Monday, November 6, 2017

Rain, Snow, Wind, It Ain't Keepin' Me From My Horses

It is winter. No, it is still fall.  But it is winter. And, today I had cheesecake for breakfast.  Which about sums up my feelings about an early winter.

But before you consider an intervention on my behalf, you will be happy to know I am still getting out to ride.  Yesterday, was the first big snow, and I thought, what I do today will set the tone for the rest of this season. 

I got out and rode.  

And rode.

Today, more snow, but more sunshine, too

Since I'd set a precedent yesterday...

I got a ride in before work today.  I certainly won't be getting one after work, since we're off Daylight Savings Time now.  It will be dark by 4:30 pm tonight.

While I was out there today,  I had a few thoughts:

Thoughts on lunging ahead of riding. 

Not a huge fan of this due to the monotony for the horse, but it does have a purpose, and that was brought home to me today.  I put Leah in a stall yesterday, and she had lots of pent up energy this morning.  I decided to ride it out.  But if you ride it out, you spend a lot of  your precious time working on listening and partnering--and, not wanting her to work up a sweat on a cold day--that was all we worked on.

Thoughts on a heated tack room. 

My tack room is warm and cozy, and as I was tacking up Leah, she kept putting her head through the door to get a feel of the warmth.  I had placed her bridle and bit near the heater to get extra warm because WHO LIKES A COLD BIT in your mouth?!?  It's almost as irritating as someone writing in caps.

The benefits of riding multiple horses.

The more I ride more horses, the more horses I want to ride.

I didn't know if my heart was big enough for 1, 2, 3, 4 horses, but I've found it already was.  I caretake all 8 of the horses--and I'd become more bonded to the all of them than I knew.  And, them to me.

I've been riding Cowgirl, and though it was a bit scary at first since she's a big, strong, athletic mare, she has turned out to be extremely fun.  My daughter is more than happy for me to ride her and work on her "issues."  

One issue is her cinchiness.  Cowgirl has a reputation for "blowing up."  Her first trainer recommended a gel cinch, but I switched her to my favorite--Weaver mohair Smart Cinch.  Before I cinch the saddle, I massage under her armpits and belly--everywhere the cinch may touch--on both sides.  Then I tighten it to a 6 out of 10.  I buckle the back cinch.  Tighten the front to 7 out of 10. Secure the breast collar.  Tighten the front cinch to 8 out of 10.  Walk her into the arena.  Finish tightening the cinch.  And, it works brilliantly.  

Riding different horses helps me to understand each one of them better--their strengths and weaknesses.  And, it's just fun.

The benefits of riding in the winter. 

The reason I'm sad to see fall go is because I am a trail rider, and riding on the trails is pretty much over in the winter.  Why?  Because of ice and holes and other obstacles that might be covered by snow.  It's more danger than I'm willing to subject my horses or myself.  I ride the fields, but I know them very well.

Thoughts on power postures. 

I was reading an article this weekend on power postures or poses and their ability (or inability) to make people more successful.  Powerful people tend to spread their bodies out more--get big--throw their legs and arms out, cradle their head in their arms with elbows out. 

As I was riding today, and Leah was full of energy and making herself big, I thought I'd try riding my own body bigger.  Now, power postures don't work if people don't have the skills and confidence to back them up, but I do have the skill to ride Leah confidently, and I did.  I looked out at the big world we were riding into--not down at her or our feet.  I opened up my chest as if I was going to sprout wings and fly off with her.  I opened up my hips and sat deeper.  

She felt it and she liked it. Makes sense, doesn't it?  When we're crouched down, we're a sickly burden to them. But when we open ourselves up, they can move more freely.


Thoughts on Beautiful Girl, aka Bee.

I was working with Bee a lot last week before the snow.  She has been doing great.  We have our colt clinic on the 12th of November--Trail Clinic on the 11th.  To prepare for that, I'm going to keep taking her over to the next door barn.

