Thursday, February 12, 2015

7 days, 5 rides, 2 happy horses

Out of the past week, I rode five days out of seven.  This was a pretty big accomplishment for me, especially considering I've been riding once every week or two (sometimes if that!) for months.

Some of those have been short rides, and all of them have had simple goals.  Panama and I are both out of shape, so I've been setting our goals accordingly.  I rode Rondo only once (and also rode Panama during the same visit) -- he was ridden twice else, by V. and my other leaser, H., and he's in good shape, so I'm not as worried about him.  Pan is looking fat, however, partly because I'd been riding so little and partly I think because their corral has been getting extra food.

Our primary goal, therefore, has been just to get us back into shape by gradually building our endurance back.  I rode three days in a row to start, and my legs hurt to high heaven for those three days, but after that it started getting better.  My endurance still isn't great, but that's slowly improving as well.

I think Pan was feeling the effects of those first few rides, as he started moving a bit stiffly towards the end of the ride.  A few problems we conquered ages ago have also resurfaced, such as leaning into his turns at the canter -- I think it takes a lot of muscle control to carry himself correctly, and he doesn't have that right now.  A relaxed frame that utilizes his topline is also a struggle right now, not to mention he is also not accustomed to having to focus on what he's doing, and is easily excited and/or distracted.

I'm well aware that these things won't be fixed overnight, so we've been riding mostly in short bursts, often only 20 or 30 minutes total.  Things like carrying himself properly I only expect for a short time, and then I give him a walk break or let him end on a good note.  It's paying off though, and I realized when I rode Tuesday that I am already seeing improvements in all of these areas, especially how he carries himself.

Now hopefully I can keep up regular rides.  Maybe not five times every week, but at least three or four, although I might err on the higher side until he and I are both in better shape.  I want to be sure we're both prepared when show season gets into full swing, which means both of us need to be in good shape, and we need to be in the habit of communicating efficiently and focusing on one another.

I've been quite tired in the past week, I'm sure from all the unusual physical activity, but I also feel happy and satisfied!  I know sometimes life gets in the way, but when I finally get out to the barn, I always wonder how I could let it -- spending time with my horses is far too wonderful!



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