Ugh Horse Why?

I wish I had a more elegant title to this post, but this is basically where I am at. Saturday ended up being a decent day weather wise. Sure, it was damp and in the 40s, but it wasn’t actively raining. So I was able to ride in the outdoor. All good things. My plan was to put in a Dressage ride with a focus on connection and bending since May was coming off of back to back jump lessons. (by back to back, I mean lessons on Tuesday and Thursday but no flat ride in between)

The ride started out well. I carried a crop, just in case I needed to reinforce the leg aid, but she was in front of my leg and even a bit spicy. No big deal. We did a lot of walk/halt/walk transitions before stepping into the trot. When we moved into the trot, she threw her right shoulder into my right leg to come off the connection and fling her head up in the transition. UGH.

I brought her back to the walk and tried again. Same result. I halted and asked her to move her right shoulder around in a turn on the haunches. Nope. Nope. Nope. She did not need to do these things, she is a JUMP HORSE now. NOT a DRESSAGE horse. (These pics disagree)

MMMmmmmk. Let’s break it down further. Walk on a small circle and bend her neck around the circle. NOPE. She flung her head up and threw her whole body to the outside, stumbling sideways and flinging her tongue out of her mouth.

Alright, I am thinking… maybe this is physical. Maybe she is pretty sore and stiff from the jump lessons and bending her neck hurts. (Anyone else immediately fall down this rabbit hole?) Then, she saw a horse being ridden over across the field from the other barn. And She Lost Her Mind.

Suddenly, she could bend all the way around to the right, while cantering, to try and see the horse behind her. Any kind of half halt was met with head flinging and tongue wagging. It was 45 minutes of me just trying to get SOME kind of response from her so that I could end on a good note. I ended up just riding her super straight and doing some collected/extended transitions in the trot (where to be honest, she had some moments of actual suspension).

Unfortunately, I still got off feeling frustrated and annoyed. I gave May a proper cool down, put some thrush stuff in her feet (standing in the mud at the hay bale for hours on end is a great recipe for thrush), and used from probios cookies to do some stretches JUST IN CASE.

However, it is one thing to have a really bad ride and have to go back to basics consistently with a horse that has talent. It is another to do it with a horse that is basically a BN horse AND has been a BN horse for 3 years.

I know other people have worse rides. Rides that are genuinely dangerous. This ride wasn’t dangerous. It was just like… (trying to find a not super crude thing to write here)…. it was like writing a post where every time you finished a paragraph, it totally disappears on you.

I think May got Sunday off, so today will be the follow up ride to Saturday. Then, my half leaser is out of town for the holidays, so I have her to myself for a while… and some extra time to actually ride. Maybe the weather will hold out, and we can go on a hack. BUT as Michele knows… it will probably rain.

Anyone else just want to turn their horse out into a field for the rest of winter and hope that Spring is better? (Also, gave up on the new WP editor and went back to the classic. Best decision EVER)

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12.11.2018 – Jumping Lesson

It had been MONTHS since my last jumping lesson. Actually, I just looked back and… Yup. It has been FOUR MONTHS… which makes it the fourth jumping lesson of 2018. BUT that also means that I got TWICE as many jumping lesson in during 2018 than I did in 2017. That counts as improvement, right?

I was totally inspired to take this lesson after watching a friend of mine tackle this exercise a week earlier. However, I am sure no one is surprised to find out that thing were a bit rough around the edges. (Also, apologies but the lesson was at night, under the lights, in the cold, and I didn’t want to expose the helmet cam to all of that… so there’s no media)

After warming up, we started trotting through a fan of poles at the end of the ring. It was similar to the exercise below, but there were four poles and they were just on the ground. 

I had a lot of trouble to this going to the left. May really wanted to fall out through her right shoulder, and I felt like I couldn’t quite keep it in the line I wanted. Definitely something to work on. The canter was somewhat better than the trot, but May kept wanting to jam in an extra step before the last pole (keep this in mind). 

