The last couple rides I’ve had on Miss Cadence have been so wonderful I’m not really sure where to begin. They haven’t necessarily been easy – but they’ve been wonderful. One of the things I’ve come to notice is that the horses are typically very easy to start with. 90% of any given ride is usually about going forward at first. Then comes contact, and then comes nuance. Cadence is getting to that nuance phase, where we work more laterally (particularly to strengthen her right side) to get her more engaged back to front. As she slides from “basic” to “nuanced” ride, things get a little more difficult. I have to be even more correct, I have to be even more steady with my hands (and she has to learn to accept a little more contact, as nice as the feather-light thing is!), and I have to pay a lot more attention to staying centered in the saddle (among other things).
It’s a weird thing to think that as a horse gets more trained, she can become a little harder to ride, but I think it’s true. Also in Cadence’s case, she has discovered her “go” button a little bit, fitness and confidence have endowed her with the ability to think more for herself, which can either be a blessing or a curse. So far it’s been a blessing, with a little bit of “hee! someone has a go button now!” thrown in for good measure. Mostly, though, I think a little more energy and attentiveness makes her much more fun and interesting to ride.
One of the things we worked on last night was some canter poles. There was a single pole on one side of the ring, and a set on the other, set like two bounces. We worked over the single pole a bit, and one of the things that impresses me is how she figures out how to adjust herself. Provided I don’t mess with her at all other than to keep her straight and in front of my leg, if we biffed a distance to the pole and went over it awkwardly, invariably the next time through, I could feel her thinking and adjusting to try and make it comfortable. The same thing happened when we tried the other poles. She figured out quickly that she had to stay quiet and not “jump” the poles to get through comfortably, and all I really had to do was sit there.
As for the other work we did – she is getting much more balanced on the left lead, is getting some very nice walk-canter transitions (the canter-walk, not so much, but baby steps!), and getting much more responsive when I ask for a leg yield or shoulder in. At the trot, the lateral work is harder than at the walk (natch), because she wants to speed up sometimes instead of staying balanced and using herself properly – but again, that’s a baby physical thing, and totally normal. When I was done working on that stuff, I encouraged her to trot around a few times and really stretch out, and go long and low, which she quite enjoys.
After that, we went for a walk with a friend down the long driveway, and on the way back we popped over a couple little logs and the ditch. I don’t jump her very much, and the last time she went over anything was on our free jump day, but she was great. About all I had to do was sit up and grab mane 🙂 She still has a bit of right drift, so that needs to be managed (and more getting that right side stronger!), but she was so fun! She takes off and lands so lightly it almost feels like flying.
All in all, a perfect ride on a lovely evening, capped off with a nice bowl of soup and watching the sun set with my horse up on the hill.
In other, more bittersweet news, Cadence will be heading down to our director and friends in North Carolina early next week. Obviously, I have mixed feelings on this – I’m not getting lots of bites from people up here, and the market seems better down there, plus I know Suzanne will do a bang-up job of bringing her to the next level.
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little heartbroken. Back in mid-April, I was one day away from getting a paycheck I thought I might make an offer with. I was (and am) that in love with this horse. I had a plan, my big grey with all his foot problems would happily transition to field board, and I would have a horse that I could take eventing and such (plus, the grey horse even likes her, and he’s picky!). I was adding up numbers and enabling myself on making a fantastically bad equine-related financial decision, and really very close to calling Allie, when something else that had been niggling at me reared its ugly (depending on your perspective) head.
I hadn’t been feeling quite right for about a week at that point, and had begun to suspect that I had a little problem. Three EPT sticks later, and it was clear that, as suddenly as I had gotten up the nerve to consider buying her, I had to dismiss that thought to prepare for something else, a different kind of critter entirely.
I’m not sure what this means for my involvement with CANTER. I know I am in a tailspin, trying to redefine who I am, as everything I define myself with will be put on a back burner for a while. I probably shouldn’t be jumping, and my high risk doctor is quite leery of riding at all, so it makes sense to send the greenbean girl to people who can take her to the next level. But when I think of her leaving, I feel this dull sort of ache deep inside, along with an almost frantic feeling, like I need to stand in front of the trailer to stop it from happening. Seeing her go is going to be like losing a piece of myself.
I know it will work out for the best, she will find a perfect home, and in the meantime get excellent care and training from really awesome people. But I’m sad anyway.
Coming soon… pictures of one of my favorite success stories, and an update on The Dude.