Sunday, April 12, 2009

All in Good Time

For the past several weeks, I've been riding Consolation at a walk and trot for distances ranging from 4 to 6 miles, up and down the long, gradual inclines that characterize the landscape around In the Night Farm. This basic, early conditioning for the horse's muscular and cardiovascular systems lays foundational fitness without damaging joints, bones, and connective tissue. More importantly, in Consolation's case, it offers a low-pressure environment in which to advance her training in preparation for her hopeful career as an endurance mount.

The potential for high pressure, of course, comes from me. I'm the one who hopes Consolation is ready for her first Limited Distance ride at the Owyhee Fandango. I'm the one who'd like to do at least a couple 50's on her this year. I'm the one who cares if it takes two hours to cover 4 miles because my horse is balky.

Last I checked, Consolation doesn't wear a watch. Lately, neither do I.

You all know I'm a bit obsessive about my endurance conditioning log, in which I record ride times, distances, speeds, and other data in minute detail. Without a watch, I can't record time. Without time, I can't record speed. That leaves me with distance...and a mind properly focused on taking the time it takes to give my horse what she needs.

What does she need? Time.

Consolation has never been an easy horse to train. Interestingly, she was relatively easy to gentle, in the beginning. Self-confidence will do that for a horse. But the same qualities that made her less fearful than others in the gentling pen make her less compliant on the trail -- which challenges me to improve my game.

These recent weeks have served up a crash course in patience, consistency, persistence, and heels-to-the-pavement, independent-seat riding for me, and a series of hard-earned breakthroughs for Consolation. Ride by ride, despite many setbacks and exceptions, I see her breaking free of balkiness and spookiness, striding out with confidence and even delight, taking tentative steps toward partnership. Very slowly, I can feel the balance tipping from "just started under saddle" to "just needs miles."

Today, we'll do our first long ride. Eight miles is hardly "long" by endurance standards, but it'll be the farthest Consolation and I have ever attempted to travel together. We'll explore some territory that's new to her, trot when we can, walk when we must. Maybe we'll stop for a little grazing break halfway.

I won't wear a watch. Not yet. That moment will come -- all in good time.
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Post-ride update: She was fantastic! We had one of those golden rides that tells me I'm doing something right, after all. We all need a flight like that, once in a while. Thanks, Milady.
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10 comments:

Life at Star's Rest said...

Hi Tamara - I'm glad to hear that things are progressing slowly but well with your girl. I'm thinking my new mustang has the look of the old barbs and was wondering if you could point me in the direction of some research and info on them. Thanks - Carmon

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

Hi Carmon. :) Dr. Deb Bennett's book "Conquerors" contains a wealth of history with regard to horsemanship in the Old and New Worlds, including the old bloodlines/phenotypes we can still identify today.

Also, I can't post a link in this comment, but try a Google search for Dr. Bennett's paper entitled "The Origin and Relationships of the Mustang, Barb, and Arabian Horse."

All the best to you
Tamara

Lori Skoog said...

Tamara...being patient is so important. You are so smart not to bother with the watch at this point. Tell us about Aaruba.

allhorsestuff said...

Lovely news about you building your patience and it soooo pays off.
I am finally able to ride in the back of the group now..with little to no resistance to race and be in front with my Thoroughbred mare! It has taken 3 years...but hay..I have her forever so I have that long!
Please DO talk about Aruba!

enlightenedhorsemanship.net said...

Curious to know how you train when the balks and spooks arrive...

Life at Star's Rest said...

Thanks Tamara! I'll definitely check those out. I've really enjoyed Deb Bennett's other books and would be glad to add that one to the library. If I were still capable of it, I think Mio has all of the right characteristics of a good endurance horse.

Very glad your ride went so well! I love those moments when time and space seem to disappear and we and our horses seem to be all that exist. Carmon

Wind Gatherer said...

'All my possessions for a moment of time.'
-Elizabeth I

Jackie said...

It is in the journey that memories are made. Consolation is giving you so many good ones! You are a lucky girl.........

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

Lori and AHS -- You are so kind to ask about Aaruba. He's as well as can be expected, given his internal complications. I'll post about him soon. :)

Kim -- check my March 2009 post entitled "Building on a Balk" and October 2008 "Moving Out: Increasing Speed and Confidence on the Trail." Also, Charles Wilhelm's book "Building Your Dream Horse" influenced how I deal with spooks and is absolutely worth reading.

Carmon -- No problem at all. Might you try some endurance with Mio?

Wind Gatherer -- You know I'm a quote junkie, right? Thank you. :)

Jackie -- Lucky indeed. More than I deserve.

theliteraryhorse said...

So lovely to read a post with such good horsemanship and self evaluation. It's not always easy to keep choosing the truly best path!
Jane