Wednesday, October 30, 2013

zero to sixty on the Big Bay

Today's ride started slow. I felt tight and stiff when I got on, but immediately felt better once I did. Keil Bay seemed a bit sluggish - our temps were back up to 70 today and the sun was out and it was mid-day. We had a nice breeze though and since it was pleasant I figured we'd just do a lot of walking and a little trotting and enjoy the trees which are finally starting to turn colors.

We had a nice walk going and just kept on with it. Once we started trotting, the trot was nice but not spectacular - but Keil was responsive and moving well and again, I was enjoying the laid back ride so much I didn't ask for more.

We kept going.

At some point Keil literally shifted into high gear. It wasn't spookiness but he just clicked into his power mode. We did the best walk I remember ever doing. He wanted to trot and we did some shoulder-in to stretch things out even more - after that the trot got even better.

I really did have to slow him down to get him ready for a dismount today - he was revved up and not even interested in stopping!

Monday, October 28, 2013


This morning's ride on keil bay can be summed up in one word: forward.  He was ready to go from the moment I tacked him up. Once we started trot work he did not want to stop.

At least half the ride he was what I call fully in the bridle. What a pleasure and an honor it was to be his lucky rider today. And every day!

Best of all, when I rode him to the mounting block to dismount, he walked away before I could get off, not once but three times. He was not ready for the ride to end. Love the big handsome bay!

Friday, October 25, 2013

good rides and COLD temps

Have continued the rides with Big Bay and have had to pull out heavy breeches for warmth, turtlenecks, a fleece jacket one day, and tonight we're cranking up the wood stove! So we went from zero to sixty, to muddle a metaphor, in terms of dealing with heat and flies to dealing with chilly riding.

The horses of course love this weather.

I'm loving how my body feels a few minutes after I get in the saddle and even better later in the days after a ride. Clearly something tight is getting stretched out in a way it desperately needs.

Horses are getting furrier, more hay is getting forked out, and I'm getting more reluctant to dip my hands into water troughs. Love the fall, love the chill, and am really happy to be riding the Big Bay. He's pretty happy too. :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

more good rides

Since last week when I finally got over the hurdle of not having ridden since May, Keil Bay and I have been on the every other day schedule for the most part. Some of the "other days" were not able to be managed due to rain and at least one due to over-seeding winter rye, which Keil Bay felt was fairly important.

Each ride has been good and I've discovered, as I suspected I would, that my twinging hip is eons better on the days I ride and things get stretched out.

Yesterday I forgot to do my own stretching before I hopped on, and Keil Bay's warming up time felt a little funky to me. I think my tight hip was creating a big block in his movement, but he pushed on and I did some leg exercises in the saddle to get things unstuck a bit on my end. Keil reminded me that shoulder-in helps him stretch out, so we added that in both directions.

I asked him to walk forward but for the most part allowed him to go where he wanted to. Yesterday he chose to hug the arena rail, going deep into each corner. Interesting note: the day before I had raked and cleaned the arena of huge batches of fallen oak leaves, so the corners were actually visible!

Three times he stopped at the exact same place, close to Salina's grave, and not only did he stop, but cocked his hind hoof as if to say: let's just be here for a while. He's never stopped that way before, and since he did it at the same place, not directly in front of Salina's grave but at a point where he could gaze at it, it felt like he was wanting to spend some time with her.

All through the ride he was quite alert but not spooky in any way, as though there was something there he was paying attention to but I couldn't quite see. At one point the donkeys climbed through the arena fence and joined us, so maybe Salina was there, eating some acorns and enjoying the fall day.

Once we started trotting everything seemed to fade away except for the movement. We trotted the arena and also 20m circles. Near the end of the ride Keil Bay offered a gorgeous sequence of trot - perfect for sitting and powerful but so perfectly contained that it felt like we were in slow motion. We ended on that, and I walked with him back to the barn feeling so grateful I got to ride that trot again. There is nothing else in the world quite so beautiful as Keil Bay's perfect trot.

Friday, October 11, 2013

In which keil bay says stop with the lunging and get the hell on

Lunged perfectly to the left, which is his stiffer side but when I turned him to the right he absolutely would not stay out on the circle. I took this as the message it was: time to get over the hump and get on. And so I did. And it was quite lovely. Walk and trot. Look at him after!!!

Get out here now!!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Big Bay - a small step forward

This morning I went out to the barn in breeches and boots and Keil Bay took one look and walked up and stuck his head in the halter I was holding.

I did a quick and thorough groom, and he did soft snorts and dropped manure, then got very antsy (in a good way) - he was obviously ready to do some work.

He got his annual sport clip mane, a forelock trim, and when I walked up with the bridle he took the bit in his mouth on his own.

All this was so so good and it was totally clear he wanted to get back to work.

It's another gray day here and the wind is blowing and gusting though - and I felt like I needed to check things out - so I got the lunge line and whip and put the Big Bay through his paces.

He overtracked at the walk right out of the barn. His first two trot circles were a bit short-strided, but after more walking and my asking for a bigger trot, he loosened up and looked terrific.

After the first 10 minutes or so of walk-trot transitions, he put himself on the bit and started offering canter. He looked good - big movement, landing well, good transitions -  very very forward and into the work with ears pricked.

I was thrilled to be able to see him move and assure myself that he's moving so well. We did equal work in both directions under the watchful eyes of two donkeys and Cody. The pony stayed in the barn and munched on hay. :)

So... I didn't get on today but after the lunge work we took a walk together and cooled down. It was a lovely morning and Keil was so obviously thrilled it made me feel that much more resolved to get back to our riding routine.

What a morning. What a Bay!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Big handsome bay

Saw the first V of geese this morning and that made me think of Wendell Berry's poem, my favorite, I think, and I realized it fits with the Big Handsome Bay photo. I post this every autumn and I'm happy it's time to post it again!

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze 
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Keil Bay's response to yesterday's blog post

Had to come report the Big Bay's reply:

This morning he is in Salina's stall, looking at the back door, which I have open because I'm doing some cleaning and the weather is nice, whinnying at the top of his lungs.  Once. Twice. Three times.

I think I know what it is he's saying. :)