What Next?

Wellllllllllll, alright game plan time.  

Since the husband and I made the decision to not pursue buying this year, I’m living the quiet riding lifestyle.  I’m stealing rides on some lovely beasts who reside at the barn and reading everyone else’s blogs to fill in my horse quota.  I’m kind of in a holding pattern until I can either find a new lease, or stumble upon a similar situation for my lessons.  I have great faith that something will come wandering by, but in the meantime I have been soaking up the extra quality time with family and friends.


So it looks as if I am going to rock out as life as a lesson kid again.  I’m sad to not be riding as much as I was with Dee, but it still feels good to be riding period.  That’s what I need to focus on.

My first real lesson as a free agent was this past week, and I was so pleasantly surprised!  I always worry that since I had been riding the same horse for a long time, that I’d struggle with a new mount.  Well, my trainer must have a sense of humor because she put me on a 17hh+ red giraffe masquading as a thoroughbred.  He is long, bouncy and jumps quiet and flat.  So essentially the only thing he has in common with Dee is his species.  Ha!  But I had a blast.  And by the end I figured out how to steer again and we had some nice moments.  Not sure he’ll be a permentant fixture in my life (he has a lesser), but I was very glad for the ride.  


I’m the worst at photos. Here’s the giraffe feasting after our ride.  

This week everything will settle into my new normal, lessons midweek and hopefully a borrowed ride during the weekends when they are available.  It’s going to be good.  

BUTttttttttt if anyone knows of a magical unicorn who wants to be leased by yours truly-just let me know!  

 

1, 2, 1, 2, 1…

I don’t care how old I get / how advanced I might get…my go-to for courses, especially ones with plenty of long approaches, is to count.  I know some riders sing, others talk, but there is something ridiculously therapeutic about counting 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2 and so on.  With a greenie like O was when I bought her it helped me regulate the pace, to be an active rider.  With Dee it operates in the exact opposite way, it distracts me from micro-managing the long approach or picking at the distances.  But regardless, it is my go – to maneuver.

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Purple thinking hat on!

This weeks lesson had a long approach small single to start off, where you really hard to get the pace early on.  Then a long 3 stride off a short approach.  To a nice moving two stride.  To another super long approach single oxer.  So lots of great questions!  My job was to get the pace early on, keep Dee bouncy and block that outside shoulder around the turns.  After running through each component individually, we strung it all together.

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Matching game is strong (for hunters)

 

And it was good.  Like it felt good, Dee felt good, pace was correct.  I even gave a tiny, slightly embarrassing “whoop” at Dee once we landed the last oxer.  We let her be done with that.  It couldn’t have gone any smoother in my mind.  It might have been due to my obsessive 1, 2, 1, 2 (you can totally hear me coming to the oxer) counting, but whatever it is, I’ll take it!

Please also note, that I had packed for my lesson the night before, grabbing a purple Kastel shirt.  Once at work, I realized I had both a purple saddle pad AND a purple trimmed bonnet in my car…cue fabulous idea to convince the two other adult ammies in my lesson to go matchy match.  One went all navy, one went all black/grey and I was in purple.  I don’t know if Dee has ever even wore a horse hat, but it was really fun dressing her up!

Steering is Important

This past week I experienced an embarrassing lesson in steering.

When people ask me how old theirs kids should be before they start riding, I always answer with a “when they can understand steering”.  So by that note–I should not currently be enrolled in our lesson program.  Palm to face.

Cutest Hony around.

In our last lesson we were working on a course full of twists, turns, pace questions, lead changes…all the wonderful things that require both lots of steering and use of your eyes.  This is what I get lessoning with the jumper girls.  It was going okay, our first attempt I neglected to ignite any kind of momentum from Dee.  So we chipped here, chipped there, chipped everywhere!!  Gross guys, so gross.

Off we went to try it again, with Trainer  making my reins long and loopy.  I was instructed to not touch them during the course except to open them.  For a hot minute, I actually felt like Dee was going to run away with me.  (Pause for laughter…we just actually had the correct amount of pace to navigate our funky course.)

Having “no” reins, made such a huge difference.  We nailed the distances this time, with Dee really stretching down, and even though I felt like I have zero control, it forced me to really sit up and support.  Voila better riding!  This is why trainers make the big bucks.

We gave Dee a minute to catch her breath, and off we went to polish our efforts a bit.  Here’s a lovely diagram of the chaos that was this course.  I’m super proud that I remembered which jump I was supposed to be at.

Exercise from March 2017 with 1 stride

So many twists.  My hunter heart was terrified.

I did good things over jumps 1-3, landing the leads, and not creeping up on my reins.  Except that after jump 3, when we turn to jump 4, I forgot something very important.  It is vital to steer AROUND solid objects.  Even this handy little horse couldn’t make the turn I asked for, and I connected my left kneecap to the wooden standard on a jump in our turn.  The whole jump (one we weren’t jumping) toppled over and instantly my whole left leg went numb.  It hurt.  A lot.

I really wanted to go finish the course, but trainer made me stay put.  After a few minutes, my foot and calf were still numb and we could see the swelling through my breeches.  My lesson looked pretty over.  Off I went to Urgent Care to be sure I didn’t crack anything.  After a very long night I was dubbed “pretty banged up” and sent home with painkillers and instructions to not ride until I could do stairs/run/etc. without pain.  I know it happens plenty of times, but that doesn’t make you feel any less like a total goob.

It hurt way worse than it looked. So annoying.

And here I am at a week plus from that date and it is STILL sore. I still can’t do stairs very well and I haven’t tried to ride.

