Four Points and a Big Canter

For Lesson #109, I got to ride Habakuk for the second week in a row. Gerry had his lesson the day before thus opening up a spot for me on Habakuk’s back.

I got to ride with Leo, Karin’s son-in-law. Leo is both a new father and a new rider. Sometimes everything happens all at once.

Leo took Maree. He was concerned about being too big for her, but I think they matched up pretty well.

Leo and Maree

Leo and Maree

As I trotted Habakuk around the arena, I could hear Karin give Leo instructions regarding his seat: “Keep all Four Points of your butt on the horse,” she insisted.

DSC07469

A flood of mother-in-law jokes came crashing into my brain, but I held my tongue. Also, I remembered that the last time this topic had been discussed, there was some controversy over whether there are actually Five Points – not Four – to a person’s buttocks. But I didn’t bring that up either, because we were doing so well and I didn’t want anyone to lose to their focus to that debate.

I got to canter a bit. Karin used her Magic Wand as a communication aid.

DSC07478

On the first two go-arounds, I held on to the saddle horn because it seemed like the right thing to do. But after that, Karin told me let go and employ the Supple Joints thing. I did and it was more fun than holding on.

DSC07468

There is something about being on Habakuk that gives everything around you a kind of miniature feel.

DSC07462

Even the arena got smaller. We got from one end to the other in what seemed like two, maybe three bounds. Although, I not sure if “bound” is an appropriate canter term.

“He has a big canter, Karin,” I reported.

“No, he has a very smooth canter,” she responded.

They’re not necessarily conflicting ideas, of course. But I didn’t argue because I had another, more pressing issue I needed to discuss.

“His canter kind of breaks up into a trot at the end of the arena, Karin.”

“That’s because you’re not following through, Bob.”

Karin always puts it back on the rider. But she had a point. I was so busy keeping my whole body on him, I wasn’t paying enough attention to keeping my legs on him. It’s like coasting down a hill on a bike. It’s nice, but at some point you have to be prepared to resume peddling if you want to keep your momentum going.

At the end of the lesson, something happened that almost never happens. Someone asked me for help with his tack. It was Leo.

I put Habakuk on the crossties and then proceeded to tell Leo everything I knew about horse tack. Ten seconds later, he was all set.

IMG950539

I’m pretty sure Leo is going to be riding quite a bit in the coming weeks. Within a month or two, I’ll be asking him for help. And the universe will be back in its proper order.

DSC07485

Head Cover and a Major Blessing

For Lesson #108 I got to ride Habakuk since Gerry wasn’t there.

Interlopeing

Interlopeing

After decades of being conditioned by jealous horsegirl society, I felt a tinge of guilt as if I was interloping. The last thing I want to be is an interloper. Barn drama is the worst.

It wasn’t my idea, of course.

“You can ride Habakuk today,” Karin announced. “He’s in the Red Barn. Go get him – and don’t let the other horses out.”

This was a good reminder and I took due caution. If you don’t pay enough attention, the horses sometimes just do whatever the hell they want, especially when Karin isn’t right there. She’s like their mother or something.

Habakuk: a big and warm mammal.

Habakuk: a big and warm mammal.

As I led Habakuk from the Red Barn to the main barn for tacking up, I looked forward to getting on him. It was a cold, cold day and my equestrian career has seen enough winters to know that the best antidote to the cold is to share body heat with a large furry mammal other than a bear. Plus riding takes work if you actually want to accomplish anything. The combination of physical exertion and horse heat will warm you up nicely. My favorite part of an indoor winter riding lesson is the last ten minutes where the horse and I just wander around being comfortable.

Habakuk is great horse to ride. He responded well to my cues. He reminded me of Vinnie a little bit in that way. Miss that guy.

Due to the cold, I wore a cheap, but effective knit hat to the barn instead of my Lions’ cap. This created a small problem, again due to some prior conditioning. I don’t feel secure riding bareheaded. It’s just not safe. However, my brain took the physical sensation of the hat on my head as a green light to proceed, thusly: “You’re helmet is on your head, everything is okay, go ahead and mount the horse.”

I didn’t notice the oversight until about halfway through the lesson. Just kind of caught some knit material out of the corner of my eye. I had to pat my head three times to confirm.

Before.

Before.

Karin didn’t notice it either. However, she was gracious enough to go get my helmet from the main barn and make my head right.

After.

After.

