First Ride

Okay, so obviously this is not about my first horseback ride. No, this is about the first ride on Sunshine after her injection of ECP. I honestly wasn't expecting a miracle (thank goodness, since I didn't get one!). And I honestly wasn't disappointed, either.

The injection was done on Thursday evening, and it just didn't work out the next 2 days for me to ride. I can't remember what happened on Friday, but Saturday was way too hot during the day for an out-of-shape horse and rider to be working. I had planned to ride Saturday evening, but of course right after I dropped C off at Mama's it started raining. I will ride in the rain if it starts when I'm already on (as long as its not a heavy rain), but I won't start in it.

Yesterday, the stars aligned and I was able to escape outside for an hour! I borrowed a toddler cot for C (in hopes that it would help her nap without being held), and lo and behold, it was magical all weekend. Saturday afternoon she slept for almost 2 hours in it, and yesterday for almost 3. P also took a long nap yesterday, so around 3 I snuck outside. Yes, it was the hot part of the day, but a storm cloud was coming, and it was cooling off a little. It was still 90 degrees, but there was a nice breeze so it didn't feel so terrible. I knew if I waited til later in the evening it would be raining (and it did rain, a LOT - while I was feeding the horses! haha), so I had to take the opportunity when it arose.

I had read on Friday that trot poles and cavalletti are good for strengthening a horses' stifles, so that was my plan. I forgot to set up the ring before I got Sunshine out, but I got her ready (man, I need to clean my nasty tack! its a disgrace) and just ground-tied her while I set everything up. (If your horse is not trained to ground tie, DO IT! Its the best thing ever. My horses are not 100% trained like this, meaning it doesn't work everywhere, but in the arena they will stand perfectly still - without eating grass - until I'm ready for them. So nice.) Anyway, I set up a line of trot poles, a tiny cross rail, and then I used my cool cavalletti thingys to set up some more raised trot poles. Technically, they are jumps (I think they're 18 inches, maybe less), but Sunshine will not actually jump anything less than 2 feet. My goal was not to get her to jump, but to get her to really pick her legs up and work.

I can tell she's really out of shape. She. was. so. SLOW! I was hot and sweaty just form the warm up, trying to keep her moving. Granted, it was 90 degrees, but she is outside 24/7, so she should be used to the heat. Once she realized she had to focus on poles, she perked up a little (that girl loves to jump!), but I still had to give her a lot of leg to keep a good tempo.

I was pretty pleased with how she picked up her feet. She knocked the poles several times, but most of the time that was due to me not having the spacing between poles correct. Next time, I'll correct that.

I wasn't sure how much of the pole work I should do with her. I mean, she is pretty out of shape, but I'm not sure how hard it is for a horse to do that, you know? Admittedly, I've never spent much time with trot poles and raised poles like this. When I was "teaching" Sunshine to jump years ago, I figured out quickly that it had to be at least 2 feet for her to even consider jumping, and even then sometimes she would just take a big step over it (now, knock it on up to 2"6' or so and she would fly over them poles!), so we didn't spend much time at all on low poles. Its boring to me. With Wiley, I've done a ton of trot poles, cause he needs the help with focusing on where to place his feet. But its never been boring with him because he really needed the exercise. Does that make sense? Anyway, I didn't want to push it since it was so hot and its been a while since Sunshine has been actually worked. I have no idea how long I rode since I didn't have a watch or my phone with me.

After I decided we were done with the poles, I decided to try for the canter. My vet said to keep trying. I was actually able to get a few canter strides in both directions! It wasn't pretty at all, and it wasn't easy by any means, but it was better than the last time I rode her. She didn't want to get into the right lead, which is normal for her. But she did it after I insisted, it just took her a few steps longer than it should have. I felt like it was progress, though!

This issue is gonna be a hard one to gauge, because its not like I can just observe her in the pasture to see if she's still lame. And with it being so hot and muggy, none of the horses feel like running much anyway. The only way I can tell if she's improving is to get on her and ride her.

I briefly thought about getting up early this morning to ride, but I was so exhausted from yesterday that I decided against it. (After I rode, me and C did the Wii Dance game, and boy, what a workout!!) I have a really hard time getting up in the morning anyway, so I'll have to trick myself somehow into gettin up early enough to ride, haha. I do plan to hop on her tonight, though. DH and I have already decided on an easy supper, and he knows that I need to get Sunshine back into work to help her issue, so if the weather cooperates, it should work out. Wish me luck!!

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