Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Fantastic Elastic


(No, not a review of the reins Carl Hester sells, although I'm sure they're great)

Rather, an apt description of tonight's learning in my weekly lesson with EC on the wonderful Audrey.
Same Audrey pic as last week, I'll get a new one next time

I was on my own tonight, which I always feel a little bad about loving so much. EC's time and my budget both being limited usually I share with one or two others. Which is awesome in so many ways, but you know how it is, there's only so much time you want to monopolize with questions when there are others sharing. So, I used tonight's solo lesson to the fullest, splitting the time between riding and picking her brain on everything dressage training and life planning.

We started out by discussing how Bridget has been going. My thoughts/questions for EC were basically that Bridget is feeling great. I have been spending time in the huge arena working on the canter since there is enough room there for B to find a steady balance and just go. No short sides, no corners to unbalance her.  We've got all the forward again, she's sharp off my leg, she's having fun.

So much room to run!

So...that's cool! What I've been also doing is starting her on a long rein and then gradually picking up the contact and asking her to keep the same energy, rhythm, and relaxation even as I compress things a little and ask for more. When she gets tight and stuck, I might bend and soften her, or I might back off a little and we reestablish the forward, balance, and contact again. We're not yet back at a place where the dressage judges are going to love us (it's much more of a training level frame), but..this feels like the right approach and if things continue as they have been, we'll get there.

Hacking to the ring last week. Off topic, but this pony better never be ditchy. I feel like half our rides on the wet coast are alongside one or finding places to cross.


EC previously had me warm Bridget up, then take up my reins, set them to a reasonable length and keep them steadily there a la side reins, and just worry about keeping B forward. All very simple. I think the concept might be useful sometimes, and I appreciate how simple it kept things for me as the rider, but I wasn't seeing a lot of success. One thing I love about EC - if something is not working for me, she is almost always supportive of my judgement and willing to switch up the program to try an alternate solution. In this case, she was 100% supportive of my decision to go back to the basics a little, and was happy to hear it was working and that B is starting to meet me halfway. I'm not saying the "arms as sidereins" approach was wrong, it was a useful stage for where I was at with my busy hands and where B was at, too, but now it's time to move back along.
We were previously doing some work using a neck rope similar to this concept...the idea being my hands are forced to stay steady - they can give forward, but not too far back. B gets a consistent length of rein at all times,  too. As the rider,  my job is to just keep her forward. While this is always a helpful way of seeing how handsy you really are and eliminating any fussiness in the contact that might be related to that, in our case, I didn't see much of a difference in B's way of going after a small initial improvement. It did help me fine tune turning off my seat and legs tho!

So, that discussion fed in to my lesson perfectly - because guess who else is very fussy about using their body as well as they should, and super difficult to get steady in the contact? Who else hates a naggingrider? Audrey! Her and Bridget are actually very much alike, both finding it quite easy to do all the things at 50% effort and tricking everyone but the rider into thinking they're working well.

I rode Audrey exactly as I have been riding Bridget, and EC talked me through it. I rode almost the entire lesson in either a stretchy frame or a more open, training level type contact, with short interludes of me picking up a more solid contact and having her rounder and more collected, the idea being we can move between all of it very smoothly and with no change of pace - just like I'm doing with Bridget.
Back to basics!

Eyes on the ground are so helpful!  I had a wonderful lesson. Focusing on keeping my shoulders and elbows really soft and elastic, giving when Audrey gave, and generally being disciplined about keeping the energy the same regardless of whether I was asking her to change the bend, move out or come back a little. Basic concepts, but always so important. She went from super braced and spooky to soft and happy (as did I, lol). We finished with some good canter spirals and shoulder in (with no inadvertent lead changes, yay!)

What is extra helpful for me with these lessons is not only that they're very similar rides, it's that Audrey is about a year further along in her training, and obviously way more talented. So not only is EC giving me feedback, Audrey is too. I  love that I'm able to show EC how Bridget is going and get feedback...by demonstrating on Audrey. Kind of weird, I guess, but neat!

Ohh...and the mare 'tude? It came out once or twice and EC had me get after Audrey a bit...and yeah, nothing bad happens beyond some minor antics I'm totally capable of handling. So, confidence levels on this mare are getting ever better.