Going to the right, the exercise was a lot easier, because all I had to do was regulate how fast her right shoulder came around… a lot easier than trying to pull the right shoulder in and around. 

Next, we started setting the groundwork for the main course. This:

Four verticals, one oxer with 2 placing poles. 

To get May moving forward and get me riding a line (the whole purpose of the above set up), we started with creating a circle from the yellow vertical to the green. In both directions, I messed up either my line or my rhythm the first time, but totally nailed it the second, so we didn’t spend much time on this. 

Then we moved onto the full exercise. The verticals are set exactly 4 strides to the placement poles and the placement poles are one stride from the oxer, so as long as you take a fairly direct line but jump all the elements straight, it is 5 strides from each vertical to the oxer and the oxer to each vertical. 

A couple more notes about what makes this a bit unique. Our ring is not 100% flat. It angles slightly towards the barn, which means that coming towards the barn things are easier than going away from it. This totally becomes relevant, I promise. 

An old pic of the ring. 

NT tells me that I am most likely going to get a forward 6 to the fences and trying for the 5 will likely leave us too unbalanced to do the exercise correctly. Doing 7 will either leave us dead in the water or on too wide a line. I nod, and then immediately tell her that I feel nervous. She gives me a funny look. 

Our first course went in this order: Green, Blue, Red, Orange, Blue, Yellow. I ride the green perfectly with a great pace… Then I take a feel coming towards the oxer, and May adds an extra stride. This means we are kind of dead in the water and we add again to the red… BLAH. I kick on, but the orange and yellow kind of go the same way. NT notes that she liked my pace coming in, but I took my foot off the pedal once I had to actually jump and turn. She’s not wrong. 

We do it again. The Green, Blue, Red combination goes REALLY well, and I am feeling good. BUT remember that the ring slopes down in that direction… I ride the Orange pretty well… and then don’t kick enough towards the oxer. It’s a bit of a stretch for May to get over the placement pole, and instead of stretching AGAIN over the low, wide oxer, she shoves in an extra stride… takes down most of the oxer… I do manage to kick on and get 7 or 8 strides to the Yellow, so we finish… but not in great form. The oxer gets rebuilt, but I can almost feel May losing a bit of confidence here. I am DETERMINED to give her a positive ride. 

We change up the course a bit to keep May from anticipating where we are going. It was SUPPOSED to be Yellow, Blue, Red, Orange, Blue, Yellow. Buuuuut I forgot where I was going at the end, and I end up doing Yellow, Blue, Red, Orange, Blue, Green. 

Why do I forget where I am going? That’s right, because I still can’t get the distance from the Orange to the Blue to work out properly. I close my leg, but May keeps giving me this response like “this is as forward as I will go.” I am not sure if I am having trouble committing, or if she is just used to a different ride from my half leaser, but either way, she is going forward… but she is not in front of my leg. 

“Gallop in a bit like you’re going XC this time.” I nod. I go. I gallop. I jump the orange. I get four PERFECT strides to the placement pole. I close my leg on the fifth stride. The distance and pace are REALLY good. I lean… and May JAMS in an extra stride and jumps pretty much straight in the air. I get thrown up IN FRONT of my saddle and on her neck. My thought? “I can’t afford a new helmet right now.”

Proof that she can stretch for it. 

Luckily, May is still my partner in this whole thing, and she flings her head up, throwing me mostly back into the saddle. I scramble my way back and manage to get her stopped before she carried me over the green. Everyone was very impressed with my save, but I was fully freaked out. May has always been the horse that as long as I have a decent pace, she will safely get us to the other side of the jump. That decision though, was not the safe decision. Honestly, I am still kind of freaked out by it.*

My trainer confirms that everything looked good, but May decided that she needed to make the final decision on that one. Again, a lot of this probably comes back to the fact that it has been 4 months since we had a jumping lesson and this set up was really difficult, but she had really just not been fully responding to my leg all night. I’m not sure who suggested it, but my trainer ran back to the barn to grab me a longer jump crop. Something I could reinforce my leg aid without taking my hands off the reins. 

