Thursday, June 5, 2014

Old Lady Riding

Here's the thing about Old Lady Riding. It's about feeling better after you spend time with your horse. That's absolutely the only rule I've got.

Old Lady Life can be pretty sucky, even for those of us who like to get on FB and tell everyone how blessed we are. I always want to yell, "Of course you're blessed you dipshit, you're still breathing! Now get your sanctimonious self off my page!"

Why? Because I'm turning into a crabby, impatient old lady. As far as I'm concerned, life is life, we're given what we can bear, sometimes we're given more than we can bear, but it happens anyway, life don't care. Life is funny that way.

 I want to use mine playing with my dogs, writing some stories, riding my horses and sharing info when asked. I also like to think about stuff. The older I get, the more isolated I become, the deeper I go. There may be some tidbits here and there among the other horse/dog/riding/training/stories stuff, but I'll try to keep control.

So, back to Old Lady Riding.

The best way to enjoy my horses is to feel safe before, during and after I have been with them.

I accomplish this by having some solid fundamentals, for both me and my horses under my ever expanding belt. Things I can trust.

Next, I am realistic about where I am today. Am I tired? Probably. When I'm tired, I make mistakes. My ability to immediately analyze, evaluate and create a plan of action is dulled. So, I take my time. I lean on the corral rail and watch the horses for a while.

Have they had breakfast? My horses behave just fine if they haven't eaten at all, if they're done, or if they're half way through, but God help me if I pull them when they've just gotten started. In the old days, I'd pull them anyway, now days? I'm not in a hurry, I can wait a bit.

Is my mare in heat? If so, which day? Is she romantic, or does she want to kill something? My expectations are the same as they ever were, but I run the possible scenarios, and my solutions, ahead of time.

Is Scrub playing herd stallion today? Five minutes in the round pen with me on the ground, then five more with me in the saddle should clear up any communication issues. If not, I'll pony him to the big arena and let him stand saddled tied while I work Madonna. Then we'll start our ride with some intense trot, lope, trot work, keeping our circles small and our lines short until the kink is out of his back and his eye is calm.

Old Lady Riding has taught me to keep my plans flexible. Very, very flexible. I don't have to fix every problem today. Issues for me and the horses will be waiting for me tomorrow. I'll accept less, but expect more, then quit for the day. Instead of being upset, I'll consider it an opportunity to have a game plan tomorrow.

If I have concrete plans, a trail ride or working cattle with friends, a horse show or clinic, then I'll make damn sure I start preparing all of us at least the week before. Short, effective rides go a long way towards having us mentally and physically prepared.

Last of all, I'm learning to forgive myself. My life with horses is not the same. But it's still, really, really good.

I'll start my next post with some specifics.


Becky said...

I always feel guilty when I go to see Caspian and don't end up riding - like I'm giving up on my youth somehow. Sixteen year old Becky would be deeply depressed to find out that 32 year old Becky doesn't ride every minute that's available.

But sometimes I'm just so stressed that my head is not in the right place for riding. And maybe it is giving up and getting old to just walk him out to the pasture and sit beside him as he grazes....

But if it makes my heart peaceful and happy - eh, 16 year old Becky can go jump in a lake with her disapproving sneers.

mugwump said...

That is sooooo right.

Anonymous said...

These sound like good pointers for any age rider. I am 18 and I try to follow these things.

Heidi the Hick said...

Half an hour. Better than nothing. And no guilt or shame allowed. I'm in the mode of constantly reminding myself of all the good things in my life but that doesn't entirely erase the bad crap. Luckily my horses are pretty forgiving. As long as we're happier after a ride than before, I figure it's a success.

MichelleL said...

Agree with Becky. What worked at 10, 15, 20, etc. does not necessarily work now and we get to choose what does work for us. Not what someone else says we "should" be doing. Even if that someone is our own Snarky Self.

I don't ride but I care take and that makes me happy. Cleaning the stall and paddock, medicating, doctoring, feeding, grooming, whatever else that goes on in a day all of it brings me contentment which is all any of us are truly looking for I think.

redhorse said...

I'm now over 60, and a real senior citizen, so I remember 32 fondly as a time when I could and would ride any horse you could get a saddle on. I could think of a dozen things I wanted to do on a given day, do them, and then go out and dance all night and be very, very, naughty. With cowboys.

I spent the last 4 years feeling like an invalid. I had 2 broken bones in one year, not horse related, nerve, tendon and muscle damage, and a freakin green horse. It took forever to heal, in fact I still have pain from those injuries when I overdo it. My riding sucked, I could hardly even get on the horse. Fear of more injuries was overwhelming.

I hate to say this because I know how horses make liars out of you, but I think my horse has figured out what's required of old lady riding. Standing very still when I tell him to is one. If I can get the saddle on him, get on without too much trouble, I have the energy to actually ride. I've been riding nearly every day and feeling great again. One day last week Cowboy (my horse's name--a little joke--he's the only cowboy I dance with anymore) decided not to go into one particular part of the field and I had to work with him for over an hour before he would trot to and past that spot. I was so elated by that. I felt good when I got off, then the next morning I could barely stand up. I haven't squeezed with my legs like that in years. But the next day, and every day since, he was just wonderful. I'm with Heidi, half and hour is what I need, and as long as everything goes well, I'm happy with that.

And Mugs, that second and third paragraph? I feel the same way, why do all old ladies have to be sweet and grateful and feel blessed all the time? I intend to be crabby and impatient as long as I can get out of bed.

Mo said...

i'm 57 now, and never got to be the 16 year old with horses, so the overwhelming need to make up for lost time rears its ugly head now and again, while the body doesn't always cooperate. i agree the best strategy is to evaluate what can be done safely and adjust actions. 90% of the work is done if i make myself put on my breeches and boots, and walk out to the barn.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it seems like I spend more time trying to figure out why not to ride. My mare is green and hasn't tried to hurt me for the last year....sometimes it's enough to just bury my face in her neck and breathe...of course, she doesn't get the point of that and would rather eat, but in some way I think she likes it. It kind of qualifies as attention anyway. Have ridden twice in the past week. The first ride went really well. Today she was kind of distracted - probably wondering what was up with going for a ride again so soon. :)

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