Monday, 27 November 2017

Riding Thoughts

Thanks for all the support and understanding of my workplace rant! I hate drama and negativity, but I seem to have stumbled and become mired in a lot of it these past months. It's easy to blame people and circumstance, but when it comes down to it, I believe it's partly my actions and decisions that inadvertently got me here, and I can choose how I will react, learn, and move forward from here. For now, I will do my best to not worry too much about what I can't control (other people's motives), and will make the best of what I can (my life :).

Thsi post brought to you by random weekend barn photos

The big impact real world worries are currently having on my riding is that I've let go there a lot too. Riding is my hobby, and I'm not inclined to make it into anything resembling work or stress right now.  I just get in the saddle, hope to have fun, and try to fit whatever training opportunities I can into that. There's no planning to work on anything specific, and I really am not interested in focusing on one thing. I had a couple of group events planned these past few days, and have let those go by the wayside with very few regrets...I need to look after me as well as pony, and right now, the fewer firm commitments for my time I have, the better.

My rules have also relaxed hugely. I'm not as demanding, and easily forgive the little things. In some cases, this means Midge is slacking a bit or taking advantage. But mostly, she's meeting me more than halfway and picking up the slack all on her own. Is she finally maturing? Or is this change really suiting her? I'm thinking the latter, so it's my new goal to keep riding her like this.


She's got a fabulous attitude lately. She's confident without being pushy, enthusiastic but not rude, and fun but still safe. Her work ethic is amazing right now. I hopped on at 10:30 the other morning, hacked to the arena, had a blast doing canter sets with her, played a little with real work, then did some more work on counter canter because she still wanted to go rather than walk and cool down. By the time I hopped off, 2 hours had passed. I gave her a good grooming for another hour before I put her away, but she still wanted to follow me back out the gate as I was leaving.

"Where are we going next, human?"

This pony, guys. Continually surprising me.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Grateful

Thank you all so much for the words of advice and encouragement on my clinic post. I'm hopeful we'll be able to make a go of it and make regular riding lessons here a reality.

I distributed flyers to local businesses today!

In other news, other people around me have been acting in a very disappointing way. I know I've been honest here about needing a time out and currently being on a modified work schedule (after I asked for an LOA) until christmas. Thats why I moved Midge home, thats why I'm organizing clinics in order to have lessons, thats why showing is on hold. I currently work three days in the office on the lower coast, and two days remotely up coast at home. This means I can sleep in my own bed 4 nights a week, rather than the 36 hours on weekends I would normally manage.

I may have mentioned that some of my coworkers thought that my temporary schedule was unfair. Well, thats now gotten next level soap opera crazy, and fast.


One very close coworker I would have previously called a good friend has involved the union and (apparently? No one but my manager has told me anything) there is some part of a union agreement somewhere that they can use to argue that I should not be allowed to work anything but full time 8:30-4:30 M-F at my desk, in that office. No remoting in, no satellite office, no flex time, I should be in my office all week, effective immediately. I'm really disappointed that the people supposed to be on my side ("Friend" and union) would kick me when I'm down, particularly by blindsiding me like this. I'm confused as to what the motivation would even be. This time of year, when it's slow, my not being there every day in person affects no one as far as workload. I work a tech job, just as easily done from home as in the office. Most of my work is data maintenance and analysis, ie I'm not one of the people you need on hand in an emergency.  Rules are rules, and I guess if there is one we all need to follow it. Still, the way this is being handled has me feeling really upset. It feels like a grudge or agenda at play, but I'm honestly baffled as to why I'm being targeted, especially by the people involved. Much to think about there, and much to keep me awake at night.

I do realize this is a horsey blog, not a personal one. I felt like I needed to get what'  going on out there because whatever comes of my work is very much going to affect my riding life, and I have a feeling there are some big changes coming in both.

Whew, time for a visit to my happy place.

This seems an apt time to write about all the wonderful things I'm grateful for right now:

-G. He's wonderful. I'm very lucky.

-G's health. Knocking hard on wood, he's been feeling pretty good for about a month now, and there's no reason that can't continue for a long while yet.

-EC. For letting me ride Audrey, and for finding time in her schedule to come to me to teach. Most importantly for not just believing in me as a rider but as a person.

-HR and management at work, for showing they really do support their employees.

-Midge. I rode today, and had a super ride. My worries disappeared and somehow, my 45min ride stretched to 2 hours and we were both still having fun.

