Saturday, November 13, 2010

Today we broke a sweat!

Oh what a glorious fall day!

I had arranged to go out with a friend to ride Bear and Lola at the lake today with the idea of doing some trot and canter work out on the beach. At the last minute she had to cancel, but I was still so excited about going out that I decided to take Bear out alone. Its been AGES since I've taken Bear any where with out Lola. She goes out to things alone all the time, but he tends to be the one left behind if I can't take two. So he was a bit vocal about being put in the trailer all alone!

I took Bear because he's been so sluggish in the arena. He's obedient, he'll move forward when asked, he'll trot or canter when asked, but I do feel like I'm nagging him to have a little more energy with every single step. I figure its a twofold problem: I don't feel like I've really gotten him back into good condition since the summer so he tires quickly, but mainly he is getting bored with circles in an arena. So we took the trail ride to help with both of those problems, good conditioning ride, and there's nothing like an open space to make trotting and cantering fun again! It worked like a charm. I can hardly get him to work hard enough to get warm, let alone break a sweat. Today we got hot and sweaty and had a blast!

Bear was calling for Lola the whole way to the trail parking, and he was super jazzed up for the beginning of the ride. He was a little spooky on the trail, but nothing unexpected since he hasn't had to brave the trail solo in a long time. We did spend about 10 minutes slowly approaching a log though. He was convinced it was hiding a monster.

We had spent about a half out on the trail just walking along and getting all the benefits of climbing the big step ups and rocking back on his haunches to go down the hills. By the time we got to the beach he was nice and warmed up, and had settled his nerves a bit. We started out trotting because every time we got to a divot where last week's major rain storm had created streams down the beach. He slowed to look EVERY time! So silly! So we made a point of trotting over these for a while, then started trot over the drift wood and logs out there. He just felt so great! He'd trot up to the smallest logs and gracefully canter away. I had a blast! We cantered around a bit and I'd like him start to lengthen and really stretch into a big stride, but I don't think we are mentally or physically fit enough to go for an all out gallop. I was certainly sitting myself up straighter than usual! The best reminder not to lean in front of your center point is the threat that your trusty steed is going to slam on the breaks suddenly! I was so impressed with my boy. Each time I asked him to come back he'd collect back to his lovely rocking horse canter and then into a great balanced and relaxed trot. Really I'm still floored how much great trot I got today! I mean on the bit, swinging trot and stepping right into the canter! What an awesome horse I have.

We made it a point to walk around a bit on the way back to the trailer. He was all sweat from ears to girth, so I wanted to make sure he was well cooled. The trailer parking has a great wash rack, so I cold hosed his legs and at least washed his sweaty girth area. The rest of the sweat needed to dry before getting brushed away, so we just hung out in the gorgeous fall sunshine and he snacked on grass. What a perfect way to spend a Saturday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I find as I go through these situations again and again that I'm a bit of an adrenaline junky. Maybe that's not even the right term. I'm driven by goals, that's clear, I love working with horses partly based on all the planning I can do. Little baby steps to meet the goals. But I've seen over and over again in my life that I tend to throw myself at extremely difficult things, not just to see if I can do them, but to give myself something stressful enough to incite some action. I finished my Masters degree this summer. The very first week of my very first summer I was pretty sure I had bitten off way more than I could chew. I finished because I am stubborn. It was insanely difficult for me, partly because it is a high level of education, but mainly because it hit on some of my biggest weaknesses. So why did I throw myself at that? Bigger question, why did I find some much motivation to finish it?

Motivation is a funny thing. There are many days where the only motivation to go through the motions of the day is that some piece of it HAS to, absolutely must, happen. Mornings are not my favorite thing. Without a concrete event to incite action, my morning mode, where I don't quite engage with life, can be prolonged up to the point I go to bed again. I had this happen surprisingly often when I lived abroad. There were vacation days where I didn't have to work and those few people that I knew were out of town, and after a few days I would realize, that I hadn't spoken to a soul, for several days. I read books, I walked, I sucked into an interior life that didn't allow for an outside reality. I found out that I can be an extreme introvert, to the point of being a recluse, and it didn't really seem alarming. I was living without a dog, cat, or horse. I think that made a difference.

My days, most often are incited to action by the fact that I have a job that expects to be in there sometime around 8am. I don't clock in, I don't get written up if not in at a certain time, so the motivator works, just give or take about 20 minutes. Once at work I usually engage in what I'm doing, new things, challenging things, extremely overwhelmingly filled lists of things, they capture my attention while there and then I forget that I need motivation to get things done! Then there are other days, where once I'm there I'm not sure how I can convince myself to do anything other than think about going to get more coffee. The days where everything is easy and simple and straight forward, I hate those days. Somehow I don't end up doing half of what needs to be done, and yet the day before I had twice as much to do and managed to do it all! Apparently I love to be stressed!

So the conclusion drawn here is that if I were left to my own comfortable, unstressed, uninterrupted life, I think I would probably cease to shower, clean, leave the house, then eat. I'm sure it'd be a slow process! But it is the interaction, or even confrontation, in life that motivates me to get out and do something. I think this could be true, except that I have animals. I have people too, don't get me wrong, I would have people coming to pull me out of my smelly unnoticed misery with in a day! But that would be an intervention, not a motivation. I'm sure this will all change when I have kids, but right now, the only things in this world that rely on me for their well being and happiness, are my animals. A dog politely encouraging you to get up because they REALLY need to pee, that's a motivator to start your day! Horses that will be cold or hungry if you don't go out to feed and blanket is a motivator. My horses bring satisfaction in a job well done, they creature to worry over, and tend to. They give you something to care for aside from yourself. Again, this isn't to say that I don't value human relationships, but my perfectly capable boyfriend is not going to go hungry, he doesn't rely on me the way my animals do.

Alright, so I have found my motivator, my catalyst for action, my horses and my dog drive me to get going, start the day, engage in the world. Then what, then I run into the same need for new, the need to be challenged, the need to believe that there's a good chance that what I'm doing could totally fail and yet I'm pushing though anyway. The need was filled by buying a 2 and a half year old gelding, and starting him under saddle. But then he got really too easy! He's so stinking easy! So I bought another horse to break, really honestly, to prove that Bear was a fluke and that I couldn't do it. Low and behold, Lola was tougher at times, but I've done it none the less. Now I have two, and that too many, there will be no third horse. So aside from quitting my day job for the highly dangerous and low paying job of breaking colts, what do I do now? I start focusing on my next goal, my next challenge, my next commitment that will leave me thinking, "Good gracious what have I gotten myself into?"

I'm short on time and energy to focus on a really big goal, but that is what inspires me. In the mean time I'm staying focused on keeping the momentum so that I'm ready. My ridiculously challenging goal for the moment, is keeping both horses worked regularly. Its tough too! I know that my next push with both of them will be getting them jumping so that as soon as show start up next spring, we'll be ready. To jump then need to be fit. To be fit they need regular and strategic work. So that is my goal for now, and it is working terribly well because it hits my procrastinator vein! If I can put off committing to jumping due to Lola's flat work needing improvement, Bear's general lack of condition from the summer, and other minor details that I can tell myself I'm working on, then I can prolong the moment of actually facing the fact that I really want to do something that I'm not terribly good at! So there is my next terrifying, stressful, and utterly motivating goal, I will jump courses bigger than two foot. I will learn to not get launched around with funky green horse mistakes. I will be a better rider, and I will become a better person in the process. That is were the motivation resides, the thrill of becoming something more than you were.