I'm back. I know I haven't posted anything in a long time. For a while, it was really difficult for me to get home due to school keeping me busy every weekend. I was miserable and I hated watching myself losing muscle mass with every week I didn't ride. I swear I could hardly ride without stirrups for the first week or so of this summer, but I pushed myself hard and Stella and I are back and better than ever. Seriously, I'm loving everything right now.
I'm glad I can say that again, too. If I'm completely honest, I relapsed and had another depressive episode. I've been having a lot of family problems and I've been in some difficult situations over the past few months. This depressive episode was different from my last in that it got really bad really quickly. The first one was almost like unresolved grief gone wrong, but this one was out for the kill. Nothing was going in my favor and things got really, really dark for a while.
Horses are such great medicine. I've been having problems in most aspects of my life, but it's literally been a lifesaver for me to be able to head off to the barn to cool off and hang out with Stella and everyone else at the barn. I'm not going to knock the medicine I'm taking, but I don't think any of it would be nearly as effective without the pleasure I get from going to see the horses every day.
I had an amazing day today. I went to the barn early today and rode Stella. Heather came over and rode Sydney. She also jumped Sydney, and I got to jump Sydney once over a crossrail. I couldn't jump Stella today because of some other big news--she's pregnant! Stella worked really well today though, and I was very proud of her. She wanted to jump today; she kept getting antsy and looking at the jumps. She's the most dishonest horse I think I've ever ridden (she'll duck out of any jump randomly, haha), but when she does jump she's fantastically good at it and she seems to like it. She just has "moods" and once I pop her over one jump she usually won't refuse again. Stella also gets fussy about ground poles sometimes, which is ridiculous but also prevents me from ever being complacent. I think that's what Nancy always meant by "riding every stride" :)
I've been riding Stella a lot. The other day I did some sidesaddle with her (in a regular saddle, of course) and that was a lot of fun. I've obviously trained her to stop when I fall off from all of my random "emergency" dismounts while we're trotting around. I lost my balance a bit while I was trotting around sidesaddle (with no stirrup on the near side, I just feel safer knowing I can slide off versus getting my foot caught up) and opted to jump off before I fell off. I didn't stick the landing and landed flat out in the sand. Stella stopped beside me and looked at me, probably wondering why I make her put up with so much crazy stuff. I've also been riding bareback a lot. I realized I lean to the left slightly when I was riding some other horses. I really can't tell on Stella because of her withers, but I always slip to the left a bit when I'm on a horse with low withers. Bareback has been helping a lot, and it's a lot of fun now that Stella has gained some weight and she's not as bony :P
I've mostly just been riding her around bareback after our normal schooling and to cool Stella out, but I've also done some quick bareback rides when it's hot and I'm too lazy to tack up or when I don't have much time to ride and just want to have a little fun. The other day, I put a halter and lead on Stella and rode her out into the pasture so she could eat grass while I sat on her. It had rained too much for me to ride, but I felt like playing with Stella and she certainly enjoyed eating the grass. She honestly doesn't care that I sit on her back while she eats, and she probably enjoys the added withers-scratching while she munches :)
I think I'm getting way more adventurous with stuff that I do on horseback now. I'm finally feeling more confident, which has always been a big problem for me. I feel like I suck all the time. I'm trying to tell myself that I do well though. I mean, at the very least I can stay on a horse like nobody's business. Today I did something silly. I got a water bottle and tried to drink while cantering Stella in a two-point with no hands. It worked really well until I had to stop her. I didn't want to drop the bottle (my sister was holding the cap for me and I didn't want to waste good water) but I needed to use my reins a bit. I ended up pouring water all down the inside of my thigh, which sucked because it felt weird while I was riding. My jeans took forever to dry too, haha. It also started to sprinkle a bit while we were riding. It cooled everything down and felt really good, so I was glad.
I think Stella thinks I'm crazy though. The other night I told Larry about how much Stella has to put up with when I ride her and have ideas for funny stuff to try, and he told me that I have to put up with a lot from her too so we're even :P She's taking a magnesium supplement now which has really made her more calm. She still spooks a bit, but they're little spooks where she's like "Oh no! Back to work." instead of "OMG I'M GONNA DIE, MUST RUN ACROSS RING AND THRASH ABOUT BECAUSE THAT WILL CERTAINLY KEEP IT FROM KILLING ME!"
Stella is possibly the most interesting horse I've ever worked with. She's so much fun, and she's so sweet. She kept squiggling me yesterday while I cleaned her stall. I used a muck bucket because the wheelbarrows were full already, and she had fun picking the muck bucket up by the rope handles. If she'd been picking it up and throwing it then I would've made her stop, but it was just too cute watching her lift it up a bit and seem pleased with herself before gently putting it back down. Such a cute horsie :) I love her so much.
I also got to ride a pony at Miss Patty's house today. She had donated her little paint pony, Daisy Jane, to the therapeutic riding school a while back. Apparently the pony was doing well for a while, but she had been really nasty over a period of 10 days. They said she was biting, bucking, and kicking with the kids and they simply couldn't allow her to stay anymore. Miss Patty took the pony back and now they're looking for a home for her. Larry told me I should come over to ride her because he knows I love ponies and because she moves like a little hunter and I'm into that sort of thing ;) She's only five (so it's impressive that she was working at a therapeutic riding school!), and she's a bay paint.
I don't know if I'm glad I'm too big for her or not. I LOVE Daisy Jane and she's free to a good home. I dunno, I just kinda fell in love with her today when I rode her. She's really green but we just kinda clicked together. Larry and Miss Patty want me to keep coming over and riding her to train her, and Larry said I should teach her to jump. I think Larry hates riding her--I legitimately don't think I could sit her trot without bouncing all over the place. I didn't try to sit, but I was really glad I was posting :P Also, her canter strides are so short and fast right now that I really had a hard time sitting her canter. I got up into a half-seat a bit because I couldn't make my butt keep up with her! I think the saddle didn't help either. It was a crappy western saddle that I wasn't used to. Maybe if I put an English saddle on her then I'd have an easier time, honestly. The people at the riding school said that Daisy Jane was bucking horribly, but she didn't even try today. She hugged the rail to the point of almost taking my leg off once, but that was her only real problem. She had a hard time stopping occasionally, but I just think that was a product of needing more training versus being bad. She tried really hard for me today and I can't believe I fell in love with her so fast.
I always said I wanted Stella and a little tiny pony... And Daisy Jane is free! I think I'm going to buy Stella after she has her baby. I've saved up a good amount of money, and my mom said she would help me pay for her as my graduation present. Ugh. I wish I wasn't a poor college student so that I could have Stella and Daisy Jane and keep them both, haha. I dunno, I'd want to keep riding Daisy Jane for a bit, but I feel like she's got crazy potential and she seems really sweet. I kept hearing Miss Patty's husband complimenting my "control" and Daisy Jane's "relaxation" while we rode. And it was so much fun riding her!
Woooo, fantastic day :)
EDIT: Larry was also horrible today while I was riding Daisy Jane. I asked him if I could canter her (as in, had she been cantered under saddle since she'd been home) and he smiled and said "It's your life." Then he went to close a stall door that led into the arena, and was muttering something about the pony "running into the stall", "scraping me off on the wall", and "body parts scattered everywhere". Hahahaha, I love Larry.