Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A VERY Special Ride on Kiki


So, as I was mentioning yesterday, Saturday was a pretty unreal day weather-wise: sunny, breezy, low-70s, the kind of big cotton ball clouds that just make you want to sit out in the sunshine and think about how lovely it is to be alive, and the first hints of green winter grass poking out through the normally golden California stubble. The Horse Park has a wonderful cross country course that, after the bit of rain we've gotten, was looking ridiculously verdant and beautiful and, despite that same rain, was actually open and just inviting innocent passers-by to try to grab the nearest four-legged creature and hit the tracks.

(Just a small sample of how insanely gorgeous it's been recently - now imagine this weather (with better clouds), but with big wide open green fields, and you get what I was looking at on Saturday. Who could possibly resist??)

Innocent passers-by... like me! I admit it, I was hypnotized. As I was driving out of the horse park to go ride Kiki, faced with another day of hoofing it around the parking lots, between the barns, and around the edges of whatever open rings I could sneak into at Stanford, I got almost sick with longing at the idea of riding out in the open again. So, in a moment of delightful spontaneity (something I'm not generally very known for), I pulled into the office at the last minute and signed up for a day pass to the park.

(What I've been used to these past few weeks... I still can't get over how lovely the view is between those ears, but the track around the rings has been getting old fast)

Feeling almost giddy with what I'd just gotten myself into, I raced back to the barn, feverishly hitched up and loaded the trailer, and grabbed Kiki. Fortunately she was looking pretty fly, so I didn't have to work too hard to get her public-ready (though her mane is, alas, approaching western pleasure length... must pull immediately!!!). I booted her up, loaded her, and a mere 40 minutes after leaving the horse park I was pulling back in with Kiki in tow.

It was only as I started to tack her up that I began to get a little apprehensive. What if she went nuts? It was an awfully big space, and if she got out of control (or worse, ditched me and got loose) she could run for a loooong way and get very quickly re-injured (or, I thought grimly, injured even worse than before). She'd always been a total star about new places, but has also had some pretty epic moments of sudden-onset cray-cray-ness at home that I was worried would be exacerbated in a new, big, exciting location. But, not to be deterred, I put a foot in the stirrup and swung aboard.

And... she was AMAZING. She did have a minor fit when we first approached the entrance to the cross country course (she's been here before and I think she suddenly understood where we were going) but after I led her by it and went in through another gap she was much better. We bopped around on a long rein for a good 45 minutes, and I couldn't have been more pleased if we had schooled the entire Prelim course. It was just unreal how wonderful it felt to be out in the sunshine with my horse again, feeling the breeze and the warm dapple of the sun and drinking in as much of the vista as my eyes could take in. Kiki was clearly having a good time too, her ears pricking at every jump we passed and her stride feeling light and energetic as we marched around.

(Heaven.)

We did have one minor incident towards the end of the ride where I was sitting on my tailbone with one hand on the reins, when suddenly Kiki thought it would be clever to bolt for a few strides then drop her shoulder and spin, all for no apparent reason, which I will admit very nearly unseated me!! Fortunately I was able to very quickly throw my weight back to center and re-gather the reins (thank you Eric Smiley for instilling in me the need to practice picking those up in a moment's notice!) to keep all possible damage to a minimum. Afterwards I could almost hear Kiki chuckling to herself at her little stunt, though I was glad to have gotten the last laugh on her... I'm pretty sure she would have found it highly amusing to put me on the floor when I'd had my guard so utterly down (as she has done so unceremoniously in the past!!). Despite this little situation, she jogged out very well on the hard ground when I got back to the trailer, so I think no harm was done. Phew!

(Kiki was happy to be reunited with the water jump... and check out the reflection of those clouds!!)

In the few days since, she's still felt very sound and even, and has a definitely upturn in morale, so I'm feeling very good about my choice to go. It's been raining more and more often, so the likelihood of getting another day to go out is dwindling quickly, but if I get another chance I'm sure going to jump at it! Who knows when the next time will be that I'll be able to ride my own horse in such a beautiful place??

After that, it was a quick scramble to get everything cleaned up and put away, and then myself cleaned up and prepped for the midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show in Menlo Park. I'd just watched the movie on its own for the first time a few weeks before Halloween (and yes, I admit, I was one of the many who got swept up in the madness after Glee did it for their Halloween episode), and so was VERY VERY excited to get a chance to do the full RHPS experience. My friend Clare came with me and, though it was migraine-inducingly loud and boisterous and we ended up staying up wayyy too late given my 5:30 departure the next morning for Davis, we had a raucously good time. I don't usually include non-horsey photos here, but these were just too amusing to pass up:

(Clare as Brad, showing off the super classy lipstick "V"s all first-timers get branded with)

(Me as a pretty good Janet, if I do say so myself =D)

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