RD WK 44: A Flying Yak

11/9-11/16

I have to start this with my most hilarious story of the week. I had a really crappy ride with L on Wednesday. I have the worst habit of drilling, and on L, that’s just not possible with him.

It just was not a pretty ride and I take full responsibility of that ride because it was all on me and I got too in my head. Plus it was the day after a day off, so he was a little extra and I just over thought it. Full blame, my fault.

Thursday JM rode L to make sure it was me not him, and shocker it was me.

Friday was my lesson with GJM, and originally I had plans to ask about half halts after Wednesday’s debacle, but last minute asked to work on straight lines. I’ve been doing so many loops and curves and lateral work that our straight lines weren’t very straight. I’d go on a straight line, and L would immediately anticipate lateral work and start sliding left and right.

GJM had me ride quarter line to quarter line, and keep him straight between my seat and my hands first at the walk, then move up to the trot. We quickly discovered tracking right, my inside rein liked to take over and I’d grab with the inside rein while turning. Problems of being a righty, plus I was anticipating not being able to turn, so I’d grab and over bend.

We spent a bit working on the turns, and when I was thinking about it, I was able to shift to using my outside rein more. After a walk break, L was ignoring my half halts, so we did a lot of walk halt walks first, trying to get a soft transition where he would not hollow or back up to try and avoid a collected halt.

It was super hard from the walk. L first started to wiggle in the transitions and drift either left or right. I had to really remember to use my outside rein in those transitions. We fixed that, and then L would lift slightly against my hands in the halt, and I wasn’t totally aware so I’d unintentionally let him. He would take the literal inch I gave, hollow and back up.

GJM said “if he hollows, don’t follow it, keep your hands low and wide”. After thinking really hard about my hands, we got some really nice walk halts. Then we bumped it up to trot-walk-trot’s, which I struggled with him wiggling in the transition again. At first, L was trotting, going to a halt and immediately hollowing, but then we got a few really nice ones where he stayed through in the transition down and up, so GJM had me do the same exercise in the canter.

Holy hell it was hard. With L, he goes better if my hands are a bit higher in the canter, so I had to keep my hands high in the canter, drop them wide and low for the downward transition, and in the upward bring them back up and my brain was melting. Getting that transition within a few strides was hard too, it took me the whole long side a few times to get the canter back.

We had some really nice canter-trot-canters, and at one point, I got a wrong lead. It gave GJM an idea, and she decided with the last 15 mins of my lesson we’d try counter canter. Add something new into the mix, and it was a good thing to learn where I was at in my riding.

Guys it broke my brain. Like completely broke my brain. It took a few tries to realize I had to completely swap my aids from right to left, and that was throwing me off big time. Poor L was a good sport, and I think he pitied me a bit because what he did next I definitely did not expect.

GJM suggested cantering across the diagonal to get it instead of trying to ask in reverse, so we did. And L did a partial flying change, just changed up front. We brought it back, and tried again. One perfect clean flying change across the diagonal. Did a second time, and got another clean change. I took a break, and GJM tried to reexplain where my body needed to be.

At this point, JM was coming in with H for her lesson, and GJM casually mentioned I was getting flying changes instead of counter canter. JM said she had to watch, so we did it one more time. And L executed another clean change as I crossed the diagonal.

JM was cracking up, and in her words, “I’ve been training this horse for 14 freaking years and it took me three just to get semi clean changes and you just got three clean ones in 15 minutes without trying?!” I was laughing the rest of the afternoon.

L has been retired from third level work since 2018, and pre third level work, he was the counter canter king. I guess he wants to be the flying changes king now.

It definitely boosted my mood and helped me feel a lot better about my riding after a rough ride on Wednesday. If I can get flying lead changes on a horse who hasn’t done them in 2 years by accident and do them clean, everything else has to come easy right?

Lush had a pretty decent week. I don’t know if I mentioned it last week, but on Sunday we did the whole track by ourselves with no balking or stressing out. Monday I think I got on a plopped around aimlessly and then hopped off. Tuesday one of the barn rats rode her. I decided not to get on Wednesday because the L ride was not pretty and I wasn’t ready to pick a fight with Lush if my brain wasn’t in it.

Selfie queens right here

Thursday we had our lesson with JM, which was nice to make up. She was a bit feisty to start, and we warmed up both directions before we began, but we had some awesome moments. JM has been drilling me about contact and keeping her on the bit. There’s no reason for the giraffe neck at this point in our working relationship of 7 months (I cannot even fathom I’ve been working with this mare for 7 months?!). We worked on getting me to relax, because once I was relaxed, she would reach for the bit and come round herself. It was a lot of “soft hands soft arms, no angry arms” muttered to myself as I went around.

We’ve been working on adding the crop to my rides, just as an extra back up to my leg. Lush knows what leg means, but still doesn’t entirely understand leg doesn’t always mean run forward. And because I’ve had to use my legs more, she’s starting to ignore them. So JM suggested we continue to ride with a crop and use it more not just in the canter but the trot work too. + 1 crop.

She was, and still is, highly offended whenever I’d have to use it not in the canter. I almost want to try spurs with her, but one step at a time. We had some beautiful moments, and worked on keeping her straight. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes her shoulders and her pelvis tip in completely opposite directions when she doesn’t want to do something, and I end up riding a pretzel instead of a horse.

The canter came faster this week, and we focused on getting her to come round in the canter as well as avoid the tiny circle of doom. She likes to fly on one shoulder in the indoor on this tiny barely 20 meter circle, so we worked on pushing her out off the tiny donut. The canter is coming a lot faster to the right, it takes one canter with just the crop and then after that I can get it with just my leg, no kissing necessary. We worked on the upward and downward transitions too, and the downward ones were nicer than our average transitions.

I hopped on her Friday afternoon as well, just quickly. I worked her enough that she dried herself after standing in the rain all day, but not so badly that she sweat. We played with WTC, and I wasn’t fussing too much with everything, I just wanted to canter a few times and call it a day.

Saturday I just rode L. It was wasn’t our hallelujah amazing ride like the day before, but I wasn’t really caring. It was a hard ride, especially because someone wanted to be fancy and chuck in some flying changes, so we just chilled. I’d been planning on just light wtc, but changed my mind mid ride, and just settled fro some nice trot and did a stroll up and down the driveway before hopping off. I need more fun rides with L, and less stress.

Does the blue box have a treat?

I skipped Lush with plans to ride her Sunday. We ended up having leave early, JM had a few mirrors to pick up on the way home and I went with her to get them, so I had no time for poor Miss Lush.

Sunday I did chores, helped pick paddocks, and then, we finally clipped L. I’ve been mentioning we’ve been planning to go Au Natural this winter, but after JM rode him on Thursday, she decided it was time.

And oh boy we were glad we did it. He started sweating on the cross ties before we even started, so we were both glad we went with it. JM did most of it, she knows him best and has been doing it for the past 14 years, so I was happy to let her do it. I did part of his neck when she needed a break, but minus 1 or 2 patchy spots we couldn’t get because of how sweaty he got mid clip, it turned out pretty good.

Mid clip- with my bad masking tape lines still partially on

We left his legs mostly, just clipped the feathers off the lower legs and left his uppers. JM thinks we may have to take the legs, but we’re going to see how he does this week in terms of cooling out and decide from there. It took longer then we planned, he does have a double coat, so it was stupid annoying to have to make two passes in each spot, but it worked out well.

He is now his pretty mouse grey again and I love it. Lush got sidelined that afternoon because who wants to ride a horse after clipping a literal yak? I had hair everywhere, and ended up going home and taking a shower.

We had an awesome lesson however on Monday evening. JM ended up riding L, so that left all the time in the world for me to ride Lush.

JM was really happy with our upward and downward transitions at the canter. They were coming a lot quicker, and I was able to almost entirely fade out using the crop to get the upward transition. I am really debating getting some no turn bell boots for riding. Lush takes a giant first step into the canter, and her bell boots make a shit load of noise, we actually spooked someone on our first depart.

JM also had me bringing my hands low and wide in the trot work, and it was really hard for me to figure out how to get my hands low, practically to my knees, and still bend my elbows and keep my shoulder back. JM said it was time I stopped sacrificing my equitation for Lush to come round, so now it is a goal to it up straighter and stop leaning. Leaning is a killer for me, I don’t lean on a few horses, like L and Reba, but I lean a lot on Lush.

Overall, I was ridiculously happy with where we were with our canter work despite not having a lot of consistent work over the past few weeks.

Aaaand that was my week. This week I have another GJM lesson on Friday, and JM has a clinic on Saturday with H. I am backup if someone backs out with L, but at this point in time I’m happy just to go watch and take photos for JM.

I chatted with JM after my lesson about planning an adventure day to take Lush off property. Lush was a big show horse when she was young, so it probably isn’t a huge deal for her, but she hasn’t left the farm since she arrived last September. Lush is still technically bubbled a bit, and JB has plans to start swapping stalls around come spring to get her used to the idea she won’t always be in her stall, and moving her around the paddocks as well.

There is another school horse JM wants to take off property and see how he does, so hopefully that might happen in the next few months. It’s all up in the air right now, (plus we need permission from JB to take both horses), and I just wanted to plant the idea for the future.

RD WK 43: Mirror Mirror On the Wall

11/2-11/8

Oh my gosh I am so late on posting my past riding diaries. I just gave up and posted them both yesterday, but holy heck that election was a rollercoaster. I’m not one to comment on politics or really get into it, because tbh I am the worst with politics ( it takes me about 15 tries to understand something and then blunder it at least another 8), but it was the Tuesday that never ended!

Thank you Twitter for this amazing meme

I did get some killer selfies with L on Tuesday, (shared those on a Wordless Wednesday post so check those out) and we had a pretty good ride in my book. Not perfect, but good. One of the barn rats rode Lush that day, so I didn’t feel bad not riding her.

Wednesday L had off. It was either Wednesday or Thursday for him, and I was happier having one buffer day between my lesson instead of getting 1 day off L on Friday.

Thursday definitely shook me up again. Mid ride, the guy that owns the york rake swung by to borrow it for a project. He brought his tow-truck, with a smashed SUV on top, and left it running the entire time. It was a lot of noise, and honestly, L was fine and was just interested in the sights, it was my little brain that couldn’t. I was super worried about it, so instead of working on out trot work before my lesson the next day, I walked. It really frustrated me that those things threw me off, but after a few good spook rides, which by the way I handled fine, it was the possibility that was making me twitch.

Friday was L’s reckoning. JM suggested I take the 1:30 spot so it would be quieter and would give me more time to cool out L. It was 70 degrees that day, and with the winter fluff he has, we were going to need a long cool out, no matter how intense the work was.

And boy was it intense. I quickly summarized my struggles for GJM, and then mentioned that we were struggling again with lateral work, and leg yielding right to left was not happening. She had me do it twice, each time full of balking and angry tight piaffing, paused and went “hang on one second, I’ll go get my helmet”. I was cheering in my head. I loooove it when either trainer gets on L, they can get after him so much better than I can. I get intimidated by his bullshit, which is something I do need to work on because he gets one up on me.

