Monday, December 5, 2011

The Very Basics

I was exhausted. I hadnt eat all day, and had certainly burned whatever left-over calories I had in my system. Two and a half hours cleaning at Sarahs, another two hours spent cleaning pastures where Milo is boarded left me feeling ready to topple over. Not to mention the increased "cart-shifts" I had been given at work (three or four a week - six hour shifts, sure doesnt sound like much, but dont talk unless you have tried), my body was seriously exhausted.

The question lingered in my mind: to ride, or not to ride? Normally a silly question - of course I want to ride! I considered the fact that my horse had had two days off over the weekend, and the short, walk-only ride I we had on Friday with another day off before then made me feel obligated to ride. I also knew I would not be able to make it out the next day (another cart-shift), leaving Milo with nearly a week of absent work. He probably would not mind the break, but I wasnt happy with that.

I continued to sit in my truck and attempt to catch my breath as I gazed out into the pasture at Milo's sweet white face, poking out from inside the shelter. It was a balmy thirty-five degrees out, nice and dry. As I thought over my mode of action, I continued to look at his dozing profile. How could I not spend some quality time with the Mr Milo? I had been thinking about wanting to see him all weekend long, waiting for Monday to roll around when I would next be out his way.

I didnt put my boots and spurs on and instead left on the waterproof BOGS I had already on. I figured a thorough grooming and some love with be sufficient for the day. Maybe if I was up for it I could cruise around at the walk bareback. But no spurs were necessary today, I decided.

I dragged myself up to the barn, Milo in tow. My heart rate no longer up from working, the sweat I had produced now sat on me like a cold blanket. I was chilled and wished I had grabbed my Carhartt from the truck before heading up. At least there was a set of gloves tucked inside of my tack trunk to look forward to. But as I started grooming the clean gelding, I warmed up a bit as well.

The aisle-way was quiet, for the moment. All week long I had been wanting to wash Milo's tail, but didnt have the time or accessibility to the wash rack. Today would be a good day to do it. I hummed quietly as I worked my hands into his soapy tail, carefully untangling the hairs that had turned wavy from the continuous braid his tail was put into. I enjoyed the quiet moment, and even more, the hot water as I rinsed his tail clear of suds.

Was I going to ride? I sighed. I had caught my breath and gained a little more energy. Why not putz around bareback for a few moments. I could hear the adjacent covered arena was fairly quiet - maybe I could sneak in before the evening rush of kids out of school for their lessons. I put Milo's headstall on, but skipped the bareback pad. Today I wanted to really feel my horse's back. Besides, he would warm me up a little better too, and I wasnt anticipating really working on anything.

We walked the perimeter of the arena, avoiding the one lesson, bridge, and three caveletti poles. I tried to melt my energy into that of Milo's, but all the while trying to keep my core engaged and not collapse at my rib cage. I envisioned my energy flowing up and down as Milo walked, seeing the flow of water move up and down with ease as Sarah had described before. With my body in place, I could move Milo into my hand. As I picked up the outside rein, I could really feel Milo's back come up underneath my seat. For a few moments I felt him round, then he dropped from under me. What did I do? Oh, I had collapsed at my rib cage.

We continued to walk; a few strides of round, then finding what went wrong, correcting, repeat. I tried to make sure I was never forcing Milo onto the bridle, but instead bringing him into it from our bodies. I would twirl his neck when needed (mostly when on the right, outside, rein) and changed rein a few times on a figure eight circle to supple him to the transition both directions.

Things were going well, so we moved into the trot. I was nervous that at the trot my body would lose this shared energy and I could tighten a bit, but as we transitioned into the trot, I was able to maintain the same energy as Milo. We worked on the same elements when at the walk, and added some more transitions as well, from trot to walk, walk to trot, trot to halt, back, and halt to trot. Throughout the transitions I really focused on keeping my rein aids consistent and not changing, but to find the transition through my body, and lifting my energy up throughout. When I was successful in this, Milo's transitions were beautiful, and we got a very nice trot to halt with a lifted back and a noticeable halt on the haunches. I was very pleased and slid off of his warm back. Milo sighed and licked his lips, I patted him on the neck. What a good ride. I was glad I had done it.

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