I had that moment tonight at the end of my ride. There were tears in my eyes as we walked out of the arena. It just doesn’t get any better than that moment! I am so proud of my little mare; she is just lovely to ride.
Tonight’s ride was the same horse I had on Saturday’s ride. I took the Western Riding Helmet Cam footage on Monday night, and it wasn’t the same lovely ride I had hoped for. It wasn’t bad, but I knew we could both do better. Tuesday I took a step back, pulled out the snaffle and the bareback pad and went back to the basics. There were some moments of resistant on both our parts, but with no agenda in mind we took our time and worked through it. It became very clear tonight that I had made the right choice.
There have been a group of riders that have shown up at the same time for the last few rides. It’s such a rare occurrence to have other horses in the arena when we ride, but 4 of them at that. All 4 are palomino and my little bay mare really stands out in the crowd. Grace doesn’t even bat an eyelash at the horses sharing the same arena, it’s as though they do not exist in her world when she is working. I’ve always appreciated that about her. Tonight I started with groundwork as the other riders warmed up around me. I saw a lot of trotting after very little time at the walk; always interesting to see other people’s programs.
In the last few rides I have added back in Les Vogt’s 5 Easy Pieces to my warm up. I learned the program 5 or so years ago in a clinic of his. It has been years since I revisited the work, but the other day while half passing at the walk, Grace dropped her right shoulder. I corrected her by asking her to move her shoulders to the left and then began the half pass to the right again. That time she kept her shoulder and was able to hold her rib cage. It immediately brought to mind step 2 and 3 of the 5 easy pieces. I am amazed now by how much smoother the 5 steps are, years ago we both did every sequence while stiff as a board! Tonight by the time I asked Grace for the jog she was light and soft in every area of her body.
I asked for the lope both directions out of the back of from step 5. Each lope departure was better than the last and in both directions! Not only that - it was a lope, not a canter! Grace was slow, yet rhythmic and just an absolute pleasure to ride. I ended the ride one handed with Grace loping a circle to the left, a flying change in the middle and a circle to the right. After two clean changes each direction with both of us staying soft and quiet, I whispered “whoa” and Grace slid to a square halt. I reached down to pat her on the neck and started to tear up. This was the horse, the one I thought I bought 10 years ago. This was the ride I had seen from the rail of the AQHA shows and wondered if I would ever be that good. As we headed out the gate for our much deserved trail ride, I realized that we may not have “that” ride for the horse show and that I really don’t care. We had it tonight, our winning moment and I believe that there are more of them to come. What is that saying – “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away?”