Saturday, October 29, 2016

End of October Analysis; November Goals!

It's not *quite* the end of the month, but it's close enough that I decided to do my end-of-month analysis now!

I had one big goal for myself this month: blog more.
Did I do that? Well, no. Not really.
But, I'm not counting it as a total loss because I was out DOING more. That's a big enough thing for me that I feel like it kind of negates not blogging enough. That said, I will continue to try and write more, because I still feel like I am missing out on so many things that need to be said!

The fact that I went to my first clinic(s), first lesson, and first show with Dylan all in the same month.... well, that is completely satisfying.

One handsome zude!


O-Ren October:

1) Go on ponying hacks with Dylan 1x a week
Success! We didn't go every week but I would like to continue to do this regularly with her, and every week if possible.

2) Continue to be a big fat relaxing preggo momma horse!
Success! Not like this is too hard to do, but still. The hardest thing she had to deal with this month is standing for 15 minutes to get her feet done. And ponying, which is sort of a workout when you're waddling.

Dylan October:

1) Attend Tarrin Warren working equitation clinic
Success! And I did TWO clinics with her! We learned a ton of information and she really kicked my butt. It was a very good thing!

2) Continue putting together 4th level and Intermediate (WE) level dressage tests
Success! We can put together a decent Intermediate test and 4-1 is pretty easy. 4-2 and 4-3 are much harder but we are getting there!

3) Compete in our first schooling WE show!
Success! This to me was our biggest feat so far. It took me so long to finally get pain-free, and so long to feel like I was really riding halfway decently again. Getting back into the show ring for real... that was a huge thing. Once you break that ice, everything after it comes so much easier.

4) Work on fitness through walking - add extra 1/2hr-45mins of walking to every ride
Success! We have been doing additional 1/2hr walks to cool out after every ride. Dylan of course takes these way too seriously and it never actually cools him out because he is walking so damn fast, but it definitely adds to his fitness!

5) Flesh out 2017 show calendar! This is largely already done but I'll have a blogpost on it!
Haven't done a blogpost on it but I will!

The other big thing I did this month was finally get with my trainer of course. That was also a huge thing because I feel it will really take us to the next level, beyond where I am right now and beyond where I have ever been. I can't wait for more lessons!

Pangea October:

1) Continue using her as a pony horse for the babies
Success! She's a good sport, my old bat. She's still as much of a cow as she ever has been, but she dutifully drags the babies along anyway, even when they are acting stupid.

2) Go on some off property trail rides! It's finally autumn!
Didn't get to do this, but I was so busy this month with Dylan that I wasn't too worried about it. It was still very hot this month too, which didn't help.

Pax October:

1) Be ponied off P regularly
Success! We didn't do a tony of ponying this month but we did go explore some areas that we have never been to before, which was very scary for Pax. The more exposure she gets the better!

2) Go for some off property trail rides with P!
Didn't get to do this, but we will over the winter for sure!

3) Continue wearing a bit (and doing general handling/baby school stuff)
Success! She even wore a real bridle this month!

Lendri October:

1) Continue to do LOTS of long lining around the property and off the property a bit!
We got to do some long lining on and off property, but we didn't do nearly as much as I wanted. Just didn't have time, since I was so busy with Dylan!

2) Order her a Comfy Fit harness (and fit for Zu too)
Success! But it hasn't arrived yet in the mail! Hopefully it will get here this week!

3) Hitch her again - I'd like to have her driving somewhat reliably by the end of October but we will see how it goes! 
Didn't get to do this, but I did have a good reason - my training harness broke! Once we get the new harness in we can continue to do this!

Zu October:

1) Continue working on lunging without pulling - when he pulls he stops and turns himself around!
Success! I think this is just going to be a long process, and he is still very young. He's still learning not to pull and just leave when he doesn't feel like doing something, so this is just going to take a long time, probably 2-3 times longer than even the most difficult horse. Hybrids just kind of have to go at their own speed - I find that pushing a horse a little past their comfort zone sometimes helps them learn, but pushing a zorse past it just makes everything fall apart. If they don't get it, if they're not comfortable doing it... just forget it. So, it just takes extra time... lots of extra time.

