Cross Training

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I have been lucky enough to have a buddy around who has been able to ride with me a few times recently and I’ve been getting the girls out together which they enjoy. A few days ago I went to ride Khaleesi and ended up getting both girls out for a quick ride on a gorgeous day. We took an easy loop and moved out as much as possible to get them in shape to MOVE.

September has beautiful clear blue skies and puffy white clouds. Beautiful!
September has beautiful clear blue skies and puffy white clouds. Beautiful!

Today I’d thought I would spend a day alone with Faygo, but instead ended up with a great exploratory ride on Khaleesi with Faygo along too. Not a lot to post about except that I realized as we crashed through the open woods looking to create a new trail to bypass a hunt camp we usually pass through for upcoming hunting season, I don’t think I’ve ever truly bushwawcked through no man’s land with Khaleesi. Ever.

Pictures can be deceiving, but there is no trail here...
Pictures can be deceiving, but there is no trail here… we and dogs taking a break after climbing a big hill.

This was the opposite of our normal training and was slow moving through places no one has been in a very very very long time, with no trails, and though we tried to stick to open woods, we picked through creek/wash beds and rock settlements and lots of downs and deep leaves, up and down some steep slopes when necessary. What a great thing for us to do between speed and endurance training. It is great for the mind, great for our communication and great for slowing down and also working on hill/building muscles and lungs.

IMG_2385

This was a “recon” mission. I didn’t believe we would find the right path today, and we didn’t. We did get some good information and I stored it on my GPS to work with from other angles. We also didn’t do anything crazy or dangerous- just inconvenient when compared to trail riding. An entire universe away from work in a ring!

I am really happy that we are working on so many angles together, truly we are cross training!

A few things that happened today:

1- Early in the ride, while we were still on trail and the girls were feeling good, we cantered a bit and I observed that INDEED my hands widen out in the canter… just like in my photos from the Iron Mountain Ride. Why I cannot say, but I will be aware and stop this habit immediately as possible.

Pretty shot of the Jackson from Sunday... couldn't help adding it in!
Pretty shot of the Jackson from Sunday… couldn’t help adding it in!

2- Similarly to above, when I am a bit off-kilter and we are having steering issues (which is more likely to happen while navigating open woods than on trail) I end up with my hands all over the place. When I fix them and return them to her spine where they belong LIKE MAGIC she seems to understand what I’m asking more clearly.

Had to get off to cut some briars on an overgrown section of our usual trail. She was helping put patient as we cut.
Had to get off to cut some briars on an overgrown section of our usual trail. She was helping put patient as we cut.

3- She was aces in the wild. She went where I asked her, we worked together as a team, and picked through her footing safely. She even crossed a hard to describe log that was more like a vertical beam taller than I was comfortable with and branches on the other side… I stood over it for a moment (no great way around, it was a BIG downed tree) and as I thought it over, she took a step, found her footing, and followed her feet over safely. No big deal mom. It’s just a tree. Lets get on with this.

IMG_2405

4- I found my trotting seat for a fleeting moment. On the way home, back on familiar trails, we trotted and for a brief moment I posted in my heels, balanced over my feet and floated just where I felt like I could do it forever….. and then it was gone and I was up and down on the balls of my feet off and on and feeling not as secure. If we could do it just a little… we can do it more!

"Ok, Stand!"
“Ok, Stand!”

5- We have been working on “stand” and she is getting better. I have been applying fly spray to her in this “stand still” position and though she isn’t perfect (she does try to walk off) it is A MASSIVE improvement over the fly spray dance we used to do when I just thought “well, she’s not good with fly spray”. Seriously, I had so little expectations of her I just assumed she couldn’t be like any normal horse who gets sprayed with fly spray? She is awesome Khaleesi, I need to give her a little more credit.

I can hardly believe we are just days away from our second 30 mile ride. Today the weather appears to be 50% chance of storms on Saturday. Thankfully I have a serious muddy-creek rain coat. One of these days we’re going to have to event in the rain. If I’m lucky it won’t be this weekend, but we’re ready.

Endurance riding is not for sissies!

Always so worth the trip when you get views like these...
Always so worth the trip when you get views like these…