We make choices every day. We choose when to get up, when to eat, what to eat, how fast to drive, and how productive we will be at work on any given day. As children, most of our choices were taken from us, made by our parents, teachers, and other adults. As teens, we became responsible for more of our choices, and their consequences, as our world broadened and expanded. As adults, we became completely responsible for our decisions: where to work, where to go to school, where we live and how we spend our money. Sometimes, especially before we really got a handle on adulting, we make choices that we later regretted: student loans that didn't result in a degree, too much credit card debt at a high interest rate, that fast sporty car that looks kick ass but is twice as expensive as we could really afford. And then, some of us, start the long, arduous process of bringing a life into this world that we suddenly are responsible for making choices for as well.
I had a choice to make today. I had the opportunity to go to the barn and do a ride on my horse. Ever since the WE show, I have wanted to start working on the dressage skills we really need to improve if we are ever going to be competitive in WE at the Novice level. So, my agenda is to move our dressage mastery in the mastery direction, rather than floundering in the sea of dismalness.
Here's the thing, though. Ashke has not been in regular work for two months now. Our ride last week was a long trip on the struggle bus and I ended my ride cranky.
I don't ever want my rides to end with me cranky and frustrated with my horse. It's not fair to him and it's not how I want to be. I want us both to be happy or at least not to be cranky with one another.
I made the choice to wait on the dressage training (ie working on transitions, working on circles, working on precision - something I really suck at) and instead, taking him out and letting him move at the speed he wanted to go. It wasn't fair for me to expect him to dressage for me when he was going to be like a ten year old boy who had been locked in the car for ten hours set loose in a McD's fun house and told to do homework. It was going to take all of his energy and jam it into the space between us.
It would not have been pretty. So instead, we opted for across the street. This was probably the last ride we will do there, since we will be moving a long way north at the end of the month.
Ashke greeted me with a whicker when I walked up, then flared his nostrils and stuck his head in the halter when I opened the door. He did so willingly, even though the hay truck was in the aisle and three flakes of alfalfa had just been dropped in his feed bin. He came out of the stall with eagerness and followed me to the trailer, snorting quietly. I groomed, booted his fronts (the horn has grown some in the past week and he was not sore on his right front at all tonight), saddled up and headed out.
We went at mostly his pace. He was jerky and spooky and had to keep a good rhythm going forward, but he went willingly. We trotted where we could, cantered all of the places where it was safe, raced up a couple of hills, jumped a fallen tree and negotiated shoulder high grass with a good attitude.
Six miles in just over an hour riding time. He snorted with happiness the entire ride.
He got a quick rinse on his shoulders and where the saddle was, then scraped with the squeegee. A complete bath will have to wait for a warmer time. He was tucked into his stall with shavings and his mash. He looked pretty pleased with himself as I headed out.
It was a great ride.