Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hold up a sec

So after the asthma issue on Tuesday, I went ahead with the exercise plan as planned on Wednesday.  I set the program for longer than I've done so far, and went merrily on my way.  Only to be flattened by an asthma attack on the way home from the gym.  Ugh.  So no ride last night, and had a hard time going to sleep too.

This morning I woke up feeling rough, but I figured it'd go away as the day went on ... how wrong I was.  So now I'm home, no ride, no gym (but I wanna know what happens next in the zombie game!), no nothin.  Tea.  Soup.  Tylenol.  Rest.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mind-reading horses!

I swear: every time I decide to sell that horse, she knows it and is good.  Either that or every time I decide to sell, I change my attitude and she responds.

Had a good jumping lesson today, overall.  I had some good jumps, and I think all the work I've been doing on my position and strength is starting to pay off.  Not that I can ever give it up, but yknow.  I felt better in my position this week.   I know I had a few moments where my position was actually Good over the fences. So this is good.   I did have an asthma issue at the end, but I pushed through and did my last two lines -- I'd asked to be done because I felt the asthma coming on, but when MT kind of challenged me on the request, I said "aw, screw it" and finished the ride.  Yay me.  I did need my inhaler though.

Good lesson.  It felt good to do something right.

even briefer

Lesson tonight; not feeling nervous but not feeling confident either.  Exercise for me and for Rev going as planned.

Nothing else to report.

Friday, June 22, 2012


So far so good.  I've kept with my plan so far.  I don't want to have to keep planning every second of every day, but at some point I might need to.  It's a good thing I had "break" on my riding schedule yesterday because I didn't get up in time to exercise, work, go to the store, ride, AND cook dinner all in the same day.   Today the plan says Yoga, I think, and Ride.  The Riding plan has the angled-poles exercise on it.  

So that's what I'll do.  I'm starting to feel like I need my book with me so I don't forget what I planned to do ...

Another thing: I should probably work in some of the basic exercises in books like Centered Riding, the exercises designed specifically to work on balance.  Like having an arm out a la airplane while in two-point.  I would do both, but there's that whole steering thing.  Maybe in the indoor I can steer with my legs and weight, but I don't think I can in the outdoor.   It's a thing to think about.   At any rate, I'll do the airplane exercise while warming up and doing two-point.  After all, "two-point/balance practice" is explicitly on the schedule.  :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First one's the hardest

So yes -- jumping lesson last night.   Despite any wide, teacup-shaped eyes or tiny meltdowns on my part (OMG she's tossing her head and scaring the crap out of me!), I did end up having fun.  The sort of fun where you look back on something and realize that it wasn't as bad as you thought in the moment, and yknow, you'd like to go back and do it again better.   Like the first ride on a rollercoaster.   Like that, I know the first lesson is the hardest to get through, and they'll all get easier from here.  However, rehabbing my confidence is tough.  I hated hated hated rehab for my knee, and I don't love the exercises I do for my shoulder either ... this is no different.

A little digression:  Actually, I feel like a rollercoaster is a great metaphor for my adult riding experience so far.  Clicking up the first incline is terrifying and takes a lot of energy to achieve.  The first tip over the edge to get the momentum started is also terrifying, but it's the beginning of a lot of very fun stuff if you can just let go and relax.  Then it's on to ups, downs, arounds, back to where you started, careening off in a new direction, feeling weightless, feeling extra g's, and then ... back to the clicking up again.    Also, I feel similarly about rollercoasters as I do about riding:  I love them.  But they scare me.  But I love them, and once I get past the scared part, I can laugh and enjoy the ride completely.    And then I get in line for a new one, and I think omg, do I really want to do this?  this looks scary!  well, I'm committed now, and this'll be fun, just hang in there ...  And lo and behold, it's scary, and then it's fun.

So anyway, we didn't do much of anything impressive -- cross-rails and a little 2' vertical.  Exactly what I wanted to be doing.  And working on position and soft hands.  Exactly what I know I need to be doing.  Concrete demonstrations of HNTDI - How Not To Do It -- with my hands.  See: Rev tossing her head and scaring the crap out of me.  I had the handy-dandy helpful neck strap on her, and ... totally didn't use it.  Duh!  That'll be an excellent tool, and I know it, and I'd done it a few times in practice in order to be able to do it over jumps, and ... well, I need more practice.

Practice doesn't make perfect -- perfect practice makes perfect.  Or, as a Ranger friend said, a paucity of preparation produces piss-poor performance.   Heh.   Not so much applicable in this case, but I couldn't resist the alliteration.

So yes.  Sticking with the training plan for both of us -- a zombie run for me today, and doing the poles-on-an-angle and two-point/settle/soft hands work for Reveille and me.

Oh -- and an interesting-to-me note about position: MT kept saying I need to soften my seat when I sit, find a way to settle without bouncing.  Okay, understood that that's what I need to do, but I realized finally that I have no idea how to go about doing that from a physical standpoint.  No idea what it's supposed to feel like or what changes I need to make to get there.  Turns out I arch my back without knowing it.  Granted, I have a lordosis of the spine, but apparently that can be treated with ... MORE EXERCISE!  Heh, and sigh.  ;)   So must practice keeping my lower back flat and not arched -- if it feels normal, it's arched.  If it feels all roached-y, it's right.   :)     It does feel like I round my shoulders when I flatten my lower back, but MT's comment on that was that we'll fix my back first, then deal with my shoulders.

