Monday, October 29, 2018

Pause, Refresh

Let's see, where did I leave off? Oh yes! Motivated and ready to ride! Brimming with enthusiasm! Maybe making show plans and goals again! You know where this is going, right....? Haha.
Pretty sure Ruby is visible from space in her new day glo pink sheet 😂
And then life happened last week.... ughhhh. Monday, adult-y errands ate up my whole evening. Tuesday and Wednesday I worked in the hayfield (cause ponies gotta eat!). Thursday I woke up hacking my lungs out, and Friday it rained most of the day (and then a family medical emergency kind of kiboshed my planned lesson, which actually probably saved me from having to cancel due to the rain?). To say I was grumpy by Saturday would have been a bit of an understatement, haha.
Accurate representation of 90% of Thursday. Dachshund snuggles are good medicine. 
I did however drag my heavily medicated self out to briefly lunge on Thursday evening, because I did not want a fire-breathing dragon for the lesson on Friday. Oh well. 
Instead she was a fire-breathing dragon Thursday -- like whoa. 
She pulled out her best CRAZY HALTER HORSE card -- head up, neck about two inches long, and hind end trailing in a different ZIP code. Like why mare, why?
She did eventually regain her sanity and work nicely. 
Despite everything still being a bit soggy, I did sneak in a brief hack on Saturday before heading down to my old barn for a Halloween shindig (roasting marshmellows and watching Hocus Pocus on the side of the barn = epic!). Ruby started off super, we had a brief stop-and-snort at the neighbors sheep, and then a minor reversion in the field to a jigging monster, but as soon as I mentioned it to DH (with annoyance, like "whyyyyy is she being like this again?"), she blew out a breath and flat walked on a loose rein again.
So muddy. Don't judge me... haha. 

We have some pretty color in our woods!
Best trail buddies everrrrrrr. 
My phone lag didn't catch Ruby and the billy sniffing noses and it was SO CUTE so you'll just have to trust me haha. 
Sunday I was DETERMINED to take advantage of the gorgeous weather, so we road tripped out to our home away from home trail -- Indian Camp Creek. I debated trying another new trail, but after the clusterf*@#$& that was our last new trail adventure, we wanted tried and true. And the fall foliage did NOT disappoint! Everyone else had the same idea - we ran into several other pairs of riders, lots of bikers (some polite, some rude AF), pedestrians with dogs, and at one point when we were splashing around in the creek we watched a group of kids also playing and almost fall in, which was super funny. Ruby was entranced.
So many beautiful trees! (don't worry, DH was driving lol)
Riding out in a sidepull -- getting her husband broke ;) it only backfired on me once when she wanted to canter and canter and canter and did not feel like stopping, so there was some porpoising involved, lol. 
I love the creek access there.
So much fun splashing around in the creek! And Ruby is polite enough not to try to roll, lol. 
Rocking that RW hat ;)
DH is the coolest and captured this dreamy shot in the leaves. 
It's still fucking in metric so no idea what the mileage actually was, and I'm too lazy to convert. 
It was exactly the kind of pause, refresh day I needed to relax and feel ready for another long week at work... and bonus -- today is going to be probably our only nice day this week, and I have a lesson this evening! Hopefully all the gross, rainy, cool evenings later this week will mean I have time to write about it ;)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Sunny Sunday Shenanigans

Even though I woke up a bit sore Sunday morning (the lesson kicked my butt in the best way), I was impatient to get right back to work! So after some Sunday slacking with coffee and my DVR, doing chores, running errands, hanging out with a friend, and the like -- Sunday afternoon was pony time!
Teeny dogs sunbathed in the window while I mainlined coffee. 
I started with Ruby, because I wanted to take some time to stretch out my stiffness and also run through the mental checklist I put together in my lesson in terms of where my body parts needed to go -- that's a lot easier on Ruby because as a general rule, she'll just pack and let me focus on me, without the silly baby shenanigans Cinna likes to bless me with occasionally, haha. Towards the end of the lesson Saturday, DT had told me to do as much work off the rail as possible, to keep both myself and Ruby honest into both reins, not being lazy and letting the rail do half the work for me. So after a nice loose walk to warm up, I just checked my buttons both ways up and down the quarterlines and diagonals, focusing just on me and my building blocks. Square turns off the leg were the name of the game, and Ruby was ON FIRE. I do love that horse, so much. 
I mostly worked at the walk, because that's the easiest gait for me to work on my own position, but we did do a little trotting and a single circle of canter each way -- no issues with leads, hooray! Afterwards we hacked out... and guys, SO HAPPY. I haven't had time to update here, but within the last week I've hacked Ruby out more than once on a LOOSE REIN, basically back to how she used to hack out when we boarded with trails. IDK whatever in her brain knocked loose, but I don't have that awful, jigging, bolting, threatening to rear horse that she's been on my trails basically since I brought her home last December. We even flushed some deer last week and she just watched them bound away. She did give two halfhearted spooks Sunday, but remained soft and on a loose rein 98% of the time. She's the bomb dot com. 