To test the gas pedal, we went back to the second exercise of just circling from Yellow to Green. It was way better, and I felt like she wasn’t sucking back behind my leg to assess each jump. So we adjusted the exercise again:

As you can see, we were now starting on the line I was having the most difficulty with. ALL I WANTED was to get the first line right. We jumped in, I rode forward, we got 6! I turned to the green. Another 6! I rode forward to 4. Never got straight to it… and got down that line in 5…. Yup, definitely more in front of my leg this time. However, doing the five put us way too off balance for the Orange, so I had to bend it out a bit and I got 7. But it was SO MUCH better with the crop in my hand. May was taking me to the fences again, and I felt like we found our usual groove. She puffed herself up and pranced back to the middle of the ring. 

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NT was also MUCH happier with that performance. For our last course, she just wanted me to do just the Yellow, Blue, Orange line to fix those distance, and then circle back through the fan exercise we had started the day with. (I think she was checking my breaks and balance)

Either way, we nailed the bending line, and May came right back to a perfect dressagey-canter to bounce through the poles and then halted easily to end our ride. 

*I am going to add a note here. May HAS done similar things before when she loses confidence in me. The below video from Kent is a perfect example. After the combination, May was just DONE saving me, so we had a run out. Once I rode better, she went perfectly again. 

Today? I am sore and still feeling a bit back on the heels from the experience. BUT I am super proud of the fact that I didn’t give up in this lesson, and I didn’t decide it was just too hard for us. I kept riding, and I ended the lesson with a much more confident and trusting horse than I started with… even if things got REALLY messy in the interim. I will probably dissect my feelings a bit more in my next post. Until then, have you ever had a lesson that had to hit a pretty low LOW point before ending great?

A Long Term Bridle Review

I have a confession to make. A lot of reviews don’t “do it” for me. I love seeing how everyone feels about how a product performs, feels, fits, etc., but I often have the nagging sensation in the back of my head saying, “well, how is it going to look after YEARS of abuse?” Because, when it comes to where I am investing my very limited budget of horse stuff, that is where I want to put my dollars. In the things that last. 

SO – here is a review of a couple of bridles that I have now owned for YEARS. 

Dover Figure Eight Bridle

Seriously, I bought a bridle from Dover… at least 5 years ago. I was looking for a sub $200 bridle with a figure eight and a mono crown. I had a nunn-finer bridle that I really liked, but it wasn’t a figure eight, and it really as a reddish-brown color. I wanted CHOCOLATE. 

This bridle fit the bill. My original impressions included the sheepskin on the middle of the figure 8 being WAY TOO FLUFFY. I always had plans to trim it, but to be honest, I was too afraid of making it look worse. When I dabbled in some hunter/eq classes, I ended up buying the matching fancy stitched browband and crank noseband for this bridle. It definitely wasn’t the same price as the bridle when I bought it… Link here

So how is it 5+ years later?

Clearly, I still really like it. It is in everyday rotation at the barn, and it gets polished up and brought along for SJ and XC at horse trials. Is the leather as buttery soft as the Vespucci bridles I remember from 20 years ago? Nope. It has held up really well, but instead of softening, a lot of the leather has kind of wrinkled into position. 

While it hasn’t started cracking or anything like that, I do feel the leather just might be, after all this time, and all the use, coming towards the end of its useful life. 

Harwich Padded Dressage Bridle by SmartPak

I guess they don’t really make the same bridle anymore, so this might just be commentary on quality and all that. This bridle was a pretty serious impulse buy. I had bought a Dressage saddle, and I wanted a bridle that would match. (It was also part of the same order as a girth and leathers… neither of which I use anymore.)

Either way, this bridle has been in and out of rotation since February of 2015, so I think I have used it enough to have some thoughts. 

1 – The reins are HORRIFIC. I mean HORRIFIC. I ended up putting the Micklem rains on this bridle after getting that bridle. 

2 – The leather quality is crap too. Sorry. Not Sorry. They must have rubbed this thing in motor oil in the photo on the website, because it does not clean up like that. 

