Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tack Review: Baroque Tack

I’m going to kill two birds with one stone in this post -- review some of my favorite tack and pimp my friend’s business. 

As you may know from reading prior posts, I have a saddle pad addiction. The struggle is real, ya’ll. Coming in a close second after my favorite HighPoint saddle pads are the baroque patterned pads from Old Stonehouse Farm (OSF). OSF is owned by my friend Sarah, who I met through our mutual love of Iberian horses. Sarah has a lovely farm in Pennsylvania and breeds top quality horses. I was lucky enough to be able to visit her in 2012 when I was on the East Coast for the Olympic Selection Trials. 

It’s no secret that I’m a cheapskate. I love buying stuff used off of swap sites or on deep discount from TOTD. Sarah’s pads are some of the only ones I am willing to pay full price for without any quibbling because the quality is next to none. DH bought me my first pad (purple/gold) from OSF for a Christmas gift when I first started taking lessons a few years back. The following winter, when I first boarded Topaz out to use an indoor all season long, my baroque pad went with. I rode 4+ days a week for close to 6 months without washing it -- in my defense, she wasn’t working hard or sweating much, but still gross, I know. When I brought Topaz home, I tossed the pad in the washer and voila -- like new when I pulled it out. 

Sarah stocks both normal dressage cut pads as well as swallowtail pads. As a lover of all things weird and wacky for my dressage ponies, obviously I needed a swallowtail pad. I stuck to black/silver with that one, hoping it would look really sharp with all my dressage tack, and I was not disappointed!
Seriously I can’t say enough good things about these pads. They are durable and cushy, and pretty to boot. I use mine in everything from everyday schooling to schooling shows to clinics, and I *ALWAYS* get compliments on them. Always. At the first clinic I went to, one of the people watching loved it so much she tracked me down after my ride and I gave her the website so she could order her own. I have my eye on two more of the pads (a red one and a cream one) to match some of my blingy browbands -- maybe I’ll splurge this Christmas!

The mosquero (we were working cows, haha).
Besides amazing saddle pads, Sarah also carries some traditional baroque tack as well as some of the fun parade-style stuff decked out in silver. I have two mosqueros from her as well as well as one of the “Lancelot” bridles. The quality of her items is GREAT! I’m secretly (or not so secretly, haha) lusting over one of the “Moderna” bridles to go with my doma vaquera saddle. She also hand paints traditional hex signs, which are a beautiful addition to your barn! 
Hex sign in teal - our farm color!
Topaz modeling the stunning "Lancelot" bridle.

A photo of some of the hex signs she's created from the OSF Facebook page.
A sampling of the color patterns available on the OSF website. There are more!
Price: 5/5 stars (While the pads are more expensive than I usually pick, they're worth the extra expense)
Quality/Durability: 5/5 (Can't say enough good things about the quality and the durability!)
Color Options: 5/5 (Although they'd get a higher score if they had one in TEAL!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Back on Track: Lesson #3 Recap

