Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to normal.

Well. My dream is about to become reality: I can go ride tonight! Whoohoo!! :)

I got to ride once this weekend too; I wasn't in any pain Friday or Saturday, but the doc recommended I take it easy Friday and not ride, so I took her advice. Plus, I had to work late, so ... yeah. No ride time, even if I could have. So a jumping lesson on Saturday it was! We had a great time, though I felt like my lack of riding and lessons in the last couple of weeks showed and held me back a little. That'll get resolved, though, starting tonight.

My goal in our jumping lessons in the next period is to get us going firmly and completely forward, in a more uphill balance, so that we don't have that tiny pause before jumps. Flowing forward, jumping just as an afterthought to the "we are going THIS way in THIS pace in THIS rhythm" process.

Sunday the pain arrived, so I crashed pretty hard and didn't ride.

But today! Ride! :)

I also got my new stirrup leathers, Nunn Finer lined leathers, for my jumping saddle, and I am absolutely delighted. The 3/4 inch width was a little smaller than I'd expected, and I was afraid they'd look silly on my saddle, but they really don't. I love the half-holes, and they just look lovely and high-quality. What's more, they're EVEN. One isn't way more stretched out than the other. I don't feel off-balance. This is an awesome feeling. :) I also don't have huge tails dangling off the side of my saddle, either -- I am SO short that I not only use the 48" leathers but could probably go as short as 42". There's still about 4-6" of tail from the 48" leathers! Hee.

Anyway, ready for things to go back to normal again now, thanks. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I dream of the day when I can get off work at a reasonable hour and go out and ride. Tomorrow, maybe, if the little thing I'm getting done at the doc doesn't leave me hurting.

I have been dreaming about riding and about Rev and about horses in general every night ... clearly I need saddle time!!

Sigh. It's a thing adult amateurs have to deal with, I know. I specifically struggle with the idea that everyone ELSE manages, so why can't I? Of course, not everyone else manages all the time. We all have to work to support our horse habit, and we all have our health challenges, and whatnot. So I need to lay off on beating myself up and just persevere -- work extra tonight so I have time to go out tomorrow, yeh? I can at the very minimalist least be glad that Rev's turned out 24/7, she's warm and dry and comfortable, she's sound and healthy, and I'm not struggling to pay for board, farrier care, or vet care. This is a good life for a horse, even if my work has been crazy.

Still. I oughta start playing the lottery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Oh my goodness, I heart my farrier. After hearing about The Sprinkler Bandit's recent snafu, I am more glad than ever that I switched to this farrier a while ago. He's reliable, makes the next appointment before he leaves the barn, calls if he's going to be late, is a completely congenial person, and does a fantastic job on Rev's feet. She goes beautifully, has zero hoof problems, and is a happy camper, which makes ME a happy camper. Nice neat feet!

Amusing note: While watching Neverwhere recently, I realized that one of the tools that's supposed to strike dread in the heart of a character about to be "questioned" is a completely innocuous horseshoeing tool, a nail clincher. Hehehe. Totally non-threatening threat, that one.

I was so happy to get out to the barn today; I missed my little mare. She missed me, I think, or at least missed cookies and brushing. Dan, the farrier, was running late, so I even got to get a ride in when I hadn't planned on being able to. MT was riding a really young horse who's currently intact, so I was a little concerned, but the colt hasn't quite figured out what his equipment's for, and even if he had, MT was keeping him quite busy with the whole riding business. That'll be a nice horse one day, I think.

Anyway, the wind kicked up and it got really, really cold. I was wearing one too few layers! Whoops. But all's good. I got in the saddle, had a short but fun ride, and Rev once again has nice neat feet. Hooray for us!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

For the non-horsey folks

Well, yes, this IS my horse blog, but I know of at least one reader who's not immersed in horses and horse vocabulary 24/7. So I thought I'd link to these articles (on wikipedia; remember that it's going dark at midnight EST 1/18/12 in protest of SOPA/PIPA) that talk about some of the jumps and obstacles we equestrians might face and about eventing in general.

