Quick rides are still Good rides

I wasn’t able to get out to the barn early enough to get a full ride in today, but that’s ok.  Yesterday’s ride sucked.  It was like I had never ridden.  My butt didn’t know where to be, my legs were all over, my hands were awful…it just wasn’t great.  I wasn’t sure if I should even bother with trying to canter after all that awful-ness yesterday, but I finally pulled it mostly together for a little bit at the end of my ride and got a few good transitions to canter and back down to trot. I didn’t push my luck by trying to go too far or transition too many times, so the couple we did each direction were good and we left it at that.

Even though we got those few good canters in yesterday, I still didn’t feel like I did anything positive in the saddle yesterday so I decided (kinda late) today that I needed to at least get in the saddle today a little bit just to make sure it was a fluke.  I mean, I know I am not a great rider, but yesterday I was SO off balance and not right, I needed to end the week on a better note.  I didn’t get to the barn until after ten this morning (it was already almost 90 degrees too) and for once, everyone was wrapping up and getting ready to leave!  I don’t ride at the barn totally alone, so I hurried up and tacked up Sox and jumped on for a quick ride.

We only worked on walk-trot; there wasn’t time for any canter.  But that is totally cool because honestly, I just wanted to feel like I should even be in the saddle.  Which I did.  Compared to yesterday, I felt better today as soon as I sat in the saddle and started walking.  Granted, Sox had much less oomph today than he did yesterday, which is ironic I guess – yesterday he was GO GO GO and I couldn’t do anything right and today I was much better and he was trying to nap.  We did a bunch of figure 8’s and other circle shape-things, a few trot poles and a lot of 2-point (at both walk and trot).  When my friend told me she was heading out, I walked Sox around the barn and driveway talking to her to cool him out.  We’d only ridden about 20 minutes at that point, and not hard at all, so cooling out was more fun than necessary.

I spent more time with Sox after our ride than I did actually riding him today.  But it was nice.  I gave him a nice sponge-bath in front of the fan today, used his special spray for his skin (instead of his special shampoo) and then dried him off nicely and used one of the body brushes to make him extra shiny. 🙂  He looked quite nice when I was done.  Then, my son and I gave treats to and took pictures of all the horses in the barn.  It was quite fun.  Here are a few pics from today.  We took a boatload!

dexter reaching for treats

You can’t see it, but my son is standing off camera with the box of sugar cubes.

old man zak

Zak is the sweet old man of the barn. So gentle.

stuey

This guy is a little stinker, but totally cute. And very excited to come get that treat.

at the barn

It’s awful, but I can’t remember this guys name. I think it’s Travis. not sure though. he’s nice!

lily in the field

This is Lily in her Fly gear out in her pasture. She’s so sweet. She nickers at us whenever we walk close by.

sox eating my apple

Even thought I just shared the end of my apple with him, he’s giving me that look. He hates me taking his picture.

sox hating the camera

He totally freaked himself out over my camera. No flash or anything. It took me a good five minutes to calm him down after. He got really excitable after this shot was taken. He does better with cameras when he is grazing.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Between!

I came across the weekly photo challenge (found here) and thought it sounded pretty cool.  So here is my idea for this week’s theme, Between.

 A snack between friends.

My son rode for about a year and then decided it wasn’t for him.  But he still likes to come around the barn with me, mostly to visit with Modoc.  The biggest sweetest horse there.  He often pets and loves Modoc while I ride Sox.  Here he is helping himself to some of the sugar cubes I brought for the horses.   I think that was the third one he gave Modoc.  He loves that horse.  That horse loves everyone right back.  😉

My son and Modoc sharing a snack.

My son and Modoc sharing a snack.

 

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/between-danielle-hark/

 

Shoulders BACK!!

My lesson was today and it was great.  Usually I lesson at the end of the week, but schedules worked out differently this week.  Lots of shoulder back today.  I was very slouch-y today and I knew it going into the lesson that my right side would be worse than my left side.  I even warned my trainer that my right leg and my shoulder were just feeling icky and off-balanced today.  But we worked through it.

