Friday, December 18, 2009

I want to get outside and ride in the snow!

I've been having a lot of good rides on Limerick in the indoor arena. She has been wonderful! She even passed the ultimate test last week: a solitary ride while heavy, wet snow slid off the roof of the indoor arena, over and over and over.

Normally that would mean tension, explosiveness, a frightened horse, and a ride cut short. But with the sheepskin ear puffs, while she did look up at the ceiling a couple times, she remained calm and relaxed, and all it took was my hand on her neck for her to drop her head back down and sigh.

I was nothing short of stunned and amazed. I was so proud of her!

I've always wanted to ride her in the snow but until now I never gave it more than a passing thought. But her wonderful attitude as of late is giving me more and more confidence and I have begun to wait for the perfect moment.

Picture this:

A few inches of snow on the ground, a sunny clear day, the air crisp and cold but without a biting wind.

In those conditions I want to ride her in the outdoor arena a few times, and, from there if she remains good, maybe we will try the trails!

Unfortunately there isn't always snow on the ground, and when there is, about half the time the wind is so harsh that it numbs any exposed skin. And there's the matter of daylight hours--it is completely dark by the time I get out of work, so obviously this will need to be done on the weekends...or perhaps, under a full moon on a cloudless night. Wouldn't that be cool?

I just need to wait for the right moment, and in the meantime continue enjoying the great rides on my wonderful, fuzzy mare!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thoroughbred power!

She didn't want to work. But that was okay--I didn't, either. Yet I wanted more.

Content with trotting on a long rein, she again asked if we could transition down to a trot. Not yet, Limerick. I squeezed the reins in my hands and she gave me more power. Her canter was strong and effortless, easy to sit.

Just like Tuesday's ride, I was again reminded of my first few rides on her nearly 14 years ago.

I softened my grip on the reins and she slowed. Trot now? Not yet, Limerick. I squeezed the reins again and she gave me even more power. Another gear up, longer strides. The short side of the arena approached quickly.

She laid it out for me--I have more power, I can go faster, and here... She rocketed out of the short side of the arena, faster and faster. It was like being behind the wheel of a sports car. As she cantered, I sensed that despite the strength behind her stride, we had not yet touched the bottom of her reservoir.

I lightened my grip of the reins by a feather and immediately she dropped down to a long fast trot. I let the reins slide through my hands to the buckle and her neck lengthened, her nose reaching down eagerly.

I knew the wind howled about outside...yet she was not bothered. Is it the ear puffs? The quarter sheet? The pure bliss I had in being on her back?

The vet diagnosed Limerick with mild cataracts in her left eye. While Lim can still see out of that eye, her vision is a bit altered. Due to her sensitive nature, she is reacting to this more strongly than you'd expect your average horse to. I understand perfectly...and this is where the sheepskin ear puffs come in.

With them in, she can hear but sounds that normally make her paranoid and anxious during a ride are muffled or unheard. These ear puffs, these $4.95 pieces of equipment, have been more of a blessing to us than I ever expected...I wish I had found them sooner.

These, combined with the unusual fluidity of her stride as of late (you guessed it--she's consuming all her supplements now!) have made for some wonderful rides.

At the start of this year I had some long-term plans. One of them included showing Limerick. I haven't quite abandoned those plans, but it's fair to say that they are on the back-burner for now. We're just enjoying our rides...we aren't working. I know Limerick could churn out a blue-ribbon Green As Grass test if I asked but I don't feel like asking, and I know she doesn't feel like doing it.

That's just fine. Enjoy the moment.