GJM got after him for blowing half halts and leaning on her the most. She said “Basically hes convinced you to give up too early, and we need to fix that. And he’s blowing half halts,” I mentioned that I’d been doing a lot of transitions to get that back, and she agreed, but said sometimes you just have to spin him on his ass to get his attention and start fresh.

GJM had me doing 15 meter circles with my hands low, keep the inside rein open, and keep the inside leg on, asking for leg yield in every step. She wanted him to relax into the contact, and give up the tension he was holding. After a few circles one way, she’d have me change rein and do it the other way, and spin him if he blew a half halt. We did this for at least 15 minutes, before we got a good leg yield and he got a break. After, we went back to work.

GJM had me start him on a 15-10 meter circle until he came round, no excuses and not letting him get out of the half halts. Then she had me cantering on a 18 meter circle, still over bent to the inside. She mentioned during one of our walk breaks that yes, it was way too much neck bend for anything, but because of how much tension L holds in general, let alone on a bad day, he needed to get supple and relaxed before we got to the normal work, and if it took me an hour to get supple and get half halts, that’s fine. It was a very productive lesson, and I felt more confident with L after it.

It took us a full half hour to cool out, and then another 45 to sponge him down and apply liniments. He was soaked through, especially his chest and neck. I really wanted to mention to JM we should think about clipping eventually, but we can’t until the warm weather ceases. And she really wants to skip it this year, but I’m still unsure if in the long run it will be a good idea or not.

Lush had a horrid afternoon. I pulled her out right before feeding to ride, and ended up chatting with her tacked up. She spent a good twenty minutes standing with me while we chatted, and then one of the girls brought out her inflatable unicorn costume.

Guys, Lush pretty much lost her mind. She was full snorty, neck arched spooky saddlebred. The closer the unicorn got, the more freaked out she was, and the more donuts she was doing around me. I couldn’t help but laugh. All the horses were very unsure of the unicorn costume, and it was a little funny to see the reactions. Once the girl got out of the costume, I dragged Lush over and made her touch it, and then had her stand while I picked it up and shook it. She didn’t want to touch it after that.

How to Torture Your Saddlebred: One inflatable unicorn costume

I always try to do some desensetization with Lush when I can. One of the girls asked me why I was torturing Lush with the inflatable unircorn when the chances of her seeing it ever again outside of the barn very slim.

The plan is to still take her out for show season next year, and as A reminded me, if we want to take her to any of the shows at the Big E, especially the Big E Horse show, she needs to be exposed to some stuff that’s not normal. A remembers a show where someone brought an inflatable dino costume too and was wandering around the grounds. Lush of course did travel the country and won a lot as a saddleseat horse, but there are somethings she was bubbled by so I try to expose her to as much as I can.

After the unicorn debacle, we rode outside. Which was so much fun, she was still hot from the unicorn debacle so I had some extra impulsion on top of the “oh my god it’s dark and thing are going to eat me”.

Riding by the arena lights at 5pm

I actually did get the canter from just the leg aid that night which I was super stoked about. It was only one canter depart, and I wasn’t able to replicate it farther then that, but it was one.

Saturday; The Tuesday that Never Ended.

First, I didn’t ride. I made the very dumb choice to eat a pumpkin whoopie pie JB made, which contains both gluten and dairy. It was stupid good, but I’ve been gluten and dairy free for two months now.

It started as a diet change for my PCOS, I discovered a lot of people with PCOS did better without dairy and gluten, and I started to phase it out. My body went “bet”, and within a week of starting, large amounts of either would make me sick. I’ve lost 7 pounds since then, and thought it wouldn’t hurt to have one. It did, a lot.

I ended up not riding and helping JM with some errands and paddock cleaning. I had an infuriating experience with a Y Chromosome at the feed store, where they told me they were out of Supersport. JM called, and forced the guy to look up on the computer if they had any, and turns out they had two bags. So off back I went to pick up the last two bags of supersport.

Paddock duties also meant fending off toddlers who like to chew on tractors

Cleaning paddocks was misery. I just drove the tractor, but I spent more time hunched over the wheel from the pumpkin pie whoopie pie. I did have a cuddle buddy that made it better though.

This is Flynn, he’s my snuggle buddy and he pulled basically all my flyaways out of my pony tail

Saturday evening was a bit of a cluster. A boarder brought her horse back after a day at her house, and the horse decided to walk off the trailer without being fully untied. It was pretty scary for a moment until the horse finally realized she was fine and stopped trying to fight.

Then, that evening I got a text from my BiL that my sister was in the ER with a high fever and a cough. I barely got any sleep that night. My sister lives out in Missouri, and I had the horrible thought of, if she catches COVID and dies, what the hell happens if she dies out there?? Thankfully they were able to break the fever and sent her home midnight her time, 1am mine. I was up till 2am, still wound up, and only got a max of 3 hours of sleep.

Saturday was the Tuesday that would not end.

Sunday I was at the barn ridiculously early. I helped JB worm all the horses, turn out and then started on stalls. She gave me a breakfast sandwich as a thank you, and we both thought the bread she had wouldn’t aggravate my stomach. Spoiler alert, it did. I barely finished stalls, and spent two hours trying to decide if I should head home or not.

JB’s boyfriend, Man as we all call him, started to work on the mirrors in the morning, which I’ve been waiting for them to do for months. So I stuck around for the chance to ride with the mirrors.

L’s inner monologue probably was “ooh I’m still sexy as hell”

L has worked with mirrors before, so he was more intrigued with his own reflection. When I walked on a loose rein, he had to stare at himself as we went by. We had a very good ride, and I employed a lot of the exercises we worked on on Friday. I kept it short and sweet, as it was a sunny 70 again. His chest was soaked with sweat despite my best efforts, but at least I didn’t have to worry too much about putting a cooler on him.

He’s so handsome

Lush was not a fan of the mirrors. On the ground she cared less, but under saddle she was bulging her shoulders to the inside to avoid riding next to them. I did some walk trot, and then called it because the nausea was coming back. We walked out on the track, and I was so proud I was able to do it with a loose rein on the buckle and there was no shying, balking or trying to turn and bolt.

Today I have to ride L, but it will have to be a very short light ride. Highs are calling for 75+, so it will probably be a light walk ride for him. JM and I are working to reschedule my Lush lesson, her puppy hasn’t been feeling well and she may have to bring her back to the vet this afternoon. I still have to figure out if we are doing another GJM lesson this week, finances are saying maybe hold off but the anxiety is saying yes please.

I also need to add rear Velcro blocks to my Ansur sooner rather than later it seems. I’m struggling with keeping my leg forward and in the right position in that saddle, especially with Lush. Other horses its not a big deal, but it seems to be the worst with Lush, and JM did remind me that Ansur’s aren’t very helpful for equitation points. I found a pair on Stateline for $55, but they’re brown not black. I might dye them for shiggles, but it really isn’t a big deal as you won’t be able to see them underneath the flap. I’m not sure if be purchasing them or not, but it’s on my immediate needs list as well as new gloves. The last week has been tight, I popped a tire on Monday which took a chunk out of my spending budget. I really need to put a portable compressor on my Christmas list, I thought about it after Emma at FraidyCatEventing mentioned she got one, but after the tire debacle this week, I think I want one.

RD WK 42: Who Ordered Snow!?!

10/26-11/1

I will start this blog entry with the obvious, who the heck ordered snow in October??? I’d like to know because I’d love to smack them in the face. I like snow don’t get me wrong, it makes for some gorgeous photos, but I am a firm believer in the fact that snow should not fall until at least meteorological winter. It’s a hard thing to want because it is New England, and the weather changes daily, if not hourly.

Case in point

To summarize my week, L was ridden by JM on Sunday, which I highly appreciated the quick tune up by her. He got Monday off, because I was home with a migraine and JM didn’t have time for him. Tuesday we had to go outside, and I was twitchy about that. 1 day off L plus being outside just didn’t help. There were a few small spooks but I felt I sat them well. I still get nervous tracking right, as I feel he is staring out back as I take the short side, and it makes me very nervous I lose his attention.

Wednesday I was inside, and I had the same issue, I was losing his attention on the short side of the ring with the main doors. If L has no ears on you, there is a good chance is he either is going to spook, or going to find an excuse to spook at something. I finally exhausted all my attention grabbing measures, and went and asked JM how to fix it. She suggested getting out my Pirate voice.

We call Pirate Voice as a tool to get the horses attention. In JM’s words, I will never be able to out wrestle L, he is a 1500 pound animal and I don’t have the strength to fight him, or even outride him. Instead of forcing him to not look or just not be scared, to make me the scariest thing in the ring. L hates being in trouble, so when you break out the pirate voice, he realizes he’s in trouble. JM gave me a few pointers going into the scary corner, and told me to not let my guard down, even after he goes through the scary corner without loosing his attention, otherwise he will pick somewhere else to spook. The rest of the ride was much better after getting L through the spooky corner, and I had some beautiful trot to canter transitions, without overthinking what I was doing or if I’d get the canter right. I honestly don’t know why I overthink so much, I really wish I could stop it.

Thursday was a quieter ride. L gave me a few sassy moments, but otherwise nothing too exciting. I’ve been throwing a lot of transitions in at him, and doing a lot of trot to halt, or trot to walk to trot transitions. I struggle with the lateral work, and often he gets very flustered with it, so I do a few little lateral movements, and then go into transitions to make sure I don’t over do it and break him. He was nervous about the darker corner, but was better after someone turned on a light in the little barn.

Friday was the snowy cold miserable wet day. It started snowing around 10am, and didn’t stop till 7pm. I assumed it was only supposed to start at noon and snow until 2, but typical New England, it changed. I got to the barn late, and thankfully it was very quiet. I had the entire ring to myself. The biggest changes was the big doors were shut, which I was apprehensive of, but not too worried.

L has some PTSD from doors in arenas. The last two barns he was at, both doors constantly rattled and moved, and at one place, even would float up with the wind, and then slam back down. So moving doors are a very big no no for L. We got through the scary corner no problem, but Pink was out to get us.

Pink is currently stalled in the corner of the indoor. We have one horse too many right now, so she has a temp stall in the corner, because she is the second smallest and it worked out pretty well. Pink is also L’s girlfriend, well more like grumpy wife. They are like a sassy married couple, especially when they’re out in the same paddock space.

First, Pink started gnawing on the wood of the indoor, which she did right as we went by the scary door, so Logan assumed the door was out to kill him, and spooked right. Next, she started chewing on a piece of wood tied to one of the panels, and would not stop. L really thought something was going to kill him, and tried to spook everytime we passed that side. It made for some wonderful impulsion, but I was cussing out Pink the entire time she was chewing. Finally, we were cooling out, and she decided to bang the panel, creating another L spook. So in short, Pink was really out to get us Friday.

