So, have I mentioned how hot it is here? ;-) Imagine this, if you will -- there is a steam room located in the most fiery pit of hell. You are sitting in said steam room wearing long underwear, snowpants, Uggs, a ski-cap, mittens, and a wool sweater. Ta-da! That is precisely what it currently feels like here in the 3-0-5.
Yesterday, the plan was for me, Gigi, and Heather to meet at the barn at 5:00 and ride together. We figured 5:00 would be late enough that it would be cool(ish). We figured wrong. I arrived a bit early and Heather was already out hand-grazing Sid along with Jennie and Phantom, so I grabbed Salem and we joined the munch-fest. Within two minutes, I felt like my skin was burning and melting off of my face like some kind of creepy wax-doll in a horror film. There was zero breeze and the air was thick with humidity. As soon as Gigi arrived, we all agreed that the conditions were definitely unfavorable and we would pass on riding. Call us crazy, but we felt that dehydration and heat stroke were bad things.
Once again, I worked the big lad through a short in-hand session where we worked on turns on the forehand, backing, stopping on voice command, etc. Then I spent a short amount of time working on having him line himself up to the mounting block, which didn't go quite as planned becuase my dressage whip is too short (don't worry, I was tapping, not whipping!). I got one decent effort out of him and we ended on a good note. After a brief muzzle/bridle path clip which he handled like a seasoned pro, he got a nice long shower and a hand-graze.
Today, I got to the barn a little before 5 and it was actually almost bearable -- still hot and humid, but at least there were some clouds to block the sun. I got the boy out and started grooming him in the washrack. It began sprinkling, but I thought, "We're not pansies, we can ride in a little drizzle," and continued tacking. I had to walk into the barn to get my helmet and, precisely as we stepped into the aisle, the downpour began. I seriously started to think that maybe the Climate had an issue with me and was doing everything in its power to prevent me from riding.
Well, HAHA, Climate, I was victorious! Salem and I chilled in the barn for about twenty minutes and watched the rain. Well, I watched the rain; Salem was bored and decided that picking up a chair with his teeth, breaking into the cat food repeatedly, and attempting to steal my Diet Coke would be acceptable time-passers.
So, on to the actual ride. It was pretty much a mental hazard obstacle course beacause Nora's four horses had just been turned out and were galavanting around; several loud, shouting workmen were making all kinds of hammering and loud drilling noises; and the neighbor (who, I swear is out to get me) was also doing goodness-knows-what and making a huge ruckus. Plus, we were all by our lonesome little selves for the first time. Oh, and I had pulled Salem out of his stall right before feeding time, which puts a lot of horses in a very pissy mood. Awesome.
Recipe for disaster? Well, for most Green-bean ponies, yes. But Salem did not spook once, not even a little bunny hop. He did, however, think it would be really fun to put on his ostrich neck and go around all hollow and quick and corner-cutting. It took a loooooot of, "Hello, Horse, I am up here and would like you to shift it down a gear and pay attention to me and I would really appreciate it if you could nix the rubber-necking," before he gave in and decided to be a Mr. Goodbar.
Now, I have to admit, I'm sure some of it was caused by me. As I have mentioned, I'm still a bit weak from taking eight months off of riding and really need to work on my own position. I also have a bit of a "driving seat" that tends to push horses forward -- this was developed after years of riding horses who stopped dirty at fences (*cough, cough* Bandit). It's something I really need to change in my riding, I am aware. So, in addition to thinking about Salem's position, I am also thinking, "Stretch up, lift the chest. Don't drop your inside shoulder! Stretch the legs down and around the horse. Gah! Shoulders back! And, for god's sake, stop pushing the horse forward with your damn Electric Butt!"
The above pic is from Monday and I seriously have no idea what the heck I am doing. Blech.
Well, as for the Salem-boo, he was, as mentioned, quite forward and feeling his oats (well, okay, feeling his Triple Crown Senior and handful of sweet feed). When I asked for the right lead canter, he picked it up beautifully...but then threw in a couple of bucks. They were certainly not big or hard or anything near broco-like. I really think they were more of the, "Whhheeeee! I feel good and SO much is going on right now!" variety rather than the, "I hate you and your f-ing Electric Butt, Rider, and I want you off NOW!" variety. A few half halts and "Eeeeeaaassssy, boy"s and he softened up a bit. At the end of the ride, we did a bunch of small trotting circles where he slowed it down a few notches, softened, started bending a bit, and decided to really listen. That was good enough for me, so I gave him a loose rein and walked him out.
Tomorrow should be a good one because Heather, Gigi, and Jennie will be joining us for a 6:00 ride. Heather, who has heaps and heaps of show experience and really knows her stuff, promised she would pick at me and point out my weaknesses. Hooray for Heather!