I loved Winnie the Pooh when I was little. I had all of his read-along books (my audiobook obsession started young!) and I still remember all the little songs and stories.
I catch myself singing this one a lot since we moved
When you’re little, and you live in town, a hundred-acre
wood sounds like an almost unimaginably large space. Bigger than the playground.
Bigger than a rich kid’s lawn.
As an adult, of course, 100 acres is still impressive. It’s
enough space that you only see your neighbors if you want to.
But as an endurance rider, I can appreciate how small 100
acres is, too. In simple terms, a 100-acre square is less than half a mile on
each side. Not nearly enough space to get things done.
OR SO YOU MIGHT BELIEVE.
In fact, 100 acres is a perfectly respectable space if you
can convince your horse that going around the loop more than once isn’t a
special torture you devised just for him.
The “back 40” where I board is roughly 100 acres, and we can
get a lot done there. Not knowing what Blue’s deal is at the moment, I’ve gone
into rehab mode. This means shorter rides with specific goals.
The back 100 is great for this because it had just about
every kind of footing and terrain. Blue is
basically over his phase of refusing to trot in general, so now he is showing
more specific things for us to work on. Namely, at the moment anyway, he has
forgotten how to go down hills.
It’s always something.
I realize that the physiological basis of trouble with hills
is lack of balance. Lots of possible root causes there. He’s less than thrilled
about collecting up and using his hind end lately, so probably that’s the well
from which our troubles have sprung.
Anyway, what happens is we charge confidently up the big
hill (3/4 mile, gradual), then jog back down. Most of that jog is perfectly
lovely, aside from the occasional bobble where it’s uneven and rocky. But the
last 15 feet before the bottom is a flurry of stiff, hollow, awkward, bumbling
steps, Blue’s rear end miles behind us in never-never land, head in the clouds,
front end skidding across the gravel like Bambi on a frozen lake. It is this
way every time, and I admit that it would be funny if it were happening to
Why the panic and rush at the bottom of the hill? I HAVE
LITERALLY NO $&@%#ING CLUE.
What’s the plan? I’m thinking that we need to be on the hill
more. Learn the hill. Feel the hill. BE the hill. Become one with the hill. AKA,
we’re going to start doing stuff on
the way down. Lane changes, from one side of the double track to the other.
Sharp turns into the trees on either side. Stops. Backing. Rollback and canter
up the hill.
Either I will make the soft-tissue damage permanent and be
shopping for another horse by the time the rain starts again, or I will have
turned water into wine.*
*Clumsy horse into agile mountain goat.