So, when you loan a precious horse to someone else to ride—- what goes through your head? What kinds of questions, recriminations, guilt, news bulletins, etc. occur to you after you say * yes, you can ride my horse* ???
Recently, I am pretty sure, someone in my horsey friends circle would be able to say that I said * I would NEVER EVER let anyone ride my horse*.
So, once the *yes* word has been said and you find yourself actually riding someone else’s horse; I would bet that you wish that they never watch what you do on or with that horse, yes? I mean, it is one thing to say *yes*, but it is another thing completely to say *yes* and then have the owner of that horse WATCH your every move you make with that horse. WOW! Takes a really secure ego to be able to ride said horse and have the owner WATCH you ride.
So, to stave off anxiety, which, of course, the horse would pick up on, I decided that I would just do whatever the owner said to do. Then, I rode the horse….and found that I had ideas of my own about how to proceed.
So, the discussion ensues, yes? But, you know what? the owner, in this case a new friend….. knows this horse better than I ever will; she has been with him, loved him, ridden him, and endured him for 6 or so years. I have, what, ridden him for…..a measly 10 weeks…… so, really, people, what do I know? NOTHIN MUCH! and I had better remember that……
This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of doing a conditioning ride with Amanda, and her friend Linnea. The cool thing about this is that not ONLY do I get to continue riding Cato Potato BUT Amanda gets to ride with me…..and….. watch her horse go down the trail.
Those of you who ride, know, that the pleasure and privilege of riding a magnificent animal and the stress of having Cato’s owner watch you ride him
Oh. My. GAWD. The narrative starts…. Yes, Amanda’s gonna watch every move you make, how your body looks when you ride, how you hold your hands, how you hold your face, how well you ride, aaaaaaaccccckkkk!!!!! cringe…. whether I am doing EVERYTHING right, how I hold the reins, how I sit in the saddle, how balanced I am, how I react when Cato spooklets, how I post, how I canter, how big my butt looks on his back, …….. stress stress stress STRESS!!!!!!!!
Oh. But. No. Amanda is watching her HORSE move, and how HIS body moves, and what HE looks like going down the trail, and what HE is doing; me? I am just window dressing…. HUGE sigh of relief.
That was a freeing moment….I could then yell back…. * So, Amanda, what is his butt doing NOW? and how about NOW? and what are his legs doing NOW? and how did he look gallumping up that hill? how about around that corner? how about NOW? 🙂 YEAH! the ride became much more fun after that epiphany!
Amanda happily, and sometimes analytically watched her big Buckskin guy go down the trail ahead of her…. and happily rode Ms Bizy Bee who rides like a Cadillac.
When do you ever get the absolute luxury of watching your horse move? My trainers are always on me about always getting another pair of eyes on me to ensure I am balanced, and to help me ride better. When do you ever get to be that extra pair of eyes and watch your own horse MOVE? Well, that is what happened June 23, 2013 at Lord Hill.
This is an especially lovely place to ride with many hills and lovely Pacific Northwest Jungle to ride through. Here is our garmin track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/332426031 What a lovely place to ride! Here is the movie composite of our adventures: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK3ulYcWwac
Linnea was our trailmeister and ensured we did all the RIGHT Hills and stayed away from the WRONG ones, thankfully.
Then, afterward? Amanda and I chattered happily all the way home about what she SAW out there watching her big buckskin horse and I ride happily around Lord Hill.
THAT was wonderful
What do you do when one of the horses you want to ride lives 2 hours north of you? Ponder Ponder Ponder, Hem Haw Hem Haw, Plan plan plan plan; many conversations with his owner births a partnership that seems as golden as the buckskin coat of Cato.
I have committed to conditioning Cato at least once per week this season and we have a plan that extends, if you can believe it, into September. Kinda cracks me up…. and makes me teary eyed at the same time….Amanda, his mom, and I are planning great things for the continuation of Cato’s 2013 Season. It is a bit like the ladies of yesteryear, I suppose, planning the High Season for their teenagers, yes? Yes….. LOTS of planning, lots of critical eyes on Cato, lots more planning, lots more conversations about *what is best for Cato and what is next steps are*.
One of the best things about this “Cato Season Planning” is that Amanda is wanting to attend the event(s) with Cato and I; it is much like a mother and an auntie’s relationship; with one having more say over what we do next and one making suggestions and providing the exercise needed to get Cato to his *coming out* party(ies)(which, actually, was at Klickitat 2013). The three of us travel as a family, which is so COOL! Right? Camping with your family? VERY cool!
In addition? Everyone in Cato’s world is completely involved as well; You know, it really does take a village to raise and compete a horse, yes? Much like the child-rearing business. See if the cast of characters matches the iconic child-rearing that happens in completely functional extended families. Do you recognize these characters? I betcha do!
There is a Cato Fan Club who *oohs and ahs* over him when he arrives at his season events; filling his mom’s ears with those much needed and appreciated comments that make a mom’s heart GLOW with happiness.
There are the close friends of the mom who *know* Cato and his mom Amanda; dare I say Auntie Linnea and Auntie Connie and Auntie Beth……( horsewomen all), who are as much interested in Cato doing well as they are interested in knowing Cato’s mom is doing well through the process of Cato’s Coming Back OUT season.
