Monday, May 21, 2012

Busy but great weekend

Busy week and weekend!   Lots of work on the Idaho Dressage Festival Silent Auction, and it's not quite done yet.  Still need to follow up with a couple people and write thank you notes.   I think it went well, and I learned some things about how to set up bids and what kind of information people need.   I've got a good start on next year's list already!  It'll be better than ever.

In between IDF things, I got to have a couple of lessons on Saturday, one jumping and one dressage.  The jumping lesson didn't start out well -- I was having a strange bout of anxiety, and Rev was kind of a pain, so our first set of jumps in the sand arena didn't go well.   MT had to jump on and get Rev moving and submissive, and when he'd gotten her going, he took her out into the xc field to run her around there too.  I felt ... conflicted about this.  On the one hand, I was anxious and not giving her the ride we needed.  On the other, I felt kind of ashamed that I couldn't get it together.   But after MT got on, I got back on and we continued with the xc lesson.

And yknow, by that time my worry/fear/anxiety had gone away.  I was ready to just do it.  So we rocked around!!   Like bosses.  Or at least more boss than we had started out.  We jumped a coop type thing that would have seemed huge at the beginning of the lesson, but it jumped like it was nothin'.   Like a lesson partner said, it's so cool to look around and realize that the BN jumps seem small.   (Granted, that coop and the drop were the only true BN fences we did; the rolltop and the little A-frame are Intro/Grasshopper.  Still.)   It was a good feeling.  :D

And I officially love the Airowear Outlyne.   Right when I put it on, I feel like a linebacker or a Marine, but once I'm in the saddle and it's warmed up, I barely notice it.  It's not riding up on the back of my neck or my shoulders, it stays where it's supposed to be, and it covers just right.   SO happy with it.

I cannot WAIT until the clinic Friday and Saturday -- and I want to chomp on the course at the show.  *evil grin*   I think I might have gotten the hang of defeating anxiety.

Plus, strategic use of my crop is a huge benefit.  Smacking her 3 strides out gets her a little more on her feet and over.  

Two things to add to my position:  Remember to take a bridge -- it helps me release her face some.   And remember to flex at the hips more.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

She's back!

Oh happy day -- the horse fairies came and took back the horrible changeling they left the other day and brought my good mare back.  A good deed, kindly done.

Worked in dressage tack and draws today -- my goal was keeping her poll up and her neck stretched, head close to vertical, and worked on transitions.   I wanted good, balanced transitions that happened where I wanted them to happen -- i.e. accurate transitions.  Some success was had ... and some fall on our faces failures, too.  Mostly in and out of the canter.  I know what went wrong when we had disasters, but it was still weird.

Looking forward to Saturday -- jump lesson, followed immediately by a dressage lesson.  I am really interested in seeing what we can do to fix Rev and me, get us further down the right path, yknow?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Oh!  I forgot to mention: My new XC vest is here!!   Squeeeeee!    This is some serious vest-age.   It feels downright tactical.   I can't wait to try it out, maybe this weekend?  Hehehehe.

Cat not included with vest

Anyway, I was surprised when I calculated my size -- I thought I'd be up to the largest size, but I wasn't, not by a long shot.  That felt good.  

That said, however, I didn't take the picture of myself in it just now because holy crap, y'all -- you don't need that image in your minds.  It'll look better in action.  It better.

Anyway, it's sturdy, well-made, comfortable, and I feel confident with it.  I do wish I could have gotten it in my xc colors, but ... meh.  Wasn't worth the money or the shipping time.

I was also concerned at first that it didn't fit, that it was too short.  But as I arranged straps and such, and after I read the fitting guide, I realize that this DOES fit perfectly.  It won't hit the back of the saddle, and it doesn't ride up onto my neck, and it fits neatly on my shoulders.   Hallelujah!

Can't wait.  :)

Monday, May 14, 2012


Dear Reveille,

I love you.  But I hate spring heat cycles.  Hate.  With the burning intensity of a thousand flaming suns, I hate spring heat cycles.

I know you'll get over it in a week or so, but right now?  Get out of my sight, you obnoxious cow.  Find some ice cream and a Tiger Beat magazine and do whatever it is teenage girls do when they're hormonal.



Thursday, May 10, 2012


The entry for "grooming" in the Horse Lexicon reads:

grooming:  groo' ming, v.  The process of using brushes and other tools to transfer dirt and dust from horse to human.

