Riding Again

After several months of glare ice everywhere, I finally felt it was safe enough to saddle up and go for a little ride on Monday. There are still not a whole lot of safe places to ride. Just the driveway. And even then, it’s got a solid, thick base layer of ice under the snow.  But so long as we stay right on the tire tracks, and don’t drift to the center, it’s reasonably safe at a walk.

Might be time to clip Diego's bridle path
Might be time to clip Diego’s bridle path

I was a bit concerned the first day, worrying that Diego might be overly exuberant after two months off. But he was just perfect. Walking along calm and forward, eyes bright, snorting happily. He was very pleased to be out and about, but quite aware of the footing.  For a horse with a history of being herdbound (insanely herdbound at times), it was just lovely to see the confidence he’s developed.

I rode again the next day, with much the same reaction from Diego.  Calm, steady, happy.  As for me, I felt mildly euphoric. Afterwards, I posted this on Facebook:

It just occurred to me that I’m feeling quite cheerful for a change. Then I realized that I rode yesterday and today. Apparently that’s all it takes

Sometimes I am oblivious to my own moods and motivations. Riding is the only real exercise that I like doing. Or that I WILL do consistently. I know that I ought to do other things when I can’t ride. But really… I just don’t. And when I don’t ride, I get depressed and cranky without even realizing what the problem is.  And then contrarily, I don’t want to do anything at all… not even ride.  After two days of riding (and not even very exciting riding), I was reborn.

Lining up so Anastasija can mount... yes, from a bucket. I think we all fell off that bucket at least once this week. The real mounting block is under several feet of snow and ice.
Lining up so Anastasija can mount… yes, from a bucket. I think we all fell off that bucket at least once this week. The real mounting block is under several feet of snow and ice.

Anastasija brought Ares out with us on Wednesday, and had much the same response to finally getting out to ride.  Very very happy.  Ares was happy too. Not to be out (especially not to be out with Diego, who he despises), but to have Ana’s attention. Ares is a very strange little horse. Crazy anxious, to the point of being ridiculous. He seems to be convinced that everyone wants to kill him and eat him for dinner. But he adores Anastasija. You can practically see little hearts floating in the air around his head when she’s nearby.

There's his "I love you Ana (but I hate you Diego!)" face. He's a very conflicted guy .
There’s his “I love you Ana (but I hate you Diego!)” face. He’s a very conflicted guy .
Up and down the driveway
Up and down the driveway

Our flurry of riding got Jen motivated, and she brought Twister out with us yesterday and today. That was a very big moment for them. Twister developed laminitis last February (he’s very insulin-resistant) and Jen thought for a while that she was going to lose him.  But here he is a year later,  sound again. He’s got to be very strictly managed to maintain that soundness. He can’t have grass at all. Only hay that’s been tested to make sure it’s low-sugar. No grain. No carrots. No apples. Nothing with sugar or molasses in it. His feet have to be trimmed every couple of weeks.  But Jen is dedicated and Twister is lucky.


So that’s five days in a row of riding for Diego and I. Almost all walking. But at least we are out and enjoying ourselves.

Just to top things off…  last night, Venice emerged from her terrified little shell enough that she willingly took pieces of crunch from the palm of my hand. She is not hesitating or fussing or diving for it. She is not afraid to let her muzzle touch my hand at all.  Since that’s been one of her really serious fears – hands near her face – this was an enormous breakthrough!  Tonight when I went in her stall to have our daily visit, she was looking for her cookies and knew exactly why I was reaching into my pocket. No spooking, flinching, or quivering. Just pure, bright-eyed greed. “Hello! Got food?”

Maybe I’ll be able to start clicker training her now. That might accelerate her progress.


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