Types of jumps

What is eventing?

Happy reading!

North Wind Jumper Show, January edition.

So the little show on Saturday.

It went really well. :) Rev loaded like a champ on Saturday morning after I pointed out that there was breakfast on the trailer and cookies in my hand. The nibble net I got from the Sprinkler Bandit worked beautifully! It did exactly what I hoped it would: it kept Rev from scarfing down the hay, kept the hay in the hay net instead of on the ground, and kept Rev quite occupied when she had to stand at the trailer. SUCH an awesome invention!

I think Rev is going to be an incredibly awesome show horse with some miles. The arena where the shows are held has completely lost its newness and spookiness for her. She'll look at other horses or the mules, but that's about it. She gave the judges' chairs a good hard look, but it was a very polite hard look. :) With any luck, this will carry over to all show environments over the years.

MT schooled us over the fences in the morning before the show. I'd been concerned that Rev would spook at or just look at the fences that weren't simple poles -- planks, a gate, and panels. Yeah, no. Not even a single horsey eyelash batted. The oxer, though ... heh. That nearly caused a repeat of Friday's fall, the first time we went over it. I kept my head and eyes up, squeezed my leg as hard as I could, and generally Fought For It, and I stayed on ... which netted me quite the round of applause from the folks watching the warmup. *laugh* And a "good save!" from MT.

Incidentally, the first thing I heard from everyone who knew I'd fallen the day before was "oh my gosh, you're HERE? Aren't you SORE?!" My response was, in each case, "Oh, I'm sore. I just have 1000 mg of ibuprofen on board!!" MT laughed pretty hard at this one -- almost as if he knew how it goes. ;)

Anyway, the upshot of the warmup was basically hit her with your stick! I really needed to keep her moving at a good pace, keep her forward, especially between fences when there were lines. We didn't touch any of the rails in warmup, so I scratched on my schooling round, figuring we had enough warmup and could just jump around pretty easily. I was a little surprised at how small the jumps seemed, too -- 2'3 at a show seemed WAY smaller than 2'3 at home! I think MT's been psyching us out at home, which I appreciate.

So our round went pretty well, overall. The single fences -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, and 10 -- were easy, and I had plenty of forward going to them. Maybe less at 9, seeing as we knocked one of the poles down, but overall, the single fences weren't any issue. The lines -- inside lines of 5 to 6 and 7 to 8 -- posed a slight problem, especially 5-6, which was a gate to the oxer we'd had trouble at earlier. I just didn't have enough forward going; I forgot to smack her with my stick after fence 5. When we got to the oxer, Rev just didn't have enough oomph, and we very nearly stopped at it. As it was, we got there, she planted her feet, I kicked and growled, and over we went from almost a standstill. To another round of applause. *laugh* We knocked a rail at fence 8, I think, and again at 9, and our little bobble only cost us a little bit of time, like three seconds.

Overall, I was utterly delighted with her performance. I have some things I need to do better, but Rev was a superstar. :) I'm really looking forward to the next one. I'll have more information to go in with, and we'll have a great chance at going clear and at the optimum time. :) We'll stay with 2'3 for a little while, I think. Maybe we'll end up with a round at 2'6 toward the end of the series, closer to spring, but I'm not in a hurry.

I <3 my horse so very much. :) I also <3 my barnmates and lesson partners -- fun, smart, caring people, every single one of them. It was so nice to have friends in the stands, and I had a good time being moral support for them too. That's what it's all about, yknow? Horses and friends and fun.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hero? Me?

Whoops. :)

Quick recap of last night: I'd planned to ride without the draw reins to see where we were, outline and contact wise. However, there was a lesson going on when I got there, and then there was a lesson scheduled for right after. I didn't want to have Rev hang around in the crossties for two hours, so I decided I'd just groom her, do some bonding, and then put her up.