In Karin’s defense, she was a bit preoccupied at the time. Daughter Anika was due anytime for Karin’s first grandchild. Sure enough, three days later the world welcomed Emiliana Grace.

Karin was super happy to report that the newest addition to the Schmidt family is BEAUTIFUL!!! and that Mama Anika, Papa Leo and the baby are all doing well.

Congratulations to both the Schmidt and Ojeda families. A new adventure has begun.

DSC07429

Supple Joints

For Lesson #105, Karin put me on The Horse Who is Not Dromie, a.k.a. Krystal.

Not Krystal

Not Krystal

Not Dromie.

Not Dromie.

I’ve learned to look at the bottom of their legs instead of their faces and this has helped immeasurably in the identification process. I don’t like bringing the wrong horse back to the barn.

The weather was like this:

Cold.

Cold.

So no pleasant Instruction in Open Terrain on a beautiful autumn morning. This was going to be a working lesson. And for this, I was partially fully prepared. I brought a pair of chaps because I haven’t got around to purchasing breeches that fit my current shape – if they actually make them like that.

Either these chaps are waaaay to small or there is a gap in my knowledge regarding how to apply them. I’m wondering if I grabbed the wrong ones.

But I did bring my boots. After a summer of riding in tennis shoes, I felt very equestrian-like in them. Having good, solid foot protection is a confidence booster in all walks of life.

Although, after a season of neglect, I needed a tool to help secure them to my feet.

DSC07254

Karin did indeed make us work. From her command post on top of Charley, she instructed Gerry and me to proceed around the arena at the trot (mounted) at least five times – sitting on the short side, posting on the long. 

I lost track of the count between the first and second time around, but I think Krystal and I may have completed something in the two to three range.

We weaved in and out of the pylons several times working on our precision. We also practiced backing.

Then, it was canter time. Karin demonstrated, mainly because she is psychologically incapable of sitting still on a horse for too long. Especially when she’s on Charley…

DSC07277

By the way, this Friday, November 7th, Karin and Charley will have been together for 10 years. Karin has been a serious horseperson for over 40 years, but Charley was actually the first horse she ever owned. I like to refer to their connection as the Seed That Eventually Became Legacy Stables.

Charley and Karin

Charley and Karin

Anyway…

Gerry and Habakuk cantered first. They did well, as they usually do. While Krystal and I watched the pair go around the ring, I thought, “Well, at least we have to try.”

If subsequent events are any indication, Krystal was thinking the same thing.

Because, when our turn came, I didn’t have to do much at all, except utter the word and she went right into it. It caught me by surprise, actually.

DSC07287

Karin must have noticed that because she told me to hold on to something.

It was lots of fun. However, I confessed to Karin that I felt like I was going to fall off.

“Well … your balance was good…”

It was one of those sentences that have a “but” built right into it…

“But, you need to loose up your hips and move with the horse.”

Ah, that should be the First Rule of Good Equestrianism: Move with the horse.

“You need to loosen up everything. You should ride with supple joints.”

Supple joints. For some reason, I like the sound of that.

DSC07293

 

 

Four Lessons

Lesson’s 101, 102 and 103 were essentially trial rides – or as we say at Legacy Stables, “instruction in open terrain.” Karin left it up to Gerry and me to fill in the blanks regarding what kind of lesson we would have and each time we ended up outside on the trails.

However, at first, I suggested we try jumping. For me, a fill-in-the-blank question is a treacherous trap. The impulse is always to answer with something facetious or impossible.

The problem is that what I call facetious or impossible, Karin calls a “fun idea.” You have to be careful what you say around her. I knew I made a mistake the moment the words left my mouth. I wanted to reach out and snatch them back, but I don’t have access to that technology.

Karin was all for it. “Yes, we can jump today!” She was very pleased with my go-getter attitude. “What saddle would you like, Bob?”

I saw this as an opportunity to wiggle out of the mess I was about to make: “That depends, Karin. Can you jump in a Western saddle?”

“No… you don’t jump in a Western saddle.”

“Then I’ll take a Western saddle.”

Besides, as Gerry was quick to point out, a trail ride made more sense than jumping because it was a nice, sunny day and at this time of the year we just don’t know how many more of these we are going to get. So it was time to saddle up and carpe diem.

Of course, Karin won’t forget about the jumping thing.

For the next three lessons, we got to do our share of carpe dieming. In three successive trail rides, I took Maree, Maree and Windy.

DSC06994

And Gerry rode Habakuk, Habakuk and Habakuk.

