Zen and the Trotting Machine

Have you ever really tried to empty your mind of all thoughts?
That was MY goal today…. to get all Zen, and relaxed, and relegate all thoughts of bad stuff; what COULD happen, etc to the ether.

Calm, Cool, Collected.. that’s me…. heh. Those who know me know I can get spun up in a happy split second…. oh, and those are the types of horses I ride…. hahahahaha. Now that’s Karma, NOT Zen.

Here is what I know about Zen… that the philosophy of Zen is something you can use to work on yourself, as a person, as a being in the world, as a Time Being as Ruth Ozeki calls it; a being that exists in time. Zen is about doing away with the sins of greed, illwill, and delusion. Hmmmmmmmmm….. Ok.

After a LOVELY Skype chat with Amanda, Cato’s mom, she offered some advice– I take her advice, because she has owned Cato for 6 years, and I have ridden him for almost a month. She knows her boy! She said ( when I confessed I was worried as I rode him– awaiting the next *whatever*): *Eileen,You need to get Zen while riding Cato; empty your mind, let the negativity ( or something like that) flow out and hold in your mind emptiness or emptiness like water*.

Ok. That’s what I will do next time. Well, I did not HAVE to hold my mind on water, because there was so much water falling from the sky that Cato and I were surrounded by water– grey, sodden, water– Cato kept waggling his ears to get the water OUT of his ears and nowhere near HIS mind. Perfect day for Zen and the Art of Riding Cato.

I emptied my mind— was relaxed and floppy, Karen Irland floppy– NOT sack ‘o’ potatoes floppy mind you. Cato’s heart rate was 40 to start. Mine was… well, I did not check but it was slow and low, I could feel it; today was gonna be a GOOD ride.

We set off at the trot, the goal? HILLS! Fast hills, or as fast as we could go. We got wet immediately— Cat’s Buckskin coat shone like shiny gold; slick and shiny. Oh good, slick is exactly what we want for hill work. Oops, ZEN ZEN ZEN empty empty empty… IF the saddle slides off on a hill? no problem, I am in good enough shape to slide off with it and fix it and then get back on. No WORRIES!

ZEN ZEN ZEN empty empty empty….. we head up the long hill that heads up to the quarry, at one point this amazing trotting machine underneath me was flying along at 11mph, UP HILL! OMG. UP HILL! He’s a TROTTING machine! never a wrong step ( althoug hhe is tripping a bit more now that shoes are due).

Oops, ZEN ZEN ZEN…… Ommmmmmmmmm, drip drip drip….. ear waggle drip drip drip ear waggle.

I got excited. This horse was listening to me, and having FUN! Trotting like a well-oiled machine through the rain. GO Cato Go Cato. I was doing better than just hangin on, per usual technique. I was enjoying myself; enjoying the sound of his hooves hitting the gravel packed road.

MORE HILLS, let’s do more hills! Saddle slipper is next, that’s a BIG hill, that rivals the hills at Renegade– only a LOT wetter. We trot there and then look at the hill a bit…… it’s a trail, UP hill. ZEN ZEN ZEN… empty empty empty, water water water, drip drip drip, ear waggle…. I can handle this. This big boy has muscles and will carry us UP this HILL!

That was amazing…… Cato did Saddle Slipper, his saddle stayed almost put…. it fits him really well. I stayed in the saddle and he recovered VERY quickly, respirations were down as soon as we walked down the hill on the road after Saddle Slipper.

This horse is an athlete, and he is coming back. He is a TROTTING Machine and all I have to do is ride him right.

On the way home? we did dressage collection at the trot…. for a couple of miles; here is what I noticed: Cato enjoys having his rider communicating with him out on the trails in dressage form. Huh, go figure…..

Well, how Zen can you get? My hope is that his mom, Amanda, heals solid, and becomes his partner once again.

I am taking Cato back to his mom tomorrow, I know she will be happy to get him back, but I am gonna miss the big galoot and I know now that if I had a year with this horse we would be a force to be reckoned with. Dressage Endurance…. here we come!

Zen, Zen, Zen…. empty empty empty… we should always ride in the rain, it makes it so much easier to get water inside your head and achieve Zen…..

Cato’s HR was 48 at 5min after we came in…..

Here is a movie of our workout today— ENJOY!



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