For the last few months leading up to the beginning of my lease, I have felt that I was making hardly any improvements…not that I wasn’t actually improving, but I wasn’t having any of those A-Ha! moments.  I sort of “plateaued” for a bit there, I suppose.  Today, however, I had an A-HA! moment and it was lovely!  It was during the sitting trot!  I could feel what I was supposed to feel and was really able to flow with the horse, keeping my lower back and inner thighs soft, while keeping my lower leg ON the horse and using my outer thigh for support.  All at the same time I was also stretching up tall and keeping my shoulders back and not leaning forward….. Ahh… It was so nice and lovely for the minute or so that it lasted.  I came close to achieving it again when we circled the other way in the sitting trot, but it wasn’t the same.  I had an even shorter glimpse of it last week, a couple seconds here and there throughout the week.  I know for sure what I am supposed to feel, so even though I doubt I will achieve much of it on my own, I should recognize whether it’s correct or not by how I feel in the saddle.  It feels good when it’s right.  (duh).

My calves are finally figuring out where they are supposed to be, and my legs are mostly in the proper position, most of the time.  I am working on getting my hips more supple.  I lock them in place too often.  Today, she had me practice letting my hip open and close.  We did some regular trot and walk, and then some in two-point.  Then, she had me really exaggerate the movement by having me get into two-point and then basically lay down on Sox’s neck.  I sucked at it for the longest time, lol.  I couldn’t keep my balance and would pinch with my knees, grip with my thighs, bring my heels up, etc.  My body has a very hard time with letting go.

It was interesting because there was another girl riding in the ring today and her upper body wasn’t right either, but for a different reason.  She was pumping with her body (hips, arms, core), trying to move the horse with her body…whereas I tend to get behind the motion of the horse because I am trying to let the horse move ME but in the process of waiting for the horse to move, I don’t move either (and subsequently fall behind).  As I wait for the movement to happen, I get locked in place.  I am finally beginning to actually understand the cons of my body position – as well as how they negatively affect Sox.  My trainer told me that it was weird that I didn’t do that in my jumping (fall behind the motion).  I told her it’s because I can find my Zen in the jump – the jump itself only takes a few seconds – I can let go for short bursts of time  – so I can relax and flow – over the jump.  But maintaining that Zen, that ability to “let go” and relax and flow for extended periods of time (like during canter and trot) is just too much for my un-enlightened mind.  (lol).

We did a little canter today – nothing crazy – although I did cut the ring in half and was able to do a circle using half the arena in addition to the whole arena lap.  I have trouble making turns and doing circles in the canter – I get nervous and tense…either causing or caused by my incorrect body position (which throws everything off).  But today, it went great.  I had good transitions (besides the very first one, but I handled that one well too).  I was able to make my laps complete and transition back into a trot that didn’t have me flopping all over.

Overall, I felt good about my riding today. We had a great end to the day as well.  I gave Sox his bath and used his special shampoo on his mane and forelock.  I have figured out that if I use the hose with no nozzle, with the water flow really low, he doesn’t get quite as freaked out about the water near his face and top of his head.  Which is exactly where he needs his special shampoo…  So we had a mostly calm bath and hosing down.  He looks so clean – he’s one of the cleaner horses at the barn because I wash him every week – I can’t say that about most of the other horses.  Speaking of other horses, Lily is overdue for another bath from me.  Maybe I will introduce my sister to her Friday…  After our bath, Sox and I walked around the barn and just spent some time together while he grazed.  It was super relaxing.  Here are some pictures I took of us just hanging out.

He's happy to be grazing.  As soon as he hits the grass, he starts munching.

He’s happy to be grazing. As soon as he hits the grass, he starts munching.

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Trying to get a head shot – but he won’t keep still once he sees the camera.

20140616_105454

This is as close to a head shot as he will let me get. Look how clean his face is!! 😉

20140616_105556

He looks so handsome. 😉

 

I am trying to get as much out of my trainer as possible right now since she is getting ready to have her baby ANY time now.  I have another trainer I can use, a friend of mine, while my trainer is out because of baby, but I don’t work as well with my friend as I do my trainer.  I will be having an easy day either wednesday or thursday to practice some of this stuff, plus a more serious riding day on Friday.  My sister is coming to watch me ride and play with the horses on Friday, so that will be fun. I am going to see if I can get her to record me riding so I can cringe as I watch it, lol.  Plus we are bringing one of my dogs, Leeloo, to the barn to see how she does around the horses.  I really have no idea what to expect from her regarding them, so it ought to be interesting.

Well, Happy Riding, see you next time!!