-The blogging community. 5 years and nothing but positive, helpful, encouraging comments every time I send my random thoughts out to the internet.

-All the past crappy people in my life. I'm serious here. They helped me become stronger, more independent, more determined, and thanks to them I appreciate all the good even more.

-The owner of the barn I'm temporarily staying at. She's been looking after Midge the days I can't and still charging me the cheapest board I've ever paid in my life.
Best pony. Even on a strict diet, still so round and cuddly. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Clinic/Lesson Organizing

I'm going to try to make some clinics happen up coast this year - wish me luck!

This post brought to you with blurry phone pics of us in our reflective gear.


I thought I'd outline my plan here and then hope that you'll all give me some input from either a participant or organizer perspective. I'd really like to make this work and hope to set it up as a monthly thing.
I think the reflective flagging tape in her tail really makes us legit, lol

Background/things worth noting:

-Hometown has plenty of horses, but very little coaching, and very, very, few competitive riders.

-I'd say there are more western than english riders.

-There used to be regular clinics with different coaches, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

-There's a large outdoor arena, with kitchen and washroom facilities that we can rent. Ditto an indoor arena, same story. Would add $20 per person per day for cost.

-I'm just inviting my regular coach, EC to come up there to teach. She's got a good reputation locally, and a very impressive resume. (although it's eventing and dressage based, not western)

-She'll teach for her normal lesson cost, plus transportation (ferry/gas). She'll stay with me, so no cost there. We're looking at about $75 for a private lesson that way (cost @ her barn is $60). Booking a facility here would add to the $75 base cost.
But that canter!! She felt a bit flat and quick tonite but all the pics look not too bad still! Visible improvement!

My plan for now:

I need to keep this low risk and easy to set up for now!

So, rather than a clinic format, I think for now I'd like to just advertise in advance of when she's going to be the area, and then just book lesson times for people. EC can just travel to them on the day to the place of their choosing. This saves me being on the hook for arena booking fees should this not work out. It also saves me a bunch of organizing.

As far as payment goes, I think I'll also just leave that to the individual to pay directly to EC on the day. Again, keep it simple.

Auditing is free, and allowed if the person taking the lesson is good with it.



Contemplating:

To make this 'a thing' if numbers are tight, I could potentially book myself an extra lesson/cover a bit of any shortfall once in a while. Is it better to do that to establish this as a regular, predictable lesson schedule every month, or do I just cancel in advance if numbers are tight? Part of me says cancel, and reschedule, the other part of me says it's better to be consistent so people can reliably plan to book a lesson each month. I don't want to fall into the pattern of people being reluctant to commit until the last minute when they're sure the clinic is a go.

Any ideas for what I could do to attract some of the "western" or "trail riding" crowd?

Should I organize some kind of pub night or dinner get together the night before?

Look, it's another uphill canter pic! Proof EC is magical and worth every penny :)






Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Hollywood Mares


Audrey. Such a pretty mare. Apparently I have a soft spot for opinionated bay mares with old Hollywood names. Ginger, Bridget, and Audrey!
I thought I'd do a quick update on all my favorite mares!

Ginger's lease teen wanted to move up the levels next year a bit more than Ginger would be capable of, so she moved on to lessons on Audrey earlier this fall. Ginger was still being ridden regularly by teen, but I had my back up plan ready! Luckily for Ginger, lease teen decided recently that taking the slower route with Ginger is what she'd rather do. Audrey is lovely, but so much different than Ginger as far as temperament goes, so I can understand someone not enjoying her as much as Ginger despite the big difference in ability. It's great, because they both love each other and still have more they can accomplish together. And, so long as Ginger is happy, them so am I.

Bridget mare last weekend. Love her too and can't wait to try to transfer what Audrey is teaching me.
Bridget has been doing fabulously in her new/old situtation up coast. She's got a ton of energy, she's happy, and fingers crossed, she's losing weight.

So complicated, so cute, so neurotic. Ms Audrey. She attempted to attack one of the geldings in the stall behind her .5 sec after I took this, and remained upset about him, kicking out randomly until I put her back in her paddock.