Then there are Auntie Eileen’s friends and trainers and family who are as much interested in Auntie Eileen’s welfare as they are of Cato’s season. The closest of these are Anne-Marie, Peter, Sue, Celena, Lynn, and Lisa
Then, there are the peripheral friends and extended horsey family who have very definite opinions about *what is best for Cato, Eileen and Amanda and what they should do next* as well as when that should happen and how. Many happy conversations abound in campers, around ride camps, on the phone, on Facebook, etc. about *what is best for Cato*, amongst all of these people.
I amd quite delighted by the sphere of the relationships formed, and forming, around Amanda, myself and Cato as we progress cautiously forward with his 2013 season. Because, I am very sure about one thing, and that is that LOVE permeates the whole atmosphere surrounding this horse and his people. I am enjoying becoming a part of *what is next for Cato* because…. well, I never thought I would have the privilege of riding such a spectacular animal. I am finding myself a part of *what is best and next for Cato* ——who woulda thunk THAT would happen? had you asked me last year, same time? There is no way I would have predicted this envelope of Cato-ville, Cato-dom.
And, folks? Do NOT misunderstand me; Cato is magnificent in many many ways but he still NEEDS this level of care and love and understanding and planning and conversation.
Here is a small part of the relationship and bonding that is happening that I am celebrating: Amanda, Cato’s mom is SO determined that Cato have his season and his *next steps* be full, satisfying, happy-making and wonderful that she has taken in an almost complete stranger, allowed me into her life, welcomed me into her home, allowed me to ride, and ENJOY, this wonderful horse; let me drive her rig with her horse IN IT and without her accompanying us to ride him in the wilds of Washington state and then come with us TO the events as
Wow, all I can say is WOW! I am flabbergasted…. and stunned most of them time when I slow down enough to regard that which is happening. I am humbled by that which is forming around Cato and me and Amanda.
Cato and I had a wonderful adventure yesterday, made possible by that relational system described above. Here is the link to that adventure
Pictures are below.
We pretty much rock and rolled through the Redmond Watershed….. ROCKED it! and Cato? looked like he could easily do another 20 miles after a bit of a rest and some grass and water (think vet check). He is having SUCH a good season! But, I could NOT have done that without Connie and Linnea; without them I would have been lost at full speed and likely STILL be out there. Linnea planned a wonderful ride and Connie, Linnea, and I rode like banshees by houses, by backyards, by ponds, and hikers, and dogs- barking and not, and gravel pits, and park benches, and bollards, and running chainsaws, garbage cans, and birds, and street signs,and paved roads, with painted crosswalks, and TRAFFIC and driveways, and lawns, and streetlights, and the most gorgeous trails ever created in an urban setting. The best comment was Linnea saying * I like hearing you giggle back there*. Cato and I had a BLAST n a HALF. He was Relaxed and HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY, which made me happy.
I must share that riding an anglo-arabian of Cato’s caliber up in Redmond reminded me of Phyllis Ryan’s comment when she met Bella; she said * you like sports cars, you ride a ferrari, right?* LOL. *yeah, Phyllis, I do like a hot horse*. I was on every inch the sports car up on Cato, watching the sports cars of Redmond Washington’s denizens drive by. Made me GRIN REAL BIG!!!!!!
The other comment I want to remember was what one hiker guy said as we passed by…. as Linnea on Sophie passed by he said * what a pretty horse* and then? here comes Connie on Chocolate golden-eyed Farah and he gasps and says *lookit THAT one* and then third comes 16h3, Buckskin Cato— he says LOOK AT ALL THE DIFFERENT COLORS THEY ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! 🙂 I am still smiling at his enjoyment of our three distinctively colored horses. Yeah, they are really the best ambassadors for the horse world, yes?
Because I want it to continue….. I gave Cato Potato a lovely massage this morning; we did leg and back stretches– the sun came out and warmed him and I up; he started yawning, and licking, and just generally relaxing. I could NOT have done that if his mom did not allow me to go play with him as I see fit.
It takes a village to campaign an endurance/dressage horse ( I have mentioned before that Cato REALLY seems tO enjoy doing his dressage moves out on the trails). As Celena said * if you don’t have laterals out onthe trail, you got NOTHIN*. So, we practice side pass and laterals and shoulder in and out on the trails. Cato’s village is populated with good good people; whose voices ring in my head while I am riding the big guy.
Thank you everyone for allowing this to happen; for your time, your energy and your caring. The positive energy is catching and I am experiencing it a bit like compound interest; a little put in results in a LOT coming back out. We are doing this and we should acknowledge that which we do — Let the magic continue. It is good for *what’s next for Cato*
When I made the commitment to ride and condition Cato, the unspoken understanding was that I was conditioning him to compete in endurance rides for
to ride him IN those rides. The intent of this relationship was to make sure that Cato is in shape so Amanda can ride him in competitions when she is healed.