So please, humor me, has anyone else ran themselves into a jump instead of around it lately?

Moving Right Along

We’ve got a horse show tomorrow, but I’m still riding the high from some great lessons lately.  So regardless of what happens, I’m feeling like the improvement is there.  Here’s some little clips of lessons lately…keep an eye out for:

  • Staying down and soft on the backside of the jumps.
  • Keeping Dee’s shoulders up on approach.
  • Attempting to keep my elbows in, less “chicken dance”.
  • Making a decision on distances and sticking with it.

Here we go.

I struggled at first (and struggle at the end of the other clip) with getting to this single at an odd stride.  But this one was my best ride, and really using my outside rein to keep her body straight.  Yay!

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She is adorbs.

 

Full course, complete with ugly last jump (you can see the second I waffle on my choice & pull).  Also-enjoy Dee’s pre-jump grunting! Ha!

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Eating these bigger oxers up lately. 

So there we are!  Happy with our overall picture and excited for what’s next.  Wish us luck!

 

Do all the things

It’s been awhile.  Dee decided to nap in some hay and get poked in the eyeball.  So she got a few days off.  Then I decided to come down with the 3rd…yes 3rd stomach bug of the season (day care is evil) and then got this sweet sinus infection.

Essentially, nothing much has been happening in my neck of the woods for about 2 weeks.  I hadn’t swung a leg over anything and I broke a sweat going up the stairs.  BUT.  This week I dragged my butt to the barn on Sunday for a makeup lesson, tossed on some spurs, grabbed my stick and off we went.

Someone was exhausted.

How Dee feels when I asked her to get up! Lol

Dee of course, was a good little cupcake, and did her job per usual.  I had forgotten that smarty pants mare would know exactly how to evade work, and got a little heavy on me.  But lots of transitions and the fan of death (bounce poles on a circle) had us moving right along.  We  jumped around a low little course; things came up easily and we finished with a smile. Bonus: I have media coming!

Blurry snaps from horse shows ftw

I was sore afterwards (pitiful I know), but still snuck in another quick ride in the random 60 degree weather this week.  It feels good to be back on track.  Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I managed a second lesson, where we really worked on my eye and my (bad) decision making skills.  Such as this:

I want to pull the pony to the jump.  She doesn’t like to be pulled to the jump.  Inevitably we put in teeny baby stride and sloth over the fence.  What did I learn here?  Apparently nothing, as I tried it like 3 times last night.  In the end I decided to do what I’ve been told a “few” times for the past 15 years and put more leg on.  Magic!!

Still on the path to do our thing at the home show in February.  AND loving my new gloves!!

Lessons, Lessons Everywhere

I’ve decided that one of the best things about the junior riders being off from school for winter break is that the lesson options open right up and I can sign up for all kinds of lessons.  Since my funk last week, I opted to throw myself back into things and see where it got me.


Well it got me into two really great lessons.  One I had to work hard in, so did Dee.  We struggled, but hung in there and ended on a great note.  The second lesson was a private and my trainer really took some time to dig into some minor things and get them fixed up.


For example-my two point.  Sad, but apparently I’ve just gotten lazy and am mostly sticking my butt out.  Time for that to be over!   We jumped around and did not have an ugly jump the whole time.  Dee was on, I was on track, and we really drilled into my head that I need to stop micro-managing (my favorite) and let the mare do her thing.  Because O was a stopper, we were really riding her like I would maybe ride a jumper, a more involved ride.  Dee would prefer me to fix the problem, and then sit quiet and let her jump up to me.  Dee does not want to be messed with on the other side of the jump either, so adding that to the “to do” list.  Not that she’s nasty about any of it, but when I do it correctly, she jumps cute as a button.

I  have thought about, and talked to my trainer about the confusing Ugly Sweater show as well.  The summary is that Dee had not been in a show environment in over a year (like me).  And since she was significantly overweight a seriously fatty just this summer, my trainer wanted to opt to end on a positive and happy note.  She was so happy with Dee and me, and really sees us doing more at our next show.  I felt much better after our discussion and have made plans to show in February.

Floofness; lesson 2

His royal cuteness, the drafty Floof, gave me another great lesson last week, and while we did almost melt, it was totally worth it.

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Hi.  I iz the floof.

We warmed up trotting into a vertical, and focused on really sitting quiet, pressing into the mane and letting the horses jump up (versus just shooting across the jump).  Floof-pony caught on, and I was really excited to feel how much more educated he’s getting.  He is starting to figure out how to use his body correctly.

We moved onto a small winding course, with lead changes, and a tight 3 stride line.  Emphasis on half halts, balancing, and leg.  Oh and these jumps were legit, like had fill and everything.  I felt like a real rider again!  (whoop whoop)

This horse has a giant stride, so I had to be sure to jump into the line, and really sitIMG_3847[1] back to balance him.  A few weeks ago a half halt to him was quite a lot of pressure and holding with your legs.  This time, we hopped into the 3 stride, I sat back and half halted firmly….and the horse practically stalled mid-air. He’s got the half halt figured out.

And God love him, even after practically halting a stride in, I booted him forward and the dude just cantered up and popped over the 2nd jump anyway.  He gives no rats.

Next time I came into the line, and got to just hold for just a second after the jump, and he cantered out in a lovely 3 strides.  Such a good boy.

Since it was one degree from molten outside, we let him be done after another course or two.  He’s become such a nice, light ride in the past few weeks.  I can’t wait to see what he does in the jumper ring!

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Finally found one that I don’t look huge on.  #beefcake