An Ode to March
Even though it's January, I call this an Ode to March since for two weeks in March, my normally well mannered horse turns into a lunatic for no apparent reason. The following is a little narrative about myself and my horse yesterday during our relaxing ride.
Yey! A balmy 45 degree day after weeks of bitter cold. It's about time. The ring has melted and it's time to finally do some real riding. We haven't gone above a walk in over a month, so I'm dying to do some trotting and cantering. My sweet well behaved OTTB stands like a statue while I groom and tack him up for our ride. I lead him down to the ring and start our warmup. For 20 minutes we walk, trot and leg yeild around the arena in a wonderful flowing manner. We try a little canter, but the melting snow and thawing dirt are a little slippery, so I guess we'll just have to save that for the woods. He's blowing out showing his relaxation and we're both feeling good. I don't want to overdo our first day back into work, so we head out of the ring for a little ride in the woods and some relaxation time...
...We walk out toward the woods. My horse is walking along energitically but calmly playing with the bit. He feels a little like a keg of gun powder, but he's a sweetie. I'm sure I can handle it. We get to the bottom of a small hill. I figure we'll just canter up the little hill to let him expend a little energy. I sit back and give the cue. HOLY CRAP!! Did somebody ring a bell? Was there a starting gate I missed? I get that you're feeling good, but I'm not a crash test dummy. What in the world am I doing on top of this crazy thing? Don't worry Puck, I don't need feet in both stirrups. The one on the right is just fine. Luckily your mane in overgrown so I can hang onto that until we can figure out how to pull you up. I sure wish there was a big open space here instead of this little 8' wide path. A big circle would be slightly beneficial here. 11 applications of the pulley rein later, we're stopped. Phew. I'm still on. Must have just been the initial excitement of being out in the open. We proceed into the wooded trail.
We walk along calmly for the next few minutes and then come to another small hill. I probably overdid it last time by asking for canter, so maybe we'll just do a little trot up this one. I've got my one rein stop ready just in case, so I give the cue... Did a cannon go off? Why am I going 38mph again? Wasn't I just walking a stride ago? Jockeys really do this on purpose? Would this have scored well in dressage for left lead canter depart? How to heck do you gallop, buck and turn your head sideways all at the same time without falling down? You're already trucking along, so too late for one rein stop. Back to the pulley rein. A good minute later, I no longer have any feeling in my left arm, but hey we're stopped, and I'm still on.
I decide maybe he's just feeling a little too good, so I find a place to turn around. We walk camly down the hill that we just came up like an exploding pack of TNT, and get back to the flat section. I don't care if I have to stay out here all day. He's going to do a controlled trot whether he likes it or not. One rein stop ready? Check. Helmet on? Check. Any deer, cows, squirrels or horse eating tree stumps here? Nope, good to go. I sing a little tune to get myself fully relaxed and then ask for a trot. The giant bluefish hits the bait! He's off again. This time I catch him with my one rein stop before he gets into a full gallop. We stop, walk a few strides and try again. Same result, same stop. We try it a zillion more times. He's just waaaayy too happy. Puck comically decides to not immediately respond to the one rein stop and proceeds to spin one full rotation before each stop. 27 one rein stops later, I'm dizzy and wondering how I ever rode those amusement park rides that spin round and round when I was a kid. I briefly recall all those shows I watched by a myriad of western horse trainers who tell you to just disengage the hind end. None of them ever mentioned what to do if the horse decides it's funny to just try to run off again after every one. That last hill is coming up fast and I don't want him running down hill so I figure 28th time's the charm. I ask for the trot again...
Where have you been my sweet Puck? Who was that lunatic I was on the past 10 minutes? Why is nobody here to witness this beautiful extended trot? I might actually be able to sit this instead of post. It's like riding on air. We get to the top of the hill, calmly walk down and make our way back to the barn. I get off my now sweating horse, put a cooler on him and take him out for some grazing. I spend the next hour with my gentle giant and thank every minute that I spend with him....well, except for those last 10. I love March...I mean January. Are the two weeks over yet?