Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dancing in the Dark

First off...having just witnessed American Pharoah's brilliant Breeders Cup Classic win, I have to say it: WHAT A HORSE!  I just sat there grinning like an idiot, what a truly memorable and moving performance from a truly great horse.  We won't see another like him for some time.  I am thrilled for all his connections, and happy that he came home safely and capped his brilliant career off with a huge win.  What a privilege to witness this story.

So on to me...I went back to the office this week and with the changing seasons (and tomorrow's time change), this is my new reality for riding after work:

....that's right.  Darkness.  Darkness everywhere.  The one downside to this facility is that there is no indoor, and no lighting.  I knew that getting into it, and made the choice to board here knowing that I'd have to figure out the winter riding conundrum at some point.  I've lived in this area without an indoor before and survived several winters, but I was riding full time and did so during the day, when it was warmest and the ground thawed.  So now I'm left with a very serious issue of how to ride during the week with a very time-consuming full time office job, where my schedule is not my own.  I know other people make it work so there has to be a solution.  So far my options are:
  • Ride first thing in the morning (will be difficult when things get cold and the ground gets frozen)
  • Go to work early, leave early (HA!!!!!!!) and ride before the sun sets (not likely)
  • Go to work early, take three hours around lunch time to ride, and stay late at work (ideal for riding for light and temperature, but I think the office schedule/dynamics will prevent this from being a regular option)
  • Ride at night in the dark and learn to love it 
That last one Soonie and I have already done twice now with success.  With the barn lights on and the barn door open, I can see (barely) to the end of the arena so we were able to do flatwork without much trouble (and by "much trouble" I mean he could see, I kind of couldn't, but we lived).  It actually makes me focus much more on feel, which I guess is good?  Just very, very different.  Soon didn't care; the first night was kind of freaky with the deer bounding around in the nearby field, but we got over that with very little drama.  That said, soon it'll be too cold to leave the barn door wide open so I would still need to find some work lights to use outside if I'm stuck riding at night no matter what.

And to be fair, last night I did stop at the end of the ride to enjoy the view of the night sky.  Can't say I've ever done that before.  There was something about sitting on my horse's back and looking up at the stars that was especially peaceful and memorable.

...I just hope I don't have to do that on a regular basis, that's all.  

In other news, the farm is home to a Thoroughbred retraining/rehoming program and is having an open house next week.  I'm assisting with that as well as with their budding veterans program, so I'm pretty excited about that.  I got asked to do a jumping demo with Soonie, so today I set up a ground pole exercise, a simple crossrail and vertical to start popping him back over stuff, since I don't think we've jumped in at least a month and a half.  He was spectacular, as usual.  He gave me some lovely lead changes on the flat, was mostly steady and soft over fences as well (with another lovely swap when asked for).  He did try to take the flier to the first canter jump, but was low enough where I made him wait and eat it; one chip got the point across and he was very adjustable and much more patient to the rest of the fences.  We only did a handful of jumps, as I'm hoping to do more tomorrow.  Then flat this week (in the dark?) and quick refresher over fences on Saturday, and we should be very civil to the jumps for Sunday's open house. 

Perfect horse is always perfect

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