So Ike and I took time off last week. Ike spent his week off just being a horse – no demands of his time except for feeding time. Rumor has it that he did look for me every time he heard a car come down the driveway. While he might have missed me, I think he enjoyed living like his brother, the lawn ornament. I spent the week on Ocracoke Island with my husband and our dear friends imbibing on some adult beverages and engaging in some serious hands of Spades. While I love to get away from the daily grind, I do miss our dogs and horses while we are gone. How can you not miss sitting astride your horse and the ease of their power?
We caught the 4:30 a.m. ferry off the island (yes, we are those people) and were home by 10:30. That meant that there would be some saddle time that afternoon! What a great greeting I received upon arrival at the barn. Every horse, except for Ike, nickered as I said hello. Ike promptly greeted me with a gentle nudge, then gave me his “mean face.” I suppose that was him admonishing me for leaving him for the week. He is quick to forgive…after a Stud Muffin or two were procured. Had a moment of panic when I saw Cigar’s face with what looked like blood splattered on his forehead. Thankfully, it turned out to be pokeberry juice. Such a shame that he has to resort to eating pokeberries rather the alfalfa/timothy hay that he is provided. Enjoyed a short but productive ride with the realization that the CBLMs are only three weeks away.
So much to accomplish in the next few weeks. The training plan involves mostly pure training rather than test riding. Training Level Test 2 and First Level Test 2 are good tests for us. We’ve been consistent with our scores all season, so no need to drill the movements. We are just going to work on climbing the training pyramid which will only make our tests better.
Ms. C introduced half steps to our training right before our week off; she said that both Ike and I are ready for them. Uh, okay. I think Ike is picking up on the concept faster than I am. I have a tendency to get a bit strong with my hands, not use my legs enough, and then forget to release my half halt…that of course creates tension which makes Ike’s back tight which then causes all the dominoes to fall and we end up back at square one. Phew, we are now well outside my comfort zone with what we are doing. No more happy-go-lucky Training Level stuff allowed. I can read books and websites all day and night about half steps and teaching collection to a horse and rider, but there is no comparison to actually sitting on the horse and performing the tasks at hand. It is much like swimming – the only way to become proficient is to jump in the water and do it. Yes, it will be hard at first (and you might sink like a rock/get some low scores), but with steady practice and repetition, you will hopefully see improvement. That is what I’m hoping with our half steps/collection work. Good thing there is no hurry to get to Second Level. (Sshhh, don’t tell, I’m also still not proficient with sitting ike’s medium trot either and I think posting is frowned upon.)
It is shaping up to be a busy week with the farrier and vet stopping by, but hopefully there will be plenty of saddle time!