Thursday, May 26, 2022

Practicing with Pivo

So with gas prices plus the new commute to my trainer's interim barn being problematic for weekly lessons, I decided to get more aggressive about seeing if I could get the Pivo to work for remote lessons. I know many people using it successfully, and Jen published a really helpful tutorial (although it's Pivo Cast now, not Pivo Meet I guess?), so I figured that was a good jumping off point. T volunteered to be my guinea pig, and we picked an evening after work to give it a whirl. I had already ridden Ruby in the morning so Cinna was my victim of choice. I have excessively bad timing, and the forecast was calling for rain, so we had a pretty narrow window to figure things out before a thunderstorm rolled through. 

Cinna: "what fresh hell is this?"

It actually went relatively seamlessly once I figured out how to swap from the front facing camera to the back one, lol. T and I had a little trouble with the audio, which could have been either my headphones or the cell reception at her barn, so I plan to practice again with a different pair of headphones and have DH sitting inside on WiFi to see if that solves the problem. I also ordered another WiFi extender for the tack shed, since the WiFi from the house reaches that far but gets dicey in the far end of the arena (my Amazon music gets laggy down there some rides), so hopefully those changes fix the problems and I'll be ready to embark on virtual lessons with TrainerB!

Me and Cinna thanking T and Karma for their patience at the end!

I didn't ride for long, just the basics of w/t/c each direction to confirm the Pivo could follow me at various speeds. My phone isn't the latest and greatest/newest model, so that was one of my bigger concerns. It seemed to work okay so I'm comfortable doing some more testing and then hopefully getting something set up with TrainerB! T helpfully pointed out that if I'm not spending the equivalent of the lesson on gas (which definitely happened the last few times 🤢), I could....afford lessons on BOTH horses? Mind blowing, I know. Fingers crossed! TrainerB takes virtual lessons with her trainer (although she was using the Pixem system last time I saw the end of one of hers), so I'm hoping she'll be able to adapt pretty quickly to the Pivo interface!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Misty Muggy Mornings

Wow I've also been like, super bad at keeping up with my daily rides at home lately, lol. Looks like the last one I wrote about was when the saddle got delivered, which was two weeks ago at this point! Whoops. I just scrolled through Google photos and grabbed some shots and I'll try to recap anything I remember. 

First sunrise ride of the summer. 

We also hack out a lot over to the church and back for a change of pace lol. 

And then she snoozes inside all day in front of the fan. 

Missouri wasn't playing around and jumped right up into the mid-90s for an oppressive, hot week mid-May. It happened to coincide with my office getting renovated and being sent to work from home, which was perfect! I was able to ride a lot in the mornings, when it was still really muggy, but at least not also blistering hot. On nice(r) days, I am also able to fit in a ride on whichever mare I didn't ride in the morning -- had quite a few days where I managed to get both ridden, which always feels like an accomplishment!

The face of a horse who SAT BACK HARD and tried her patented trick to break my cross ties and run around the yard. 

After the cross ties didn't give (which is literally why I had DH install those posts/bought these particular ties, HA), you could seeeeeee the wheels turning in her head. She could not figure out what sorcery this was that prevented her from escaping!

After that we had a lovely ride!

I ended up throwing the Fairfax on her (knowing that anything that fits Ruby well will NOT be a good fit for this barrel on legs), and she was.... amazing? CINNA I CANNOT AFFORD ANOTHER ONE OF THESE SADDLES. 

Also lots of napping

I need to powerwash some of these saddle pads, sigh. 

I love not having to leave in the mornings. 

Trigger, wondering why I haven't replaced his little salt brick yet. 

Cinna: "I don't wear those anymore, thanks"

Oh and in other fun (but expensive) news, the Taj MahTeal is finally fully climate controlled! When we renovated it in 2020, I budgeted for a small portable a/c unit that also could do heat, but ended up not buying it at the time for... reasons I can't actually remember. I probably spent the money on something silly like a chandelier or something haha. Actually I think by the time we got to the end the unit I wanted was out of stock? Unfortunately the power situation in the shed wouldn't handle a mini split (which was my first choice), but this little unit gets great reviews, so fingers crossed. Previously I ran a dehumidifier during the summer, which kept things from getting moldy but Christ on a cracker it would be HOT in there from the exhaust, and then in the winter all my bottles and sprays and whatnot would freeze, which was a bummer. I was still nursing along the dehumidifier I bought in 2015 (yeah I more than got my money's worth haha), but it kicked the bucket the same day my new saddle arrived and even DH couldn't fix it. So my saddle got to live in the guest room while I waited for the new unit to come in. 

We had been hoping to vent it out an existing exhaust hole, but the hose was too short, so DH decided cutting a hole in the floor was preferable to the wall (not sure I agreed but I was outvoted by the fact that he was the one running the saw lol). The Taj MahTeal is not built into the ground, its up on supports, so it was easy enough to vent both the exhaust and the water the dehumidifier pulls out of the air down to the ground below. Why yes, he sealed that exhaust with teal duct tape from my horse show kit #redneckAF lol

Jack struggled a bit the week it was very hot and humid, but thankfully is still sweating. He is also perpetually covered in bug bites/hives, and nothing I seem to do makes them go away, but he doesn't seem uncomfortable, so I'm just monitoring for now. 

