Into our 10th day of spiraling leg yield circles Encore! is settling down to business. The light reins, the new bit and my improved balance are certainly helping us work together to establish rhythm and relaxation at the trot.
Starting our work late in the day is how it seems to work out most of the time. This is not a bad thing. The wind is often up for part of the ride which gives me confidence that we can ride any weather and not worry.
As I straighten the long lines, Encore! stands quietly while the wind whips her mane and tail. I glance up at the sky and see a rising moon while the sun prepares to set. Perfect. We’ll extend our after-a-workout-ride into the evening to enjoy the full moon. Years ago a cowboy I ran into while riding a dirt back road, in Ojai, under a full moon said, “the best way to settle a horse is to ride him at night.” Here I am years later looking up at a full moon and thinking, “Let’s ride a little longer tonight and put that suggestion into play. “
A warm up and refresher course on long lines goes a long way on keeping me safe in the saddle. I long-line ten minutes each direction doing transitions between walk, trot, canter and halt. After the warm up, I saddle Encore! and we ride around the property. Next we do the circle work suggested by Sandi on my small flatwork area carved out of the property’s gentle slope. Encore! is forward and willing. Each day I get stronger. I’ve added a few rounds of sitting trot which requires a whole other set of muscles used to balance myself as I ride this young, buoyant thoroughbred.
We finish our exercises. Encore! is still fresh, but controlled, and we strike out across the field of tall grass under the full moon rising. This is our happy place. Encore!’s walk is full of enthusiasm. The squeaking saddle and view of small purple wild flowers are two of the many joys of riding through an untamed landscape. I contemplate opening the gate and heading out across the neighborhood. I caution myself and say, “Next time.” Another month of solid leg yield circles, a stronger body and better balance will insure a safe moonlight ride adventure for both of us.