It's a gorgeous day with just clouds and a little wind from the tail of a passing storm. I could not believe my luck when I wandered outside to find the neighborhood perfectly still and quiet. I went to the barn with no plan. I keep telling myself that I need to have a plan, but the extent of today's effort was just to ride a horse, any horse.
I tied Bombay to the trailer, nipped a chip off his hoof, and groomed him. As usual, he had fresh bite marks all over his body. I'd feel sorry for him except that he's the one who starts all the play fights. He was clearly anxious about being ridden, and memories came flooding back of the neck and back pain I always get after riding out his spooks, so I traded him for Gabbrielle.
My last two trainers kept telling me that Gabbrielle is the horse that needs the most work. I find her to be more relaxed in general than Bombay. But I haven't trail ridden her in a while. I'm sure that's a different story without a buddy horse. In the arena, she can do all kinds of fancy maneuvers and there's no spooking.
She's gotten fat enough recently that her cinch no longer lands in hole, so I had to tie it closed. She's a real stinker about bloating. Three times, I tested the saddle, it didn't slip, I started to mount, and the entire saddle slid down her side. I'd then have to tighten the cinch more, walk it off, and try to mount again. I thought I was never going to get to ride between that and the other horses pooping all over my riding space before I could get them locked up in stalls.
Since I've been doing more arena riding lately, I'm beginning to remember why I stopped riding in the arena. It takes at least three times as long to prepare to ride in the arena than it does to prepare for a trail ride. I have to clean up all the manure, put the horses in the stalls, set up the obstacle course, and drag the mounting block into the arena.
It would have been a good time to have a riding crop, but I didn't have one with me, and my legs and heels were useless. So, I dismounted her... well, I tried to dismount her. I don't know what the hell is going on with my muscles, but I could not lift my leg over her rump. I was just stuck in the saddle with no one to help me down. So, I stood up in the left stirrup, leaning my weight over the center of her back, let go of the reins, and used my hands to lift my right leg over her rump. She was very good about standing still and waiting for me to drag my dead leg across her.
Every time I develop some new health problem I wonder if this it -- if this is the end of my riding hobby. I have been having issues dismounting for a while, but this was the first time I thought I might not be able to get off at all. It made no sense to me, because I was able to lift my leg over to mount. Why would I not be able to lift it a short time later to dismount? All I can figure out is that when my muscles get fatigued after riding, they loose strength and coordination.
Anyway, when I finally dismounted, I led her straight over to the round pen, and ran her in circles for a while to let her know that refusing to cooperate does not get her out of work. I wish I could have corrected the problem from the saddle since I did what she wanted, which was dismounting.
While I was lunging her, some horseback riders stopped on the cliff above my round pen to watch, and Gabbrielle's tail instantly shot up into the air and her speed quadrupled. I had to halt her before she hurt herself. Here she is totally focused on the distraction...
I'll try again another day, but next time I'll carry a riding crop. I think I also should play it safe and make sure I've got someone within walking distance to help me in case I can't dismount. I mainly just need somebody to move my leg for me. All of my horses are good about standing still while I struggle. I do work out in our home gym from time to time with the intention of building up muscle strength, but it usually backfires, because I'm so sore and stiff the next day or two that I can't even ride a horse, none-the-less work out again.
I really don't get it, because I do hike and bicycle a lot, and you'd think that would keep my leg muscles in shape. Sometimes I wonder if it's more a problem with my brain not sending messages to my leg. But I also have a problem with my right leg popping out of the hip socket, so that could be related. Whenever I go in for my annual physical, I usually just tell the doctor I'm fine, because otherwise I'd need a couple of hours of his time to list all the ridiculous things I've experienced with my body over the previous year. There's nothing he can do except order tests, and they usually come back inconclusive. It's easier and less expensive to just tell him I'm fine.