Thursday, September 23, 2021

Lesson Recap: Serpentines

I did really good writing about the lesson two weekends ago while it was fresh in my brain, but once I let a day or two elapse things get fuzzy, sigh. I really did want to write about the one last weekend as soon as I got home home, but we ended up having to go pick up our last 100 bales of hay and that wiped me out.  

Ruby's blue steel

I was trying to half-ass set her up for a conformation shot and she decided to poop instead lol. So I gave up 🤦‍♀️

DH didn't come with me (he was driving his department's float in our state's bicentennial parade), so again, no media. Not even video this time, lol. Which is a shame! We did some of our normal warm up in leg yields with a few 10m circles, and then new trainer (I need to come up with an permanent abbreviation at some point I guess) had me attempt some 3-loop serpentines. I laughed out loud when she first asked me to do one and warned her my geometry is really sketch (which honestly she knows from watching me attempt 10m circles lol), but to my surprise, they weren't.... terrible? Like yes definitely room for improvement but they were (hopefully) completely recognizable. 

Still sometimes pinch myself that this is my life 😁

We also did some exercises in the canter where she had me do a down transition after doing half a circle, just to make sure Ruby wasn't trying to take over in the canter and zoom off. It really helped keep Ruby attentive to me, even if it pissed her off a little at first. Like "gee mom you asked me to canter and I DID and now you want me to stop? Make up your mind!" Poor thing, just when she thinks she knows the rules of the game I change them on her 🤣 new trainer really cracked down (again, in a good way) on the quality of the transitions. Mentally I tend to revert to riding Ruby like she's green (news flash, she very much is not), and I was letting her giraffe and sort of fling herself willy nilly into the canter, when she is more than capable of maintaining contact and rocking back and STEPPING into it like an adult, trained horse (you know, like she is). I don't know how many times I'll have to learn that lesson, but more than the 1816382 times I've already learned it apparently 🤦‍♀️ we actually ended by doing 5 transitions in a row to the right (our "bad" way) and when I got done, new trainer was like "wait wasn't that your bad way? Those were good!" - apparently the right is only our bad way at home 🤣 spoiler alert - this lesson did more for my canter departs in 5 minutes than I've successfully done on my own in 5 years. So yeah. Lessons FTW haha.

Friday, September 17, 2021


Sunday was a very not-horsey river day, as is the pattern when it's hot and I spend Saturday doing horse things :) balance! But of interest to note, I was doomscrolling FB on the sandbar when I saw a post from a rider at the new barn I'm taking lessons at posting about a Dressage Foundation grant she received for essentially a "dressage boot camp", allowing her a concentrated time period to work with her trainer without the distractions of work and home life (lol sounds great, RIGHT?!). I'm familiar with TDF grants after helping my GMO get one a few years back for a Centered Riding clinic (and then riding in said clinic). I perused the grant requirements and then commented on her status that it looked like something I'd want to check out next year. Her reply back to me was essentially CARPE DIEM! Apply now!

Painfully accurate hahahaha. 

I read back over the requirements, and thought... what the hell? Why not? There is a heavy emphasis on volunteerism with your GMO, and God knows I have (and continue to!) paid my dues where that is concerned. And a dressage boot camp sounds like manna to my very hungry soul right now. So I threw caution to the wind and emailed my new trainer about potential costs (you have to submit a detailed budget) and also whether or not she'd be on board (because you have to have a letter from the trainer detailing the fees and saying you're accepted for said training). Me being the way I am and hating to ask anyone for everything, it majorly tweaked my anxiety to even ASK, but she was super gung ho and we traded emails about what I was hoping to get out of it, and a timeline (preferably next spring, as a precursor to RATED SHOWS OMG). 
I have gotten a reputation at work as the plant rescuer, here is my newest bebe. A "Mother of Thousands"!

I started putting together the rest of the application, including information about my volunteer history with my GMO -- and gee wouldn't you know it, there was way more to write about than I thought! Including shameless plugs for the multiple USDF awards I've won for my newsletter/website contributions, lol. Those plaques are good for something after all!

Me errrrrr'night

You also need a reference letter from someone to testify about your dedication to dressage, yada yada, and my current GMO president wrote me a letter of recommendation that literally made me tear up at work when I read it! Anyway, applications were due Wednesday and I sent everything off, so we'll see if anything comes of it! The GMO pres did let me know on Tuesday that she got an email from TDF that no one from Region 4 had applied so they were putting out a call for anyone who could do a last minute application.... and lo and behold, I was already working on that ;) lol. Dunno if it will help my case if I'm the only applicant, but worst case scenario if I don't get this one, I can try again next year!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Lesson Recap: Half Halts are Not Optional

Last Saturday, I had another lesson -- I am totally digging the weekly eyes on me and homework, and I hope I can keep it up throughout at least some of the winter! Obviously a lot will be at the mercy of the weather, but I have high hopes. DH couldn't come with me, he needed to return the trailer we had borrowed the night before to do hay, and also our grass was a bit out of control. I don't mind hauling there solo, but it is nice to have a captive audience to take photos, lol. Lucky for me, some of the super nice ladies I met at the show a few weeks back were there, and one of them took video! 

