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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Take a deeeeeeep breath....

..... and exhale. Staffing Crisis 2010 is NOT going to be resolved anytime soon. So it's time I just got over it, sucked it up, and went on with my life instead of fretting about it 24/7. I've been losing sleep over the problem for going on two months now, but as long as we are getting through the issue day by day, it's not so bad. That being said, this day-by-day living is horrible for me and I hate not knowing what the future is going to bring. It doesn't help matters much that I'm working Gogo a bit fly-by-night, and have no set plans, goals, or anything else in particular that I want to work towards. I am severely goal-oriented, so when I DON'T have a goal, I don't really know what to do.

What I DO know is that I currently have a sound and happy horse. The difficult part of all this lies within: how do I keep her this way while simultaneously strengthening her, having actual FUN, and NOT over-fitting her for the coming winter? It's always been about getting her to her peak fitness before. Now it's about strengthening her without risking reinjury while we are still only 6 months out. I have absolutely zero reason to rush anything, and right now all I want to do is have a little fun.

Only. That little bit of topline we put on? I am going to have to put up a fight to keep it, as I can already see it diminishing. It's the first thing to go on her, and when I don't want to do anything but trail ride around on the buckle, well... that's not so good for strengthening a topline.

Last week, I was a BAD MOMMY. On Monday, we did our typical bareback hack, 45 minutes up and down the hills on our property at mostly a walk with some bits of trot up small hills tossed in for good measure. Which was great! Except then, Tuesday happened, and more staffing and me being near-tears by the end of the exhausting day (and my honey being in the exact same position and needing a bit of comfort from me too) caused me to not do my scheduled dressage ride. Oh well, dressage is no fun compared to a trail ride anyway, right? Wednesday, my day off, I trailered Gogo out to the Larkin Bridle Trails, which some of you will remember from my conditioning rides last year. We walked, mostly, with a bit of trot and canter, and in general had a ball for about 1:30min. It was good exercise on a good surface, although I have to say that Gogo seemed to prefer walking on the grass next to the trails instead of on the actual path, which can be a bit rocky. I actually thought by the end that I might really want to invest in a pair of boots for the first time in our four-year barefoot career, but then again, I rather enjoy walking on squishy grass too when I can - more comfortable for my body all around. I let her choose her own path, as she does walk on gravel daily but not for any vast length of time and it's not really fair to ask that of her right now (and got forbid she get sore at this point), and gave her a good liniment bath and wrapped her all around when we got back to the barn. She was none the worse for the wear the following day, but I decided to give her the day to relax anyway. And that's when the rest of the week sort of fell apart, and I have her Friday off as well. And Saturday. And Sunday.

That trail ride was some good medicine though:

Love that big honking roping saddle. It's soooooo squashy and comfortable. She goes well in the tom thumb, but I think I'd really rather get her an Indian bosal instead, something bitless without any serious mechanical action. She always loved her hackamore as a baby. Until she, well, figured out how to run through it. Mares. (Bet she'd be super in it now.)

I let her relax all weekend. I needed to reset our schedule, and my brain. This occasionally happens to me, but it's not too disastrous at the moment as I really have no deadlines, schedules or goals beyond by simple monthly ones. But her topline IS changing right now, I have to say, and it's not for the better. If you don't use it... YOU LOSE IT! But all I want to do right now is just have a little fun. I don't want to be in the arena at ALL!

Therefore, I have a compromise.

I will continue with this schedule for now:

Monday: 45 min bareback hack around property
Tuesday: Dressage
Wednesday: Trailer off property for hacking (Baxster Rd?)
Thursday: Jumping
Friday: Either trailering off property for hacking OR hacking up the road
Saturday: Either trailering off property for hacking OR hacking up the road
Sunday: OFF

(This is a severely rudimentary schedule. The complexities of day-to-day work depend largely on her at the moment.)

BUT. All that hacking bareback, off property, up the road? No more lazing around on the buckle dragging her toes. No ma'am, those days are over. You won't get any stronger working like that. I have to put her together and work her. I have to make that topline and buttocks do their share.

I have to do anti-arena dressage.

Yesterday, this plan went pretty well. She was hot and ready to walk me right off her back, but she held it together well and actually did some nice work for me up and down the wet hills in the rain. I was very careful give the footing, and hardly took a trot step anywhere, but the few bits that I did seemed to diffuse her a bit, and she relaxed. By the end, she was stretching fairly nicely, and the nice thing about not having a saddle is that I can really feel when her back muscles engage and round up underneath me. Today I will have to see if I can replicate this... for the first time since March, I will have to ride in the indoor arena as it is still pouring outside and the outdoor is temporarily underwater. How will she handle it? I'm not sure, but it might be pretty ugly. She has to get over it though, there's no two ways about it. She just is going to have to deal with the door demons at the far end.

And guess what happens on Friday. THE BEACH OPENS.

You better believe we're going the second I am out of work. Playtime, here we come!


eventer79 said...

I say, in the grand scheme of things, topline is not that important for a noncompeting horse. Have fun, ride trails, be happy! Why stress over something she doesn't need right now?

Andrea said...

Very true! I think it's mostly because I am working off the assumption that if she is not building topline, she is not working correctly and therefore is putting her body and legs at risk. (She is the worst crooked pretzel when I let her get out of shape.... I can only imagine how much that might overload one leg or another)

Or maybe I just need a goal, or else I might start twitching ;)

Funder said...

All the Old Masters swear that (proper) walk work is the key to good dressage!

The beach ... opens? At the end of September?

Sydney_bitless said...

Walking is the most important part of my horses regime, especially when driving.

If you want to talk bitless, please do give me a holler I can answer your questions.

Val said...

Glad to hear that you are having some fun. And who says dressage is only for arenas?

Serena said...

I'm glad someone else with an "english" horse flings a western saddle on there occasionally! And, I'm sure you already know this, but when you fine a comfy western saddle, GRAB THAT PUPPY with both arms and never never never let go! They are few and far between!

Jen said...

Ugh, I want to work for you so badly! I'm an Equine Studies girl with RL experience looking for a job in Indiana where my soon-to-be-husband lives. Your facility looks incredible, we don't have anything like that out here in the sticks. Love reading about you and Gogo, keep it coming! Sometime I have a Success Story Sunday for you.

Hurricanes12 said...

i may have to invest in a western saddle and just have some fun too, glad to hear gogo is still sound all round :D

spotteddrafter said...

Aw, I love seeing pictures of a happy horse (and rider!). We've just been puttering around the trails too...and you know mare's topline is coming back nicely even while riding most of the time at the buckle. Gogo might not look as "fit" as when she's tuned and ready, but trails are so good for their body and mind! Have fun!