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January 25, 2013: Moving Forward, Faster

It’s been snowing. Last night we got a few inches of the heavy stuff, and today an inch or so of the lighter stuff. The snow layer has covered the ice later, so the footing, especially the road, is less slippery than it was previously. Now, no sliding around. A good day, I decided, to get the horses out.

Pete and I first took Siggi and Hrimmi for a walk around the loop. Hrimmi seemed more sure of herself on the road’s surface – in fact, she did a few mad gallops, and was more intent on attempting to kick Jenna.

We put Siggi and Hrimmi away, and then Pete called the plow people to ask about the snowplow schedule. The woman on the other end of the phone said that the plow was out in our area; meaning, it could be within a five mile radius of here. So I decided to ride Tinni and pony Raudi around the loop. My thinking was that the

Heather on Signy

plow guy might appear later, when I am usually out with Signy and Raudi.

My outing with Tinni and Raudi went very well. Raudi does tend to be a bit more forward when I pony her off of Tinni. This is odd, and in fact, you’d think it would be the other way around, since Raudi has a more dominant personality in the pen. But on a ride, she defers to Signy, the older mare.

At about the ¾ point of our ride, I noticed that Raudi’s bit was in backwards. I decided that this was one of those so called teachable moments. I stopped both horses and got off to fix it. Tinni stood quietly and I had Raudi take a few steps backwards, having her stop by Tinni’s right stirrup. I then removed her bridle and then reinserted it.

I again mounted Tinni. Both horses remained standing as I got the lead and reins sorted. (This is something I need to work on.) I asked Tinni to move on, and he raised his head high in the air. This is his way of saying that he is considering bolting. There was a time in which I would have hopped right off him and walked him home. No more. I stayed put, and we worked on walk and whoa. When finally he was again relaxed, I got off and walked the rest of the way to the driveway.

I groomed both horses and then put them away. I next got Signy out. She was waiting impatiently by the gate – a good sign, I think. I wanted to again pony Raudi, and like yesterday go a long ways. But I instead decided to take Signy solo around the loop since it had been some time since I’d taken her out alone. I also didn’t want to deal with the snowplow, should it come trundling up the road—that is, not while riding one horse and ponying another. I’ll do this some other time, because this will be good training for both. But not today.

My taking Signy out solo made no difference to her. Once on the road, she hesitated and by turning her neck, indicated to me that she’d just as soon go back and eat the hay that she’d been forced to leave behind. (“You know,” she said, “the stuff at the hitching post”.) But after realizing that after all, it was a work day, she sprung into a trot. I usually require that all horses walk for the first ten minutes of a ride, but this time made an exception because I wanted to reaffirm that fast forward is acceptable.

I instead urged Signy to keep going, then once we were up around the first of the four corners, gave her the cue to canter. I squeezed with my light leg, and tightened the right rein. Signy obliged, and easily took up the three-beat gait. Then, thirty seconds later, I asked her to trot. Then, thirty seconds later, I again asked her to canter. Then thirty seconds later, I asked her trot. This time, we maintained it, finally returning to our starting point, the base of our driveway.

I dismounted and walked Signy up the road, so as to give her some cool down time. It was a short ride, so she didn’t break into a sweat.

Signy did not used to be so forward. I suspect that her being pregnant, and after lactating, slowed her down some. She’s now more energetic. And I feel very good about this. I am, I think, moving forward on the horsey front. Signy is fast, but slows down when I ask her to. (Notice that I said ask, not tell her to.) I know that time spent now riding Signy is going to make me feel more confident about again riding Raudi.

I’ll resume riding Raudi when her new saddle arrives. It’s now on order. We sent CJ at Synergist my measurements, photos, and the Equi-Measure pad. I’ve been in correspondence with CJ, and am convinced that going with this company was the right thing to do. She’s asked for a lot of fit-related information. And the saddle is going to be made to my specifications. This was not the case with the other saddles that I ordered.

While I wait, I’m enjoying riding Signy. Like Tinni, she’s a wonderful teacher. To extend the metaphor, Tinni was my elementary school teacher, and Signy is my middle-school teacher. Both are preparing me for the days ahead with Raudi. I didn’t think that I needed another intermediary after getting Tinni, but I did.

I’m also moving forward in other ways. I’m now working on a book proposal, which I’m soon going to send to Trafalagar Press. The book title is The Equestrian’s Guide to Long Distance Horse Trekking. I’m not big on writing how-to books because I don’t usually enjoy integrating research into the narrative mix. But I know a great deal about this subject, and soon am going to know even more. My getting a yes nod from Trafalagar Press might also lead to trip sponsorship. So I’m obviously feeling less stuck than previously. I think this is in part because I own and ride a lucky Irish Icelandic horse.

Next: 26. 1/26/13: Peaches, Rest in Peace