I am so beyond disappointed that I don’t have media from this lesson, because honestly I thought it was the best yet!
DH has been designated trailer driver on lesson nights (leaving me free to focus on the lessons instead of having to deal with my stupid manual truck). The day before the lesson it looked like he wasn’t going to be able to make it -- on his days “off” from working his regular job, he works part-time for a farmer, mostly doing hay. He was supposed to spend Tuesday in the field picking up bales of straw, but a surprise rain shower sent him home early, which was great! (for me, not for the farmer necessarily)
Mmmmmm I love hay season!
However, DH is also taking online classes and the current class is pretty text heavy, so he ended up spending the lesson reading his textbook instead of being our media man. While I know school is more important than pretty pony pictures, I’m still allowed to be grumpy about it. 
More of hay season, since I hate posts with no photos
Now that I have that out of my system, the lesson recap! After Jacki and I got warmed up, the instructor set out some cones. I’m including my very rough diagram (done in Paint, don’t judge me!). Basically she set up two 20 meter circles -- the arena is wide enough that she could set them up in the center of the ring and none of the cones touched the walls -- which definitely made it more challenging to ride. The arenas that I typically ride in are small enough that it’s easy to become complacent and let the wall do some of the work for me when riding circles. 
I write for a living, not draw. Thank God.
I started to the left, since that’s our stronger direction. Going in, I didn’t necessarily think the exercise would be easy (because I struggle with our geometry in tests) but it was even harder than I expected. At this stage in our mutual training, a decent 20 meter circle at the trot (or God forbid the canter!) requires a LOT of micromanaging. Like, an excessive amount. Some circles I would hit the space I was aiming for 3/4 cones and then be completely off the circle and miss the last set of cones. Or find myself cutting the circle way too short and realizing I need to push her out. It’s an exercise that really highlights your weak areas, and I can’t wait to set it up in my arena and work on it some more. 
Back to hay photos :)
On our walk breaks, I toyed with switching bend every set of cones - a quarter circle with normal bend, a quarter circle asking her to counter-bend a little, back to normal bend, counter-bend, etc. In my rides between lessons I’ve been working on the exercises from the initial lesson on how to reinforce bend, and I feel like we’ve definitely made some progress in her understanding of what I’m asking for with specific aids -- obviously we still have lots of work to do, but I was encouraged that even in a few weeks, I’m seeing progress. 
After getting some decent circles both directions at the trot (decent being a relative term obviously, haha), we tried the exercise at the canter. My initial goal was to just get through it without destroying the cones. I’m happy to report, not only did we successfully navigate without knocking over any cones, but it went WAY better than I thought it would! Both directions she broke at the canter, but no wrong leads either direction, which was better than last lesson. In retrospect, it took quite a while when I first started riding her for her to let me adjust the tempo of the trot with my body without breaking to the walk, and we’re still not there yet in the canter (mostly due to me not cantering enough). Rest of the summer goal -- canter more and develop some adjustability. I think our field work really helps with this. I can get a much slower, more relaxed canter in the field than I've been able to achieve in the arena so far.
OK last one!
We also used the cones as a baseline to spiral in and out a little at the trot (staying inside the pairs of cones and using the center cone to work around). As the lesson wound down, I was feeling pretty proud of myself that while we hadn’t always stayed in the cones, we also hadn’t knocked any over. Famous last words, right? On our very last circle (stretchy trot), Ruby and I were having a discussion about moving off my leg to stay on the correct bend for the circle, and BAM, smashed a cone. It startled her a little (she realized it was there at the last second and I think she tried to jump over it), and after I brought her down to the walk and went past it again, she gave it the hairy eyeball and had to go sniff it.
All in all, a very difficult but productive lesson. I really enjoyed the exercise and how challenging it was for us. I don’t currently own any cones, but I think the trash cans I use for dressage letters at home would work if I pick up a few more. (When I drafted this post, I didn't own any cones. However, Amazon called my name and I bought a 10 pack of cones based solely on the fact that one of the reviews was from a dressage instructor who uses them for lessons. I have impulse control issues....)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

All Aboard the Failboat

OK so while I am clearly not capable of being one of those every single day bloggers, perhaps I can get myself on a two or three times a week schedule (not that I've been coming close to that lately).

I've been riding on days when it's not too hot, and being a lazy bum when it is. Luckily we had a 10 degree cooldown, just in time for our lesson today! It was a really good and productive lesson, but no media :( boo. I'll recap it later this week though, more for my benefit than yours!

The cooldown is supposed to last through the weekend (at least, last time I checked) so hopefully I can squeeze in a few more rides and maybe con someone into helping me get more photos. Maybe I can even sweet talk Hanna into shortening Ruby's mane!

I just wanted to write up a quick post to let you know I haven't died or fallen off the face of the earth.... and make my 1230923847th vow to be better about writing. Don't hold your breath or anything though, haha.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Holding Patterns

We had a brief temperature cool-down with some rain Monday night (thank God!), but back up to about 100 degrees today -- with the humidity pushing the "feels like" into the triple digits. Missouri's humidity can make it feel like trying to breathe through a wet rag, and since I'm particularly sensitive to extreme temps (both heat and cold), I've been lazy for a few days. I hacked Ruby out on the trail with our buddies Jacki and Mort on Monday evening, didn't do anything horsey yesterday besides cleaning stalls and turning out the kids at home, and then stuffed Ruby's face full of cookies today. Slightly lower temps are forecasted for the next few days, and then hopefully some more rain this weekend.