Good horses get grass noms in the yard. 
I know it's super hard to see but this is the photo from last week with the deer in the yard :)
After Ruby got some well-deserved grazing in the yard, it was Cinna's turn. She's been coming along so well since the clinic -- one ride last week I pulled out my cones and marked off a 20 meter circle and we worked on both trotting and cantering through it, and despite some minor steering bobbles, she did manage it at all gaits, and it felt REALLY nice. Sunday I was a lot less motivated (still working through the sore muscles) so we spent quite a bit of time focusing on getting a nice, ground-covering walk and swinging through the back. Once she felt really soft and relaxed, we did trot and canter both directions, and holy cow, her canter transitions were like butter (a stark contrast from the clinic when they were a hot mess express, lol).
Such a ham. 

She's still a little uncertain outside the arena (the arena is her "safe space") so I opted to just end in there -- nobody was home and I wasn't sure my aching muscles were ready to deal with any teleporting spooks, so we just quit while we were ahead!
Basically I got to spend the afternoon basking in how much fun these mares really do make everything. They're so different to ride and I cannot express how much I appreciate having the chance to stretch my skills by not riding the same type of horse all the time. It's something I hope I never take for granted, and I'm looking forward to where they can take me in the future!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Lesson Recap: Continuing Education

Guess who has two thumbs and finally got her ducks in a row to take a lesson? THIS GIRL! :-D
Unrelated sunrise shot. Missouri has been knocking it out of the park with sunrises/sunsets lately, I have so many photos. 
I have no idea that I'll ever get around to catching up to the months it's been quiet here, but I have a few minutes to jot down some thoughts about my lesson, so here goes! The weather has been all over the map here lately, but we seem to have settled down into something vaguely resembling fall. The week after the CR clinic, I was super motivated and rode almost every day. Saturday was forecasted to be a gorgeous day, so I set up a lesson for late morning. I had grand plans of a leisurely morning getting ready, and then that *poofed* when we ended up needing to run quite a few errands, putting me back at the house mere minutes before my instructor was due to arrive. Not exactly how I wanted to start this new adventure, lol. 
Ruby trying her new heavyweight, since she outgrew the one she's been wearing for the last few years. 
Thankfully Ruby was fine with my rushed grooming and tacking job, and then we started! (side note: I had the Pixio all ready to film and then I fucked up the start process, which is still something I do a good 40% of the time when I'm in a hurry, so no video. Those of you who are intimately aware of my Pixio issues are not shocked, I'm sure. For those of you considering a Pixio, please don't get scared by my constant failures with it, most people use them with no issues..... haha.) I went over some of our history with dressage trainer (let's just call her DT for now). Then the real work started -- fixing me! I'm sure it surprises no one (myself included), that I cause 99% of the issues with my horses. The good news is, DT had really nice things to say about Ruby's gaits, natural balance and self-carriage, desire to please, and just overall attitude. It was a bit windy and Ruby had a few days off before the lesson, so she was a bit *up*, but the extent of her naughtiness was just showing off her beautiful canter at every chance, even if I hadn't asked for it. 
DH wandered over for a few minutes and snapped a handful of photos, but the camera was still on the indoor settings from the clinic so they're not super. But it's all the media I got, so you get to suffer through it.
We talked a little bit about the CR principles, since DT is a fan of Sally Swift and her teachings, so the first order of business was breaking down my "building blocks" and resetting them. It's going to take some time and a significant amount of work to reset my muscle memory, and some commitment to some additional stretchin to help keep my hips looser (something I've struggled with for years), but we worked on keeping my legs further under me and wrapped around Ruby more effectively, and separating my shoulders from my hands -- my hands belong to Ruby, and my shoulders belong to me, so I need to use my elbows and not let myself get pulled forward and hunch in the fetal position.... gee, the hunching and chair seat have only been problems basically.... forever? I'm nothing if not consistent, ha.