2) Go on more ponies with P
Success! I think we will be doing a lot of that over the next year. It's such a great tool. He's so smart, and learning how to stay just where I want him, right by my leg. He likes to hustle forward and bite P on the shoulder, which is not acceptable.

3) When we're not pulling - start long lining in the roundpen again
We'll get to that when I feel that he is ready! Right now the more important thing is to go on ponies, be exposed to new things, and learn to be chill and calm in new situations. We went on a few handwalks through the neighborhood, which were... interesting. He wasn't ever terrible, but he was not really very good either. He has a lot of things to learn!

4) Wear a bit comfortably
Success! They all seem to like the little bit that I picked up for Lendri. We will continue to wear it as usual!

Uma October:

1) Continue general handling 1x week (baby school)
I actually didn't do much of anything with Uma this month, just groomed her a few times, which is all right. She's still a tiny baby after all!

Sriracha October:

1) Continue to learn about lunging (walk, trot, whoa) in the roundpen
We didn't get to do much this month, since I was so busy with Dylan - same story with all the littles.

2) Wearing a bit comfortably
Success! She seems to like the same bit that I've been using on Lendri, or at least well enough. I'm glad I picked it up!


Other Horsey Projects:

1) Finish up redoing carport/carriage barn
Success! It looks awesome. I graveled the entire carport and cleaned the entire thing out, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. We even strung up party lights!

2) Paint and fix pony breaking cart
Success! I fixed the seat (poorly, I probably will have to redo it), put new seat covers on it, and repaired the entire thing to a most excellent purple!

3) Plan out new shed for the front field
This hasn't been accomplished yet but we are currently choosing which company we want to go with. I am hoping to have this done next month! I have a spot chosen and have decided to go with one with skids, in case it needs to be moved. The one in the top field is permanently installed but it really is in the best spot there. There are several different places the one in the front field could go, so I want the option to move it should I change my mind later.

Not pictures - snazzy new seat covers!

Before spreading the final bit!

Before we added load 2!
Complete with lazy pibble, and before I put all the carts and carriages back in



I also had a ton of other things I planned on doing this month, some of which did not get done:

Clients and daily chores as usual: check
My parents coming to visit: check
Clinic and show prep for Dylan: check
New tile being installed in the house, and a new window: didn't finish, because it has taken them two months to get back to us to schedule the tile, but they are finally coming mid-Nov AND we decided to just redo all the windows in the entire house instead of spend a ridiculous amount of money on just one pane on glass
HARAS CUP (going to spectate): didn't get to do... really disappointed that I didn't get to go spectate but that's just life, I did at least get to watch on the live stream
Spectating at Mini Worlds: check
Spectating at a miniature donkey/mule show: didn't get to do, because I had my dates wrong
The State Fair: didn't get to do, same as last year.... oh well
HALLOWEEN!: check, complete with lots of pumpkins and pumpkin flavored everything, haunted houses, Hocus Pocus and the Addams Family a million times, and beautiful fall weather

Overall it was an excellent month. As usual I never get everything done, but I also spend more time than I should just relaxing... admittedly I need it sometimes! I could probably get nearly all of it done if I didn't enjoy resting and laying in my hammock, but I think it's important to make sure I stay mentally sound as well as physically sound!


O-Ren November:
1) Go on ponying hacks with Dylan 1x a week
2) Continue to be a big fat relaxing preggo momma horse!

Dylan November:
1) Attend second WE show in Tyler!!!
2) Decide if I want to dip my toe into the circus of breed shows (there is an IALHA show going on with the WE show this month. I kind of don't, because it sounds sort of completely not fun, but I am considering it for the future. Most likely I will stick with just WE and dressage shows this year, and then consider breed show stuff later on in 2017/2018.)
3) Continue putting together 4th level and Intermediate (WE) level dressage tests
4) Increasing fitness work - more walk hacks added to each ride
5) Trailer out regularly to practice WE obstacles in addition to trailering out regularly for rides at WD
6) More lessons!!

Pangea November:
1) Continue using her as a pony horse for the babies
2) Go on some off property trail rides with Pax or Zoodle!