This morning, I got up at ungodly o'clock (okay, 6:30) to be really ready for our jump lesson at 9. I have to wonder what the blazes got into me! It was 10 degrees out there! Jeez! Well, long underwear, chemical heat packets, and moving around go a very long way. So we got started. Rev was fresh, wanting to spook and be tense, so I threw her on the longe and sorted that out.

We were riding with a newer student of MT's, who's on a rather cute green pony and hasn't been doing this all that much. Warmup, yay, walk/trot/canter over poles, yay. Start jumping, yay! Rev was being quite good. So MT put the fences up for us. We were having SUCH a good go.

Then Friday the 13th reached out and bit me. I didn't get my leg on enough in the approach to a fence, we had an awkward rhythm, and Rev kind of went through a fence rather than completely over it. We got over/through the fence okay, but on the second stride after landing, I couldn't stick it any further and ... ate sand.

Alas. :) I was a little worried at first, but it was pretty clear pretty quickly that I was okay. MT kept me from leaping to my feet (smart guy, that one), then helped me up once he saw that the little tweeting birdies and stars were no longer orbiting my head, and I went to take a seat for a bit. He jumped Rev over a few things, I requested ibuprofen, and then I got back in the saddle. I felt amazingly clear-headed and calm, which is rare for me after a fall. But I felt okay, so I got out of the chair and around we went a couple more times. Yay for us!

It turned out to be a great lesson. We had some really good jumps, and overall, other than that one blip, I rode well and Rev jumped well. I just paid extra for that blip today. :)

The hero part came in when I had finished jumping after the fall, and I went into the corner to wait while the other student took her turn. I told her to NOT do as I do. *grin* She looked at me with an astonished expression and said, "Are you kidding? Oh my god, you're my HERO! I could NOT have gotten back on after that -- I couldn't have trotted, and definitely not jumped like that!" Well, shucks. I didn't know that I could do that either, to be honest.

So yeah. I felt Eventing Strong after that comment. :)

I'm sore now, in my right hip and the left side of my neck, and I had to clear about a pound of sand from my bra and my breeches, but it's all good. I'm not even all that sore. We're going to have two great rounds at the show tomorrow, and I will call it a big win.

(I have to admit that I scared myself afterward, though, when I went to the bank. I couldn't remember my PIN for my debit card. I knew what numbers go in, I knew there was a duplicate, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what order they were supposed to be in. I was really worried for a bit ... but I remembered it later, and I have no other signs of concussion. I didn't even really hit my head hard at all. Not that it takes a hard hit, but still. I think it was just delayed anxiety/stress making my brain all fizzy, not actual damage. Whew!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Exercise, and WWMTD?

Well. I have successfully overcome the first bouts of "but I don't WANNA" when it comes to exercise. I have many more to overcome, but so far, so good. I can see where this program (Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred) is going to be very good for me and where I'm going to see results. I can also see where I'll need to add more cardio as time goes by, but right now I think the goal of doing this 3 times a week for 4 weeks is a good goal. My quads and abs, they are sore, and I definitely break a sweat doing this. This is a good thing. I'll need to pick up weights on Friday -- I've just been using body weight resistance -- but no hurry there. This is a good thing, and it's moving me on the path to my ultimate goal of being ready for a 3-day in late June/early July.

I should add that I am doing the "modify as I need to" thing. Apparently my right knee, the one I damaged in judo 16 years ago, doesn't hold up to sideways pressure so much any more. Jumping jacks hurt. So I'm doing energetic half-jacks. *laugh* If it changes eventually, it changes; if not, well, I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

As for WWMTD, the answer is "sit up, use your weight aid correctly, and tell her to quit hanging on you!" Reveille was, unsurprisingly, very crooked yesterday when I went to ride. I couldn't get a nice straight horse to save my life when we tracked left. So I tried a few things: inside (left) seatbone, inside leg, inside rein ... yeah, just more crookedness. MT's comments from when he schools Rev in lessons rang in my leetle bitty brain then: QUIT HANGING ON ME! COME HERE! So I thought I'd apply that philosophy. I sat up, sat on my left seatbone, held her quarters in with my legs, and insisted with my outside rein. Stop hanging on my right side, horse! Come HERE, and connect that left rein!

