Friday, October 28, 2011

A good ride last night -- we worked in the draws, and it ended up being a canter-heavy ride. Why? It was there. On Saturday, MT had shown me how to do a walk-canter transition, and I thought I might try it a few more times, just to see if I could do it with good balance. And we did! Fun! Much easier when she's collected, off that outside rein, and moving well forward. I also practiced lead changes through the trot -- we got one flying change, several rider losing balance moments, and quite a few simple changes.

But the highlight of the evening came after I was completely done. When I went out to my truck to go home .... only to discover that I'd locked myself out of my truck. In freezing weather. UGH!

I have to give props again to Schneider's Saddlery, though! I have a SSTack wool cooler for Reveille, and I got myself all bundled up in it to wait for help to arrive. :) I can't say I was totally toasty, but I was sufficiently warm to not worry too much about it. Except for my toes. Rubber boots are cold, even with wool socks on.

I now have a truck and house key in a key holder hidden on my truck. This is so not happening again. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh right - I have a blog.

Which means I ought to, yknow, write in it and stuff. :)

I've just been busy, honestly. Work, friends, riding, animals ... all that kind of life stuff. I've been riding Rev in the draw reins more; I think we're up to five rides in them total. I'm looking forward to switching to one dressage lesson and one jump lesson soon. I feel like I'm getting some things right with them, but I know for damnsure that I need more instruction to get the best use out of the tool.

I've also started doing stretches on the ground with Rev -- taking a piece of carrot and getting her to stretch her neck all the way around to her hip to get the carrot, then doing it on the other side, and I try to get her to round her neck all the way down and under to get a carrot from her chest area. I'm not having much luck with that one right yet, but I'm keeping at it. Then horsey-sit-ups, running my thumb or a hoofpick along the big muscle on her hindquarters, and then under her belly. Once we've repeated each stretch twice, I do her favorite thing: pull on her tail. That is SO funny. :) She seems to really enjoy that - she engages her back muscles and just lleeeeeaaaans into it. And if I don't do the stretching, she starts volunteering to do them, trying to curl around to either side. I imagine she's looking for carrots, mostly, but she does seem to enjoy stretching. Hehehe.

I also have to put out a big thank you to Schneider's Saddlery (! Rev's new light blanket is seriously awesome! It fits beautifully in a 74 (Rev is 15 hands and has a chunky butt and average shoulders), and I am really pleased with the quality. The attachments are reinforced, the straps are sturdy, and the hardware seems good. I've read some reviews saying that the hardware has broken within the first week, but mine hasn't. Rev lives outside 24/7 with now three other mares. I'm happy with the construction and the weight of the fabric, in 1200D. I could have gone for 1680, but I chose the lighter fabric, and we'll see how it does.

Overall, I like this WAY better than the Weatherbeeta Orican and Landa I've had in the past.

Anyway, tonight's plan involves a more strenuous workout in draws, and depending on how it goes tonight, either hack tomorrow or a less strenuous draw workout. Saturday is a jumping lesson, then dressage only until the barn gets back from Galway around 11/8 or 11/9. And THEN we move to one jump and one dressage lesson. Woot!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Le pant, le puff ... and holy crap.

Le pant ... le puff ... Man, I cannot slack off on the exercise ever again, can I?!

I had the great good fortune to squeeze in a lesson after Rev got her shoes on. I am SO glad we did -- it turns out that, as I suspected, what I thought was right in my own rides was actually wrong, and I got to experience right today. MT put draw reins on Rev, rode her a bit in them, and then had me use them for the last part of the lesson. HOLY. CRAP!! HUGE difference! I felt her back round up under me! Just wow. That's what it's supposed to feel like, what good riders with good horses feel all the time! I was able to move her forward and keep contact, even though I kept losing it.

So MT said at the end of the lesson, "Well, I think a set of draw reins is in your future." I can borrow theirs until I get a set of my own, which I should be able to do soonishly. Now to practice with them!

Anyway, I have to get back to being really, really friendly with the elliptical, the balance ball, and the bosu ball. I have been slacking, and I need to get back on the wagon, hardcore. Must increase my cardio fitness and my core strength -- it'll help my riding immensely. I know this. I really wish I had a workout partner close; that would make getting to the gym much easier!

Also, the physical therapist for the US Eventing team, Doug Hannum, is going to be in town in about a month. I think I'm going to have him look at Rev; she's so very very stiff in her neck and on her right side. Maybe he can offer some suggestions about what's causing it and how to address it. Yes, it's true that every horse has a strong side, but Rev is a little worse than that. Not much, but enough that I'd like to see what I can do. I'm actually kind of excited!

So yeah. Le pant, le puff ... but wow, I am so glad we had that lesson!! SO glad. :)
This weekend's rides, and therefore today's entry, postponed on account of stomach flu, which apparently ran through a few people at my barn before it got to me. Alas.