Dressage instructor will be back from vacation next week, so I'm hoping to put in a few more good workouts before our next lesson on Tuesday -- and speaking of lessons, I believe I still owe you a video of some right lead canter!
Unimpressive to most of you I'm sure, but right lead canter is one of our major stumbling blocks, and I feel like there were at least a few nice moments in there that show me what it could look like if I can ever get my $@#% together!

Tonight's post will be brief -- I still have a few hundred photos to go through from the Greg Best clinic and I need to make dinner and do approximately 23428357 loads of laundry and still get to bed early (didn't sleep much last night), so hopefully my next entry will be more entertaining! :)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Watching Big Hops!

This weekend I took a break from riding and spent both mornings photographing at a Greg Best showjumping clinic in Columbia this weekend at one of my favorite locations, Fox Run Farms. Aside from coming home with some great shots, I am also sporting a pretty fun sunburn -- perks of being a pretty fair-skinned Irish/German.
Even though I don't jump anymore (way too much of a weenie), it was still a really fun clinic to watch and I picked up some great tips that will apply to my own riding. Juggling my camera and my phone at the same time (trying to type up the quotes) didn't work out too well for me, so I know I didn't get all the ones I wanted accurately written down, but here were some of my favorites:
  • Is it possible to micromanage the horse with the reins? Absolutely. Is it possible to micromanage the horse with your legs? I don't think so. 
  • The trick to training horses is consistency and repetition.
  • It's not bad but your description is terrible. (nothing to do with training, it just made me laugh)
There was another one about making sure that your horses' reaction to your aids was always predictable, reasonable and something else, but there were big jumps being jumped and I couldn't multi-task... haha. And then I have the memory span of a housefly, so if I don't get the quotes down right away I don't get them. Sad day.
Greg seemed like a really awesome clinician to ride for -- he didn't micromanage every aspect of the rides, but he offered really good feedback. He would let the rider work through a course and then analyze it jump by jump. One horse in particular came into his ride pretty hot and excitable, and Greg gave the rider some good ways to help focus on easing the horse's anxiety and helping him become more consistent -- and the end of their ride their last course jumped was night and day from the first course they tried.
He's been coming to Fox Run for clinics for many years, so lots of the riders have history with him, which I think is also nice for a clinician. So while he was able to focus on specific improvements they made this weekend, he was also able to speak to the improvements they've made over the years -- pretty neat!
I'm off work today to drive my mom to a doctor's appointment (hence the morning blog), but hopefully I'll get to squeeze in some riding this evening!

