Friday, March 11, 2011

Milo is Always There For Me

I had been having a terrible day at work, and generally an upsetting and stressful week. I was super excited though for my lesson with Sarah however, just counting down the hours until I was off of work. Sarah came home from her vacation sick and had been nursing herself back to health. But after inclement weather causing the lessons in her schedule to cancel, along with her feeling under the weather, she texted asking if we could postpone. I agreed, disappointed but knew it was important for her to feel better and not compromise her recovery for a lesson.

So I drove to the barn, not entirely even feeling like riding anymore, but I knew I wanted to see Milo at least. I sat on the highway with my blinker flashing, waiting for the ferry traffic to subside long enough to turn into the driveway. Milo was right there on the corner, and had looked up from his grass grazing to see who had stopped on the highway. I pulled into the drive, and I knew Milo knew whose truck this was. I parked my truck by the outdoor arena, and as soon as I opened the door, Milo from across the pasture down the driveway, bucked and leaped in place, then came thundering to the gate.

This is one of the best parts of my day. Spotting Milo off of the highway and pulling into the driveway only to see how excited Milo is to see me, as I am to see him. That moment right there brought a smile across my glum face and I called out his name in a sing-song voice as I walked down his fenceline to retrieve the halter, Milo following my voice singing his name.

The entry to the pasture has been really muddy, but Milo met me right where the gate stood, letting me halter him without having to sink to my ankles in mud. What a thoughful guy. I rubbed his face and spoke praises to him, glad I was there. After grooming Milo I decided I would get on. My mood lifting, and the knowledge of a lesson free arena make me eager to mount up.

A boarder was longing, a leaser was riding. I warmed up Milo along the rail a few laps, circled a little bit and did some wall rollbacks. Milo was listening very well and was light off of my aids. His trotting was beautiful as I lengthened and shortened his stride. Milo was so light and supple in the bridle, and wasnt requiring a whole lot of inside rein correction - he was moving straight and forward. I established a few nice circles, then put him back on the rail to lope. The slightly new way of asking for the lope as given by Sarah has really improved our lead departures, vurtually setting Milo up for a lifted, balanced lope. He stepped right off into a beautiful lope, and as I maneauvered him around the arena from a circle or the rail, he was light off of a neck rein alone, I barely even had a feel of his mouth. But he remained flexed, supple, and over his back. It was one of the most consistent lopes he has ever worked.

Taking advice from the book, I wanted to work on what she calls "Arena Interval Training". I sheepishly admit that this is an exercise I have supposed to have been doing every ride, to help increase Milo's fitness and wind. Mostly I havent due not to laziness, but arena allowing. In Arena Interval Training, she suggests a working trot for a solid two minutes, then a consistent lope for two minutes, back to working trot for two minutes, again to a lope for two minutes, repeat for a total of twelve minutes. Repear on the other side, making this exercise a total of  24 minutes. This exercise really requires being able to lope and trot for consistent periods of time...and a total of eight minutes one direction. This cant be done during lessons sometimes due to changing direction at the trainer's discretion, as well as being able to avoid other riders in the smaller arena.

Milo worked well, and I can see this is an exercise I really should be incorporating into our workouts more. I already have gotten the impression that Milo seems to tire easily. I tend to work him about 30-40 minutes and be done. But when I ask for say another lope work after we already loped, Milo either thinks he doesnt have to, or is rather tired. I think Milo has a lot of muscle built, but I feel his wind needs to be increased. Hopefully repeating this exercise over a period of time will get him more fit.

But last night Milo worked the exercise well, concentrating on his work. There was a few moments in our second eight minute period where I felt I needed a whip to encourage him to stay forward off my leg (its a huge pet peeve of mine for a horse to decide to quit listening to the leg cue. I feel its imperative for the horse to always respect the forward cue of the leg). So next ride I think I will mount up with whip in hand so I dont get stuck needing it and not having it. Overall however, Milo worked very well, never trying to just quit working correctly. And even loping to the left he was much less resistent and tense on that side, even keeping his neck and shoulders straight. It was really a fantastic workout.

Throughout the ride I sprinkled in a few fencing lines. Once in particular Milo sunk his butt right down and went right into a back. For that I let him sit at the fence for a few minutes, earning his rest reward.

Things are coming together nicely as well, and I seem to be really understanding the applications of this bit and the most effective way to use them. Last night was another real Aha Moment, as I was gaining more control over my outside rein and really seeing the benefits of lifting it and not letting Milo cheat out by me moving it across his wither. Really giving him a wall on that outside helped dramatically, and for our turnarounds as well.

I was extremely happy with our ride, and moreover, happy I came to the barn and spent time with my sweet Milo. It reminded me that even when things are down in the sometimes difficult and stressful life as being an adult, my horse is always there for me, helping me remember to be grateful for the things I have, and simply being a great horse. I love my Milo.


Anonymous said...

That's so true - even when I'm having a bad day and can barely muster the energy to get to the barn, if I can get over there and spend time in some way with my horses, it makes my day every time.

Story said...

I know exactly what you're talking about! Sometimes Husband comes home and I've had a bit of a bad day and he says "would you like to go ride?" and I'll be all emo and say no, and he insists we go, "at least to give her a hug". In the end I end up riding and it's magical. There is something about that horse that can turn any frown upside down.

Anonymous said...

I literally LOLed at "Ill be all emo" HAHAHA. But I know what you mean, I do that do. Then Im SUPER happy to see my horse.

Molly said...

Aww! So sweet! I was having a bad day not too long ago and it was raining so I didn't get to visit my babies :(
But I got to ride the next day!
I love when I walk out my front door, Flint is always standing closes to the house and he always hollers at me when he sees me! He's so precious!
My horses always make me feel better. They are just so sweet and loving!

Rising Rainbow said...

My horses definitely make me feel better too. There's no better way to start or end a day than with a horse.