Aches and Pains

After baby I was back in the saddle about 7 weeks later.  I felt totally floppy/messy, but I was there.  Then O left, and instead of riding 2-3 times a week, I suddenly was doing the once a week lesson thing.  My first lesson was fine, but I also spent equal times fuming and laughing at myself.  It is quite possibly the most frustrating thing to know what you are supposed to do, and realize your body can’t do it.  But in some ways it’s just hilarious, because you know you look ridiculous too.  (pony kicks for everyone)

Sitting up

Want to ride like this….

Last Thursday was my second ‘real’ lesson, and honestly I spent the majority of it embarrassed.  Not that I thought a few rides would make a huge difference, but I expected something to be better.  Uh…nope.

If anything, I felt like I was getting more floppy, gross, and just spaztic in the tack.  My schoolie, a new one to me, probably thought I’d lost my mind because we spent a lot of time walking.  I had to focus on not dying after just posting trot, or two pointing around a full lap.  Humiliating.

My trainer is the best, and I try to laugh it off, but it really is hard.  The basic conclusion is that I need something to ride more often.  I’m not going to recover from 6 months off by riding once a week.  At least not quickly.  So there is about 5 different plans in motion, and we’ll just have to see what works out.

All I can tell you is that I’m so sore today my arms kind of hurt when I stretch out to type and carrying the baby up and down the stairs is a whole production.  Let’s not even talk about the dumb choice to wear heels Friday.  My thighs are killing.

 

 

 

Calling for Reinforcements

If you asked me 6 months ago if I would be in the situation with O that I am now, I would laugh hysterically.  My horse?  A spooky stopper?  Hell, I probably would’ve joked that my quiet little mare wouldn’t have the energy or interest to try to unseat anyone.

The best at innocent looks.

The best at innocent looks.

And then she dumped one person….and another…  My trainer was sick and tired of watching our rides fall to pieces, and pretty much told me flat out that O needs something we obviously aren’t giving her.

So I called in the reinforcements.

Or rather, my in-laws.

Unlike the typical rom-com stereotype, I adore my in-laws and value their opinions in all matters.  Their advice and knowledge of horses is a wonderful perk to have in the family.  They raise, train, and work all of their own horses and commonly keep a herd of 8-14 horses around to help work on their ranch.  My husbands grandfather was a quarter horse breeder, and obviously his father is my farrier-in-law that commonly swoops in to help with O’s feet.

Anyway, maybe you are guessing where this is going….but the final answer is that last week O left for the ranch to spend a few months getting reacquainted with some basics, and to decompress from her stopping issues.  I do hate that I’m turning her life upside down, but maybe that what she needs.

Still my favorite trotting picture of her, of all time.

Still my favorite trotting picture of her, of all time.

My husband always says that horses need have a job, and O’s is to be my partner, and do what I ask (within reason).  Currently she is flat our refusing to do her job.  The in-laws are hoping to let her have a mixture of time to be a horse and de-stress, and be adjusted to a riding lifestyle that will not tolerate her new found attitude and resistance in regards to what her rider is asking.  So basically she’s having a summer long come-to-Jesus moment about who is in charge.

Her new roomies at the ranch will include my husband’s mare, which I think is kind of cute.  O traveled and arrived well, and is still separated from the bulk of the horses as to properly introduce her.  I really, really hope this is what she needs.  A chance to hit reset on some of her training, and to learn confidence in herself and her riders.  Plus I know she is well looked after by a group of amazing riders.

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We’re Back! (Mostly)

Wednesday was gorgeous out.  I couldn’t resist getting on the pony and taking it for a cruise.  My trainer happened to be out there and wanted to see her move around.

She was swingy, perky and didn’t seem to be bothered by anything.  From the ground you can see better how she’s landing on that ouchie foot.

First word, and best words out of my trainers mouth, “it looks pretty darn good”.  I wanted to whoop or fist pump.  But I’m not that cool; so I reeled that sh*t in and settled for happily bouncing around on my very patient little horse.

This is what I was doing. Just mentally.  Thanks for the image Google.

The plan is to continue lightly riding her this week, walk, trot, maybe a little canter mixed in, and see if the soreness continues to decrease.  Of course, I made my trainer repeat it again, just so I could hear the positive diagnosis. She changed her words, probably because I was being obnoxious, and then called her “mostly” sound.  Whatever, still more internal whooping happening over here.

No more hand grazing....it's time to get back to work!

No more hand grazing….it’s time to get back to work!

This weekend, my horse and I will do fun things.  I’m excited, and ready to get this show back on the road.  O and I both got a little fat during this month off, so now it’s on to find that happy fitness place for both of us.

Brainwashing Step 1

Feel free to laugh.  I’m calling this the month of the brainwashing!! It may turn into the summer of brainwashing, (sigh) that is yet to be determined.

Win: My horse carried my gloves around for me yesterday.

Win: My horse carried my gloves around for me yesterday.

Before and after each ride I’m forcing my horse to reacquaint herself with jumps in a positive way.  Not by actually jumping them, but but walking in, around, thru, by, on top of whatever obstacles are out in the ring that particular day.  Last Sunday was our first date with the jumps, and she wanted to stop, sniff, huff at and generally stare down half the jumps in the ring.  But for once I swallowed my internal “Oh my God horse you’ve seen these a million times—WHY ARE YOU NOW SCARED OF THEM ALL?” scream and quietly made her work back and forth over the poles, over the fill, by the gates.  Whatever she stared at, she had to stand in it, by it, until she didn’t give a rats ass anymore.

