March 18, 2010



Out for another great ride today. I typically don’t ride on weekends unless I know I’m going to be able to get back in the woods and off the beaten path. The AL trail is like Grand Central Station and the vast majority of the people who use that trail are morons and worse. So I try not to have to expose my horse to that nonsense if I don’t have to. Since I’m “retired” I can ride any day of the week and if need be, can give my horse the weekend off or choose to do something in the ring now.

Speaking of which …. I suppose if the ground continues to stay dry I should think about getting back to a bit of ring work. Ug. I wish I could say I like that, but I really don’t. Still, it’s good for Dharla to do a bit of schooling. I guess I should get my butt down there and see if the footing is drying up. It can be a bit greasy if the one side hasn’t gotten much sun.

I also need to think about whether or not I’m going to continue taking English lessons. I’d like to, but I’m concerned about getting stretched too thin with time, energy and cost. I typically ask for an early morning lesson because as the season progresses, I’m (still) ridiculously heat intolerant. That means that by the time I get home, I’m probably not going to be able to ride my own horse if the temps are already inching up. Once we get into summer I figure I have all of about 3.5 hours in the morning to get everything I need to do (outside) done before I have to retreat inside to hibernate in the AC. It’s like living in a bubble; you sit and watch the world go by, but you can’t participate in it.

Although the recession hasn’t had too much of a personal impact on me, I try to live as though it will. I make a tank of gas last at least two weeks, I try not to consume anything I don’t need and I keep a close eye on the bottom line. I always ask myself twice (if not more) if I really need something before I buy it or commit to it, including things like riding, herding and piano lessons. I’ve recently decided it’s time to cut back on the herding. My dog is going on 8 this year and he’s already got some congenital spinal problems. Since it’s never been our goal to compete, I’ve mostly been doing the herding for fun; his and mine. But while we both still enjoy the venue it’s expensive and a bit of a luxury. So I’m going to cut back considerably on that. We might go herding now and then, but it’s not going to be a weekly gig.

Piano lessons are something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I took piano lessons when I was a kid, but dropped them as soon as my mother would let me. Mom was a piano teacher and all her children studied piano, but we didn’t take lessons from her. Mom would cart us to someone else for that miserable task, then stand in the kitchen as we practiced and yell, “You’re not playing that right!” I hated piano back then, which is kinda sad. Only my brother stuck with piano. He had a true gift for it and played mostly by ear. Anyhow, when I called to make arrangements to take piano lessons I was surprised at how reasonably priced they were. I expect that will help me afford them for some time to come. Oh, and I love playing!

I’m on the fence about riding lessons. I already know I’m not going to show. Even if I wanted to show, I don’t think I could justify the expense right now. The barn where I’ve been taking lessons is primarily a hunter, jumper barn that shows. A lot. And while I’ve had a blast learning to ride English and learning to jump, I’m probably never going to use that part of what I’m learning. Not that it’s not all good … it is. But, well, I just don’t know. I love the instructor and the barn is literally ten minutes away. That makes things easy, but I’m still hedging a bit. It would fall into that “luxury” category for sure.

But back to riding. Since Aldo was going to head out on a ride with R, we decided we’d tack up an hour or so before they were supposed to connect and do a little loop together, Of course, the best of plans always seem to go awry and we didn’t get headed down the road with enough time to do much more than 1/2 hour together. The plan was that we’d ride a bit together, then Aldo would break off and go meet R. and I’d continue on alone. This gave me a good opportunity to see how Dharla reacts at going off on her own, and I’m happy to say that she did very well! Naturally, she was a bit animated for the first few minutes, but she never hollered or fussed and even better, she didn’t try to turn and follow Bullet. I was SO pleased, because this scenario will probably reoccur a lot as the season progresses.

Dharla and I did a couple of nice woodsy loops off the beaten path. We encountered a mountain biker on one of the trails, but we just calmly moved aside and let him ride past. Dharla has always kept her cool with bikers, which is a Godsend because we have to deal with them all the time. Occasionally a biker will come barreling out of the woods and startle us, but even then Dharla has always managed to keep her brains in her head. The more I ride this girl the more I love her! We did a good bit of hill work and just enjoyed being out in the woods alone.

Part of the reason why I decided to do a preemptive ride with Aldo before he left is because I find Dharla’s much less stressed at being home alone if she’s not here when Bullet leaves. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s true. If Dharla’s here when Bullet and Aldo ride off, she spends the better part of the first hour being really stressed. But if we’re not here and we come back and Bullet’s gone, she’s much calmer. At first I thought that was (maybe) because she’s just tired from being ridden herself, but one time all I did was take her down to the arena to do some minor groundwork while Aldo and Bullet left and when we got back to the barn and she found Bullet gone she was still pretty calm. Not that she didn’t holler, she did. But she didn’t run the fence line and carry on nearly as much as she will when she’s at the barn when Bullet leaves.

When we got home I cleaned Dharla up, gave her some hay, then hung out with her for a awhile. I so enjoy her company and she actually seems to enjoy mine! Overall it was a great day. Aldo and Bullet got home several hours later, just before dark. From the looks of things I know I made the right decision to ride alone. We’re not ready for their kind of ride. Yet.

Time: 2 hrs.

Distance: 6 miles (guesstimate: FB rd, AL trail, ridge loop to long trail loop to the wide water crossing & home)

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