Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My assigned blackboard lines:

"I must not be nervous. If I'm nervous, Reveille will be nervous, and that doesn't help."

I need to write this on the blackboard 500 times, and I need to not be thinking of things to be nervous about while I do it!

Meanwhile, allow me to demonstrate my neurosis. I'm listing out the things I need to do/get/pack before the teeny tiny little derby:


* Get tire fixed
* Get wiper fluid
* Brakes?
* empty cooler
* Ride!!


* Ride!!
* Clean tack
* Grocery shopping, unless I do it Thursday
* Pack car
* Load trailer with tack
* Bathe horse?


8 AM leave for Rafter K



* dressage saddle
* jump saddle
* dressage show pad
* dressage fleece pad
* jump fleece pad
* jump show pad
* bridle
* breastplate
* side reins


* white brushing boots
* blue show boots
* brushes, etc
* stud chain
* sit-tite
* longe line
* longe whip
* large blue bucket
* hay net
* small yellow bucket
* dish soap (small)
* towel


* helmet
* schooling cover
* velvet cover
* event cover
* event vest
* show shirt
* show coat
* schooling breeches
* show breeches
* white breeches
* event polo
* bandanas
* boots
* spurs
* gloves
* 3x underwear
* 3x socks
* Smartwool socks
* black polo
* 2x t-shirt
* sweatshirt
* black thermal
* jeans
* jammies
* warm hat


* bathroom kit
* bug spray
* sunblock
* tent
* cot
* chair
* sleeping bag
* pillow
* medicines


* cot
* chair
* bug spray
* Powerade Zero
* water
* Luna bars, 3
* ice
* carrots
* green onions
* steak for fire meat


* marinate fire meat
* rice/dragon noodles?
* veggies
* hard boiled eggs
* cookies
* tinfoil

Why YES, I'm over-packing a bit, especially with the clothes. Why do you ask? Seriously, it'll be in the high 40s at night and in the morning at the show ground, so I'll need warm clothes for Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Anyway. It's JUST A DERBY. JUST A DERBY. JUST a derby. My horse is five. I'm not a professional. If things don't go perfectly, that's totally understandable. Totally. That's what derbies are FOR.

Relax, self.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Somerset Saddlery review

Oh, and in other news: My Bobby's English Tack rubber reins FINALLY got here from Somerset Saddlery. The reins are lovely, they're the right size, right color, everything. I love the product! Somerset Saddlery was the only online retailer I could find that had them in the brown color and cob size, and they had a great price on the reins.


Their order processing and shipping was abysmally slow. I ordered on Monday, June 7. I didn't hear back on shipping schedule at all, so I emailed the customer service address on Friday, June 11. I'd expected that the reins would get packed and shipped that week, based on my experience with other online retailers like State Line, Dover, English Riding Supply, and Legacy Tack.

Customer service got back to me on Saturday, so good turnaround time there, but the answer was that the reins would ship the next week. Hrm. Well, okay, not much I can do about it.

The email saying that my reins had shipped came on June 16th, 9 days after I'd ordered them. I expected shipping to be fairly quick, so I looked for them on the 18th and the 19th ... no dice.

They finally arrived yesterday, the 23rd, two weeks and two days after I ordered them.

I'm not happy about the processing or shipping time at all. On the other hand, I don't know the tack shop's situation: they could have been at an event, the owner (who was the one who emailed and shipped for me) could have been the only one working, they might have had to wait for the reins to arrive in their shop before they could send them to me, or any of a million other not-their-fault and totally forgivable circumstances. They also don't guarantee shipping time, so that's okay there.

I am definitely happy with the product and the price. I couldn't find Bobby's brown cob size rubber reins for a better price anywhere else, and in some cases I couldn't find them at all in that color/size combination. The shipping was reasonable, too.

So overall review: If you're in a hurry and don't want to pay expedited shipping prices, just trust that the shop will ship right away, use Dover instead. However, if price is your main concern, and you don't mind waiting a while, absolutely order from Somerset Saddlery.