Reveille looks lovely -- shiny and more shed out than yesterday -- but I'm covered in dust and horsehair.  :)   I'd intended to ride, but in my concern about getting the World's Best Corgis packed up and handed off to AM, I completely forgot to change into breeches.  Whoops!   Well, Reveille needed a treats-'n-pettins day.  We've been working fairly hard lately.  

Test of Choice night was last night too.  I rode USEF Beginner Novice Test A early, then got Rev put away and went to scribe for the official evening.  I was quite pleased with Reveille and our test!  I thought it was one of our better ones, even though on the outside, the score didn't seem to change from previous tests.  MT agreed, which was nice.  Rev was well forward with good rhythm, not counterbent (much), and we had a few really nice transitions and a good final halt.   MT's main comment was that we really need to fix her outline.  I have contact, but she's still going with her nose poked out and her back not round.  If I can get her to lengthen her neck, bring her poll up, and bring her nose closer to the vertical, we'll have a good shot at some nice scores.   The question now is: how exactly do I do that?

Hm.  A puzzler. 

The other points I left on the table were accuracy points, and that's a practice thing.  *nodnod*  I can do that; I know how to do that.

The main event was fun!  Lots of people, most of whom are friends, and some nice tests.  Toward the end, the cold front moved in and I got awfully, awfully cold.  The wind really picked up, too.   But!   Lots of fun.   I really enjoy doing these things and volunteering.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Also also wik*

OMG.  Note to self:  Do not do a leg/lower body workout the same day you have a jumping lesson.   My quads stopped responding to me about two-thirds of the way through the lesson, but I kept trying.   MT pushed me, which I needed, and we ended up successful.  Although I am now wiped. out.  And my quads are so unbelievably tired.  They've never been my strongest muscles, but looks like I'm going to have to step them up.


Reveille jumped really well today and was well forward ... MT and I agree that it was all to do with my position, and I need to focus on making the changes we worked on today into my permanent foundation.

Good mare.  Good me.

* : the people responsible for this title have been sacked.

Also: boots

Acceptable boots are acceptable.

But this would be more what I'd want for brushing boots.   *grin*  Because really, at Intro to BN, why wouldn't I need $100/pair boots, right?  I acknowledge my ridiculousness.   EquiFit All Purpose T-Boot


Did a sort of trot set yesterday; tagged along with another rider and her Thoroughbred who's coming back to conditioning.   Rev had been kind of squirrely about sheep, jumps, et cetera, but once Bandit came out and went around with us, she was fine.  Sheesh ... horses!   Anyway, I didn't do as much as I would have liked, but I did establish that ten minutes is about what I can do at a stretch right now.   So that'll be our plan: ten minutes to the left, three to five minutes break, ten minutes to the right, three to five minutes break.  Repeat as necessary, do once a week or so.

Of course, I'm giving myself hell over not being able to do more, and I really could/should have just walked for a break, then changed directions when the other rider did.   But ... I got a start.  This is important.

Jump lesson this afternoon/evening, woot!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Second verse, same as the first

This weekend was not at all what I had in mind either.

Friday I'd planned to go tag along on some trot sets with Katie and figure out what I needed to do to get Rev sorted out on the track.  Unfortunately, the weather was in no way, shape, or form cooperating!  Rained out, blah.  And trot sets inside the arena, especially with more than one person, would have been challenging.   So I decided I'd go ahead and go out to ride after work, at the normal time.

Our computer overlords had other plans.  The machine I'm testing with went belly up AGAIN.  On Friday.  At 4.  Stupid thing.  So I stuck around and fixed and fixed and fixed, and then it was time to go see the Avengers!!   (Wonderful movie.  Since this is a horse blog I won't go into detail, but it's wonderful.  Worth every second.  Best Hulk/Bruce Banner I've seen in a very long time, and the writing was so spot on, so snappy ... brilliant.  Joss Whedon IS our master.)  So no ride.

No worries, I thought -- we have lessons on Saturday and Sunday, so I'll get those rides in!

Except that my alarm clock had died earlier in the week.  And my phone alarm apparently doesn't do enough to wake me up.   On the trip to Twin Rivers, KR had been amazed that I can sleep through my phone alarm -- it's loud and annoying.  And yet ... I can sleep through it.   And I did.  Both Saturday AND Sunday.

FAIL.  Failypants McFailerson.

I managed to get to the other stuff I had on for the weekend, but the mornings of both days were utterly lost to the sands of Morpheus.  And the other stuff took up the afternoon and evening time.

So yeah.  NOT what I had in mind.  But back in the saddle today, for sure.  Rescheduled trot sets, I think, are the order of the day.  We'll see.  I also need to see if I can set up some make-up lessons, especially because I'll be gone this coming weekend too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Not what I had in mind.