But the farrier's coming at 1 today, and I am feeling good enough to ride, woot! :) So maybe an update later.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pretty good ride last night -- a little unfocused on my part, just because it was late, I was tired, traffic was bad, et cetera. I almost didn't go to the barn, but I kicked myself and reminded myself that I'd regret it if I didn't. Plus, I'd gotten that same, odd, physical feeling of I want to be on my horse! earlier in the day.

Rev is doing well stretching down and into the bridle. Consistency and bringing that into a contact is what we're working on now.

So in the face of the unfocused ride last night, I have some plans on what I want to work on tonight. Here's the plan:

* Stretch her neck by hand, from the ground.
* Warm up WTC on a very long rein, like we have been doing.
* Spiral circles each direction in the trot, working on regularity and contact/bend.
* Shorten and lengthen the trot, working for better push from behind, leading to better contact.
* Work simple changes in the canter, working on balance and response time.

That oughta keep us busy, I think. My lesson partner has been working her horse's simple changes, and the improvement is both huge and obvious. I need to get Rev going on those, with the idea of learning to get flying changes from her eventually. MT can get them, so I know she does them, but I don't know how on a physical level. Intellectually yes, physically no.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's up.

First -- sending all my love to Andrea and Gogo. May Gogo's last day be full of love and carrots, and may her passing be swift and painless. May Andrea remember all the good days, the triumph, the joy, the peace, and the love. May all pain slip away as Gogo crosses the bridge.

That said, I'm almost embarrassed to say that life for me and Rev is pretty good. We had another good ride on Friday, and then a jumping lesson on Saturday. I'm ... working at it. I guess it feels a lot more rocky than it looks. I felt like I was flailing and flopping all over the place, but my lesson partner said she thought I'm riding so much better, more with Rev, tighter in the tack, et cetera. MT wasn't unhappy with us either, and we did have a few really good jumps. Still, it feels like I suck.

ANYway. After the lesson on Saturday, I was really, really sore. Much more so than usual. And exhausted. Really, really sleepy -- I bailed on the Saturday D&D game early and was asleep before 10.

Given that, then, imagine my surprise when my phone rang on Sunday morning and I discovered that it was ELEVEN THIRTY!! ACK!! My alarm is set for 7 on weekends, so I can be at the barn by 8 and ready to ride at 9! ACK! So I struggled to the surface of consciousness, declined an invitation to the Renaissance Faire ... and discovered that I felt really, really bad. I took my temperature; 102 degrees. That explained it all! No riding, just back to bed.

Feeling much, MUCH better today. I felt better yesterday, but it seemed like a good idea to stay home and not go out in the cold and wet for one day. Today I'm ready to ride! However, I have plans with TSB to hang out at her place, admire the new hand-me-down TV, and watch Burghley 2006. :)

Also -- Is it Friday morning yet?! Or even Thursday? I am ready to click BUY on the light sheet I want for Rev, and I can't do it until I get paid. My poor mare! *fret* I might add some lined stirrup leathers to the order, but we'll see ... *fret*

Friday, October 7, 2011

Imaginary progress, like imaginary friends?

Well, if I imagined it yesterday, I imagined it again, even better, today. Definite stretch into the bit, definite push from behind. On one spiralling-down circle, I thought to myself "this! remember how this looks and feels! this is a good vision to shoot for!"

My mare is so awesome. She's the best little bay mare ever. (Izzy, of course, is the best big bay mare ever. And Penny is the best little chestnut mare ever. Obviously.)

Maybe we're both learning something?

Anyway, it was a great evening. Good ride, chatted a bit with friends, the Red Wings won their season opener, and the Boise State Broncos beat the pants off Fresno State. And I had a delicious dinner ready to go when I walked in the door, and The Walking Dead on DVD. I'm not entirely sure how this gets any better. :)

(Incidentally, did any of you have imaginary friends as a kid? I had three: Baseball Man, Football Kid, and Jack. The funniest thing about this is not how they were when they existed, but how I explained it to my mother when I didn't have them any more. See, Baseball Man stayed in the house in Pennsylvania when we moved away, and Football Kid and Jack got married and moved out for their own life together. My mother said, she reports, "Oh! I didn't realize that Football Kid was a girl." My answer? "He's not! ...Jack is!" Jack, for the record, was always male; they all were. ;) Completely egalitarian kid, I was, before I had any idea what gay meant.)

I think, I thought, but I don't know.

I think I need to start with the one-jumping-lesson-one-dressage-lesson plan sooner than I originally thought.

I think this because I thought I had a great ride last night. I felt like Rev was really active, really forward, and we started to get some good bend, even to the right. And she was on the bit -- not necessarily in the outline I want yet, but on the bit counts for a lot. And on the aids in general.

What this means is that I was probably doing it ALL WRONG. *laugh* I don't have a good enough grasp of how we're doing to know when it's right. I don't have a mental picture of what a good outline looks and feels like from her back. I can close my eyes and see/feel what she normally does, how she looks, but that's not where we need to be going. That picture of where we're going is what I need to hold in my mind and strive for. But in order to really have that picture, I need to get it at least once, for a few minutes. You wouldn't think that would be so hard, would you? And yet ... and yet.

