The air was full of flurries and sunshine yesterday morning, and Hunter had already been turned out and chased around the indoor hall by my MHT when I arrived at the COU. Theoretically, he should have been somewhat mellowed out already.
I saddled up, and we walked around the indoor hall. Unfortunately, the only rider in the ring was soon to leave, and Hunter was doing his "I'm so lonely" mini-prance. So when my MHT arrived, she suggested we turn this into a lesson on longeing. First she demonstrated; then I gave it a whirl, literally, as I soon became dizzy. Hilariously, when it was my turn to ask him to canter, I couldn't get the whip cracking properly and L had to clap her hands and jump around to get him to go off. She then took over and gave him a nice little workout. One interesting thing to see is how free the trot can really become after a great canter. I've experienced the same thing in the saddle, but it was beautful to see it from the ground.
At the end we did a tiny bit of flatwork, but we didn't push it. I've been thinking about asking his former owner and breeder, but I suspect he had the winters off up in good old Vermont and never had to deal with the indoor atmosphere we are now demanding he perform in. We also talked through the free-longeing procedure, which I can also try, and I can do it with another of the barn horses. We even talked about giving him some time off.
And that was the nicest thing about today: accepting my current riding situation for what it is, learning that I have a range of alternatives for dealing with it, and great people to help me figure it out.
It also feels good to be realistic about "the balance sheet." Liabilities: I am frequently clueless, not that athletic or as fit as I should be, and, as a breadwinner with a young family, very risk averse. Assets: I have great support (from my barn and my family), and I am completely committed. In the rest of my life, those two things have almost always made the difference. Like any great vocation or avocation, horsemanship is a discipline about which even the pros and the vets feel they have more to learn. But the truth is I am a novice rider with so much to get on board, including, for starters, how to crack a whip!