Pax November:
1) Be ponied off P regularly
2) Go for some off property trail rides with P!
3) Continue wearing a bridle and doing general handling/baby school stuff!

Lendri November:
1) Continue to do lots of long lining around the property and off the property a bit!
2) Once new harness comes in - start to hitch again and really drive!

Zu November:
1) Continue working on lunging without pulling - when he pulls he stops and turns himself around!
2) Ponies with P - on and possibly off property!
3) Toss him on the trailer whenever I take Dylan or anyone else off property! 
4) Wearing a bit comfortably

Uma November:
1) Continue general handling 1x week

Sriracha November:
1) More lunging work in the roundpen - walk and trot!
2) General handling to make sure she stays tame - she got slightly wild this past month when she wasn't handled enough! 


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Working Equitation B-Rated Show 10/22/16 - Intermediate Division

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear last weekend. I was up and ready to go before I needed to be, which was actually quite relaxing. Feeling like I wasn't in a rush and didn't need to speed my way through getting ready really calmed me down and made me feel pretty zen. I cleaned my tack, put my show clothes together, and eventually pulled Dylan up to tidy up his feet, bathe him thoroughly, and braid his mane. I've never been very good at french braids - a vital skill I seem to have missed out on in 2nd grade, when the rest of the little girls were braiding each other's hair - but I seem to be getting slightly better. I think it will just take practice, like anything else. Either way, I hair sprayed the crap out of his braid, and crossed my fingers that it would stay.

Once at the showgrounds, I unloaded and settled Dylan in with a haybag. He munched quietly away for the most part while I picked up my number and watched a few riders warming up, still feeling pretty zen. I had my dressage test memorized, but still felt like I was drawing some blanks here and there - I blame it on my many head injuries, but I seem to be having an increasingly difficult time remembering things as time goes on. About this time, B2 and R showed up, and we had a very excited reunion (which may or may not have been complete with affectionate boob grabbing). They helped me finish up the last final details of cleaning up Dylan and suiting up to ride, and then I was mounting up and ready to roll for my dressage test at 2:10.

And holy crap, he was ready to go too. He about scooted out from underneath me when I was mounting up, leading me to have a completely undignified fish flop onto his back while he was trying to make a great escape. He was SO hot. There was quite a lot of zooming around for a few minutes, but eventually we went back to the walk and just went sideways for a few minutes for our warmup. I did not leave myself enough warmup time, which I will need to remember for the future. Since this was my first show, I made an educated guess as to how much time I would need to settle him into his warmup, and I was not correct. Going into the test, we were still a bit all over the place, me feeling nervous and him feeling very, very hot.

As a result, the dressage test was not all that great. We didn't have any mistakes, and did score some 8s and 9s, but also had some 6s and even some 5s for my major geometry mistakes. I was not paying attention during the test, and seriously overshot several of my movements just because I was not prepared. When I get a little anxious, I tend to revert back to old habits like rounding my shoulders and completely taking my leg off. (I dearly love my O, but she was the one who taught me to be super defensive in my riding. I'm still trying to get over that!) Whenever I take my legs off, I lose total control of Dylan's back end, not to anyone's surprise. But, these are all things that I know, and therefore can continue to make sure that I am really paying attention to while showing.


More cheesin

Majorly overshooting my canter circle

Half pass left at the walk, at least that's what I think we were doing...
Start of our medium canter

No video of our dressage test, although that's probably not a terrible thing as I don't think it was that fantastic anyway! It will definitely be better next time - I feel like you have to get through your nerves at the first one before you can really start to do well. 

Ease of Handling was up next. We had the ability to walk the course once it was set up, and I made it a point to latch myself temporarily to one of my other competitors who had WE show experience, so that I could pepper her with some last minute questions. She was kind enough to humor me until she was able to shake me off near the end of the course, so she could walk it herself. The course went like this: enter, canter to the garrocha pole and pick it up, then with pole in hand continue on to the bridge, then the livestock pen, then the figure-8 around the barrels, then back to spear the ring (if possible), then deposit the pole back into the receiving can. From there, we would proceed to the water pitcher, backwards gate, bell corridor, double slalom, jump, sidepass poles, cloverleaf barrels, cup corridor, jump again, and then finish. Sound completely confusing? Have no idea what I'm talking about? Fear not, I have a video!

