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My lesson last night started out well. I got to the barn early and had time to chat with the girls before we tacked up. And that’s about where the good ended. As soon as I got on Vinnie looked like this:


We warmed up, did some transitions, trotting and various circles, serpentines, etc. to no avail. He has definitely been strong lately, but last night he was on a whole new level. Don’t get me wrong, Vinnie isn’t bad — he wasn’t spooking or bucking or carrying on. He was just feeling really good — too good for 2′ horse for beginner riders. We trotted a ground pole and he launched into the air and cantered away. This from the horse that three weeks ago was moving at a snails pace to the left. So we ended up switching bits to a pelham before even attempting to canter. The bit changed definitely helped, but my experience with double reins is about almost nothing (except for the stint in middle school where I pretended to ride Saddle Seat). I pretty much wore this expression for the first 10 minutes:

Dizzy with Double Reins

After I settled in to my (considerable amount of) hardware, we got to work. I’ve been working on following more over the fences, and last night I had some success. Probably about 60 percent of the time, I do well. But when I don’t really see a distance, or if I see a long one very late, I just pose.

This is what you’re supposed to look like over the fence, right?

I felt like I didn’t get to work too much on this, mostly because I was schooling Vinnie the entire lesson. We circled before and after fences, we stopped before and after fences and we did transitions. And I thought he was going to pull my arm out of its socket. About 30 minutes in to our 45 minute lesson, I was about done. Vinnie’s antics were really starting to get to me and I was pretty frustrated.

Really, Vinnie?!

But I held it together and we finished on as good of a note as we could. Hosed the wild pony and turned him out… which I think was where he wanted to be the whole time anyways. But, on to the next ride! Trainer is taking him on a long trail ride today or Thursday, so maybe that will help mellow him out some — I sure hope so anyway! Otherwise this might be me at the show this weekend:


Baseball diamond

It’s Definitely Summer!

I had an absolutely wonderful long weekend! I took half of Thursday and Friday off work to go to my little sister’s college graduation with the whole family. It was a little long, but a lot of fun and it was a great feeling to hear my sister’s name called as she walked across the stage to get her diploma! She worked really hard to accomplish this goal of hers and I’m so proud of her for making it all the way to the end.

Friday night the sibs, Sam and I went to the Indians game together. Sam is a huge baseball fan (his favorite team is the Braves) and he had never been to Progressive Field before. It was dollar dog night so the four of us loaded up on hot dogs and sat in the nosebleeds laughing and joking the whole time. The game went into extra innings but the Indians managed a win in the 10th with a walk-off home run. It was a blast, and it was a gorgeous night for baseball.

We left Saturday afternoon after our fill of awesome home-cooked meals and quality family time. And of course Rocky always enjoys the non-stop attention he gets at the house from everyone, and generally leaves thinking that the world revolves around him.

Rocky sitting on Pillows
Sunday I had a nice [albeit short] flat ride on Diamond. I didn’t get out to the barn until late morning and it was hot. I rode outside in the sand ring, which I like to call “the beach” in the summer, because you bake on it. All the sun reflects on that sand I swear it feels like it’s at least 15 degrees hotter than it really is. Regardless, I worked on focusing on my right aids, especially to the left, when I use them less… but the fact that they aren’t there really hurts my riding. Also did some pole work and concentrated on following Diamond even across simple ground poles.


I am happy to report that my right aids felt stronger than my last ride on Diamond, but still not where they need to be. I also noticed a big difference in my overall balance when I was able to correctly follow her stride over the poles. Maybe this whole “transferring what I learned on one horse to the other” is going to work after all, just a bit differently than I had originally imagined.

Weekly Schedule

  • Tonight – Lesson
  • Wednesday – Flat Vinnie
  • Friday-Sunday – HORSE SHOW!
Look at How Far You've Come

Leaps and Bounds

I often feel with horses that I’m either improving dramatically with almost every ride or that I’m at a plateau and going nowhere. Right now, I am the former; I am advancing in leaps and bounds. After my private lesson on Saturday and my flat ride on Sunday, a lot of concepts really “clicked” for me and I was able to carry a lot of learning over to my Monday night lesson (trainer even said so!).

Vinnie was high as a kite and I’m pretty sure he had “No Worries” playing on repeat in his head the entire lesson. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, but as a result we did a lot of schooling and didn’t put much together. We would jump a line, come down to a walk and circle, then pick up the canter and jump the next jump, stop. Stand. Canter the next jump; wash, rinse, repeat.

The exciting part was that I could really feel a difference between what I’ve dubbed as my “flowing two-point”, in which I correctly fold my upper body, while maintaining my core and legs versus my “posing two-point,” where I mostly stand up in the stirrups (okay, it might not be quite that bad, but it’s very a very static position). Additionally, even when I posed, it wasn’t as static as before (if that makes any sense). I was able to follow better with my arms and maintain more weight in my legs than before. This is very exciting for me, because I know now all I need are more reps over fences before all of this becomes habit and my posing two-point becomes the occasional “oops.”

Look at How Far You've Come

In other news, I’m heading back home Thursday afternoon for my little sister’s college graduation – YEAH! I am really proud and excited for her; she has worked exceptionally hard for this degree and I’m happy I was able to get time off work to go celebrate with her. PLUS she just got a job (and she’s been looking for something at least part-time for months) so our family has a ton to celebrate.