I’d like to submit lush to be a dover model

Aside from the moments Pink was trying to kill me, I had an awesome ride. We got that extra impulsion from the spook and I had this gorgeous lofty trot as we went. I had some really awesome trot canter transitions after the impulsion, and I was pretty happy with those.

Lush was my next victim ride, and I wasn’t sure how she’d be, especially after about a week of no riding on my part, and inconsistent work from the barn rats. I do prioritize L over Lush, mainly because I pay for L every month. L really can’t sit as long as Lush can, if he gets two days off, the ride after is gnarly, so the less days off L gets in a row the better.

She spent the majority of the ride bulging away from the indoor walls. It had rained the last few days, so all the blankets were hung up to dry in the indoor. Lush was not a fan, and I spent the first half of my ride just trying to convince her to get close to the rail, let alone not bulge. By the time we were almost done, I was able to get her down both long sides with minimal bulging. Cantering was a different story. I will admit, she canters better in the outdoor where there is wide open space, and the indoor is struggle because of how much smaller it is. She decided the blankets made it extra small, so we couldn’t get the canter to the right for the life of me. We just kept getting her massive show trot. I got it track left and called it a night.

Saturday both ponies had off, L because it was his day, and by the time I was ready to ride Lush, it was too late. However I got some cute photos of them in the snow before it all melted. L was actually steaming at one point, which was pretty cute.

Still trying to win dirtiest pony award.

I rode Lush again on Sunday, which she wasn’t too pleased about. She voiced her displeasure by doing her saddlebred crabwalking when I asked for her to come round. We had a few hairy moments where she decided to ignore me and swing her ass into oncoming traffic. I apologized profusely to the girls in the ring with me, one girl reassured me her horse did it on the regular and it was no big deal. The best part of the ride was ironically when a trailer in lesson brought a folding chair to watch her husband ride, and Lush was sure it was going to jump up and eat her. I was crying laughing every time she spooked. I got both leads this time, it wasn’t my best but I got them.

Side note, I got this cute new pad a week ago that I’ve been riding Lush in a lot. My friends in PA found it at a thrift shop, and knew I’d wanted one forever, and sent it to me. It matches my cover perfectly and it is just so pretty.

L had a JM ride on Sunday. I stupidly brought the wrong riding pants, and with L you want a bit of stick, and I brought the too sticky pants. I watched her ride him, and I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed her riding him and tuning up the few things I was struggling with.

Matchy!

Monday I took a chill ride for L and had my lesson on Lush. JM had me carry a crop for the ride to combat Lush evading contact by slowing down. She had me get after Lush more about being on the bit and carrying herself. “This horse is fit enough to go around for 15 minutes on the bit, she is hollowing and inverting to try and evade and you’re letting asking for contact and then dropping it all once she gives. Be a little tougher and constant, she can do this”. Oops.

We worked on straightness too, I don’t know how these light breeds do it but it feels that her hind end and her front end are independent train cars that swing this way and that I don’t have complete control over both at the same time.

Canter leads were also a big focus, and became my homework. JM had me using a combo of three aids to get the lead, leg, kiss and a tap with the crop if those two failed. Lush knows how, but her knowledge is to turn to the outside and launch that way. I eventually want to tone it back to just an outside leg aide, but she doesn’t totally understand that yet. We had some beautiful canter moments too, which I was very excited about.

Its so pretty I love it so much

Our homework is to keep working on that canter depart and getting it faster, 2-3 trot strides after asking instead of a whole half circle. My L homework is to get those canter departs quieter.

One Year of New Things

I’m a bit behind pulling together last week’s riding diary, but this was an important milestone I couldn’t pass up a blog post about.

It’s mind blowing to think that 1 year at my current barn has already gone by. Maybe the coronavirus had a hand in that, but it was shocking to open Facebook the other day and get a memory of a photo from when we first brought H to JB’s barn. In honor of 1 year at JB’s barn, I wanted to focus on what I’ve learned from the past year just being at a barn that has a much happier and positive outlook vs all the others.

First photo ever at JB’s, with JM’s barely 3 month old puppy Cooper

Just to catch anyone up, I’ll give the quick super short backstory. I spent 12 years at Barn 1, some barn management and differences in training opinions sent JM and I to Barn 2, six months later we moved to Barn 3, spent 18ish months there, and then we moved to Barn 4, aka JB’s barn.

One of my favorite pics of Maisy

We did our big move to JB’s in steps. We brought H and a majority of JM’s things over first. JM had a student with a horse up at Tufts for colic at the time. When he was to be released, he would move straight to JB’s instead of going back to Barn 3 and then moving to JBs after. With H already there, JM could keep an eye on the horse while he recovered. Unfortunately, he took a turn for the worst and didn’t come home. A few days later, on the 27th, we moved L and Cody and the rest of JM’s things over. It was even weirder for me, because I boarded a plane to visit my sister in Missouri 4 days later. It took me a little over two months to meet everyone and learn the routine.

Mike

There a few things now that I’ve grown so used to at JB’s that I don’t think I could live without. One of the main things is the massive 200 x 100 outdoor arena. I haven’t had a large arena since Barn 1, so it was awesome to get out there and ride in such a big space again.

Freshly dragged by yours truly

The 1/4 mile track is another big one. I thought it was odd to have one, but god I love it so much now. Back in its history, the barn used to be a rehab and layup barn for thoroughbreds, but now we just use the track for fun. One of my good friends from PA constantly tells me how jealous she is we have one and she’d kill for a barn with a track. Sure it’s a bit beaten up and over grown, and in all honesty, looks more like a trail with recycled arena footing, but it has been so much fun to play with. I haven’t gotten to canter or full throttle gallop out there yet, but I can’t wait to use it to its fullest potential. (cough cough Lush get it together)

A shot of the back stretch of the track

Piling all the bedding in the middle of the stalls is another thing I will never not do. This sounds so weird, but I don’t think I’ll do stalls ever the same again. JB ‘s method is to pile all the bedding of the stalls in the middle instead of spreading it out. The horses spread the piles themselves however they see fit, and she mixes between sawdust and bagged shavings. ( Unless they’re injured, then they get extra bedding and its spread back out after making a pile). I had a lot of pressure at the last barn to make the stalls perfect, no little pieces, completely flat, all the new shavings carefully covering the old ones.

I’ve learned a lot too from JB and her barn. I’ve learned more about huntseat and english pleasure. I’ve spent more time waiting for the vet at turn in with a broken horse, and learned that despite hating the blood and gore that comes with vet visits at 16, I don’t mind it as much later now. I learned how to drag a ring, both with the gator and a simple drag, and a tractor and a york rake. I learned how to drive a tractor, which in itself was a major feat to me. I’ve learned more about feeding, I’ve learned baby horses don’t have very good steering and not to take for granted the trainings already installed on a horse.

First ride on Lush

I learned that I needed more time before even thinking about owning my own horse, and that I’m not ready yet, despite the large horse shaped hole in my heart. I’ve learned it’s okay to not own a horse, and it’s okay that I haven’t owned one yet. It’s okay to be a little jealous when you see someone else buy a horse, but not to take it to heart, it’s just not my time yet.

I learned that Saturdays are for baked goods, and that after eating baked goods for an entire lockdown, Disney World can’t match homemade whoopie pies and pulled pork tacos eaten in a barn aisle. I learned that cake made at the barn can’t compare to the best cake maker in town. I’ve learned to be careful of my words, because if not, a dirty joke is easily made, and the aisles ring with laughter followed with “That’s what she said!” on Sunday mornings.

Arrow, moments from his Fabio head toss

I learned that this barn family is wise, and always ready to support me, and cheer me on from the rail. I’ve never had a barn family that would do that. I learned I had a barn family already welcoming me in, even after only knowing me a short time. I have a barn family who is supportive of me, despite not knowing much about dressage, other than “It’s fancy and you follow letters,” and “Hey I know what F stands for, it stands for –”.

Lush 1 month ago

I’m also so grateful for the encouragement and kindness they have shown me, and how despite minor drama moments, (because let’s be real, its horses there will always be a bit of drama somewhere somehow) it all pulls through in the end. I’m grateful that they stand up for me, but kindly educate me when I’m wrong or misunderstanding a situation.

I learned to love and hate the training process. I hated it when a horse I worked so hard on, all blood sweat and tears I put in, was wasted by someone who didn’t know what they were doing. I learned to be quiet and hold my tongue as I watched the horse revert farther back then when I started. I loved the process when a different horse blossomed and opened up. I got to see her shine as another rider got to enjoy how much fun she was, and see how my hard work paid off.

Sarg, aka the baby horse with no steering

The riding has been such an insane learning curve. From a western pleasure master with very fun reining buttons installed, to a hunter/saddleseat morgan who might as well breathe fire, a stubborn ranch horse, a green 15yo sassy mare, a rescue saddlebred with a heart of gold and a brain like a toddler, a timid rescue saddleseat saddlebred with trust issues, to a stout QH who has to be told you aren’t a child multiple times before getting on. Even the boarder horses, without having ridden a single one, have taught me a lot on the ground, and just watching their owners ride them has taught me infinitely about how they work, from those that have been there since day one and those that have come and gone.

Ollie, because why not

A year ago, I knew I needed to ride as many different horses as I could to improve my riding. My entire riding career has been focused on one project horse (so to speak) at a time. I’ve worked so much with just one riding partner, I never realized how much others could teach me.

Pink in all her fuzzy, 25yo, Morgan glory

I’ve learned tons about ground work in the past year, something I never focused on ever before. It was a tedious thing I hated, but now, I’ve grown to love it. I learned much more about body language, horses reading mine, and learning to read theirs more.

Currently, to date, I’ve ridden almost all of JB’s owned horses at least once. Maisy (when she still was JB’s), Ave, Mike, Reba, Pink, Arrow, Sarg, and Lush. They have all taught me so much, and just being able to hop on anyone and learn something new is the best thing that’s happened to me.

Ave and Mika

Leasing L is also another thing that has been huge in the last 4 months. I don’t know how much I’ve talked about it, but I have dreamed of riding L since I was 15, and being able to ride him almost everyday is something I never would have guessed would have happened in 2020. I’ve already leanred so much just riding him in 4 months, and I really can’t wait to learn so much more he has to offer.

My fave selfie

Despite 2020 sucking majorly with coronavirus, I can honestly say this has been the best year for me riding, despite the ups and downs I’ve had. I will not be the first to say I royally suck at adapting to change. Change is one of my bigger faults, my anxiety likes everything to be pre prepped as it can be and know everything that happens ahead of time, as pre-prepped as one can be in such an unpredictable sport as riding horses is. It’s probably why I’ve spent a lot of my riding years on the same horses for long periods of time.

Being at JB’s has helped me embrace the changes, and learn to roll with them, whether it be horse to horse, or just day to day. I’ve learned so much in the span of a year and I really can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

RD WK 41: Stupid Button Engaged!

10/19-10/25

Monday was a double ride. I rode L first, which started out rough, but ended fun.

