Thursday, September 27, 2012

It rains

The best reason to clean and oil your dust, sweat and horse-hair covered tack?

Why, ride in the rain, of course!

We've had copious amounts of rain for the past couple of days, (yes! FINALLY!) so of course, the arena is muddy and even with my new lights ready to make night riding a reality, I'm really reluctant to tear up the arena when it's so nice and smooth and lovely right now.

Of course, it decided to rain when I got home from work and decided I was going to ride anyway. Gabe was a turd while grooming and tacking up. He untied himself, tried to untie Teddy, chewed on Teddy's halter and pulled his own saddle pad off. He was one great big wet troublemaker! Brushing a wet, muddy horse is kind of pointless, by the way. And covering your saddle with a towel in the rain? Equally pointless.

We took off down the road and had a very good, energetic ride. Both boys were mostly well-behaved. Gabe was particularly full of energy on the way back and was convinced that an extremely collected canter was what I wanted, not a nice, big forward-moving trot. When he decides he doesn't want to really work at the trot, he slides on up into a canter that is almost slower than his walk and has very, very little forward movement. At least he doesn't try to run away!

By the way, a wet, muddy, sweaty horse is kinda stinky. And that stinkiness wafts upwards, just sayin'.

My bridle was soaked, my saddle soaked.

Which was as good a reason as any to finally get off my lazy butt and get it scrubbed clean and oiled. I'm typically very good about keeping my tack clean, but over the summer we rode SO much that it kind of fell to the wayside. I think it got cleaned maybe twice and it was definitely showing the neglect.

It all looks good now, so we can officially start our fall riding season in clean, oiled, waterproof tack. Gabe won't be embarrassed to be seen out in public in that filthy saddle any more.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let there be light

After years of basically putting riding on hold during the dark winter months during the week,  I am beyond thrilled that that won't be the way of things this year.

I won't have to give up my riding or put my training on hold due to a lack of light this year because I now have *drum roll please!* arena lights! Yay! My honey spent the day putting together arena lights for me so we can ride at night all winter long and last night I gave them a test run and I'm pleased to say they worked wonderfully. I think we do need to add one more light at the far end of the arena, but other than that, it's fantastic! Granted, the arena isn't lit up enough to hold night time shows, but it suits my purposes more than adequately.

I have always dreaded the shorter days because I can't ride except on weekends and of course the training and fitness schedule gets abandoned. But this year, I'm actually looking forward to the shorter, cooler days because I love to ride in the cooler weather and I think Gabe does, too.

My husband put up the lights as a surprise for me...I didn't even know he was doing it until I got home from work and there they were! All I did was mention earlier in the week that I really wish I had lights because it was getting darker earlier and earlier. I think I mentioned it while I was riding Montana and it was already dark out by the time I finished up and got off. Such an awesome guy, I think I'll keep him.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Feel the burn!

The decision is unanimous, no question about it.

Gabe, Teddy, Jaquie and I all agree: Trot sets in two-point seriously suck rotten eggs. Oh, wow.

I know I should be riding in two-point more often, I've known this for years, but haven't done it very often. I used to do my two-point (with and without stirrups) diligently, every single ride. And I now remember why I just kind of stopped doing it, or, more specifically, my legs are screaming at me, reminding me why two-point sessions kind of faded from my training repertoire.

We did two (TWO!!!!) 10 minute trot sets last night on The Boys (Gabe and Teddy), in two-point (mostly). While The Boys got a wee bit bored, it didn't get either of them huffing or really sweating at all...but their human companions? Not so much.

I set the timer on my watch and off we went. After what seemed like 20 minutes Jaquie asks, gasping for breath, "How long has it been?"

I glance down at my watch and take note of the time passed.

I really don't want to tell her because I can't believe it myself. My legs are turning to jelly, my calves on fire as I hold myself in two-point and work on keeping Gabe moving forward as energetically as possible without falling forward on his neck.

"Four minutes," I tell her.

"WHAT?! I'm HOT! I'm sweating! Oh God."

"I know. It feels like FOREVER! I think my legs are going to fall off." And they really did. My right calf and thigh, which as always been my weaker leg, was BURNING.

"It's been the longest four minutes of my life! I'm dying!"

"I know!" I agree. "This sucks ass."

But we both know we need to do it. We've been doing more jumping and quite frankly, both of us need to concentrate on our base of support. We've been too lazy for too long and need to step it up.

It's a good start, and we'll keep at it, but man, you don't realize how very out of riding shape you are (even if you are in good physical shape!) until you try to do two-point for 10 minutes during a trot set and it feels like a freakin' eternity! But it certainly gives you a much, much higher appreciation and level of respect for those high-level eventing riders who stay up in two-point for the entire course, at a gallop, over fences.

At this point, I'm pretty sure if I tried going much longer than 10 minutes, my legs would give up and I'd just slide right off my horse.