 

 

Recovering from my fall

Friday I had a lesson.  It would be the first time back on Sox since my fall on Wednesday.  I know most people say I should have gotten back on as soon as possible, preferably on Wednesday, but I was just way too wobbly.  I was a little worried that I would be anxious about riding again but I actually wasn’t.

We had already planned to do a lunge line lesson before my fall, but I think knowing that I would be starting out on the lunge line may have calmed any nerves I already had.  I know I can still fall off while on the line because my only other fall off the horse was on the lunge line!  😉    I really felt that I made a lot of progress Friday though.  I was able to really learn what my legs should feel like when they are in the right position and how I should feel when I am sitting straight (I feel like I am leaning back actually).  I also found out that I tend to lean out to the left no matter which direction I am traveling.  If left is on the outside, it’s even worse!!

So we did lots of trotting Friday.  On the line we did posting and sitting trot and really worked on me finding the proper balance.  Once we got off the lunge line, I worked on doing those same things around the arena.  I could feel the difference from what I was doing on Wednesday to what I was doing on Friday.  Hopefully I will be able to pull my stuff together on Tuesday when I go riding and do it correctly then too!

We finished up the lesson with some canter.  Because of my fall the other day, I was definitely aware of not hunching my shoulders forward, but apparently I still lean forward with my belly.  So we worked on getting me into the proper position and getting a clean transition.  When it finally came together, it came together so smoothly!!  I had to ask a few times to get it though.  The first few times I was throwing all my weight to the outside without meaning too, so he started out on the wrong lead.  The next few times, he just went faster at the trot.  So I worked on keeping my weight even and staying straight.  I tend to turn out my hips apparently!  Once we straightened me out (for the most part), I trotted a few decent circles and was able to pick up the canter on the correct lead and make an entire lap around the arena!  Yay!  We had already gone over our hour and she had to take her son to camp, so we called it quits on that good ending and I cooled out Sox after that.

Afterwards, I spent some time with Sox just sharing my gatorade and letting him graze.  He was actually pretty nice to me and almost cuddly.  🙂  Another girl at the barn there, one that has known Sox since he came to the barn, told me how much she can tell he likes me.  That made me feel good, because I am still learning his personality and although it is clear when he does NOT like someone, i didn’t know if I had passed out of the neutral zone or not.  She also complimented me on how good he is looking – usually this time of the year, he has an awful looking itchy scratchy mess on his face and neck, but I have really been keeping up with it!  So that was pretty nice.  She also told me that I am making really good progress and that if I keep it up, she thinks I will be ready to ride Lily by the end of the summer!  I don’t know if I agree with her assessment on the Lily riding, but still, made me feel good.

Speaking of Lily, I took her out Friday too and groomed her a bit.  She really needs another bath and a real good scrubbing.  She is starting to look forward to our weekly dates though.  When I walk by her pasture, she trots over to the gate and snorts at me!  When I don’t get her out, she gets visibly unhappy with me!  Makes me feel special.  Maybe I can encourage my trainer and her assistant to put the time in on her again so she can be ride-ready soon!

Happy Riding!

Auntiechichi

Parting ways with your noble steed…

Falling off the horse sucks.  People like to tell me that it’s so much worse for them because their horse is taller than my horse.  Ya know what?  It sucks when your butt parts ways with your saddle no matter the size of the horse.  Especially if you are moving forward with any speed at all.  Like we were, at the canter, when I decided flying was preferable to riding.  It turns out that I cannot fly.

So what happened to make me fly?  I am pretty sure that I was trying to grip with my thighs as well as hunching over and just threw our balance way off which may have caused Sox to trip and stumble.  When he stumbled, I was pretty sure we were both going down.  He must have thought the same thing too because he then popped up real quick – he did a jump up – to save his butt from hitting the dirt – and that down and then up movement, so fast, just sent me flying off into the dirt.

I landed pretty hard on my side.  Well, mostly my side.  I know the side of my helmet was covered in sand and my neck and shoulders hurt a lot now (several hours later).  When I first went to get up, I couldn’t, so I hobbled over to the mounting block and just sat there for a few.  I could see that Sox was fine, waiting by the gate, the reins weren’t hanging too long or over his head, so I sat on the block for a few.  Had to catch my breath because the wind got knocked out of me in the fall.  I was about to cool Sox down when I fell off, but there was no way I could get back on – I was too dizzy – so I walked him into the barn and gave his reins to my trainer.  I told her I just fell pretty hard and he needed to be cooled down.  Trainer was cool with it.  She untacked him for me too.  After a while, I was feeling better and my trainer suggested that I try hosing Sox down and see how I felt.  So I did, and things were fine.  I did hang around the barn an extra hour or so to make sure I was ok before heading home.

