Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Easing Back into a Routine

Just as I predicted, the temperatures have dropped a little now that we are into September.  I've been doing a bit of something every morning to help both me and the horses get back into shape for more regular trail riding.  Whenever I haven't ridden in a while, I feel like I have to learn how to ride and balance myself on a horse's back again, so I return to square one.  Of course, once I get up there, it all comes back to me and I'm fine, but I don't like to just hop on a horse's back after six months of very little riding and expect to pick up where we left off.

So, I've been mountain biking and hiking to get me back into shape, and lunging the horses to get them back into shape.  I've also been doing groundwork to see how much they remember and if they still respect me or if they want to test me after such a long vacation.  I planned to ride today, but needed to talk to the mail carrier first.  However, I didn't want to expend all my energy standing out by the mailbox waiting for him in the heat either, so I waited to hear the engine of his truck from inside the house.  I caught him and talked with him about a missing package and a bill for extra postage that was made in error.

He drove off, and then the trash truck arrived.  The driver decided to take his morning break by parking next to the gate to the bridle trails.  I knew I couldn't ride out into the desert with that huge truck sitting there, nor could I trust the driver to not fire up the engine right when I'm riding my horse in front of him, so I just went to the barn to start getting things ready for my ride, knowing I'd have to play it by ear.

Just as I was leading Rock out of the barn, I heard tires screeching in front of my house and looked up to see the mail carrier waving a package at me.  He started racing down my driveway toward me and my horse in my back yard, so I just released Rock back into the barn in order to have my hands free to get the package.  It turned out to be a different package that he forgot to deliver, but not the missing one.

I put the package away, and then the trash truck driver fired up his engine and took off without looking, and ended up cutting off the mail carrier as he was coming out of my driveway.  I really do have reasons to be paranoid about riding my horses around these truck drivers.  Our street is so quiet that they expect to be the only ones on the road.

Anyway, I lunged Rock for a bit because he was being evasive with the halter and was breathing hard like he was nervous.  He's an introvert, so it's not always easy to tell when he is anxious about something.  Usually, he appears to be calm, cool and collected on the outside, but his heart is racing and he's hyperventilating on the inside.  I tacked him up, and he was evading the bridle.  These are all behaviors he's never had before, but has them now because of all the time that has passed between now and the last time I rode him.

I knew I had to just postpone my trail ride and work on getting him to lower his head and tip his nose in toward me as I held a bridle up to his face.  That took a little while.  It was getting hot, and I thought I had better test out his gas, brakes and steering in the round pen before heading out into the unknown.

I noticed that the tack needs oiling and cleaning before I go for any more rides.  Then I noticed how incredibly tall Rock is to me.  I feel a lot older and weaker after being in hibernation, so even with a step stool, I was worried I might not have the strength and coordination to mount.  I should have grabbed a shorter horse for my first ride.  At least I knew Rock would hold still for me while I struggled to heave myself up there.

My essential tremor has been intense lately.  I don't like taking the pill that controls it, because it saps me of my energy and puts me to sleep.  But I don't like shaking all the time either, because it affects my coordination.  I decided to just do my best getting up there, and I succeeded on the first try.

Of course, as soon as I started riding, a neighbor showed up with a tractor with blinking orange lights, and Rock was distracted by it, so we worked on keeping his head centered and his attention focused on me.

We also worked on keeping his energy up.  Rock has no problem with stopping on an exhale or when I sit back, but I have to really rock hard with the rhythm of his movements to keep him moving with a purpose.

He was a good boy.  I could tell that the way I was pestering him to keep his head centered and his mind focused on me was annoying him, because he swished his tail out of frustration a few times.  I could just hear him thinking, "What's up with Mom?  She used to let me look around and now she's being a drill sergeant."

Sorry, guy.  This is the way it's going to be from here on in.

When it came time to dismount, I felt like a cat stuck up in a tree.  I was so afraid of coming down hard or off balance and injuring myself.  The name of the game is to ease myself back into riding without getting injured, because I don't want to waste training time in traction.  I found a nice soft, even spot to step down on, and all was well.

But by then it was hot and I was dripping sweat, so I skipped the trail ride.  Rock was dripping sweat too, and I didn't even run him in the round pen.  It might rain later today, but if it doesn't, I'll make some time to work with the other horses as well.  They need to get used to be handled and leaving the barn and their buddies once again.


Judi Daly said...

I don't know how you handle the heat, at all. I just can't take it. If it is over 80, it is too hot for me. Rock reminds me so much of my old horse, Mingo. He seemed like an easy horse because he was quiet, but he could be so difficult at times. I fell off him more than any other horse, because I would get too complacent.

I hope your neighborhood is quieter next time!

How Sam Sees It said...

We do what we can with this heat! I've got a problem on my end with the school buses. You'd think they would drive slower due to kids, but they seem to like to charge up on our horses. Our neighbor challenged one on her horse once - she held her ground in the road as he came barreling up. I really thought something terrible would happen!

achieve1dream said...

That was a good first ride even if it wasn't a trail ride. Nothing wrong with checking the steering and brakes beforehand hehe.