Today’s weather – cooler than it’s been with very low humidity. It was an absolutely perfect weather day for riding.
I get to the barn and my friend and fellow boarder Monika wants to come on our trail ride today. Monika is the owner of Texas, a beautiful older quarter horse who happens to be Alfie’s best horsey friend. Literally, the 2 are joined at the hip. Texas is not obsessed with Alfie, Alfie is obsessed with Texas. It’s actually a very sweet friendship they seem to share.
As I’m walking Alfie in from his field, I notice he has a spring in his step. He is moving beautifully. Yesterday after Alfie’s challenging ride with my trainer, I spoke with our barn manager Regina who agreed that the humidity was too much for him and that his arthritis was having a bad day. I asked her if she could ride him for me to see if she felt anything about him that was off or not right. She’s never ridden him before and was happy to oblige.
I get him all tacked up and Regina gets on him. I immediately can see that Alfie is much less stiff in his movements. He was forward, responded to Regina’s leg and seemed more willing to move today. She gets off and I get on, and he is much better than yesterday. I was able to get him to do some circle exercises in both directions which he did well with. He still seemed a little stiff in spots but overall he was better.
While I finish my warm up, Monika is finished warming up Texas. Regina and Jenna are our designated pedestrians, this is Texas’s first time on the trail. 😊
As we make our way towards the trail, Texas is both curious and intrigued at the sites. We walk past some rock piles, our manure pit, and he is just enjoying taking in the sites. We walk through the gate and we are on the trail.
As we approach the first bend, we alert Monika that the super scary hunting shack is right around the corner. But have no fear Texas, Alfie’s got your back. As we approach the shack, Texas stops to look and, like Alfie, wasn’t sure what it was. But Alfie is an old pro at this shack and we walk past it with Texas following Alfie.
As we approach the end of the trail, we turn around and head back. Alfie is completely in his element out here. I was also more relaxed on this ride.
Leaving the safety of the arena has always been hard for me. The unknown trail, today we saw a deer and several frogs in the puddles, it’s these unknowns that scare me. Unless there is some sort of zombie apocalypse happening, no deer is going to be entering the arena.
Over the years people have told me I need to relax more when I’m riding. It was suggested to me I smoke marijuana, or take a shot of vodka before I ride. I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life and a shot of vodka would probably make me super sick, since I’m not much of a drinker. I completely understood though where the suggestions were coming from and why it was so vital for me to not be nervous. If I’m nervous, the horse is going to be nervous.
Logically, yeah, I get that. Getting my emotions to match up with that logic, ha, not so easy. But I’m really lucky that Alfie is so incredibly tolerant of my nerves, and he goes out of his way to protect me.
Despite having these nerves, I’ve overcome them enough to accomplish many trail rides with him in addition to interesting off property events such as cow sorting and obstacle courses. The first time we sorted cows, I had just gotten an Apple Watch and it’s got a built in heart rate monitor. It went off 52 times during the 3 hour clinic because my heart rate was so elevated…but I did it anyway. Alfie had a blast with the cows. So whenever I start to get down about being nervous with things, I just remind myself it’s ok to be nervous – but I’m not giving in to it because I’m overcoming it enough to do these exciting things. And at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.
On our way back to the barn, I got a brilliant idea. Next week, weather permitting, my lesson is going to be outside on the trail. I spoke with my trainer Kari, and she thought it was a great idea. We can practice our leg yielding, our shoulder and haunches exercises, trotting, all while outside, in the “unknown.” It will give Alfie and I a complete change of scenery, and some new challenges to overcome. ❤️🐴