Derby planning and excitement

So it turns out that Reveille is a whole 'nother horse under saddle when she's in heat. She's forward, energetic, willing, and listening to me. 0.o This is a surprise, to say the least. She's a pain in the neck on the ground, especially on the way back to her pasture, but under saddle, she's a dream. Effortless to ride. Workable. Strange!! I'll take it, though, and I won't complain.

In other news, I'm getting stupid excited about the event derby coming up. It'll be our first show off-site! It'll be her first trailer ride in three years, too. I hope she loads okay -- I have no reason to think she won't, honestly, except that she hasn't done it in a while. With MT and TD there, though, it shouldn't be a problem. They have experience and authority.

I do have a little trepidation, though, about how she'll be at a new place. The last time I took her to a new place -- three years ago, almost! -- she was more than fine. Then again, whenever we get out into the cross-country field here, she gets really look-y. And she's definitely known to spook at things in the field, even at home. I guess the only thing I can do is ride defensively and pre-emptively, like I've learned to do. Just use the experience I got at horse camp: "Even if you do have a problem, you'll ride through it anyway." And as MT put it, "just remember what you have to do, and do it, and don't think about being scared."

So I'm going in with the assumption that this will be BIG FUN!, and that it won't be scary. :) I'm going to assume that Rev will be a star.

I'm having a good time planning for the event, too, oddly enough. I have a list made of things I need to bring/pack/do. I love the anticipation of events! :)

I do need to find out what TD's schedule is for Monday -- she'll be staying an extra day to teach lessons at a friend's barn near where the derby is, so I'm wondering if she will have time to put a ride on Reveille. Alternatively ... I'm pondering whether I can take Monday off, or just part of Monday, or something, to join in the lesson at the friend's barn. We'll see.

So yes. Excited! *bounce*

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Hahahahaha -- ohhh, I have to laugh, because otherwise I'd cry.

Reveille and I have the same cycle. Our bad weeks are the same. How funny. How sad. Not ironic, though, unless you mean "ironic" in the Alanis Morissette song sense, which is to say, not ironic at all, just annoying.

I didn't realize mares' cycles were 28 days, just like women's. Oh dear.

Anyway, she's a serious pain in the ass on the ground, but I thank my lucky stars that she believes (and MT and I reinforce) that once she's under saddle, it's Work Time. I've been doing pretty well lately with demanding her attention and responsiveness, and that seems to work really well for her. MT, of course, is much better at it than I am. ;)

So she's much more energetic and responsive under saddle when she's in heat, or maybe it's just that the camp did a lot for both of us, getting us to gel and bond. Either way, last night's ride was extremely pleasant. She was well forward, listening, and willing to work. It's SO nice. I've learned that if posting her trot is work, then she doesn't have enough energy. Last night, posting was effortless, and she was carrying me. I wish this would last forever!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Oh argh. I discovered on Saturday that Rev is officially in season. UGH. She was twitchy, whinnying, and generally antsy on the walk to and from the pasture, tender while I groomed her, and squirrely on the longe line -- squirrely like she rarely is any more.

She did work down, though, and I'm very glad that in general, when she's under saddle, she knows that's work time. Still ... ugh. Damn that biological imperative!

We'll see how she is this evening; I took yesterday off to take care of life stuff of my own.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Nikorobi, sanoki. (Warning: Long.)

I wasn't really expecting to have to live up to my motto -- nanakorobi, yaoki, or 'seven times fall, eight rise' -- during event camp. Unfortunately ... I had to embody the motto. And I did, for which I am very proud of myself. Thus the title of the post: 'two times fall, three rise.'

Tuesday went brilliantly. We did a canter pole exercise for the first session, an exercise I'd done before with MT. My teacher for event camp was TD, which is totally fine and wonderful, because she's just as good as MT and, unsurprisingly, has a very similar teaching style. Reveille was a star through the exercise, and I learned quite a bit about riding the ground poles, keeping her steady and in a canter rhythm.