Before we get to that though, I have to explain where I went wrong in my course. Every obstacle has an entrance and an exit point, marked by red and white markers. Red is always on the right, which is universal throughout all horse sports (and pretty much every other sport I've ever been a part of). I've only had that beaten into my head since I was a child, surely I wouldn't forget it right? Well... I did. On the 4th obstacle, the figure-8 around the cans, I went in the wrong way. I just had it in my head that I was going in that way because that was what it was set as for the Novice riders. It was marked the other way on my course map, and had I just looked at it while approaching, I would have noticed it, buttttttt I didn't. As such, I disqualified from the ease of handling phase. But! You still receive scores for each of the other phases, so it wasn't the end of the world. I can tell you what, I'll never do that again though!

Bridge with garrocha

Entering livestock pen with garrocha

Figure-8 with garrocha

Defensive leg to the rescue!


Weaving backwards

Double slalom

Jump.... can you tell I haven't jumped in years lol

Sidepass poles

Return jump

Handsome dude

So, I was DQd from that one, but I think I would have scored well otherwise. We got a 9 on our first obstacle, then a 6, and then the scoring stopped because I was DQd. But we did several of the obstacles pretty well, so I think we would have scored decently. I am especially proud of the gate and the backing corridors, simply because teaching a horse that has spent his entire life going perfectly straight backwards to go backwards in different directions is HARD. We also had to back through the gate, which he had only one for the first time on Friday. If you watch the video, he does remarkably well at it. I was really pleased! Not to mention the fact that I was able to carry the garrocha successfully through four obstacles and not die. I have barely any experience riding one handed. Admittedly, carrying someting in one hand makes you be a better rider, because it forces you to use your body and not rely on your reins for anything important (which I should be doing anyway, but you know, old habits die very hard.)

The speed course was different from the EOH course. In the speed, it doesn't matter how you do the obstacles as long as you do them correctly. You can walk, trot, gallop, flail, whatever, so long as you do it successfully. If you manage to spear the ring, you get 10 extra seconds off your time, so I was hoping I would manage it and planned to trot with the garrocha to try and maximize that possibility. I've never successfully speared the ring before, so Plan B was just go really fast. I have another video - you'll see a lot of counter canter and trotting, just because it doesn't really matter. I'll make a better effort next time to make sure we smooth everything out!

We were 1st in dressage and 1st in speed. I think we would also have been first in EOH had I not made my dumb mistake, which would have meant we would have cleaned the entire thing up!

I think Dylan has a great future as a WE horse. And I had a TON of fun. We will definitely be doing more of this in the future!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tarrin Warren Clinic 10/21/16

Dylan and I survived our first show together this weekend! And not only survived, but did pretty well considering everything! I made some dumb rookie mistakes but I learned a lot of things, and I certainly won't make those same mistakes again! I'm going to split this post into two parts, the mini clinic on Friday and then the actual show on Saturday. Otherwise it will just be one gigantic block of text and that just won't do. 

White for just one day!

