RDY2-WK 7: Straight Lines, Shenanigans and Birthdays

2/16-2/21

This is a good post because not only did I finally realize that A: I am 100% a dressage queen, and 2, despite his faults, my horse is the best.

Monday was presidents day, so I had a fabulous day off to spend with the ponies. I think I mentioned it in my last post, but it was a good ride, despite some minor, typical shenanigans on L’s part.

I’d mentioned to JM he’d been a bit stuck, so she suggested we work on just moving out for the week, and that’s what we worked at.

Tuesday was a day of straight lines, and L lived up to it perfectly. We’ve been working on our trot to canter transitions more then the walk to canters, it’s a little less stress and I’ve been ignoring them so time to brush up on them. We also practiced the “Canter till I say stop” exercise. I’ve mentioned it before, L has to canter X many laps with no help from me, and canter until I say he can stop, no breaking on his end and no help on mine. It’s a good exercise to fall back on, and I think I need to do it more. Ideally, I shouldn’t have to be adding leg on every few strides to keep up the motion, and he is fit and he knows his job, this is just him getting away with it. He was peeved track right, and kept breaking. I started originally with 3 laps, but then dropped it back to 2 because the right is his less strong side and honestly, he was getting frustrated with me. To the left, it was easy peasey for him, and we called it there. It was also 50 degrees out and I was not cooling out a hot horse at 7pm that evening either.

Look ma, less layers!

Wednesday I channeled the same, and thought to myself, relaxation and forward. No picking, no going too crazy, just enjoy the ride. I got to ride with JM for once, which was super cool because we don’t often get to ride together, especially on H and L. No circles other then canter circles from the trot, no crazy lateral work, just some shoulder in or small leg yield here and there, and called it quits. JM said he looked super relaxed and happy, so I count it a win.

I’ve also been practicing my trot canters down at C and A instead of on a 20m circle at E or B. I’ve always been taught dressage tests are good training outlines, so I’ve been incorporating parts here and there in our workouts.

Thursday we had some snow, and we were unsure what the weather would be for the next few days. My lesson is usually Fridays, but with the snow, who knew if the horses would be in or not, if it would be bad enough to not drive. If the horses were in, that also meant one of the boarder horses would be turned out in the indoor, and that makes our small indoor even smaller. So to be safe, I popped on L and just walked. Nothing major, a little lateral work here and there, but just walking. If he had Friday off, it wouldn’t be the end, and if we did have a lesson, I’d have at least gotten on him.

Snow ears!!!!

Friday was the fun day. This is how I A: know I might be a dressage girl for life, and B; know I’m finally getting better.

The snow continued, which meant the horses were in, and that one horse was turned out in the indoor. JM and I moved our lesson to Saturday, so I still had to get on L. There was enough room in the indoor for us to work, and it would be good. Not enough to do a lesson but enough for a ride.

L was good, a bit wary of the horse loose on the other side of the temp fencing, but holding it together. Then, a horse in one of the stalls spooked, spooked everyone in the stalls, and the horse in the temp turn out. L heard the running behind him and went “NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.” And scooted left. Pulled it together, started down the next long side, he saw an imaginary boogie man, and went nope again, spooking the turn out horse a second time, and making it worse for L. So now, I had a very hot spooky reactive horse. JM was going to pop on him after me, for funsies. She walks over and goes “Did you break my pony already?” Note, I’ve only been on L for maybe 10 minutes max at this point.

Then, my lovely L decides that his mother is spook worthy, and spooks at her. Now, this is no longer “The world is eating me” spooks, its “I’m trying to spook to get out of work” spooks. I put the pedal to the metal, and just started asking for things and boom. I had the most reactive, forward, off my aids, amazing horse ever. He was snorting like a TB heading for the gate, but oh my gosh everything I asked for, boom right there. You want a canter, just drop the outside hip, boom, picked it right up. Oh you wanted a walk canter, fine boom, right there, perfect. Sure there were a few more scoots, but it was fun. The best part of all of it, I was laughing the whole time.

Finally, I got him back to using his brain cell, walked to the flatscreen, dropped the reins to the buckle and looked at JM and went “Okay, now it’s your turn!” And then L was perfect for her, as always.

There was another rider in the ring while L performed his shenanigans, a girl I’ve known my whole life and has watched me ride since I was a kid. I was untacking L and I said to JM, “Wow, 6 months ago I would have been freaking out and crying and wanting off, and today I laughed.” The girl looked at me and went, “Yeah I thought you’d be freaking out after the second big spook, but instead you start giggling like an insane woman.”

Saturday was our lesson, and after telling GJM my Friday adventures and how I was very proud of myself for holding it together, we got to work. Her comment was “Once you know their habits, it’s easy to manage and work through because they rarely deviate, especially at this age”, which I totally agree.

We worked on relaxation and suppleness mostly in our lesson. Really waiting for L to relax into the contact and relax into transitions. Which resulted in a lot of small reset circles. GJM was very happy with how fast I was catching L’s mistakes and fixing them, so fast she couldn’t get the words out before I was making the correction by myself. She brought attention to it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get the movement, it matters that I caught the error, and corrected it in an effective manner.

We played with a tiny bit of lateral work again, but most of it was working to get relaxation and suppleness in the transitions. L was being quite sassy when I’d ask for a transition, nothing major just a tense transition that usual ended up with him going way too fast, or jumping to a canter instead of a trot. Which we didn’t want. Once we solved those, we went back to walk canters.

GJM was super happy with our trot canters again, so we did walk canters and canter walks. It was the getting back to a walk and track right we worked on the most at first, L was popping my hand up by dropping his inside shoulder. He would lean hard on the right shoulder, and to try and compensate, my right hand would come up by itself. We spent a lot of time with my hand practically resting on my knee in that direction. GJM said many times, the quality is not where it’s supposed to be, he shouldn’t be this low asking for a walk canter, and definitely not for the walk canter, but we need to fix the shoulder today so keep the hand low. It took a while, but then we got it.

Track left, he was over bent, and racing into it. I like that tracking left, I can just shift my outside hip and he picks up the canter, but this time he was rushing and thinking every time I shifted my hips, I wanted a canter. We did some shoulder swirlies, a new term coined by me. It wasn’t really shoulder shifting, I wasn’t looking for the weight shift from the inside shoulder to outside shoulder, it was more of going from counter flexion to over flexion to straight, and doing circles if he wasn’t listening or flexing right. It’s more for when he’s blocking me.

L is built, and in one moment, he can block all my aids on one side so subtly and I don’t realize it until I go to use those aids and then I’m blocked. The swirlies are to get him to stop blocking, the shoulder shifting is sort of the same, but more for getting him to supple up. Which I guess both are for suppling, but this one is more to unblock the neck, and shoulder shifties are to unblock and supple the shoulders. Once I had him semi-straight, I could ask for the canter, but he was over flexing still, so we did a lot of swirlies before I got a few good ones. We had to call it before I had a phenomenal walk canter-canter walk like to the right. I had run out of horse at that point and he was too tired to really sit down and collect and do a canter walk. But a very good lesson and I was super happy walking out.

The best part of all of it, I did the whole lesson with two other people in the ring, and was able to steer. Which sounds so dumb, but it’s been a tiny anxiety tick. It’s actually the reason I usually ride first with GJM, and JM rides second, because on Fridays, it’s usually busier at 2:30 vs 1:30. And I’ve had some rough lessons with people with no ring manners in the past.

Rider 1, A, I trust very much, would do 8 lessons with her in the ring all the time. She’s super respectful, keeps her eyes up, and we rarely have issues. Plus it helps L is in love with her mare.

Rider 2, not so much. An older green rider with a horse with a major tude and a current habit of slamming on the brakes randomly and kicking out. Oh and she doesn’t really get the whole left to left thing and rarely calls where she’s going. It’s frustrating, and I usually manage to avoid it, but L and I handled it pretty well and were able to steer and avoid getting stuck or pinned. So more points to be proud of myself.

Sunday, I got to ride my favorite kid on my birthday! It’s actually kinda cool, I’m just 15 months older than L, his birthday is in May and he turns 21 this year, and I turned 22 on Sunday.

Post birthday ride snuggles

We braved the Shakey Tails on Sunday. L has some issues with saddlebreds, (termed shakey tails by JM) after being at a barn in his youth where they had all the contraptions on the horses, and the horses were loud with all their bells and whistles, and he gets a bit nervous around them. So do I, so it’s not always a great mix because it often ends with “Well she’s not driving, and I’m not driving, so who’s driving the bus???!!!” I had to mentally hype myself up and go, “Listen, if you were able to ride Friday and Saturday no problem, this will be a freaking breeze.” But while wearing ear plugs, he was perfect and I was able to breathe and work through it and both people were ridiculously respectful so it was all good.

Nothing against Shakey Tails, Lush is a Shakey Tail and I enjoy riding her when I get the chance, but Me + L +Shakey Tails doesn’t always end well for my anxiety.

We even had some really good walk canters. My favorite boarder, who is affectionately called Auntie Karen, asked me to show off and I was like, really? She was like, yeah show me what you got and I was like, okay sure. And L was like, hell yeah boom one amazing walk canter and hey, let’s do a pretty good canter walk too. I was really happy after that ride.

I could see the speech bubble: “I might be younger by one year but I am bigger than you tiny human”

I also finally got my stickers in! A girl up in New York with her canadian designed these stickers, (@iron.pony.eq on insta, please check her out, her pony Fiona is adorable!!) and I’ve been dying for a good canadian sticker, and fell in love when she posted them. I got two for me, and one for JM. One for sure is going on my car, and JM got hers, but now we’re debating throwing the third on the trailer.

Just in time for my birthday!

This was a week of conquering little anxieties and I was so pumped just to be able to deal with all the L shenanigans on Friday, everything else became a bonus. And honestly the shenanigans, there have been worse ones, but it was just how I handed my anxiety through it all made me super impressed and excited.

RDY2 WK 5-6- You Can’t Un-Feel it.

2/2-2/7

AKA My other title option was the Deplorable Word, but without the explanation, it doesn’t make a great title, but read on to find out why. Again, my life went upside down/I’ve just slacked, so you get another 2 weeker. Someone pray for my schedule and pray I make time for myself again.

