I know I've heard/read it before, somewhere, that any time you're in a hurry, hoping to just get a quick, productive ride in, that is when the epic battles occur. Last night was one of those nights and one of *those* rides. Grrr!
Everything was wrong right from the beginning. I was distracted. I had other things on my mind. Like the crack that is the Twilight Saga and the second book waiting for me in my truck. I had meetings to avoid and try not to feel guilty about. I also had people to avoid so they didn't add to that guilt.
I went straight to the arena after work to meet the boyfriend, who had hauled the horses there for us to ride. He hadn't brought my riding boots, which have my spurs on them. He thought I had grabbed them before I left for work. Doh! Luckily I had my pull on cowboy boots on so I could still ride, but I really don't like riding in pull on cowboy boots. They rub and have chunky soles that throw my balance off in my stirrups that are the perfect length for my packer boots with not chunky soles. I know, I know...whine, whine, whine. But it a really does make a difference! Plus, I try to keep my cowboy boots clean and not smelly so I can wear them to work. I hate sitting at my desk and smelling dirty boots and I try to be considerate of my co-workers, who are very city.
So I get on, not expecting much out of the ride. We have been working on responsiveness to my seat, which would be fine, but responsiveness period is a little hard when you don't have spurs to help you demand. Plus, as I mentioned before, I was just plain distracted. I wanted to get a good ride in quickly and get home so I could settle in and finally get my fix. It had been almost 3 DAYS since I finished Twilight.
I took it easy to begin with, just did a lot of long trotting on a loose rein, working on moving off my legs and rating to my body. That all went fine. We even got some stopping and backing work in, on a loose rein, and did alright. It was when I finally picked up the reins and asked for some give that we started having issues. She was just hanging on the bit, not being responsive at all. So we tried to work on some bending and suppling stuff. She was not getting any lighter. She seemed stiff and unresponsive. Since I was in a hurry I was only concerned with fixing it, "winning" and going home. So the fight began.
The more I tried to get her to give, the more she resisted. And the more she got jacked up. Fast forward a bit to our loping and she doesn't even respond when I ask her to stop. She doesn't respond when I tell her to stop. I demand it, she runs thru it. I keep demanding, eventually pulling her in a very tight circle, which she eventually accepts and comes down to a walk and eventually stops. Hmmm. We go back to stopping at the walk and trot. She does ok. She is atleast stopping, eventually. I try loping again. This time she just flat out runs. So I decide, ok Missy...you want to run, we'll run! And we ran. And ran. And ran and ran and ran and ran. In hindsight, I realize that was not a brilliant decision on my part. My knees and hips were already groaning at me from the new and decidedly uncomfortable position they were in with the chunky boots. They tend to be very sensitive and definately let me know if they are not happy. When I picked the battle of the run with Midori, they certainly made their feelings on the matter known. I spent part of the run standing half-point, or two-point, whatever it is, part of the run holding on to the horn flopping around like a fish trying to take any and all pressure off of my legs and the rest of it, kicking Midori because if she wanted to run, then dammit we were going to run! A couple times when she felt like she was slowing and might be responsive I thought about stopping and would kind of half sit. She completely ignored me, preferring to keep running, so we kept running. And running and running. Finally, after way too many laps, I knew she was tired and would be responsive so I sat down and she stopped on a dime. She was panting and dripping sweat and shaking. My legs were screaming profanities at me like I hadn't felt in a looooong time. We cooled off for a while, walking slowly around the arena on a loose rein with Midori's head very low and my feet out of the stirrups.
When I finally felt like my legs could handle a little more I got my feet back in the stirrups and picked up the reins. Midori hung on them. I could not get her off of them for nothing. Thus the third battle of the evening. I just wanted a little give. That was all I was asking for. The second she would have done that, I would have dropped the reins and gotten off for the night! It was already past the time that I had wanted to be loaded up and gone. I wasn't going to win this one. Finally, I got the slightest response out of her and I was done. That was all I had. I knew I was getting really frustrated and it was coming out in my riding. That's just not fair and doesn't accomplish anything. I was sitting there, going over our disastrous ride in my head and noticed that Midori's head was still bent around to the right and she was yawning. Had been for quite a while. I watched her for a minute and she kept yawning and moving her head oddly. I wondered if she might be collicking or something because she may have been looking around at her belly, but it didn't seem like that was what it was. There was definately something bothering her though.
Then it all came crashing down on me. She wasn't being a jerk the whole time, she was trying to tell me that she hurt. I felt like the biggest jackass ever. Looking back over our ride, the signs where there the whole time. She never felt off at all, still wasn't, but she sure was sore. Something was hurting her. She had problems rolling back, she was tripping over herself, not springing out of it like she usually does. She was hanging on the bit the whole night. She was having a hard time bending. And the running thing, like she used to when I first got her, resisting the bit. I should have seen that she was just trying to tell me she was hurting, not misbehaving. She doesn't misbehave like that. And all the battles I picked with her, they just made the problem worse. I totally suck sometimes. I had just been too preoccupied to notice.
She did get new shoes the night before, I wonder if that had anything to do with it or if the issue existed before that. I wouldn't ever blame the shoer, he's great, but sometimes it's the little things that tweak your alignment and wreak havoc on your body. Like chunky soled boots instead of...not chunky soled boots when you're riding. She had seemed ouchy and slightly unwilling to pick up her front right foot. I guess I need to scrounge up some dough to have the chiropractor out for her. She's never needed any major adjustments, but I have never felt like the appointment was wasted either. Anything that makes her more comfortable and can set my mind at ease that she is physically able to perform the way I'm asking her to is worth it.
Moral of this story: if I can't ride patiently and concentrate on my horse and what I'm doing, then I really shouldn't be there!