3 – I still kind of use it. This bridle is… somewhere. It makes it into the rotation when I need a third bridle for some reason. (i.e. I want to put a happy mouth in May’s mouth when the temp dips super low, but I don’t feel like changing out my main bridles). I should probably sell it, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort for the $50 it might be worth. 

Horseware Rambo Micklem Competition Bridle & Reins

This bridle was a gift, and I have had it two years. That also makes it the newest bridle in my rotation. It is also the most expensive. 

The most hilarious part of this bridle is not the amazing, awesomeness that is the anatomical benefits to the horse. Honestly, I am not sure how much May really cares. I might be able to convince myself that she’s a touch more steady in this bridle vs. the figure 8 or traditional bridle with a flash. However, I do not think it is a $200 difference, so to me, that’s mostly irrelevant. 

The reason I really like this bridle? It sits in such a different place on her face that it is perfect when she gets any rubs from her muzzle. There it is. Right there. The best part of this is that it keeps me from worrying about the bridle rubbing in the same place as her muzzle. 

As for quality, it is a nice bridle that looks nice and, I think, flatters May’s face pretty well. As mentioned above, I did upgrade the reins, and I actually use thinline reins on it now. Would I buy it again? Not sure. I am happy with it, but there are places that I wish it fit just a SMIDGE better, and it isn’t that adjustable. There are so many options on the market now for anatomical bridles, and I bet there is something out there that would fit better. 

What about you? Any bridles that you have had a long time and are still in love with?

THeSe REVIEWs are NOT SPONSORED, AND THE ITEMS DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW WERE PURCHASED BY ME or a FAMILY member WITH our OWN MONEY.

A Back to Basics Dressage Lesson

It has been… quite a while since my last dressage lesson. Quite a while as in, I am pretty sure I was complaining that it was REALLY HOT at the last one. When I have these kind of gaps in lessons, the first question is always, inevitably, “Is there anything specific you want to work on today?”

My first inclination was to say, “nope.” I think I actually did say, “nope”. Luckily, my trainer knows me better than that and gave me an extra 10 seconds to actually think about my rides lately. 

“Actually, I think we could use some work on transitions.” Doubly-Luckily,  my trainer also knows what I mean by this. Yes, I can get May to halt/walk/trot/canter etc on cute, fairly promptly. HOWEVER, I wanted to work on keeping the connection and balance before, during, and after each transition.  I know. Riveting stuff. 

Let’s not forget this halt to trot transition at our last horse trial… where May drifted about 5′ left for no particular reason. 

The majority of the lesson was spent on a 20 meter circle. We started with walk/trot/walk transitions. You know, the most basic of the basic. Positives? May stayed in front of my leg. Negatives? She enjoyed being in front of my leg and falling on her forehand. Solution? Change walk to halt. 

Our first trot/halt transition was met with her just dissolving onto her forehand. She practically took the last step in the stumble. It was super majestic and graceful. So NT had us back up a couple of steps and try again. 

The next time? May pulled a typical May move. Instead of falling on her forehand, she rocked back and halted… and then immediately backed up, away from the contact. How do you fix that? Rinse and repeat. Forward, halt, forward, halt. Eventually, we got the halt/trot/halt transitions so tuned in that I could do 90% of the movement with my seat, with barely any additional input from my hands and leg. 

Adding this to my goals this winter – get all transitions tuned into the seat.

We moved onto the canter, but we changed up the rhythm of the transitions. We did a lot of trot, canter, trot, halt, trot, canter, trot, canter etc etc type of work. May started off running a bit into the canter, and I played into that by making my aids BIG and UNNECESSARY. 

We do not canter with our shoulders. 

However, by the end, I could just swing by seat, close my outside leg, and get a nice connected canter. Funny how that works. 

The lesson finished off with transitions on the quarter line. I had to work VERY hard to be clear with my aids and keep her straight and connected. I thought my brain was going to melt with how much mental capacity this exercise takes up. Is it weird that I can’t wait to try it again on my own?