Every time you could see the second she gave up, she would drop her neck, and usually rub her nose on the formerly offensive object.  I would then praise her brilliance and rub her neck/mane where she loves it.  By the time we got around the whole arena she was all about it and started poking stuff with her nose as we got up to it, looking for attention when she did.  She licked and chewed her way around the last few so I considered this exercise a success.  I’m hoping to do this each ride, pending busy factor in the arena.

It wasn’t until I got in my car that I admit I cried out of sheer frustration.  In what world would I ever guess my horse would regress this far back.  It IS stupid, but I feel like she’s betraying me.  While I know she’s not the deep emotionally, I just have a feeling this spring is going to be more rough on me, than her.

All she wants is grass.

All she wants is grass.

I’m willing to work with her, because she deserves it and I want to.  But no one said I won’t go a little crazy in the process.

She already thinks I'm crazy.

She already thinks I’m crazy.

Keep on Keeping on

Since the show, we’ve really been really sticking to our plan and hoping things will sort themselves out.

photo 3 (36)

photo 2 (35)

I will say that the mare has been a joy on the flat. 

Happy doing her thing on the line.

Happy doing her thing on the line.  I wish she’d stay this color when she sheds out.

We’ve been able to ride outside a lot more, and am trying to add more walk-abouts after rides so we can get to that goal of going on an offer property shindig sometime soon.

As for jumping, she’s been a bit jeykll and hyde.  One week she jumped around fine, then had one jump she just couldn’t comprehend.

O’s reaction to one of the jumps.

The next week, she gave no cares whatsoever, and popped her way around some courses like she’d never stopped in her life.  So while we still puzzle that out, I’m trying really hard to be relaxed and realize that some things take time.  Also, I’m so grateful for the spring and longer nights to be able to work with her.

Per usual, she’s been a lover on the ground, and continues to look and feel really great.

I  picked up a belt from C4 this weekend during their bogo sale and I’m so excited to see mine!  Who said boring hunters can’t play with colors (at least in schooling)?

Shocker…guess what color I went with?!

Displaying

The best one.

I Broke the Connection

Second title option was: same old, same old.

I really struggle with keeping my wrists, primarily my left wrist straight.  Instead I like to bend and ‘break’ them while riding.

Breaky breaky.

Breaky breaky.

Can't even walk without breaking it.

Can’t even walk without breaking it.

Well trainer zeroed in on that in this week’s lesson since we were struggling with a true feel at the canter.  One second I’d be scrambling to rein her canter back in–the next I was (figuritively) flapping the reins are her.  Huge shocker: our pace around courses was not so hot.  Trainer eventually shouted at me across the ring telling me I had ‘broken the connection‘ with O and this was causing a lot of miscommunication.

This phrase really made sense for me and somehow made me more aware of when I was breaking my wrists.  Each time I felt like I wasn’t getting the right feel from O I would check my wrist before anything else.  9/10 times it was exactly what we needed. Really hoping that this new phrase and perspective on my outside rein, and my struggling left  wrist gets this bad habit fixed up.  I’m tired of dealing with the same issues.

I was really proud of how great O’s canter can be right now.  She’s getting the hang of holding herself up properly and now we can take some time to work on me again.  We didn’t jump anything exciting, but there was no refusals and a few decent lead changes.  All good things!

As far as the rest of this week of riding?  Epic fail.  It was cold and nasty outside, and the barn was discouraging rides. I did go out to pet the pony and checked her double blanket situation was still alright.  I think O was pretty surprised to see me.

"What are you doing here?"

“What are you doing here?”

"Do you have foods?'"

“Do you haz foods?'”

The answer was yes.

The answer was yes.

 

Another Month Into Magnesium

I wanted to do one last update on magnesium as we continued down that path to alleviate the overly spooky tendencies that had sprung up this winter.  A month or so ago I posted my original I love magnesium post.  We had started O on 3000mg of magnesium, and that is the dose she has continued on.  Since she lives outside, she doesn’t get it at the same time everyday or anything, but rather each of the 5-6 days a week when she does get ridden.  In my first post I raved about how much less spooky O had been since starting the Mg.

Wild beast here.

Wild beast here.

Today I’ll be repeating myself a bit.  She still eyeballs things, but it is so much less dramatic than before Mg.  Does she still peek at jumps?–Absolutely–but I cannot remember when she last stopped at a jump.  It has probably been a month or more.  This is a big deal.  I can deal with a peeking horse!  Better yet is the desired side effect.  Since she is relaxed enough around the ring’s ‘scary’ jumps we are able to reinforce that when she does something good, she gets rewarded.  When she does something good over/around/near something scary she gets bigger rewards (pats everywhere).  Since her brain is quiet enough to let her soak in this idea, I’ve been much more successful.

In fact in my lesson this week, I swung up and she immediately marched across the ring to a jump that had been slightly undone, the standards were leaning wonky and the poles were askew; the very same poles that we had stopped at only weeks ago (oh yes-she refused a scary blue pole).  Without guidance from me she power-walked to it, and without missing a beat climbed through the awkward set up and continued to march confidently around. Small victories!

Basically I’m not saying that it works for everyone and it may not seem like a big deal, but Mg is giving my horse the chance to really process what is going on around her, without getting anxious.  She’s now having those confidence building moments, and I’m able to reward her.  Even further, the more confident she gets, the better she is actually jumping.

Cute pony.

Cute pony.