Have you ever been so exhausted that you can barely remember your own name? That was me this week, walking around in a state of mental fog so thick I wasn’t sure which direction I was headed. Not an ideal state of mind to be riding a 1,300lb animal with a mind of his own!
My lack of brain power can be directly attributed to my work life, aka the thing I do so that I can enjoy horses on the weekend! I had been away at a rather intensive business conference all week, and came home jetlagged and tired beyond belief, and still battling a rather persistent cold.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, not entirely sure what time zone I was even in, I was a bit hesitant about going for a ride. As I noted a few blogs ago, Luc isn’t always the type to take care of his rider when they’re not in top form. More often than not he’s likely to exploit that weakness for his own advantage.
While Jen, Luc’s owner and my sister, groomed and tacked him up, I tried to take a catnap in the corner—unsuccessfully. She handed the reins over to me and we went for our usual walk around the arena to get us both warmed up. In what I can only describe as brain fog induced stupidity, I thought it would be a good idea to trot Luc in hand for a lap around the arena. I have no idea what I was thinking!
One, Luc doesn’t like to trot in hand. Typically he digs in his heels and shuffles along at a slightly faster walk. Two, in order to get Luc to trot, I actually have to run. I hate running. I hate it even more when I’m all stuffed up and having difficulty breathing! But for some reason I did it anyways. Luc, surprisingly decided to cooperate, and actually gave me a nice big trot. Great—except that it meant I really had to run to keep it going.
Less than a lap around and I was huffing and puffing as if I’d run a marathon. I was completely wiped and I hadn’t even gotten in the saddle yet. After somewhat catching my breath, I walked Luc up to the mounting block, hopped on, and got settled in the tack. I urged Luc forward, and he was happy to comply.
We walked, trotted and cantered beautifully. Perhaps I had underestimated Luc! He was taking care of me, making sure to listen attentively, and not act silly or stupid, even when the wind started howling. We did a whole lot of pole work thanks to some exercises already setup, and he was a doll.
There were a few stumbles along the way—and I mean actual literal stumbles as parts of the arena were a bit deep—but other than that it was an amazing ride. I felt happy, relaxed, and energized! Of course that last bit only last about 10 minutes after dismounting, and then I was back to trying to sneak in a nap in the tack room while Jen cleaned the tack!
While I’m not necessarily advocating pushing yourself beyond your limits, because that can result in dangerous situations for both horse and human, what I am suggesting is this. Don’t write off your ride at the first sign of discomfort. Push through that wall (in my case sheer exhaustion) because sometimes, there’s a rainbow on the other side. A rewarding experience that you would have otherwise missed out on.