This has been a rare winter’s week, in that things have been quiet at the barn. Not a lot of lessons, not a lot of college students. The other boarders either come later than I do and infrequently or they only ride in lessons. Not a lot of kid lessons at the moment, either. Temps aren’t too bad–temperate, not so warm that Mocha sweats easily with her heavy winter fur coat; not so cold that the ground is hard and icy. The indoor surface is damp enough not to be dusty but dry enough to offer up steady footing.
Perfect conditions for getting us both back in shape. Protracted riding in the Western saddle added to the layoff due to work/stress/back/travel may have helped straighten out her movement issues. I still think she tweaked that shoulder muscle and it’s just taken time to rebuild and recondition, nonetheless I think going Western has been the better choice. I think the Western saddle is also easier on my aching back right now as well. Plus the correction curb gives me a little bit of lateral influence, so we can still school movements effectively.
And it’s worked. Mocha appears to be happy to be back in regular work. In this new stall, she’s now standing with her body parallel to the door, nose waiting to poke out the minute I open it. She’s usually waiting when I arrive, but she’s not bolting or dancing out, just marching out all cowhorse calm, but that sort of cowhorse calm that projects a quiet eagerness to go. Unlike a Thoroughbred, she’s not going to bounce on her tiptoes (nor would you want that in her because in Mocha that’s a clear signal of Lost the Brain, which really, really Ain’t Pretty), but a certain type of measured, precise, low-headed rhythmic swagger is the cowhorse equivalent. Instead of boinging off the ceiling, she hits her marks. Precise. With pop. Energy doesn’t get wasted, it gets used in short, explosive bursts.
We had a good work tonight. My back cooperated and we did some nice schooling with lead changes. Her shoulders came up nicely on a lot of the flying lead changes and she was willing to work one-handed in small canter circles, collected. I’m really liking the way her shoulders feel these days. Much better than in the Collegiate. Sigh. I so can not, do not, want to go saddle shopping. Maybe Western Dressage will take off more here and I can do that. But I still like riding in the Collegiate. Sigh.
OTOH, there’s no way my back will support any English saddle right now. Period.
So the two of us are making do with Western while we’re getting her shoulder and my back reconditioned. Worse fates out there, especially with the quality of Western equipment I’ve got on her. All good mid-range stuff.
Anyway, we had lots of energy and upward motion in the changes in figure 8s. Not ready yet for three-loop serpentines–neither my back nor Mocha’s conditioning will support that. But she’s readily coming back to me in complex small circle/figure 8 changes, which is good.
My back lasts about as long as her good rhythm. A good match.
And now the daylight is such that we were able to go for a short ride by the tree farm after schooling, on a long rein, between rain showers. Pretty much an amble on a long rein.
A nice evening ride. It’s good to be on the path back to regular schooling. And now that I’m signed up in the AQHA Horseback Riding Program, maybe I can actually track how much time I do spend in the saddle over the course of a month/year season. Plus it’s a good way to record my schooling time, and who knows? The program does have some nice prizes. Worth the time.