He was spooky from the get go. Just walking him in, he was very interested in what was going on outside, and very looky and just not paying attention. I got on, and decided, alright let’s make the best of this. The first ten minutes were rough. Really rough. He was tight, he wouldn’t pay attention, he was leaning hard on my hands, he was scooting and piaffing. I spun him a few times after some douche moves of stopping and trying to pop a rear on me. I finally said, fine, screw this warm up walk, you’re trotting. I got the trot going, and immediately went into lateral work. Leg yields, shoulder in, random ten and twenty meter circles.

After maybe 10 minutes, he didn’t full settle, but I at least had his brain and half his attention. He still was very looky, but I could turn him on a time and get what I wanted very quickly. I’ve been working on my trot to halt, and at one point I did trot to halt and back to trot, and asked for the canter just for kicks. I got the most light floaty canter transition ever. I yelled to JM at one point, “I love this Logan!”.

I rode Lush for my lesson, which was a really good ride. She started out “starchy” as JM called her, so instead of our normal walk to warm up, JM had us to right to work. She told me to think as I was going around “soft, round, forward”, and just think it and not actually do anything to try and get those results. It helped a lot, and the first half we focused on soft. The second half we worked on roundness more, catching her moments before she would hollow. There were some moments I would catch her and others I’d completely miss it and have to start all over.

The most exciting part was the canter. JM told me to push her and keep the canter forward, and then slowly start to ask for some roundness as we went around. Guys, I got it. It was so exciting I honestly stopped riding for a few strides I was so excited. We did it both directions twice, and I was over the moon. The one time I forgot my Pivo!

Tuesday was miserable and gross, and I had no want to ride with the barn rats, so L had the day.

Wednesday was stupid button day! I had gotten new breeches, which TBH was Strike 1. Strike 2 was I got on later than usual. I got there, helped JB with a horse injury, and originally only started to help because JB wanted to water the indoor and I had to wait until that was done. Well it wasn’t until after 4:30 that the horse was all set, and the ring was watered. And then I realized as I was walking L, it was too wet and pretty slippery in some spots.

As I was swinging my leg over to get on, I kinda got stuck. The pants weren’t very stretchy through the thighs, so it wasn’t an easy swing up and over. My center of gravity changed, and L went, “Nope!” and spooked. I managed to hold it and didn’t come off, even though JM was very sure I would.

Strike 3 was a barn rat. She was having her lesson, and was letting the horse blow around instead of a controlled canter. L was already fired up from the spook, and now even more fired up because the school horse was trucking. So I went outside, hoping I could salvage my ride.

I got him a bit more relaxed, but then he spooked at someone coming off the track, which by the way, he saw the horse and rider before he spooked. An early lesson was wandering around outside and swinging a plastic bag, and he spooked again. I had to ask them to stop, which I felt bad about but L was not having it that day.

I got a good trot, thought we were good, and gave him maybe an inch of rein to walk. And then he spooked at someone in the barn. So, I got off, and hand walked him out. I was not getting anywhere and it really was not worth my energy to be on his back and creating more even tension.

L had his stupid button pressed and there wasn’t much I could do to unstick it. JM promised me help for Thursday. It was hard not to obsess over the spooks that night. Was I sure I got on wrong or did he just happen spook as I was getting on? Was there something I could have done to keep working or should I have thrown in the towel much earlier?

Thursday I went back to the mentality of “Yesterday was yesterday, so work on today”. I did ask JM to do a babysit ride with me. She was mostly just there for my anxiety, less for actual teaching. It did help my confidence more, and we discovered I really need to work on my trot to canter transitions with L. I tend to ask, not get an immediate response, (either because he is not set up right or I don’t believe I will get it), and then I ask a second time and ask a bit louder and he rocket launches into the canter. L does know how to canter from practically a stand still, he was a third level horse so its not that he doesn’t know it, he just either A, thinks its dumb, B; doesn’t think I know what I’m doing, or C; because I don’t expect the canter why should he do it.

I was supposed to have a lesson Friday, but GJM had a few symptoms she couldn’t determine if they were allergies or COVID, so she cancelled until her test results came back.

I rode L, and did a very relaxed unfocused walk trot ride. Wednesday through Friday was in the upper 70s, so I took it easy for his sake. JM kicked me out of the indoor at one point, mainly because one of her trailer in lessons was there, and that horse could turn into a Bronc some days, and L would not enjoy that. He was a very well behaved gentleman outside. A little looky, but well behaved.

My mom stopped by, and brought by this lovely thing for me to take a photo with L. I officially graduated college! Well officially graduated back at the end of August, but my expensive piece of paper showed up last week.

I did my first ever college assignment in L’s stall, so it seemed fitting to take a photo with him and my degree.

I planned to ride Lush that day, but one of the barn rats got to her before I did. I really try not to watch other people ride her. It doesn’t do totally well for my brain, and I’m someone who can get possessive/very jealous easily when people ride horses I ride regularly. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but it’s easier to avoid the whole thing then to torture myself. I did notice however, this barn rat was cantering Lush too fast, and then letting her drop to a walk/halt after the canter. That day I didn’t thinks tons of it, just knowing it wasn’t a good idea to let Lush do that.

I found out the hard way the next day.

I rode L first, another chill light day, nothing noteworthy or major happened. I’ve been keeping it WT on those days, just because the canter gets him sweaty and the whole goal is to keep him cooler on the hot days.

I planned on a very relaxed ride with Lush, and ended up having a fight. I started warming up, and I had a bit of a go, but not tons of forward energy. I thought maybe she just needed some warm up time, and then we’d get to work. After my warm up, Lush started stopping and walking on the short side closest to the barn, and tried to leave the ring multiple times. I worked to get her moving at the trot through the space. I threw away any thoughts of roundness, or being on the bit, and just wanted forward. I got it a few times, was going to be happy, but I wanted one more canter to just give it a shot. Bad move.

Lush cantered the longside, we turned onto the short side, and she slammed to a stop, and would not move. I will admit, I was a bit peeved and frustrated, and tried to get her to move forward. She was not pleased with my efforts, and planted her head between her knees and attempted to bronc the best she could, and then flung her neck up at me.

After much cussing, JM came to my rescue. She had me just ask Lush for her giant trot to get through that space, and then after to work through the canter and just keep pushing for it. We finally got what we needed, and called it.

After we talked about going back to the basics and break things down for the horse. I had to reset Lush’s brain before asking for hard stuff, which we did by asking for a massive road trot. She knows the road trot from her saddleseat days and she is good at it, so that gave her the confidence to get through that area of the ring. JM reminded me it had been a week since I rode, and it was probably the typical chestnut mare test, to make sure I was on my stuff. I still think it hasn’t helped that either barn rat will let her get away with murder, but I think it was a mix of chestnut mare test and no one has made her do hard things in over a week. JM also reminded me not to be so worried about how people see me riding, and it’s okay to have a shit show ride.

I put a lot of pressure on myself with Lush, and I will admit I put pressure on myself in a lot of my rides, no matter who I am riding. I’ve been putting a lot of work in on Lush over the summer, and while it dos. I wasn’t the one to get her back used to riding, and I am for sure not as talented as JB, JM or even one of JB’s riders who oozes talent and has ridden her before. I would love to be the one to get her in a show ring, and show off all that work, as hard as it has been and how much time I’ve spent to not only fix her from ex saddleseat mare to a fantastic all arounder in any show ring, I don’t know if I will have that honor.

Sunday I was planning a Lush ride, but by the time I hauled her in, I had no motivation to even change my pants, let alone tack up. I ended up having a ground work lesson with JB, firstly to sharpen my own skills and secondly to fix some of Lush’s bad habits.

Her biggest groundwork issue is the hiding behind whoever is leading her. When you walk past something she gets nervous by, she walks behind you. If you make her stay at your shoulder, she will still try to hide, and slide her barrel and hind end behind you. It’s like walking a terrified toddler who swings wildly behind you. I’ve let her do that in part just because of her past, but my biggest reason for the groundwork lesson is I’ve been tip toeing around her because of her abusive past. I don’t want to cross that metaphorical line of firm vs aggressive, but at this point it’s crossing the line of dangerous habits so it had to be addressed.

JB was most helpful, and to Lush’s displeasure, by the end, the drifting had stopped and she was a lot more responsive to my body language. I watched JB work with a second horse after she helped me, and unintentionally I was working with Lush on standing. She was pretty chill to just hang out and watch what was going on. I almost forgot she was there at one point.

Monday I was supposed to have my evening lesson, but a migraine effectively grounded me and I had to stay home. It was unexpected and I was too afraid to drive, let alone ride either horse, so it was better off I stayed home.

Overall, I’ve been overthinking too much. It is another one of my big flaws, thank you anxiety, and it is hard to turn off in the saddle. Hopefully I’ll hear from GJM about her COVID test and we can get in a lesson this week, just to help get a confidence boost again.

RD WK 41: Back to The Lateral Grind

10/13-10/18

Tuesday was another L ride. It was miserable weather, a steady drizzle all day and I was confined to the indoor. I was a little nervous because I ended up riding with two younger girls who have a habit of not steering well or calling where they go in traffic. I kept to my own space and ended up taking it easy with just some walk trot. They are very nice girls, I will always say that because they are, it is my anxiety that is making it all worse, which is something I am working hard on resolving. I was okay doing what I did, and I just dealt with who was in the ring.

I have way too much fun with this kids forelock

Tuesday was also a warm day, which I’m trying to be careful of. L has a double coat which most Canadian horses seem to come with. Normally, we would give him a modified trace clip, and blanket him the whole winter. Once he grows in his yak hair, his bridle doesn’t 100% fit over his teddy bear ears and his boots don’t fit as well with all the leg hair. This winter, JM wants to try going all natural and leave the yak hair as long as she can. So far it has been going okay, but MA weather keeps throwing these random 70 degree days at us, so I’ve been careful with how much I work him on those days.

I pre planned to give L Wednesday off, which worked out fantastic because it was in the mid 70s, it was best he didn’t work while it was that warm.

Lush was great again, I was still stuck inside after the rain and it turned out to be a very relaxed light walk trot ride. The horses got their shots on Tuesday and I didn’t want to over do it because normally JB prefers the school horses to not be worked heavily after shots. Lush doesn’t make it easier because she still thinks strangers are going to hurt her, so she often tenses up and gets very stiff after.

I rode again on Thursday, but just riding L. I had hoped to get on Lush, but it didn’t happen. I ended up taking my sweet time with L, and even braided his forelock before getting on. I braided it partly for fun, and the other half to stop him constantly shaking his head when the forelock wispies get out of control. We WTC lightly, and I was a little frustrated with my lateral work and keeping him round. I felt that he could have been rounder and I was loosing his shoulder in the lateral movements. I was proud of myself for not getting super tight and over thinking it all, and being able to just put it down and keep on going when I got a bit frustrated.

Cookies???

I’m not sure when to keep making corrections and when to stop picking at errors L makes or errors I let him make. Sometimes if I pick too much, I fry L’s brain and he gets tighter and tighter, and then I get tight, and suddenly we’re a piaffing tension ball. I tend to back off on my own ride time to avoid those moments, which sometimes is good, and some days is bad.

