… sometimes you’re the bug….
Friday, September 7, 2018
This song has been wafting through from my teenage years from Mary Chapin Carpenter of late.
I am preparing for the Biltmore 50 on September 20. It’s the AERC national championship ride and I was just informed Khaleesi and I qualify for it!
I’ve been amping up my physical training: more miles, some speed, and some big workout climbs. Also mental and communication and down time together too.
I’ve sat in the field after evening feedings just being around without asking anything except companionship, I’ve brought both horses into the barn more and worked together on everything from trimming feet (especially on Wy), to tacking while getting advice from K on what’s working and what isn’t, and enlisted K’s help on some very relaxed and productive trailer loading with Wyoming.
Done some easy rides to pony Wy along… Family time.
I’ve spent some time in my little arena under video surveillance to see if I can improve my riding and our communication with some 3rd perspective help.
Through all that I’ve had moments of great triumph … and not so great as well.
It has been a reminder that no matter if I’m in the glorious heights of floating along at the perfect trot and feeling completely balanced and in sync with my 4-legs underneath me… to bailing as my trusty steed goes running up the bank in terror of a slow moving tractor…
I can always be truly joyful to realize that I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have horses, to be able to communicate with them and grow with them, to have a horse life with all its ups and downs.
I would trade any of it.
Well… maybe except…
That day last weekend clearing my main trails close to home which with a rainy year are severely overgrown only to stop for the first big briar mass– clipping away while Khaleesi behind me learns she’s standing on a ground bee nest.
Four stings for me and I’m sure more for her by the time I realized why she was acting like such a lunatic behind me. When I started getting stung the answer maniacally appeared.
Bees!!! Why didn’t you say so? Run!!
Flip side- even on the tight grown-in laurel tunnels both running for our lives she never trampled me, and when it was too hard to navigate at a full run and I let her gallop off ahead of me she waited once cleared of the bees for me to catch up and walk on home together. One more day I want glad to be riding in a halter and not a bit!
Yes, the above mentioned bail out on the embankment did happen while waiting to cross the road and letting a very slow but very large and very noisy front loader tractor pass by.
I thought I could convince her to stand firm. No. It was too much, she had to move her feet. I’m still kicking myself that I reacted so badly in that moment.
She could have run up the embankment to escape and been fine. I could have ridden her up there. But I was determined to hold her- and thus when she went, I was behind her and on that steep incline the only thing I was left with was re-balancing myself on her halter (thank god I didn’t have a bit that day).
The only thing I clearly remember was an instant where I saw her head clearly and realized I was PULLING!!!!!
[NO PULLING EVER!!! I KNOW BETTER]
I immediately let go and bailed seeing her feet cross my eyes as I landed next to her and hoping she had the balance not to fall or slip down onto me but knowing that she would do everything she could not to hurt me.
I rolled down a few feet and stood up to see her standing at the top of the hill now calm and waiting for me to get up and go to her.
The flip side– I had a real reminder of what I need to do in an emergency…. if she has to move her feet and we’re not going over a cliff or into barbed wire (which usually she’s smart enough to avoid anyway) you get ready to ride!
And even better I had only a small scratch on my hand and no injuries – I wasn’t even sore in the following days.
And there’s yesterday…. I had the whole day, alone, and a plan for 20 miles or so on some amazing trails I’d been wanting to connect! I planned to start at the other end and find a new route for a group ride soon.
What could go wrong?
The obvious trail was apparently not obvious and I went wrong right in the first half mile. I ended up doing some steep ups and downs, went through two backyards before realizing I’d circled right back around and my best bet was returning through the town for a whopping 6 miles in almost 2 hours.
The flip side: I think I made some people’s day riding up and down the sidewalks as cars slowed to take pictures out the window- we stopped where I dropped out from someone’s yard at this point obviously lost to chat (and apologize to the neighborhood for trespassing) with some local folks from the holler and they were tickled and took pictures of Khaleesi… a little girl came out to see and pet a ‘real horsey’ back in the neighborhood and in using the town back roads we went both over and under the main freeway with lots of foreign noises, lawn mowers, barking dogs behind fences, car traffic, bikes, tarps … all kinds of things.
(One is the yards we passed through trying to get un-lost… this was better than most of the no trespassing signs we passed!)
This time I was ready to ride at the moments I felt her tense to the unusual obstacles. Funny thing- when I gave her permission to move her feet, and decided to go with her- watching for a safe escape zone should we need it and I could at least help guide the flight…. she never needed to run.
🤔… could it be that slow moving tractor episode was preparing me to cut through town the following week? I’ll let you decided that one.
No matter what it was great training for Biltmore where some trails and roads are shared with bikes, joggers, strollers, seguays and even maintenance vehicles or lawn mowers and tractors.
And now I know where not to go- and upon better map inspection I think I can do it right the next time.
(I did load up and drive to another nearby trailhead for some more miles but still not the day I’d planned)
My saddle fit and shimming seems to be working well. It’s a funny combo but it leaves even sweat patterns and she has been pretty chill about the tacking process.
Her better breakover toe trim has been a winner as the slightly sore spots on her lower back that were coming and going (that the body worker was certain were not saddle related but the breakover inhibiting her free movement) – they seem to be staying gone. And her feet continue to look better each week.
However I’ve been encouraging her heels to grow and basically leaving them alone unless I had to even them a bit. This week I’ve begun to see the first signs of rubbing from the boots in the couple years I’ve used them- which tells me it may be time to pull those heels back a little now that the toes are coming into place.
It’s probably been 2-3 months since I’ve touched her heels so I did that after the ride yesterday. With a couple days rest we’ll try again and see how it helps.
Everything affects something- I love learning how the system functions and how I can help it hum along at its best given circumstances.
And my riding has been part of that too- I saw some things in the video from the arena that helped me adjust myself in a way to really opened up a freer trot and felt great for both of us and finally I could switch diagonals and felt completely the same on either instead of one being stronger or easier. That was a glorious moment.
I wish I could say it’s constant. It still comes and goes but I’m finding it more often each ride.
On and on and on we go through our lives and the unknown…
I wouldn’t have it any other way!