 

Non-lesson rides this week:  2

Tuesday I also came out to ride.  It was one of the first times I was pretty frustrated.  My trainer laughed and told me that “frustrated” and “horses” are two words often used together in the same sentences.  Sox was certainly being frustrating.  I am sure I was frustrating him too, but he’s always been rather forgiving of my faults; that is part of the reason I decided to lease him.  My trainer said today that Sox probably is looking at me differently now – my role has changed.  I went from being the once-a-week-silly-lesson-human he let ride to his new stand-in mommy.  I am now worthy of ALL his fun (And not so fun) behaviors, including pushing the limits and boundaries and not listening to me unless I ask correctly.

I could not get Sox to do anything yesterday.  He didn’t want to trot, he didn’t like the trot poles, he refused to canter.  It was very annoying.  And I take full credit for not being a stellar rider myself.  I know I need a lot of practice.  But he has responded to my shitty aids before – and yesterday was no different from any other day!! So we didn’t get much done really, I spent more time walking around yesterday than anything else.  (So i practiced holding my two-point position in the walk).  Afterwards, he got a hosing down and then I let him graze for a bit.  I took a couple of good pictures of him.  After I was done with Sox, I took Lily out and groomed her too, and then I took pictures of all the other horses and shared my treats with them.

ImageImage

Today started off MUCH better.  He was responsive and forward.  He had a good trot going, he was willing to canter – too willing actually.  He kept trying to break into the canter when I was trotting around in circles between canter laps.  We did some basic stuff: posting trot, two-point at the trot all the way around the ring a few times and over some poles, sitting trot, all the trots in circles, and a few laps of canter in both directions, both sitting and in two-point.  Then I took off my stirrups to do the same without stirrups.  It’s hard work, but I enjoy it.  It helps my seat a lot.  Everything was fine.  I was having a bit of trouble keeping the canter going though.  Both with and without stirrups.  It’s probably me leaning forward or pinching my legs.  I was actually quite conscious of this fact going into that last canter lap.  I was telling myself to put my shoulders back and to breath….and then BAM.  Out of the saddle!

Looking Ahead

Surprisingly, I am not freaked out by my fall.  The last time I fell (like a year ago), it really shook my confidence.  It helped in some ways – it relaxed me a lot on the horse because I had that big scary first fall out of the way.  But it took a while for me to not have all that adrenaline pumping when I would get on the horse.  Of course, I rode once a week then and had literally just started cantering and only on the lunge line at that point.  I know falling is a part of riding.  I hope to do it as little as possible.  I am not as resilient at these young girls at the barn.  I am only 34, so I am still sort of young myself, but I’m not bouncy and bendy like these teens.  I also have RA and that doesn’t help either.  My confidence has increased a whole lot since that first fall.  I still need to work on my confidence in other areas, probably I will be a little nervous the next time I canter, but not to get on Sox.

I am taking tomorrow off.  Originally, I planned to ride tomorrow as well but I am going to go to the beach instead with my mom, my son and my nephew.  Plus, I think I will be pretty sore tomorrow.  I am riding on Friday though – I have a lesson.  I should be even more sore then.  I was already going to be sore in the “i worked out” sense because I rode pretty hard today.

Well, happy riding to you.  I am off to soak in the bath.  I have some epson salts laying around somewhere….

~Auntie Chi Chi~

 

ps.  Here are those other pictures I took this week:

 

This is Charlie.  He makes the SILLIEST faces at me when I have treats until I share with him.  He's so super friendly and sweet.

This is Charlie. He makes the SILLIEST faces at me when I have treats until I share with him. He’s so super friendly and sweet.

This is Dexter.  He saw me sharing with Sox and Charlie and wants some too.

This is Dexter. He saw me sharing with Sox and Charlie and wants some too.

Samson, Charlie, Travis, and (I think) Brooke.  They are all watching me and my food.

Samson, Charlie, Travis, and (I think) Brooke. They are all watching me and my food.