Dammit woman I need a cookie

Friday I had my first lesson with GJM in 3 weeks. It was awesome. She asked me what I wanted to work on, and I mentioned my struggles with the lateral work and keeping him round. To fix the roundness, she had me keep him round in the walk, and make sure he stayed round into the trot transition, and ran through a few trot walk trot transitions like that, making sure we started out on the right foot. Once we had a few good transitions, I was able to keep him round and over his back.

Then we worked on Logan’s favorite, lateral work. And by favorite, I mean least. L hates lateral work, it’s his version of calculus. He can do it, but he just hates it. L is one of the only horses GJM has said that he is the only horse she encountered that never understood lateral movements and had to be taught how from the start. Lateral work is so good to keep him supple and help him in his old man years, but it’s convincing him that it’s worth his time and effort that is the trick.

The speech bubble definitely reads “Rude” and probably “$%#!$”

The first struggle major was he was blowing through my outside aids, and they weren’t effective in the least. So we went back to going down a line, leg yielding a few steps, then going straight. If he blew through my outside rein, it was a walk and walk the straight line and start over. I had some success, but he continued to blow the aid. The correcting exercise was was leg yield two steps, straight two, and if he decided to go autopilot and lead with his shoulders, GJM had me stop and side pass to the rail. If he tried to blow me off in the side pass, or left his hind end out, I would turn around and go to where he started ignoring me, and start over. It was tedious, and I had to re-explain the process to him a few times, but after we had such a supple easy moving L.

At one point, going right he was super stiff. GJM added a turn on the forehand instead of the side pass to the right. It was hard to keep him in the turn on the forehand because he was so stiff. It took a few tries to get him loose. After all of that, we were doing leg yields in the canter, which GJM said were much better then the trot. I swore we weren’t going to make the turn up centerline, I felt like I was going to overshoot the turn and not make it.

The last lateral exercise GJM had me doing was trotting a 10 meter circle around her, and doing a leg yield out, focusing on getting the hind out as I turned, and keep the shoulders pointing in. I described it as a reverse haunches in, which GJM said it was a good mental image to keep in mind doing the exercise. L did try and canter on the 10m circle to try and get out of the work, which he thought he would make it easier, but in reality it made it ten times harder. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but L thinks he’s making things easier, and then does something that makes it infinitely harder.

I really like lateral work, especially a good leg yield or shoulder in, because its like a mini test. It helps evaluate my aids and see which is working and what isn’t, and I can then figure from there what is wrong. The first few leg yields in the lesson, I needed more outside rein to help keep L from autopiloting and drifting through his shoulder. Then, I needed to add some turns on the forehand because he was still stiff and despite having good aids, I needed to get him more relaxed to the right before attempting it again.

After all of that, L was soaked. And I mean soaked. I walked him for at least 20 minutes after our ride, and then bundled him in my cooler as soon as I was off. JM had me wipe him down with some warm water, keep the cooler on and brace his legs with more liniment then I usually would mix. I had planned to walk out on the driveway after bracing his legs, but the temperature outside dropped fast, and it started raining again. We ended up hand walking for another ten minutes inside before I put him in his stall for the evening. He was dry in some spots when I left a while later, but the temperatures would drop to the 40s overnight. I left it on, and thankfully, he didn’t destroy the cooler overnight.

He looks so cute in red

Saturday I planned for a chill ride again. He worked hard Friday, and I didn’t want to push it. I had another ride where it was a tad crowded in the ring, so I just did my thing. He was super good for me, we played with trot to halt, and I tried for a few lengthenings but they weren’t great. I would have loved to throw some lateral work in there, but I thought he’d be happier without. After I called it quits, I took him out of the ring, walked him out up the driveway once, and then decided to try out on the track with JM and H.

JM suggested to put him in front, “As chicken as he is, he likes to be up front for some reason”. There was one very small spook at the start, clearly the swamp boogie-men, but by the time we were done, he was strolling along, completely relaxed with a nice swing in his back. He was going so slow H tried to pass him, twice! We did 3 laps, and then strolled back up to the barn with JM and H.

I was pretty happy with that ride, and after JM and I talked about planning a trail ride for a Sunday where just the two of us went out alone instead of in a group. I love my boarder friends and the idea of group trail rides, but the last time we all went in a large group, it did not end well. . If we do take L, (which is still undecided if we will and if it will be me or JM on board), I’m excited to see when and how that will play out.

Sunday was just a Lush day. I did mean for it to be a double ride day, ride Lush and L, but it didn’t happen. I was still sore after my lesson on Friday, and I was afraid with tight hips and back, I’d end up just setting me and L back more, so he had Sunday off instead of Monday.

Lush was an interesting ride. I started out in the outdoor, which was a bit of a shit show. A group went out on the trails and for a few minutes the ring was super crowded. After 3 days of rain, the outdoor was very sloppy in spots, so I only had the rail to centerline that was good footing, and centerline to the next quarter line was meh, and quarter line to rail was just a hot muddy mess. I wasn’t comfortable cantering her in the outdoor, just because of how sloppy it was and how big her stride gets. I don’t think she is fit enough to be balanced enough to be able to hold the canter in that small of a space either. So, out of the arena we went!

We worked on trotting outside of the arena, and she was happy trotting up and down the driveway with no issues. I decided to step it up a notch, and take her back out on the track. Going out solo isn’t always guaranteed, trees still wig her out. We walked one lap, and then tried trotting a few. I had this very nice round forward trot around the back end, but coming towards the barn she would either try to run through me back to the barn, or balk at the sound of the electric snapping on one of the inside paddocks. I was able to fix the electric issue pretty easily, just more leg when coming around that part of the track. The racing back to the barn was harder to correct.

She learned if we were going fast, she could go faster towards the barn and get back faster. When she speed up and wouldn’t listen to my half halts, I’d stop her, wait 20 seconds, and then turn around and trot the other way. When she would repeat the behavior going the other direction, I’d repeat my correction. Once I finally got her to get close the barn without her trying to race back, I called it and made sure we walked back to the barn quietly and slowly.

Overall, it was a very good track session in my opinion, and I was happy with it. If there were horses out in the paddocks in the center, I think maybe she would have a bit more relaxed, but all three normal residents were out and about. We finished that out by wandering the front of the barn, and walked up and down the driveway, in and out of the indoor, all over, on the buckle. I still get excited walking her out on the buckle. 5 months ago, I tried my first driveway walk and Lush was super spooky and nervous and jiggy. Now, I can wander on the buckle with a relaxed swingy walk.

I am trying very hard to rein in the fact I want like 8 different sparkly browbands for this mare

My end goal with Lush is to turn her into a horse that can go out on the trails and not be highstrung and anxious the entire time. She doesn’t love going alone on the track, but if she goes out with another horse, the few times we’ve done it she likes to be in front. There is the issue somedays she doesn’t want to start in front, but then has to be in front mid lap, but we’re working on that.

I know L can do trails, they’re just not his favorite. If I can get one of my regular rides to enjoy trails, I might have a chance with Lush. It’s a major learning curve taking Lush outside of the ring. I’m taking a horse who has been a show horse all her life, and never probably did trails before, and immediately plopping her on a wooded path which she’s never been on or seen in her lifetime. So far it’s gone okay, I’m hoping maybe one of these days if we don’t take L some Sunday, we can take Lush out and see how she does off of the track.

An update on my projects from last week, mainly just the Equi-tape. I’ve done a few tapings on one horse, still having some struggles, but it is a learning curve I’m slowly figuring out. My biggest struggle is consistent tape stretching from piece to piece, and length. And making sure my ends are down correctly. I hope to try a few different ones this week, I have some questions for the instructors I need to email and clarify, and possibly get some more suggestions on surface prep. The one horse I’ve been practicing on isn’t the best case study as she likes to wallow in mud and dirt so the ends don’t stay put very well. So far I’ve liked the results I’ve seen. The horse’s trainer already saw a big difference in trot work, which I’m very excited for.

Another project I would love to take on is dyeing saddle pads. More specifically, Back on Track saddle pads.

Here is my thought process. There aren’t many pretty plain BoT pads, right? I don’t love the idea of a puffy one, and the colors they have for the plain ones aren’t too hot. L has to go in a BoT pad for his back. I’m limited to navy and black plain pads that are available in the US.

Solution one: order a red one from Canada, because I desperately want a red pad for him after seeing him in my red cooler. Solution two, find an used BoT white pad, stains allowed, and dye it whatever color my heart desires. My only concern is does dyeing the fabric alter the ceramic fibers in the pad, or does it really matter at that point? I may have to do some more research before jumping on any of this, but I’d love a fun colored pad for L that isn’t black or navy.

Another clinic has been scheduled for November, the same clinician as back in July at GJM’s barn. I mentioned to her after my lesson I was super nervous about signing up, and then something happening and having to cancel again. I’ve unintentionally cancelled twice in a row on her, the first time because I threw my back out two days before, and the second after a scheduling snafu with my vacation. That one I pulled out of way in advance, but I still felt awful. We worked it out that she has me on standby, so if someone cancels I can take their spot, or take the end of the day spot. That way, there is less time for me to stress over the clinic coming up, and if I have to cancel there is no super guilt about cancelling.

And that’s my week! This week I have another lesson with GJM on Friday. I think I may want to work on my canter work, it’s something I’ve been slacking on with both horses, L because lateral is important to me, and Lush because I’ve been working on the trot so much, and I hate cantering her inside, it feels like I run out of room too quickly. This might be the week of cantering for me.

RD WK 39-40: Projects and Projects

9-27-10/12

3 weeks is the longest I’ve gone without being at the barn in the past year or so. I’ve gone longer not riding and still being at the barn, but this is the longest I’ve stayed away.

From September 18th to the 26th, my family went on vacation. We came back on Saturday, got our COVID tests, and all tested negative on Sunday. Mass current requires either a 14 day quarantine or a negative COVID test to return to normal life.

Because of a few COVID scares, I was asked to just keep away from the barn for a bit longer while a few people waited to be sure of their negatives. Thursday I decided to get a second test, and received a second negative, more for my own sanity as I was afraid it might show up after travel.

After chatting with JM at length, we decided it would be in the best interest for me to fully finish a 14 days quarantine, and get one more negative COVID test before returning to the barn.

JM is immunocompromised, which is what is the main concern right now. The fear was that I will be negative up until day 10, and then on day 10 show symptoms and have been at the barn since day 8, and possibly pass it on.

So what did that mean for me? A lot of down time.

I still went to work, but it was only work and home for the last two weeks. Most of the clients that I work with are elderly, so they were not coming in very often before our vacation. Thankfully all the clients that did have appointments in the past two weeks have been Zoom meetings.

A quick shot of Lush I got before leaving

Being home for two weeks in a row with nothing to do really jump started a few projects I’ve had in the wings.

