As I sit here right now barely able to move due to some wicked sunburn, it feels slightly surreal that yesterday I felt like I was flying. For someone who's first full week back into riding ends on Thursday and so far have only had two days out of the saddle in that week, it's kind of amazing and unbelievable that yesterday I was urging for Honey to canter.
It's so not like me in the slightest!
When I had the grand idea of riding Honey last Thursday, I didn't exactly imagine I'd be doing everything we had been doing just before the accident within the space of seven days! In fact, I didn't imagine trotting would become so easily a thing to do and enjoy, let alone when Honey sneakily tried to canter, I all but kicked her into it. And then asked her to do so three more times, so that the trotting in between, whilst controllable and balanced, was near clocking up the speed that would leave even the fittest rider breathless! It was like a much needed hoon on Honey's behalf, to really get going and afterwards, everything just fell into place.
It's ironic because just ten minutes before our first trot, I had been sitting there, going "oh crap no don't you dare you bloody horse!" to two very persistent geldings! One had broken from his paddock, and ended up realising he couldn't get into where we were, and decided to snooze in the shade of the trees. The other is Honey's now closest friend and is notorious for climbing out of his paddock when he feels it fitting enough to do so! Whilst both lovely horses, I wasn't exactly thrilled that my in heat, flirt of a mare, with the loss of her usual male buddy, was pretty much hanging the neon sign out for all the offers she could get. I found that she became increasingly interested in her closest friend in particular, her attention span dropping away from me and to him every time we'd come around to his side of the riding area. Needless to say I did panic. I am only human after all, and I knew if one of them were to run for it, well, I was pretty sure the tart of a mare I was on would have been likely to try and join in. Thankfully, my brain doesn't seem to shut out options to remedy a situation like it did in the past so I started to really ask for her attention back, and when I felt like I had it solely on myself, pushed her forward into the trot.
I'm not going to lie, it's been nearly two years (yes, so I keep saying!!) since I've trotted, and I'm not exactly the fittest person around. In fact, since I was all but banned from the gym by my doctor and gym trainer for a month-6 weeks, I feel flabby and weak. So whilst I've been trotting around in this last few days alright-ish, its one story to go from a working trot that's just standard really, into a fully fledged, "if I wasn't trotting I'd be pacing up a storm around a track like I used to" kind of trot. It was consistent, I had to hand it to her for that, but when she first clicked into full gear, I wobbled around like a lame sack of potatoes on her back. I was way back here, whilst she was up there, waiting for me to catch up. And it was frustrating in the beginning. To be trying to find myself on an actually well balanced trot that racked up some mega speeding violations on such a sunny day. I felt lame, even though the odds were against me to get it right away, given my current condition. But I'm someone who wants to not watch others ride well, and be able to as well.
Needless to say, I missed a post or two and Honey went "okayyyy" and just pinged into a canter. Not exactly the nicest transition, but she was just so happy to be speeding, that she just threw herself into it. I was a bit concerned with her trotting that fast into a canter, but then I did realise that I was on a Standardbred... and by this I don't mean to be breed racist, but when they're green to cantering under saddle, sometimes they just need to be run into it... and since she was balanced, I couldn't fault her for trying really. I don't know where it came from, me the person who hates speeding and likes plodding, suddenly became as excited and determined as the ginger underneath me and wanted to fly. So here we were, speeding around the riding area, going "no not in this corner Honey, but here go here" and her just trying to get it when I asked. Of course the canter was sh*t, I can't exactly expect her to be able to do anything but wobble-canter being unfit, obese and lugging me around too, but it was better her last couple of attempts and she held it longer too, so of course I treated her like she'd just won gold again. And hell, when you have a horse that willing to try, with her "I did it, see, you just saw me do it, aren't I a clever girl" face on, how could you turn around and tell her it was sh*t?!
The thing I liked the most about the ride was that we were flying and then the next minute we were back to a walk, calm, collected, and working together like we hadn't just treated the paddock as a race way. Some people always have to get onto their horse and say "hey now, its walkies not trotties time, so stop jig jogging and bloody walk!" and that's what I was expecting to have to do as Honey will always be a forward thinking horse. But she was able to just drop back down to an active walk and listen to my leg and hands with ease. In fact the walk, as expected was a 100 times better, and I felt that even when I put my leg on and held my reins with a bit more weight in them, she didn't suck back like she usually does and do that "I'm working, I'm doing the head thing, but yeah, totally forgot HOW to walk again... sorry!" walk she does. It was nice not having to keep niggling over and over with my outside leg to keep her out of her plod mode and into a proper walk with swing from behind. I don't expect her to be able to carry herself and me as well as I'm used to, both being porkers, but I do expect her to try and be active in all her gaits. So it was a nice change not to nag at her and get "oh trot?" cos I've put too much leg on or whatever.
I was once told by my instructor that schooling is much like driving a manual, you have to keep the foot pedals in balance. If the horse isn't moving actively, then more leg is needed than hand to accelerate forward. But if there's too much activity not allowing for correct bend and use of the body, then more hand to help vibrate and maintain is needed. I love this theory and use it whenever I'm riding, but I'm still rusty as hell. And with Honey still being so unfit I need to be patient.
In a sense, that's why Honey's show name is Lovebug. Whenever I ride her, even the horrible rides, where nothing comes together right and all we do is argue over what we want to do, its like I'm absolutely obsessed. She's bitten me, and got me under her spell of needing to ride her so much that I come home, and could go back out and ride her again! And all my thoughts now are just horse related. I feel like sitting in front of my computer is not as much fun unless I'm doing something horse related. I guess the whole point to this blog is simply that - I can't stop thinking about my horse that I'm now needing to speak about her somewhere! Even if it comes out boring and rambling to the majority of my audience. Even if by the end of it, ya'll all get sick of hearing "two years" "accident" "I love Honey" and leave me, I can look back on these words I've written and be able to smile to myself.
Well I'll end this here. I'm on TradeMe with my best friends looking at horses... which is never a good thing!