Saddling up this time of year is most enjoyable on sunny early afternoons. A weather dependent short window of time, when the sun has dried the lingering dew and warms the cool crisp late Fall air. Temps have risen as high as they are going to get, and winds are
We savored what appears to be the last few beautiful warmish sunny days of the year, in the 40's F. By this time I am normally hoping for snow, but not this year. This year is different. This non goal setter, set a goal. A riding goal, to be specific. To ride Koda among our majestic pines before the looong Winter storms take over, and I have to restart myself and my horse. Once again.
However easy my goal sounds to some of you, it was both challenging and far fetched for me. I honestly didn't think it would happen this year. Life demands seem to get in the way. Both Brad and I being home mid afternoon when the weather shines, does not align more often than it does. Don't people know nothing can be scheduled when Mother Nature decides to be nice?!! Once in a while, with great efforts and plain ol' just saying no everything aligns and we make it out to the arena before 3pm. Ideally around 2-2:30. Anything close to 3pm is a bust. Not only is the ride rushed, but the rest of our evening is too. It is a sure bet to having another ride like this.
Considering all of the above, our rides have dwindled to about once a week. What a difference an indoor arena would make! There would still be days we want to ride and can't, but an indoor would offer SO many more opportunities when we could!! Ideally I would ride 3-4 times a week, with a mixed approach and location. Indoor riding being my least favorite, then outdoor arena and my favorite rides are on the trail. I am happiest being outdoors.
Today we are under a Winter Storm advisory:
However, the day before the storm we seized the day and rode!! Our ride went like this...Koda was the ultimate slug during our short lunge warmup, being all "oh woe is me" dramatic. After my increased efforts, he did put in enough of his own effort. I had worked up a sweat, him not so much. In hind sight, I should have skipped the warm up lunge. We headed over to the mounting block and before I stepped up, he did his one hind step over. I repositioned him and then he stood like a rock. Guess I can live with one step over, as long as it's before I climb up the block.
We proceeded to ride, and he proceeded to chomp. A lot. Know we have spent oodles of time trying to figure out his random chomping habit. He does it when he is bored, or nervous, or just because he can. Koda gets regular dental care, and back in his training days bits and bosels were discussed. We looked into all of it. In the end, we concluded his chomping is just part of his complexity. It's annoying. His chomping affects me, unless the reason is obvious. It makes my mind spiral into thinking something is potentially wrong, even tho Koda has chomped on/off (with any rider) for many years. He probably knows it bother me, and I don't "get after him". Some days he also flips his tongue over the bit, which makes riding a start and stop adventure. We work through it all and the ride goes on, and eventually the chomping stops.
We worked up to loping half the arena again, both directions. This time Koda's super smooth direction to the left, was anything but smooth. Every ride is a different ride with this boy! He anticipated my right ask, but I gave it to him anyways because his departure was so darn nice. This lope felt wonderful! Floaty, framed and dreamy. Albeit short, but we are working our way up - mostly because of me. I need to lose weight. In the past when riding with others, Koda's lope turns heads. He has pretty much ruined my loping another horse for life. It's not that other horses don't do it, I just haven't ridden another horse that lopes like he does. Consequently, when done correctly it is my favorite gait.
What happened after our arena ride, has been a long, long time coming. We headed out on the new tree line path to gauge where Koda's head (and mine!) are at:
Our heads were still attached, so we continued along the path. Pass the barn, through the trees, pass the fuel tank, house, then rode out of the trees, across the driveway, onto the field, next to the farm equipment, towards another open field and up a path to our main pine trail! EEK!
My first what felt like a real trail ride in a long long time :))
I sang along the way, well the two words I could remember lol. I made sure to keep my legs loose. No more ride photos this first time out. I wanted to live in the moment, as well as focus on my ride. We rode along our preexisting main trail, that looks like this...
bordering trail pines are smaller
they are huge further along the trail below
very tall and sway in wind
We rode along our "spooky tree" trail. We created (with the help of deer) and named it based on a group of trees on a corner, that look like this...
I was glad the new neighbor dogs didn't greet us in our woods. That day will come, but I needed a non-challenging first trail ride. And I got it. Koda was a great riding partner! He didn't do a thing wrong. A little too much of a hustled walk coming out of the woods, but Cierra did the same thing. We rode back out of the pines, down the border path to the open field. The one thing I said I wasn't ready to do, ha ha! Ride across an open field. Little known fact, to enjoy our paths and get to/from the barn you eventually need to ride across a field. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. It was the same field we crossed to get to the pines. Brad had to remind me to breath, and suggested maneuvering Koda before heading back to the barn. More for me, then Koda. I know this approach, but...haven't thought about it in forever. Brad is my steady, for more than just horses.
After walking around and changing directions, I did one of my favorite things use Brad and his horse for a cone. Koda and I trotted around them both directions! Making them feel, well, like a cone. It absolutely makes my day!!
It is snowing and beautiful outside as I type. Like living in a snow globe. My heart is still happy. I was able to enjoy riding our pines with Koda, before the storm.