Wellllllll…… even before I took Cato back home, at the endurance clinic with Karen Irland, Amanda and I were chatting about taking Cato to Klickitat; I said * I’ll ride him at Klickitat*, folks, it just slipped OUT! and then…..when I took Cato back home Amanda and engaged in a heart-felt conversation ( I had said I would ride Cato at Klickitat because it was a 2 day ride, no, I had not really thought about HOW that would work out);about how exactly Klickitat would work out. Much to my surprise and delight, Amanda said she would bring Cato to Klickitat and crew for me; ME! CREW.FOR.ME! what a GIFT…..I am still inexperienced enough to not really know what that means…… you know how it is…. you say * sure, I’ll ride him…..* and then…. you start thinking *what did you just say?*
🙂 * what did I just agree to?* Ok. I can. do. this. I.really.can.
So, now, in hindsight, after the whole event is over I have to say it was a success! I lived, Cato Lived, I survived enough to ride Chancey the next day ( although I was really tempted to call it a weekend after the one ride!I did NOT, however, I got UP and rode another 25 miles or more on Chance —>no fear!).
I can even say we had a good time! I was smiling and laughing and sitting down, shutting UP and hanging ON! LOL.
Here is Day 1 25 mile LD
Here are some things I learned:
1. Cato is an ENDURANCE horse, he puts his game face on and GOES!
2. I read a horse story once when I was a child that was about a horse called Viento, The Wind. Cato’s new name is Cato Viento, pretty much my hair was flying straight out backwards the ENTIRE ride. G-forces, man, G-forces.
3. Cato does not drink out of streams, yet; nor did he drink at any of the water UNTIL vet check.
4. Cato is FINE being left out on the trail by dozens and dozens of other horses; well, not quite THAT many, really because we came in 12th or so out of 50 or so riders. BUT, he never did ANYthing when other riders and horses blew by him or left him. Game face ON stayed ON. He is a professional.
5. Cato’s heart is a good large heart! he pulsed down to 56 in 1-2 minutes of arriving at vet ck. even though there were no ribbons and no warning that the vet ck was coming up so we ended up galloping INTO the vet ck, eek! so, not my usual practice but…… Cato pulsed down in 1-2-3 min…. yeah! omg…
6. We did it; and my pictures show that Cato is pretty much leaving me behind, sometimes. ( rolls eyes….. don’t show these pix to Karen Irland, omg). I need to be more balanced while riding him in a competition BUT he did not lose control, I was never out of control of him. He was FINE!
7. Cato still does spooklets IF he thinks he is first, he does NOT even do spooklets IF he knows there is a horse, any horse, in front of him. He did not ever do major spooks; ( crossing my fingers, behind my back!).
I am grateful to Amanda for funding Cato’s and my experience at Klickitat; I am hoping ALL of the wonderful comments Cato got wherever I took him, were payback enough.
I am NOT kidding! Everywhere I took, or rode Cato? here is what I heard:
*he is beautiful, what is he?*
* that is an amazing looking horse*
Ron Sproat said * he is a tad short*
*Cato is yummy*
* He is gorgeous*
To all and everyone, I asked them to please tell Amanda, his mom, what they said. I am hoping that they did and that Amanda got her ears FULL of Cato Compliments.
Now that I know what we need to work on and how to ride him better and more balanced and trusting him more to be just himself, I cannot wait to ride him again!
Bandit Springs here we come!
Enjoy the pictures!
Cato the Magnificent is BACK! Thanks to his mom and I.
Cato, the Giant Buckskin has gone home to Woodinville, Epona Meadows, to his mom Amanda Madorno, BUT! Amanda and are taking Cato and Chance to Klickitat endurance ride! I am so excited to try a competition on the big guy.
Yes, I am excited but I am also worried— the yin and yang of endurance riding. I am concerned that Cato will not drink or eat after a conditioning ride; does that mean he will not eat or drink during a ride or at vet check?
(Dear Cato, you really need to learn how to eat from Farah, that mare is a machine and takes really good care of herself)
I am concerned about the puffiness of his left hind leg after two close days of hills; (although, K’tat has barely any hills at least on the LD);
I am concerned that I won’t be able to figure out a sustainable way to KEEP Cato in condition over the ride season; what is reasonable? What can I reasonably and sustainably do?
My heart says give my life and soul over to this wonderful horse…. my middle aged body and my loving hubs says, *uh, no*. Yeah, I’m a horse addict!
My sensible self says *Do Klickitat*, see how we does, then figure out June 8-July 8, try Bandit Springs July 13-14 where we can trailerpool and take both boys again; again, see how he does….. and after each time, make a sensible decision about *what’s next* for the big guy.
At the same time, while being worried, I am RELIEVED and delighted to have his mom, Amanda, as my partner in deciding Cato’s Next Steps. Between the two of us as well as Cato’s Fan Club…… we shall know what is best for the Buckskin Giant!
This plan shall allow us to see what he can do, what he will do, and what the best plan is.
We have really good models of endurance horses in the Le Blanc’s horses, Farah- Connie’s amazing mare, etc.
To get me OFF the Worry Wagon and reliving the victories he and I have experienced, I made a movie– enjoy!
All photos courtesy of Connie Hoge, Thank you Connie for a wonderful day!
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!