I had a long, deeply satisfying Thanksgiving weekend this year. On Thursday, I went to my family's get together and ate delicious food and saw my family. I am more of an introverted person and don't actually enjoy parties but I go to them, or host them, to keep connected with my family. No one else in my family has a horse, so no one talks about horses. Other topics come up and get discussed. But if we talked about horses, I’d be hard pressed to shut up, probably. I’d talk on and on, if asked, about Buckshot, or anything horse related. But horses don’t come into the conversation.
Surprisingly, not many people even read blogs. If they did, I’d tell them that I am part of a wonderful group of horse blogs, filled with interesting, kind, informative horse owners. That writing a blog for me, has become much more community-oriented than I ever imagined. I look forward to reading others' blogs and seeing what is going on with their horses and their lives, and reading the comments of a group of committed visitors. I love sharing my own stories in my blog as well as reading the wide array of others’ blogs. This is what I’d tell others, but for some reason, not many people read blogs in general. Perhaps they read just a few, but haven’t become acquainted with a group of like-minded bloggers that they follow like old friends. I don’t do facebook or twitter, but from what I know of them, they don’t seem as interesting as reading blogs. Following blogs makes me familiar with others’ writing voices and perspectives, and getting to hear a sort of journal of their lives, a personal window into the lives of some wonderful people. So thank you all, for your blogs, and your sharing.
Well, I sure did go off on a tangent there! Anyway, on Friday I went to the barn. The barn owner and husband went out of town for Friday night to visit family, so I was in charge of the afternoon feeding and dinner service for all thirty horses on the farm, a huge responsibility that I take very seriously with notes, lists of feeding details, supplements, phone numbers, and carrying my cell phone with me all day, just in case of an emergency.
But first, I got Buckshot from his pasture and rode him in the arena. We had a good time, he was in a good mood with a lot of energy. The weather was mild – in the high 60’s and sunny. Quite warm for horses with their winter coats. Buckshot’s energy was different- I describe it as “throwing himself about.” He threw himself into trotting and some cantering, but sometimes his footfalls felt funny to me. He was eager to walk around outside of the arena; whenever I put him on a long rein he would walk very purposefully over to the open gate. So we walked and trotted in the grass outside of the arena.
I decided that we would stay in the main arena, and not go into the woods or the field arena because we were essentially alone at the farm, and the horses were depending on me to feed, so I didn’t want to take any chance at all of getting hurt. And we had a good ride in the arena. The footing was a bit mushy in spots, and that may be the reason for Buckshot’s different foot movements. At the end of the ride, he walked fine back into the barn, so I didn’t detect anything that alarmed me. Just an exuberance that perhaps needed more direction from me, and better arena footing. After I untacked Buckshot, he was sweaty so I curry combed his sweaty areas and rubbed them vigorously with a rag. I brushed him down good. After giving him his post-ride treats (cookies and an apple), I walked him back to his pasture and then turned my attention to the farm’s other horses.
A few horses get a mid-day grain meal, so I got it prepared and brought the horses into their stalls for the meal. Shortly thereafter, in late afternoon, I started feeding all of the farm's horses, with the help of the BO’s son. We finished over an hour later.
The next morning, I returned to the farm early to give all of the horses their breakfasts. It was another mild day filled with sunshine, extraordinarily warm for late November. After all the horses were fed, and had their hay, I got my tack and grooming equipment out, set up some cones in the arena and went to get Buckshot.
More work for us to do, partner! I said to Buckshot, as I walked him down to the main barn. My plan for our ride was to practice two particular patterns in the arena. Again, I decided we would only ride in the arena, not in the woods, to be extra safety conscious. So, we were going to work on specific patterns. We had a super ride, and worked hard on the patterns. Buckshot worked with great enthusiasm and try- giving me all he had, even if it wasn’t exactly what the pattern called for. I was impressed with how hard he worked on the patterns.
My aha moment came near the end of our ride. I was tired and I think Buckshot was a little tired. I was so proud of how hard he worked for me. I realized with stark clarity that my focusing on the patterns had made me a better rider. It made me focus on where to steer him, every step, and made me think faster, as I had to made adjustments and judgments very quickly during the trotting and cantering. It made me think about several things at once, quickly, so that I could gauge what he was doing, what support he needed me to give him, give him the right response, and then move immediately to the next section of the pattern. When we got off pattern, or I missed a turn, I kept us going with the new direction. Working on the patterns required that I think about Buckshot in little spurts- what’s he need? How to help? Steer him better. More rein. Support with leg. Turn broader. Steer. Steer. Steer. Ask again. Take that one. Will try again. Good work.
And the little spurts of thought prevented me from overthinking about other, unnecessary things. It made me react more, and let other things just fade into the background of my mind. Most notably, I didn’t think about my butt staying in contact with the saddle during a canter, which I tend to always think about. But I am doing much better with it and don’t need to focus on it. Concentrating on all the little details of riding a particular pattern makes my overall riding better, because it builds mental muscles. What an aha moment for me! And I was very proud of my wonderful Buckshot also!
Well, the BO and husband got back from their trip on Saturday afternoon, at which I gave a huge sigh of relief! We fed the horses and enjoyed the mild weather.
And Sunday was another lovely, mild day. Buckshot and I rode in the arena, and went on a nice long trail ride with the BO and her husband. We worked a little in the field arena as well. As we started out, I thought, what a nice ride on a nice day, three people on their favorite horses. Or maybe three horses and their favorite people! How funny! Maybe the horses do think like that!
I had a wonderful time with Buckshot and today, Monday, when I had to go back to work, I thought, it’s okay, I don’t mind going back to work, because my heart is filled with Buckshot-love that will hold me over til I see him again! What a nice feeling to reenter the work-a-day world with. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and maybe had an “aha” moment as well!