Lets jump into the week. L got Monday off, I think I covered that one pretty well last week, but we’ll cover it again. Tuesday was the first day in a day off, and I told him in that ride, hey this will be the worst ride of the week!

the muppet maaannn

You know that thing where you start to tack up, and no one is there, and by the time you finish, the arena is full? Yeah that happened.

I wasn’t picky with that ride, just a casual walking ride with a tiny bit of trot. I was also limited as the arena was still set up for bad weather turn out, someone was lunging, there were standards from the temp turn out still up and L was on fritz mode. I could very much feel the want to spook and jump and bolt, but we managed it well and I got what I wanted and called it. No point poking the metaphorical bear. He was good though, and we had some wonderful impulsion so it was an okay ride.

Wednesday I had the place to myself. I ended up waiting to ride until later in the evening, just because of how helping panned out. I did WTC, but was a bit discouraged when our walk to canter and canter walks weren’t great. I knew I was missing something, but couldn’t really put my finger on what I was doing wrong. The rest of the ride was great as always, but I just really couldn’t put a finger on it.

Thursday was a bit better. We worked on getting down in the scary corners, and L had one spook which we turned into a very nice canter, and then canter leg yielded towards the scary corner. Our canter work was lovely after that too, and while the canter walks were better, I still was getting one or two trot steps before the walk.

NOSE

I told GJM the next day, when she asked how our rides have been going, we have had great rides. In fact, I can’t say exactly when my last “bad ride” was. I’m just missing things or little things need adjusting. Which she said, perfect I’m doing my job right, because if you said they’ve been perfect, then there would be no reason for me to be here right now.

Firstly, we went back to work on haunches in. I told GJM I had tried it once during the week, confused both L and myself, and ditched it entirely. I really wanted it broke down to see where I or he was going wrong. Because it could have been both of us at fault; mine for just not asking the right way, or his because he likes getting out of lateral work. Turns out it was mostly me and GJM. She ended up popping on him just to see if it was me or him, and we realized she’d given me one wrong direction, and once we fixed that, suddenly we had the movement. My biggest struggle was track left.

Track right my body easily twisted the right way to ask. Track left I just couldn’t get my shoulder back and my hip forward correctly. GJM originally had me looking over my left shoulder, but I actually got it better looking dead ahead. Once we had it down, we went to our canter walks. And boy was L ready for them. Like tense hot lets go. Then 10 minutes into that, the farrier decided to start hot shoeing, which if anyone remembers from a few weeks ago, L hates hot shoeing. So his brain started frying and I could see the sparks flying from between his ears. It was a lot of ask when he’s relaxed to canter, and even just say it to help reinforce the behavior you want, and then when coming down to walk, don’t ask until the weight has shifted to the inside hind. Which was hard to feel, and GJM told me, “his poll needs to be up just a big higher, which you need to drop the weymouth more for and feel more with the snaffle.”

Guys, I cannot tell you how it felt, only I felt it, and then suddenly I couldn’t un feel it. Like bomb, ubër collection, rocked back, on that hind inside leg, and then I’d ask for walk. GJM was super happy with the work we got, and I jokingly called it the Deplorable word, once you know it, you can never unknow it.

If I’m really referencing CS Lewis, the real Deplorable Word destroys all life and its a high cost to the user. But hey, the knowledge has destroyed all bases I previously stood on before, and now I feel like I could get on any horse and go “ew nope.” It’s a lot like when I learned to get L off his shoulder. Once I felt it, I could feel it on any horse and went “ew fix ew fix it now I don’t like, ew ew ew.”

And I honestly can say while it’s still a new feeling, I definitely could feel it the next day while schooling a lesson horse for JM, and all I could think was “ew how do I fix how do I fix?!” In short, there wasn’t much I could do to fix it on that horse because A: he doesn’t understand it, and B: also has very little stamina/strength to really sit on that back leg. It’s hard to really sit a horse down and ask them to carry on their hind legs, and it’s hard for L too, not only because he’s weaker on the left hind, but he’s also not really working at that level anymore. We school it, but he’ll never do more outside of that.

Post lesson sillies- i promise he loves me

I originally planned to give L Saturday off, but New England decided she wanted to play with the weather forecast, again. My dad already vetoed me leaving on Sunday, which sounds stupid to say to a 21 year old, but I personally was okay with it because I hate driving in the snow.

So I tacked up Saturday afternoon with the intention of just strolling around, doing a tiny bit of trot work in straight lines. NOthing major as we’d done a lot in our lesson the day before, and a lot of collection, so he deserved a good stroll out ride.

First, JM noticed my avoidance of the Magic Corner, and went “Are you avoiding it?” Thus I had to explain to her that yes, I’ve been avoiding the scary corner in my rides again, mostly on days where he feels like a powder keg, and yes my anxiety spikes now everytime his ears flip forward. So yes to the fact a 1000 pound animal has trained me to avoid a certain area of the arena.

So I spent most of my walking working on getting him in the scary corner both directions. And it was going great, so great I was ready to work at it in the trot. And then someone took their horse to their car to grab something (which I’ve done like 400 times with him), L saw it, and promptly freaked out because “THEY DISAPPEARED, ANNA WE HAVE TO GO CHECK ON THEM.” So my nice quiet ride turned into panicked horse. We had some lovely impulsion, and while it took me a few minutes to get him back with lots of changes of direction and lateral work to find the lost brain cell, he was really good.

It was cold, we cute, L is done with my shit and demands me off

Sunday I was a lump on a log. Literally. Snow days are chores/tack cleaning days normally, but I was a lump. The snow didn’t start till 10, and in all reality I could have gone and done chores, but I woke up too late.


2/8-2/15

Because I am horrible at remembering the week, Monday and Tuesday are a bit of a blur. I remember he was a bit spicy, for lack of a better term, after a day off Monday, and in an ideal world, I should have ridden Tuesday, but it was a snow day, I made it there to lunge H for JM after her injections, and planned to ride, but the ring was divided for a horse to be turned out, and some of the heavy machinery was in the ring. While I could have made it work, and lunging was fine for H, having a loose horse in half the arena didn’t seem like it would mix well with L. So he got handwalked instead.

Demons on Monday

Wednesday he was really good. GJM had suggested throwing in some canter in the warm up just to help warm up the hocks, so we started trying that. I think it really has helped, however it brings up a new problem of L thinking he can escape leg yields by cantering later in the ride as its already been warmed up. That ride we did a lot of canter leg yields. Normally, I’d bring him back, but GJM always said, if they pick the gait, they have to do the movement in the gait. So that’s what we did.

I also have almost, almost, conquered the magic corner with L. The ear plugs seriously help, so we’re going to continue with those when they’re needed, but I did walk trot in that corner with little panic on my end. The trot track right felt funky that ride, and it made me nervous, but he didn’t feel off the other direction, so I just made a note to have JM watch me on Thursday.

Thursday she watched me and went “you need more leg, you’re fine.” Yep, I’m a dope, more leg is always the answer. We had another day of “canter leg yields are easy! Wait no…”, but it was good all around, nothing to really to talk about. Okay, lies, I don’t remember what we did. I’m going off my text convo to JM after getting off and I didn’t say much so clearly not tons to talk about.

Friday was our lesson, and I started a hot mess. Guess who forgot her breeches at home, and didn’t realize it until it was almost too late, had to bolt home, get them and bolt back? Me! Most stressful hour of my life.

L was a bit stiff to start, so GJM had us doing small ten meter circles in each direction to get the neck looser. Her comments were he was tight at the base of his neck, but doing the small circles and shoulder shifting did help. In the beginning, I kinda thought it was counterintuitive to do small 10m circles, but it really helps stretch the neck and body, and then shifting the shoulders over. Then we warmed up WTC, and went to shoulder in. I felt my shoulder ins weren’t that great over the week, so we went to that first before revisting the leg yields.

First off, doing shoulder in down quarter line is much easier when you’re not avoiding the Magic Corner. GJM had us doing shoulder in to X, then straight, and then the tough exercise of last week of shoulder in left, straight, then shoulder in right. Which is very hard, but fun and once L realized we were doing that, it was easy. GJM told me it was a harder exercise, and it’s actually a precursor to half pass zig zags, which was cool to learn, but L and I won’t be doing those any time soon.

Then GJM upped it another level. We schooled the leg yield, and it was actually really good because I didn’t have to think shoulder in while leg yielding, he was pretty spot on. So our new exercise was up center line, leg yield to quarter line, shoulder in after X up the quarter line, and then an extension across the diagonal, and rinse and repeat. God it was fun, L really liked the extension across the diagonal. It was stupid fun though, clearly I’m a dressage queen if I find this all fun.

GJM was really impressed with our canter transitions overall that day too. She liked how uphill I had gotten L in the trot to canter transitions, and when we went to canter walks, it was pretty smooth and I was really getting a feel for sitting L back on his hind end. She said whatever I’d been doing during the week had been working wonders, which I’m glad, but at the same time he also had his Pentosan that morning so that probably helped too. It was an awesome lesson and I was so happy with how well he’d gone.

Saturday I popped on real fast for a chill ride. Of course, L heard me say Chill Ride, and it was not a chill ride. He spooked at a bird flying past, which should have told me he was going to be some fun. He’s been doing this thing when I go to do leg yields from quarter line to the rail, I turn the corner and he breaks into the canter. I’ve been told if he picks that gait, do the movement in it and then go to the right gait and try again. He’s been over thinking cantering left, and once I canter right, which I do first because it’s hard, he is itching to canter left. Then, I go and ask, he blows me off, I ask a tiny bit louder, and then he blasts off in some sassy fashion. Saturday, he bolted on me. Usually its a buck or a very exuberant launch into the canter. It’s something I’m definitely bringing up this Friday in my lesson.

And then, you’ll never guess who I hopped on Sunday? If you guessed Lush, you’re right!

“Peasant, we must leave, there is something that wants to eat us out there”

L had the day off, I had the time, and she was available. Her lesson/barn rat peasants have been the only ones riding her, and I haven’t had the time. She’s not in the same amount of work I had her in over the summer, but she’s doing well. We played around the indoor, she finds the magic corner magical too, and the went on a stroll. She was being weird about the big doors, so instead of being smart and trying to open the door, I rode her out the aisle. So much for being a good example for the small children and I could tell she was definitely worried about me being on her back in the aisle, but she was a good horse.

