terrific! All in all you and Leah had a good day and it will only get better as time and practice with her go along this year. I love that little guy and would want him too. Hope you're having a wonderful birthday and celebrating your day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a great day. Leah and I are building a relationship and that's always an amazing thing to experience. We have a long way, but you're right, it will improve with practice. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Delete
  6. 50 is not old- I'm 52 and still feel like I'm 12. I'm gad that you had a wonderful birthday. It's good for Leah to have her boundaries pushed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it's definitely not old, but that is the name of the poem. I think 100 is old, but NOT 50. Lol. 50 is just right!

      Delete
  7. Glad you had a Happy Day! Looks perfect to me :-) Keep on pushing those boundaries each and every day ~ cuz 50 isn't old! Be that Horsewoman that found the peace in being free in having one or two horses as your bff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, you're right, horses make the BEST friends, and there is a peace to be found in that. Independence maybe? I hope I can grow into that friendship as far as it will take me.

      Delete
  8. Happy Birthday!! Look at you smiling & all pretty on your riding day! What a fun way to spend your day! Bolting horses scare the crap out of me. I think I was scarred as a child at horse camp when I got to ride the leaders young horse (after endless begging) and it bolted on me to the front of the pack and beyond. Of course, once they go - it's hard to get them to stop. Somehow I managed, but I'm not 12 and fearless anymore. You & Leah on the other hand are in-tune. Love the trail course building strength work you are doing with her!! Eventually, we hope to have a trail course at our place. First time I've seen that poem, thanks for sharing it. All I can say is, me too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My comment was suppose to say "...trail course building confidence work..." of course there is strength in confidence, but I forgot the main word = confidence!!

    ReplyDelete

Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.