He loves all the time they get out on pasture when I'm WFH, since they get to come in later/go out earlier. 

Unenthused (to be fair, it was like 45 degrees which is weirdly cold for May so I was similarly unenthused! lol)

Nothing like that fresh-raked arena look. We got a TON of rain last Friday/Saturday but as always, arena dragged up great on Sunday, even though I didn't have time to ride until Monday morning. Guess it's okay that I spent my arena footing upgrade money on a saddle haha. 

Is it humid? I feel like it's humid. 

This was a particularly sweaty morning lol. 

Ruby really loves our hacking out days. I miss the trails at our old barn SO MUCH on days like this, sigh. 

We always start in the arena so I can make sure all the buttons work. Her canter is getting SO much more rideable between working in my new saddle and utilizing some of the exercises we learn in our lessons with TrainerB

So 90% of the photos in this post got inserted correctly but of course the ones that tell a story did not, haha. That's Annie, our feral Siamese, who almost caused my untimely demise Monday night. 

She popped out of the long grass down in the corner Cinna already thinks is full of dead people, with something she captured but hadn't killed yet in her mouth. While I was hacking Cinna by on the buckle cooling out. Posting on FB, because of course I was (yeah that part is on me). 

Cinna noped the fuck right out of that corner and ran full tilt to the other end of the arena. I... almost came off the back, lol. Managed to save things, and then we got to go back down to that end and work until she could shift her attention from what the cat was doing (murder) to what I was asking (just to trot along nicely on a light contact). 


My hallway of the office renovation was completed at the end of last week, so I expected to return to the office full time, but I guess some more slots opened up in the pilot program of remote work (I cannot express how dumb I think it is that they're calling it a "pilot program" after like 60% of us worked remotely for 15 months with minimal issues during the pandemic but whatever no one asked for my opinion), so last week my boss squared away the paperwork so I can WFH three days a week and be in the office the other two, which is a really nice balance that I'm happy with. I do enjoy in person meetings and collaboration, and there are some things where it truly is simpler to poke my head in someone's office to ask them vs having an actual scheduled meeting about it, but this will still free up an extra 6 hours in my week that I won't have to commute (or buy gas, whew). I will work on shifting all my in person meetings to those two days a week and then all my virtual ones the rest of the time. I got my workspace in the guest bedroom all squared away again (although I need some sort of adapter to make my second monitor work), and we'll revisit the house addition for a dedicated office sometime down the line I guess - no sense in jumping the gun when materials are so insane right now. Yay!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Trail Adventures: Rudolf Bennitt Group Ride

Soooo far behind on posts, wow. Bad blogger! I already wrote my lesson recap from the weekend before last, but what I neglected to write about was a really fun trail ride the day before! I met up with some local(ish lol) friends at Rudolph Bennitt for a laid back ride. One of the ladies didn't have a horse to ride, so I used that as an excuse to get Cinna out - I let her ride Ruby and forced myself to ride Cinna lol. I also picked up one of the ladies who lives near me (trailerpooling FTW, no need for both of us to drive trailers up there with empty slots), so lots of driving that day!

My heathens

Predictably, Cinna started off a bit hyped up, and wanted to jig/put her nose up everyone's butt..... sigh. She also pulled her patented "spook and come to a dead stop and refuse to move", which of course caused a few traffic jams. About halfway through the ride she finally settled in and I was actually really proud of her! ........ annnnnnd then with no warning and for no reason whatsoever, she kicked the gelding behind us. Luckily for everyone she caught him in the meaty part of the chest, and isn't shod, so aside from being very wary of her for the rest of the ride (poor guy), he didn't seem to have any ill effects. He was following at a completely appropriate distance and was not in any way crowding her (plus he had literally run into her butt earlier on the trail when she stopped abruptly and wouldn't walk on and she didn't bat an eyelash), and she didn't even pin her ears or anything so still no idea what on earth set her off. I was MORTIFIED, because she's never offered to kick before, much less done it with no warning. Although in retrospect, I'm not actually sure she's been out on a ride with strange horses, its always just been with my other horses? Not that that's an excuse, just a data point to consider. I will be getting a red ribbon for any group trail rides and warning people to give her space, because I don't want anyone to get hurt :( I'm just thankful she didn't catch the rider in the leg, or anything on the poor gelding to do more serious damage. 

The lady riding Ruby was a bit obsessed - I think Ruby has added another person to her fan club lol. I was just glad she was well behaved (minus leaping over some creeks, but the lady events so at least it didn't scare her haha). 