Oh and look at this super cute cookie JB made for me! She’s very into baking, and I told her she needed to make me a mini L next time she did sugar cookies, and look how cute!!

L cookies!!

L wasn’t very cooperative with photos, but his expressions make up for it.

I did end up hopping on Lush again on Monday, and poor Lush was “sharked”, much to her displeasure.

You can’t see the thought bubble with all the cuss words in it over Lush’s head

JB likes to train her horses like they will be treated in the show ring. She exposes them to a lot, and in show rings, some people are asses and like to ride up yours. JB has been meaning to do it with Lush anyways, but it’s not something done with lesson kids, so that meant it was me and it was just the perfect timing. JB rode her horse very close to Lush, and was either right beside us, or just behind us. At the beginning, Lush tried to get out of it, but then realized JB was not moving away, so she tried either slamming on the brakes or speeding up, before settling. JB’s horse oddly enough seemed to have a lot of fun doing it. Despite all of that, she was a star.

L was a powder keg pony Monday. It felt like everything and anything was setting him off. He was spooking and jumping at little things, and even did a spook and bolt at, wait for it, another horse snorting. Can you hear the eye roll in that sentence? We did get some good impulsion, and my original plan was to work on straight lines, but that got shoved to Tuesday. Lateral work takes up brain cells and that’s what I needed to do to get him back. We ended on a good note, (one really good leg yield in the hard direction,) and I made a note to mention it to JM and GJM.

Your girl also finally adulted and emailed HorseLoverz about the Mountain Horse boots, and hopefully I should be seeing a refund soon. Then, I noticed Ariat Kinsley tall boots are in short supply, so I found a pair in my size from Dover and already ordered them.

Image result for Ariat Kinsley Tall Dress Boot

So much for waiting for the refund to hit my account, but it’s hit my Paypal so hopefully it will hit my bank account soon. Dover did give me 10% off for being a USEF member, which dropped the total price from $425 to $382, so I’ll take it. Not my favorite, but hey it gets me boots under $400, which was a criteria when searching.

Is 4 pairs of tall boots too many? Or am I just obsessed and crazy?

RDY2 WK 3-4: Stupid or Dedicated?

1/19-1/24

The question of the last two weeks has been, “am I a stupid equestrian or a highly dedicated equestrian?” You let me know at the end. Normally, I try to write each summary after my rides, but the last two week I was so tired, I forgot. So here we are again doing a two weeker, with very little edits so I apologize if there are some nonsense or things that don’t make sense.

Model status

Tuesday started a little harrowing, but ended super well. A boarder lunged her horse in the beginning of my ride, and normally I’d be fine, but she was letting the horse fly around with no real direction or control. L really couldn’t have cared less, but I was incredibly nervous the horse would decide to bolt around the mounting block and hit us, or start bolting behind us. Thankfully, it was short lived, and the owner took the horse back in to tack up and I relaxed and then he relaxed.

L’s favorite weather

We had two great canter lefts in this ride! I mentioned last post about how we got this super floaty uphill relaxed canter left once the night before, and I then spent 5 minutes chasing that canter and not being able to replicate it again? Yeah got it twice in a row before we lost it again. I think its because I’m really thinking sit up and hold your hands up like a saddleseat rider. They aren’t up that high in reality, it’s visual in my head that helps keep them up. In the canter with L, my hands have to be higher to help him out, especially more tracking left vs right. I also did a crap ton of transitions to get his brain back before the canter, so I think it was the perfect combo of both.

I will be honest, I don’t have tons to write home about our trot work for the week in total because its been amazing. Sure the first few minutes are rough to get him warmed up and really in the contact and deep, but once I got him there, it is smooth sailing. Our lateral work has been awesome too. Thinking shoulder in while doing the leg yield has really helped, and the results I’m seeing just from doing the lateral work has been amazing. I’ve incorporated as much leg yielding in and off the rail as I can, especially in the walk warm up to get his brain thinking.

We struggled a bit to the right just with getting a canter walk because he was over thinking it. I did do the resets of trotting him out and starting over, but he was getting a bit tense and tight so I got one good one and called it.

Wednesday I remembered to play with haunches in, and it came much easier track right vs left. I meant to bring it up in our lesson on Sunday, but completely forgot. The canter right escalated further then the previous night, not bad escalation, but it took me longer to get a hold of his brain to get the actual transition. I ended up doing it from the trot that night, which sorta helped, but not really where I wanted to be.

Henlo yes I’d like cookie pls

Thursday L got off. We ended up pushing our lesson to Sunday because of some scheduling snags between JM, Me and GJM. I really should have given him Wednesday off, but we didn’t figure out the reschedule until after my ride, so I couldn’t have done much about it.

Friday was a bit of a powder keg day. I decided to ride right when I got to the barn at noon, mainly because it was so quiet. L had that “I’m looking for an excuse to spook” feel, not anything bad, but I could feel the energy bouncing everywhere. It wasn’t my favorite ride of the week, but it didn’t qualify as a bad ride, just a tough one. It took longer to get relaxed in the trot, and he was distracted with everything, despite it being a quieter day. Plus I was trying to avoid the door, and avoid a lot of wet spots. The barn workers toss water buckets on the arena to help with dust in the winter when we can’t do a full watering, and it does help, but can cause some slick spots and I didn’t want L slipping. It made our circles weird and cantering pretty hard to avoid those spots.

I did the “lets get a canter each direction and call it quits”. We did get to walk up the driveway a few times, which I enjoyed. It took us a few minutes to get the gate open because L would dance away the moment I leaned over to slide the board open.

Saturday was busy AF. I was JM’s groom for her lessons, as this was her first Saturday back to semi normal lessons. I ran a few horses, lunged one, rode another pre lesson, and lunged H for her. Then, off to my first off property massage in at least 6 months, spent some time catching up with an old friend at that barn, and then headed back to ride L.

The doors were closed, which made it a bit harder as L has some issues with closed doors that float or rattle from previous barns. Because of that, we couldn’t work as well at that end, at least as well as I wanted. If more people were at the barn at that hour, I would have, but I was riding solo and just didn’t want to chance it. We had some serious blue screen of death at those right canter transitions. I tried to push him out of it, but he wasn’t resetting like he normally would. So I decided to do play with simple changes through the middle to just do something different, and then quit when he realized what I was doing and started doing it before I asked.

Sunday is where you get to decide if I am crazy, or badass dedicated. I’m still not sure myself, but leaning towards dedicated.

I woke up and the temp was 18, and the feels like was 1 degree with a pretty constant 16 mph wind. Here’s the thing, in New England, I grew up with the ideal if it was below 15, don’t ride, it’s just not worth it. However, things like how in shape your horse is, if you’re riding in an indoor or outdoor, what their used to, that changes it. If L had just come from Florida or was out of work, I probably wouldn’t think to ride him. But he’s a New England horse, in pretty good shape working regularly and in an indoor out of the wind, which made the temperatures a bit more bearable, so we were good.

By the time our actual lessons rolled around, the temp was 27, which is a lot closer to what L and I have been working in at night over the past few weeks.

Pre Lesson in cold temps

JM and I did chores to keep warm and because literally no one was there by the time we finished, we were able to work the arena. JM scraped the footing from the walls with the tractor bucket and then I dragged it as much as I could without over doing it. It was nice not only to fix some of the really over ridden spots, but be the only ones to ride in the arena after we fixed it. Hell, it was nice to have a whole afternoon of an empty barn.

Our lesson was freaking awesome. I brought up the shoulder shifting and L not fully bending right when I changed directions, and we worked on that. GJM had me doing 20m circles, leg yielding away, straighten a step, and then leg yield to my new direction, all while dropping my inside rein in the turn itself. It felt counterintuitive, but it really helped. GJM was really impressed with how quickly we were able to fix it, and she said our lateral work definitely had improved from last week when we went to work on that next.

Then the canter transition from the walk. GJM first just wanted to see what we had, and how I normally worked through it. Immediately picking up the reins, L was tight and doing his angry little piaffe in place. I explained normally I’d trot him out, but when I’d try to come back to it, he’d do it again. First we worked on getting him to stop blocking me on the inside aids. I didn’t even notice it at first, but once she pointed it out, it was clear as day. To fix this, we did a small circle to refocus and get him to give to inside aids, and try again. This, combined with the wind, and the ever crushing “ohmygodwhenwillsheaskmeshemightaskmehereimnotreadyomgomgomg”, it took a little while to get the canter.

And once GJM watched, we took it all the way back to relaxed and easy. She had me drop the weymouth rein a bit, her thoughts were I had him a bit too tight, which she didn’t blame me for because thats a natural reaction when he would get tight and tense, get a better grip in case of spook. Then, we broke it down and gently asked for the canter with the voice and very little leg aids, just to get a very relaxed transition with no drama. Once we had that a few times, we took a walk break and L was quite relaxed.

And then the wind blew and rattled stuff. The relaxation spell was broken and we went back to square one.

We did circles when I lost his attention, he came up in the neck, or got tight and blocked me out. At one point we were doing donuts or leg yields for what felt like forever. Once I had a relaxed L, the moment I had it, GJM had me pick up the canter from the walk, do one circle, and then do a canter walk. It was hard in the sense of picking the right moments to ask for the canter, but it went really well. We did a lot better doing canter walks one way vs the other, for some reason I can’t remember which right now, but it was the same issue we have with shoulder in and the tiny stutter step we sometimes get, which GJM points out to just general weakness and lack of strength.

BUT! GJM said again, this is the best she’s seem him look weight wise and in work, so I’m really glad, and we got high praises from JM too, which always make me feel so much better because I tend to overthink.

Post lesson sillies

We got on the topic of overthinking and tension in cool out, and GJM noted L and I were a mirror of each other sometimes, we both overthought and we fed off each others tension. She drew a comparison with her two horses, and how they both were similar to different parts of her, one spooked if people were around, and the other spooked if people weren’t, which showed to her introverted and extroverted sides. Which made me think about L and our similarities.

He tends to spook at the unexpected with me, more so when it involves people. I tend to hate the unexpected, and especially when it involves people.