There ended up being a ton of nuances to this lesson, that I am still really digesting, but it filled up my tool box (and my motivation chest) with a lot to help us move forward this weekend!

Are you setting any specific goals this winter?

Breaking Out the Cold Weather Gear

I FINALLY had another lesson yesterday. I had taken the day off of work, and I was determined to take full advantage of it. On Sunday, the weather was warm and bright. The temperatures were in the mid-sixties, and there was just the lightest breeze. PERFECT fall weather… and it was my half-leaser’s day to ride hahahaha. 

So Monday, I had my lesson scheduled in the afternoon… and I woke up to 30 degree weather and snow flurries. That’s right. There was a 30+ degree drop overnight. Fun. Times. Also – what is this nonsense with the weather?

I bundled up, and I figured I would give you a rundown of my typical cold weather riding outfit:

32 Degree Jacket – LOOK HOW LONG!
  1. Smartpak Piper Winter Breeches – Do Not Recommend. Not even going to give you a link. Decently warm but too low cut, slippery, and stretch out oddly. 
  2. Under Armour in Baby Blue – Highly recommend. The link is to a more updated version, but I will never give up my UA base layers. 
  3. Ugly Christmas Sweater – Highly Recommend… but I couldn’t find a link to it. This sweater is at LEAST 4 years old, and I am pretty sure it is 100% acrylic. It is not floofy or soft, but it is WARM. AND it has held up to barn wear. Close enough to perfect for me. 
  4. Arctic Neck Warmer – Highly Recommend. These are 100% a staple in my winter, barn wardrobe. Keeping my neck warm is a nonnegotiable. 
  5. 32 Degree Heat Womens Sherpa line Fleece Jacket – GO BUY THIS. A lot of the comments complain about the cut (sleeves too long and a bit loose around the hips), but that makes it REALLY NICE to ride in. It does not bunch up around my hips, so keeps that lower back area warm in and out of the saddle. Horse hair loves to stick to this, but it lets me not wear my heavy jacket even when it’s 30 degrees and windy out, so I will deal with that inconvenience. 
  6. North Face Jacket – Highly Recommend, although, the link is to a newer style of the jacket I wear to the barn. The jacket I currently wear is probably older than 6 years old at this point. It was a hand-me-down from my sister. It is definitely a ski jacket, but I find these are long enough and more than warm enough for riding, and much prefer them to riding-specific jackets. The North Face is expensive, but several of the jackets I own from them are closer to the 10 year mark than brand new.  
  7. Heritage Winter Gloves – Meh. The gloves I used yesterday are so old that I am not even sure what the brand ever was. I also have these. The only point I will make is that I HIGHLY prefer winter gloves that are lined vs. bigger, bulkier winter gloves with synthetic material on the outside. Leather gives me grip, and I like that. They’re not waterproof, and I don’t think they are as warm as some other options, so if you are working all day at the barn, maybe avoid these. 

Would love to know if anyone has recommendations for super warm socks that aren’t too bulky? I typically layer thin cotton socks under warmer sock to make sure that moisture is wicked away from my feet without them getting chilled. 

Fail Friday – No Stirrup November

First of all – thank you for all the comments and advice I got regarding tall boots. The blogging community really is the ultimate resource. Super big shout out to The Everything Pony who basically made a review post just for me! (not really the truth, but it makes me feel special) Go check it out if you are also curious about the Mountain Horse Sovereign boots. 

We are halfway through No Stirrup November. Posts have been rolling in of various bloggers and their sore muscles, strength progress, and just general struggles. Me? I have ridden without stirrups… twice? I think?

Totally missed fall this year…

Now this hasn’t been due to pure apathy about No Stirrup November. It more has to do with life, weather, and daylight savings. Prior to daylight savings, I was able to round up a couple of no stirrup rides after work. Now, however, riding during the week means riding in the dark under lights.

While May isn’t bad or spooky under the lights and in the cold, she is definitely not her typical self. On top of that… my winter breeches are SLICK (any recommendations here?). To add insult to injury, the weather has just been plain nasty and my schedule has made it very difficult to get out to the barn. 