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Heat Finally Breaks

It was a nice, cool 90 degrees today :) and sadly, I'm not joking at all, haha. After work I made a quick pit stop at the gym for a brief workout then came home to start the real part of my day -- horses!
I headed out to ride Ruby first -- with the heat advisory yesterday, I gave her the day off, but we did put in a brief arena workout on Wednesday evening (I experimented with riding later in the evening instead of right after I get home from work). It had been a bit since we'd done any field work (waiting for it to be baled), but since that got done last weekend, I decided to head that direction. One side of the field is bordered by some trees/brush, so in the evening there's a nice long shady strip to ride on. We did lots of baby leg yielding at the walk (we had reasonably nice zig-zags, I was pleased!), trotwork focusing on various degrees of bend, and even a few canter passes. In our last lesson she had trouble picking up her right lead (that's always the sticky one with my horses, so clearly I'm teaching my canter departs wonky) but she nailed it every time in the field -- of course, she also picked it up twice when I asked for the left, so that was less exciting.
To cool off, we did a partial loop of one of the trails that branches off from the field. I cut that pretty short because the bugs are starting to come out in full force, and miss prissy princess does NOT like bugs on her legs. If she thinks she has a bug on her, she'll stomp her front legs as hard as she can while she walks -- very entertaining. We got back and I hosed her and turned her out to graze (and dry off) in the grazing paddock while I put everything away. There's a picnic table out behind the barn so I hung out and just watched her for a bit. It's always very calming after a long work week!
This reminds me, need to hack off that mane!
After I got home, there was just enough light to give Cinna a brief workout. She cross-tied and tacked up like a champ, even though she's had a few weeks off. We worked through the scary parts of the arena, and I actually had to kick myself for not bringing a lunge whip -- when she first started work last fall it was very easy to "go", not so easy to "whoa". Now that she is getting the hang of it, she wants to be lazy. I won't complain about that, I'd rather have a push ride than a horse I'm constantly trying to slow down. After her workout we took a hike out to the back pasture to the entrance of the trail. I'm trying to get her used to hand-walking on the trail so I can start ground-driving her on it, and then eventually riding it (I get really bored in the arena)
Unintentionally "artsy"
On the way out there, I decided to work on some trotting in hand. Because I didn't haul/show her in halter as much as I did Ruby (or you know, at all), she has a little trouble wrapping her brain around it. If I run next to her, she thinks it's a race and takes off at the canter -- not the point. About the time she finally got the hang of it, the clip on my lungeline broke (that's what I get for using a crappy old lunge line instead of one of my decent ones). She high-tailed it back to the barn, making a pit stop in the arena. After I caught her and got a new line, we headed back out to where we were when the clip snapped, hung out for a bit, then came back. The running back to the barn had gotten her a little sweaty, so after I untacked her I parked her in front of a fan while I cleaned stalls. She was impatient in the cross-ties at first, until she figured out how good the fan felt, then she decided to doze off. I had to wake her up to put her fly sheet back on and turn her out -- what a goober.
Tomorrow I'll be up early and heading out to a Greg Best clinic -- I want some more good jumping photos for the CDCTA website, and since nobody has submitted any (other than ones I took at various shows over the last 5 years), I decided I would head out and take some myself! I love photographing jumpers, and I've heard really great things about the Best clinics, so I'm really looking forward to it. And since I'm not riding, I have an excuse to break out some shorts or capris and try to get some sun on my blindingly white legs (#sorrynotsorry spectators! haha).

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Equine Chiropractic: Yay or Nay?

Fair warning: this post is lacking in media and text heavy -- sorry! :) but I did throw in a question at the end if you read that far!

I feel like most of the people I’ve talked to about chiropractic (not just equine, human as well!) fall into one of two camps -- either they love chiropractic or they think it’s an idiotic, expensive “junk science”.

Personally, I was exposed to chiropractic at a young age. In high school, after playing soccer for 10+ consecutive years (year-round some years as I played both indoor and outdoor) and waiting tables, I started having knee and ankle issues. After astounding my local chiropractor with my lack of mobility (he said he typically only saw joints so locked up on octogenarians), he called in another chiropractor who specialized in ankles and I underwent a series of lengthy visits and rehab using shock therapy and other rehab exercises/tools. Things improved enough for me to continue to play -- and play well! I led my varsity team in goals three out of four of the years I played, and was all-state as both a junior and senior. During college, I moved on from soccer to riding, which put strain on some of the same joints, as well as some new ones.

I did stop regular adjustments for a while in college and then post-college, when I wasn’t really riding. When I got back in the saddle a few years ago, one of the first things I did was figure out which chiropractors my health insurance covered and start going again. The first few months I went a LOT -- but now I’m down to just maintenance adjustments every few months. And while obviously it hasn’t fixed all my poor riding habits (wonder if I should have him look at my demon left hand next time!), I do know that it has helped me become more balanced in general, and specifically in my riding. I understand that anecdotal evidence is NOT the same as scientific evidence, and I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone and their brother run out and start getting chiropractic adjustments. But since it works for me, I’ll keep doing it. 

