Some days I feel strong, energetic, and able to do most of what I could as a 30-year old. Other days I feel more like an over-cooked noodle. I call days like that Bug Days. Today is a Bug Day.
Baber and I stayed up past 11PM last night watching Hal Lindsey and Irwin Baxter so were already behind the energy curve when it was time to get up and feed horses, goats, cats, and dogs. Those 17 hungry little faces would have survived, but staying in bed to drink another cup of coffee wouldn’t have been worth the self-imposed guilt.
My Treadmill as Energy Barometer and Equitation Laboratory
Most mornings I hop onto the treadmill with hand weights to tone and work on my balance. I have learned SO MUCH about training horses more efficiently from my treadmill. Usually the workout focuses on stride, cadence, balance, diagonals, and aids.
But today is a Bug Day. It took my entire treadmill time just to work up to being in balance with a shortened stride and no lateral or diagonal challenges. The plans I’d made for working horses today also needed to change. If I’m not capable of balancing myself I sure can’t help balance and support a horse in a new or more difficult movement.
I feel fine. There’s no soreness anywhere, no bind or pull, and except for my eyelids feeling like they’re only about 93% open it’s a great day. Do you ever have Bug Days?
Horses Have Bug Days Too
Yesterday I was a master of treadmill exercise; strong, energetic, able to punch with free weights while maintaining perfect balance with a cadenced stride of the appropriate length. Today I managed a medium walk and there was no punching. Nothing happened since yesterday except the passage of time.
I had a great workout yesterday. Why can’t I do it today? Am I frustrating myself on purpose? Did I somehow become stupid or lazy? No lameness and no emotional distress…
Every horse owner and trainer has mounted up the day after a wonderful lesson only to discover their horse is having a Bug Day. Yesterday the horse did laterals, stride lengthening and shortening exercises, was light on leg and rein cues, and performed flawless transitions. Today the horse has a problem putting out a reasonable working trot.
Is the horse being a pain just to annoy you? Did he lose his mind overnight? He’s not lame or sore anywhere. Whatever could be the problem?
Managing Bug Days
Do not engage a windshield in battle on a Bug Day.
This morning I had wonderful rides on Bo, Ace, and Swizzle, but I did not get out my hunt saddle as planned to work on bigger gymnastics with Bo or begin teaching new yields and lateral work with Ace or Swizzle. Since doing basic foundational exercises was the speed I was capable of today that’s what we did.
When your horse has a Bug Day ask for a level of work he is capable of doing well. Some Bug Days are perfect for doing walk-trot bareback trail or simply hacking out to the pasture at a leisurely walk to enjoy God’s creation with your equine companion.
Don’t be a windshield for someone else on a Bug Day.
Teaching horses new or more difficult exercises requires more support and energy than practicing simpler maneuvers. You can’t step up to guide and protect horse or human on a Bug Day. If you need to go to bat for a friend or client see if you can reschedule. Wet noodles don’t make good windshields.
Windshields need energy reserves to be effective. Weak windshields break when hit by really BIG bugs.
If God calls on you to engage a windshield in battle or act as a windshield to protect someone else, He will make you able to stand against the strongest windshield or the biggest bug. When He puts you in a place to protect or serve He will equip you to succeed.
But when the choice is yours, give yourself a break. If your horse is the one having a Bug Day, give him grace.
It’s a beautiful journey. Tomorrow I will be the windshield.