Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sleep-Riding

Over the past few days I haven't been my usual busy, energetic self. I feel as if someone pulled a plug in me, and all my energy has drained out. I thought perhaps that I mistakenly took a double dose of some medication, but this fatigue has been going on for days and getting worse. When I breathe, I breathe deeply and almost snore as if my body is sleeping, and it takes everything I've got to get up and walk. This morning I was highly irritable, because I had a bout with insomnia. Even though my body was sleeping, my mind was wide awake and my eyes were open, though I couldn't put two thoughts together. I was angry over my lack of sleep, but even angrier that I didn't have the energy to work with my horses. Saturday and Sunday are the only days I have available to work with them, and if I'm suffering from exhaustion or sick on one of those days, I miss out on the opportunity to ride. I had planned to try that first trail ride this weekend.

Anyway, my anger propelled me into putting one foot in front of the other and before I knew it was was sitting in the saddle. Lostine was being ornery, ignoring me rein cues. She refused to stop, and when I tried to turn her to the right, she'd walk or trot left despite her head being cranked all the way to the right. Her stubbornness was bringing out my own stubbornness. I became more and more aggressive with my halt cues, and if she made a move during the halt, I forced her back to the spot where I asked her to halt. I only had to do that a few times before she became a pro at halting. I remedied the turning problem, by tapping her repeatedly on her right hip with my heel while pulling on the right rein. When she made the type of turn I was asking for, I released her from all my cues. By the end of the ride I had her turning responsively to just an outside rein.

I didn't trust that I'd have the energy to ride Bombay tomorrow, so I threw some tack on him. He was amazingly responsive during free lunging. When I kissed for him to move up to the canter, he maintained a steady lope in beautiful form without breaking to a slower gait, which is his M.O. I kept wishing I were on his back during that lope, so when I did mount him, I planned to try to get him into that same gait. However, his trot was so uncomfortable for both of us that he was swishing his tail. I knew that all the bouncing I was doing in that saddle couldn't be good for his back, but I had no strength in my legs to grip his sides. I forced myself to post. I was posting from the stirrups because of my fatigue. I knew I had to stop that, so I tried to push up from my knees and thighs and somehow I got into this wonderful rhythm of posting that seemed effortless. It was as if I were lifting myself from my solar plexus. Bombay's mood improved immensely.

Once I tackled the trot, I moved him up into the what I hoped would be that lope he had while free lunging. Though it looked smooth from the ground, I could not stay seated. I must have spent 80% of the time suspended in the air above the saddle and the other 20% coming down hard only to bounce back up. Again, both Bombay and I were very uncomfortable. I tried a variety of things to adjust my balance, but I just could not grip with my Jello legs. I suddenly realized that we hit a comfort zone and I tried to focus on what I was doing right. I was shocked to find that I was standing up and leaning forward like a jockey. Images of my horse coming to a sudden stop and me flying over his head flashed before my eyes, so I sat down and said whoa. Unlike Lostine, Bombay had no problem following that cue.

I was very pleased that Bombay was so patient with me. He gave me the chance to figure out how to ride him at those faster gaits when I didn't have my normal muscle strength. Had he decided to just dump me, I would have understood. I really hope to get some equitation lessons this summer, but first I have to find someone who teaches adults on the weekends. My usual trainer reserves weekends for the kids. I also hope to get a good night's sleep some time soon, so that I can be strong and awake for my next ride.

2 comments:

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Well Bravo to you for forcing yourself to get out there and ride anyway.
I hope you get your spark back soon. I know how miserable these "down" times can be-hopefully it is just your body telling you it needs a little rest.

Twinville said...

Poor thing! Sounds like you hvae a bit of jet lag and just general weariness from your busy trip. Maybe you need a vacation from the vacation? hehe

You did a wonderful job with both Lostine and Bombay, though...truly connecting with them both and reasoning out what they both wanted and needed. Pretty impressive considering that you were so tired.
Now you should take care of yourself and listen to what your body needs.

Now, go get some rest, girlfriend! :)