Now, the GREATEST (albeit minor)Miracle (for today, anyway). I rode FIVE horses today. And CANTERED them.
Why is this a big deal, you ask?
Well, I have my horses divided up into three groups, basically, although there is some change over between them.
The first is the ones that I can ride in nearly any weather or footing. They're the sure footed ones who can benefit just from going down the trail at the walk if needed.
The second are the ones who really need some basics, so if the footing is just okay, they can benefit from lots of work that can be done at the walk- bending and moving off of leg, walking over poles and bits of trotting in straight lines.
The last group is the group I don't even bother bringing into the barn if I can't do some serious work.
I managed to get that last group ridden today. THAT is the (minor)Miracle.
Now you're asking yourself, "Self, how did Lauren manage to ride her "event horses" today, including cantering, when it barely got above freezing and the ground never thawed. And what did thaw was mud?"
Well, apparently, when the stars align, the wind blows at just the right angle and a series of various factors are in place, different areas of the farm become "the place" to ride. With 650 acres, you'd think this wouldn't be a huge issue, but given the time constraints of a single ride, its hard to find a place that doesn't take half the ride to get there.
I make do with three areas that tend to drain pretty well- our "arena," the "dressage arena," and the "other place in the Pear Tree Field with three jumps." Well, when you ride in these areas enough, they become worn down and you can't ride in them when its wet. So I find new places. Yesterday, I rode in a slanty area that I usually avoid because it has a sinkhole in the middle. Well, that sink hole made the area around it dry enough to trot circles as long as I didn't cross my own path a couple times. YAY!
Today, I was trying to avoid the mud while riding a horse with only one shoe and happened across a spot, not far from the barn- in fact, closer than the areas I usually ride, that when I started to walk across it, didn't make a slurping noise every time he took a step. I looked behind me- no footprints. I trotted. No slurping. No footprints. I dismounted. I checked the ground. It was phenomenal. I was shocked. I worked that horse (lightly of course, since he only had one shoe, but by golly, he needs some structure in his silly little life) at the walk, trot and canter and gleefully returned to the barn.
Considering that I started my day thinking "I don't even want to BE at the barn today" this was seriously heartening and I was so glad to be able to get a good workout on Sam, Gracie, Shasta, Brandy and Ari today. I couldn't get back into half chaps fast enough, and I actually had to dust off my nice saddles that I ride these guys in.
So, like I said, (minor)Miracles do happen.
Oh, if you're wondering what about that spot made it so lovely to ride in- here's the breakdown-
- The field had not been mowed this summer, so the grass was long and had been tromped down by equipment and weather.
- The frozen ground below made it nice and firm for a base, and the top, thawed layer was not muck since this area was totally untouched.
- The manure spreader had been run over this area several times, so until that organic material decomposes, it makes for EXCELLENT footing.
- That mushed down long grass gave it some serious traction.
- No, I'm not telling you where it is if you haven't figured it out by the above description. I'm saving it for later.
And for your enjoyment, a greenie story:
As you know, anytime you ride a horse in a new place (GASP!), it takes them a little while to realize that horse eating monsters aren't going to pop out of the woods at any moment. When I'm riding by myself, I have my music playing and get totally in a zone. (Okay, I do this when I'm not riding by myself, too, but thats not the point.)
So, I was riding Brandy. She is a perchie cross with a big ol' heavy noggin that she likes to swing around just to make you feel small and insignificant- usually very successfully. She does this when there is something she sees or hears, and also when you're trying to get her to work on the bit after a week off. Well, I was trying to work Brandy on the bit after a week off and guess what? She kept swinging that big ol' heavy noggin around to make me feel small and insignificant.
Brandy's large pendulous head
I thought back to my last lesson (more outside rein, less inside- give it away! If she throws her head, add leg! Tell her "this is where she needs to be!" Keep that steady outside rein! Sit up and back, ask her to be lighter in the front) and worked. And worked. And worked. She settled a little, but never really softened.
Then she did the unthinkable- she spooked. Well, ok, Brandy doesn't spook, but she did swing her head around to the left and stop dead, breaking me out of my musical revere. I looked up and saw deer.
Not just "A" deer.
Nine, from what I could tell. A buck, a handful of does and a couple fawns. They were slowly migrating over the hill from Anitas house, past the old cemetery, towards the pond in the Pear Tree Field. Apparently she was trying to keep her eye on the flock of deer coming across the pasture as she worked, and I was really ruining that for her.
Not my deer, but apparently Pioneer Woman had the same kind of day as me!
What a goober. She could have just said something!
Oh, and in case you're wondering,