Having two horses in work wears me out.
I’m not complaining.
I’m not humble bragging.
I’m surprised. Again.
When I don’t have a horse to ride every day, I whine, I fret, I bitch [so many links, where do I start?]. I miss it terribly. I also forget. I forget how much mental space riding my own horse takes up, way out of proportion to the hours involved.
It’s not an issue of time. When I say both horses are in work, I use the term loosely. Rodney is proceeding at his standard glacial pace, finally learning to walk around the whole, entire field. Just because it’s been eight years this month … frustration alert, move on, move on. For Milton, walking and a bit of trotting in our pasture constitutes learning to work outside of a ring, which is progress. So, I go out, dust off a horse, ride, come back into the house, and collapse.
It’s not a physical issue. I’m not exhausted, the way I am after Nationals boot camp [Progress Report]. I don’t nosedive into bed for an afternoon nap. I just have no motivation to DO anything. There are things that can rouse from my stupor. Blog? Yes. The trickle of work I have left? With heroic effort. Dishes? Laundry? It is to laugh.
A rider has a responsibility to any horse they ride. With the Stepping Stone Farm school horses, my responsibility ends when I hang up the bridle. I love Sam [MSSP 2018]. I don’t spend time wondering if he is getting the right amount of food for the work he is doing, or how today’s ride fits into his overall training & fitness plan. With my own horses the wondering never stops, analysing from specific to general and back again.
I go to the barn. Are they in or out? If they are in, are they sweaty? Do I need to turn up the fans? I catch a horse. Does he come up or run off? If he turns away, is he expressing an opinion about his job? Do I need to work less? More? Tell him to suck it up, Cupcake? Pick up the feet. The blacksmith is coming in how many weeks? The shoes should be okay until then.
Brush. Any bumps or lumps? Does that look like a kick or a bite? Poke. Poke. There’s a lot of horse here. Should I lower his feed? Or do I not want him losing weight as we swing toward winter? Brush. Skin feels shiny. Dust is sliding off. The new flax supplement seems to be working. Saddle, bridle. Everything still fit? Looks good. Need to wash the saddle pads.
Walk to riding area. How does he look? Lethargic and reluctant? Yeah, that’s about normal. C’mon horse, time to make the donuts.
I haven’t even gotten on.
Riding is all of the horse care questions – is he moving well? Is he tight anywhere? – plus all of the training questions – Which way is Milton going? Racing direction versus non-racing direction? Has Rodney suddenly switched “good sides”? – plus all the hopes and fear and dreams represented by your show goals. Some of these questions occur on lesson horses. On your own horse, everything is in stereo, with knobs on eleven. Then reminding yourself how d*mned lucky you are to be on a horse at all. Maybe you should stop and smell the horsehair?
After, does he run off when I let him go? For Rodney, this is a big tell for stress. There goes Milton, licking his salt block again. Is he getting enough electrolytes, or is this his stress move?
I will adapt. Eventually. For now, excuse me, I need to go stare at kittens and let my brain reboot.
Thank you for reading,