Sunday, April 29, 2012

What Lily Taught Me Today

Lily is still having soundness issues. As long as I keep it at a walk, she can go for a bit, but that's it. Even a long walk is too much.

She's getting some bute and I have someone who does body work coming out to see her on Tuesday. I'm going to see what she thinks - if it's conditioning or if this is it. If this is as much as Lily will be able to manage.

If the latter is the case, that has some implications, most of which I'm going to shelf thinking of at this point.

Today, after checking that she was sound at the walk, we went for a short ride, stretching our comfort zone for riding alone.  (Well, HER comfort zone, anyway.)  We got just a ways further than we have before when all alone, mostly because I didn't want to push it. I rode in a bareback pad to ease the weight a bit.

When we came back to soft ground we did a very short trot. She was sound at a short trot counter clockwise, but bad clockwise.

We could, I suppose, always go left. Lord knows it's my tendency anyway.

My lesson from Lily today was about my knee. Since we are only riding in a halter, I'm working on more leg and body cues. I found that slightly rotating my left knee into her (and I do mean slightly) and she would turn right. I didn't even need to cue with my foot or calf.

Same with the right, although not as good as the left.

So today's lesson is it takes even less than you can imagine.

Then it was time for lunch.

Note: two flowers in the halter, as is our new tradition...

A nice day. We will see what the body work produces.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two Flower Lily

It's been a long two weeks. I deleted my whiny post to that effect, cuz ... it was whiny.

Suffice it to say we have rented our house out and don't have a place to live. It seems pretty challenging to move this time of year, when everyone and their brother wants to move.  Several good options have disappeared under our feet before we can even look at them.

So I'm a bit philosophical. It's going to take some time.

Instead I'm working hard to embrace the now. I'm a nester, miss having my own nest, but you've got to enjoy the place you are. Life does not exist in the tomorrow. It doesn't live in the yesterday. It lives now, and that's the only place joy will be, if I focus on it, embrace it.

 Lily and I went out with Stephanie and Cibolo today, she was tender at the trot, so we kept it at the walk. I believe a long warm up and conditioning will help her, but I need to slow it down. Our solo ride on Saturday had a little too much speed. As I researched how to condition a horse I realized that I need to bring her back more slowly, take a few weeks doing nothing but walking.

We had a great time, I can't get over how relaxing it is to ride Lily, how fun it is to be on a horse this broke. At one point on our ride there was a shuddering noise behind a storage building. She stared at it, a bit startled, but kept going. I laughed.

"If I'd been on my other horse I'd be halfway back to the barn," I said.

 Stephanie laughed too. "And my horse would be chasing yours," she said.

But because we have a calm horse, everything remains calm.

 We worked on a trail obstacle, a large flat rock a lot like the one on America's favorite trail horse. Initially Lily refused, but on the second try we worked through it and she walked right over it. Cibolo required a bit more conversation, but he went over it and snorted with relief at the end. LOL

Lily and I are cleaning up our side pass. I learned to tie my lead rope properly and to use it as reins instead of carrying the separate lead rope. Just all the things that are fun to do.

I brushed her tail until it was smooth, and her coat gleamed. On the trail Stephanie found some flowers. I worked them into her rope halter.

Lily Two Flower

I remember the countless times when people have told me it's supposed to be fun.

And now, it is.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Difference

We rode out today, the long route that takes us all the way through the neighborhood, past dogs barking, along the road and over it, down into ravines, over deadfall. We crossed water, stopped at the pond, gloried at the wildflowers scattered about like wishes of elves.

Lily and I were the lead, not because we knew where we were going, but because she keeps a good pace. For a while she kept leaning to the left, attempting to will us back to the barn. After a while she resigned herself to the trail, to forward, the sweat darkening her coat In this early heat that has descended in Texas.

Three days earlier I was taking shelter with my co-workers in Dallas in the 11th floor hallway of our building. I'd flown into town for a meeting and we were nearly done when we were warned to listen for sirens. They went off a few minutes later and our little committee moved immediately to the stairs, then up a floor to join the others.

We sat there, those of us from out of town wondering somewhat about our flights, but also worrying over our friends here who had children and spouses somewhere out there where the sky had turned into a collections of angry, whirling gray whips. Tornados dropped down and set to scrubbing away homes, trees, buildings, vehicles, while we stood there, staring at our phones, watching the maps on our screens shift in a color pallet that said yes, these are dangerous times.

That was three days ago, and today I was under bright blue skies, purple and yellow dotting green hillside. It was strange to have the destruction be so completely gone, to have the world right itself so quickly, almost like those terrible plot twists when the problems are all solved when the heroine simply wakes up.

And yet, here we were, my copper horse leading, moving, impatient to go. I wondered if she was enjoying it, it was only when we neared the barn and she slowed, acted as if she wanted to turn back, to be out longer, that I thought maybe she did.

There are many differences between rides with Lily and the rides I had with Smokey. I realize now I'd come to a point where I was waiting for the sky to darken, that I wanted just to stay in that hallway until the sirens stopped with him. Now I simply go, without any prep time or emotional negotiation. The fear is gone, gone as if it had never been there. Sometimes I find myself looking for it, when the road is slippery, when I get disoriented and take a wrong turn.

But it's not there either.

I miss my boy's joy de vive, his youthful curiosity. I look for it, for the happy side in my mare, but my glimpses of it are fleeting, so much so I can't be sure they were there at all. She is, instead, dutiful. Completely in my hands.

Perhaps, in time.

About a week ago we cantered out alone, up a small incline. I felt different, the thrill of the canter without the edge, the wondering if we were going to stop.

Of course we will stop, I felt her say. Why in the world would I not? This is what it is to ride a horse that is finished. That knows her job. That will work, and push through, not for a need to please or for curiosity. But because it's what she has the discipline to do.

Next time I'll stop and tie a wildflower in her mane, so she'll know. She brings me joy and peace. I will look for the patches of green that she seems to like the most and maybe it will bring her of that lightness of spirit I miss a bit from Smokey.

Already she is responding to my style of riding, many times we move as one, smooth and together as I've ever felt. Now I am just looking for it to deepen.

Tomorrow we'll ride again.