Along those same lines, I do have my show horses seen by an equine chiropractor. If I’m expecting them to work reasonably hard and make progress, I think it’s only fair that I do whatever I can on my end to make sure they stay comfortable. I incorporate both massage (more on that in a future blog I suppose) and chiropractic into my show horses’ schedules on an as-needed basis. Because I got both Topaz and Ruby at a young age and have been involved every aspect of their training, they don’t see the chiropractor too often -- Ruby actually just had her first visit earlier this month at the age of 5. I imagine if I were seriously trying to ride and compete my OTTB Jack (especially in dressage!), he would need frequent adjustments to stay comfortable, just from his history. Topaz had normal maintenance adjustments when she was in regular work, and then after she recovered from a lengthy lameness, I made sure she was adjusted before she went back to heavy work.
Topaz was a huge fan of her massages.
Ruby had a massage earlier this winter and her masseuse pointed out a few potential problem areas she recommended I have the chiropractor check out (isn’t it nice when professionals can work in tandem without having a pissing contest?). And of course, when Ruby was adjusted, those were the biggest areas that needed attention. She was out in her poll, low neck, and right hip. A few other areas needed adjustment, but nothing major. She’ll probably skip his next few visits (he comes once a month or every other month to see some lesson horses in my barn), but she’ll be seeing him again at some point I’m sure! We did have some much nicer work to the right the lesson after she was adjusted, but that could also just be me riding better with someone supervising me.... haha.
Terrible image quality, but so relaxed.
Again, in case I didn’t make my point clear enough -- I understand the lack of scientific evidence supporting things like chiropractic. And believe me, I’m a HUGE fan of science. But I’m also a huge fan of personal experiences, so if something works for me, I’m going to do it, science be damned. And since it’s my money being spent on my horses, anyone who doesn't like it can mind their own business.
And obviously, this post has shown me the importance of good media not just with riding, but with all things I want to blog about! I will have to take good pics next massage before I can write about it.

 So what do you think? Do you have your horses adjusted or massaged? Why or why not?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Yes, I'm a Slacker...

I have all these things in my head that I want to write about, but never seem to find the time! My weekends are usually jam-packed, and now that DH’s days off switched to Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I always feel bad writing when he’s home. And my work schedule keeps me from writing in the mornings, so I guess you’re just going to have to take what you can get!
Cinna. Because she's pretty.
I think the other reason I’m struggling is that summer is finally here. It was 95+ with nasty humidity every day over the weekend, and we haven’t had much relief yet. It probably didn’t help that I started putting up hay this weekend -- Friday at ACS and then Saturday some in our own hay barn. One good thing about selling two horses this winter? I don’t have to put up so much hay this year! And since they left in March, we’re still in good shape as far as hay goes -- I can’t remember ever having this much surplus going into summer. DH works for a farmer who puts up hay so we typically don’t have to worry about having enough, but its nice to know he won’t have to work quite so many hours. 
King of the... hay trailer.
Hay shed last August - we squeezed in a few hundred more bales!
Sunday DH and I attended a barn party for my local GMO (CDCTA). I’m the vice president and I also handle updating the website/social media -- obviously something I enjoy! Despite the blistering heat, we had a really good time. It’s always fun to gather with like-minded horsepeople and just chat!
I was also excited about the barn party Sunday because it took us through a major city, giving me a chance to shop for some more appropriate riding shirts. For schooling and trails I have no problem sporting tank tops, but for lessons I wanted some athletic polos with breathable material. It annoys me to buy the “equestrian” brand stuff, because typically its about 5x more expensive than it needs to be, and I’m cheap. I’ve been looking for about a week, and I found some options online, but buying without being able to try them on was a little daunting -- about half the reviews I read said the shirts fit true to size, and the other half indicated that they ran *very* small and to order 1-3 sizes up. My Type A personality was not amused. 
Gratuitous shot of Cinna getting scritches this evening
Friday after work I visited six stores looking for polos, and while I found a plethora of other workout clothes, no polos. The only place that had anything close to what I wanted was Dick’s Sporting Goods, but they were about 2x the cost of the ones I was looking at online, so I passed. Sunday I made another run by Dick’s (different city, so I was hoping the clearance rack might yield something useful), and lo and behold, the same shirts I looked at Friday were now buy one, get one free! Since that put them at the equivalent of the ones I was looking at online with the added bonus of being able to try them on, I splurged and bought 4 -- black and white (for schooling shows and clinics), and purple and royal blue for lessons/whatever. I also forgot that I had been bidding on a few on eBay, and I also won a Nike one in navy, so I should be set for a while... haha. 
The black one blends into the TV.... oops?
I did also manage to squeeze in a short ride on Ruby yesterday evening. It was hot and we’re both out of shape, so I kept it brief. I was really pleased with her walk work and *most* of her trot work, but we’re still really struggling at the canter. I think part of the problem is the size of the arena -- I need to either work out in the fields or trailer her over to my house and use mine, since it’s wider. I just seriously lack motivation when it gets this hot... 
It's dual stall fan hot, ya'll....
Oh and I almost forgot! My one non-horse related birthday gift this year (haha) was a FitBit -- I’ve been using a cheap pedometer from a pilot program my work did like 2 years ago, and I was pretty rough on it. I’d been eyeballing a FitBit Flex for a while and had one on my Amazon wish list (in teal, naturally), and I got it! I didn’t have the settings right the first night I wore it, but now it’s tracking my sleep, so it’s interesting to see how much (or rather how little) I sleep. I’ve been meaning to talk to my doctor about it anyway, but at least now I’ll have something to show her! 
Tonight I dropped off Ruby's grain (the normal feed store was out so I had to find a different store) and gave her smooches before heading back to the AC -- my mom is coming over for dinner and DH is getting to relax after 2 days of working on lawnmowers and schoolwork, so I'm looking forward to a relaxing evening! And they're calling for some rain tonight, so hopefully that will cool things off and help me relocate my motivation. No promises though.....

