Saturday, August 13, 2011

Take a Breath

I’m always planning with my ponies: “I’m going to teach this one X, then we’re going to go to Y, then we’re going to Z.  And then with this other one, I’m going to A and then she and I will head off to B, and finally be at C.”

Fill in the blanks for the letters.  It could be X=training level test 1; Y=Cayuga Dressage September show;  Z=Empire State Paint Club fall show.  And it could be A=Obstacle Course training; B=a Cohocton hunter pace and C=the Extreme Cowboy obstacle course in Canisteo.

Just ride.

Always planning, planning, thinking, thinking.  Goals are important as a rider and trainer.  The focus of working toward a goal is what makes my ponies and me progress in our skills.

But there always comes a point in the summer when I just say, to quote my little niece when confronted with a three-story- high water slide,  “No!  I’m not doing!”

And for a week or so, all plots and plans and schemes just go away.  I decide I don’t want to do any X,Y, Zs or A,B,Cs.  During that time, I drop all the pressure from myself and my horses and we just enjoy each other’s company.

Last night I climbed on my friend Hudson and we took a long, leisurely ride around the plantation.  Hudson is a mare who is totally steady under saddle except if she hasn’t been ridden for a few weeks.  Then, her first trip out under saddle is full of spooks, crow hops, jigs and bolts, as if she has never seen these trails we have ridden so many times.  Since I had ridden her fairly recently, though, last night’s ride was her normal, dead-slow walk, interspersed with surprisingly brisk trots and gallops.

We rode around the seven-acre hay field, noting that the hay will be ready for a second cut soon.  We strolled down the hill to the pond, seeing how low it is.  We trotted up the pipeline and for once didn’t see a deer, turkey or grouse.  It was just that kind of quiet evening.  In the nine-acre field at the top of the property, a resident red tail called out an annoyed, flutey shriek as we trotted by.

As I rode, I thought, “I really don’t want to do all those things I have been planning.  I just want to do this.”

And it felt good to think that.  Truth is, though, I’ll be back to planning all those activities again soon.  I know it.  I can’t stop myself. 

But for this brief point in time, I have mentally pulled off that track.   I’m just going to ride.
Now you see them...

Now you don't.

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