Only eight days until the first horse show of the season!

Diamond and Vinnie May 13 2013

Just Be Grateful

Sometimes in life I find myself really struggling with the feeling of gratitude. I know I’m very lucky and have a lot to be thankful for, but I often [all too often] find myself fixating on what I don’t have. This weekend, I really wanted to focus on being happy for the opportunities that are before me and remembering how lucky I am to have so many blessings in my life.

Extra Lesson

Saturday I had an extra private lesson on Vinnie, and with Sam finally done with finals, he was able to come with me! As I’ve mentioned before, some issues with my leg have prevented me from moving up to the Intermediate Adult 2’6″ division this year, and I’m planning on showing in the same division I did last year (Limit 2′). While I know this is good decision, I still can’t help but feel frustrated and jealous sometimes. So I’ve been trying to think of all the positives, instead of dwelling on the negative and this lesson really showed me that I’m moving in the right direction.

We had three fences set around the outside, on the quarter line, one single and a five-stride line. Down the center was a three jump gymnastic, all one-strides. Our focus in the lesson was to follow over the jump, especially as they got bigger. Sometimes, especially if we have a bad spot or the horse over-jumps, I just pose in an awkward and stiff two-point, instead of flowing. We started out by going over the gymnastic several times and talking through each jump, until I started to get the hang of flowing better. My trainer explained the concept in several ways, but the one that stuck was “pushing my butt out” over the fence. Kind of crude, I know, but whatever works! We ended up having a bit of breakthrough, and I finally got what I needed to do! Woohoo!

Saturday I was grateful for the opportunity to ride and take lessons with a highly qualified professional. Without your own horse it’s not always easy to find opportunities to ride regularly, and my trainer has graciously provided that for me for a year now. I am also extremely lucky to have such a supportive boyfriend who wants to go out to the barn with me whenever he can. He enjoys watching me ride and helping out with grooming, tacking and cleaning up.

Diamond and I on May 13 2013

Mother’s Day

Sunday Sam and I got up early and went to the barn. My trainer let me hack Diamond, to give Vinnie a day off. It was great to get back on her, after not riding her for a few weeks. It’s amazing how much more sensitive she is compared to Vinnie, and how much she really makes you work for every step.

It was the perfect ride to continue to work on my leg, which I now realize on Diamond is literally useless on the right canter lead. That’s definitely not helping me! So we practiced circles, with special attention to the right side of my body, transitioning body positions at the trot and canter (variations of sitting, posting/half seat, and two-point).

Then I went to do some no-stirrup work and though it’s been a few years, I thought I’ll just post for a lap or two and it will be fine. Oh my god, was I wrong. I remember doing no stirrup work in high school and it was a breeze. I got two steps, literally, and almost fell off. How embarrassing. So I practiced at the walk and realized just how far I have to go. But at least I know, and will remember to work on it a little bit every ride.

After the barn, Sam and I headed to his mom’s house, about 30 minutes south of us. Mother’s Day is the only holiday she cares about, and she always wants the same thing: to set-up her garden and eat pizza. So that’s what we did — Sam and I helped her husband plant the garden and her flowers. Then I helped out in the kitchen and we ordered pizza. It was a great evening and of course our dog loved playing with his brothers and sisters (Sam’s mom has five dogs) and romping around the yard.

Sunday I was grateful for the opportunity to ride more than one horse that can teach me a lot about riding and help me improve on my weaknesses. I was also grateful for my awesome mom, both of grandmothers, and especially Sam’s mom. Her health isn’t the best, and I need to remember to be grateful for every memory we can make with her, because as we go along in life, there will be things she is no longer able to do. But I was very grateful to spend this Mother’s Day with her, and to have her in my life as my second mom. To raise me, it takes a village, that’s for sure.

Rocky chewing a pig ear

A Fun Contest Entry

She Moved To Texas, one of my favorite blogs, is holding a contest to win some personalized stationary from Happy Hound. She asked everyone to enter by telling her who our horse who send a thank you card to. Seeing as I currently do not own a horse, I thought I would write one from my dog, just for fun:

Joseph O’Leary
PetSmart Executive VP of Merchandising, Supply Chain, Marketing and Strategic Planning

Dear Mr. O’Leary,

I have been a fan of pig ears my whole life. The first time I ever had one, it was bigger than my head and it was awesome. So tasty, and tough, but not too tough. One pig ear used to last me a few days, but now that I am all grown up, I can eat one in 10 minutes flat. My mom says that is really impressive, since I’m only 12 pounds.

The reason for my letter Mr. O’Leary, is that I would like to thank you for stocking my favorite brand of treats, Dentley’s Prime Cuts Pig Ear Strips. Every time I visit my local PetSmart, I know exactly which aisle they are in and I always go there first! Unless there is a pretty girl dog, then I say hello to her first and show her where to go for the best treats ever.

Without you, Mr. O’Leary, and your ridiculously awesome job of knowing what treats dogs like, I would not ever get to eat a pig ear and know true happiness.

Rocky Roo Raccoon