I really don’t trust people, or at least many people, when I’m riding. I wait for someone to ride up my ass or to cut me off or let their horses bolt around. I’ve watched too many close calls, or been in too many, and it just sets my anxiety off. I always flashback to when one of the barn rats was flying around on a saddlebred with no steering, and he was hot and loud and running, and I panicked and L panicked and L went “She’s not driving, and I can’t drive, so WHOS DRIVING THE BUS!?”. That was an embarrassing moment because I ended up crying my eyes out in the middle of the ring while that rider (a 13 yo btw, and I’m the experienced 21 yo) finished their ride.

Our worst spooks come from when people startle him (people walking out a door right beside the arena without announcing it), or something completely out of left field happens ( snow falling off the roof). He overthinks simple things sometimes, just like I do, and his angry piaffe is literally just like my brain short circuiting and getting stuck on one thing and going in little panicked donuts until someone shakes me out of it.

This is the first time I’ve really been able to draw those comparisons and realize how much of a mirror he is to me, and realized I haven’t had a horse like that in a while that I’ve been able to connect with like that, not since my high school days with my first lease mare Tawny.

1/25-2/1

On Monday, L got the day off. I was pretty happy to just go, hang and leave, and it was really good to take a break after such a good ride.

Tuesday we did some playing with the leg yields again, and I got to ride with a buddy! I rarely ride with friends, and my favorite adult leaser, AH, was riding later due to some horse shuffling. We even had a few unintentional drill team moments. I tend to ride alone, due to when I ride, the amount of lateral work I end up doing, and the fact that I just like riding alone with my anxiety, but it was really nice to ride with a friend.

L was awesome for a day after a day off. The leg yielding felt really good, and we went back to doing shoulder ins on straight lines off the rail to change it up. We also practiced a bit with the relaxed canter departs from the walk. It took a few minutes for him to relax and for me to relax, because shocker, your horse reads your tension, but we had some really nice moments. I will admit, I did more tiny circles to unblock the shoulders and reset instead of loosening my reins like I really should have started with, but I wasn’t a huge fan of giving him tons of rein while there were other riders in the ring. One of the riders who came in mid ride tends to be really unpredictable with her mare, so I wasn’t totally feeling comfy letting go and loosing the little bit of control in case the mare decided to have fun.

I found out that night we had to move our lesson again. Friday’s forecasted temps had plummeted into the teens, and while I originally thought I’d be game, GJM wasn’t too keen to teach for two hours in those temps. Which I didn’t blame her for at all. So my game plan for the week changed.

We worked Wednesday as well, and due to a early snow day, my boss let me go at noon, so I got to the barn much earlier then I normally would. I rode around 2:30, which was a bit weird for both of us. However, we did okay. I mostly worked on the trot quality and played with my leg yields again. I talk about them so much, but they work really well to help L get deeper in the contact and he just gets so much more moveable after some good leg yields. The canter work was a bit stressful, just due to the time of day and what was going on, so I got what I wanted and got out. No reason to go ham when I was working against his anxiety with all that was going on.

Thursday was the last day before it went stupid cold. I got there in the afternoon, and tacked up. The temp was supposed to drop fast after 5pm, which is normally when I’d ride. So I had no choice but to ride right when I got there.

It was busy for a Thursday, but we had a really good ride. L was a bit snorty with the big doors closed, but with the driving wind, I was happy they were closed. Getting him deep enough in the trot was hard and took most of my ride. Again, it was busy and he got a bit distracted, so my worry was just keeping his attention for most of the ride. The canter was really hard, he got super tight and overthinking and stressed. I made the decision to drop my reins a few inches, and it literally fixed everything, so I was smacking myself over the head for not trying that first. It ended well, and I was more then happy with what we got and the little breakthroughs I had.

Friday I spent at home cleaning tack. It really was too cold, and by the time I would have gotten to the barn, JM would have been gone so it wasn’t worth it to even go.

Saturday was another cold day. It was under 15 for the morning, so we whipped through chores and were done by 10:30. I broke out ski pants, and while I felt silly with the constant swish swish swish, I was stupid warm doing stalls. Once we finished, literally everyone left and L and I walked. Yes, I rode. I think I was stupid this day, but by the time I tacked up and was on, it was 20 degrees out, and a tad bit warmer in the indoor. I wanted to WT, but parts of the indoor were frozen and it just wasn’t worth it to try and trot.

He was a bit snorty and up, partly because no one was there I think, and the other half was it was cold. I tried to use leg yielding as a distraction/usage of his singular brain cell. Well, leg yields are now ridiculously easy to him, or at least easier enough that it doesn’t use up all his brain cell. So I found something harder, and we went to haunches in. And then I really had control of his singular brain cell as it really fried the circuits and took up the whole brain cell. We were getting it to the right, ish. To the left, I’d put my leg back, and instead of the hind end moving, L would perform a turn on the forehand.

So, we decided to be insane dedicated on Sunday. It was maybe 22 when I got on at 11 for my lesson. Again, called insane by everyone present. I threw L’s earplugs in just because of the amount of work still going on, I’d rather have him focused in instead of being all over the place.

Ya’ll, it was another amazing lesson.

I mentioned the haunches in thing first, so thats where we started. I was a bit lost to start doing it, but we worked through the kinks, and any kind of sideways movement to the left was rewarded. If he got confused, we’d quit and go straight. If we got it, and he lost it, we’d do a ten meter circle and start over. GJM had us taking them off the rail too, which helped make it a bit easier. The part that made my brain explode was, “his shoulders need to be straight, or else you’re just doing a leg yield.” It was a big ah-ha moment of, oooh shoulder in and leg yield you need angled shoulders, and here its angled ass. Gotcha. It went a lot easier after that.

We took a break from haunches in and went to trot work, and GJM was really happy with how our leg yielding was going. We tweaked a few little things, and moved into shoulder in. First we were doing straight lines up the quarter line, and then did shoulder in up the quarter line. The straight lines were a little difficult, but GJM said we did good and I was spot on when we weren’t straight. I really wish we had mirrors at the end of the indoor so I could see, but again, beggars cant be choosers.

GJM gave me this evil grin after we did our shoulder ins, and went “Okay lets get challenging.” First was shoulder in to X, then go straight. We did pretty good at that, and then she said, “Shoulder in right to X, then go straight a stride, then shoulder in left.”

Damn, it was hard. It was harder to swap to the other shoulder in, and GJM had us do a 10m circle to reset and remind L what direction I wanted his shoulders in. The biggest problem was I ran out of real estate and suddenly I’d be at X before I realized it. I really wish I was more comfortable in the outdoor, but that’s a project for the summer I guess.

We went to our walk canters next, and GJM said there was a lot of improvement there. The struggle is picking the just right moment to ask, where he’s relaxed, we also weren’t going downhill, and then not wait too long either to ask. That was something I really had to think about was where I was going and if I could ask going uphill. GJM had us asking out of 10 meter circles too, which helped get the canter depart more uphill. She was impressed with our canter walks too, there’s no longer any trot steps in between the canter and the walk to the right. The left remains our best direction still, and GJM suggested slowing everything down with my seat and really planning out the canter walk when doing it right. I still was struggling a bit with it, but still improvements from last week.

Then we went back to haunches in, just to torture L’s brain a bit more. It was a hell of a lot easier off the rail on the quarter line, and at the trot too. L’s brain was occupied just enough at the trot to think about continuing to trot that he couldn’t overthink the movement so it worked a lot better. Overall, it was a fabulous lesson and I’m really happy with how we both are progressing. I talked about evaluating if we could swap to the snaffle bridle sometime after my birthday, and i might bring it up with GJM next lesson and see what she thinks.

Post lesson selfies

Monday he got the day off, and it was a snow day full of tack cleaning for me.

All in all, despite the crazy cold temps, we did well and it was a good two weeks. This week is already looking a lot better, mostly high 30s and low 40s, so no more snow pants for me!

RDY2 WK 2: Boots and Selfies

1/11-1/18

Well, this week already wasn’t going great on a personal note, something I just won’t get into, but it was enough to dissuade me from riding Monday night. I am proud of myself for realizing I wasn’t present enough to ride L, and ride him as he should be. I’d rather take a day off then subject him to a ride where I might be too harsh because something in my personal life is going wrong. So he got a poptart and a snuggle and that was it for Monday.

Tuesday I had to ride. We have our lesson Friday, and two days off would make Wednesday worse. Plus, the fitter finally came, and fixed L’s saddle. It needed just a tad more flocking in some places and we needed more padding on the saddle rack, but it was a quick fix. It felt much better when I rode in it, but I was nervous as he was extra girthy when I did up the girth. We had a few meh moments, and a tiny bit of a stutter step tracking right, but we just walked and trotted a tad before I called it quits. I moved him and that was all that mattered to me.

Wednesday I asked JM for a quick lesson just to make sure he was going well, the saddle wasn’t hindering anything and we were on the right track.

The first thing JM said to me after our first trot set was, “I have no idea where this stutter step thing is you mentioned, he looks awesome.” Her opinion of the little stutter step is L is faking me out, and not getting deep enough in our warm up, so he’s not fully carrying himself either. So more leg and deeper horse. Her second comment was I’m not using the mirrors enough.

We use the mirrors a lot….. just not for their intended purpose

Of course, beggars can’t be choosers in this life, and the fact that we have mirrors is a big deal. Ideally it would be nice to have them at both ends of the arena and one as well as being on one side, but again, beggars can’t be choosers. I definitely struggle to utilize them, so it’s something I definitely need to work on. I think I might start using my Pivo again now that my phone situation and storage problem is sorted. I’m a little hesitant to do so because the last few times I’ve tried using the Pivo with L, we have horrible rides when the camera is up.

I mentioned working on our medium trot JM had us doing it across the long side and I really have to do them more in my rides. L looves literally any chance to go, and its a bit hard to get him back after the mediums because he gets trucking, but it’s way too much fun not to play with them. We did some walk to canters again, and to the right he was doing his angsty tense piaffe, which JM advised when I get those, just reset the brain and trot out a bit before trying again.

(Note, GJM keeps calling them extensions but in reality we’re really doing medium trots because extended trot isn’t until third and seeing as we will not be going back to that level of work I think it’s actually a medium but anywho,)

Thrusday was a late night ride. Like late late night. Usually I’m on by 4:45-5 ish, and off by 6-6:30. I had a massage that afternoon, so I didn’t get on till 6 and wasn’t off until 6:50. The cutest thing was L was ready for me to take him out when I went to grab him, and nickered as I did so and I think my heart grew like 8 sizes. I’d like to think he looks forward to our late night rides now, and he seemed quite happy to hang with me.

