Friday, January 21, 2022

Lesson Recap: Under Pressure

Ruby is finally becoming so accustomed to our (nearly) weekly lessons that I think the honeymoon period has worn off and she's no longer constantly on her best behavior 😂 which is actually fine by me! It's a lot easier for me to get tools to deal with her evasions if my trainer can actually SEE said evasions, lol. 

A balmy 19 degrees when I loaded up 🥶

We got quite a bit of snow Saturday morning, so I had scheduled my lesson for Sunday, hoping the roads would be better by then. They mostly were! 

Sunday's lesson Ruby was totally game for all our initial trot work and felt great, but she got a little obstinate when we added a new exercise - a 20m circle at the walk in the center of the arena, with a 360 degree turn on the forehand when we crossed centerline and continue on the walk circle. To the left, she got a little sassy but we got it done (and it eventually got pretty decent!) and then to the right she got a little claustrophobic in the contact and decided to get light in the front. It's not an evasion she pulls out often but it's there and I don't particularly enjoy it (since I generally ride alone at home). But at least new trainer got a chance to see it so we worked through that (I don't want Ruby to learn that rearing gets her out of something she thinks is hard) and then moved on to a different exercise to give her a break. To the left, we incorporated the same exercise but adding in trot and canter in between the turns on the forehand and it really, really helped the adjustability of the canter.

And speaking of, the canter is coming along so well, just in bits and pieces. We can absolutely get fantastic canter for a few strides but if I'm not constantly checking in with the bend she'll get super straight and then just run off. Dressage is hard guys. 

DH stayed home to finish the furniture restoration you saw in Wednesday's post, so again, light on media. 

Her snow mustache, I die. 

The other good news from this lesson was that my equisense is still alive 😂 the Thursday before the lesson after my ride I tucked the sensor into my pocket to bring inside before the cold snap (which always seems to drain the battery) and I forgot it was in that vest pocket and tossed it in the washing machine Friday 🤦‍♀️ thankfully I realized it before the cycle actually RAN but the vest was submerged in water when I fished out the sensor, so I threw it in a bag of rice and hoped for the best. I put it back in the rice after the lesson, and I won't be using it anytime soon anyway (more garbage weather), so hopefully I didn't do any long term damage by submerging it in water! 😬

Monday, January 17, 2022

2022 Goals

Historically, I've been super bad at goal setting. Mostly because it feels like when I put things out into the universe, I jinx myself, but also I'm not great at following up on them... lol. Oh well. That's just who I am as a person and I don't think that's going to change, but I am at least going to TRY to put some 2022 goals down on paper (errrr, html?)! I browsed January posts on the blog looking for any other goal posts, and the only one I found was from 2017... and ironically enough, most of those goals track with my 2022 goals (so clearly I didn't achieve them in 2017 hahahaha). 


- lose 15 more pounds. I really let things spiral in 2020-2021 (pandemic bread baking was not kind to my weight) and was the heaviest I've ever been last summer when I started lessons. I'm down 20 pounds since then and feel so much better, but I could definitely stand to lose more. I want to fit back into that ballllller Annie's coat I bought at Rolex in 2017 and then never wore and then got too fat for. I can button it now but it ain't pretty 😂 

A bit in denial that this was (almost) FIVE YEARS AGO. 

- continue to prioritize movement in whatever way I can (walking on breaks at work, taking the stairs exclusively instead of the elevator, riding as much as I can when the weather is cooperating, etc). It's hard for me to stick with workout programs and we cancelled our Y membership in 2021, but over the last 6 months I've consistently averaged 15-17k steps a day and decreased my resting heart rate significantly (also has helped with the weight loss/maintenance).

- make a doctor's appointment and see if we can do something about my fucking insomnia. I'm doing dry(ish) January and that seems to be helping (according to my Garmin) so I probably need to keep the alcohol dialed back, but medication is probably also necessary for long-term maintenance.

Enjoy a stretchy sleepy puppy break. 


- keep everyone happy and healthy and as comfortable as possible: Jack is 27 this year and Trigger is 26, and they're both noticeably slowing down. I definitely touch base about quality of life with my vet at every annual visit. We seem to be on a good trend with their weight over winter and they are LOVING the big bales of alf I got last fall, so even though it's sort of a PITA to feed, what they want, they get, lol. 