I’ve talked about it at length before at the barn, and I had the time, so no better excuse. I’ve wanted to make a seat cover for my trunk for a little while now. Since getting the trunk, I’ve used a cooler on top to save the wood from bird poop and dust, but the cooler constantly slides and gets dusty and falls off the moment you open the trunk.

JM loved the idea back when I was mulling it over, and we both tried to figure out a way to make one. Neither of us are good at sewing, so she had her mother in law make a prototype. It was literally perfect, and exactly what I had envisioned.

While trying to figure out my plan to DIY it, another boarder posted on Facebook that she had made one out of scraps in her house. Once it was decided I was staying home for another week, I made arrangements to pick up the supplies.

I did a little bit of research and found an easy box cushion tutorial online. I modified it slightly, but it worked out awesome. The biggest pain in the butt was hand sewing the entire thing. It took forever, but I was so stoked once I was done.

Unfortunately, once I got to the barn, I realized that the cushion had shrunk a lot more than I thought. The back edges of the skirt I added won’t go over the back edges, so it sits a bit awkward on the cover. I’ve chatted with my mom about it, and we have to go back to the drawing board on the skirt/edge portion of the cushion. So in theory, it works, but now I just need to tweak parts.

Finished product
need to fix this corner

My second project is more business related. I started the Equi-Tape Taping Fundamentals Online course and certification. It was a lot more productive of my time to spend it learning instead of continuing my binge watching of Bones.

So far I’ve found the range of uses and the results that have been found interesting. Not only can you use it for sore muscles, there is a lot of use in proprioception, biomechanics, joint support, muscle support and it is super effective at improving circulation in applied areas. I purchased the certification and the intro kit option, which includes two rolls of tape, an area prep towel and a set of scissors.

Image from Equi-Tape Facebook page

To complete the certification, 6 case studies must be submitted with the final exam. JM has already volunteered H as a case study for me. I’m pretty excited as this is something I’ve been interested in equine taping for a little while now, but never figured out a way to follow through. I was interested because I felt a few client horses could benefit strongly from this, H included. I’m always on the look out for tools, modalities and courses I feel could help my clients. Equine taping has been on my list since I graduated, so it’s been very exciting to learn it.

My third and final project, which is on hold, is ripping up the carpet in my room. I currently live at home (I am still saving for the eventual move out, which crossing my fingers, will be next year). Despite the possibility of me moving out in the next year, my father wants to redo the upper level for when he eventually will sell the house. We decided on a wood flooring that snaps together, and I picked out a natural maple to match my desk and shelf. I’ve always wanted a wood floor vs my carpet as its easier to clean up spills on. It also would becomes easier to clean up after my pet snake. Aspen shavings are much easier to sweep up vs vacuum up.

coming soon

Of course, when we decided to order it, Lowes is out of stock. Now I have a bit more time to clean my room and declutter more before ripping out the carpet.

I had my final COVID test on Thursday, and after spending all Friday biting my nails and waiting for the results, I had a negative. It was good that I had that third negative too, because Friday JM’s doctors changed her restrictions yet again, so now I will be back on my own personal restrictions to make sure I won’t be exposing her to anything. That includes any out of state travel or visiting people I normally wouldn’t see.

Saturday I got to get back to the barn, and it was awesome. I spent all day there, and came home sore and happy.

I just rode Lush that day, I wasn’t going to push it on my first day back in 3 weeks. Back before vacation, I ordered a full cheek snaffle very much like her normal bridle, just a slightly more oval shaped ring, for me to use on my bridle. I was nervous she didn’t like it because she felt heavier in my hands, but JM pointed out it’s been three weeks, and Lush didn’t look fussy in it.

Sunday I asked for a quick refresher L lesson, just to make sure I had all my ducks in a row before going back to normal. I also really wanted a lesson outside because I haven’t worked him outside since falling off a month ago. He gets very distracted outside, and a distracted L is an L waiting to spook, and I can control where he is looking much better inside vs out. It was a super good lesson to get back into work, and I was definitely tight, but I was happy with how he went and being able to work outside again.

I popped up on Lush after, mainly because I was just hanging around and cold. We did maybe 15 minutes of work, I was starting to feel my abs complain after the a lesson with L, so I let her stroll. It was really awesome to see her walk over to a scary area, nervous but willing to go, and then stroll up the driveway on the buckle with her head stretched out. The strolling on the buckle part really made my day, 5 months ago I would have never been able to do that. 5 months ago I would have laughed when someone told me she would stroll up and down that part of the driveway.

Monday was Columbus/Indigenous Peoples Day, so I spent all day at the barn, 8am to 6pm. It was a miserable windy raw damp day, one of those days where the cold just gets stuck in your bones and you can’t shake it. I was fine doing stalls in the morning, but once I stopped I was miserable.

I hopped on L as fast as I could, and rode inside. He was very good, we had an argument about going back to work after a longer walk break, but otherwise I was happy with the quality I got. I could have asked for a lot more roundness and had him lower in his poll, but I wanted a stressless, easy ride without overthinking everything. I threw the lateral work back in, and remembered why I love it so much. Every time I did a lateral movement, he relaxed just a tad bit more, and relaxed into my hands a bit more, and it was just awesome. Our haunches in still needs lots of work, I can only get it for 3-4 strides out of the corner before we loose it, but it’s doing better.

Starting to get his teddy bear ears back!

I had my regular Monday evening lesson with JM on Lush, which also was really good. It started with a bit of tension. Lush was up from the cold, being last to be brought in for supper, not getting her supper, and then L was shoving his hay box around which unsettled her even more. I got on and she was ready to go, and I was trying to make her walk, but JM said, “don’t make her walk, trot the snot out of her, get her moving and get rid of the tension and anxiety first,”. After that, she had me just think slow, soft and round, not do anything actively for it. It helped immensely, and I was able to shift my three things to soft forward and round.

My biggest struggle with Lush is I lean a tad, and then my elbows and shoulders lock. Which of course the tension translates to my seat and hands, and then Lush will invert and go against my hand. So soft and forward were the key, and not speeding forward but a more hind end driven stride. Once she was warmed up, JM had me push harder for round, and forward, and asked me to quicker to catch Lush if she started to try to invert or avoid.

The canter work was amazing. JM had me ask for a bit more roundness, and keep asking for more forward, which once I got her round and through at the canter, I got way too excited and stopped actively riding. The last few canter laps were amazing after I stopped overly praising Lush. I really wish I’d had the Pivo out, or someone videod because I hope it looked as good as it felt.

After the ride, JM gave me a new leaf speech, which I laughed in the moment, but it was true. I had a very good ride, despite making mistakes and having moments, there were a lot of good moments in there.

In two weeks, it will have been 1 year at JB’s barn. I can’t believe how fast it’s flown by, despite the pandemic screwing up my show/summer plans. JM said to look at 1 year of being at a new barn to look at it as turning a new leaf over. Start it over, don’t think about the last 5 months of work on Lush, or the last 4 months with L, everything starts over on October 27th.

I’m looking forward to more with Lush for the rest of 2020, and hopefully hit the show ring with both L and Lush in 2021. For now, my first year at JB’s barn is almost complete, so a new leaf we will begin. The rest of the week is planned for mostly L rides. JM has H back in bootcamp, and I have rides to make up for, so I have L for most of this week, so Lush may be on the back burner until the weekend.

RD WK 35-38: Playing Serious Catch Up

Hey look who fell behind!

It’s me, no one should be shocked

I blame vacation, the stress from trying to go, and then just general craziness. I’m going to just do what I remember to cover those weeks and then return to my normal Riding Diary style after this. So buckle up for a long one.

8/17-8/24

That week was a bit of a nail biter to me. I was still a bit unsure with L, so I tried to take it easy with my rides. Wednesday I had a rough lesson where the anxiety got to me hard core. L has some PTSD with horses that make lots of noise from the past, and someone brought in a horse that made tons of noise and put on a rider with not tons of experience. It was all fine and dandy, until we almost got run into,. My anxiety went through the roof and L checked out. I ended up in the middle waiting for them to be done, and crying. I hate to admit it, but this is for my own good, so in short, I had a complete nervous breakdown. JM tried to tough love it out, and get me back in it, but my brain had checked out too. We finished out okay and I left feeling even more defeated and with less confidence than I had started with. JM tried to give me some sports psychology pep talk, but it didn’t work very well.

Looking back, part of it was, “Oh My God L is not going the way I need and he’s losing it so I’m losing it” and the other part of it was “This is not my helmet and if I fall a second time I’m done for so omgomg don’t fall”. Yes, it sounds so stupid now, but I was not comfortable in the helmet I was borrowing. I didn’t feel that it would keep me safe if I came off. The fear of coming off a second time and getting a repeat concussion was very fresh in my head, which impacted a lot of how I rode, and I rode much more like I was waiting for the shoe to fall.

Friday I had my lesson with GJM. My mom came in clutch, and my new backup TV came in on Friday. She brought it over to me so I could ride in the TraumaVoid instead of the purple helmet I hated, and catch one of my lessons. JM mentioned to GJM that I needed some sports psychology, and I was ready for a psych lecture.

I explained to GJM the week, and my struggles, and she went, “So what?”. I almost stopped L right there when she said that. GJM told me it was something that came with the territory, and she understood why I was so nervous. She even mentioned she was nervous riding her horse for a few years with his massive spooks when he was younger. Instead of giving me the psych lecture I was expecting, she had me work on getting L supple, and getting control of his head and neck.

L lesson ft my winging foot

Having control over the head and neck meant that I was able to control him better in the chance of a spook. I felt so much better after that ride, and it was the confidence boost I needed after two not so great rides.

Saturday afternoon we knew there was going to be a thunderstorm later on. The horses had been kicked out, it wasn’t supposed to start until about 4:30. There was a brief shower, and we all assumed that was it for the rain and they could come in around 4 and be okay. We were all wrong. Suddenly it was very dark and ominous and we were racing to bring horses in. I’ve done anything like it in my whole horse career.

There were massive cracks of thunder as we brought in horses, and I was so glad no one was spooking at the thunder or lightning. We hauled everyone in, and I was bringing in what I thought was the last two horses when the skies opened up. Once in, we all realized there were still two horses outside. While JM and I assumed A had gone to get them, someone else needed help with two completely different horses, so there were two were left out front. A and I grabbed rain coats and raced out to catch the last two. I was closing the gate to the last horses paddock when he started spooking and bolting in circles. It took about two seconds for me to realize it was hailing.

I never thought that the walk from the last paddock to the barn would be so long. It was pouring buckets, on top of hail the size of marbles, and I had a panicked horse doing donuts around me. At one point he came at me and managed to knock me in the head hard. It must have been a good 5 minutes to walk him slowly to the barn, and I was trying everything I knew to keep him from bolting into me.

I kid you not, I was wringing buckets out of my clothes back in the barn. The rain continued for about 15 more minutes before completely disappearing. The amount of hail that fell made it looked like it had just snowed. Thankfully, I managed to find a second set of clothes so I didn’t soak the car on the drive home.