I switched it up in the type of music I played this ride, which I think helped too. I’ve been trying to think of more ways to be present in my riding when I ride on my own, and while listening to music is nice, mid-ride I tend to block it out and zone into the work. Then when I walk, all I think about is the song, memories with the song, singing the lyrics, and my brain spirals away from me. Which is not a great place for it to be once I pick up the reins. So it’s been movie soundtracks for the last week and so far it’s gone really well. I still spend my walk breaks thinking too much, but now it’s more about the soundtrack than life.

Friday was our lesson and it was awesome!! Like the best leg yields we’ve ever done to date. Originally, we were supposed to work on haunches-in. GJM shifted focus when we realized I had no half-halt in the first five minutes, and then somehow we got onto leg yields again and stayed there.

L also decided to throw out two very tempi changes when he decided something was incredibly scary and did a turn and spook. It gave me the impulsion GJM was ironically looking for, and as I brought him around she went “did you know you just did two tempi changes?” And I was like “Nope and we are not doing an encore!”

We worked on the leg yield by doing shoulder in up centerline, and then once I had that good, leg yielding out. If he either blew off my half halt like he loves to do, it was throw in a walk transition, pick the trot back up and do it again. GJM was looking for good hind crossing action more in this ride than we normally go for, but I wasn’t going to complain. We had one very sassy “how dare you get after me!?” Moments from L, but otherwise very good.

Then we blew his brain up. I think GJM enjoys making L’s brain explode a bit. After some very good leg yields, she had us doing shoulder in at the walk on a circle to canter, then shoulder in to walk. He did really well to the left, which wasn’t a surprise. GJM was reminding me to keep his poll higher in the canter, and keep my hands up and elbows level. Which was hard and it’s harder work for him, but we saved it.

Look! Rare media of my lesson!!

He got his hypothetical panties in a bunch to the right. I’d ask for shoulder in, and he wouldn’t accept my leg, and assume any leg pressure meant I just wanted a walk canter as was, and launch into the canter. I had to reset his brain and try again before we got two beautiful walk canters. Our canter walls aren’t as beautiful but they’re getting there.

Friday, my mountain horse boots finally came!

First things first. Nothing, and I mean nothing prepped me for how stiff these would be. I’ve cleaned JM’s boots before, and yes I know these boots are supposed to be stiff. It was a major culture/sensory/leg shock to wear them and the jump from field boots to dressage boots felt intense. I mean I struggled to get up off the floor with just one boot on, and almost tripped twice just walking from the kitchen to the full-length mirror in the spare room. And holy hell is it a different feel than field boots. Even riding in my field boots after wearing the dressage boots for five minutes felt weird and unsupported.

Second thing, I was highly impressed with the packaging and what came with the boots. Not only did they come with inflatable boot trees, but they also came with heel risers and! A boot bag!! Like color me impressed, Ariat didn’t give me any of that when I got my last pair of boots. So Mountain Horse, you definitely have a fan.

After wearing them for five minutes, they put too much pressure on the tops of my ankles and while they still have to drop, I’m worried it will put more stress and pressure on the top of my ankle bone and just not be comfy. I also didn’t realize it until later, but I have bruises all over my knees and tops of my calves just after a grand total of 10 minutes of wearing, so, back they will go. Which is depressing because I wanted them to work so badly.

My current problem is I’d love to go boot shopping in person with JM for her opinions, however she can’t go anywhere with her immune restrictions so, I’m SOL. My options are A; wait for numbers to go down and try to go with her, B; keep ordering online and hope for the best, or C; just go to my local guy or Dover and have someone who knows what they’re doing fit me. I’m going to give online boot shopping one more go, and it will be the Ariat Kinsely boots. I know for a fact Ariats fit me and fit me well, so we’ll start there.

And Smartpak has very good returns unlike this company where I’m paying to ship them back. If there really is an issue with returning and SmartPak, I have no problem marching my little butt up to Natick to return them in person, or even march them to their headquarters, which is only 25 mins from my barn. (and tbh buy some stuff at Smartpak, I’m so spoiled with the only Smartpak store being an hour from me).

Saturday I was planning to give L the day, but because it poured, we worked instead. I played with the medium trot again, and while it wasn’t my favorite ride ever, we had fun and there was no real issues. My biggest issue was getting him back after the medium trot, he just wanted to truck after that and kept blowing my half halts so we had to throw in a few trot walk trots.

Sunday he had off, and I helped do barn chores and start fencing in the inner paddocks on the track. I was trusted with the mini chainsaw, which everyone was very nervous handing me, but I was efficient with it. Until I cut a tree wrong and it ended up landing on my back, whoops.

Sarg is coming for L’s title as selfie king

Monday I spent all day at the barn, and helped with chores and ran horses for JM. I would have ridden earlier in the day, btu because of the holiday it was crazy. We had our regular late night ride, and guys, it was probably the best ride after a day off ever. I threw the shoulder in to leg yield exercise, and while they weren’t the best ones ever it helped him get deeper in the connection and more thorough. We had the most amazing left lead canter too, I really can’t tell you what I did to get it, but it felt pretty uphill and relaxed and smooth. And then I tried to replicate it, and couldn’t. Which is usually how it goes but I was able to get it Tuesday evening again, so time to just figure out what the hell I’m doing right and replicate it to the right.

Also, cantering L to Pirate of the Caribbean music? A literal chef kiss moment. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more powerful cantering in my whole life.

I apologize for this being late, its been rough on the personal front which maybe I’ll cover later, but I’m just incredibly glad I have L to make my days better.

Are goals even a thing in 2021?

Some people have made loose goals for their 2021, and on the same vein, I think I will be setting a goal theme for the year instead specific of goals. If it were a normal year, I’d want to make an overall goals and a “the next three-four months goals” list. It is already not looking like it will be a normal year, so I don’t think I’ll be making such attempts at either.

The overall year theme I’ve discovered writing this post seems to be confidence. Confidence in my writing, confidence in my riding, and confidence in my skills.

For L and I, besides confidence, our theme is to just to keep on keepin on. In an ideal world, we’d swap back to the snaffle around April, and do a few casual shows this summer. I’d love to explore more of the dressage seat equitation classes and see if any shows around us offer them. But right now I have no expectations of 2021, and my only goals is to ride L better than I did last year.

We love the double, and he goes so much better in it, but first level does not approve.

I’m wanting to work on my massage business still this year, but COVID is keeping me pretty local. Mass’s numbers are sky high right now, and I have no desire to visit other barns currently, so it might be another year of learning. Books, online courses and just rolling through and confidence in my skills. As my human therapist said to me the other day, I cannot waste a kick ass logo like mine, so time to get to work there.

On a personal note, creating and confidence in what I create is a major theme.

I have rediscovered my outlet and for the first time since middle school I feel like I have some semblance of time and energy to dedicate to writing. Well time that’s not spent either working, riding, or passed out because I’m exhausted from one or the other. I’ve been more active writing here, or at least it feels like it. I have more drafts then usual but hey, writing is writing. Plus I’ve dove back into my fictional writing, and maybe if I can convince my younger brother to buy my ipad off of me, I can use the funds and buy a newer one and get back to some digital art.

Blog wise? Post more than just RDs. Maybe some more thoughts or blog hops, or reviews (requires money to purchase items to review but hey we’ll get there.). I have talked about wanting to do my massage Monday’s for a while, so maybe it’s time I work on that.

I do have one solid personal goal this year, and that is to move out on my own. A few personal incidents over the last few weeks have made it abundantly clear that I need to move out, and soon. Which sucks, but it’s time. Now just to find a place that A is in my budget and commute range, and B, allows a pet snake.

Maybe 2021 blog theme is 100 posts

What are your themes/goals for the year, or have you sworn off them completely to avoid any shenanigans from 2021?

RDY2 WK 1: Mama Mia, Here We Go Again.

1/4-1/11

Well, um Hi 2021. Did you learn some tricks from 2020?? Definitely should have lunged 2021 longer. There’s a horse loose in the hospital, and now it’s smashing everything it can reach on its way out. (If you get this reference, I love you.)

While the first week of the year was rough nationally and on the political stage, it was a little less rough in my little corner of the world, so let’s get into it. Also, this is probs the most I’ve written for an RD in a while? So apologies, it’s long, and the title really doesn’t tie into the whole thing, but hey, I can’t think of anything better for the week other then this.

Monday and Tuesday I spent working with L on just getting him to move out and stretch.

I had JM watch us Monday after Sunday’s disaster of a ride, and her opinion was he was just bound up and stuck in typical draft horse fashion, and needed to really get him moving out and forward. Again, factor in busy Sunday, we were both tight and sore, and it was a day after a day off? The perfect recipe for a bad ride and nothing we could have done would have fixed it.

So I threw everything about collection, bending, and lateral out the window, and focused on straight lines and lots of forward. L felt a lot better after two rounds of trotting like that, and then I threw in a very light set of cantering, and other than the occasional help so he wouldn’t fall on his face, I left him alone and let him move out. Our transitions into canter were not our prettiest, and there was a lot more running into it than I would have liked, but I was not going to get picky.

A floofster, eyeing the scary corner

We rinsed and repeated on Tuesday to be sure we were all good. The super nice thing was I was able to WT in the scary corners without much anxiety doing this. I just focused on forward and moving out and not thinking about the monsters ready to jump out. Sure we could have cantered on the corners, but I cut both short sides while cantering just because I was working on cantering without helping, and turning early helped him not fall on his face in the downhill areas.

L also made an unscheduled visit to the little barn; he was curious and I indulged. I don’t think he’s ever been in the little barn. Ballerina Shoes clomped his way in at 6pm with his draft feet and studs, and woke everyone up. Lush was not happy with his intrusion, and Dede thought he was hot stuff. He did meet Cruz, the blind pony, which was adorable.

“Look! It’s almost a mini me!”

Wednesday was a bit of a mix. I warmed up with a lot looser of a connection, and wasn’t as fussy with getting him low and deep. Once I’d done that, I went back to the deeper rounder horse. L very much liked our relaxed, no real collection work, and was a bit reluctant to go into it. I quickly discovered I needed more leg by complete accident. L spooked at, get this, a horse pooping.