DSC06987

We had a variety of company with us, including Kim (S version) on Dromie:

DSC07056

Kathy on Windy when I wasn’t:

DSC06957

Kid Motivator turned Horse Motivator Jerry Jacoby on Dromie when Kim (S version) wasn’t:

DSC06958

On one ride, I attempted my first mounted selfie. I got a piece of my head and Kim (S version) in the background. I don’t think mounted selfies are that easy to do.

DSC07075

Later in the ride, Kim (S version) dropped her crop on the ground and I retrieved it for her. I suspect she had been back there doing baton twirls with it. That’s what I like about riding in the back; you get to do what you want.

During one ride, either Gerry or Jerry (they sound alike to me) said he expected to hear the theme music from Bonanza at any moment. After seeing this photo op shot, I kinda understood where Gerry or Jerry got that:

DSC06985

For Lesson #104, Karin put me on my old buddy, Caspian and we stayed in the arena. We worked: trotting and attempted canter. And I rather liked it. But the effort was tearing up my legs. I really need to find my riding boots and also some breeches that fit me now and not for when after I lose the 20 pounds I’ve been intending to lose. I have a pair of chaps a friend gave me a few years ago. I think I might try those for Lesson #105.

 

The Beautiful Queen of Horses

Our daughter, Hiliary, and son-in-law, Andy, gave Jenny and me t-shirts. Jenny got a “soft kitty” (a’ la The Big Bang Theory) and I got a cowboy on a brontosaurus:

man in t-shirt

Kim (S version) asked if I wore the shirt for Lesson #99 in anticipation of riding Dromie. Actually, I wore the shirt in anticipation of someone saying: “Hey, I like your shirt.” But Kim was half right, I did plan on riding Dromie. Shirt or no shirt.

Then again, perhaps there was some kind of collective subconscious process going on here that put Dromie and a brontosaurus on the same page. Later in the day, Karin emailed me this self portrait of one her young riders on Dromie:

drawing of rider and horse

Could this be a coincidence? Or a Jungian archetype, perhaps?

In any case, as anyone who has ever seen Dromie in person will tell you, she is one beautiful horse. No qualifiers regarding her age are necessary. Just a straight up pretty horse. So, if she is indeed a dinosaur she is a Gorgeousequus Rex (Bob Latin for “Beautiful Queen of Horses”).

Meanwhile, it must have been organization day at the barn. Half the contents of the tack room was spilled out into the general barn area, being inventoried and sorted. And new equipment arrived. It was like Christmas morning for a few minutes.

unpacking equipment

Pete unpacked this multiple-use item:

man with hat

I think this can also be used as a feeder of some kind.

Karin got a traffic sign written in equestrian language:

whoa sign

As for Lesson #99, all went well…

Well, not at first. As I approached Dromie in the pasture with halter in hand, she disappeared into the lean-to.

horse in lean-to

I thought perhaps she remembered our difficulty with the bridle in Lesson #98. I spoke to her for a minute or two, apologizing for the bridle thing, petting her and doing my best to explain the shirt. But I soon realized what the real problem was:

tractor

Dromie doesn’t like tractors.

Kim offered to coax Dromie from the lean-to and I thought that was an excellent idea. They have a good history together.

kim and dromie

After mounting Dromie from the wrong side (as noted by Pete), we moseyed around the arena as Gerry and Habakuk ran circles around us. Karin said that I was getting “too comfortable” on Dromie and that next week I’d be riding a different horse. Dromie is more or less a baby sitter and Karin is under the impression that my equestrian career would be better served with a tutor rather than a nanny. Even if the nanny is the Beautiful Queen of Horses.

We were joined by Liz on Rambo (or on Romeo? – I don’t know, it was one of the “R” horses) and proceeded to the trail for a bittersweet end of summer ride while being mindful of the horseflies that were rumored to be in the area.

DSC06447

No Drama on Dromie

For Lesson #97, I had the honor of riding Andromeda for the first time. “Dromie” is Kim’s (S version) horse. She is a Shire cross and she’s about as calm and sweet as they come.

Kim says Dromie is around 25, which in Karin Years is 18. That conversion isn’t as complex as it seems.

Dromie hangs out in the geriatric pasture with her buddy Rami and away from the obnoxious younger horses. Well… I think that’s how they would put it.

The Elder Council

The Elder Council

My nickname for Dromie is Krystal. Because I’m sure I’ve called her that several times now. In fact, I didn’t realize she was here until I saw both Krystal and Dromie  standing next to each other in the same paddock. With all the science fiction I’ve read, you can imagine what that was like for me.