I’m not giving up though. Failure only really happens when you give up on something (or it kills you… whatevs). So I am determined to continue to drop those stirrups all winter and come back even stronger in the Spring! (maybe, one day, even with new media) Maybe tomorrow I will even get my first weekend ride in since… forever ago. 


One thing has been going really well though. Since joining the gym last week, me and my friend have made it to 3 classes: 2 spin classes and something that I can only describe as some kind of hellish combination of yoga, pilates, and barre. Even after a bath last night, I am INCREDIBLY sore, but it feels good to keep my body moving even when I can’t make it to the gym. 

What about you? Have you been able to take advantage of No Stirrup November?

Let’s Talk – Tall Boots

Now, I will readily admit that I am not a boot aficionado. My show boots? $600 Ariat Crowne Pro boots that I am just starting to fit back into. Let me start with this, to me, $600 is A LOT of money to spend on riding boots. I know, clutch your pearls.

My schooling boots for the past few years have been the Ariat Heritage Contour boots. In fact, these are actually the first boots in a long time that I held onto until they fell apart. Why did I hold onto these?

img_0543

  • They were still $200+… way more than I want to spend more than once every several years.
  • The black, traditional field boot design allowed them to transition from schooling boot to show boot with only a bit of polish.
  • The XW calf width, right off the shelf, meant they were always comfortable, even when I threw on leggings, winter breeches, and thick socks in the winter.
  • The foot-bed is super comfortable. I mean, I could literally wear these all day without my back bothering me, which is more than I can say for almost any shoe except my sneakers.
  • They’ve actually lasted me a decent amount of time.

I am abusive to boots. I really don’t want to be. I really do want to be the kind of person that puts my boots on right before I ride and then take them off as soon as I get off. The kind of person that keeps my boots in my temperature controlled garage, in boot trees, and wiped down after ever ride.

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Proof of abuse. This is now a massive hole (6 months later)

What kind of person am I? The kind of person that accidentally wears my tall boots out into the field, in the mud, to turn out my horse. (her needs first…. right?) The kind of person who tried wiping down her boots, about a month ago. And the kind of person that throws her boots in her tack trunk until next time. So when I buy a new pair of boots, they probably shouldn’t be my DREAM boots.

Dream Boots.JPG
Dream Boots. LM Easy Boot

 

Instead, I will probably follow one of two avenues.

  1. Another pair of Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boots. They’ve been slightly updated, but still the classic design and fit options. Not many reviews on the newer version, but my old version got a lot of great reviews for comfort and durability.
  2. The Mountain Horse Sovereign boots in black. They’re about $100 more than the Ariat boots, but they have a more interesting (but still classic) design.
  3. Tuff Rider Sure Grip Boots. These are by far the least expensive option, but I have never tried or seen them in person. Obviously, buying through RW would make things easy to try and send back, if necessary, but durability is hard to know without firsthand experience.

What boots do you ride in? What boots would you 100% stay away from?

End of the Season

This weekend marked the end of the eventing season in Kentucky. There’s one last recognized event in Tennessee this weekend, but obviously, May and I won’t be going. Once again, I am left with the feeling that we let another season go down the drain, but in the spirit of being thankful and positive, I figured I would list out all the things we DID accomplish this year.

Got Back in the Show Ring

2017 was the year of no shows for us, so the fact that we managed to make it to two shows this year, is a massive improvement. Part of me wishes we had made the jump to tackle BN at our second event, but the majority of me feels accomplished in the fact that we really seemed to slay some demons in the show jumping ring.

Found Our Barn Family

Some of them read this blog so… Hi! Moving to a new barn has meant a better routine for May and I (when she isn’t escaping), and easier access to the level of shows that I am interested in at the moment. However, more than that, it has meant new friends, a trainer whose program is really working for us, and very few days or nights at the barn where I am completely alone. It’s added back a part of riding that I hadn’t realized I was really missing – the social part.