Audrey. Oh, Audrey. My ride on  Audrey last night was fun and anxious making all at the same time. She was feeling very fresh, and I'm not familiar enough with yet yet to know whether I just needed to canter around and burn off steam, or whether that would be an invitation for a a rodeo.  I am not the bravest rider on a new horse, and all that power, plus some feisty mare 'tude was making me feel a little nervous. So, we did a ton of stuff in walk while I figured out the buttons for all the lateral work. Moving up to trot resulted in a humpy back combined with much head shaking, so I chose to work on canter. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but walk-canter-walk transitions and lateral work in canter (without lead changes!) were my homework. Plus, I find her canter easier to adjust than her trot. In trot there can be much multidimensional leg flinging and teleporting when I'm piloting, plus as mentioned, it's BIG and really adjustable and right now my body cannot be trusted to always stay exactly where it belongs, which she is not shy about telling me, lol. The added impulsion in canter helps me keep her straight and between my aids a little easier. So, we did a bunch of walk to canter transitions, and then when the attention started to waver, we went back to walk for a few steps and then back to canter. She relaxed pretty quickly, and so we finished with some more sedate trot. So, winning on the canter work - it was lovely and uncomplicated and I've got those transitions nailed down on her. Losing for being a chickensh!t rider - I think there was a missed opportunity there to take that energy and funnel it into a really exceptional ride, but I was simply not bold enough to push it. Honestly, though, while confidence is a problem, I am lacking in ability too, so maybe I need to not be too hard on myself until I am more capable of riding her well. Fingers crossed, in time I will feel as confident with her as I do with other horses!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Undampened Spirits


Whose brilliant idea was it to bring Midge home during the worst weather months of the year? Oh yeah, mine!

Saturday...

And Sunday...
What's annoying is this happened last weekend, too. Also, our cat finds this weather far too exciting and keeps us up all night while he runs around trying to watch the rain drops and blowing debris he can see thru the windows. I'm hopeful this means that if something weird happens like a break in or house fire he'll wake us up then too, but...cats...I don't know, he could just enjoy torturing us.

Still, we made it out for our Friday night ride in the indoor and had a good ride. Saturday, I opted to combine fitness and jumping with the following:

It sounds impressive when I say she was so into it she was jumping the standards, but these particular ones are abnormally short!

While my goals of setting up some legit courses with spooky things and XC type elements are still a fail, but at least since the arena is huge we were able to gallop around at XC pace and loop around to pop over these at a reasonable speed off alternating reins. Midge was super into it, and super honest about the barrels too. She was huffing and puffing by the time we called it a day, so that's a win for pony fitness improving.

I need for the weather to cooperate slightly one of these weekends so that I can get a proper course set up. The other trick with sharing this particular arena is that you can't leave things set up when you're not using them, so I basically need to have a lot of free time or a helper to help set up and take things down. Bridget is very patient, but unfortunately lacks opposable thumbs to really help me out :)

Even with the weather, daylight, and boarding amenities challenges, I'm loving being back home and still obsessively scheming about ways to make it permanent.

I'm loving these little dollar store reflective bands. They work really well on my stirrups on these dark days and don't get in the way at all. I need a pic of the whole ensemble, Midge has a red LED bike light for her tail and everything! Looking at this, I am also reminded that I need to just give up the pretense of adult length stirrup leathers already, lol

Due to technical difficulties, no lesson this week on Audrey, although I was asked if I'd mind taking her out Tuesday for some exercise since my coach can't ride that day.  Of course! I love riding Ms Audrey, but honestly I think it might be good for me to ride without me worrying about my coach who is also her owner/rider watching me. I do worry I will mess her lovely mare up and put extra pressure on myself because even though I know she wouldn't put me on her if she didn't think it was a good match, the negative voice in my head worries she'll see how bad I am and take away the offer to ride! (For the record, I do know she'd never do that...as long as I try and I show up and want to learn she'll help me!)

Friday, 17 November 2017

Night Rider

While I appreciate having a safe and clean place to board, it's pretty rustic. I'm good with sacrificing rider amenities if the pony is happy, which she is, but it does create some challenges. This time of year is the hardest. It's dark by the time I'm done work, and more often than not it's raining too.  Midge's paddock and shelter area doesn't have any lighting, and the barn is not set up to groom or tack up inside. So, once I catch Midge, I need to bring her out front of the barn where there's a couple of motion sensor lights, and tack up there. It's not too bad, but it admittedly stinks when it's dark and pouring rain!
Not so bad tacking up here in the daylight


Modest shelter on the back of the barn, but clean and dry and comes with a giant paddock of her own. No lights, though!

