Huff and Puff and Blow Your Horse Down

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Mother Nature sure was busy blowing today.  I kept hoping she would get out of breath and take a breather, but no, she found her second wind and blew harder.  Phew!  I believe some of the wind gusts were 20-25 mph.  Some of those wind gusts were enough to take your breath away.  It was a bit of a shock to the body since we have been enjoying warmer than normal December temperatures.  This weather does feel more “Christmas-like,” but I am already missing the 55 degree weather.

And of course, this was lesson day, so not only were Ike and I working the wind-swept look, poor Ms. C had to fend off the winter chill plus the wind and try to talk loud enough for me to hear her over the whoosh of the wind in my ears.  Thank goodness for my winter riding pants – wind-proof and warm.  I’ve got both FITS and Kerrits  – don’t have a favorite, just glad that I have them or I’d be hibernating until spring. [Note to self: if we ever lose power this winter, I will be sporting these around the house to stay warm.]

I’m pretty sure Ike was wishing he had something more than his hair to fend off the winds.  When we started, he was very tight through his back and hind end which made for a very short stride and bumpy ride.  Lots of transitions, some time in two point, and ultimately some canter work finally got the blood flowing enough for Ike to relax and normal rhythm to begin.  But then, we are just getting into the middle of my lesson when all the other horses at the farm decide to go bat crap crazy.  There was bucking and snorting and running and jumping and cavorting and body contorting.  So we had to take a time out from the lesson so Ms. C and Mr. D could tuck the banshees safely into their stalls before someone got injured.  Ike looked a bit lost once everyone had left him for the relative peace of the barn.  “Why am I not returning to my stall???”  To his credit, Ike never once took a misstep during the melee or after everyone left him.  I love him for the trust he puts in Ms. C and I to take care of him.

Well, back to our lesson.  Our canter work was surprisingly sane given the weather conditions.  Ike’s transitions no longer shoot us to the moon and he almost always nails the correct lead even without a whip guiding the hind end.  We are now focusing on slowing down the tempo so we have less Marmaduke and more Valegro.  Ms. C says that Ike is also ready for more lateral work.  Last winter, the focus was on straightness – lateral work would have meant losing my knee to the fence.  Now we are actually achieving a correct shoulder in position tracking both directions.  It might only last a few strides, but that is better than no strides.  The other piece of the puzzle that is finally falling into place is my ability to know when I achieve the correct position.  The neck isn’t overbent because of the over use of the inside rein and I’m not tilting the wrong way in the saddle.  I think I even half halted correctly since Ms. C didn’t fuss at me about it.  Trust me, she know when I’ve been slacking on my half halts…she is like Santa in that respect.  You can’t get anything past her.  I guess you could say that Ike isn’t the only one who has made strides in his work this past year.

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