Coffee in hand, (fake) Dubarry’s on, you pull up to the barn on a gorgeous Saturday spring morning. You shake your head slightly when you realize your horse is at the far back corner of the paddock some ½ mile away and shake your head again when you see them covered from head to toe in mud. ‘tis the season. Strolling back to the barn, you tell your horse about everything that is in the works for the up coming show season.
You’re finally moving up a level, finally feel prepared, finally can’t wait to enter at ‘A’ for the first time….dried mud be gone after a good 45 minute brushing, you finally get on and breathe…there is no where you would rather be…after a solid 50 minute school, you head out for a hack to enjoy the Spring weather and laugh to yourself at your horse’s antics as you slowly make your way back to the barn…
And, then I get bitch slapped back to reality.
Gone are the days as described above. Where time seems to stand still when at the barn and nothing else really matters. What matters now, is getting in, schooling efficiently and effectively and getting out all within 70 minutes max. Sounds lunatic doesn’t it? Welcome to my reality.
As much as I appreciate and am grateful for the grandparents who come to look after King Crankypants (as baby Nolan is affectionately referred to in this household), for a couple hours during the week so I can get out, part of me feels sooo bad about leaving him with others when he is in fact being cranky. (Mom thing?) He has also developed a dislike for napping throughout the day and we are lucky to get three 30 minute naps out of him. That said, he does pretty well at night.
So long as I keep my head down and don’t get caught up socializing (extremely difficult to do in my case), I normally manage. I actually do a fist pump when I pull into the barn parking lot and don’t see any cars there . (No offense !)
If you are smart about it, you can still get in and out within a short amount of time. To minimize the amount of mud bath I have to brush off Colby, I still keep a blanket with a full neck on her. Mind you, she is a princess and doesn’t have a lot of hair, but, that is besides the point. This might sound like pony club 101, but, the first thing I do is check her shoes and her feet. I have been burned twice already in the past month (yes, MONTH) with her throwing shoes. (And yes, I love my farrier.) One thing I will always take my time with though, is brushing her legs and putting her boots on before and after we ride.
When I get on, the first thing I do is start asking for a lot of stretching, bending and suppling on a long rein and a decent walk. No lally-gagging along..yes, she is a thoroughbred and yes, she lally-gags. (I think the best score for our walk has been like a 6, I’m not kidding.) I spend a solid 30 minutes schooling and making it count and will sometimes up it to 40 minutes if I have the time. Knowing I have a finite amount of time to work, makes me think about it more and try harder to get it right the first time. Mind you, this isn’t always the case and sometimes we spend the entire time going over the same 4 dressage movements, but, I have to make each ride and the time I have, count.
When we jump school, I try to use what is already set up rather than hauling jumps and standards all over the place. This has led me to being very creative but has also allowed for us to practice jumping angles , broken lines and odd striding. I’ll take what I can get!
Regardless of if you have no time or all the time in the world, making each ride count is what is important. I think about what it is I want to accomplish before I get to the barn and know exactly what it is I want to do when I get there. That helps to save precious minutes too. All this being said, there have been a couple times in the past 2 weeks where I just threw it all out the window and hacked…simply because my brain was mush and I just wanted to enjoy my horse and forget about the screaming child I had left with his very supportive grandparents…
…tick tock goes the first event of the season clock..