Just when it gets dull – and you know it gets dull for a while there, when all you are really doing is jogging around, and around, and around. I mean, don’t get me wrong, changing directions and doing lots of trot-walk-halt transitions is super fun and all, but after a while you’re craving a bit more excitement. Well, anyway, just when it gets dull, lots of interesting things happen.
Like, your neighbor adds a dog to their menagerie. And it’s a barking dog. A really excitable barking dog. That loves it when horses trot – or walk past – or breathe.
No, this is good, really. You want to face all these distractions at home and not for the first time away at a show. There aren’t generally dogs allowed in the stabling areas at racetracks. And I’m sure that if you have a dog at your barn, it is a Model Citizen and would never dream of leaping up against its chain link kennel and barking ferociously as if it were some sort of guardian sentinel at a crack house in the South Bronx. Unlike, for example, my neighbor’s new dog, unless they are keeping something in their doublewide that I do not want/need to know about.
Anyway, he was pretty good about it, except for the little spaz-out bucking fit on the end of the lunge line. I had to use two hands on the lunge line, it was just far too much work.
Feeling rather reckless and overconfident, I decided today was an excellent day to begin the habit of starting my ride without stirrups. Not crossing them or doing anything extravagant, just a nice leg-stretch. And then there was the spook at the Evil Corner of Death – your arena has one too, don’t deny it! Why do all riding areas have an Evil Corner of Death? More to the point, why should my riding area have an ECoD when it is Final Call’s paddock and I have seen him graze/roll/nap/eat the fence in that very corner? Preposterous. But there you have it – there I had it, and was quite happy to have my nice sticky Kerrits Sit Tites on, too, as we went skittering across the field with our bum under our belly. Quite athletic, when he wants to be, that Final Call.
– And then there was my dog taking a swim in the pond, that was quite alarming, but we made good use of it by chasing the dog out of the paddock at a very snappy trot.
And just like that, we were out of time, and he’d broken a sweat, not bad for fifty degrees (and I had too, but we won’t discuss that.) And it was more not-so-mundane, everyday ride, in that odd limbo period I like to call The First Thirty Days.
Oh the first thirty days, you bore me sometimes!
Just when you want to have a gallop, you remember that you’re supposed to be training your erstwhile racehorse to do something Valid and of Value to Society, such as perform three different speeds of trot, or jump over large immovable objects at speed. And you remember all the homework that you have to do before you can get back to the fun stuff (i.e. galloping). It’s like the first two years of college. All those prerequisites! Put your head down, blah blah blah. Halt squarely, blah blah blah. I want to work on my major! Running and jumping stuff!
Oh, there are high points. I’m just in a whiney sort of mood tonight. Think of the moment when he puts his head down between his knees and his back lifts up beneath you. Think of the feeling when you take up contact and don’t get an iron pull on your upper body as a response. Think of when you’re trotting along and you sit and his entire body folds up beneath you and halts square and true. Think of the first time he picks up a canter without running like a madman from a fire. They don’t happen every day, it’s true. But they make up for the blahs.