"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Ride of the Year

Both Charles and I were off today, so we headed out to the barn in the afternoon. Kathy and Zoe were hanging up haynets along the back field fence so the girls could "graze" overnight: a cold snap moved in and it is supposed to drop into the teens tonight. I helped them finish. The haynets would keep the horses moving and eating without squabbles. Between Zoe, Kathy and me we have close to 18 small hole haynets.

All four mares showed up around then because it was close to dinner. We snagged Lily and Gracie and gave both of them dinner to eat while I tacked up Lily. I decided to try riding her in the front field. She was very, very "up" but the light of the setting sun made for some truly spectacular photos. These are stills from a video, courtesy of Charles:

I was itching to canter but wasn't up to dealing with any explosions from Lily in the big field, so we moved to the back field where I asked her to canter. She gave me the most lovely, super-collected canter. 

And then, because I was feeling brave, I asked Charles to open the gate onto the trails and we went for a very short trail ride, simply because I did not want the last trail ride of the year to be the barbed wire incident. 

The sunset behind the trees was just spectacular.
We went down to the meadow trail then turned around.

I untacked Lily, blanketed her and set her up by the fence to finish her hay while I worked with Gracie. She had finished her grain and her haynet and was napping where she was tied. She was not happy when she realized that she was going to work: Charles and I both laughed at her when she wrinkled her nose in distaste over this offense.

Pointing at her wrinkled nostril. :)
The ground was frozen so Gracie had the best traction possible: no damp clay to slip on. She was very forward, striding out in her most extended trot, her legs a blur in the receding light. I asked for the canter once in each direction and she was a little panicky but instead of bolting off into the circle around me, she came back to a trot when I asked her. Her whoas were solid. I worked her with the Bungee Straightjacket in the higher setting for 10 minutes:

"Side reins" clipped to rings at top of surcingle

And then in the lower setting for 10 minutes:

This horse looks kind of depressed but it's the only photo I could find: the girth that comes with the Balance Training System has rings on the sides allowing for this type of setup. In this setting you have to be extra cautious that you're not just sending the horse on the forehand but Gracie worked really, really well, lifting her withers and tracking up. 

And then we were done. She had worked so well, both physically and mentally, and I was in a good place mentally too....which led to this irresistible urge to swing up bareback to cool her down. It's the kind of positive thought that when it crosses my mind with such force, it's usually a good idea to just do it because it means that that is the moment to go ahead. A good gut feeling, if you will.

I removed the Bungee Straightjacket but left the D-ring French link snaffle that I use for longing, clipping Gracie's reins onto the bit. And I hopped on. Bareback. In the dark. In 27 degree weather. On a horse that had not been ridden in 2 months. Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Note: Throughout Gracie's longing, I was still wearing both my helmet and my safety vest from my ride on Lily. I was in full protective gear when I hopped on without a saddle.)

And she was stellar! We just practiced walking and halting with voice commands alone. I felt completely balanced, at home and unafraid while Gracie strode forward in her big swinging walk. No pictures from Charles because night.

But it was so awesome!
And a great ending to the year.

May 2015 be full of love, happiness and horses for all of you! Happy New Year!


  1. Awesome that you got to ride Gracie and that it went so well. Happy new year!

  2. So glad you ended the year on a good ride. Welcome 2015!

  3. Sounds like some good rides! Happy New Year!

  4. The most excellentest and awesomest end!!

  5. Reading this post made me very happy - well done! Best wishes to you and yours in the coming year. :D

  6. Yay for ending the year on a great note!

  7. happy new year!! glad you made it onto both of your horses for happy fun rides to end the year :)

  8. Yay for riding!!!!!! I need to learn to listen to my gut feelings even though they are always the bad kind because every time I ignore them something bad happens lol. I wish I had the good kind of gut feeling. I'm glad you listened to yours and had such a great ending to 2014. :D