x+1

So, horsie stuff first.

I rode Friday, for the first time in nearly two weeks.  BO was out riding Skinny Guy, so I came to the barn and saw this:

I don't know why I feel that Archie is different than other horses in this regard, but nonetheless:  I don't think running around and lunging takes the oompf out of him.  If anything, I think it revs his engine up more.  So, when I got on him on Friday, I had extra-special kid gloves and just wanted to get around at a trot a couple times with no issues.  And as soon as we did that, I praised and dismounted.

Saturday, I guess I put my big girl britches on.  I grabbed the dressage whip (which has definitely seen better days) and was determined to get good transitions, a solid and easy canter, and just.. better behavior.  It was actually a pretty good ride and he never spooked or scooted or anything.  Woo, pony!

And on Sunday, I rode with the whip again.  I never used it, but I think just having it increases confidence.  He was sluggish, so we worked on going forward and flexing.  I didn't canter him because I jumped him instead.  :)  Which brings me to "x+1".

I had this weird theory in my head last night, whilest being plagued by insomnia.  "x" is the exertion offered by your horse.  Comfortable exertion.  "x+1" is pushing just a little bit harder, improving his fitness just a tiny bit.  "x+2" is where you push too hard and, like any athlete, you fuck everything up.  Muscles hurt too much, are more prone to injury, fatigue sets in and, really, it just becomes miserable for the horse (so, if he's Archie, he makes sure you're miserable, too).  So the idea is that you have to find that a balance between pushing a tad to increase fitness and not pushing so much that you ruin things.

Which brought me to a lot of introspection.  Why am I pushing the canter so much?  Why am I pushing jumping so much?  I know I enjoy both those things and that Archie seems to enjoy them, too.  But I don't think I've been completely realistic about the physical capabilities of a nearly-sixteen year old off-the-track Thoroughbred who has been arthritic in his front end for years, has been diagnosed with ringbone, has had injections in multiple joints in the back end and is currently under regular chiropractic care for a sore back.  I mean, really, what the fuck is wrong with me?

So, while I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, and doing what we enjoy, I'm going to step back a little bit.  Slow down some.  I started pushing the canter, pushing sitting the canter, and he responded by exploding.  Rather than fight him on the behavior, I should be listening to him and fixing the issue causing the pain and subsequently causing the behavior.  So more trot work.  More transitions.  Smaller amounts of canter.  More massage.  Vacillating being cantering and jumping and not asking for both on the same day.

In other life stuff:  I'm going to attempt kale chips tonight from goods purchased at the Farmer's Market;  I made two trips to the Humane Society yesterday because they had a shipment of kids from Asheville (I made jokes about a bunch of pot-smoking hippie dogs) (where I also fell in a tiny bit of love with a 12 year old solid black with a distinguished gray beard Pomeranian female named "Old Greg."  Husband has been put on alert that if she isn't adopted out, I'm going to offer to foster her.); we drank beer and ate pizza; I took my first-ever Pilates class and it was eh; my father is coming in town this weekend and I'm super excited to see him; and we looked at six houses yesterday and made an offer on one. 

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