Yep you read that right.

We were tracking left past the temp stall in the indoor, and the mare who occupies this stall, also his turnout girlfriend, made a very ploppy pile as we passed her and the scary door. L decided it would be better to spook left to save both our asses from the monster, and I turned it into a nice 20-meter canter circle while crying laughing at him. Only L.

The rest of the ride was so much better, which told me I needed more impulsion and drive, and L helped provide that. We cantered both directions, and I was really happy with him cantering right as I asked him to pick it up on the rail and canter the whole ring while a horse lunged, something I don’t often do. He was a perfect gentleman, so I called it early.

God he’s lucky he’s so cute

Thursday I didn’t go to the barn, I had an appointment in the early afternoon, and I needed my car inspected, so that took up my afternoon. L needed the day off too so it worked out well.

Friday was fun. I was actually very proud of myself for my ride on Friday. Sure the quality was not where I really wanted it to be, but I was able to salvage a stressful moment into a nice one. L was a bit on edge for the first half of our ride, and I could feel him really trying to find some excuse to spook. There was some work being done outside on a run-in shed, and he kept trying to do something with the banging. I was able to focus him back in and made it work until someone dropped something large and metal on the concrete, and L had an externally assisted canter depart left. I made it into a very nice canter circle and worked through it. After, we of course had lovely impulsion, and I was happy to get a few nice canter transitions out of it. And then I swapped directions and he had a mini tension meltdown and started ignoring my half halts. It got worse when a buddy left the ring, and he was panicking and “OMG the monster will get him too!!”

Hello?! Cookie!!???!

Normally, I’d start panicking, and just drop everything and be done to avoid a fallout or over drilling. I hadn’t cantered to the right yet and I was determined to get it. So it was a handful of trot-walk-trots or trot-halt-trots, and leg yield to the scary distracting doors. Once I felt like he’d relaxed a bit, I asked for the canter and got a very sassy depart, but it was good quality so I left it as is, trotted, and called it quits.

Ironically, we usually have our GJM lessons on Friday, but do to some scheduling, we bumped it to Saturday. Of course, the barn was a literal ghost town from 12-3:30. I joked to JM while we rode that we’d have a full house during our lessons on Saturday now, and if we’d had our lessons like normal, it would be crazy.

Sith Lord L

Saturday was a whirlwind. JM and I packed up at 7am to go pick up a small load of hay for holdover while waiting for the load that supplier would be bringing the next day. Dearest reader, it was the weirdest adventure of our lives.

It was an old dairy farm, but the owners had since stopped producing dairy cows and switched to beef, and the barn at the front of the property was literally half-collapsed. Of course, it was a rural New England farm, with old stone walls, and happened to be quite a dreary overcast morning, so it really felt like we’d stepped into a horror film just waiting to start. JM said it was like we wandered into Wrong Turn, and were about to start a B-rated horror film. We both joked later we were waiting for the chained dog with the spiked collar to show up. No such thing did happen, though there was a turkey and I remained in the truck while a turkey roamed free. I do not like turkeys or geese, especially when they are free to roam and make bird decisions. We did end up waiting a bit, but it ended well and we left with a truckload of hay.

After unloading the hay, doing chores, and having lunch, it was finally lesson time. Guys, I was so pumped for my lesson for the first time in a few weeks, and I was crossing my fingers it would be a shenanigans free lesson. Even JM was crossing her fingers for me, and we narrowly avoided some craziness. One of the boarders brought her mounted archery set, and while I’ve been dying to try it, she was doing it out in the outdoor and a few stray arrows hit the barn during JM’s lesson, and I was glad I asked her to go first.

Other than the usual, L had a few, FU moments but they were minor compared to the shenanigans of last week.

We worked on L’s focus, and when he would get distracted. GJM said to me, “He gets nervous, and what you need to do is grab his anxiety by its balls and deal with it, because when you tip toe around it, he starts to think his anxiety is something real to worry about.” Her solution to his distractions and the powder keg days was to give him something harder to work about instead of the possibly spooky thing. JM and GJM always have described lateral work as L’s Calculus, so we gave him so calculus to think about first. And holy hell it worked like a charm. Any time he looked or felt distracted, it was turn and leg yield. Once we had that down, GJM had us leg yield off the rail, and then back onto it. As GJM said to JM when she came back to watch, “Lets make his brain explode.” And oh my gosh did his head explode. At one point I was aksing with my leg as far back as possible to show him, yes move to the inside when I ask, no I’m not insane. We got one angsty half piaffe the first few times, but he was listening nad after a few tries, we got it down. Sure they weren’t great, but he was moving to the inside.

His mane is sooo preeetttyyyy

Then we swapped to a little bit of shoulder ins, which GJM said, “I’d tell you to do more but these look amazing so lets go on to something else.” We went and played with extensions, which I’m still getting used to, but L loves them. I really need to add those back into my rides every now and then. Finally we ended on haunches in, which were a lot harder. We haven’t done them in months, and it really makes my brain hurt to do them. Not only is it half halt, and shift your weight to the inside leg, but its also remembering to ask with my outside leg and yikes its a lot. I felt like I was barely doing it right and we only got to B/E before we’d loose it, but GJM said it looked good.

We didn’t do as much canter work as I thought we would, but it was a very good lesson.

Sunday I popped over late morning, and pulled L out. He was impatient, so I was a bit apprehensive, but on we got. I worked on the same, lets give L calculus if he gets distracted, but otherwise straight. Well, it was a busy morning so there was lots of leg yielding, but it was good leg yielding. He felt good, and at one point I was just asking for a small leg yield before asking for a trot extension, and he gave me a canter transition. So we leg yielded in the canter. And then I brought him back, and we got a perfect to me extension, and that was it. I didn’t want to push, and I knew I’d pressed a few irritated buttons with a lot of leg yielding, so we called it and went for a leisurely stroll up the driveway. L was happy to stroll, and visited with some of his friends before wandering back to the barn.

Casual Sunday rides with the cutest man

I also made more molasses treats this week, which was a weird flop and success? The video I was going off of on Youtube suddenly disappeared, so I had to find another video, which had totally different ratios and created a less dough-ey dough. Think creamed butter consistency, not dough. So I had to chuck in flour until it thickened to a dough consistency, and in doing that, I think I basically tripled the original recipe without realizing it.

It’s just flour, molasses and a very small dash of cinnamon, which I wonder if anyone else has issues or concerns with this recipe, aside from cinnamon testing. I only see similar recipes on youtube, and all other similar style ones online have other items added and come with a shelf life? So if there is something wrong with any of those three ingredients someone let me know. Regardless, it made 70 little silver dollar sized circles, and a large handful of poptarts, I forgot to count. The icing went better a lot this time, however they did not look this pretty by the time they hit the barn.

Pony poptarts! They loved their giant poptarts and ate them in one bite

L and H both devoured their two large poptarts, regardless of pretty decorating, so it’s safe to say they love them. I made a care package of the extras for a boarder who’s horse was obsessed with them when I made them for Christmas. I might as well start a side baking business of horse cookies just for those three horses. Now to find a good sugar free recipe.

We’ve also been riding with a towel under our saddle again. In our last GJM lesson, she noticed my leg was farther forward then normal, something I’d weirdly noticed the night before but thought maybe I was just insane. She had me get off, and we realized L’s saddle was dropping just the smallest amount in back, nothing huge but just enough to throw my equitation and seat off. So towel went on, and instantly my eq was back.

I noticed over the weekend and the last few rides, my foot winging has been less at the walk. I look down and my toe is in line with my knee, which is huge to me. It could just be the perfect mix, but I am really crossing my fingers if I use dressage boots with the saddle like that, my foot winging will completely go away.

JM contacted the fitter this past Monday to make an appointment. Turns out he’d mentioned the saddle might need to be rechecked in 6 months, and we’re just on the 6 month mark since the last time it was redone in July. The fitter is coming Tuesday, which I cannot wait for, so hopefully that will be a correct fix.

I also have to share my text exchanges with JM because they are becoming increasingly hilarious. Most nights she heads home before I get off L, and wants an update when I get off, mostly because I ride alone. These are some of my favorites I’ve sent this week.

What he was doing while I was texting his mother

I am still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my tall boots. The company, HorseLoverz, did say it was at least 4 business days from the order date to ship, and the estimated arrival window is Jan 8th-14th. I’m not close to my “where are my boots???” email, but it has officially been a week since I ordered them and there has been no movement, and if there was, they have yet to update me.

Fun item of the week, I found this sweater (on TikTok of all places), which is literally my whole self. I’ve sent it now to my mother and sister and said “I need it ASAP and hey, my birthday is coming up too”. This one is out of stock, but there are some cute ones on Etsy as well.

RD WK 52: The last RD of 2020

12/29/2020-1/4/2021

So there were a few weeks I mashed together, but guys, I did the whole year. 52 whole weeks of riding diaries summarized on this blog. I went back the other day and reread some of my posts from pre covid and wow.

I started this blog to be my riding journals. JM has always encouraged me to journal my rides, but I struggled so hard with keeping a physical book. My handwriting is absolutely horrific, so I started this blog instead, and I’m glad I did. I can throw videos and pictures in, and it’s been fun to just throw all my thoughts down, and look back and see how much I’ve grown and changed In a way writing riding diaries helped me keep track of my progress, but writing these has forced me to look at my rides positively.

I struggle hardcore with negative thoughts, and it definitely shows in my earlier Riding Diaries. It forces me to really pick out the good moments in my rides, even if I think they’re horrible. It’s helped change my mindset while riding, and riding L has really helped me change it all.

Sure I have my really bad rides, and some weeks they feel like it’s bad ride after bad ride, but I’ve gotten so much better at trying to stay positive.

Without further ado, the last Riding Diary of 2020. Thank the all the deities and higher beings 2020 is over, and while coronavirus didn’t magically disappear on January 1st, maybe we’ll leave some of this bad juju in 2020.

Tuesday was a day off for L. I wasn’t feeling too hot and I could tell it just wasn’t going to end well.

Wednesday I still wasn’t feeling great (not covid, cramps related to lady issues) but we had our lesson Friday so it was a must.

I said the famous last words, “let’s have an easy ride!” Dearest reader, it was not an easy ride. I decided to walk trot and do lateral work. L thought leg yielding at the canter would be easier then the trot. He was wrong. After a few canter leg yields, he realized it was much easier at the trot so we went back to that. Our canter work was very nice after all of that so I was pretty happy with it and called it.

