Thursday, November 14, 2013

Snowy, blowy ride

There was a time when I would ride in whatever weather condition presented itself providing there was no danger, of course.  Two to three hour "road hacks" were not uncommon when I was a working student for Carol Blackman, a British event rider who competed for Bermuda, but trained in New Jersey.  In early spring as the winter temperatures warmed the air it also softened the ground rendering the paths around the fields of the surrounding farms off limits.  This left the rural roads of the Amwell Valley as our conditioning grounds for the event horses.  My first experience with one of Carl's hacks came on Day 3 of my time with her.  She told me to tack up Clay and we would go for a hack.  My vision of a hack was that of a casual ride through the countryside with some lovely trots and canters up and down the hills.  Aaah, but I was mistaken....after a warm up at the walk, off we went!  Trotting and cantering intervals until my legs throbbed with fatigue.  At one point carol started a conversation as we were trotting along and I thought "Good Lord, she wants me to talk too?" The next morning I was say the least!  But as time moved on we rode in whatever the weather presented to us.  It was a grand time and Carol was a phenomenal mentor and trainer.

So today, Tuesday, November 12 as the snow swirled and the wind blew, I knew that I needed to put on my big girl panties and ride.   After all, I just KNEW that Louise would not let a little snow get in her way!  (WHAT is it about those British women??) By the way, she and her student watched a DVD instead of riding during the yucky weather......just saying!  There is a Christmas book about The Little Engine that could, called "The Snowy, Blowy Christmas".  I think I can, I think I can....
Cecil knows how to spend a cold morning!

Nikki was a little nervous...or maybe it was me and she sensed it.  The wind blew and it was damp and cold.  I did 10 meter figure eights to get her focused, and we both relaxed.  We did a bit of leg yield, some shoulder in and I finished with a stretchy trot.  Proud of our ride Nikki and I walked into the barn feeling pretty good about the day!

By the time we finished I felt as though Suki would benefit from a brief lunge.  She too was a bit up so the work was simply transitions to maintain focus.  The wind had picked up even more, but held it together....sort of.  When I turned them out they galloped away, ready for their day.  I can't wait to sit on Suki again. I know that there will will be tears as  swing my leg over her back, but they will be tears of joy.   I can almost feel her floaty trot when I close my eyes....

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Okay, I admit it....I love the cold weather.  Now that I am riding outside all the time I feel so invigorated!  My husband reminds me that when the temperature is 15F I may not be so cheery....(pessimist!)
Such a lovely ride today!  The fox hunting ladies were a day late because of the weather but it is fun to have company early in the morning.  Today my right shoulder in and leg yield off right leg were better than the left?  Hmmm.  I don't know why. Nikki was delightful and had lovely lift over the trot poles!

Today I went into my local wine store and a woman looked at me in my riding clothes and smiled, then cast her eyes down.  "I'm sorry", she said.  "I just had to have my horse put down yesterday."  She had seen my riding clothes and all of the memories came flooding back.  Suddenly I realized that she looked familiar, so I asked her if she had boarded at Pink Star/Passport.  Indeed she had.  I told her that I was Suki's mom.  She had been boarding her horse Jazzy at Pink Star at the time of the fire, but she had been outside at the time of the fire.  We talked about how it was probably fate that we saw one another that day.  Kim needed to talk to someone who understood exactly what she was feeling....the loss of a long time friend.  Jazzy was 32 and Kim had had the mare since she was 11.  The human horse bond is something that is difficult to explain to those outside the fold.  It is a love like no other.  Yes, we eventually stop crying for our loss, but that emptiness never really goes away completely.  Last weekend when I uncovered a blanket of Jenny's that was covered in her gray hair, I clutched it to my face and unabashedly shed tears just thinking about her.  Our equine companions are so much more than riding partners.  Kim saw a sign in her mare that it was time...just as I saw that sign in Suki that said she wanted to live.  We know our horses.  Our hearts beat together.  It is an unbreakable bond, even when it is time to let them go.  Thank you, Kim for reminding me once again how precious our time with our horses is.