On Friday, I headed over to the showgrounds in the afternoon for a private lesson with Tarrin. I'm glad I did this, because I had questions about literally every obstacle. I had NO idea how to even attempt a few of them. Each obstacle has an entrance and an exit point, which are marked by red and white markers. As usual, red is on the right, and white is on the left. Remember this - it will come into play later. I was confused about the entrance points to several obstacles, and definitely needed to know more. Dylan was quieter and much less zoomy than he had been the last time, which made working on the obstacles much easier. We discussed the garrocha, and how the rider can ask the ground jury before they start their courses to place the garrocha where they want it in the barrel. (Also remember this.) On our course map for the show, the Intermediate riders had to go first to the garrocha and pick it up at the canter, then carry the garrocha through the next three obstacles before spearing the ring and depositing the garrocha back into the other barrel. This meant riding one handed while carrying garrocha going over the bridge, through the livestock pen, and around the figure-8. That's HARD. We decided to do some more practice on the livestock pen, which is so much more difficult than I thought it was. I had no problem cantering through it the first few times I did it, but for whatever reason this time, we both anticipated what was happening, and Dylan swapped his leads behind while scooting through it. We also managed to run right into the interior panels, knocking them all down right onto us. Poor Dylan scooted out of there quick like a bunny, and while we were waiting to have volunteers set it back up, we continued to canter around the exterior of the pen, hugging it close and working on maintaining a better balance. When I'm focused on doing a task, I tend to revert back to relying too much on my reins and not using my legs enough. Not surprisingly, this makes it impossible for Dylan to do his work, so I need to be careful when I'm focusing on something other than myself. We did a few more attempts at the canter, then went back to the walk to chill him out before moving on. 
We also went through the gate backwards, which is something I had never done before. Intermediate has a rope gate (and sometimes, a solid gate) that can be passed through either direction, depending on the approach. There is a distinctly set way to do this obstacle - you approach the gate perfectly perpendicular and at the canter, then walk, then smoothly step sideways and halt next to the opening of the gate. The rider reaches down, opens the latch (or picks up the rope), the horse moves forward just enough to clear the opening, and then does a reinback through the gate, moving back around to be parallel again to the latch (or post) so the rider can close the gate. Then the horse executes a turn on the haunches so that they are perpendicular again, then canters off. I think. Man there are a lot of details! Anyway, going backwards through a gate is something we had not attempted before, and Dylan was not very happy about it to start. He thought for sure that he knew how to go through a gate - and he does, going forwards - so going backwards was very confusing at first. He more or less figured it out, but I wasn't sure how it was going to go at the show. 
We finished by doing some practice on the cloverleaf barrels, and verbally going over the rest of the course to make sure I didn't have any other questions. I specifically made sure to ask how to hold the garrocha when going through the livestock pen (held upright, behind my leg, so as not to stab anything), and also asked about what I needed to wear. I had been told that this was a schooling show, so I asked if schooling attire would be appropriate -  nice polo shirt and clean white britches, etc. Tarrin looked at me like I was nuts. She told me it was not a schooling show, it was a rated show! I had NO idea. I told her I would be sure to wear my nice show clothes, but I'll admit I was totally knocked off guard. I don't know that I would have attempted a rated show for our first one had I known!

Back at home after our lesson, I decided to leave most of the rest of prep for the morning - cleaning tack, bathing horse, etc. My show clothes were already in the trailer and ready to go, so I just had to make sure all of my courses and tests were memorized, and the final cleaning details would be finished in the morning. I didn't ride until 2:10, and the showgrounds was only about 1/2hr away, which means I didn't have to be up early. B2 and R told me they would come to watch me the next day, which I was super excited about seeing as I barely get to see them anymore - they moved all the way across the Metroplex from us! 

I'll admit, I was a little nervous about the following day.... 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

In Memory

We lost an amazing horse last week. Actually, we lost two - Cash, who I got to see regularly up here, and Brego, who I have been in love with ever since I first read Daun's blog all those years ago. Eight years ago, to be precise. Daun's blog was the blog that inspired me to start me own - I wanted to have one just like hers. Blogging was a bit simpler back then, less about contests and fancy graphics. It was about a good story, something to inspire people to get out there and try. I wanted to do the same, and so I started Eventing-A-Gogo. As I understand it, I inspired a few people to blog myself, and that makes me feel pretty happy.

Daun and I became friends when I lived up north, and I went to visit her farm on a few occasions to go foxhunting with them. I galloped Brego in the woods, catch-rode another horse in one hunt, and then rode Hobby in another while Daun rode Brego. I catch-rode Brego in the New England Hunter Trials as well, which stands out at one of the most fun things I ever did when I lived up there. Little compares to a gone-away at full speed on a Percheron. 

Then I moved to Texas, and everything changed when I lost my Gogo. But a little piece of New England and that period of time came back to me when I found out that Brego was moving to Austin to be with Jen. Jen and I had also become friends by this time, and I was so excited to be able to see him again. I got to go squeeze his big head again last November when I was in Austin for the No Laminitis conference, when I crashed at Jen's place for the weekend (and ate her veg, and had to talk myself out of stealing their amaaaazing coffee maker). I didn't know it would be the last time I would see him, but looking back, I'm so glad I got to see him again. After I left New England, I never thought I would. Seeing him again brought me back to a simpler time in my life, when the most important thing in the world was a good gallop and a few jumps out in the woods.