Still, I had a good time last night. Forward! Whee! And I felt like I was riding well -- changing my seatbones deliberately, aware of balance and weight aids, getting response when I changed my aids.

I am so taking her winter blanket out with me tonight, dirty or not. She was shivering when I brought her in!! HORROR! DISMAY! Bad horse mom! Bad!

And I got compliments on my dot boots. *grin* DOTS!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Retail therapy for the horsey set

Is it time to go yet? I wanna ride.

However, because it's been raining, I also need to get to the Evil Empire this evening to pick up mud boots. The muck boots (neoprene type) I have make me just miserable and I hate them, so I am getting a new set of plain rubber boots. I really ought to get the plain black and green kind for $18.

But ... DOTS! I love dots! My inner three-year-old is throwing a fit about wanting DOTS. :) But they're six dollars more.

The killer in all of this is that I technically have the money to buy Rev a light turnout, which she needs. But if I do that, I'll have $20 to put in the gas tank of my Dodge Ram 1500. Which won't get me far. So I had better be responsible and squash my inner horse-indulger-and-worrier: Rev is NOT out there freezing to death. She is a HORSE, and horses have winter coats. She can wait until the 14th for a light blanket. YES SHE CAN, self. It's far better to have the gas to get to work to earn the money for a blanket and to get myself out to the barn to put a warm wool cooler on her before I groom her so her little self can be warm. ;)

EDITED TO ADD: Ah, screw it. I'm getting the dots. The little teehee! I'll get every time I wear them is worth six dollars.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gogo Fatale: Boosting the signal

One of the eventing bloggers out there, Andrea, has been struggling with and documenting serious lameness issues with her wonderful horse, Gogo Fatale, for several years. I haven't been following Andrea and Gogo Fatale's story on Eventing-A-GoGo for long, and I've never met either, but it doesn't take long to get attached to Andrea and her mare. Gogo has such a huge personality that it's impossible to not love her, and Andrea is so devoted to her horse and her sport that it's impossible to not empathize with what she's been going through.

I'm still hoping that Andrea and her team of vets find a way to pull Gogo out of her lameness and help her become at least pasture sound, comfortable and able to live a happy, retired life. Even as I hope, though, Andrea is facing the awful choice that faces all animal owners at one time or another. It's too soon, it's too sad. But it's looming.

The Sprinkler Bandit and several of her friends have decided to get a fund together to get a memorial gift for Andrea as she faces this uncertainty. This is sort of a pay-it-forward email, as one of TSB's friends was going through similar issues with her own horse, Denali. If you read Andrea, and even if you don't or didn't until today, and if you would like to contribute any amount (none too small), please PayPal to

We're all eventers together, and more importantly, we're all horse lovers together. I can't imagine what Andrea must be going through, and I wish I could do something more substantial to help. As it is, she and Gogo have all my thoughts and prayers, and a contribution to the memorial gift fund.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cross-country, with pictures!

So Rev and I did a little bit of cross-country schooling on Sunday/ Woot! It's the first time we've done xc since I fell at Rafter K, and I was a bit nervous. Still, I kept telling myself that dude, this is Reveille under me! we're going to be fine! And we were. I have a couple of new issues to fix, namely my new tendency to balance on my hands and therefore hold Rev in too tightly and my reluctance to get Rev moving fast enough on course.

The Sprinkler Bandit was kind enough to come take pictures and even a little bit of video, for which I am hugely grateful. I see what I need to do to fix my hands and elbows, I think, and I can make some real changes, knowing what I look like in the irons.

Before we get to the pictures, I should just say that the barrels kind of worried me. According to Rev, blue barrels eat horses. However, she did them just fine. It was all in my head. :) As usual. And I would also like to register here that we're doing really quite well. Way better than I ever thought we'd do. *grin* If you had told me a year ago that we'd be doing this, I'd have thought you were being overly kind.

We started in the arena, jumping the same five-fence exercise I posted about earlier. From Rev's feet, this looks like a gallop, but I'm pretty sure it's just a canter:

Landing from one of the diagonal lines -- I like how close I am to the tack here:

And then we went out to the xc field and started jumping. This is actually our last run at the barrels, and this was -- despite the evidence -- our best jump. TSB says she took this one a split second too soon. We were attacking the fence, we were together, we were on pace, it was awesome:

MT discusses things with us, and Rev both listens carefully and makes sure I'm listening:

And then we wait for our next turn. Rev finds this boring:

We get to go again, and we jump the rolltop about 20 meters per minute (mpm) too slow, evident in my position here, but not so much Rev's legs -- GO REV!:

I have no idea exactly what 20 mpm feels like, so I kick on and go ... uh, faster ... and the jump improves for both of us. This is my favorite shot of them all:

Then we wait again, and Rev snoozes:

And now the video! I am trying in this video to really soften my elbows and get some pace going -- you can see my elbows flapping as I try to break them free. I didn't get the pace quite right, but ... the next couple of times we got the pacing better!

Thanks, TSB, for the photos! This will help a LOT!!