So wait.  You mean this whole conditioning thing is a skill?  And I have to learn it, and practice it?  

Pffft.   Fine.

Seriously, I thought it would be intuitive.  Get horse onto track.  Warm up.  Trot forward 10 minutes (or until I can't take it any more).  Walk forward 3 minutes.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Instead it was more like: Get horse onto track.  Reassure horse that jumps won't bite and we're not jumping anyway.  Reassure horse that sheep don't eat horses.  Reassure horse that no lions live in the cattails.  Reassure horse that pile of logs does not conceal a lion.  Reassure horse that we are not going to jump that large skinny.  Reassure horse that lions do not lurk behind trailer.    At this point we've gone around the whole track and we start the lion loop again.    This time at the trot ... whoops, at the trot-spook-walk-trot.   Lather, rinse, repeat six times.

Honestly, she wasn't too bad, but I didn't feel entirely comfortable.  I felt like I didn't have the right strategies for telling her "who cares what that is; just keep trotting."  I wasn't really comfortable kicking on to a big trot, because she was full of EEK!, but by God I was going to do as much as I could and push my comfort zone.

So six laps around, as much as possible in a forward trot, focusing on relaxation and forward, and thinking all the while that I probably need a shot at this with MT or TW giving advice.

Not what I had in mind, but a start.

Then we went into the indoor, where we worked on two-point in the trot (1:07, I suck!  But there's room for improvement) and in the canter (3:12, better ,but room still), worked on Transitions NOW!, and worked on bending in jump tack.  By the end, we were both sweaty and tired, so that's a win.

And in other EXCITING NEWS?   My new vest shipped today!  Hooray!!  I should have it by the first derby, which I entered the other day.  Woot!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shaking my tiny fist

Shaking my tiny fist in rage!  Or at least frustration with some irritation and resignation in there too.

My best laid plan to do a conditioning ride last night gang agley ... maybe I should quit asking the mice to help me plan.

The test computer I'm working with at work went belly up at 4:30 yesterday.  I had to recover it, which broke it, and then I had to fix it.  So I didn't get out the door until way late, and by that time I was super-hungry and tired and it was getting toward sunset.   Ergo, no ride.   Food instead, then bed.

This morning, I awoke gently, slowly, with the soft light of rainy-day morning sun filling my room.   ...what?  I should have woken up with a growl and a jump and an annoying alarm going off, with pale sun sort of shining!   My alarm clock has gone belly up, and I can't fix it.  My phone had de-charged in the night.   So no early morning workout for me this morning -- hardly a shower! More like a quick splash.  

Anyway, so conditioning has been postponed to tonight.  I hope I'll be able to use the track, but based on the aforementioned rainy day, I might need to improvise in the indoor.   Don't wanna, because the point is to just go forward and do so outdoors, but ... if I need to, I will.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Assets (and a soapbox; sorry)

We had a good ride last night -- I was working on the usuals (forward, steady tempo, consistent soft contact) and added work on transitions between walk-halt and walk-trot, up and down, and we worked on leg yielding and bend.  I was happy with Rev, for the most part, but I'm still looking for a good consistent ride.   We DID have lots of happy slobber all over the new Woof boots ... heh.

As I was getting Rev untacked and groomed and whatnot, a new boarder came out to ride.   She's a nice lady, and I hope she gets more comfortable with being at the barn.  It's clear that her appearance is very important to her, and it's probably a big part of her job to look the part.  She has very cool hair and really fancy nails -- I wish I could maintain nails like that!   Anyway, at one point she came out of the tack area holding her helmet, and she looked at it, made an "ugh!" face, and gave me a rather dubious look.  "So, do you always wear your helmet when you ride?"

Oh dear.  I am not the right one to ask that question of if you're looking for validation for not wanting to wear your helmet.  :)  

"Yep, I sure do.  My brain is my single greatest asset, yknow?  My horse has thrown me a few times, so ... yep.  Plus, it's barn rules for insurance reasons. Plus plus, helmet hair is way cuter than drooling in a hospital bed, being a vegetable.  It's annoying sometimes, but still.  Here, let me help you with it -- no need to make it even more uncomfortable, give you any more reason to not want to wear it."

I helped her adjust the helmet harness and showed her how to know if it's fitting right, and off we both went.  

Go helmets.   Seriously, even if you don't do some high-tech job, even if you think you're not all that smart, even if you think your horse is totally bombproof ... your brain is YOUR single greatest asset too.  It only takes one hit to the head to completely change your life.   You could lose the ability to walk, talk, use your arms, remember your family and friends, or even to be the same person you were before you hit your head.  