Go drop by Jen's blog if you haven't already to let her know you're thinking about her. And Daun too, if you know her. Brego had an enormous, far-reaching impact in the blogging world, and in my own life as well. Rest in peace my big hairy friend... there will never be another quite like you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Show Prep

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last whiny post. You guys had some good suggestions! I LOVE LOVE LOVE having my horses at home - I think I would literally give up vacations for the rest of my life if I had to, in order to keep the horses at home the way I like - but since I am a human after all and not a poop-picking robot I do like to get away once in awhile if I can. I have a few different plans I can pull from, and a few different people. Probably what I will do next year is barter out petsitting for trimming for one or two of my local clients who do some petsitting on the side. If Future Hubs is home he of course can watch the dogs and cats, but I do worry about leaving him with the horses. We've been together for over six years now and he still can't put on a halter. 
Most of the shows I'll be planning on attending are all weekend trips, so I will be gone for 2-3 days at a time. This isn't a huge deal, and I can probably continue to do what I have done in the past - leave the horses a ton of hay and tell FH to fill their water troughs every day, and make sure the horses are not dead. When we go for longer trips, or if he ever comes with me (like on vacation), that's when we'll call in the pet sitter(s).

But speaking of shows..... we have our first show THIS WEEKEND! It has been a long time coming. This time last year, I was convinced I would be showing in no time. My body had other ideas and it took an incredibly long time to really feel like I was stable and strong in the saddle again. I still feel like a weeble sometimes but I do think I am a much stronger rider now than I have been for some years. I think especially with the help of our new (and hopefully longterm) trainer that we will continue to improve.

This weekend is just a schooling working equitation show, so mostly this is just for practice and trying to figure out exactly how to get through one of these shows. Dabbling in a new sport is VERY  challenging, but since I seem to have been doing an awful lot of that in the past few years, it is not so daunting. We will have another lesson with Tarrin on Friday, and then the show will be on Saturday. We are showing Intermediate, which is a bit daunting but I think appropriate for the level we are at.

I'm a bit nervous, but not really. This really is just a learning experience, but it is a stepping stone towards a much bigger plan. The more experience we get, the more ambitious we can become. The really big stuff is coming next year.

And finally, we are just about ready.

Snaking O around the tree... not sure why they were going round and round the tree but they were!

If you want to be really inspired by some incredible riding, check out Claire Moucadel, who was at Haras Cup with her Andalusian this past weekend. Haras hosts an International division, and Claire came all the way from France to compete in and ultimately win the International division. This is an incredible speed round! (Sidenote: we will not be going this fast or looking this amazing this weekend.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Doing Everything By Yourself

This is mostly just a whiny, gripey kind of post, so bear with me while I get it off my chest. I don't have a lot of things to whine about but this one really gets to me sometimes. 

A lot of you have these big support systems which help make everything possible for you. You have friends, grooms, and spouses that are there to hold your horse, pick some poo, take video of you, and do everything else that makes a show, or even daily chores, doable.

I have nobody. And sometimes that really just sucks.

Obviously I do have Future Hubs, but he is not a horse person and he is allergic to hay. I don't think he even knows how many horses I have, and they live in our backyard. I don't mind this - I've dated horse people in the past and sometimes it was entirely more volatile than I could handle, and I've also dated super-whipped people who just did whatever I wanted to do or told them to do, which also kind of sucked - but sometimes I see you guys posting about what amazing horse spouses you have, that go out and feed for you and set jumps for you and go to horseshows with you and do all of this stuff, and I am jealous. 

Or you board at a facility and you have a boatload of friends to help you. They're there to hold your horse, take videos, lend a hand, and give you some moral support when you're jittery. And you'd do the same for them. My only horse friends all live super far away, and none of them are anywhere close enough to help me on a regular basis. Part of this is obviously because the horses live at home, and nobody would actually have incentive to come here unless they lived here, but part of it is that I'm really antisocial and not very good at dealing with humans. I'm a bad friend-maker. And so, I continue to do things alone.