He needed to snuggle her before she got on the trailer, obvs. 

When we were discussing what I'd gotten done in the previous week before the lesson (not much, between the long weekend and then putting up hay, lol), I told her I really felt like the 10m circles tracking left were super attainable, but to the right the second half of my circle just... collapsed. So we dove right into that, did a few, then talked about what the issues were -- spoiler alert, mostly me. That right shoulder collapse is real, but also she does not respect my right leg nearly as much, and isn't responsive to the rein on that side/wants to lock her neck against me. My homework was more of the exercise introduced the week before, doing some leg yield, a 10m circle in the middle of the long side, and then resuming the leg yield. We were able to execute it reasonably well in the lesson, but it remains to be seen if I'll be able to get the same results at home, lol. I also need to exaggerate the bend a little bit tracking right until she's more comfortable staying where I put her. I know at home I can get the bend I want in the walk, but at the trot and canter, I start to ride the struggle bus. So, we'll keep on keepin' on and maybe by spring it'll look a bit different!

I actually had a pocket to shove my phone in today so I had it on me for the lesson at took this at the end lol.

I have some video clips of the canter down below, and it was really cool to see what it looks like! Sometimes to me it feels like she's super zoomy, but that isn't what it looks like AT ALL, so I need to retrain my brain a little. New trainer is starting to really hammer me (in a good way, I LIKE having this stuff picked apart so I do it better) on the transitions -- she reminded me today after a particularly botched transition from the trot to the canter that she KNOWS we know how to do the transition but that we need to do it better. The canter is so much nicer if I don't spend the first four or five strides trying to organize it. She got a little strong at the trot a few times and we had to have a little discussion about half halts -- at one point, new instructor said "you know I don't hate this trot but I'm also not sure you have a functional half halt in it" and I was like yeahhhhh she thinks my input is optional right now lol. So we had to get that squared away before we moved up to the canter!
Ruby was super amenable to just chillaxing in the aisle after lessons so I could have HORSE PEOPLE TIME and just hang out and chit chat. My soul needed that so badly. 

After the canter I was WHOOPED. I still had a few minutes left in my lesson, so I told her I'd like to work on centerlines. We haven't really done any in... actual years. And that was SUPER APPARENT during my first few attempts lol. But they got better, as long as I was really thinking forward even in the halt. I'm glad to start incorporating these again now, with plenty of time to polish them up before shows!

My garmin literally thinks I'm going to die like every lesson, haha. I am also endlessly amused it thinks riding the horses is an elliptical. 

She had to hang out for a minute while I ran my check back inside, and was very over my shit at this point. 

Enjoy the few videos, courtesy of one of the super nice ladies at the barn :) both she and another lady (who is a graphic designer currently helping me with the blog rebrand!) were both kind enough to hang out and watch my lesson, which was probably like watching paint dry for them because both of them have horses doing like 4th/PSG+ haha. But they both had really nice things to say about Ruby, which of course I loved, because I'm obsessed with her lol. I tried to pay it forward a bit by photographing them at the show a few weeks back and then snapping some candids in the aisle with my cell, and I'm sure once we get into fall and I don't mind tying Ruby to my trailer for a bit, I'll be able to hang out and watch more lessons and maybe take some photos for them!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

On Wednesdays We Wear Glitter

I don't know why, but short weeks always feel so much longer than "regular" weeks! Last week was no exception. Work totally kicked my ass a few days, so I didn't ride as much as I wanted. And then Friday night we had to pick up another 75 bales of hay, which killed the plans I had to ride. But at least Wednesday we had a good ride! 

Wearing glitter, naturally. 

These clearance Smartpak breeches are quickly turning into my favorites!

We warmed up with the reins dropped on her neck, just letting her stretch and choose the pace a bit at the walk and trot. Sometimes it's good to remind myself that she can and will change directions, gait, and tempo based just on my seat, no reins involved. Even if she forgot that entirely by the time we had our next lesson, haha. It was a good ride - I mostly focused on the walk and trot, because I wasn't sure I felt equipped to deal with freight train Ruby at the canter, but we did end with a few circles each way, and they were pleasant, if not as adjustable as I wanted them. 

Fall is coming...... 

Sunrise walking into work one day last week. 