Thursday we had the place to ourselves. I procrastinated riding, waiting until the ring was empty which took a while and I was glad I did because the BMC was holding court and it was a madhouse in the indoor when I got there.

New Years date

I could have pushed it and asked for more, but I was riding solo with no one else in the barn, so it was a quiet, lets just get what we can get and not push. He was really blowing through my outside rein, so I made a mental note about that.

Friday, I had super rare form L. I’ve only seen it one other time before, but L hates hot shoeing. Something about it just doesnt sit well with him, and if he even smells it, he gets set off. I had no idea the farrier who was there was even hot shoeing until I could smell it, and by then it was too late.

Thankfully, GJM showed up moments later, and we immediately went to work. It was a lot of shoulder shifting, and turning in 10m circles in different directions to start to get the shoulders moving. She asked me to turn him when I’d lose his attention, and when I had it, let everything relax, so he realized when I had his focus, work was easier. Once I had it semi mastered at the walk, we moved up to trot. And just kept doing small circles, and slowly working our way to bigger circles and then closer to the door, where the farrier truck was in view. It took the whole first half of my lesson to get him dialed back in, and focused, and it was a hard first half, but we handled it.

The aftermath of the shenanigans.

The second half was focused on the shoulder shimmy (as it has been coined) and getting L into the corner that I hate. L has trained me to avoid down by A. He spooks a lot in the corner tracking left as its a blind spot and he cant see whats coming out of the barn towards the porta potty, and he tends to be very distracted tracking right because now he can see out the doors and wants to look. So I tend to avoid it with the excuse of “Oh I leg yield over.” I don’t let yield over, he has me trained good, so good the moment his ears are off me or the work, I panic.

GJM had us doing an exercise where she had me pushing him into the corners, a lot of inside aids in the corners, straighten, shoulder in down the long side, straighten, and then inside aid into the next corner. It worked really well in helping me keep him focused and deep in the corners. Then we moved to the canter, and GJM had me canter a smaller circle, working on a soft transition and just working in that scary area. She said we had the best canter she’s seen us do to the left. To the right, we did some shoulder shifting to the inside and to the outside really quickly before cantering and it improved the waulity so much.

Waiting for the Muppet to Dry

It was a very hard lesson for L, and the first half was a bit stressful, but it was a very good ride. He was soaked in sweat after, and I ended up staying until 6pm to wait for him to dry. By the way, my lesson was at 1:30, and I was off of him by 3. For the first ride of 2021, it was okay. I was hoping for better, glad it wasn’t horrible, so hopefully, that will set the mood for the rest of 2021’s overall theme.

Saturday I meant to get on him and just walk, but a boarder horse had a horrible laminitis flare, and I spent the day icing him and keeping an eye on him. I regretted not riding him Saturday on Sunday, because not only was he still a little stiff and sore, but he was spooky too. I got on and knew he wasn’t going to cooperate, and tried to reincorporate those turns and changes when I lost his attention, but no sharp or tiny circles. It didn’t help, and he just felt like a powder keg. I tried to do a little lateral work to help stretch him out, but he wanted nothing to do with it and I got the memo. I salvaged what I could where I could and scrapped the whole ride.

Looking back, it was one of those perfect storm rides. We both were a little sore and tight, I had a new belt on which makes my back tighten up no matter what I do, he was still sore from Friday, it was busy, the tractor was running back and forth, and there were a lot more people then normal just at the barn in general. JM watched us Monday evening before she left, and determined we just needed to work on moving out and not working on any collection. because we’d done some uber collection on Friday, plus a lot of tiny tight circles. L did do it to himself, if he hadn’t been such a dork with the hot shoeing, there would have been no need for the tight circles. It is what it is, L did it to himself, he is a 20 yo semi arthritic kid, and we’re dealing with that consequence.

I also discovered L has a secret talent on Sunday! Okay, maybe it’s not a secret talent but I was impressed. .He has quite the lip, and a friend joked I needed to throw a peppermint in there. If you stuff a mint in L’s lower lip, he will be able to flip it up and eat it. Cookies are much harder, so it’s a no-go on those, but it’s a fun party trick, and it kept him entertained for a few seconds.

Definitely a shorter RD this week, but honestly its been so stressful and crazy. Hopefully whatever is happening will have an answer today (Monday) and it will go away.

Also, someone be proud of me, I finally ordered my first pair of dressage boots. Got my big girl dressage boots, going to go do badass big girl dressage things now. Now just to wait for them to ship and arrive.

Pin on Random Funny Things

So, what’s next for 2021? I don’t want to really get ahead of myself, because I’ll definitely jinx it, but I’ll write more on that later this week. Days 1-5 of 2021 have been slightly rough for me, so here’s to hoping the other 360 are better!

My 2020 Wrap up in Snapshots

I take a lot of photos. A lot of them. So many that when I swapped phones, I had over 6000 photos on my phone to transfer over. A small handful of those 6000 are of me riding, but a majority of them are of other people riding and their horses.

pictures I take of my friends vs pictures they take of me | When I Take a  Picture of My Friend vs. When My Friend Takes a Picture of Me | Know
this is me all the time

I thought I’d share 2-3 of my favorites from each month of 2020, no explanations, no reasoning. Just some fun and pretty photos to close out the year with. Some of them lost the quality, but the idea is still there. Enjoy!

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

I think September, October and December had some of my favorite shots of the year. Did you get any super fun shots of you and your horses over the last year?

RD WK 51: Christmas!

12/22-12/28

I hope everyone had a nice socially distant Christmas this year and Santa was good to all of your ponies! It was a fun week so let’s get going.

On Tuesday, JM had a few appointments, and wasn’t at the barn that afternoon. I decided it was the perfect day to give L off, and stayed home to prep presents for my barn peeps. I’ve also decided that in the future, the week of Christmas I will be avoiding stores like the plague.

A tired Canuck

I had to stop at Target for some baking supplies, and that was a huge hot mess. I typically go to this target at like 6pm on weeknights and it was a madhouse at 2pm.

I needed supplies to bake chocolate chip cookies and molasses horse cookie poptarts for the boarders and a few lesson people as my gift to them. I spent all afternoon and evening baking, and at the end of it, my feet were killing me, but everything turned out awesome.

The icing was a major PITA. Firstly because the recipe didn’t specify how much powdered sugar was required, and it took me three tries to figure out its 90% powdered sugar and 10% water instead of 50/50 or 60/40. Secondly, it dried so fast!

I iced the whole pan before realizing that the sprinkles weren’t sticking, so I added more icing and then sprinkles. And finally, the recipe suggested baking it at 200 to harden the icing, and what ended up happening is most of it melted and the sprinkles melted and made color splotches.

L and H looove them, and I’ve had positive reports from other boarders so I probably will be making these again for L and H.

I had the most amazing ride on Wednesday. Not only was it a huge confidence boost, but it was just overall fabulous.

I know for a fact I am a bit easy on L, and L is a bit lazy on me. I tend to fear pushing it too far, so I stay a bit reserved in my corrections, especially on my own. It’s fine here and there, especially on days when he’s a bit spicy, but L can be extra lazy, which in the long run just seems counterintuitive.

I took my lesson with JM on L, not only for a brush up with her for good measure, but to at least have a lesson on L. My usual GJM lesson falls on Friday, which is Christmas, so it was a no go this week.

JM had us doing lateral work to start, and we starting with the right side, and L immediately gave me static and backed up when I asked. JM had me get after him and “wake his lazy butt up.” Then she had me thinking about the leg yield like I would a green horse at the walk, one step over, one step forward. We had a much better leg yield after that, one that actually moved instead of side passing. Then we moved to the trot, which was a lot better after the leg yields and she had me really getting the hind end active and thinking about slowing the front legs down and sitting him back on his hind end. There is no physical way to slow the front legs down, but it helped me really think about sitting him back and it helped my half halts be a lot more effective and in the right place to keep him from dumping on his forehand.

JM really got after me for not riding the last step of movements mid ride. “You keep not riding the last few steps, don’t let him ooze back to the rail, ride him there.” I died laughing so hard when she said ooze, because the mental image that came to mind was too funny.

The mental image “oozing” gave me

I drew a little photo for your convenience, but all I could see in my brain was this black cartoon blob blinking at me “Anna, how could you?” I will probably never not think of that conversation now.

I was super worried about getting him off his left shoulder the whole ride. L has a habit of when tracking left, he likes to fall on the inside shoulder. I thought I was super good at feeling him on that shoulder, and back in the summer, I could feel it immediately when he was on it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about so many other things while riding, but I’ve let that slip, so JM helped me work on that a bit more too.

Then we did some more walk canters, which were awesome!! I was thrilled with the left side, they came super easy. To the right, JM went over how she does her walk canters. L overthinks the transition and the canter to the right, which means I have to be uber relaxed when I canter right. JM looked at me and went “I struggled with it, so with your personality I know it might be a struggle too, but don’t overthink it for him because then we’ll have too much thinking.”

We had some really awesome quality canters. At one point JM went “oh my gosh now I’m jealous of you, you got this awesome canter with no effort because of your long legs!” That was the first major confidence boost.

After we finished, she looked at me and went “I don’t think I need to get on him tomorrow, you’re doing an awesome job with him and I see no reason to get on.” She was super pleased with how he looked and how well he was going and how well we were doing together. So major confidence boost.

Christmas Eve was awesome too. JM and I might have wasted time tacking up by singing Christmas songs at the top of our lungs and making a general holiday racket.

L was super good again. I threw his ear plugs in just because there were four other people riding and I didn’t want him spooking. It ended up not mattering, he spooked twice regardless of the ear plugs. The first spook I had no idea what it was, all of a sudden we were cantering away. The second spook was someone scraped a pitchfork on the floor as we went by and he went bolting off. I was a bit peeved at those, but they were stupid goofy spooks.

don’t worry, he’s getting cut back but holy beefcake

After both we had some great impulsion, and I ended up posting for most of my ride. Our walk canters to the left were amazing again, and I had a really nice working canter which I was pretty proud of. To the left, I asked from the trot first just to prep him for the idea I wanted him to canter, and then got a nice walk canter and called it.

