Saturday, March 26, 2011

Adventures on a String!

So maybe the title sets this up as more exciting than it really was...

Did chores, filled up a hay bag for Arabee, then tied with the blocker tie ring II (got that last fall, really like it!) and groomed and saddled her while she ate her hay.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out for my mom to do the longing - so my husband offered (very hesitantly) to do it instead. You see, the man loves me, but he does not love horses, but he recognizes how much happiness I gain from being around them, so he tries to be supportive of it all the while being nervous that I'm going to be injured, which unfortunately makes me (because I love him and don't want him to be nervous) feel bad about riding because it makes him uncomfortable. And anyway, a nervous guy holding a longe line really doesn't impart much confidence to a large prey animal.

So we started out with me longing her, just walking around to get both her and Matt used to the idea of longing quietly but she was high headed and jumpy (see above paragraph). So I go ahead and decide maybe she needs a little workout first, so I urge her into a trot, which is going fine except she's really unsure of the sound of the stirrups flopping against the saddle, which makes her trot cockeyed with short, choppy steps, which made the stirrups flop even more, which made her break gait into a fast canter, which flopped the stirrups louder and harder, which made her bolt around as fast as she could on the longe. Great. Just the little confidence-building exercise I had hoped for! (not)

So Matt walks away to go work on the corn planter while I work on Arabee and getting her accustomed to the sounds and sensations of stirrups (how could we have missed this previously?!? or perhaps she'd forgotten). Which was quite dizzying - her whirling around me while I clung tight to the longe line in one hand and flopped the stirrups with the other. Finally she calmed down and was willing to stand still with her head held high and ears back while I flopped the stirrups, and so we went back out on the longe again, me certain that she would calmly trot about, aware of the stirrup-flopping but not too concerned over it. HaHa...we had more bolting, so we tried more flopping, then she did finally become accepting of it to the point where I considered her "safe".

Keep in mind....all I had wanted to do with her this day was to walk around in slow circles on the longe line while I worked MY butt off (or inner thighs, rather...) working to get those horseback riding muscles back in shape. It was not supposed to be a workout for the horse, at all. Well, I guess you work with what you've got.

She was warm and sort of sweaty at this point - not lathered, though, and I had my helmet and riding clothes on and everything, so I called Matt back over and it all went downhill again (see paragraph on "nervousness") I told him to take like 5 deep breaths, and see, she's doing just fine, exactly what I want her to, and worked on coaching someone, who in all fairness, had never in his life ever pictured himself holding the end of a rope attached to a 900 lb flight animal (who in his estimation is ridiculously flighty) with his dearly loved wife sitting on top. He and she got better, and calmer, and I ended up working on two-point, and keeping good lower-body position in the saddle. I still had to steer, since our circle was more Easter-egg shaped than round, but still it was good for my muscles, which again - that was the whole point of the exercise for me. I didn't get to do the trunk twists, or both arms out, but I did do one arm at a time.

And it was good. I got to do what I wanted to do (pretty much), and I got a good dose of reality when it came down to working with an Arabian mare who'd been out of regular work for almost an entire year. And hopefully, if I keep doing things this way - the slow way is the fast way - the way where you do stupid, beginner-rider things like riding on a longe line, or just doing practice turns in a small, confined area, hopefully, if I do things this slow way, I'll be able to convince both myself and my husband that riding horses isn't as recklessly dangerous of an activity after all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Out of shape!

I believe I can say now that I have finally shaken off the last of the soreness from my ride on Monday. Early this morning I could still feel a slight ouchiness in my inner leg muscles.


I had only ridden for 15 minutes!! That is sad.

But what's very exciting is that my parents are coming down to visit tonight, and I have asked my mom if she'd be willing to hold a longe line for me so I can work on balance and strength building exercises without having to worry about steering. She said yes, and since I was sore so long after a short 15 minute ride, I think we'll keep this one to about 30 minutes, tops, so I think we'll have time to squeeze it in. I bet if I ask her she'll tell me when I'm leaning forward too much, or if my legs are in the wrong position, too.

I think I'll go ahead and ride with stirrups. Haven't decided for sure if I'll use reins or not, since she'll be on the longe line. I've been volunteering for a therapeutic riding center, and I'll do some of the warm up exercises used there: airplane wings (arms straight out to the sides), arms straight up, and trunk twists (hands on your hips, twist and twist!). Maybe I'll practice riding in two-point, maybe I'll swing my arms in circles, maybe I'll ride with one arm pointing forward and one arm pointing backward, then switch. I know these things are going to be helpful in getting my core strength and balance in the saddle closer to where they should be.

I just hope it doesn't rain!

Anyone else have any favorite exercises that they like to use?

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Rode Today

So, I rode today! First time since last April.

It was fun, it was short (only about 15 minutes saddle time) we walked and trotted and turned and whoa-ed and it was all rusty and awkward but right at the same time.

My little mare has really calmed down a lot. Today is Monday, and I'd only just groomed her a few times in the last week - no longing or handwalking yet we still had a nice quiet first ride back. Felt good.