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tack Review: Blingy Browbands!

I'm just warning you ahead of time, prepare for a photo overload. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the ways in which I'm a bit of an atypical "dressage queen" is that I absolutely love everything with bling (thank God that's in style-ish at the moment). I have a blingy saddle pad, blingy whips, but my absolute favorite accessory (until I can afford a blingy helmet) is my blingy browbands.
Top one is a KL Select Pearl/Crystal.

My collection started off in a reasonable way. A friend bought me a lovely Pink (brand) browband with sky blue padding and stones. However, the openings on the side are too narrow for most of my bridle straps, so it was relegated to one of my show halters for fun shows. Then DH got me a custom V-shaped browband from Horsetackular. That was around the time I decided I wanted my farm colors to be black and teal, so he did an alternating teal and crystal design.
Custom HorseTackular browband.
Next I started scouring tack swap sites. I picked up several more -- a straight one with white crystals, a U-shaped double looped one with teal, and my personal favorite, this curved pearl and crystal one from KL Select. I also bought a curved 3 row diamond one from Sterling Steed Enterprises.
Pink brand on the left, no-name aqua double row, Sterling Steed, and then a pink bridle -- don't ask.

And even though they're not technically blingy, I also really enjoy the variety of ribbon browbands that I get to use on my special Spanish presentation halters for the girls -- perks of owning a unique breed!
But hands down, my favorite browbands are from Equiture. I got my first Equiture browband as a birthday gift from DH in 2013 (it only took 6 months of leaving them open in his web browser with sizes and colors handily noted on a post-it, haha). In 2015, a dear friend bought me 2 more as a birthday gift. I am eyeballing about 4 more, but I haven't been able to bring myself to pull the trigger yet -- I always seem to find other things to spend that $80 or $90 on. But every time Equiture runs a flash sale or a giveaway, you can bet I'm all over their page! When I first discovered the company, they did pretty much exclusively browbands -- now they've branched out and do a lot more tack, including fly veils and stock pins that you can customize to match your browband *swoon* If we ever make it to a recognized show, I might reward myself with a set! For instance, this one floats my boat... Full size in black, Fairy Godmother!
Equiture Browbands
Price: 3.5/5 stars (As much as I adore bling, the megabling ones are more than $90 now, plus shipping from the UK -- ouch!)
Quality/Durability: 4.5/5 (The older one is felt backed, and the new ones are leather backed -- I much prefer the leather ones. I only put them on for shows and photoshoots, because they're pretty hard to clean if they get dirty. And they snag on stuff (cleaning rags, Ruby's forelock, etc)
Color Options: 6/5 (If you can imagine it, Equiture can make it!)