8/24-8/31

I took my Monday evening lesson on Mike that week, which was super helpful as I got the chance to work on my own equitation. Riding Lush and L is nice, but both horses need a lot of work on themselves before I can do work on my own equitation.

I ended up staying late to help with a boarder horse waiting for a vet call Monday. The vet told me while I was helping that I should have considered being a vet tech. I told her I hated needles and the one time I did a vet camp as a dry run I almost puked when they handed me a preserved heart.

The rest of the week was eh. I rode L a second time with GJM and felt really good about that ride. I also was able to do it in a crowd while GJM had me running test parts. Her goal is to get me over my test anxiety with dressage tests, so she’s been adding in tests to my lessons so my brain doesn’t over do it. I was proud of myself for keeping it together and being able to still perform with two other horses and a horse blocking half the arena.

L and the puppy

Lush has been an on and off ride in the past few weeks. The Barn Rats love Lush, so often by the time I would get there she’s been ridden already by one of the Barn Rats. I don’t totally mind, on cooler days she can go a second time but its the hot and humid days that a second ride pushes it for her. She’s definitely fit enough for multiple rides, just not in the humidity. Friday I got on her in the afternoon. One of the barn rats had already ridden her and she was a bit grouchy for her, so I got a warning she’d been rude for the bridle and was sassy.

I really regret not setting up my Pivo because I had an awesome ride. I’ve been focusing on the trot really with Lush, just because I want to improve the quality there the most and I’m happy to work on just that. The trot was slow, she was over her back and she was just relaxed. It might have helped that I was super relaxed, but I got the trot by sitting and asking her to slow with my seat, and then posting and trying to keep it. We did canter, and I had a beautiful right lead. The left lead was a hot mess. I had her on a circle, and I’d get the canter at the start of the open side, and then by the end of it, she was falling out of my outside rein and drifting. I’d correct it and then be too harsh as it took a harsher half halt to get the correction, and she’d break and we’d start it all over again. It’s all a work in progress. I also got her most of the way down the first half of the driveway which I was ecstatic about.

We then worked on some desensitization. I picked up my Dover package with her, and shook it the whole way back to the barn, I brought the recycling bin out to the dumpster, and then had her stand next to the trailer while I said hi to JM’s puppy. All good things, and she was not too pleased with me that I made her do all of that.

Saturday was a L and a Lush day. Lush was a laid back kind of ride, I tried to recreate the trot I had the day before, but not much luck inside. We also had another desensitization session after she was spooking at my phone around her nose.

L was good, I have been aiming at working on his walk and suppling the trot, however I feel like I’m still losing the half halt. It was a pretty laid back ride as well.

Sunday I had a very nice ride on Lush again. We had some sticky moments, but this time I remembered the Pivo. We worked on a small circle in back and my goal was to get her off her shoulders. I’d get her off for a stride, and then she’d be falling right back in. Lush also still doesn’t full understand that more leg doesn’t always mean up the speed, so I was battling that as well.

Our good ride

I finally, finally got her through some puddles. It had rained the night before, so there were giant puddles on the long side. A was riding her mare through them as her horse was shying away from them, and then Lush was jolting forward at the noise when they rode past us. It took maybe ten minutes of closed inside leg and inside rein but I got her walking through it. Trotting through it was only possible if she had started walking through it first, but we got it.

Monday, JB mentioned to JM that she should torture me by doing a lesson without reins. I didn’t care, so I did it. I borrowed Reba off we went. I warmed up before my reins were taken away, and remembered how weird it felt to ride Reba after riding Logan and Lush. Reba is a heavy tank qh who somehow is wider then Logan, and a far cry from gangly thin saddlebred I found it not terribly hard, the harder parts were changing direction and making sure she didn’t fall in on her shoulder. JM told me I couldn’t sit because I had a really good sitting trot and that was “cheating”.

Surprisingly, I did pretty well. Stopping was harder than I thought without reins, I really had to close my thighs and stop my seat. Cantering without reins was also super weird, but less the “I have no brakes or control” and more of, “she is not over her back and carrying herself and this is so weird” kind of feeling. Balance was a big thing too, and using my legs for steering. Reba liked to drift towards the barn tracking left and trying to keep her on a semi circle with my legs was hard. I’m surprised I also didn’t loose my stirrups but JM isn’t huge on going stirrup-less.

9/1-9/7

That week I struggled a lot with L. Looking back, it was definitely me. I was so focused on getting him supple and round and loose, that when he wasn’t I was overthinking and getting tight. And then because I was tight he was tight and then I got tighter and so did he and it spiraled downhill very quickly. JM and I did a ride on Thursday where she got on first to see how he felt, and then I popped on after and we did a mini lesson after. After that I was feeling much more confident about my rides.

I will always admit, I get so sucked up into the “it must be perfect/very good or else you are a failure” mindset. JM and I have had hundreds of conversations about that and how I’m very hard on myself when I don’t meet my goals riding. And they aren’t even massive goals, they are goals like, Canter between C and M, and if I can’t get it between C and M, I get tight and flustered and it just spirals after. I also had a talk with her later after a lesson on Lush about how I say “I need to work on that” a lot, and I basically put pressure on myself to fix things that really are just small things that don’t require the repetition and drilling that I do.

Thursday I also had my first introduction to sheath cleaning. L was in desperate need, he hadn’t had one done in over at least a year. Last time I had tried to learn how was with my old lease horse, Bently, and we discovered in the middle of trying to clean his sheath that he was petrified of puddles, and he tried to kill us when there was a puddle on the ground. L was gross. The actual act of cleaning did not bother me, it was the smell.

Sheath cleaning also made for a great COVID repellant, because after that, I did not touch my face, or really anything for that matter, with my right hand. I swear I scrubbed my arms for at least 10 minutes in the shower with the smelliest body wash I had, and I could still smell it after a shower.

Tuesday night, I also did a first with Lush. I’ve been talking about riding her bareback a few times, but haven’t done it yet. The vet was coming out Wednesday and there was a possibility that she would get some injections, which meant at least a week of downtime, so I took my chance. And we did it! She was awesome, and if I felt even slightly off balance she just slowed down and waited. I did ride her in a pad because she does have shark fin withers. I don’t think I’ll be doing it a ton, mainly because she’s still a bit weak to do a lot of sitting trot, but I have a horse I can do it on if I feel like it.

Flaming pad with a breastplate

Friday was a wonderful night of tack cleaning. JM and I brought a pile of tack to her house, and another adult student joined us for dinner and tack cleaning. It was super fun, and reminded me how much I missed some of the normal parts of a horse summer; tack cleanings, smartpak trips and just general hanging out.

That Saturday I don’t remember much. JM had her first show on Sunday, so I helped prep for the show while she was busy with her lesson program for the morning. H got a bath, which she was very unpleased about, but we timed it right so we were able to kick her back in her stall when we were done. H also got a massage before the bath, which solidified my want to do a KT certification.

H and JM did fabulous the next day, but it was a weird experience. I had considered taking L, but the show grounds we were at have notoriously deep footing, which L can’t go in anymore post suspensory. Masks were required at all times unless riding, and social distancing was encouraged. It was weird, but at the same time gave me a closer feeling of normal. JM is planning to take H to their next schooling show in October, and I’m considering taking L then too, but I have to request a specific ring to do so.

9/7-9/14

I finally got my Lush lesson on Monday. The vet had come out Wednesday, and they had decided to wait on injections and get some xrays before injecting, so Lush got Wednesday and Thursday of the previous week off, and then Saturday threw her left front, which is the shoe that she really needs. Sunday she got it tacked back on and she was golden. It went better then I thought, she was angsty about a line of sawdust in the indoor and tried to jump it at one point. My legs still slide too far back on her when I ride, which makes it hard to put pressure in the right spot. I’m still looking for good rear blocks to add to my treeless to try and fix that. I almost bought knee blocks back before Maisy was sold, but I still need a set of rear blocks soon.

It was either the week before or this week, I finally got Lush out on the track. The first time she needed a buddy, which Ollie happily was for her. The first lap she was a bit jiggy behind Ollie, and ended up in front of him. The second lap she relaxed a lot more, but she continued to jump at every branch and leaf that brushed against her as she walked. I was incredibly proud of her for that.

We got out there a second time, and then did it solo. I was over the moon when she did it solo. She wouldn’t track left, but tracking left means going from bright sunlight to immediate shade so I didn’t blame her. She did have a big spook at one of the horses coming out of the trees in the middle, but she was strolling on the buckle once we got back to the barn.

Hi Lush

I did it a second time since then, and once we get on the track, she relaxes a lot more. I also got her to track left and she did awesome. I think this horse is finally starting to trust me more. JM and I have talked about taking her off property and just seeing how she does somewhere different, and I might push for that once I come back from vacation.

I had an L lesson on Friday, and we played a lot with lateral work. I’d done a lot better with relaxing and having good rides for the whole week so I was hopeful for a good ride. We had an awesome ride. GJM was having us do a lot of leg yielding, mainly leg yield two or three good strides and then go straight.

It was so hard. L would either blow through the outside aides, or rush through the movement. We got a few good ones in there to start, and then basically all hell broke loose. I blame GJM for saying it was a quiet Friday. A trailer in lesson arrived at the same time as a grain order, so there was a lot of chaos going on. L spooked big, and then was invested in everything that was going on around us. GJM had me getting after him for this, because he eventually tried to bully me out of any kind of contact or giving me the time of day. After all of that, he very aware of my aides and it was like riding a very sensitive sports car, which is something you do not describe L as.

We then went over haunches in, which I’ve done but not intentionally. GJM broke it down for me. She told me I’d have a much easier time with it as I had long legs and was able to get after L if he tried to avoid it. Have I mentioned L’s least favorite thing is lateral work and my absolute favorite thing is lateral work?

It was definitely harder then I realized, but the trot after, oh my god it was like trotting a L shaped cloud. I turned to GJM and went “Why do jumpers hate flatwork so much?! This is awesome! I love lateral work!”. I was told later this is such a dressage rider statement to make, so clearly I’ve found my permanent discipline.

Saturday I tried to use those same principles again. My homework has now become to teach L to do the best lateral work he has ever done. Guys, it all worked. I had this super supple, through horse that was like riding a cloud. He wasn’t as great as the day before, but so much better and I was over the moon.

Sunday I had my first ever massage appointment that was off property in 6 months. A friend had reached out about her lease horse and I was more then happy to go over. She had booked a half hour, but I warned her I might go over just because I get so caught up in areas sometimes. It turned out to be more like 45 minutes, but the horse loved it. It didn’t help we chattered a bit too, some conversation about the horse herself and her issues, and then the catch up kind of talk.

9/14-9/18

I had my lesson on Lush again Monday, and it went okay. I would have liked her to have not been fighting me as much, but it was mostly fighting with balance. Lush will get off balance, and then speed up and then invert as she speeds up. She also uses speed as an evasion move when I ask for harder things. It was going okay, until the last five minutes of the lesson and she threw a shoe. Again. She literally just stepped right out of it, I have no idea how. Thankfully, it was only the right front, so she could still work without it, unlike last time where she needed the wedge pad on left front. We finished out and that was that for the evening.

