30 Days to Poplar Place: Days 9, 10, & 11

The days are starting to run together. I’m sitting here trying to remember whether or not I rode Wednesday, and I honestly can’t remember. It’s been a whirlwind of a week: crazy weather, last minute Christmas baking, finishing up my MBA, mad present wrapping (and re-wrapping when Carson opened up his cousin’s gift), and so much more. With all the rain, Johnny and I have had to put intensive training on hold. Thankfully, I’ve at least been able to hack out when the arenas get flooded. We even fit in a little outdoor dressage yesterday and got a great compliment…
Which makes me remember, yes! I did ride Wednesday! Don’t laugh–Mommy brain is for real. Johnny and I have been exploring our Fort Benning boundaries (we’re limited to non-housing and non-golf course, oh, and absolutely NON-Commanding General’s lawn). Wednesday we discovered the compost area. It’s a huge depression (never thought I’d use a military terrain term in a non-military setting) surrounded by ‘walls’ of earth and big mounds of composts. There’s a wide track running around the perimeter, and it’s perfect for flatwork outside the arena. As we trotted in, I noticed a GSA vehicle, and a DoD civilian asleep behind the wheel. He snoozed on as we trotted past, but when we came cantering by on our way out, I guess we scared the bejeebies out of startle him. Serves him right for hiding away sleeping on the job I thought. So yesterday, when I decided to use the out of the arena time to sharpen up Johnny’s response to my lateral aids, I figured the compost area would be the perfect place. Our ‘buddy’ was there again, but this time instead of sleeping through our ride, he moved his truck off to the side and watched us ride. Johnny and I did lots of shoulder-in, leg yielding, and even some side-passing. None of which was technically correct or even very balanced, but the whole point was to get him more comfortable moving laterally instead of skittering sideways like a lunatic every time my spur touches his side. As I began cooling him out, our audience of one rolled his window down and called out, “So how long you been riding?” Turns out, he’s watched a lot of dressage on television and thought we looked just like those horse and rider combos he’s watched so often. Uhm, no, we don’t, but thank you for the flattering compliment! He was so stunned to be so close to a horse (as we stood ten feet from his truck) as he had never been that close before. So, I walked Johnny up a little closer, and Johnny being Johnny, he stuck his head through the guy’s window right into his lap. The guy was more than a little astonished, but I assured him that Johnny was just making sure he didn’t have a pocketful of treats hiding away in there and that he would most certainly not bite. Johnny even let the guy pet his face for a minute before he got bored with the ‘man-who-had-no-treats.’ (Johnny is not amused with new people who do not provide treats upon request.) I explained a little about Johnny, his background, and what we do and was happy to find a non-equestrian who was so interested in equine sports.
And, now it’s nearly Christmas and time to head back home for the holidays. Just in time for Christmas, our balmy southern weather dropped down to the frigid end of the thermometer. Thankfully I haven’t yet clipped Johnny, but I snuggled him up in his heavy blanket, nonetheless. Pony gets quite cold without a layer of fat. He was puffed up like a snowbunny this morning when I came to feed. I’m sure he’ll relish his nearly week-long vacation, but I’m already counting the hours until I can climb back into the saddle. Until then, Merry Christmas!

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