And that's the mild end of the spectrum.  Traumatic brain injury is coming more and more to the forefront of medical science awareness (incidentally, another thing we have to thank our military for; the increase in TBIs among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has spurred a lot of awareness and research -- thank you, veterans, for your sacrifices), and for very good reason.   The NHL is increasing its oversight on hits to the head and instituting much stiffer penalties for elbowing, boarding, or other fouls that affect the mug-ee's head.  The NFL is taking steps to prevent head injuries and research the effects of football on players' brains.  It's a big deal, and everyone's becoming more aware of it.   The equestrian world has Courtney Dye's example to learn from.  If it can happen to all these athletes at the highest level -- Courtney Dye, Sidney Crosby, et cetera -- it can happen to us at the lower levels.

I'll get off my soapbox in a sec, but seriously.  Wear your helmet.  I know, you're adults and you can make your own decisions.  I get that.  It's your choice, unless you're in a place with specific rules about helmets, like our barn.  Just understand the consequences of your choice:  your loved ones might have to care for you after you're incapacitated for life; you might not be able to work again or support your family; you might never walk again, much less ride; et cetera.   You matter to someone who would be devastated if you were injured or killed, and if you can prevent that by just sticking a helmet on your head, why wouldn't you?

Okay.  Rant over.

Conditioning tonight; looking forward to it.  :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just keep swimming swimming swimming

Life proceeds apace!   We had good rides this weekend, for the most part.  We jumped in the indoor arena because of the crazy rain we've gotten around here lately, so it was turns, turns, and more turns.   We had a one-stride grid of three fences set up.  Once we'd gotten through the grid a few times successfully, MT had us come through the grid, then take each fence at an angle.   So from the left, it was through the grid, turn left, come around to the first vertical on an angle, turn left quickly and in balance, come to the middle vertical on an angle, turn left, come to the last vertical, etc.   Sounds tricky, no?  It was.  I am frequently amazed at how hard we have to work at things that should come naturally.  Like, say, turning your head.  Sigh.  :)

Getting Reveille to keep coming ON to jumps continues to be an issue.  I am still figuring out how to get that going.  I feel like a lot of it -- if not all of it -- is my doing, in my hands, position, or approach, and I also feel like we're getting better ...   But not *enough* better.  It's our current bete noire.   So I'll have to figure out how to A) get out of her way and encourage her forward and B) remind myself to SMACK HER.   One of my lesson partners had this sort of issue this winter, and after a few good wallops, her horse smartened up right quick.  I'll have to take her example!

It was with great, overdramatized sadness that I took my Davis splint boots to the tack shop to sell on consignment yesterday.  After a scrape on one hind leg, a nick on one front coronet, and a rubbed spot on the other hind leg, TW gave me some boot-and-wrap pointers.  Among them was that the Davis boots are probably rubbing Rev's legs.  Even if I thought the scrape and nick were from pasture shenanigans, she said, the boots probably started the scrape and the rubbed spot.  She recommended some basic neoprene brushing boots, like Woofs or Nunn Finers.  I went "but-but-but I love my Davis boots!", then took her advice.  Ignoring TW's advice is generally pretty foolish; experience + intelligence + information = someone to listen to.

Plus, who cares what I like if it makes Reveille uncomfortable?!   Priorities, right?!

After a bunch of internet research, I decided that the Nunn Finer boots were the ones I wanted, but that the Woof boots were acceptable.  In the end, I went with instant gratification (and instant availability of schooling boots) and acceptable boots instead of waiting and paying for shipping for more acceptable boots.   I often scoff at people who are immensely picky about colors -- this does not mean you, TSB! :) -- but I have to admit that I really, really prefer white boots on Rev.    Alas, the only Woof boots in medium were either black with elastic in colors I don't like at all (like lime or teal) or just plain black.   Very well.  Plain black it is.   I'll get some white Nunn Finers for later.

Anyway.  So tonight it's off to the barn to play with the new boots.  Tonight's plan is a dressage ride in draws.    Tomorrow is the first Wednesday Conditioning Night.   I hope the track is okay for trotting on tomorrow.   MT suggested intervals of 10 minutes trot, 3 minutes walk.  Should be doable; I'll certainly start there and modify if I have to.  I plan to repeat the set three times and to condition once a week.  That puts us at two dressage rides, one conditioning ride, and two jump rides in a week, in general and at optimum.    Plus my new-again gym regimen.  (which is different from a regime or a regiment. learn it love it.)  

Go get 'em, slugger.