There are days that I really simply don’t feel like riding–like Friday, in which the amount of paperwork I felt I needed to do was outweighing the need to ride all of my western horses who were just going to be wild after a weekend waiting for a hunt seat show to wrap up anyway. The horses seem to understand when they don’t get worked, but coworkers and peers and supervisors never seem to be quite as forgiving when things are not turned in or completed.
Regardless, I wrapped up enough little things on my to-do list to merit getting into the barn again. I rode a set of five, keeping in the back of my mind that I would also be jumping a horse in a clinic later that evening.
I began my day with Spider, an old Appaloosa mare on trial. She had arrived at Alfred late the previous evening thanks to a long day of shipping with my friend Chilly from the ranch, driving first from Alfred to State College, then to Quakertown, then back to Alfred again. Spider was unsure in the arena and will definitely take a lot more riding. In a less-than-optimistic mood, I turned her over to the farrier for front shoes.
My next mount was R-Star, a reining mare with a reluctant and sassy streak which was not evident in this ride. Having some light maintenance done recently on her stifles, she rode out fairly nicely–she’s a talented, well-broke mare but has never really been one of my favorites; she’s not comfortable to ride nor does she seem to have much of a personality of any kind. I spent a few moments playing with her steering and brakes off just my leg and weight, weaving in and out of jump standards and other assorted hunt seat detritus in the arena. I put her up after a brief ride and dragged on to the next horse.
My next steed was Batman, a very talented reining gelding who is surprisingly light on his feet for being slightly bigger than the “average” reiner. At this point, the course for the hunt seat show had been set in the arena and he cast all sorts of hairy eyeballs at the various fences, pickets, poles and flowerboxes and I amused myself for a few minutes by playing “shoot the gap” and riding him between pieces of fences. He mellowed out a lot as we went, a small portion of the amount of mellowing-out he’s done since arriving at Alfred last spring. He’s still got a bit of a twist in his poll to the left which makes me suspect minor chiropractic issues.
The students had cleared out of the barn by now so I took advantage of the quiet arena to lunge Barbie, one of Harry’s horses, an extraordinarily petite palomino reining mare. She bolted about like a wild thing on the lunge line for a solid fifteen minutes, which is quite a long time for that kind of sustained activity. Essentially my following ride was a cool-down for her and I simply jogged and loped a bit until she had stopped blowing so hard.
Running out of time before the start of the clinic, I popped my last horse on the lunge line, old sweet Roan, old enough to be ageless yet still remarkably spry. He moved better than I had ever seen him on the line and blew off just enough steam that I felt comfortable simply slipping on his bridle and sliding on bareback for a brief hack. I was surprised as he jogged slowly around the arena that he was sounder and easier to sit to unsaddled than saddled (suggestive not only of closer connection but a poor-fitting saddle, perhaps) and even loped around easily on both leads–he’s notorious for having a terrible right lead. These are the perks of being in your mid- to upper-twenties and still reining once a week. Feeling much happier and accomplished with my day, I returned Roan to his stall and prepared myself for the jumping clinic.
The clinic was lots of fun with Pat Bostwick from Ohio, one of Nancy’s connections and friends. I rode Wow, who has been featured in this blog from time to time as a hunt-seat-trying-to-be-western horse who apparently also has a passion and knack for jumping. I had an excellent evening jumping Wow around the low course, including one tricky section with a rollback off the wall into a bending line. Hard to describe, hard to ride, but fun when we nailed it.
Six horses in as many hours. Such is life.