Focused and confident – that’s what I was feeling today. Experiencing both of these on the same day is not an every ride occurrence. In fact, it’s more of an anomaly.
A few years ago I realized that my ability to be focused and confident in my riding was tied directly to my – I hate to be such a woman right now – my hormone levels. I know, women and hormones – but I’ve been riding for about 5 years now, long enough to have discovered the pattern. So I accept that some rides are going to be more challenging than others because I’m having an off day, but than there are those days where I feel and show Alfie that confidence and focus, and we are unstoppable – today was that day.
Last week, I kept my promise to Alfie and paid a visit on Wednesday afternoon to continue our ground working sessions. It went very well. When Alfie and I first met, I spent years doing groundwork with him. I admit, I’ve fallen down on the job in the last year or so, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it.
There’s something to be said about working your horse on the ground. Not only does it help bond rider and horse but that bond carries over to when you ride. The first thing I notice when getting Alfie tacked today was the bridle. He usually gives me some sort if issue when it’s time for the bridling but today he did not. He very nicely lowered his head and opened his mouth to take the bit. No head tossing. No evading, he just did as he was asked.
The mounting block – we are back to it being a non issue, in fact, once I’m on he doesn’t even try to walk into the arena until I am ready – this is a huge milestone for us.
I used the new therapeutic sheet on Alfie for about 30 min before we rode today, so it actually only took Alfie about 10 min to be warmed up for our lesson. This sheet is definitely helping loosen him up.
Today’s lesson focused on suppling exercises that we did really well with along with lots of trotting. The new twist was I was not posting or even sitting the trot – I was in a half seat – you know, where your butt is out of the saddle and you are balancing yourself while sort of squatting over the horse. I’ve trotted in a half seat many times on Martini, but not very much with Alfie. At first, he didn’t quite understand what I was asking of him. He would get going at the trot but then when I would raise out of the seat and not sit back down for the post he would break and start walking. Eventually he caught on and we floated around the arena in the most forward trot.
While we were trotting, I imagined us riding in the Kentucky Derby and then I imagined us riding in beautiful fields of grass and wildflowers. No, we weren’t cantering but the trot had such amazing movement it sure felt like we were.
Our lesson ends, I untack Alfie and then work on his leg and body stretches. He unwinds in his stall for a bit before the farrier arrives to give Alfie some new dancing shoes. For those not familiar with how often a horse needs to get his feet and shoes done, it’s every 6 weeks for Alfie. Horses hoofs slow down their growth in the winter, but if Alfie gets a bit overgrown for his shoes, even if just a tad too long, he starts to trip so for Alfie, custom shoes every 6 weeks.
Today was a great day. I was focused and confident – believe me, I wish I could be like this all the time. There’s a common thought when it comes to riding – don’t have a plan. What do you mean, don’t have a plan? Horses, like people, have emotions, aches, pains, a tad bit of laziness. You never know what version of your horse you are going to get that day. So, you could have a list of things you want to accomplish with your horse but you realize before you even get through the first goal that accomplishing the rest of the list is not happening. You have to be adaptable to your horse, and to yourself. ❤️🐴