I just got home from riding and have to say, without a doubt it was the best ride of my life.
When I told my husband this, he asked: “didn’t you just have the best ride of your life yesterday too?” – Yes, I did! It just keeps getting better.
After riding for more than two decades, how does a ride qualify as “the best”?
Let me see if I can describe it.
I had just finished working out at the gym, a couple hours of hard-core cardio, then an hour of stretching. It was cold outside, in the 40’s. Already dark out, and nearly 8:00 pm.
I drove out to the barn, and it was deserted. A little surprised, but hardly deterred, I walked out to find my horse.
Jobi was very disappointed that I came bearing no gifts. But, he put on a good face for it all and marched excitedly to the barn with me.
I had originally planned in my mind that I wanted to work on some seat exercises for balance. But with how late it ended up being, and chilly, Jobi was feeling a bit fresh and I thought it might be better to do something else.
Grooming is a breeze, but always fun. He’s such a character, that he’s always investigating what’s coming next.
I had choices between which treeless saddle I should use but went with my very comfortable Sensation saddle. The padded seat is a bit warmer.
Helmet and bridle on, and we’re ready to rock and roll.
I always lunge and do some in-hand work before getting in the saddle. Old habits die hard, and both of these give a lot of insight into where your horse’s mind is at.
Jobi’s was all over the place, but still very calm.
In lunging, he was moving big at every gait. Just lovely to watch, he’s always had very beautiful gaits.
In hand, very forward but less attentive than I’d like before sitting my butt in the saddle. So I did some additional work with asking him to elevate his head in halt and soften into the reins, which he happily did.
Time to ride!
Well, time to get to the mounting block. There’s a lovely Andalusian / QH mare housed next to the outdoor arena, where the mounting block exists. She was not happy to have company tonight! She was threatening to kick and in general making ugly faces at us.
Jobi was pretty entertained by this, so it took a few minutes to get him back to the task at hand. He knows where he should be relative to the mounting block, so I just asked him to sidle right up, I made it aboard, and off we went.
Another habit, is we move out at the walk at as fast a walk pace as he can manage without breaking into a trot. I want him using up all of his energy moving forwards, especially when the weather is crisp and his attention is creeping.
So that’s what we did, we cruised around several laps of the arena just walking briskly, both directions.
He was stretching out into the reins nicely, really reaching with his hind legs with each stride. When your horse is moving this way, it’s the most delightful thing.
Let’s throw some patterns in, so basic direction changes across the diagonal.
Again, responding perfectly, marching forwards at the walk.
I’m riding with both reins in a single hand, both directions. Keeping him moving as quickly forwards as he can.
After a dozen changes like this, I change it up to do some serpentines and demi-voltes. All at the walk.
Now, how about some 20 meter circles? Ooh, that was a bit more of a challenge for him tonight. To the left he was great! To the right he was great for 3/4 of the circle, and at the last turn he’d fall in. No big deal, probably something with me out of whack. His energy moving through and bending on the circle was quite good overall, particularly as it’s been some time since we’ve worked on 20 meter circles.
After those, we did some less formal circles, just focusing on his bend. Circle, bend, as he softened into it and began stepping through with his shoulders we’d do a simple halt from the seat. Praise, then back to walk. Rinse, repeat.
A few more direction changes, then halt and dismount.
So, as I’m sure you’re wondering, “how in the world was that the best ride of your life?”
Because throughout the entire ride, the communication and relationship was perfect. We were never at odds with one another. I asked him to do things which challenged him in that instant, but without demanding more than he was capable of. In turn, he gave me exactly what I asked for, in near perfect execution.
Yeah, we “just” walked around the arena tonight. But it was exquisite.