Who here is surprised that it worked? :)

Yeah, me neither.

WWMTD? Always a good path to success.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rough weekend. One of my challenges is asthma, and if I start to get sick at all, I have a hard time breathing. It's gotten worse as I've gotten older, too; part of the reason I want to be fitter is to do everything I can to keep the asthma under control as I age. Anyway, I've been having such a hard time breathing that I've woken up several times in the night, gasping or wheezing or whatever. It takes several hours, a few rounds with the inhaler, allergy medicine, and decongestant to get me functioning again. That plus a complete snafu with my insurance (not my fault!) resulting in me having to pay extra for a refill on the inhaler meant no lessons this weekend. I did inexpensive, non-strenuous things. :/

Must ride this week, for sure.

Meanwhile, corgis make very bad workout partners -- ab exercises on the floor are NOT corgi playtime, nor are exercise mats corgi beds. Just try telling them that, though.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chop wood, carry water, part eleventy million and three

We have officially achieved slobber on the forelegs! Heh. :) I know: what a ridiculous thing to be excited about, right? But it's a good sign. I'm always happy with a foamy mouth at all, but enough foam that she's slobbering on her legs is a great thing.

Hee. Only riders and parents could get this excited about or interested in slobber.

Anyway, we had a great ride last night. Rev was willing and interested, and we had quite a few good moments. I'm starting to realize when I'm off my left seatbone, and I'm learning to correct it. I think that if I can manage to work both my seatbones evenly, it'll make a huge difference in our riding. It's easy for me to find and use my right seatbone, and I default to it all. the. time. Which -- yay Reveille for being responsive to my seat -- causes a lot of the counterbending issues we have to the left. So when she's not straight, I have to learn to check my seatbones FIRST. Not try to rearrange her with the reins. Ask myself immediately "where's my seat?", and then make sure that my back and hips are straight and not collapsed.

Something that helped me address the issue last night was working without stirrups for a while, and then just sitting the trot. Once I found my seatbone without stirrups, I could find it more easily while sitting. Once I found my seatbone in the sitting trot, I could find it more easily in the posting trot. So I think this will be part of all work going forward.

Also: posting and two-point without stirrups is challenging in a dressage saddle.

Also also: working to lengthen and shorten in the trot (and the resulting work to keep it where you put it) really helped our walk-trot and trot-walk transitions be more balanced. Good to know.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Riding fitness

So I'm thinking about what kind of fitness goals I need to set for myself in order to be ready for a full three-day. My employer's quarterly newsletter today had an article that applies specifically to this kind of thing, so I thought I'd use the strategy it sets out for these goals.

The idea is that you should be SMART about your goals. Goals should be:

Specific: What am I going to do? How am I going to do it? Why is it important to do?

Measurable: Figure out how to measure progress, then keep track of that progress.

Attainable: Don't set goals that are out of my reach -- making a goal to be a world-class basketball player isn't something I'm going to be able to achieve, no matter how committed I am.

Realistic: The learning or progress curve isn't going to be a vertical slope, but it'll be there. The skills or abilities are available to me, even if it involves a lot of work.

Time-oriented: Set a deadline for achieving the goal. This is motivation and urgency all at once.

In looking at how I'll apply this to the goal of being ready for a three-day, it seems like I don't really know exactly what that means, "ready." I'd appreciate any feedback anyone out there has about what it means to be three-day fit -- any concrete markers I should be using? Given that, I thought it might be a better idea to break this into smaller goals at first.

