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Riding, Roman

[Riding] Back in the Ring

So, after two weeks of not riding -- first due to stable closure for Thanksgiving, and then due to snow mucking up the bridge and the arena -- I was finally back at the stables today. Which was a good thing, because I'm in New York on a business trip next week and thus will not be able to ride.

See, since I started riding a year ago, I had never gone two weeks in a row without riding. This was actually hard; I found I was getting kind of down, earlier this week. And if I'd tried to go four weeks in a row without doing equestrian stuff, I think I would have gone completely stark raving insane. :)

I was on Banjo again this week, because I was to work on cantering. I was, however, also an idiot; while I wore my breeches and my Spruce Meadows riding pullover, I did not bring along my actual riding jacket as I left in such a hurry. Did I mention that it was about 31 degrees Fahrenheit? (Seattle, for reference, usually has yearly lows of about mid-40's, and highs of mid-80's. We are a very mild, temperate zone. As such, we native Seattlites are not adapted to deal well with extremes.)

I did discover that we have a new temporary aisle helper, now that the one who has had her existential crisis is going to be leaving. The temporary aisle helper is my friend, Brooke; Brooke can't afford lessons, so does chores around the stable and rides whenever they have a horse needing exercise. She often rides in my lesson time, because a) it works well for her, and b) I have no classmates anymore, thus there's space. On the downside, however, this meant Brooke wouldn't be in my lesson (as she has to help the little kids who tack up for their own lesson during my lesson time). So it seems I'll be solo for now.

By the time I finished grooming Banjo and began to tack him up, my hands were actually numb and I was shivering. I finally gave up and put my riding gloves on before going into the ring, even though it makes it harder to fasten everything. I was about ready to go into the ring when I realized that -- having tacked up in a different place than usual -- I had forgotten to get Banjo's boots and put them on him. The instructor said they weren't technically necessary since we wouldn't be jumping, but respected that I preferred to be thorough. (I figure, I'd rather get in the habit of doing everything right, even when it's not necessary, so that I don't muck it up when it IS necessary.)

Once in the ring, Banjo proved stiffer than usual. While the instructor was away to help some other folks, I tried to warm him up, but he just wasn't having any of it and refused to pick up a real walk, or turn to the left easily. (Left is always stiffer for Banjo, since he had an old shoulder injury, but this was far more than usual.) When Kara returned, she told me Banjo was faking it -- and indeed, he proved to have been -- but alas, I'd already fallen for it, and so had a harder time with him the rest of the lesson than I might otherwise have. Those first 5-10 minutes really are crucial, as I know from riding Roman.

Still, we did some trotting around the ring, and then the majority of the lesson was cantering. Cantering to the right was trivial; we did that one perfectly, and got going off around the ring readily, did all the turns just fine. Yay! And then to the left...

Now, Banjo will canter to the left, though he will slow down when he can... and he will always, always take off on the wrong lead whenever possible, because of the stiff left shoulder. Normally I'd try to get him off and going while in the corner, but he'd hold it a few steps and then canter /after/ the corner, and so get off on the wrong lead. So under Kara's instruction I got to learn to drop him to a trot, bend him left in a short, sharp circle, and then transition to canter from trot through the last curve of the circle. Bent left, he was forced to use the right lead. That took a few tries, but then we more or less got it down (at least 60% of the time, anyway).

Finally, we walked the ring a few more times to cool off, and the lesson was over. Fed the usual suspects their treats, and fought traffic back home.

This is one of the weeks where I really feel like I've made a lot of progress overall; we didn't even really have to do any work on the trot, just using it as a warm-up before moving right on to the canter. Maybe it's because this week was my one-year anniversary of riding, so looking back I really do feel like there's a dramatic difference. :)
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Well, happy anniversary. There is a pretty dramatic difference... you seem a lot more outgoing than you used to, and not just with the horses...
I think some of that is also due to Vanguard. Ever since Vonda pulled me into that group, I've found that I have a social circle I interact with in my writer-persona... not just at the Vanguard meetings, but in general.

But, yeah, the horses have helped. They're wonderful friends, riding is an amazing experience -- cantering is great! -- and there's something to be said for just BEING there, around the horses. As I remarked to the instructor yesterday, on a cold day, there's nothing quite like a warm horse to cuddle. :)
Yay for a year of riding. :)

And, I don't recommend going for extended periods of time without ponies. Not a good thing. :)

But, yes. Yay for riding. :)
Judging from your stress levels lately, I think you need horse-time again yourself. :/
Pony-time again would be lovely. Unfortunately, there really are no ponies I can just go visit right now. Le-sigh. Its hard going from every day, sometimes twice a day, to not at all for nearly a year. But, its liveable. Just not... ideal.

Enjoy the ponies double for me? That'll help. :)