Lesson Lush! Pre Missing Shoe

The rest of the week went pretty okay with Lush. She got her shoes back on the next day, but went the farrier chose to remove the pads, so my next ride was a lot more leg then normal. The next day also was a chill ride, there was a loose horse about 15 minutes into our ride, and while Lush kept her head on and was very chill while the horse was being caught, I called it because it wasn’t worth it.

One day, (no idea which day, they all have blurred) I pushed her a little too much. First it was a windy AF day, so I should have known right there not to push it. But I wasn’t trying to do much, so I decided it would be the day we worked out on the track. That really was my first mistake. She was wigged out by the wind in the trees and the shifting of the shadows, so what I hoped would be a 20 minute hack turned into more like a 45 minute ride of random stops and snorting. She tried to get out of it a few times by spinning, but I was not going to let her get out of it. We got around twice, the second time was easier because I had her trot the long side of the track, and she realized she could get out of the scary part faster by trotting. I then let her meander in the outdoor, while we watched some lessons. Then, JB took Arrow for his post ride “walkies” and Lush followed, slowly. She was very nervous about a jeep parked in the driveway, and danced away from it, but still followed Arrow.

JB and I joked that we should take Arrow out on the track, and Lush could be his buddy, but it turned out, Arrow didn’t need a buddy, Lush really needed a super buddy. We got halfway around, and then realized one of the boarders was coming, so we stopped for her. Thankfully, J walked up instead of trotted up, or else Lush would have spooked worse then she did when she realized someone was behind her. We finished the long side, and Lush was getting antsy.

The last buddy trail she did, she wanted to be in front, despite being a chicken about the whole thing. This time she was a Lush sandwich between Arrow and the boarder horse. Lush clearly had enough of me trying to keep her calm while she jigged down the longside. She took the bit, yanked the reins, and bolted past Arrow. It took me the whole short side of the track to spin her and stop. After that moment, we did the track again, this time in back. I wanted her in front, but she balked too soon at going back in so we were in the back. She jigged the long side again, so we did some work on slowing down and just a bunch of walk halts until she relaxed.

It was a lot for her, and I’m glad we worked through it. I have goals to continue getting her out there for the rest of the fall, A to get her exposed to more real life horse things, and B just to make sure that will never happen to a student who decides to take her out on the track.

I ended up popping on her bareback one more time on Friday before I left for vacation. I found it hilarious because it was a lot like our first solo ride, where she was not steering well, drifting to the middle, etc. It still is weird for her, and I don’t push it as she’s not super strong and she’s not the easiest to ride bareback on, but it’s still good for both of us.

I had a few scattered rides with L, where I was struggling a bit, but our lesson Friday fixed that immediately. We spent the whole lesson doing lateral work. Just walking and trotting. I was really happy with our ride, despite calling L a Dummy once I was off for one very well placed “getting out of work spook”. It was really hard, but I felt better and L felt very soft and easy to move. It was like I got power steering in the last half of my lesson and any little shift of my body would turn him. It was a fantastic lesson.

As of Sunday, I had a negative COVID test after the family vacation last week. MA requires a 14 day quarantine or a negative COVID test when returning from a red state. I’m debating going with my brother to the state testing facility this afternoon to get tested a second time to be absolutely sure it is a negative (he is under 15 so they couldn’t test him at the private facility we went to). As of right now, it might be a few days until I get back to the barn and riding, but I’ll be more comfortable when I have a second negative to be completely sure.

RD WK 34: Helmets Are Very Important.

8/11-8/17

I think I need bubble wrap after the last two weeks. Seriously.

Monday and Tuesday were scorching again, following what feels like the 5 week pattern of scorching Mondays. Tuesday just happened to be extra. Both days I still swung by, walked L and lunged H on Monday, and walked L Tuesday.

Then on Tuesday I hauled out Lush to check in on her. We did some playing with the horse ball, and then I set her up on the ties in front of a fan to groom her. Mid grooming I discovered her left hind leg was puffy. Just mainly the cannon bone and the fetlock, so I walked her for a bit and then did a few trot steps to see if it would come down. It came down some, so I felt okay putting her away and mentioned it to JB.

Wednesday it was still roasting hot but I was able to hop on L for a short walk ride. He was distracted, which I expected after two days off of work. Again, no expectations or real goals for that ride, it was just a “Get out of your stall and do something” kind of ride after 3 days of being inside from the heat.

Wednesday JM and I also chatted about our fall plans. We’d considered a local show which was holding a small schooling show in September. In past, we’ve shown there a lot, and even pre Corona it was always pretty spread out and you didn’t interact with many people, only watching at arenas and getting your paperwork at the booth. However, one of their arenas has been notoriously deep, and despite having promised to fix it, it doesn’t always get fixed. Unfortunately, thats typically the arena they use for Training and First Level tests. Because of L’s suspensory, he can’t go on deep footing anymore, so even if I signed up and went, if I was in that arena I’d have to scratch.

I decided to go for the September AC clinic instead, which was already going to be cheaper then the local show and I’d get more out of it. JM may take H, but it just seemed like a better use of my money and time for the clinic.

Thursday I got on Miss Lush again. It was still warm ish so I strayed on the side of caution and only worked her walk trot. She was very good, we had some wiggle moments but I remembered my tool box and was able to keep her relatively straight. After riding, the puffiness (which was still there) in her leg had gone down, so I concluded it was just from heat and not moving tons. The vet is coming out in a few weeks to see if she will need her hocks done. JB has suspected damage to that left leg, either from over compensating a past injury or just past training injuries with former owners, and that is the leg that there is a tiny hitch to it some days, so hopefully the vet will figure out what she needs.

Friday I rode L after watching JMs lesson at GJM’s farm. He was distracted and I was struggling with my tempo. I probably was tight somewhere. I took it easy because it had been hot and humid earlier in the day, but turns out I really didn’t need to as when I got off it barely looked like L and I had worked. I

was trying to get after myself for my shoulders, I really want to try and work on some stretches for my shoulders and my pecs. I think that’s where my tightness is and makes the shoulder rounding worse.

Saturday was the first 73 degree day after a week of 90s. So of course everyone was spicy. I watched Lush do 3 perfect movie rears in a row while doing stalls and went, “ hmm maybe I should lunge her”.

I didn’t. Popped on, WTC both directions and very well behaved. I tried to keep her low and consistent and worked on keeping her noodle self on the rail. She did throw a small loop de loo track left, which I was cracking up the rest of our canter lap.

Note to self, do not ride in a hot pink pad and red pants again.

Me and a boarder left to pick up lunch. In the time we were gone, a rider fell off of her horse twice. We came back to her with an ice pack on her back and a slightly traumatized 6 year old who had seen the whole thing. The second time, the saddle had slipped and the horse had a major spooking episode at it. After making sure she was okay, we ate lunch and I tacked up for my lesson on L.

Now the entire time I was tacking up, my brain went “Um, hey shit comes in threes, and you’re riding right after?!”. I tried to make my brain shut up, because thats how you jinx yourself. Spoiler, I jinxed myself.

L and I had a beautiful warm up and JM was having us do work on the back half of the outdoor. It was windy, and I barely could hear her, so she had come closer to make sure I could hear. We were traveling past the back door to the barn, which is a major blind spot. Most people know to call Door when walking out. Due to the wind, none of us heard the two people (who did call Door), and walked out. I was so focused, I had no idea, and all of a sudden L was spooking left and cantering. I will say I tried to save it, but it wasn’t meant to be. I landed hard on my left side. JM caught L, and it took me a few seconds to gather myself and stand. I told JM I wanted back on, which she gave me a look and threatened me with bodily harm if I ended up in a hospital later with a concussion, but let me get back on. I finished out my lesson, and felt good about the work. The entire time my upper left thigh, where I landed first, stung. At one point I swore it was bleeding, but couldn’t tell because A; I was riding, and B, wore red pants so there was no way to tell visually.

After I got off, I checked my helmet for damage. There were a few rocks in one of the vents, so I plucked them out, and put it away, thinking it was good enough to keep using until I got my new one. I later filed a report with TraumaVoid to let them know I’d fallen, and to see if I was eligible for a discount for a new helmet. Once I got home, I was able to check there definitely was no bleeding, and other then a small headache and the nasty bruise and some stiffness, I was all good.

Sunday, I did the thing and made it worse. JM and I both thought it would be a good idea to get on and lightly ride just to make sure I wouldn’t stiffen up. I popped on Lush, and did maybe 20 minutes of work. Mostly walking and a tiny bit of trotting. Was very happy with how my leg felt posting, and was confident I’d be fine to continue riding for the week.

I took Lush back out to her paddock, turned her in the gate to unhook her halter, and went to put her fly mask on. Lush leaned over towards one of the posts and zapped her nose on the fence. It snapped, she spooked, stomped hard on my left foot, and bolted for the other end of the paddock. I hobbled after her, and it took a few minutes to catch her because to her, I was touching her while it happened, so it was clearly me that zapped her, not the fence.

I swapped out my tall boots for my normal work boots a while later, and it had already bloomed some pretty colors. I’ll save you the foot pictures, but it was black and blue all over. A small part of it was and still is, numb on the top of my foot. JM assured me if I could fit it in my shoes and was walking, it would be fine and wasn’t broken. The irrational side of my brain keeps reminding me it could be, and the only way I’m walking is that area is numb from a compressed nerve due to the swelling, and once the swelling goes down it will go back to being incredibly painful. My mother, who is my main voice of reason and will drag me to an ER if she thinks its necessary, thinks it’s just a horrid bruise and I got incredibly lucky.

Monday, I took a second lesson with JM on Lush. She was really getting after me for my shoulders and the Wing Master, especially at the canter. At one point, she stopped me, and shortened my stirrups. She said my leg was rolling out and back, and at one point my whole inside leg had slid way behind the saddle and my foot was completely perpendicular to the horse. TBH, I didn’t even notice it. After shortening my stirrups, it was a better fix, so I’m keeping my stirrups at hole number 5 instead of 6.

Monday I also brought home my helmet. I’d heard back from TraumaVoid, and they asked for me to mail back my old helmet and they’d give me a discount towards a new one. I plopped it on the counter, and my mom asked where I’d landed when I fell. I patted the left side, and the left vent immediately collapsed inward. Because of the MIPs, I wasn’t able to see if there were any cracks to the internal foam, however, if I busted a vent, I probably did some damage somewhere else.

Since then, I’ve ordered a backup TV EQ3, which will double as my show helmet, if show season comes around again. The old busted one is going out sometime today, and until the newer one shows up, I’ve been riding in a borrowed school helmet, which is a wonderful shade of neon purple.

Waiting for online orders is the worst #bbloggers | Funny cat ...
waiting for the back up helmet like

After that fall on Saturday, I think I forever will be a supporter of MIPs technology. I probably would have had a much worse injury to my head if not for that helmet.