Living his best life and wearing his beet pulp dinner mash lol. 

- maintain a 2x-3x a month lesson schedule. In the winter this can be affected by weather and during spring-fall it will also be affected by my trainer's clinic/show schedule, but I've been doing pretty well at hitting this mark monthly since last August, so I want to keep it up! Probably Ruby for most of the lessons, but I definitely plan to take Cinna a few times.

- take Cinna off property more - definitely for some lessons and also for trail rides/whatever other adventures we can scrounge up. She's definitely getting off the property more now than she used to, but I need to keep doing it. 

Currently our best rides are "drendurance" style, in a partially assembled dressage bridle and my endurance saddle. Can't wait to show up for a lesson like this lol. 


- This is really small potatoes compared to the next two bullet points, but I'd like to aim for some GMO year-end awards again. This leads to a whole 'nother quandary because my GMO didn't do year-end awards last year (and possibly the year before as well, I can't remember?) and the vibe I'm getting from meetings is that they want to prioritize educational events over shows this year, which is totally fine, just... not the direction that I personally want to go. So I may need to join my trainer's GMO if I want to aim for year-end awards. 

I miss big ribbons and prizes. 

- It's time. This is the year. RECOGNIZED SHOWS. I'm serious about it in a way I definitely wasn't back in 2017 the last time I halfass put it on a goal list. I shelled out the $600 to get all our memberships sorted out the first week of January, suffered through 5+ hours of useless safe sport training, and bought a better stock tie (now I just need white breeches!). I'll be using the Gifted Grant to spend a week in boot camp at my trainer's this spring to be ready and have already sketched out my rough show plans (finances willing). 

Super stretch goals would be to get some scores towards my bronze, qualify for Regionals (which is in LSTL this year, so that would be convenient!), and/or win an All Breeds award :) 

Whew. Okay. That made my internal pessimist cringe a little, but here we go, my goals are out in the universe!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Lesson Recap: Transitions while Leg Yielding

Man, that lesson that my friend came to really set the bar high for media and sort of ruined me 😂😂😂 I had another lesson last Saturday and I was completely solo (DH had plans to make his first batch of moonshine and needed to babysit the still all day), and I didn't even bother to set the Pivo up because I was annoyed at how much time it spent staring at the arena walls last lesson once I had more time to review the footage. We were trying to fit the lesson in between some expected shitty winter weather, and managed to succeed, so yay for that. Of course, the weather had been super gross most of the week prior to the lesson, so I only managed one ride, and it was 80% walking - in the bands at least, so not a total waste, but also not terribly productive....womp womp. Good news, it's pushing me to accelerate my timeline to upgrade my arena footing 😂 but that's a post for another day! 

The days are getting longer because you can sort of see what I'm wearing vs just a shadow blob 😂

The side of the arena that doesn't get much sun still had snow on it. Sigh. 

Pretty sunset though!

That end was reasonably useful so we did some 20m circles.

My puppy was assembled incorrectly the night before my lesson. 

Regretting my life choices loading up at 25 degrees lol. 

Normally I tack up at my trailer but it was windy and gross so we grabbed an open stall. Ruby thought that was pretty cool and wanted me to leave her there after our ride 😂

The only riding media 😂 but yay for fitting in my Annie's "peek-a-blue" breeches again! 

The lesson before me ran a little long so we had plenty of time for a nice slow warm-up, and then we jumped right into some hard work! It was leg yield boot camp, incorporating not just leg yields off the wall then back to it, but also making transitions down to walk and back up to trot while maintaining the leg yields -- which, sort of scrambled the hamsters in Ruby's brain to start with. When we needed a brief break from that, we did a 20m circle in the middle of the arena but as we crossed centerline, a 10m circle the opposite direction, so sort of a figure 8 in each direction just one smaller circle? I'm not explaining it well and I'm typing this on my phone so I'm not illustrating it, #sorrynotsorry lol. The canter is also coming along. Transitions are (generally) getting far less exciting, and I'm able to feel when the canter is really really good and hold it for a few strides. Perpetually a work in progress! 

