Tuesday, March 23, 2021

fresh open spaces

I figured it out, guys!! We found the missing puzzle piece! Having a "real" winter around these parts deprived us of our daily recommended dosage of cantering around in the fields and woods like absolute children

And, turns out, maybe that's why things have felt so anemic lately. Goooooo figure, lol.

no grass yet but they can definitely smell it growing
I made it our business to get out into the fields for our last couple of rides. And just.... cruise. On Sunday it was just me and Charlie, and I wanted to do a little trotting and cantering around plus get into the woods for a loop. 

death alley is spooky for a reason -- the last of the "old" outbuildings is coming down to be replaced with something nice and new! (like that new shed visible in the background!)
But nothing serious -- no timer or intervals or anything like that. And, honestly, for better or worse, not even really kicking Charlie on into his bigger better trot. Rather, we kinda just hokey-poked our way around, this way and that.

my goodness but look how square this creature can stand when he wants to
Which was.... enlightening, tbh. It's been a long time since we've done much real riding on terrain, and Charlie didn't exactly feel like a perfect picture of agility or dynamism, LOL. He was kinda dink-dink-dinking along in his own little shuffle-y way for the first few minutes. 

man it's been a LONG TIME since we went for a run through the woods
But as we coasted around -- up this big hill, down that long sweep -- he loosened up and stretched out. And, not coincidentally, re-discovered his bigger step. 

will never not love this view <3
And actually in a couple places broke into that wonderfully luxurious big rolling canter that I love so much. Not just bc it's an immensely comfortable canter to ride -- but it's just such a refreshing feeling when he's offering it up like that, vs me always kinda driving him along. 

haven't been back in this section in ages
It was an enlightening feeling for other reasons, too, tho. Ahem, cough cough. Neither of us are the picture of perfect fitness right now. Charlie was happy for frequent breaks. And I was not quite as stable or smooth in my position up and down the hills, esp as Charlie would find his bigger loftier steps. 

it's impossible to tell from these pics but there's a deep natural ditch running basically straight across the landscape here
After crisscrossing the main cross country fields, we slipped through a gate into the woods for a loop before taking the long way home out around all the summer pastures. 

Charlie knows all these trails by heart (since there are like, two total trails out there LOL) and it's actually great bc he hits a point where we're still technically moving away from "home" -- but he recognizes that we're close to the turnaround point and really picks up his pace. 

last year they got some heavy machinery stuck in that little spot that looks like a puddle. i assure you, it is *not* 'just a puddle.' it was a deep dark treacherous mess that charlie literally got stuck in like a brontosaurus in the proverbial tar pit, and scared the crap out of himself. luckily nature is reclaiming the pathway, tho, and charlie was finally able to cross it all by himself!! <3
Which happens to be pretty convenient bc we're at that point about as far away from "home" as is possible, but then Charlie gets all jazzed up and eager to power-walk, -trot, or -canter his way back. Plus naturally jumping whatever little obstacles are in his path. 

Not coincidentally including the nasty little natural ditch they tore up with a kubota or tractor or some other heavy thing last year. Charlie had a bad experience getting stuck in it, and hasn't wanted to touch it since. But I figured he'd be more willing if we were going toward home. And? Was correct, good boy!

as well he should, since he's a brave event horse <3
That ride left us feeling so refreshed and loose and full of good post-workout vibes that it was immediately clear to me: THIS is what's been missing. We need more of this. And not just like rigorous conditioning work or trot sets or whatever. But just... moving freely through open spaces on rolling and varied terrain. 

So, obviously, that's exactly what we've been up to since then haha. Helped in no small part by the longer days.

eeeee i love how happy he looks here <3 <3 <3
Maryland is experiencing absolutely perfect spring weather right now with super pleasant temps and dry ground -- so obvi literally every single barn mate has the exact same ideas haha. And all the xc fields were dotted with various groups of riders out and about doing their thang and enjoying their ponies. 

yes we 100% took our horses out into the field and to stroll around and take pictures of everyone trotting and cantering through the water lol
Including naturally our little old lady group LOL, where we mostly walked -- and possibly peer pressured a few members into jussst a litttle bit of trotting and maybe thru the water too. Plus naturally walking and trotting up and down the littlest step banks, just to get that feeling again. 

And honestly it just feels so good. Charlie's still a little lazy at times, and was certainly the slowest and quietest of the group. But again, once he gets moving it's like he finally lets go and loosens up in his body. 

my most majestic beastie after his "school"
It's helpful for me, too, as a rider. It's liberating. Just riding the horse forward in a balance over whatever comes our way -- with no arena walls or boring sandbox circles to slow us down, and no need for me to pick at him or micromanage. 

So... Yea, haha. If you need me, we'll be out riding in the fields for the foreseeable future LOL. 




19 comments:

  1. THIS. There is nothing better for the soul than a no-pressure fun ride, and bonus points for the fact that it actually does help to condition the unfit horse too! Enjoy the beautiful weather, I'll be doing the same, cantering my land hippo across the fields pretending he's majestic ;)

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    1. yesss absolutely! three cheers for cantering the majestic beasties around with reckless abandon!!

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  2. Man, I miss spring in Maryland. We used to trail ride so so often through a subdivision that never sold all the lots. Basically turned four of them into a makeshift arena. It was the best!

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    1. oh man that's awesome tho!! i've only ridden charlie thru a neighborhood once (i think?) and he was suuuuuuper spooky the whole time lol

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  3. Those are some awesome trails! Sounds like a perfect way to use the terrain to mentally and physically get him using himself well. My first horse was an appt who loved to get stuck behind the leg. We didn't really figure out lengthenings until we worked on them on the trails, he actually got the point then!

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    1. Stupid autocorrect... Appy

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    2. oh man it's such a great feeling when he finally revs up his own engine and starts paying attention to where his feet are going lol!! charlie will do literally anything out on the trails -- all the lateral movements in the book just to open and close gates etc... in the dressage ring tho? no ma'am LOL

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  4. Sounds like the perfect thing to mix things up! I am so jealous of those fields of yours! I think Amber would benefit so much from that, but unfortunately there is nothing like that here lol.

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    1. dude we're so lucky to have this kind of access to land -- it makes such a difference for the horses, esp those that need a little help to feel their physical best

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  5. Yay for getting back to the fun stuff!

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  6. That's fantastic! Almost makes me want to get out and trail ride :D

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    1. haha "almost" lol -- for real tho, this is the good stuff ;)

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  7. Riding with you in those fields and woods is on my bucket list.

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    1. all you gotta do is make it to maryland, we'll take care of the rest ;)

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  8. Am jealous! I miss riding around the fields of the old barn

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    1. dude there really is nothing at all quite like just running through an open field on horseback <3

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