Next, we head out for a 10min ride down a very dark rural road. Our reflective gear is working great, and I've added a headlamp now too. So far the drivers have been super respectful of us. I always make sure to thank them for slowing down to pass. Midge is obviously a star, because the road passes some farmland, then a small scrap metal place and car repair place, then through a forested park and farmers market venue, and finally to our riding club grounds - it's not really a peaceful country hack on the best of days. The other night it was super windy and rainy and stuff at the metal place was blowing over and crashing down in the dark, poor Midge, but she still walked past like a trooper.

Headlamp is actually pretty bright!

And, most shockingly of all, once we arrive at the indoor, she's been nothing but fantastic! She's quite up and spooky of late, but she'll happily channel the energy, and she actually wants to get out and work right now. Is this my pony? If so, perhaps the indoor really is magical?


We've been making great progress in our counter canter departs. I no longer need to exaggerate my aids when asking, and she's not getting flustered any more. She totally understands what I'm asking now and will happily pick up either lead from walk. She's not balanced enough to counter canter reliably around the short side of the indoor, but we can work up to that outside with bigger loops and sweeping turns. I've also made progress with simple changes through walk and trot, changing as close to the centerline as possible on either a serpentine or figure eight pattern. Finally, wow do I have a lot of trot right now! The big cob trot is back and I'm loving it. Going back and reestablishing forward on a longer contact has worked wonders. I'm starting to play again a bit with containing and collecting it, just a few strides at a time, and she seems to "get it" and is game to try...the whole slowing down and sucking back thing seems to have gone away and she's pushing and keeping a steady tempo all on her own.
G must have taken these, because I found one the blurry riding pic from the paragraph above, plus about 20 various photos of Midge's nose, like this one,  on my phone just now. Love that he tries :)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

EC Lesson Recap: Audrey 11/14/2017

Backstory possibly needed if you're not a frequent reader: I'm still working on the lower coast 2 to 3 days a week. While I'm there, I'm taking a lesson once a week on my coach's showing third level/GP prospect baby. Bridget has moved home with me, and I'm trying to take what I learn and apply it back on her for the remainder of the week.

We're making slow progress! Last night, rather than hating on me/my riding, Ms Audrey opted to just "tell mom" on me, annoying person that I am :)

Obligatory dark and blurry wash rack pic


If I had any sort of ego/pride in my riding abilities, these would be tough lessons - I feel like I need to learn to ride all over again, and Audrey agrees with that assessment and is not shy about letting me know how badly I stink at this riding thing. Since I simply want to improve, I'm luckily just frustrated in the why-will-my-body-not-obey-my-brain sort of way.

Highlights: some really nice walk-canter-walk transitions. She's A LOT more sensitive and fussy than B, so I know I was getting it right.

Lowlights: 15m canter circles that featured a lead change more often than not. Yours truly apparently weights my outside seatbone now and then on a canter circle. I think I was doing this in an attempt to block her outside shoulder which falls out on the left, and she took that to mean I wanted a change. Also, I am sitting up and taking the reins back towards my body a little as I turn, really confirming to her that I might want to collect and possibly a lead change is coming. We finished with on a good note, but I have a lot of work to do.

Meh: I'm still getting a feel for where she needs to be between my aids. She's a REALLY supple, wiggly, big moving mare, and it's hard right now for me to feel what a working trot or even walk should be on her. Luckily, I'm OK with keeping her straight thanks to B's wiggly ways, but I'm tending to add in too much power and verging closer to medium gaits. She needs only 50% throttle where what I'm used to might need 80% encouragement to sit and get those hind legs under :)

One of these things is not like the other, lol

So, I feel a bit like I'm learning to ride all over again. There are moments where I'm not staying with her, moments where my body is just in the wrong place, moments where I'm intimidated by her big reactions to my little movements. but, most of all, I'm excited for this opportunity to ride her. She's fantastically talented, but not easy and not everyone's cup of tea. As I've said before here though, my life goals = learning to ride a horse like this well. That can't happen if I don't try to learn how! Luckily, at heart she's a very forgiving mare, and even though she has a lot of opinions about a lot of things, I think this is a partnership that might work...eventually ;)

Monday, 13 November 2017

In Which I Just Ride My Horse

I grew up on the periphery of the horsey crowd here. As an adult, I have spent several years off and on here. Sometimes I'm more involved than others, but normally I'm pretty independent and preoccupied with my own goals.  That continues to be the case. I'm apparently so determined to keep Midge fit that I had a nightmare the other night where we were given 150 time penalties on XC, even though I was kicking every stride.