The weather this week is much nicer so I'm hoping to actually have a chance to work on our homework before our next lesson!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

I Got the Gifted Grant!

So remember back in September when I wrote about my last-minute application for a grant from the Dressage Foundation for a dressage boot camp? I GOT IT! Whew! I've been waiting to announce forrrrrrrever because I had to wait until they posted their press release, lol. 

Initially when I applied the grant director said I should hear back within 6-8 weeks, which would been mid-November. I touched base the week of Thanksgiving, and she told me I should hear by the end of the year. I mostly semi-successfully put it out of my head, but the Monday of Christmas week I got an email that I had been selected! I was asked to keep things hush hush until they made the official announcement, but of course I shared the news with my trainer, and my GMO pres who wrote me the recommendation letter :) (and my group chat because let's be real lol). 

So sometime in the spring, I'll be off to spend a week straight riding with my trainer :) Ruby will board at the fancy farm for the duration and I'll be staying in a hotel nearby, so I don't have to worry about traveling back and forth to my house. Aside from the daily lessons, I'll also get to watch my trainer work her horses in training/teach lessons to her other students (who ride at pretty much every level up through I-2). I am super looking forward to it! That was just the kick in the pants I needed to yank me out of the winter doldrums and make me excited about riding even in gross weather - dreams don't work unless you do too!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Lesson Recap: Forward and Back

Whew! Was sort of hoping I could find time for a year-end recap, and I have some other exciting news to share soon, but in the meantime.... 

I managed to sneak in a lesson last weekend! Our holiday plans got a little out of sorts, so when I had last Friday off work and it was forecasted to be 65 degrees (with Saturday and Sunday being full of freezing rain and single digit temps/windchills), I reached out to my trainer about sneaking in one last lesson for the year. DH came with me, but spent most of the lesson watching videos on his phone for his new hobby (distilling his own alcohol, sigh), and the Pivo was on the struggle bus because 60% of the time I was riding there was someone else either schooling or cooling out from a previous lesson, so that footage is a mess. So. Less media than usual this week, but something is better than nothing I guess!

Crappy Pivo screenshot haha. 

He apparently only took photos of like two laps of the arena where I was tracking right, working on sending her forward and back from my seat. 

Nothing earth-shattering in this lesson, but I was fairly tickled that Ruby came out after essentially three weeks off (between Penny and some bad weather) and was her super solid, steady self. We spent a lot of time at the trot, making sure she was letting me influence the tempo, sending her forward and back and forward and back forever and ever. We also had probably some of the nicest uphill canter departs we've had in AGES, where she just stepped up into the canter with zero theatrics -- that's something that probably still shouldn't be plaguing us now that's she's ELEVEN (yesterday!), but what can I say, I have a lot of canter baggage and therefore CREATE a lot of canter baggage with my horses haha. 

My instructor also had some really nice things to say about how much my position has been improving - this was probably the first lesson she didn't have to remind me (AT ALL) to corral my rogue right shoulder, haha. And I'm getting more confident in the timing of corrections and being able to stop some of Ruby's nonsense before she gets started, lol. On Ruby's end, we're still lessoning in the Paladin noseband with the Nathe, but in this particular lesson she got a little annoyed and teeth-grindy towards the end of the lesson. She hasn't done that in a while, and never at a lesson or in this bit (although she'll do it in the sidepull too, the bit doesn't seem to be a factor), but I think she was just extra lit up from all the temp swings and probably wanted to canter quite a bit more than we schooled in the lesson. I haven't noticed her doing it schooling at home lately, but definitely something I want to make sure I remember in case it comes up again. 

Cici's acu vet (who rides at the barn) gave us this cute little ornament! I distributed jars of apple pie moonshine, lol. 

Since this was my first visit since Christmas, my trainer also had a nice little gift for me plus a Christmas card with information about their tentative show schedule for 2022 - and a list of all the memberships and things I need to show recognized, lol. Shit is getting real! I got online yesterday to start tallying them up and came to $585, which is before my GMO memberships (another $105 if I join both my local and my trainer's local GMO).

My secret santa sent me a BEAUTIFUL stock pin that matches Ruby's show browband <3 so I'm 90% ready to LOOK the part anyway, lol.