Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Return of the Queen

Finally, finally, FINALLY! I got a semi-warm day, semi-dry footing, and a semi-sane mare.  I even got off of work early. Which almost never happens on a warm, dry, sane-horse day.  The Horse Gods smiled down on me from somewhere and I soooo took advantage of it.

I did carve out a few minutes pre-ride to play with my three year old English Bull Terrier Jasper.  He's still recovering from his last emergency surgery which was number three.  This last one was particularly hard, and my vet keeps telling me my dog is a miracle because he should have died many times over.  He's not completely well. The vet says that he has scarring on his lungs from all the surgeries so if he gets really excited he goes in to this almost dizzy, going to pass out, looks like he's going to have a coronary sort of stance.  It totally freaks me out and scares me blind.  So I tried to spend a little time with the incredible eating machine before my horse obsession kicked in to high gear.

The Queen was horribly dirty in the spots not covered by her turn-out sheet. So I spent a little extra time with her grooming, trying to tame her freakishly thick and wild mane, disparing over her tail that once was huge and thick, and is now a quarter of that size from having lived the life of a mostly outdoor pony, and inspecting with the precision of a gymnastics competition judge all four of her hooves.

Before I put any tack on her,  least the tacking up be in vain, I lunged the Queen to check her level of soundness.  I stared, I squinted, I turned my head this way and that but I couldn't see any unsoundness so on went her tack, and my gear.

I wasn't going to jump, the footing was iffy, and even though it had been warm and sunny most of the day I just didn't trust the footing in my main riding area enough to chance it. And just so I wouldn't be tempted I left my jumps down in the disarray the last rain storm had left them in.  I wanted to work mainly on our transitions. In a word they weren't great. I don't know if I need a sharper bit but she doesn't understand the meaning of the word whoa, or stop unless of course she thinks its the end of the ride then she'll stop on a dime.   She's not bad moving from walk to trot, but back down is harder for her. And I don't even want to talk about the ugliness of our trot to canter transitions.

I actually got some decent trot to walk transitions but the trot to canter still needs a lot, lot, lot of work. And probably some professional help. Seneca just gets so wound up and goes in to her giraffe impression when we start trying to go from trot to canter. I'm sure I'm transmitting tension some how and I just need to relax so she will relax. It's a work in progress.

But the crowning moment didn't come while we were in the arena.  After we were done with the flatwork I rode Seneca out of the arena and down our driveway to go over the big open field that actually belongs to the neighbor behind out property but they let me use it and even let me fence in pieces of it for more pasture.  It's such a blessing to have neighbors willing to just let you use their land for your four legged mowing/fertilizing machines.

I had planned to just walk around the perimeter of the pastures. There is a big water filled ditch that seperates the two largest pieces of the pasture. Usually I can cross where the four wheelers cross, but our neighbor had brought his tractor through there earlier in the spring, gotten it stuck and now that crossing was a little too trappy looking to cross, and the sides too steep to think about jumping it.

I eyed the big water filled ditch that stretched down towards the woods that separated my property from the neighbor who owned the field. The ditch further away from the four wheeler crossing was an easy width, but water filled and Seneca had always been a little apprehensive of ditches of any kind. She would go over usually but needed a lot of encouragement to do it.   I had never jumped this particular ditch, dry or wet, but ooooh I wanted to.  As another eventing blogger described I had a mad, burning, jump lust for that ditch.  I had not given in to the jump lust until today.  I'd ridden near that ditch for over a year, eyeing it, drooling over it, but not quite ready to just go for it.

Today, I don't  know what got in to me, or why I decided today I was going to let the jump lust have its way with me but I pointed Seneca to a fairly easy width with a good take off point, and landing point.  I actually anticipated having to encourage her but she went for it and jumped right over like a four star pro.   I couldn't believe it.  We had conquered the Horse Eating Ditch Demon!  Holy cow.  Just to test this theory I rode over to the ditch that runs along the long drive that leads to my neighbor's house.  I pointed the queen at the ditch and yet again she popped right over not the least little flick of an ear.  We popped back over in to the field and even went on a little mini-trail ride through the woods on a four wheeler path my neighbors had created.  I would have ridden over to their house but I could hear my neighbor running his tractor and I didn't want to push the Queen's sanity.  So we turned around and rode home quiet as you please.

All in all a really good day.

 The horse eating demon filled ditch.

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