I also started driving her in bridle and bit.  I want to have that down, more smoothly than we do now, before I ride her again.  I feel like the more things we've accomplished well before I ride, the less she has to worry about.

Thoughts on the 100 Day Challenge.

I hit Day 138 today.  I label each day on its blog post so that you can click on it and see what last year's 100 Day Challenge looked like on the same day.  There is nothing to compare it to anymore because I've exceeded last year.  That is why I love the 100 Day Challenge.  It has been such a great inspiration for getting out there and riding and working on days that you wouldn't normally go out there--RAIN, SNOW, WIND--that's life.  They're not going away, and they're not going to keep me from my horses.


  1. Linda you're an inspiration! The rest of us have no excuses, if you can get out there in the snow and ride and work with the horses every day. It's way too early for snow and the time change is not my favorite thing either. Have fun at the clinics.

    1. Thank you. It’s a selfish thing because I feel like my horses are keeping me alive. I don’t know how we became so deeply intertwined, but we did. I hope you get many wonderful moments this fall and winter with Blue. Hey, I need to decorate my tack room for Christmas. My granddaughters are coming here this weekend, maybe we’ll stop by the store and get a few things. ❤️

  2. I love that you rode despite the weather. I actually enjoy riding in the snow. It just seems to be so fresh- until it turns to ice and is then too dangerous.

    At the clinic someone saw me give Carmen a carrot after I did up the girth (loosely). I explained that I started doing it with young horses so that they don't learn to brace and blow up. Everytime I fasten up the girth they start to look for the carrot. It really worked with Carmen who was quite defensive about the whole saddle thing when I got her.

    1. That’s an excellent suggestion. I may have to try it with Cowboy. He is always grumpy and I never start out super tight. I’ll report back on how it works.

  3. Yeah, I like Teresa's carrot idea too. I might try that with Gabbrielle since she's so cinchy. I knew that since everyone up north was starting to get snow, things would have to cool off down here eventually, and now we are having cloudy days. It's so odd to not see the sun. I agree about the more you ride, the more you want to ride. I was in such a riding habit last spring that I'd get grumpy if someone tried to schedule something during my riding time. I'm hoping I can get back into that state of mind if my body lets me continue to ride. I always admire people who ride despite snow. Keep it up. It obviously makes you happy, right?

    1. Yes, it makes me very happy. I had to work all day yesterday and had errands today, so I haven't ridden since Monday. Very sad. It is a habit, and it's best not to upset it. The clinics do really help me get back in the saddle after time off, and I have 2 coming up this weekend. :)

  4. I have seen cinchiness develops most often when people are too quick to tighten it right up; the first time I saw Mr Shoes saddle his horse I about had a bird! That was the last time he yanked a cinch tight right off the bat. I said to him what if I were to yank tight your belt that way? And he admitted, he'd likely blow up a bit too.
    I have always tightened just to the skin, then gone back and done my mane & tail, then a little more cinch, then I bridle and walk out to the block, stop & give a nice scratch behind his ear, & then finish up Padre's girth. Also, as soon as I step down the first thing I do is to loosen that cinch - not drop it, just loosen it (because he still has to carry his saddle back to the barn).
    p.s. It's lunchtime & I'm still cold from doing chores, but I confess that I would rather eat cheesecake than make a sandwich. Glad to hear I'm not the only one.

    1. LOL. Yes, but the truth of the matter is, I felt sick afterward. All that sugar running through my system! You're right about cinchiness. It doesn't hurt to keep it a bit loose and then tighten up before the ride. Very thoughtful of you to loosen it back up after a ride.

  5. If you think about it, it's really the only polite way to do it. We humans sure are inconsiderate, aren't we? Those infamous words of my mentor ring in my heart..."the slower you go, the quicker you'll get there". Right on again! You are doing amazingly well and it's going to pay off big-time.

    1. Yes, the slower you go...I have a post about that today. BAby steps.


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