There hasn’t been a ton of stuff going on in my world lately (hence the *crickets* on the blog).
I unfortunately got very sick for over two weeks and couldn’t manage anything other than just feeding and occasionally brushing my horses. I got the weirdest cough that was especially bad at night time, so I essentially was getting no sleep… and therefore was pretty useless all day. Several times at the barn I coughed so hard I threw up. I’m not sure if it was the colder air or if there was some irritant in the air but I was much worse at the barn than when I was a vegetable on the couch. I tried two different types of puffers, had a chest x-ray (which was clean) and codeine cough syrup. None of them helped at all. Although the codeine cough syrup made me feel pretty relaxed!
This combo helped a bit (honey, rum and two kinds of cough syrup haha)
I’m still coughing a fair bit at night but it’s finally improving. I felt good enough to ride last weekend and Henry and Mystic shared a lesson with ST. I had my first ride back on Henry the day before. Because we are #snowflakesoulmates he had a horrible cough two weeks before mine that resulted in some time off (no fever or nasal discharge). ST and I joked that Henry and I are just both allergic to horsing/humaning.
I’m happy to report that my first ride back (on Saturday, April 14) and my lesson following day were pretty amazing. And I think I have discovered the key(s) to riding Henry. If I have to nearly die for two weeks to have a breakthrough with my horse – so be it.
Before I get to the keys I want to explain a bit about the type of ride I’m used to. Mystic and Apollo are very similar. He’s hotter and more dramatic than she is but they both start off with a lot of forward momentum. And I mould/shape that/try to steer that and they eventually go along nicely. They both have their own motors and it’s very easy to take more of a “passenger” ride on them.
Wut is happening, I am retired
Henry is not like that. I have a really difficult time getting good momentum at the walk. His first lap of walk is pretty wonderful. And we slowly seem to lose steam from there. And then sometimes look for fun things to spook at. This is my fault as I preferred a slower speed when I rode bareback so I didn’t really ask him to move forward properly.
On my first ride back after the death cough I hopped on (after some groundwork and a quick free lunge) we had the loveliest lap of walk. It was so forward and I could feel his back swinging. After that I could feel him start to look for things to be looky about. So I was like… “You know what… let’s just trot and see what happens.” And we did. AND HE WAS FUCKING SPECTACULAR. We made lots of different shapes and did some changes of directions. My dog kept sneaking into the arena and a cat jumped off the ATV in the corner…no spook, no nothing. Henry was at work and was possibly too tired to have opinions about it. I was able to do about 5/10 ish minutes of trot in both directions before I started coughing my lungs out so I decided to take him for a handwalk on the front lawn.
I had a similar breakthrough ride in my lesson with ST just over a month ago. The arena was very busy with three other horses, which is maybe not busy to some people but I am usually alone in my hermitage.
I was really nervous as Henry seemed lit AF (for once). He was actually super forward and I felt like we were travelling at light speed. But when he was moving forward he felt so much straighter (duh) and was so much easier to steer. I knew I had to be braver so I could be a good leader for him - so I pictured us riding in battle (haha a bit weird but it seriously helped!). I finally felt like I was starting to trust him again. In fact as we trotted through a small hole between the three horses I was softly chanting “I trust you/good boy” to him.
ST sent me a text later in the day after that lesson that said “That’s the best I’ve ever seen you ride. Keep riding him like that and you guys will have no problems.” ST is a super positive coach but she isn’t one to throw around compliments so I legit teared up when I got it.
So to remind future Kate the keys to riding Henry this is what I’ve found:
- Trot = Henry magic
- Forward is always the answer, it makes your life easier and your horse straighter.
- Ride with courage even when you are mentally pooping your pants.
I’m going to make those points a note in my phone that I read before every ride. :) I was really bummed out/frustrated about having to take those two weeks off riding but I think we are on a good path now.