It was an otherwise laid-back ride -- mostly walking, but then one one of the wider grassy sections (I think its the carriage path) we let them trot/canter a little. Cinna pleasantly surprised me by being a complete adult about this and trotting reasonably without losing her marbles. Ruby of course was perfect - I think her rider might have answered a facetime call while trotting down the trail hahah. The day was warm so I think the horses appreciated getting sponged off back at the trailers and then hanging out at the trailers munching hay while we all socialized a bit. It was an excellent day!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Lesson Recap: the Missing Piece

Sunday I was able to meet up with TrainerB for my first lesson in a month! Unfortunately due to some circumstances outside my control (the fucking continuing ridiculous price of gas and the fact that she's currently working out of a facility that is a longer/far more inconvenient drive for me), I am definitely not going to be able to keep up weekly (or even twice a month at this rate) lessons, which sort of sucks. We're exploring the options for some remote/virtual lessons in the interim. Eventually she will be at a facility that is a much easier drive for me, but I don't have a timeline on that yet so sort of in a holding pattern there (which is fine). Disappointing in the sense that I was really digging the weekly lessons, but I'm trying to be more zen about the things I can't control haha.  

At the end of our lesson, I threw the cell phone shots in first lol.

The weather Sunday was a bit dicey, as storms were rolling through the area at around the same time I had my lesson scheduled. The facility I hauled to had a decent sized outdoor, and a fairly small indoor, so we opted to start outside and see how much we could get done before the rain started (ended up being about 2/3 of the lesson, which was great!). 

Screenshots from video, I'll drop them at the bottom of the post if you want to watch. 

I must say this was a SUPERB matchy matchy outfit. I may have outdone myself lol. 

When I posted some stills on IG, one astute follower called the saddle "the missing piece", and the phrase has just been bouncing around my head ever since. I was super excited to get a full lesson using it, and TrainerB was nearly as excited as I as about it (how is that even possible, right?). And because a new saddle wasn't enough of a change, it was also our first lesson (and only like my 6th or 7th real ride) in the Turtle Top. Both pieces of tack got a resounding thumbs up by the end :) Between not being able to hang on my hands in the Turtle Top, and the new saddle being SO SUPPORTIVE so Ruby couldn't yank me out of position at the canter, I felt like I was completely "plugged in" and able to ride so much more effectively.... predictably, Ruby was unamused, haha. We both worked HARD.   

Quite a bit of the work in the trot was aimed at helping Ruby complete the full length of stride (touched on at this lesson), but something about TrainerB using the phrase "think about bringing your hips to your elbows" Sunday clicked for my brain and helped me give Ruby the space she needed to come allllll the way through. She was a bit fussy in the contact since she couldn't lean, but we definitely had some nice moments where she acknowledged that she could be responsible for carrying her own damn self lol. I've gotten a bit reliant on riding in the dressage arena at the old facility and was very used to the letters as landmarks and not having to navigate around jumps, so this lesson was good practice for me in terms of getting out of that rut! And honestly aside from a general hairy eyeball to everything going on outside the arena (horses coming in and out of turnouts, etc), Ruby worked fairly well in a completely new place. She had more of a tendency to giraffe than usual, but it was manageable. 

So I know this is like the only trot photo tracking right, I swear we did both directions fairly equally but DH was alternating between photos and videos and apparently set the camera down a lot lol. 

We only got to canter about a circle each way in the outdoor before our luck ran out with the rain and we had to dash for the indoor. TrainerB decided to kill two birds with one stone and introduce a leg yield to canter depart exercise that initially sort of broke my brain and then once I had successfully done it (and gotten one of the nicest departs and then adjustable canter circles EVER), I brought Ruby back down to a walk and just stared at TrainerB and told her she was a wizard, haha. OFC DH wasn't videoing then, so I yelled at him asked him nicely to film me doing the exercise a few more times. I need to work on my timing for changing the bend and asking for the depart, but when we got it right it felt SO GOOD! And really encouraged Ruby to stand up on that right side instead of overbending her neck left and letting the right side trail out into oblivion. Some outside videos below, and then two from the end of the lesson in the indoor below!

TrainerB is taking clients up to a show in Iowa next month the week after my birthday that she thinks might be a good fit for us - I dug up the prize list and the show itself is reasonably affordable (office fee and shavings are cheaper than the April show), but gas is the big unknown right now (plus I'd definitely have to get a hotel room)... sigh. Entries don't close until the end of the month so I have some time to think about it (or sell my organs on the black market, only sort of kidding). I'm unbelievably frustrated that I FINALLLLLLLLY have the time, coaching, and drive to start doing recognized shows and gas has fucking doubled in price making it impossible to GO to said shows (or lessons). Blergh. Plus I still don't know how/when I'm going to be able to use my Gifted Grant since TrainerB is no longer at the facility we based the budget on. I recognize this is a uniquely first world problem and I should just be grateful for all the opportunities I DO have, but just... damn.... Ugh. Anyway. I'm glad this was such a good lesson because it's going to have to tide me over for a while :( :(