I know that the horsepeople who see both horses everyday will think my confusion isn’t warranted and can point to a long list of details that distinguish the two. It should be obvious to anyone who is paying attention.

Ah, there’s the rub. To me, they are both black horses, thus identical.

And in my defense:

Not Krystal

Not Krystal

Not Dromie.

Not Dromie.

Of course, all of this is neither nor there. The most important thing is that Dromie was a pleasure to ride. She moved when I wanted her to move and she stopped when I wanted her to stop. End of story.

Kim gave me a crop just in case, but I didn’t need it. I did enjoy carrying it around under my arm like a Prussian Hussar.

Kim said that the only thing Dromie is afraid of is a tractor. That’s good, because I need a horse that isn’t easily rattled.

I don’t mean to be paranoid, but I couldn’t help but notice that Karin just happened to be using the tractor when Kim told me I would be riding Dromie. I know Karin likes to give me a challenge sometimes.

Karin struggles to maintain control over the Green Monster.

But we out waited Karin and she eventually gave up and put the Green Monster away.

woman looking at tractor

Dromie had been hit by a tractor one time and Kim showed me the mark. There is a reason for everything.

old horse injury

She also said that the horse is missing some teeth in front, but gets along pretty well without them.

I was able to apply her bit & bridle after only two tries. She’s kinda tall. After, the second try, Kim informed me that Dromie was “missing an ear.” And I shook my head thinking, man this horse has been through too much!

But this time it was my fault. And temporary.

man bridling horse

Nothing for the poor thing to do but stand there and wait for me to figure out that a correction was both needed and easily done.

I really like this horse. I hope I can ride her again next time.

horseback riding

 

 

The Respect of a Palomino

For Lesson #96, Charity filled in for Karin who was busy with horse camp kids. As usual, Gerry rode Habakuk. I’m really impressed with how much progress the Professor and the Moustache King have made together since Gerry started with Karin. And the bond is easy to see.

man on horse

I got my old friend, Goldie. The Palomino wasn’t particularly busy at the time and she stayed Not Busy for pretty much my entire lesson. Goldie is actually Leoni’s horse and according to my sources, Leoni says that the key to Goldie is to earn her respect or she just won’t respond like you think she should. I earned about half-a-trot around the arena’s worth.

With the camp kids taking up all the good barn spots for grooming and tacking up, Gerry and I had to try to brush and saddle the horses outside while they grazed.

“Those horses aren’t going anywhere with all this lush grass around,” one confident observer noted.

horse eating grass

Well, “not going anywhere” is relative. While Habakuk and Goldie showed no intention of packing up and leaving the property, they didn’t exactly stand still either. The grass is always greener four inches away.

“It’s like saddling a moving target,” Gerry observed.

I have this same problem when I try to get my granddaughter Aubrey dressed. She just knows that there has to be more interesting things for a person to do than fussing with something so obviously unnecessary as clothes.

But no problem, Charity was right there assisting Gerry as needed and assisting me just about every step of the way. Legacy’s tack room has a built-in special feature that enables it to spontaneously manufacture – out of plain thin air – rare saddle and girth types that fit together in an endless variety of ways. Each combination of saddle-girth-stirrups creates a unique Tack Puzzle that must be solved before you can ride the horse. If given enough time, I can eventually solve these brainteasers by myself, but by then everyone has gone off to bed.

stirrup puzzle

Charity is good teacher. You can tell she has learned some things by watching Karin, but I think her instincts are really good too. She knew how difficult it was for me to get Goldie going, but she never really pressured me or made me feel more uncomfortable than I already was. Her corrections were very specific in the “heels down,” “toes in,” “don’t lean forward” sort of way. She also taught us the proper way to pass in the arena. Just a few simple rules, but good to know.

riding instructor

Toward the end of the lesson, Charity brought out Karin’s Magic Wand. I couldn’t really see what she was doing with it, but the device had a multiplier effect on Goldie’s respect for me and we got her going for just a bit at the end. Karin always says to end the lesson on a positive note. Even if it takes a little magic.

Karin's Magic Wand

 

Philosophical Differences

For Lesson #84, Karin had us ride bareback. She put me on Maree and put my new lesson partner, Gerry, on Habakuk.

Maree is an absolute sweetheart, great with kids and as easygoing as a horse can get, but I think I’m too tall for her. Karin insists that I’m not.

