Compared to 2016’s equestrian endeavors this past year has been extremely quiet. After completing 50 miles with all A’s at Mustang Memorial, I retired Nakai from endurance riding. He absolutely loves it, but at 26 years old I think it’s too much to ask him to keep doing fifties. Aside from Nakai’s ERU, I’ve been incredibly fortunate not to have any lameness or “old horse” issues. I want to keep him going as long as possible, and I decided that meant no longer competing.
I miss endurance riding.
I still bounce down the trails with friends and Nakai still needs at least 15 miles to really settle. What I really want, though, is to load up my horse and travel the east coast attending rides. Nakai will always have a home with me, and I love him more than life. Life, however, has its limitations and this particular dream isn’t going to manifest itself for a number of years.
The last bit of 2017 came with all kinds of annoyances that, while minor in the long run, left Ben and I stressed and cranky. My family was kind enough to gift us with the plague at Christmas. Three weeks have gone by and we’re finally feeling better. I’ll remember this the next time I come down with a stomach bug.
Then, I messed up my back and somehow managed to lock up the muscles in my lower left side. From doing what, you ask? CLEANING. Well, I told Ben, that’s the last time I’m doing that.
From all of this, Nakai’s basically had the first part of January off. I was able to squeeze in a ride here and there, but this past weekend was the first time I felt decent enough and the footing was safe enough to get some miles in on the trails. I’m on a completely different schedule than everyone at the barn it seems, so I took the opportunity to tinker with my new vivitar camera. Unfortunately, the battery life is nauseatingly short (30 mins) and I have to practically point it at the ground to see Nakai. I’m hoping to replace it with one of the newer GoPro Hero’s in the near future.
Winter is usually when I pull out my work saddle and go back to basics. We work on softness, flexibility, and patience. I’d like to think one of the reasons I don’t have any body issues or lameness with him is because of the time I spend bending and suppling his body. It improves his responses, flexibility, and balance. This little horse can do lead changes on circles smaller than 20 meters, but that doesn’t mean anything if I don’t keep up with it.
Our ride last night can be summarized by “I should have lunged my horse”. Nakai was great but absolutely on fire. He wanted to do everything at Mach 5. I said “come on, easy, easy, YES soft, that’s right” so many times it might as well be our mantra. It was more frequently followed by “nope, you know that, nope” as I half halted every other stride and asked him to please remember he is an appaloosa and most certainly not a dynamite stick. He tries so hard though, and I feel blessed to have a coming 27 with the motor of a 4 year old.
I can’t wait to see him tomorrow.