At any given time, half are on bridles, half are in my tack trunk.
Next on the agenda for whenever he has some free time, I told DH I want one of these to display them in my tack shed! :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trainable Horses and Narcisstic Appendages

So much to blog about, so little time! Yesterday was my and Ruby's second lesson with our new instructor, and it was equally as productive as the first one -- very exciting! The instructor will be out of town for the next two weeks so we won't have another lesson until the end of June, which will hopefully give us some more time to work on the concepts on our own, and hopefully be a little better prepared. I only got a chance to ride once between the first two lessons, and it was a trail ride, so not quite as productive as working in the arena (although probably more fun for Ruby... and me too, come to think of it!).

Some lesson highlights -- I really felt a kinship with two of the bloggers who I have been obsessively following for the last 6+ months (who also inspired me to start this blog!): JourneyWithADancingHorse and SprinklerBandits. The first is a woman who also has a strong-willed Iberian mare, so I immediately felt a connection with many of her struggles. The one I really identified with last night was her overcoming her mare's terror of the "troll corner" in her arena. The arena I lesson in is much bigger than Ruby is used to, with tons of potentially terrifying objects. One corner in particular obviously has some sort of horse-eating monster inhabiting it, and we had several "discussions" about working through it at the same pace we work the rest of the arena (as opposed to escaping the area as quickly as possible). It's definitely not 100% fixed yet, but I feel like every lesson we make progress.
Not participating on this short side, thanks anyway.
The other issue that was identified in my lesson last night is that my left hand is "narcissistic" (yes, that's a direct quote from the instructor, haha). Many of my issues with right bend are probably intensified because my left hand won't give her enough rein to do what my right rein is asking for -- poor Ruby! And then to the left I tend to overbend because my left hand is just off doing it's own thing. Last night for the second half of my ride I spent mumbling under my breath "left hand forward" about every 3rd stride -- that's going to take some getting used to! It also made me laugh thinking about one of my favorite SprinklerBandit posts about her "demon hand" (although it's her right, not her left!). Kind of fun to know these bloggers who I've never even met share some of the (obviously common) issues that I'll be working on myself!
Left hand, Ruby could bend better if you would get on the same page!

OK now for some of the FUN stuff from my lesson -- we worked some canter last night (didn't get around to it the first lesson, so many things to fix at the walk and trot!) and while parts of it felt like a trainwreck (I'm looking at you right lead), some of it was very nice! The arena we lesson in is wayyyyyy bigger than ACS, so at first Ruby was like "OMG THE SPACE I MUST RUN" but she did settle down and give me some nice moments. I'm hoping with more work there will be less runaway locomotive and more fun springy canter that I get on the trails. Our instructor said that while obviously it's still a baby canter, that there is lots to work with, I just have to, you know, ride it. She also had very nice things to say about Ruby's trainability, so at least I haven't totally fucked that up (what a relief!).
First canter, left lead.
A little more left lead canter.

Final trotwork to end the lesson (vastly better than the beginning!)

I have a clip of some of the right lead canter, but I had to trim the video (because God knows I am not going subject any of you to 4+ minutes of me struggling to get and maintain right lead canter, but YouTube is being super slow about processing it, so it will have to wait until another blog!

Today was actually my birthday, so I took the day off work to be a lazy bum and play with ponies. Ruby and I took a lengthy trail ride and saw some fun wildlife including a beautiful fox, several deer, and lots of bunnies! Ruby decided she was absolutely not participating anymore when one of the deer went crashing through the woods next to us, but I stuck it out and after I regained her attention, we still got some nice work done.

Now that I've stayed up wayyyyy too late blogging and obsessing over video, off to bed! It's going to be wicked hot this weekend, so I can't promise that I'll be an attentive blogger, but I will try to get blogs up for tomorrow and Friday at least! Any requests for #TackReviewThursday?