I did a quick calculation, comparing Karin’s Equestrian Knowledge Data Base to mine and concluded that she had the edge there, so I agreed to ride Maree despite our philosophical differences and my misgivings.

I liked the idea of bareback. I have an awful time keeping my feet in the stirrups at anything faster than a slow walk.  I looked forward to not having that distraction. And Karin said I could ride with in my snow boots – a huge plus.

Bareback also helps the horse and rider share body heat. This was important because it was yet another cold, cold day. The better part of North America was still in the grip of the cruel Polar Vortex, which I now suspect is actually a conscious entity bent on our destruction. In any case, it was warmer that day in Moscow than it was in Knoxville, Tennessee. Some say we’re having a Russian Winter. Although, I don’t think the Russians would say that.

The bareback pad. Don't forget to attend to the girth.

The bareback pad. Don’t forget to attend to the girth.

For me, it was an easy tack day. Karin applied the bareback pad and Maree is the easiest horse in the barn to bridle. She practically does it herself. I just kind of dangle the headset in front of her face and the next thing I know it’s on her. I like that.

Her Sweetness, our Saint Maree

Her Sweetness, our Saint Maree

We rode in the arena, of course.  As I led Maree to the mounting block, Karin asked if I retightened the girth. I wanted to explain to Karin that you don’t need to do that with a bareback pad, but then I’m remembered the Equestrian Knowledge Data Base thing and settled for “No, I forgot,” as she tightened the girth again for me.

As it turned out, I was glad that Karin did that.  For some reason, Maree suddenly shied – rather severely – as we passed the radio sitting on the wall ledge. I have no idea why she did this. Maybe somebody had it on earlier while they were replaying Erin Andrews interview of Richard Sherman after the NFC Championship Game. We’re all still recovering from that. Including Richard Sherman.

The Voice of the Polar Vortex

The Voice of the Polar Vortex

I think if they ever make an action adventure movie about the Polar Vortex, they should hire Richard Sherman to do the voice.

Anyway, I almost fell off. Of all the horses I would expect to bless me with my First Fall, I would have Maree at the bottom of the list. But a horse is a horse and we’re just people and when it comes right down to it, they’re all capable of tossing anyone they please.

To be fair, Maree wasn’t really trying to get rid of me. She startled for just an instant. But it was enough of a bump to put me on her sideways. My right foot, still in its snow boot, courageously clung to the horse’s right side. A literal toehold.

I managed to hang on and not fall, but neither was I able to get back on and right the ship. Like Team Wallace at the Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials, I struggled in Rider’s Purgatory for a moment or two, while Saint Maree patiently waited for me to accept the inevitable. Stickablity is overrated, I say.  I chose to get off rather than fall.

You can’t fire me, I quit.

Karin wasn’t there for the festivities. She had gone off to get Mackie while we warmed up. But Gerry was there to witness it – in silent amusement – no doubt, grateful it wasn’t him.

I related the incident to Karin when she came in with Mackie. She said it was too bad I didn’t fall. Oh, the concern was touching.

“You can’t be a real equestrian until you’ve fallen off.”

I think Karin and I have some philosophical differences on this subject as well. Although in this case, the fall would have been measured in inches and I probably passed up a good opportunity.

We worked for a bit and then let the horses loose to roll around in the dirt. Maree demonstrated a proper landing.  For my benefit, I believe.

This is how you do it, Bob.

This is how you do it, Bob.

And Karin and Mackie did a reenactment of Muhammad Ali’s TKO of Sonny Liston in 1963.

Karin wins in the second round.

Karin wins in the second round.

It was a good lesson for all of us.

A New Level

Lesson #82 was about tack.

I think I may have a handle on the bit & bridle application now. It’s a simple matter of timing my jump to coincide with that inevitable moment when the horse raises his head to avoid the little mass of leather and metal coming straight at him. I find the extra elevation necessary because I often miss that tiny window of opportunity that exists between the instant that the horse realizes what I’m doing and the instant he realizes that I don’t know what I’m doing. He steps back and jerks his head up toward the ceiling as if he’s looking for someone to save him from this dreadful ineptness.

It’s not pretty, but with a combination of physics, luck, and rudimentary knowledge of equine oral anatomy, not to mention persistence, I manage to get the bit in his mouth and the bridle over his ears.