Found May a Second Rider

This was one of those odd times where timing, circumstances, and luck all kind of came together. I guess it follows along with the vein of how I got May. I put what I wanted out into the universe and… the universe delivered. Life is weird that way sometimes.

GallopOn
Our first full HT was 3 years ago!

However, now is a great time to refocus on the off season.

Get Fit

I guess this is a goal for both May and me. Having a second rider means May is being worked 4 – 5 days a week right now, which is pretty much ideal. As for me, I committed to working out with a friend of mine. First spin class is on the schedule for tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!

Get Lessons

Budget has been diverted to paying for things for the house in hopes of getting everything set before we have a full house for Thanksgiving (7 adults and 2 kids!). I will probably end up posting pics at some point. Either way, the extra income from a half leaser is going to, at least, somewhat, be diverted towards lessons.

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Make a Plan

Am I the only one already looking at the schedule for 2019? Budget will really drive our path next year, but I would love to do a recognized event at KHP at BN. Hopefully, that isn’t too much to ask for!

rollarcoaster
Plan should include more of this!

Anyone else having all the feels at the end of another eventing season?

Putting the Buttons Back On

When I made the decision to partially lease May out, I also made the decision to soften some of May’s buttons. I didn’t want someone else to get on her and have to deal with accidentally pushing buttons they didn’t mean to push. All that could do is end up frustrating both the new rider and May.

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So I trained May to go forward and straight, on the contact. That’s pretty much it. Did it mean that the issue of her not connecting properly to the outside rein going right came back? Yup. Did it also mean that her shoulders mostly stayed in line and she was easy to steer? Yup.

With the half leaser taking her first Dressage lesson tonight with my trainer, I decided to throw those buttons back on and tune them back up. It took about two rides haha.

photo mar 08, 18 24 16

Last night, I rode May under the lights of the outdoor for the first time. (Thanks Daylight Savings… more like daylight wasting) She was really good, and I was able to move her body parts all independently. We had a very brief and not at all dramatic discussion about her moving off of my right rein and leg and into my left rein and leg, and that was it.

I sat the trot and got some decent shoulder in and leg yield work. We stepped into the canter. The first canter transition in both directions was fairly lackluster with her definitely leading with her inside shoulder instead of stepping under with the outside hind to push into the canter. I did a quick downward transition, reestablished connection, pushed her shoulder out, asked again, and had a much better transition.

We played with the circle of death set up at one end of the ring, but after about 20 minutes of work, I realized that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. So I hopped off and gave her some cookies. In May’s world, it was a pretty good day!

What about you? Have you ever “untuned” your horse for one reason or another?

Blog Hop: 25 Questions

Not a lot going on so far this week, so Amanda’s 25 Questions blog hop came at the absolute best time. Let’s get into it!

Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?

I dont think there has ever been a question of me doing anything else. Sure, I played soccer until high school and then a bit for fun in college. I played softball until middle school… I am sure I played a bunch of other random sports in between. (does marching band count?) However, I have always needed horses to keep me sane. Just ask the hubs.

What was your riding “career” like as a kid?

I guess my “kid” time can be broken into my experience at two different barns. One was a small barn, under a dozen horses. I did everything there from teach at summer camp to riding potential lesson horses. All the rules were broken when we hopped on horses straight off a truck from Mexico and jumped them over barrels in a round pen. Seriously…

DarlaI showed welsh ponies and cobs as a young jr. Typically they were really young 3 – 5. I helped break one or two of them. One I have kept tabs on, and he has gone on to show 3rd level dressage. Cool dude. One day, I will get myself a cob/thoroughbred or warmblood cross. If wishes were horses.

In my later teens, I rode at a hunter jumper barn. I went to exactly one A rated show, but I groomed at helped out at some of New York’s most classic h/j venues: HITS, Old Salem, etc. I still rode anything under the sun, but definitely also developed all the bad habits that come along with riding or unpredictable green horses. There was one horse that I rode on and off for almost 10 years. When I broke my hand, he was the one I got on first.

If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?

Ugh Boo. Without a doubt, Boo. This is not my photo, nor me riding, so I blurred out the rider’s face. This was… many years ago, so before Facebook was a thing for high schoolers (or middle school?), no idea how old I was at the time.