I've been riding in the dark, in the wind and rain, in an effort to get our dressage back to a happier place. I'm pretty sure my (lovely) barn mates think I'm nuts. Midge is pretty sure too, but since she's remarkably brave about hacking out after dark, we persist.

Worth noting: riding in the dark is excellent for feeling exactly what's going on underneath you. I actually think our best ride last week was when I took B for a good canter round the giant outdoor to start. I never did move inside where there were lights because things were going so well and I was really focusing on the important stuff for a change.

I did go to a social event the other day, where it was 50% wonderful to catch up with old friends, and 50% awkward. Why, why, WHY are horse people so nutty about talking the talk and pretending to be experts/better than everyone on all things horse? Message received guys, I'm on your turf again, I get it. But you are threatened (?) by an overweight adult ammy on a pony, WHY? Why am I even on your radar? I'm not sure I'll ever have patience for social games.

Midge continues to be an absolute star in the indoor arena. I'm not sure yet if it's because there are no distractions, or because the footing is so nice, but she's way more willing to relax over her topline and push from behind. Way more willing in that I pretty much never have her working that well elsewhere, and yet in the magic indoor it's rare she's NOT working through. Maybe I need to consider some shoes for her as a start?
Magic Indoor looks just like any other indoor

Today is supposed to be our jump day, but currently the wind is howling and the rain is pouring down. Fingers crossed, the storm passes before dark, the outdoor drains sufficiently, and we can fit in some jumping. Otherwise, the magic indoor is calling :)

I miss EC and the barn crew down there, but it's so, so nice to be home, even part time.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Season Wrap Up

Since we've moved further north temporarily, it's unlikely I'll be attending any more shows between now and the new year. My feelings about that are 60% "Yay, no more pressure!" and 40% "Where did the time go and what about those goals I had?!"

If I stop to think, I'm actually pleased with how the year went. No, we did not achieve any goals of moving up, but I think that was the right decision, and in no way reflects all the progress we made. We also spent way more time and money on lessons and clinics than shows this year, a decision I'm happy with.  I'll recap the detailed training progress closer towards the end of the year, since we still have lots of riding time, plus a couple more clinics and fun events coming up before then.

February:

-Lessons 2x week.
-Wendy Kristoff clinic.

March:

-Lessons 2x week.
-MREC Two Phase:
Dressage earned us our standard 65%. Midge was on fire for the jumping, and we did a second round at 2'6" that remains my favorite round of all time. A pretty green 5th place ribbon for our efforts!

No actual media from the round, because it was raining torrentially and probably no one but me and the jump judge were there to witness the brilliance, lol

April:

-Lessons 2x week.
-HTBC Spring XC Clinic.
Remember the clinic where she slept and bucked me off (I think 4 times in three days!) equally as much? Take home: The myth that they can't buck you off if they're going forward at speed is just that, a myth. Also, bucking while cantering on a steep downhill is pretty much guaranteed to get me off and way too easy a maneuver for fat ponies..

May:

-Lessons 1x week.
-SCEC Dressage %: 
This was not our best effort, and scored us a 60 and a 62 at 1-1
-SCEC Hunter/Jumper:
This was the one with the self appointed show manager being (IMO) a bit of a witch. Round 1, B was a star, I forgot the course! Round 2 went well, and I opted to end there due to not feeling the vibe because of the show organizer drama/insults. We do not attend these shows anymore.

Nope, this isn't going to go well. Dressage % day.

June: 

-Lessons 1x week.
-Clear Rounds Schooling show/clinic:
I had an attack of nerves at this one...looking back that May H/J show experience really got in my head. We did a couple of crossrail rounds, then some 2' successfully and called it a win. B was really behind my leg and a bit awful. I wanted to switch to dressage :)
-Pender Harbour XC Clinic.
B's ears are happier here. PH XC clinic.

July:

-Lessons 1x week.
-Campbell Valley XC Clinic.
-Canada Cup Dressage:
We did Training 2 and 3 here, and had the most fun ever. Scores ranged from 63 to 68% and we rode 6 tests over 3 days. Ribbons for every class, all first or seconds, added to the dream like feel of that weekend!
It wasn't all perfect, lol. Is it sad that this is my current favorite show picture? It's just so...us.