Most of the time, this situation is great. I love my horses and I love to be left alone, so it's a win-win most of the time. But once in awhile I just wish I had somebody nearby to lend a hand when I needed them.

Case in point: Today. I wanted to go to the Haras Cup this weekend to spectate. I REALLY wanted to go! What a fun little weekend trip that would have been. Of course, this meant I was going to have to hire a pet sitter, because even though Future Hubs is home, he doesn't do the horse thing and couldn't really do anything anyway with his allergies. The pet sitter ended up needing to bail for work related reasons. Then it turned out Future Hubs also had to go to a wedding, so he wasn't going to be home on Saturday night. So if I was going to go, it was going to be a day trip. 

A day trip with 8+ hours of driving. 

And 8 hours is a literal day.

I really wanted to go anyway. I wanted to say screw it and just hop up and get to it. But reason won out. I stayed home.

This is probably the 10th time this year I've had to make that decision, to just stay home because I had nobody to help me. Hell, I even missed an entire summer vacation because of that this year. 

I made the choice to keep my horses at home with no other support system other than myself. I LOVE keeping them here and I would not for a second trade ANY of this for being stuck a single day at a boarding barn again. But on days like this, I get frustrated and annoyed. It is SO HARD to do this all by myself. I have a lot of things riding on my shoulders and I only have myself to rely on at the end of the day, which means that sometimes the things I REALLY want to do just don't get done. The trips I want to go on just don't get taken. The shows I want to spectate at just don't happen. 

Something will have to give next year. Something will need to change. I am going to show and I am not going to show much locally if I have anything to say about it, so I will need to hire somebody to come feed with regularity. I have a few people I can pull from, which is good, but still.... the principle of it is kind of a huge pain in my butt. 

I know some of you are stuck in this same boat. What do you do to manage everything all by yourself? How do you manage to ever get away, or to show, or to take a weekend trip, or even to just have your animals attended to when you have nobody to help you? 

Rant over. I feel better for having gotten it off my chest. I'll figure it out I'm sure... but of course, any suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.

In case you were wondering, I have 6 cats

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why Everyone Needs A Dylan

I've hit three major milestones with Dylan this month. We did our first clinic together, signed up for our first show (which is in 2 weeks!), and now have taken our first lesson. It took me a year to get here - SO much longer than I anticipated - but I am so much better for it. 

I have been trying to get in with this trainer for awhile now, but it hasn't worked out until now. I knew she had experience with Spanish horses and a quiet manner, which is why I chose her in particular - these horses really just ride differently than warmbloods, and it really helps if people understand them. I originally contacted her at the end of June for a lesson, but by the time she got back to me, Dylan had injured himself and was out for awhile. I got him back going, then contacted her again. It took another month to organize my schedule in order to accommodate her lesson days (which are Tuesdays and Thursday), and then today was my first trailer in lesson with her. 

Dylan has really gotten so much better about being quiet when trailering to places. He has trailered ALL over the country, so he has no reason to be a goon, but the first few times I trailered him out to places (like to WD the first time, and to the WE practice), he was terrible when left tied to the trailer. He screamed, he wiggled, and he was prancy and wild and hot to ride. I trailer out to WD constantly now, so he is totally chill about that, and he was really good when we went to the Tarrin clinic as well, standing tied to the trailer munching hay for several hours. This time, he was the best he has ever been, being totally calm and quiet at this new facility. I picked his snaffle as my choice of bridle, got him ready, and went to warm up.

 L and I talked about him, and about me, and what my particular goals are. She watched us warm up a little bit, and then jumped right in with suggestions. In particular, she pointed out some of the things I'm doing with my body that are really limiting me on my right side. She described the rider's seat as having three parts - the bottom of the pelvis, which is kind of like a bowl and anchors the seat in the saddle; the lower/middle abs, which are what really controls the horse's back; and the upper part of the abs and ribcage, which should also be stacked and straight and can also independently influence the horse. She said the lower two parts for me are really good and are secure, but the upper part she described as a bucket, and that my bucket was tilting forward. This is definitely true. and I've always had issued with rolling my shoulders forward and sitting a little slumped. This got exponentially worse when I was riding defensively on hot horses, and it also negatively affected my lower leg, which L was also quick to point out.