So on Lesson #82 Karin focused on stirrup adjustment instruction. Specifically, doing this while mounted.  At first, I thought, you know Karin, I have trouble with this stuff with both feet on the ground. I didn’t feel I was ready for this new level of difficulty.

1521619_558501137553347_77520368_n

But Karin has discovered new reservoirs of patience within herself that I’m sure she never knew existed. I did that. Karin has explained these procedures countless times and has gone through a process over the last two years with me. At first, she would say things like “But I just showed you this last week!”  And then, “You’re messing with me, right?” And then, “Just figure it our yourself. I’ll see you outside.”  And then, “Kathy, don’t help him!” And then, “Kathy, would you please help him!”

DSC00460

Now she explains things to me she as though I’m an alien from a horseless galaxy who she just met five minutes ago. It’s remarkable. She’s so matter of fact, completely task orientated and immersed in the Now, oblivious to the fact that I should have gotten this stuff a long time ago.  This is Inner Peace through resignation.

DSC04075

This approach has liberated us from a linear learning progression. We can go ahead and try more complex procedures prior to mastering the simpler ones, because what-the-hell that’s never going to happen anyway. And thus, we went ahead and tackled stirrup adjustment whilst mounted.

When I realized that learning to do this meant I wouldn’t have to get off the horse  – and thus back on the horse – I became interested.  Getting off and on the horse is a bit of project for me and I try to avoid it when I can.

DSC04083

Karin knows this. And I’m convinced she knew it would motivate me to try. She explained the procedure one time and left me to my own devices in the arena.

DSC04082

“You can let Goldie walk on while you adjust the stirrups,” she said before she shut the door on her way out.

This sounded great, because Goldie can be hard for me to get started and I hate to make her stop for any reason.

So Goldie and I ambled to and fro across the arena, each in our own little world. I managed to adjust both stirrups – one up, one down as it turned out – so I ended up riding like Desmond Howard in the Heisman Trophy pose.  But I did it!

ncf_a_howard01_200

And thus I have reached another milepebble in my equestrian career.

Canter Language

We spent Lesson #78 in what Karin has tagged “The Great Indoors.”

sign on riding arena

This is why we stayed inside:

horses in lean-to

I had the pleasure of riding Krystal in what I would describe as a “standard riding lesson.” That is, Karin – mean, mean Karin – had the audacity to expect us to work. The four beat/two beat routine, just wasn’t enough for her.

horseback rider

“Make her canter, Bob.”

What? She clearly did not understand. To me, a canter is not a gait. It’s a project. It takes a lot physical and mental energy for me to make something like that happen. You have to focus and allow your mind and body to work together.

My mind and body are constantly bickering and I usually just let them go at it. Now, I had to be like a father warning the brats in the backseat that they better start getting along or no ice cream.

And I was pretty rusty. During the good weather months, we spent most of our lesson time out the on trails of Legacy Stables. Instruction in Open Terrain, they call it.

Memories of a better day.

Memories of a better day.

“You know how to do this, Bob. Build up the energy, then the half-halt, get the outside leg back a little and push her into it. Use your legs. Don’t forget the verbal cue.”

That’s like about 87 steps. And you have to do them almost simultaneously. At least seamlessly. Overwhelm the horse with utterly clear instruction.

To the less experienced rider, it seems like the communication is issued from a set of several distinct actions. But I think the horse has to comprehend it as one big idea, a kind of synergy between the various cues. It all melts down into one thing: “Achtung Canter!”

Well… I Achtung Cantered all around that arena the best I could, but with no success.  What Krystal was hearing from me was: “Hey Girl: let’s trot a bit.”

“Bob! You can’t start posting when you’re want her to canter.  When you do that, she thinks you want her to trot.”

Stupid body.

Sensing my growing frustration, Karin escalated her intervention. As I rounded a corner, she approached and spoke some magic words to Krystal.

Krystal broke into a canter. That’s all we needed – a translator.

But Karin wanted me to do this myself. I tried again. And again. And again.

“Use your legs, Bob.”

I used my legs. Krystal broke into a canter. A sweet, lovely canter. The motion created a little indoor breeze that whistled past my ears. I like that.

Karin – mean, mean Karin – made us do it a second time. There will be no talk of flukes in The Great Indoors.

Actually, it’s good to be working like this again. Don’t misunderstand, I do not regret a single moment we spent on the trails this summer. And when the good weather returns, I have no doubt we’ll be back outside. There is much to be learned out there as well.

In fact, we don’t even need “good weather.”  Just a nice day.

winter horseback riding