The afternoon lesson was out on the northeast cross-country field, and Reveille was, again, a star. I had no problems jumping her at all -- we did small logs, up and down a mound, and generally getting comfortable in the jumping field. The other two students in the cross-rails class had to repeat the jumps several times, but Rev and I did them right the first time, every time.

(Does anyone see where this is going yet?)

So I praised her a lot, told her what a good girl she was, and put her up for the evening after our two classes.

Wednesday had a few more problems. The weather had turned on us, from nice but windy to cold, windy, and rainy, and the night before there'd been thunder and lightning along with the rain. So I arrived to the barn Wednesday morning to discover that I had a LOT of horse. A. Lot. Not only that, but I also had a LOT of really quite pissy horse. Sigh! She was tired, she hates being out in cold rain, and she was not looking forward to more riding.

But I got her out in the field anyway, and we got started. Not long after the lesson started, TD asked the class to start jumping some logs we hadn't jumped the day before, in the southeast field. One of the logs I know we'd jumped once before, at the event derby clinic, so I figured we'd be okay. I managed to forget or just not do the thing I need to do most of all: ride every step. I just didn't do very well what we'd been practicing all along: keep a steady rhythm and keep the horse steady to the jump and after the jump. Her trot rhythm changed, she started to wobble on the approach, and I wasn't sitting right.

She ducked right really quickly, and I found myself falling. I didn't quite fall all the way, but enough that I couldn't recover my balance, so I kind of kicked out of the stirrups and threw myself out of the saddle. It wasn't so bad -- she'd mostly stopped by the time I fell, and I was able to pretty much control my landing so my event vest took most of the impact. My lower back and sacroiliac joints hurt, but not badly, and I could get on with it.

So we jumped the scary log three more times, and then proceeded. No further falls in the morning lesson -- even when we jumped up a bank and then down the bank for the very first time. I was kind of scared of the down-bank, but ... it came out okay. She did water just fine, too. We even jumped the scary log from the back side, where it's a bit charred and shiny and extra-scary. I rode the approach right, though, and she jumped it the first time. She jumped big and round, but she jumped it.

So then, in the afternoon lesson, we went into the center sand arena for showjumping practice. We'd never done a course as long as the one TD had us doing, and we'd never really done even a small course of cross-rails at the canter all the way through. Things were going just fine, once I remembered the course, and Reveille was being pretty good, if a bit cranky.

So ... somehow, toward the last quarter of the lesson, we were both getting tired. And on one three-jump line, I did the exact. same. thing. I'd done in the morning lesson to get myself dumped. I didn't sit quite right, I wasn't firm enough on the approach, my reins weren't evenly connected, and I let her bobble on the line coming into the jump. She jumped it way to the right, where it was much bigger than the center, and then as we landed, she veered hard right.

I had time to cuss loudly before I went sprawling in the sand. This time, it hurt. I fell in exactly the same way I'd fallen before -- right side first, but mostly on my back, avoiding hitting my head or my collarbones. It took me a minute to really assess my physical condition, make sure that nothing was hurt. I actually thought to myself "you better move, or they're going to think you're really hurt ..." ["they" being the assortment of young teenagers watching the lesson and TD] So I got up on hands and knees and rocked a little to stretch out my lower back, assured TD that I was okay and hadn't hit my head, and then moved to sit on the sand.

It was then that I really started cussing. ;) I was pissed at myself -- I knew what I'd done wrong. I knew what I needed to do to fix it. And yet, I didn't do the right thing. Grrrr! I'm a better rider than that! And dammit, that HURT. HURT, I tell you.

But -- of course, I got back into the saddle, and we jumped that line a few more times in the canter. I rode my best through it, and we had no further problems. We rode the entire course again, and again, no further problems.

I pretty much toughed it out, didn't let on too much how rattled I was -- this proved MT's statement that "falling doesn't do you any good, and it doesn't do [Reveille] any good." I kind of talked to another of the teachers/campers about it, and she assured me that we've ALL been there, and we ALL feel stupid when we fall. This helped a little.