She had me straighten my upper body and push my chest a little wider, thinking about keeping my boobs out further than my biceps. I did fine going left, but then really struggled going to the right, as I often do. She had me lower my stirrup on that side, which helped a surprising amount, and then had me thinking about relaxing my knee and putting my lower leg on instead of bracing on the stirrup and letting the lower leg come off the horse. He talks me into using my rein too much on that side, and spirals me off to the left. I thought it was because I was floating my seatbone and collapsing on the left side, but really it seems more like I was bracing a little too much in my right stirrup and therefore pushing my seatbone up and out of the saddle. We did some shoulder-ins to 10m circles, and then schooled a few walk pirouettes. Again she stopped me. "He's planting and turning," she said. "In a walk pirouette, we want. continuous steps." She switched up the exercise to where we did haunches in, then half pass. During the haunches in, she then had me add in a few tiny circles still in haunches in. From those we went right into the walk half pass, and then would do a few steps of pirouettes - kind of sneaking in those steps. We would do a few steps forward, then a step or two of turning. In this way we were able to develop some really good steps of pirouette where I really felt I had him correctly bent and correctly using himself through the pirouette. Before I was losing him in his haunches - he would swing them out or would just plant and pivot. The ones we did today were really, really good. 

We moved into the canter and already I had a horse that was going a million times better. Just straightening the upper part of my body and thinking about my pelvis as a bowl completely set me up for being a much more effective rider. I always talk about how much ab strength it takes to keep this horse under control (not that he's out of control per se, he just tends to get quick and go in every direction if you're not holding him together). In reality, just adjusting my seat a small bit made holding him together a million times easier without expending even a quarter of the energy I was using before. We did a few canter leg yields, where it wasn't so much giving an aid as it was coming onto the quarterline and letting him drift back to the rail. We added in a few quarter pirouettes, but he was getting a bit hot doing them, so we decided to go back and work on stabilizing my seat before we ask for more complicated things. 

We also did some extended walk, which I wasn't sure was great but L reassured me that it was a very competitive walk. He had a big overstep and was stretching well. We went back into the trot, taking time to emphasise going gently upward and downward in transitions. Dylan tends to be so electric and responsive that any aid is met with enormous over enthusiasm, so he almost leaps into the trot and sometimes slams on the brakes when coming down to the walk. Going to the right, I felt much more stable. We played around a bit in the final trotwork with having my seat ask for a little more, while my upper body and shoulders said "actually though I'd rather you stay right here." Dylan responded immediately with more cadence and lift in his trot without increasing anything else beyond his lift. L was so excited about his responsiveness. She said it's not often that she gets to teach someone how to ride on a horse like this - one who responds so readily to everything the rider does. 

I know not everyone can have a Dylan, but if you ever get the chance to lease, take lessons on, or even just occasionally ride a Dylan, you'll be all the better for it. Schoolmasters really are invaluable in that they can teach us ALL these things that we wouldn't otherwise be able to feel or learn. I know first hand how riding green or untrained or problem horses can give us some habits that are hard to break. Horses like Dylan are so great because when we sit correctly, they do the correct thing, because they already know how to do it and already know exactly how to respond when the correct aid is given. When we don't get it right, they don't do it right. In that, they teach us how to refine our aids, and how to correctly use our bodies - and when we get it right, we can feel it. It teaches us how to do it the right way. They really are the ultimate teachers. 
Dylan in particular has been around for a LONG time showing and training, so while he has some quirks, he is a steady guy. He doesn't get completely riled or put out when I don't do something right, but he won't give it to me correctly unless I sit correctly. He won't buck, rear, bolt, or do anything stupid that might give me defensive habits again.  He's hot - SO hot! - but he doesn't direct any of that energy into anything malicious. Instead, he is overly enthusiastic about everything, and tries almost too hard in everything that he does. He lets me flop around and experiment and shift things without getting upset, and then when I get the buttons all pushed the right way at the right time, he gives me exactly what I asked for. I love that about him.

If you can get a few rides in on a Dylan.... do it. You won't regret it!

Also the best at getting dirty