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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.

Sincerely,
Rocky Roo Raccoon

 

Life Makes More Sense in the Saddle

One Ride at a Time

While most people hate Mondays, I have grown to enjoy them for the sole reason that every Monday night I have a riding lesson. It’s honestly the highlight of my week. Tonight it was just my BFF N and I, which was a nice change from the bigger group lessons we’ve been having lately. She rode Diamond, which was pretty educational for me. I got to see Diamond do the same things to N that she does to m, and watch how she handled [well, really corrected] them and what adjustments she made as we went along. I also evaluated how I would do in similar situations… to which the answer was almost always “mine would not have been that pretty” or “I wouldn’t have known what to do.”

We mostly took it easy, Vinnie had a bump on his right leg, but trotted out sound, plus I was kind of sore [my knees and lower back didn’t feel 100 percent] so it worked out. We practiced some course work — all singles for me and just 18″ verticals, but it went pretty well. I had a few close distances, but I followed Vinnie’s motion over the jump successfully. I also had a few long distances, which I didn’t follow so well BUT there was improvement. Instead of not following and losing my leg and thus getting jumped out of the tack, my legs stayed pretty steady, I just didn’t follow well with my upper body. Improvement!
Life Makes More Sense in the Saddle

In Other News

Outside the land of ponies, the BF’s last final is Thursday, and he will officially be 2/3rds of the way finished with school. He starts a big summer internship the following week and I’d really like to get him something… I’m thinking a nice blue button-up [to replace the one that mysteriously got bleach on the collar] and a matching tie. He’ll have to wear suits everyday, so this is kind of a practical thing, but I think he’ll like it. What do you think?
Vinnie's Nose

It’s A No Go

After a lot of thinking and talking to anyone who would listen [including my faithful readers, thanks!] I decided not to buy the horse. In the end, it was my MF’s mom who helped me the most. She is completely non-horsey [as in doesn’t even know a mare from a gelding] and she just said I should listen to my gut. Simple advice, but it really hit home for me. Some people don’t get gut feelings, but I definitely do. I usually weigh all the factors and make a decision — I’m not impulsive, but I’m also not indecisive — and the fact that I was so back and forth about this issue tells me that I didn’t have a good feeling. As soon as I came to this realization, I felt so much better. Maybe I’m passing by a great opportunity, but it’s only great if I want it… and at this point, I don’t. Sorry to get your hopes up 😉

Since I’ve spent all my waking hours agonizing over buying this horse the last few days after my decision was made, I spent some quality time doing normal, adult things. I spent all day Saturday turning my apartment from a disaster zone back into an acceptable habitat. Luckily my place is fairly small, so cleaning, laundry and the grocery store only took a few hours. BF and I ended up going to dinner with his mom that evening and by the time we got back I was wiped out and spent the rest of the night on the couch watching Say Yes to the Dress. That show is like crack to me; I just can’t get enough!

Om Sunday I slept in and then went out to the barn — it was gorgeous! 70 degrees and sunny, with just enough breeze to keep us fairly cool. I rode Vinnie outside [first show of the season is three weeks away!] and he was a champ. He usually doesn’t like to be by himself, but he was fine. We did some work with ground poles, starting with an adjustability exercise, which went pretty well followed by some rollbacks and turns to help me practice using my right leg more effectively. This might sound kind of crazy, but sometimes my right leg is totally useless; I have a lot of trouble squeezing it when I’m in a half seat to move a horse over, or keep a bend, etc. I had also planned to do some two-point and no stirrup work as well, but I wasn’t feeling it and after we finished our pole work, I had already been riding for 40 minutes [which is a lot for me] so we did our last stretchy trot and called it a day.

Hosed and grazed and it was wonderful. Lesson tonight, and then I might not ride again until Saturday/Sunday.