I abandoned my plans to organize a group dinner and just picked up some nachos, made a quick visit to my chiropractor (which helped), picked up an inexpensive breastplate, and then went home to indulge in ice, ibuprofen, and horse liniment. :/

Thursday was the day when we'd put together everything we'd learned and jump a cross-country course all the way round, at our level.

I had SUCH a hard time getting out of bed that morning. My back hurt. Like, HURT. I had to tell myself that I knew it'd get better once I got moving, that I didn't want to look like a wuss in front of the entire camp, that all I had to do was ride that one course and I would be done, and that I didn't want to miss out on the last day. That I'd regret it forever if I called out hurt. And even after all that motivation, I had to pretty much sternly tell myself to cowboy up and just get out of bed!

When we walked the course, I got more and more nervous. I told TD that I needed her to talk me out of being scared -- she's not so good at the reassurance, but she did her best. My friend K did a little better at the reassurance when I rode up to the group she and TD were in and asked, "Tell me again why I shouldn't be scared?" Well, I found out the answer to that question after our course ride.

The warmup went well -- Rev was calm, not pissy, and jumping well. I was even jumping well with her, keeping firmly in mind my seat and leg and body position. Things were starting to calm down in my head. Still, when we got on course, I was tense enough at the first two jumps that she just trotted them, rather than jumping.

At jump 3, she spooked at a jump that'd been moved overnight -- and I just sat down on her and made a wall out of my right leg, right seatbone, and right hand, and we got right back on course. This is when I realized I could do it. We jumped around the northeast field, and then moved into the southeast field for the second part of the course. Which included the scary log she'd refused the day before. TD was standing in the field, helping me out with instructions, and I was only half listening -- the other half was just focusing on my ride. I'd calmed down and was just paying complete attention to what I needed to do.

So we approached the log, my seat and legs firmly on, my hands not hard but not allowing any deviation either, and I gave her a firm leg aid to keep going forward, dammit! And we jumped the log perfectly. TD said later that she saw Rev thinking about ducking out again, but that I'd ridden it correctly and given her no choice but to go over it -- and after that, Rev was much more committed to my ride and to jumping the rest of the course. Hallelujah!

The rest of the course went like clockwork, even the water, and I was so, so proud of myself for it. I was proud of Reveille, too, for working with me, but I was more proud of myself for just doing it in the first place, even though I was hurting and scared - and in the second place, for doing the course well and successfully. I are teh brave. :)

MT talked to me after the ride too, wanting to know how it went, and I was proud to say it'd gone awesomely. I explained where I was with it, and I explained what I'd realized as I put Rev up: the answer to "Why shouldn't I be scared?" is "Because even if you have a problem, you're going to ride through it." MT was pleased with me, and I was too. :)

I think I'll remember that answer now. Even though I have a problem, I can ride through it. And I did, and I did.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What I wish I'd done

I wish that, when I bought Reveille, I'd printed out a copy of her ad on equine.com, saved the receipts I got from the seller, and that kind of thing. :) I'm suddenly feeling like a scrapbook would have been a fun thing.

What I'm learning, and horse camp

Yknow what I think the biggest things I'm learning are?

The first and most important thing is to ride every step. Unless I'm really just sitting on her or walking around and having no plans, I can't just ... well, sit there. I can't just let her go without any involvement. Even when I'm not asking for anything, I need to pay attention to her energy, her tempo, the rein contact. And just generally be an active partner, rather than an occasional direction-giver. I think that, when I rode as a kid, I rode horses that didn't need to have every step ridden -- which is the right way to do it. I also didn't ride with teachers the quality of MT, either. And I didn't have actual plans and goals beyond the next show. This explains a lot of why it's so much harder as an adult!

The second thing I'm learning is that there is time. I don't need to fret about how long it's taking us to learn. I'm young; Reveille is young. Neither of us is a professional/highly-bred-for-this. It's okay, and we CAN do it.

