This photo was taken at the beginning of my ride, so there is no “drooly slime” on Ike’s mouth. Ike, however, is very good at producing large quantities of slime in a short amount of time – it makes me think that he might be part Mastiff. He is also very adept at flinging the pendulous drool at the closest target. Ms. C was the recipient during our lesson the other day, and I have been the lucky one for my three rides this weekend. With one flick of his gynormous head, drool flies through the air to land on the saddle, my boots, his own legs and chest, and my chest. And once our ride is done? I have to be on guard or “THWACK!” I am knocked off-balance as Ike decides that now is a good time to wipe his face on my head/arm/back/chest…whatever happens to be the closest. Not cool. A klutz like myself is easily toppled with the slightest nudge. Ike also grazed my face which under normal circumstances would have just irked me, but since at the ripe old age of 43 I had braces put on, became a painful reminder that I need to always pay attention or face a bloody lip again.
Bloody lip aside, I have enjoyed my rides this past week. Riding is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the start of the holiday season. In my lesson on Wednesday, Ms. C reinforced the concepts that I worked on at the clinic. Stop overbending Ike’s neck, establish and keep a better inside leg to outside rein connection, and let go with my inside rein. The sad part is, I can see when another rider is overbending their horse’s neck and using too much inside rein, but put me on my horse, and all bets are off. That inside rein is like a crutch that I just can’t let go. When someone is on the ground reminding me, sure, I can listen and do it. When riding alone, that inside hand creeps tighter and tighter and next thing you know, Ike’s long neck is curled like the letter C and that outside shoulder is falling where it may.
During my last three rides I have honestly tried to keep Ike straighter and more through. Throughness can still be tough when Big Boy gets a bit strong in the hand. Cold and windy days are especially challenging. Add a tractor, a pickup truck, and a golf cart and throughness is next to impossible. I persevere and we have fleeting moments. In between, there is head wagging, nose in the air, and ducking behind vertical. All normal evasions, but Ms. C reminds me that it is my job to show and teach Ike where I want him to be. I keep trying and I think there is some success. I beam with pride when I feel the connection. Those “Ah-ha” moments are becoming more frequent, and I even smile while covered in slime.