Instead of joining a gym right now -- I will, but right this second it's not really financially feasible -- I ordered an exercise DVD that a few friends have reviewed well, Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred. So my first goal is going to be this:

Start Working Out Again

  • Use the 30-Day Shred DVD. Do the 20-minute program 3 days a week for 30 days, starting Saturday 1/7/2012. Because it's a do-able, convenient program with a comprehensive approach and different ability levels. (Specific)
  • Work out 3 days a week. Move from Level 1 to Level 2 by the end of the 30 days. What other fitness-related measurement could I use here? I don't want to focus on weight, though that'll be a good thing; fitness is the more important thing. Suggestions? (Measurable)
  • The DVD should arrive on Friday, 1/6/12. I have everything I need to go through the workout. This is the sort of thing designed for people like me. (Attainable)
  • I'm accepting that this is going to be tough, so I'm not committing to work out every day or jump straight to Level 2. If I need to modify an exercise to accommodate my fitness ability or my bum shoulders, I will do so. (Realistic)
  • I will commit to do this program 3 days a week for 4 weeks, from Saturday 1/7/12 to Saturday, 2/4/12. (Time-oriented)

That Saturday I'll assess how far I've come, whether I've met my goal, and what the next goal ought to be, fitness-wise.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 already? Eek!

So it was a really good vacation -- I got to ride my little horse during the day, in the sunlight, almost every day for a week. :) We had a couple of really productive lessons, too.

One involved work without stirrups, which I am going to be incorporating into my everyday rides. 5-10 minutes every ride at first, until I get stronger, and then eventually no stirrups at all one or two days a week. But that's a ways out. MT gave me a slightly concerned look as I talked about how I was SO GONNA DO THIS, spotting the imminent overdo-it-then-fall-over cycle, and suggested that I might want to take it a little easy at first so I don't injure myself. *laugh* It's like he knows me by now or something. :)

The other productive bits from the lessons involved thoughts about jumping. I have got to keep enough pace going through a course -- it helps Rev straighten out and helps her get a good bounce off the ground, and jumping is easier and more fun for us. I need to keep practicing plugging both my seatbones into the saddle on the approach and in corners. Keep my leg tight on through the approach and the back side of the jump. What's critical for us that doesn't necessarily apply to my lesson partners as much, though, is the left rein. I have to learn to keep her in both reins evenly, keep that left rein connected, so we can jump square on and not float or dive right. We managed to get that going a lot better on Sunday after a few runs, so I have hope.

The most fun thing about the lesson on Sunday was that MT raised the jumps some. I decided not to worry about it before we got going, and then once we did get going, I was way, WAY too busy riding to be concerned about the jumps. They could have been bigger, smaller, wider, whatever - I was focused on riding Rev correctly: moving forward, keeping my seat and legs on, balance, and left rein. Jump? What jump?! I'm busy here! That was a great feeling, and I want to keep it going. MT says that it's all about position, no matter what you're jumping, and I can see that through Sunday's ride.

So I have some tentative plans for 2012. Assuming everything goes as well as it has been going, I plan to take Reveille to Golden Spike and compete in Beginner Novice. In August, we're hosting an unrecognized horse trials at our barn, and if Golden Spike went well, I'll plan on running BN there. If that goes well, I plan to go to either Aspen or Twin Rivers in the fall and run BN again.

In the time between now and Golden Spike, I'm planning to tag along with the barn to an early event and volunteer, just to see how things go and what I should expect. And to shop; I need a Rodney Powell vest. :) I'd like to go XC schooling around here a few times, too, in addition to the various XC clinics that we'll be having at home. Rafter K and Golden Spike are places I'd like to go and school, before the pressure of a show. And of course, I plan on entering the event derby at home and, if possible, at Rafter K. I'd also like to ride a few tests in our Test of Choice nights, and to compete in the little jumper shows we're planning on having.

Of course, this all assumes that all continues to go well with me and Rev. I'm going to plan on that but be ready to adjust as necessary. :)

And, because that's not enough to be thinking about, I need to get my fitness in gear. I have a specific deadline: Golden Spike. I need to be fit enough to handle three days of competition and the time beforehand. So there will probably be talk here about fitness.

Should be a pretty busy, successful year! :)