Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Old horse, young horse, green horse, kinda stupid horse

This is my answer when someone asks me "Where have you been?" Or "Wow haven't seen you at a ride for a long time!"

At one point this endurance junkie had safely placed endurance riding on the back burner of life and was surviving nicely. When I saw an old friend and they'd ask "Have you been riding much?" I had all the excuses and reasons. Horse is too old. Not enough $$$. I got a young horse that isn't broke yet. Oh I can't take that beast out in public yet!

But then the young horses got older and the training began. And it went on and on. Now green horses are supposed to get better with time and training. But you can train and do tricks and games in a ring all you want, but nothing "makes" a horse like riding it. I was once asked "So what makes a good horse?" I told them wet saddle blankets, LOTS of wet saddle blankets. Now I'm not sure if this person was one fry short of a Happy Meal but the queation was asked "Where do you buy those?" OK so I know that you aren't supposed to laugh at people. So after biting my tongue and being in pain I had to explain that you earned these wet saddle blankets by getting out and actually riding the horse. The hotter the weather the more the horse sweats, the wetter the saddle blanket and the faster you get results.

Now I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But I have tried this training thing both ways. Back in the day we would just get on and ride. If they had a turn and a whoa we headed for the hills and they got their first wet saddle blanket. I was also younger and tougher back then. Or you ride in an arena for awhile, graduate to trails so they "learn", and hope they remember when they get out in public. Mine are kinda stupid so in public they have to act totally unbroke and entertain everyone. It has been my experience that we got way better results doing it the the old ride 'em cowboy way, and our horses didn't take forever to be a decent ride. A good Arab needs to get a bit tired for any memory retention to take place I think.

So with that in mind, it was time to take the young, green and sometimes stupid horse to an endurance ride. And then another ride and another ride.....because maybe mine are a bit slow learning how this works. Or smarter than their rider. Or definitely tougher than what I bargained for. Yup that's it! They just get fitter and tougher and better. There is a fine line between stupid and tough, you ride enough and you'll figure out where to draw that line. My friends and I would ride for hours, days and miles and miles. After 1000 miles and five years of wet saddle blankets - Thunder is starting to figure it out. And those 100's pack bonus points into those wet saddle blankets so you get faster results. My goodness, the red horse does have manners!
Looking back, Zap wasn't really "good" till he had at least 3000 miles and was about 13 years old. Blue only has a little over 300 AERC miles, with some good unmeasured trail miles in a couple years time. He will see more action during the summer.
Hmmm, so I have a loooong way to go yet!

So here I am, riding two horses as often and regularly as I can fit it in around work. Getting those hard earned wet saddle blankets. The wetter the better. The farther they go wearing that wet blanket the better they become. Man this is work. And now - here I am - back riding 100's after all these years. And still finding it fun. Yeah I may be kinda stupid too. Well matched to these ponies. YEEHAW! Go ride!

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