|Love th view.|
Last Saturday morning was my last chance to ride before heading out on a five day business trip. My head told me I should get the most out of our time together by working on our lateral work and my fitness/level of comfort in the saddle. My heart, however, had other ideas. "Let's go out and play in the fields," it said. The sky was overcast, it was windy, and the ground was slightly damp due to rain the night before - not the most ideal conditions. Prudence told me that it was a bad idea - we'd only been outside a couple of times due to the harsh winter we'd had, the cool temperature and the wind pretty much guaranteed I'd be sitting on a fresh horse, and we'd be alone.
So of course I decided to ride outside. I wanted my last ride before leaving to be fun, something Sug and I could both enjoy. We set off, and as soon as we left the barn Sug's head went up, her ears went forward, and off she set in a very forward and purposeful trot. I let her go, knowing that trying to curb her enthusiasm would only serve to amp her up more. Off we went, trotting up a fence line and then down the opposite hedge row. Sug tossed her head and snorted several times, letting me know she was enjoying herself.
"Wheee! This is fun! Check out my extended trot!"
Very impressive, Sug. Can we take it down a notch?
"Nope, I'm channeling my inner dressage horse. Totilas, eat my dust!"
We did trot sets in a neighboring field to build our base of fitness. At one point we startled a deer, provoking it into leaping from the hedgerow out into our path (showing again why deer are dumb - what prey animal actually jumps into the path of a potential predator????) Sug executed a high-speed leg yield, then stood glaring and snorting at the offender. (I guess we got to practice our lateral work after all.) Thankfully I stayed on during this little maneuver, though I will admit to patting my pocket and making sure my cell phone was in my pocket.
You'd think I'd take that little bit of excitement as a sign to cut our losses and head back to the barn. Nope, I decided to continue on, just because I'm a) stubborn and pigheaded and b) dumb as a box of rocks. It even started to mist a little bit, which a more intelligent being would have considered a sign from the gods to go back to the barn. Nah, I figured that at some point we might need to show in adverse conditions and that this was a great opportunity to practice dealing with this kind of a situation. Rationalization, much?
So off we headed into the next field, which was larger and better suited for longer trot sets. Sug was stilling feeling spry, and bounded up the slight grade like she was on a mission, ears perked and head swiveling back and forth. We were both enjoying the hell out of ourselves, and she kept trying to break into the canter. I held her to the trot until I was certain the ground was good and there were no holes, and then let her go.
"Finally! Hang on!"
I'm always surprised at how quick she is. She jumped into the canter and about three strides in I felt her back drop out from under me as she accelerated into a higher gear. Damn, the sound of her hooves as she ate up the ground and the feel of her powerful muscles bunching and uncoiling under me was exhilarating! I can only imagine what jockeys feel like. The wind forced tears from my eyes and made my hood flap like a flag in high winds, and I just sat up there, going with her and laughing like a loon. We repeated our efforts, running up the one long side and finishing on the short side at the top of the field, then walking down the other long side before galloping off again.
We did this a couple times until I decided to call it a day, wanting to end on a good note and before she got tired and we risked a potential injury. Madame Mare was all kinds of full of herself as we jogged back to the barn. (I wanted to walk, but Sug used the power of the Rider Override to veto my request).
"Did you see me back there?? Did you see how fast I was going? I was on fire!!! Suck my dust, suckers! Can't catch The Sug, baby!"
Madame Mare trash- talked the entire way back to the barn, shaking her head and breaking into the occasional passage as she kept up with her own ESPN highlight reel, completely forgetting she was an 18-year-old warmblood and not a three-year-old Kentucky Derby prospect. I have to admit, I was feeling pretty darn good about my world as well.
Sure, we all need those days of serious ring work, but there's definitely something to be said for 'cowboying up' and going out for a good old-fashioned pipe-cleaner.