There are days when I’m on top of everything, I have a good handle on the life stuff. Work out, eat mostly ok, get the kid out the door and the dog happy, do my work, take care of my horse, listen to my son’s day, share some funny TikToks with my husband.

Trying Cavallos for winter roads as they have thicker soles

Then there’s the days I feel everything is just a bit too slippery, and the effort to catch the strands and wrangle them is just too much. I let Tarma go without me, even though she’s at a full care barn I still feel that pinch of guilt when I don’t go fuss over her a bit. I drag through my work cause paychecks are required, eat the bare minimum to avoid a headache, and try to become one with the couch. It’s not depression, not exactly, and not the Seasonal Affective Disorder either, not quite. It could be a matter of spoons, instead of daily spoons I have a weekly amount and if I spend them all on the Saturday through Tuesday stretch, Wednesday hits and I have no gas left. Also I can’t haul out to trail ride during the week as it’s dark at 430 so the ride motivation is stunted, even with access to a beautiful indoor arena.

Benny’s poop support spot

On these days my two main goals for next year seem thousands of miles away, almost laughable. I want to complete a 50 mile endurance ride with Tarma, and get myself fit enough for it at the same time (I hesitate to put a number to my weight goal, as although loosing weight is better for us both, the goal is fitness, not weight loss). I figure for the best chance at finishing well, I have to be able to walk/jog myself at least five miles to give Tarma a break outside of vet checks. I also have to be strong enough to to post or sit her road trot for hours without bouncing, a trick in itself. I do give myself some grace, as winter is also rest time, the time to build and drive forward won’t start for another month or so. Horses hold fitness better than we do, and I need more work than Tarma does right now.

Back photo for reference

For Tarma’s part, I really need to work on getting her to step under and lift, driving forward. Her winter stance shows that broodmare slung out stance she can have, and she won’t finish a 50 in good shape with her butt hanging out behind her. I did a reasonable job getting her ready for our LD, but most fairly fit horses can do an LD. A 50 with a heavyweight is a different beast, especially if I choose one with elevation.

She still has opinions but she’s careful to have them more quietly with Kade aboard

Today I had enough spoons to not only get myself to the barn, but to take Kade and Benny along as well. Kade was my warm up jockey and Benny was mildly chaotic. However, once I hopped aboard, Tarma told me she really just wanted dinner. She was calm and stretchy at the walk, if gate sour, but our trot was just awful, inverted, counter bent, and at Mach 3. What’s fun on the trail is less useful in the arena. We spent 20 minutes zooming around with her nose half in the air, falling around the corners and just asking for a slower speed, please ma’am. I know a large part of this is me, I’ve never been good about riding off my seat and I was sore and in her way. It took a bit longer than it ever does on trail, but we managed something semi decent so I called it a night.

No hands on the reins, let’s stalk the child!

Part of this struggle is I as the human have the goals and the understanding of what it takes to get us there, but Tarma’s a horse and does not care for plans and carefully building fitness through circles in the arena and cone exercises. I never want to push her so hard she shuts down or tosses me because I’m not listening…but I do want to keep to these goals and I know she enjoys her time on the trail and she definitely had that drive at our endurance ride, that “How dare they get ahead!” attitude that helps get you through the tougher loops sometimes. We’ll never be a fancy dressage pair, but we do need to get the foundation well set, which I skimped on last year in favor of relationship building. Now we have the relationship and ability to learn and relax and forgive and try again.

But damn, it takes so many circles sometimes!

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After years of borrowing horses, working to ride and catch riding, I finally have my own horse, a spicy chocolate mare...but also a demanding day job (who doesn't?), a nerdy husband, a soccer loving kid who needs to be parented (by me, duh), and the ultimate trail buddy, a chocolate Labradork!

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