August:

-Lessons 1x week
-Campbell Valley Horse Trials:
67% dressage test, a few time penalties xc, and a clear show jumping. Midge got 3rd place in a really large division. Such a nice surprise!
I was reading this magazine last weekend and saw Bridget and myself's results hidden in there among all the big names and show results. It pleased me far more than it maybe should have...thanks for supporting the all the levels, Horse Sport magazine!

Sept:

-Lessons 1x week

October:

-Nada
Some happy hacking was had instead

November/December:

-Lessons 1x week on Audrey
-PRTR Group Ride ( Bridget)
-Becky Martens clinic (Bridget)
-Sarah Bradley clinic (Bridget)

Monday, 6 November 2017

Believe

Today was a hard day for me. The whole working from home thing experienced some tech issues last week, so there was a lot of pressure to fix things and catch up on projects today. Then we had some last minute "scheduling issues" meaning my schedule is already changed and I am here 4 days this week instead of the planned 3. One more day off won't  hurt the Bridget pony, right? There are also rumblings from some at work that things weren't properly approved higher up and I should not be "allowed" to work from home part time at all. Gotta love corporate structure. Then, as I left for the night, I got a sort of dismissive email response regarding the job I applied for in my hometown. So, I'm feeling pretty down and out. I try my best at everything I do and I don't like feeling that my best is not good enough.

B cares not what anyone thinks or how much work there is to do...I need to follow her example!

Of course, this being a horse blog, the above does tie in to tonight's story, I promise.

My lesson tonight was on Audrey, and was the circle of death revisited. While we warmed up, EC and I discussed my wish to just be able to live like a normal person: work, ride my horse, have dinner with my husband, you know, living in the same town and stuff. I mentioned needing to be patient in hopes I can make it work with my current job, but also wishing for a Plan B, just in case I reach the breaking point. EC has been encouraging me to re-consider doing the horsey thing full time for quite a while, and re-voiced her opinion that I'd be good at coaching at that she'd happily mentor me - there's a huge gap/opportunity in my home town for lessons and boarding and it's close enough geographically that we could work together a bit.

She's a pretty awesome human, because right then I went from being really discouraged to feeling good about life. I'm not sure horses as a job is a direction I need to explore, or even if it really would be something I'd be good at, but some days you really just need to know someone out there believes in you!

Ohhh, you said to teach the barn rats to ride, not the barn cats.

Then, of course, I rode like sh!t. Like epically bad, maybe the worst ever in my life. And pony took full advantage. And rather than fixing it, I went right back to "I can' t do anything right, why do I even try...oh my goodness what is wrong with me....blah blah blah...maybe just being in a fetal position and not actually steering is the answer? No? Then obviously I am out of options and useless at this..." :)

I wanted to cry. Instead, I did my best to let it go, and listen to EC's advice. I sucked it up, disciplined the naughty pony, owned that circle of death,  and then tried to make it look good. Mostly, I think I just needed to get out of my head and actually believe I could ride Audrey through whatever was coming, because once I got it, it was easy.

Cantering 4 poles on the ground wasn't really the goal of the lesson. But, mentally that's where I was at today, so when I found that small success, that's where I opted to finish. I'm embarrassed that I kind of fell to pieces today, but grateful for all those (like my coach) that believe I can, even as I fail miserably!

Thank you to all the coaches out there who are helping their students with a lot more than simply teaching the mechanics of riding. I know mine earned her money tonight!

Tomorrow's another day...onwards and upwards, right?

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Frozen

It's official - I'm a West Coast wimp again. It's been frozen outside the last few days and I just can't even cope.
That puddle had ice in it and everything;)

Step 1 was digging out winter clothes, step 2 was actually going to the barn and riding. It's amazing how much more motivated I am when I know that I'll be away part of next week and unable to ride. Because really, I'd rather be inside by the fire with a good book.
I borrowed G's phone and found a picture of from last weekend of Lily the mini for Cathryn! Ignore me, I am not a fan of pictures being taken, but Lily is so cute I'm sharing it. Also, wow I make that mini look tall.