The third thing I'm learning is that I'm not the only one with the problems I have. My horse is not the only horse with straightness problems. My horse is not the only horse that doesn't want to connect up on one rein. My horse is not the only horse that needs energy. And I'm not the only rider who gets out of breath when riding. I'm not the only rider who has trouble getting my butt in the right place in the saddle while jumping. And on and on.

I am learning these things and starting to know them -- I am still working on really internalizing them. Really making them part of my psychic landscape.

In other news -- I'm super excited for horse camp this week! Tomorrow through Thursday: two mounted lessons a day, one unmounted. SQUEE!

Friday, June 11, 2010

I know, I should post more.

I know, I know -- I don't write, don't send flowers, don't call ... it's true. I've been working a lot lately, and since my only Internet access is at work, I don't have a lot of time to write.

BUT. Things continue to happen! We've had a couple of good lessons since the last post, one involving just canter poles on the ground, with the idea of teaching me how better to ride lines and how better to adjust Rev's stride as much as I can. The other was more jumping, and I learned a lot about where I need to put my body and how best to ride a line and ride a rhythm. There's way more to learn, but for now, this is going well.

I also broke down and scheduled a visit to a new chiropractor, because my balance and seatbones were getting worse than usual. When I fell and shattered my collarbone two Februaries ago, I landed hard on my hip right after I landed on my shoulder, and that messed up my hip and sacroiliac joint pretty well. Combined with 13 years of slightly off-balance walking due to an ACL replacement in my knee that never quite healed perfectly, that has caused me some real problems. Chiropractic and massage therapy (not the happy spa massages, either; the sports therapy ones) are the only things that really help, because my bones are just out of order and my muscles turn into concrete.

I think that a few weeks/months of chiropractic should take care of the nastiness in my hips for another year or so, and I'm really looking forward to working with this one. I feel better already, after this morning's appointment, and I was stunned at the x-rays he took. I hadn't had my hips x-rayed after the fall, and holy crap if my right hip isn't about an inch higher than my left. My spine is curved to compensate. BUT -- the good news is that the doc and I think it'll be relatively easy to fix. Which means I'll be able to use my hips and seatbones again to help Rev be straight on a line!

Which brings me to the next topic -- the latest Test of Choice night. Here's a post I made on the A Fat Girl and a Fat Horse forums:

So my little mare and I are working on getting dressage tests that involve cantering up to a presentable state. It's a little tough, because we haven't been working the canter all that long, only since about February or so.

We have Test of Choice nights at our barn every month, when people can come out and work any one or two dressage tests they want in front of a judge. It's non-competitive, just a chance for people to work on tests, whether they're not ready for a "real" show yet, just want to perfect a test they plan to show later, or want to work on the level they're wanting to move up to. We're in all those categories, but mostly the last one. So far, all we've been doing was Training Level Test 1, the simplest of all the Training tests.

We did it once before, in early April, and we got a 56 -- not successful, in my opinion. Reveille was tense, I was tense, I missed a canter depart, I didn't get all the way to the letters, and my circles were more like modern art than circles. My teacher's daughter, a teacher and Rolex rider herself, judged that test.

My teacher judged this round of ToC tests, and of course he's familiar with the two of us. Still ... we got a 63%!!! SIXTY THREE! On Training 1! That is my definition of a successful score -- 60% or above. :) Not necessarily a successful test in itself, but I'm pleased with the score.

Granted, Rev was counterflexed on the rail throughout the entire test, and we had a nasty loss of balance in the last turn to go up the centerline, but overall, it was a reasonable test.

Me being me, I suspect my teacher was a little too kind on my marks and that I didn't really deserve a 63, but ... I have some things to work on, and even I can say we improved from the last time we rode this test! Even if I suspect we'd have either been excused from the arena by a snickering line judge at a real dressage show or just given 3s and 4s. ;)

Well, okay, not 3s and 4s, but 5s and 6s, with one 7 for our free walk, which we've turned out to be good at.

Still, success! :D