Ruby was a really good sport about just carrying on quietly while I contorted myself on top of her, trying to remember to put all my body parts in the right places... with moderate success. I got a little kick out of the fact that I told DT one of the reasons we haven't been showing or doing much lately was that I broke the right lead canter depart, and then of course Ruby picked up the right lead canter perfectly about 8 times... Because of course she did? e also talked a little about the upcoming show at the local university, and she was encouraging about entering. So I may take Cinna up for some intro classes :) we also talked about recognized shows *gulp*. Maybe I'll be breaking out that beautiful Annie's coat sooner rather than later? #goals. Basically it was a good reminder that my horses are truly only limited by me -- they have the gaits, conformation, attitude, brains, and overall aptitude to do basically ANYTHING I want with them, I just have to be willing to put in the hard work on myself. 
It was a really productive lesson and I'm very much looking forward to our next one! (hopefully later this week, if the weather cooperates). I'm not sure the budget will allow weekly lessons all winter, but maybe I'll explore some side hustle options so I can have a dedicated income stream just for continuing my education. I've been bad in the past about letting that slide, but realistically the only way to get better is to take lessons. I spend so much time and money and effort on the horses, why even bother if I'm just going to stay stagnant in the same place? I haven't talked much about my new job on here (because it's a horse blog so I'm sure you don't care about my day job) but something great that's come out of the new position is the realization that I'm worth investing in -- my new employer has been sending me to training sessions and giving me the tools to improve myself, knowing that my continuing improvement will benefit the work I do for them. It's a nice feeling and it's bleeding over into my non-work life -- I'm worth the investment and it's okay to spend money on making myself better at something I enjoy. So. Expect more lesson recaps! (hopefully with better media, haha). 
Not only am I worth it, but these mares are worth it. They are NICE mares, and I need to get better to do justice to them. They shouldn't be limited by my (in)abilities. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Stepping Up to the Plate

I'm still ruminating on my thoughts about this weekend's Centered Riding clinic (that Cinna and I attended), but in the meantime, enjoy some of my favorite photos. The lack of prep leading up to this clinic (between daaaaaays of rain and some stress at work) had me super apprehensive about taking her, but I dug down deep and went anyway. The first day we started out kind of a hot mess, but over the course of our hour lesson, things improved immensely. We ended on a really good note, and I was excited about day two!
At least the outfit was on point even if there were shenanigans, right? haha #priorities
Some words of encouragement from the clinic organizer, who had watched her spinning around like a top over the lunch break as I tried to acclimate her to the arena. 
Audibly breathing, which is why I'm making such weird faces in most of the pics haha. 
I was scolded by my husband for my perpetual RBF (that's just what I look like when I concentrate!) so I had to try harder to smile the next day. 
Pretty representative of the first half -- either trotting at Mach 10 or giraffing.

But we ended up here, so I was thrilled!
Probably singing? Have to breathe to sing!
Day two went even better -- the horse I got on at the clinic was basically the one I got off the day before, so we were able to jump in and work on new concepts immediately instead of spending half the lesson trying to defuse the bomb I was sitting on... novel concept!
Came out walking like this, instead of having to ride through an hour of a Tasmanian Devil impersonations first. 
At the end of the ride, the clinician was very complimentary about the improvement from the beginning of session one to the end of session two, and she also had some thoughts on how complicated Cinna can be, and how she really tested a rider's ability to stay centered. I went in to the clinic hoping to get some techniques to help me bring her "down" when she's "up" so we can work together in a positive cycle instead of a negative one, and it definitely delivered. 
Still had to bust out the #dramaticSpanishmare signature move from time to time 🤷 
Even managed a little canter!
I probably just wasted all my good photos and will have to reuse them when I actually have time to write about the clinic in depth (assuming I find that time?) but I don't even care, I'm so proud of my baby horse! (and yes, I know 6 is technically not a baby anymore, but she'll always be a baby to me!)
This mare <3