But, I've got to say, Bridget has been SO FUN. I don' know if it's the change of scenery or the weather, but she's so happy and sassy that I can't help but smile for most of my rides. She's hot and spooky and really interested and looking for a job. I like it!

Happy ears

I was practicing lead changes thru trot and walk and I did a couple yesterday and then she was ON IT - like "here let me go, don't make me walk, I want to change leads NOW!" Ummm...since when is being ambitious in any way part of her make up?!

In some ways, I've been doing my homework. In others, I've been leaving things alone. B has been super awful in the contact the last few months...which coincides with us wanting her to be rounder and more collected. Its resulted in a pretty frustrated pony. I'm told this awkward stage is somewhat normal, but, ughhh, im tired of arguing. Its been a struggle, and I don't know, I just have a feeling we need to step back.

So, I've been riding her in a more open frame (read: my reins are about 3" longer than acceptable in our dressage lessons) and just making sure we can be forward and relaxed still, because those were both starting to suffer. Yesterday, by the end of my ride, she felt so amazing...evenly forward and pushing into a nice steady contact, with the feel that I could ask for more and immediately get it.  And, so round and soft! Funny how when I change the focus the rest falls into place so easily. It was tempting to ask for that little bit more, but meh, it felt right to leave it there - I'm not sure I remember the last time she felt so good. I'm pretty sure this is not what my coach would have me doing, but I'm equally sure she's open to alternate ideas and me problem solving on my own.
What even is this picture? lol

We also went for a nice hack this week, and played with the circle of death and some little jumps too. So much fun. I truly think we were both bored of our previous routine and getting a bit burnt out.
Proof of COD, also long reins.

And with that, week one of our new schedule is in the books. I feel like it's been successful so far. B is feeling better than I've ever felt, and seems to be loving the variety and change of pace. Crossing all my fingers and toes that I can keep B this interested and involved in the future...it's so much more fun for us both.

Next up: B gets Monday and Tuesday off while I travel back south for work. But, I'll still be riding, another circle of death lesson at EC 's, on Audrey, this time no stirrups. #GonnaDie
... At least I practiced on Bridget today?


Friday, 3 November 2017

Getting It Done

Yesterday was my first after work ride here. The weather was awful - it had been snowing/raining/sleeting hard all day, and there was thunderstorm picking up as I was quickly tacking up.

Poor B was pretty damp, apparently last year's rainsheet needs to be rewaterproofed. I feel bad about that, she's got a fresh clip and I suspect that being soaking wet in almost freezing temps wouldn't have been her favorite way to spend the afternoon. She has a shelter, of course, but obviously it's a new barn and its to be expected she'd rather make friends over the fence than hang out inside.

Cute Irish clip

At this time of year,  it is a bit of a challenge to get out and back before sundown. I tried to be as efficient as possible time wise, so grooming was pretty much a non event. I plan to make it up to her with a spa day this weekend.

Once in the saddle, B was ON FIRE and really anxious. I'm not sure I've ever got on her before and thought maybe longeing first might have been safer!

It was a bit funny to ride her as I would Q mare...basically give her a loose contact, consiously relax and portray confidence, point her in the right direction, and stay out of the way/don't pick a fight until the brain returns to the building.

Her new quarter sheet worked well!

By the time we hacked down the road to the arena, I could feel her starting to think a little. She was still way to revved and distacted to stick to my plan of dressage.  If being hot and distracted was her normal state of mind I'd have done dressage. Since it's not, I felt like the best thing to do was to encourage and reward her forward thinking by just having her walk/trot/canter around while I stayed up out of her way in two point. An impromptu fitness ride, if you will. The outdoor had quite a bit of standing water from the storm, and Midge was having a great time jumping and splashing through the bigger puddles. So funny, when she's normally so quiet and serious.

Our ride home was uneventful - I could feel it' been far to long since we hacked on a road with regular traffic, but she was still safe enough, just a bit jumpy, particularly with the headlights as is got dark.

When we got back I tucked her in with a warm fleece under a new rainsheet, and an extra flake of hay.

Totally bought her the polka dot rainsheet, lol

Thoughts:

-This winter weeknight riding is going to be tough, but doable.

Some changes might make it better:

-Three days off in a row might not be wise. Suck it up and ride late at night on Wednesdays?

-I may need to try trailering down to the indoor when daylight savings time begins...I'm OK riding in the dark, but I didn't realize how saturated the outdoor gets after a good rain.