I have to tell you (I think we're all girls here - if not, guys be warned, you might want to skip this paragraph), I didn't know if I was going to make my lesson at all last weekend. About 45 minutes before I had to leave home I was hit out of the blue with absolutely monster cramps. The kind where you're thinking (if you've had kids), "WHENISTHEBABYCOMING, oww oww oww oww oww OWWWWWW!!!" Yeah, great timing. Bouncing up and down on a horse sounds simply delightful when you're doubled up on the bed in agony, feeling like someone is twisting your insides into a knot. Boy, was I mad! How dare my girlie parts throw a fit right before the highlight activity of my week! I started taking Advil and doing what little of my pre-ride stretching I was capable of. (Lying on stomach to do "Superman" back stretch? NO.) Four Advil later, I had staggered to the car, still in misery. Usually it only takes 15 minutes or so for relief but not this time. Determined not to ruin my ride, I took another pill on the way - stomach/liver be damned. The first person I saw when I arrived at the barn was my friend Sally, who was grazing her horse. She made the mistake of asking me how I was and I'm afraid I told her, even though it should have been obvious from my squinty eyes and gut-clutching. :-) She said she'd had the same thing happen, but oddly, riding seemed to help. I grimaced and told her I certainly hoped so!
A girl who I didn't know came up to me as I was going across the parking lot with my gear. She said, "Are you RW? M wants you to ride Pebbles today. She's outside so you'll have to go get her." Okay, this was something new but no problem, I'm certainly capable of bringing a horse in. I asked if I needed to bring a halter, and where the horse was, since I was not yet familiar with the pasture arrangement at the new barn. I was told Pebbles was with another horse in a small paddock and I couldn't miss her. Okey-dokey.... I sure hoped so, because as I mentioned I'd been told there were quite a few chestnut mares.
Luckily, the teenager who lessoned after me last week had been assigned Pebbles, so I knew pretty much what she looked like. I put my stuff down over in the "lesson aisle" and went looking for a halter and lead. I should have remembered that halters were hung up in the schoolie tack room under the bridles, but didn't, so I wound up borrowing one from outside a stall (another school horse's, I know better than to grab a boarder's). Off to track down Pebbles...
Turns out, she was in a drylot paddock with Snickers! Miss Snickie acted like she was glad to see me, but I had to disappoint her and take Pebbles instead. The girls were by themselves and the rest of the school horses were turned out in an enclosure next door. Those accomodations were definitely not deluxe; no grass, just mud. The schoolies had a lot of hay to munch on and looked content, but I chuckled because they rated hot wire for their fence. The pretty and picturesque white vinyl is reserved for the grass pastures in the front of the farm where the boarders go. I've noticed that's typical of many farms!
|Look around back and you may well find something else keeping the horses in. :-)|
I'm happy to report that somewhere between starting to groom Pebbles and mounting up, the Advil finally kicked in so I was no longer in excruciating pain when I got on her. Good thing, too, because riding in a larger ring outdoors gave me quite a workout! I pushed myself to keep going most of the time but whew, the 'ole lack of endurance definitely kicked in. I was very glad to find that Pebbles needed no stick and very little leg; in fact, I wound up having to half-halt and say "Ho" more than once to her. Funny how I have kept "stepping up" with the lesson horses in that regard! We trotted for a long time, and then after a break, cantered in both directions. I am still being told to keep my hands lower so I have to keep working on that. Canter departs were "eh" at first but by the third one, we did quite well.
Then it was time for jumping. There were five jumps in the arena, all set very low (last hole on standards, whatever that is). One was a crossrail on the diagonal and the others were verticals, set in two five or six-stride outside lines. We trotted the x-rail a couple times and then M said, go ahead and come around to the line. GULP! I haven't jumped a related distance in well, you know, years... We trotted in and yes, cantered to the second jump, and hey, I survived! I didn't remember to count strides, though, so I failed that quiz. Second time through I went too fast and we chipped with five and half strides. For the third time, M told me to keep cantering after the crossrail (I'd been coming back to the trot) and go around to the line. I had to give myself the Little Engine pep talk before setting off on this adventure. "YOU CAN DO IT! YES!" Thank goodness, Pebbles landed on the right lead after the crossrail, we kept going, and I am proud to say that not only did I canter through the whole line, I even managed to rate her and we got the six strides. HURRAY! :-) It was terrific fun and I was thrilled to end the lesson on a high note.
Pebbles was a very good girl, indeed, and I will be more than happy to ride her again. I was absolutely pooped after this lesson, though. Nerves, lack of fitness, and "woman troubles" will do that to you. I had a nice time grazing the mare after I untacked her and hosed her down (she was quite sweaty) and was amused to notice she really went for a particular kind of weed, even preferring it to the nice grass. The same weed is growing rampant on my lawn at the moment. I was really wishing I could pack up Pebbles and take her home for some natural (and attractive) maintenance!
|Do you think the neighbors would mind? I KNOW the HOA and our town ordinance inspector would, unfortunately! "Livestock" of any kind is expressly forbidden...|