Sunset last Friday night picking up a trailer of hay. 

175 bales put up between the first Saturday in September and last Friday. It's not as much as we need, but it's a good start! Another 70 bales up Monday actually, I should get an updated photo. 

There, now with tomorrow's lesson recap, I'm reasonably caught up! I don't have my normal amount of lesson media tomorrow (no DH photos), but I do have VIDEO! Yay!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Long Weekend: Good Food and Water Time

After we got home from the lesson, we got down to the serious business -- eating good food and lots of drinking, lol. We took them out to our favorite restaurant in Columbia and ate so much someone should have rolled me back to the car lol. 

The next morning, we ended up having 100 bales of hay delivered, but getting it unloaded before 10 am meant we were able to keep the sweating to a minimum, lol. And then it was river day!

Jack is looking... the way he looks, sigh. Not terrible, not great. Just sort of maintaining. 

My friend was having some pain issues, so she ended up couching it with the noodles all day but we dragged her boyfriend and my mom down to the sandbar. 

The water was pretty low, SO MUCH of the sandbar was out! Which made it easy to beach up and not get too close to anyone else. 

This guy was riding a piece of driftwood down the river lol.

Making his exit, hah.

We grilled out for lunch!

For dinner, we went to the local Mexican place (nostalgia for my friend, since she went to college here too lol). Margarita towers were on point. 

They had to head out on Monday to make the drive home, so after we saw them off, I did saddle up for a quick ride. DH dragged the arena while I was tacking up. 

I was hoping for a laid back ride, but Ruby was SPICY and we both worked up a sweat. 

But that's okay, it got me to my daily steps before we hit the road to go to the lake!

We went to the local marina for lunch and I was perusing their library. I'm 100% sure this is an "adult book", but okay, hahahaha. The service was wretched and the food was not worth the hour wait, but at least we checked it out so now we know. Bring our own lunches, check. 

They did have a little area you could feed these ENORMOUS FUCKING FISH. 

My mom and DH went swimming to shore in the little cove we anchored in. Why? IDK, they're nuts. I laid in the boat and got sun and read my kindle, lol. 

Knowing we had to go back to work Tuesday, we didn't stay out too long, but it was a nice chill way to end the weekend!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Belated Lesson Recap: Using the Hind End

Alright I'm gonna be real honest with you, this recap is for my... September 4th lesson? God I'm so behind. Anyway, my friend was in town so I dragged her along and actually have media! It was a really great lesson -- are you sensing a theme? There's a theme. I'm enjoying the shit out of my lessons. We're still chipping away at the individual pieces I need for 1st level, mainly lots of leg yielding. The leg yields, naturally, are improving the 20m/10m circles at both the trot and canter (well we're not cantering 10m circles obviously, but you know what I'm saying). 

My right shoulder would really like to be in the fetal position, at all times. Not helpful. 

Leg yields

Doing 10m circles in the middle of my leg yields - which was a super helpful exercise!

After some really nice trotwork (Ruby is getting more consistent!), we moved on to the canter. Annnnnnd broke at least once a circle because every time I tried to rearrange my body Ruby was like "OMG HUMAN WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE DO I NEED TO SAVE US?" lol. We did have some really nice moments though, including a right lead circle that looking at photos of later like MADE ME CRY. I pinched myself going through these because this is my horse. 

I'm so clutchy with my hands, sigh. It's a work in progress. I sometimes still don't trust that she isn't going to zoom off. Not that clutching her face helps with that either, but good luck explaining that to my lizard brain. 

Some of these are probably repeats from last week but I DGAF I still love them lol. 

This will be my profile picture forever and ever. Or until I get a better moment lol. I am still in awe this is my horse!

SO SWEATY. The only dry part of my shirt was over my sports bra, lol. 

Lessons are exhausting, clearly. 

It was also super fun to dissect the lesson on the way home with my friend - she's got more of a western background these days, but there is a lot of similarity in terms of good basics. She has also known Ruby since she was a wee bebe and was tickled at how many nice things my new trainer had to say about her -- including how nice her hind end is and how well she was willing to use it once she understood what we wanted. I think we also inspired my friend to get back to lessons too! She has a weanling, so hasn't been riding much, but last I heard she had called a saddleseat barn to set up a lesson ;) this was also the first time new trainer has really seen Ruby get a little sassy, lol. Not nearly as sassy as she can get at home, but she did turn on the turbo at one point and decide half halts or really any input from me was completely optional, ha. Luckily the attitude didn't last long, and she retained her status as a Very Good Girl through the end of the lesson, when we headed home, tired and sweaty but very happy! That was the extent of our horsey things on the long weekend with friends, the rest of the time off was dedicated to eating way too much food and time on the water!