Christmas was a disgustingly warm day. All that snow we got last Thursday was gone as it was raining, windy and 60 degrees. I wanted to murder someone. I rode in short sleeves. Short Sleeves.

On a fun note, my sister got me a new grooming tote which meant I could finally retire the tiny little Noble Outfitter tote I’ve had for the past two years and upgrade to their full-sized tote in very cute dragon fruit pink. Lush has helped me embrace pink this year, which I used to hate because it just screamed ultra-feminine to me at the time, but now I feel badass with the color pink.

L was a very well behaved gentleman for our ride. I thought I went easy on him, but he did make it a bit hard when he kept trying to spook at the closed arena doors. I didn’t walk enough between work sets, so it resulted in me walking him for an extra 15 minutes after I was done to make sure he was cooled out all the way. We did have very nice engagement after the stupid spook, and a very active trot. I tried to sit it, but everytime I did, he would get choppy so I knew I was tight somewhere, and skipped it.

I really should have done more lateral work and that could have fixed it. Unfortunately there was a temp paddock partially set up in the arena for a horse who doesn’t do long term stalling, and whoever set it up filled a muck bucket with water and placed it square at R. It made lateral work pretty difficult, but a fun broken line.

The temp paddock and the bucket over by R

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better ride on a warm windy Christmas day, and I called it after he gave me some really nice canter work. I stayed to help do stalls, and lunged H for JM before heading home.

Saturday I had planned to ride, but then realized we worked 3 days in a row and it wouldn’t kill us to have a day off, so I did chores all day instead. It consisted of a lot of tractor driving.

Sunday we did a very late ride. I ended up helping JM with paddocks, and then tacked horses up for her to ride. I got a very informative lecture out of it from JM after AB asked a few questions about one of the horses JM was riding.

I will say, I freaking love grooming horses for people. Maybe it’s just the horse girl in me, or the years of being a barn rat, but grooming and tacking horses up is probably my favorite job and I’d do it all day if I had the time. Only problem is I run out of time and energy to ride my horse by the end of it.

Peep the really cute logo vest my mom got me

L was a bit looky because we rode so late and at turn in, but still good. I really need to nail down what I’m doing differently right to left. Tracking left I can get a very nice working trot deep in the bridle. Tracking right, I loose that deep ness and suddenly I get a choppier trot. I played around with it, but couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong. Best improvements were when I really focused on using my outside rein and made sure I had no unnecessary pressure on the right rein. I am righty dominant and tend to overuse my right rein, but even after fixing that it wasn’t the “wow” trot I wanted.

Mirror selfies are a post ride tradition now.

I had to give it up because I think I was driving L nuts, so I swapped to the canter. He is still breaking at the canter to the right, more so after the second circle. I first thought maybe I was half halting at the wrong time and inadvertently asking, and then I wondered if he was being lazy, or a combo of I half halted and he took it too literally. It was a thought I stored for my next lesson.

This is not approved but you’re holding a cookie so I must endure

I decided to use my lesson with JM for L again after our ride the night before. We focused on the leg yields, keeping him straight and working on breaking me of the habit of skipping the doors. I tend to cut the short end shallow to avoid the door and try to keep his focus. Now he knows I get nervous at the door, so he’s trained me to avoid it.

We did a lot more shoulder in then I have in my lessons with GJM. I have a habit of collapsing my body to help L, which JM said “This horse does not need you to compensate with your body to do these things

I also brought up that sticky right lead, and JM had me canter to the right first to see what was going on. Her diagnosis, L is lazy. There is also a possibility that I’m half halting and he is going, “oh half halt, pfft I’ll show you one better, lets trot.” She had me rehash the excercise GJM had me doing almost 4 weeks ago, when he breaks, give him a good tap and repeat until he doesn’t break.

JM’s biggest tip in our lesson was to ask for more, and only stop asking when I get the pissy tail swish. The pissy tail swish happens usually when I ask for something a bit more and he goes “Oh my god I’m doing it stop nagging me, I got this”. It worked really well not only schooling past the scary door, but just making my trot work and canter work so much better. It’s hard to explain without videos, but it works. JM calls them “F U swishes”, I call it sass.

Overall it was an awesome lesson and I was really happy with the ride. After, I fixed his teddy bear ears. I’d trimmed his mane the night before, and trimmed some of the fluff around his ears so his bridle would fit better, and went back in to trim the last little fly aways. We don’t trim his whiskers or ears with clippers, but I at least wanted to clean them up and get rid of some of the crazies.

Local Canadian Requests Carrots, STAT

I’m super excited to see GJM on Friday, we finally were able to schedule a lesson. It has to be at least two weeks since our last lesson and I really hope she is happy with how we’ve been doing. Maybe work on that collected canter again and the walk canters. I also should practice my extended trot this week before our lesson, she might bring that up again.

RD WK 48,49 and 50: Playing Catchup, again.

12/2-12/22

Hi my name is Anna and December flew by way too fast, and my weekly count might be off (I was off by one week), but its okay.

I am very behind and normally I’d try to wrack my brain and remember specific rides, but it won’t be happening this week because I have a whole month to remember, so we’re writing an overview of moments I remember the most. Where to begin?

We were Saturday Lunch Buddies two Saturdays in a row

L and I have been doing awesome, in my opinion. We’ve had two lessons this month, and both were really good. We’ve been continuing to work on shifting L’s shoulders and lots of bending and leg yields. We worked a lot on straight lines and leg yields a lot in our first lesson of December. I joked with GJM that we swap back and forth on bending L one week, and then straightening him out the next.

Our second lesson of the month, was fun.

This was the lesson where Lush accidentally warmed L and I up for us. I love Lush dearly, but when she canters, she is loud. Very loud. She already has a loud gait, and her bell boots sound like flip flops as she canters. I’ve spooked a few horses with it, and I always prewarn people before I canter her, and I was prewarned with the other girl riding Lush.

L had an issue with it, which I expected, so we had to fix that. L does not like flip flop bell boots. Between the time I got on, and the time GJM arrived, L was very nicely warmed up and ready to go, thanks to Lush and her flip flop bell boots.

In a grand total of 15 minutes he had spooked 8 times and he was wonderfully warmed up by the time GJM got in.

When GJM told me that we were going to work on lengthenings and collected canter to prep for First, I might have panicked a bit. I don’t feel ready for First Level, hell barely ready for Training Level.

That lesson we did a lot of walk- collected canter-walks. Getting the walk to canter was easy, but walking from the canter was stupid hard. Not only were L and I both exhausted, but he thought it was against his morals to do a canter walk, more so to the right then the left. It didn’t help I was trying to learn it and he was like “Kid, I know what I’m doing. I did third level, just let me do it for you”.

It all ended up awesome, and it was a really good and fun lesson, even with the excitement at the start.

L also got his snowshoes just in time, and I got to pick out the snow pads. I only had a choice between orange, navy, and black, and then it got narrowed down to black and orange because the navy pads were not big enough. I went with orange. I really need someone to film us cantering from behind because it looks so cool! JM picked orange for H, and it looks ridiculously cool when they canter away.

Orange Man

The next Friday was post-snowstorm, and due to things happening at her farm, GJM couldn’t come out for a lesson. So we played in the snow instead!

mlem

You can take the Cheval Canadien out of Canada, but you can’t take the love for Canadian weather out of the Cheval Canadien!

God I love his mane

L can’t really do more then walk out in it, just because of the past suspensory, and JM would rather us be safe than sorry. L didn’t mind, he liked watching his sister from another mister (H) get worked in the snow instead of him. He ended up wandering into the outdoor while I was trying to get cute photos and snorkled in the snow after I got off, which was stupid cute.

A Canadian in his natural habitat

My favorite spook of the last few weeks was one night we were cooling out , and L spooked at some overnight horses running. I was not prepared and he did a spook soon and bolt and I was cracking up the whole time. He did manage to tweak my back somehow in the process, but I found it hysterical regardless.

We also discovered ear plugs are his friend! JM hasn’t put ear plugs in since he was 4, but we thought we’d give it a go. I have serious hang ups about snow sliding off the roof from past barns, and so does L. My first fall off of him was because of snow coming off the roof and it was not a pretty fall. (I have only had one pretty fall if anyone was asking the question, can you fall off a horse pretty? The answer is yes, rarely, and I’ve only done it once.) Good times. JM brought them when we heard about the snowstorm coming, and I tried them out this past Saturday. Some small snow slid off the roof at one point, and the other two horses in the ring both spooked and L didn’t even flinch!

Bed head

It was super encouraging to my confidence and he was a lot happier working with them in. It just takes two cookies to put them in and two cookies to take them out. (He makes a big deal but he loves the cookie incentive.) Thankfully I’ve timed my rides just right to avoid all the big chunks. I rode early on Sunday and a lot came crashing down on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

“Needed more inside leg 😤”- L’s internal monologue in this moment

Monday we had a freaking awesome ride. Not lesson level awesome, but awesome for a solo ride. JM gave me a few pointers from the rail before she left, which were more leg, shocker I know. After that, we played with some more trot work, and then I had some freaking amazing canter work. I was super happy with him, and he seemed super happy with the work too. My favorite thing about L is you know you did a good job when you go to cool out and he has this super low stretchy amble walk.

I have to add we have a dedicated cool out song, which is “Moving Right Along” from the Muppets. His barn nickname is The Muppet, and the beat just matches his free walk perfectly. If L was a muppet, he’d be Fozzie Bear.

Best muppet

Lush has been on the back burner for now. Rationally, I pay for L, and she is a work to ride, and rationally, he is my first priority. Lush is fun and teaches me a lot, and I love riding her, but if I don’t have the time for 2, L is always comes first. I’m hoping her two lesson peasants will return soon (both were in contact with a positive covid case) and she’ll get some love from them.

Hopefully, we can schedule a lesson with GJM sometime next week. Holidays fall on our usual Friday slots this year so it might be another two weeks before we’re back to normal. I have a lesson with JM on L planned this week, just to make sure we’re doing okay and on the right path. Plus it’s nice to have JM check in on us every few weeks and I’m hoping she’ll be able to hop on L sometime this week to make sure I’m doing everything right.

I’m spending today at home, baking for my gifts for the boarders and the last of my secret santa gift in my group chat, and wrapping everything up. I can’t believe Christmas is this week, December flew!