Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Too Much Fun

Yesterday was a day packed full of things I love to do: a jump lesson on my beloved Mr. Smith (Rogue Hill's Skybird), a trip to a nursery to pick up plants I'd ordered... on sale... incredibly cheap!... plus the usual things I love to do... like milking goats and feeding horses and feeding birds in front of the barn. But sometimes, there can be too much fun...

Yesterday was yet another day of pouring rain. How, I worried, would I get Mr. Smith from horse barn to horse trailer in the arena without getting him (and me) soaked? Luck was with me as the rain eased when it came time to get him ready for the 35 mile trip. I brushed him in the horse barn then put on his sheet (lightweight blanket) and walked quickly the long trek to the arena. There, under cover, I spent a good half hour brushing more mud out of his coat. My horses seem to love to roll in mud. Still the rain did not come but I could see the skies threatening in the west. Mr. Smith walked quickly into the horse trailer (he loves to go) and away we went.

Johnny came too, not for the jump lesson but so I could drop him off at the Dallas pool where he soaks his sore back and shoulders and arms in their jacuzzi and therapy pool. It rained all the way to Dallas but quit before I dropped Johnny off and did not rain when I unloaded Mr. Smith at Karen Freeman's stable, brushed some more, tacked up and led him to her covered arena. Life is good.

No one was in the arena when I arrived. It had been recently dragged with the jumps in place afterwards and no hoofprints. I began to wonder if I had the date wrong. Oh well, at least I'd have a dry place to ride. But, promptly at 3:15, my lesson time, Anna came and the lesson began. We worked a long time on bending and straightening. Odd as it seems, a horse must be straight in order to bend correctly.

Anna wanted to ride him at the canter to see why he appears to not push off properly from behind, but rather starts with a leap from his front legs. She did and decided he's just not strong enough or is protecting his hind legs. He does have stifle issues. She suggested I work at strengthening him at the trot mostly, until he is better balanced. She also said she has never ridden a horse that can contort his body in so many ways so quickly. Every instructor who has ridden Mr. Smith (and they all insist on doing so) comes to the conclusion that he is a very opinionated horse and not easy to ride. I find him very easy to ride but that's because I have mostly let him do things his way... which is why I'm taking lessons... to learn how to do things right.

At last we came to the fun part... jumping. Mr. Smith loves to jump. But he does not like to do it with control. His idea of fun is to gallop madly around the course as fast as he can and not listen to my aids. So we do a lot of circling until he is listening to my half halts. He needs to bend properly, keeping his body in line with itself instead of twisting all over the place... tail should follow head in a smooth curve... in order to make the jump approaches smooth instead of chaotic.

As long as the jumps are on a bending line, and I control the bend, he listens to me. But let there be two jumps lined up with several strides between and he's off to the races. Or, as my instructor says, he is having too much fun. Happily for him, she raised the jumps a bit this time. He gets annoyed at jumps so low he can trot over them and sometimes does. We did manage to jump the straight line more or less properly one time.

All good things must come to an end and my hour was up. It was time to retrieve Johnny at the swimming pool. Still the rain held off. Woohoo! We went from the pool to Daryll's Nursery just outside Dallas where Daryll was waiting with my 28 smoke bushes. Hey, for $1.80 apiece, how could I go wrong? I'd bought 5 the week before, planted them in the arboretum, and decided it would be wonderful to have them in a long line through the entire arboretum, marking the ornamental/color area from the regions-of-the-world area. Smoke bushes have beautiful fall color and the ones I planted a week ago are still holding their leaves in spite of being pummeled by rain for a week straight. I mowed that line and called Daryll to ask how many cheap smoke bushes he had. 28. How can you have too much of a good thing? I love planting trees. I said I'd take them all.

The plants are still in the pickup, behind the feed we bought after we left Daryll's Nursery. The rain held off as the feed was loaded, but hit with a vengeance on the way home... all the way home... in the dark... I hate driving in the rain and dark. It was still raining when I led Mr. Smith from horse trailer to horse barn. After supper and goat milking and horse feeding and a shower, I was one tired lady. Last night I realized that a person, as well as a horse, can have too much fun.

But today is another day... not raining yet... I'm well rested... and have 28 smoke bushes to plant. Too much fun...

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