Boo

Anyway, Boo was an  Irish Sport Horse. He is BY FAR the most athletic horse I have ever ridden. He was the type that, if you pointed him at the fence to stop, he would happily jump over it and just keep going. I wonder now what it would be like to ride him with all the tools I now have in my toolbox (and as an eventer).

I would love to own something like him now, but I doubt I would ever be able to afford it! I kept tabs on him for a bit after he left. He ended up owned by a vet in southern NJ.

What disciplines have you participated in?

Western Pleasure, English Pleasure, Pleasure Driving, Eventing, Hunter Jumpers, Dressage…

western

Most of my experience pre-late teens was more at generalist english barns.

What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?

Reining would be super cool. I think there is a barn around here.

Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?

Nope. I have only ever owned 2 as an adult, and one as a kid.

What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?

Welsh Cobs. Hands down.

If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?

Probably Germany. I used to speak fluent German, and I just love the country. The UK would be a close second. img_4053

Do you have any horse-related regrets?

I’ve stayed at a few barns longer than I should’ve. I also regret not being able to put as much time and training into May and myself as I have wanted to the past couple of years. We should be going Novice, but now I am not sure that we will get there together.

If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?

Right now? Mary Wanless. I think bio-mechanics would make a big difference in some challenges I have had in all three phases.

What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?

A traditional 3 day event format. Even at BN, I think it would be an incredible learning experience.

If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?

Honestly, I am not sure. I would probably still be involved in horses, and May wouldn’t go anywhere. But horses can be incredibly emotionally draining.

What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?

Right now? Training level hahahaha. Although, one day I will probably switch to pure dressage.

What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?

My horse life has always been kind of a collage of horses. I could say Sport – the broken down quarter horse who was so terrified on cross ties that he visibly shook the first time I worked with him. He turned into a very dependable 2′ horse.

Buddy3

I could say my friend’s horse Henry, who was by far the best trained horse I have ever sat on. I should probably say the horse I owned before May. He taught me a lot about myself, my passion, and how to let go of something that just isn’t working.

If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?

I would have more time and money…. Isn’t that true for everyone? hahaha

If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?

The Kentucky Horse Park is still on my wish list. Hopefully, I can make it a reality in 2019!

If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?

Burghley.

Have you ever thought about quitting horses?

Yes. Many times. My original plan was to sell my previous horse and take a break before going shopping again. The universe had other ideas.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?

Everyone would be more concerned about horse welfare than money and fame.

What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?

Hah… buying May. I am amazed everyday I ride her at how cool she has become.

As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?

I want to say jumping, but I am not sure that is true. I have been so out of practice with my jumping that it is not fair to say that fear is growing with age. I would have to say now that it is probably riding horses that I am unfamiliar with. I used to climb on EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. (how about some REALLY old video for fun… you probably want the sound off)

What horse-related book impacted you the most?

Go ahead and laugh, but I don’t really read/listen to horse books. And I read A LOT. So… Black Beauty?

What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?

I really like a thinking horse. I am not sure everyone does, but I want my horse to give me their opinion. It tells me they are engaged and actively thinking in their work, even if I don’t always appreciate their opinions.

I cannot stand horses that want to hurt their rider. If you have never been on one, count your lucky stars. I got on a friend’s horse one day. He was incredibly talented, but I rode him halfway around the arena and a walk and then got off.

What do you love most about your discipline?

I would love to say that I love that no one cares what horse you’re riding, that it is more about ability than aesthetics. But honestly? It’s not really true in eventing. SURE, no one cares if you are riding a thoroughbred vs. a warmblood, but I have definitely gotten some disparaging comments about May.

So I will say that I love the challenge. I love that I am competing against myself. My goals are independent of those around me and directly related to things I can control. And ride times. I LOVE ride times.

What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?

Strength and fitness. Officially down 15.5 lbs (don’t laugh, I am proud of that .5) and definitely starting no stirrup november tonight.