I should probably do some work to strengthen my upper back too.   The list of "exercises I oughtta be doing" is getting long ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

List of exciting things

  • Lesson tonight with T and her daughter!   This should be lots of fun.  It's not super-hot out there at all, and T is always SO positive and fun to be with.   Great way to get back into jumping lessons.  :)  
  • MT is going to get on Reveille before I start this evening, just to make sure things go well.  This will be good, seeing as I had work issues yesterday and family stuff on Sunday, so I haven't been on since Saturday.  Bleh, but that's how it is.  
  • My new iPhone arrived today!!   It's installing applications even now, and the phone activation is in progress ... hurry hurry!   I can't wait to play Zombies, Run!
  • On the topic of running, I have been to the gym as planned since Sunday.  Woo, two whole days, I know, but it's also worth being pleased that I have stuck to my plan with the gym, at least.
  • The Sprinkler Bandit and a bunch of folks are coming out tonight to school XC at our barn!  :)  It'll be fun to watch her, for sure.  My money's on her not being worried at all and her coming out feeling even awesomer than she usually does.   
  • I get to borrow TSB's copy of Jimmy Wofford's gymnastics book, yay!  So I get to make little diagrams and things.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Planning the plan

So I didn't actually do a lesson on Saturday as planned with T and her daughter -- they had some drastic trailer issues that kept them from hauling out.   Instead, I longed her in side reins, rode her a bit, and then MT got on her.

Heh heh heh.

He schooled the crap out of her.  He had a 5-fence grid set up at 1-stride lengths, and he jumped one, then two, then three, etc.   He put her through straight, then each fence on an angle separately, then the other way, and so on.  He had me put a couple of the jumps up to 2'9ish-3'ish, and did the same things.   She refused one of the taller jumps on an angle twice, and he was able to use the stick on her with some authority -- the sort of thing I can't do well at the moment.

She wasn't jumping well, but MT was of course able to jump her through it.  His comment was that part of the reason she's not jumping well is because I don't have my balance when I ride her and end up pulling on her face.   Shame on me, for sure.   (*embarrassed face*)

So the plan is this:

* I ride in lessons with T and C once a week on Tuesday evenings
* MT rides Reveille once a week, I am hoping on Saturdays at 11
* I ride her as usual on Sundays and during the week with the goals of balance and position improvement, using Jimmy Wofford's gymnastic exercises over ground poles at least 2 days a week
* I exercise 5 days a week with goals of cardio fitness and balance improvement
* I keep all this logged in my lovely new training journal, as well as diagrams of exercises and thoughts.

Such gorgeous lettering, I must say ...

I prefer having a concrete plan.  I have this week planned out for what happens when and what I plan to do on those days.  Because really ... what would Brian Boitano do?  He'd make a plan and he'd follow through -- THAT'S what Brian Boitano'd do.    So would Dr. Horrible.  For that matter, I have Bad Horse in the pasture at the moment, the Quarter Horse Cross of Sin.   *nodnod*  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Best idea I've had all month

So I was chewing on the issue of how to move forward and practice jumping position and confidence without having to resort to ground poles only.  My usual lesson seemed (seems) kind of intimidating at the moment, but the other Ladies' Lesson* seemed way too tame.  Somewhere there had to be a happy medium, right?   Crossrails, 2' jumps?  Yes?    And then it occurred to me!!   There might not be a standing Ladies' Lesson at that height, but my friend T and her daughter (10 years old, maximum) are doing regular jump lessons with MT now.  And they're right at the height and focusing on the things that I need to be doing.

So I checked with T to see if she minded if I joined her and her daughter, and I checked with MT to see if this idea was as brilliant as I thought it was.   Everyone's on board and excited, so that's what I'll be doing.   I am SO relieved.  This is totally doable and non-scary for me, and I can practice the basics and heal my confidence and Rev's.   Obviously I'll be doing ground poles and flatwork outside of lessons, but I really wanted to actually jump, even just small stuff.    Hooray!  (the Woff book I was mentioning yesterday I'd only do with ground poles. Not jumps, since that's not allowed outside of lessons.)

Looking forward to this now.  :)

Two observations on last night's ride:

1.  No matter how much I do, I always feel like I should have done more more more, worn myself out, worked HARDER, as soon as I dismount.   Even when my muscles are screaming and can't take one more second, I always think I didn't do enough.   I recognize that this is a distorted thought, though.   And I think having a written training plan will help with this.   (details on written training plan to be announced later after the acquisition of a training journal and Woff book)

2.  Rev started to relax pretty well last night.  She's been so crooked and resistant that she feels downright off to the right, but longing in side reins and insisting that her shoulders be in front of me is making a big difference.   I find that -- shock of shocks -- she relaxes pretty well when I get into balance and make a concerted effort to keep my hands low.  Even if I don't use the neck strap, which I've been practicing with in order to be able to use it effectively when jumping, I try to keep my hands in a place where I can at least touch it.  Seems to be working.  I'll keep doing this.

*: TD, or maybe MT, came up with this a while ago to refer to the 10:00 on Saturday lesson slot.  Students consisted of me at 36 and L and M around (over? Hard to say) 60.   MR sometimes joined us, at 45-50, and GG at 55-60ish.   I liked the idea of a Ladies' Lesson so that's how I've thought of it ever since.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Long, pondering.

And, to quote a quotation L. Williams posted, "you haven't failed until you quit trying."

I need to keep reminding myself of this.  And of the fact that I just don't seem to be able to quit.  Take breaks, yes.  Quit, no.

I'm still in the valley I've been in since the derby, emotionally.  I'm ready (and have begun) to start climbing, but it's difficult.  I have a bunch of work ahead of me, and only half of it is physical or on the horse.

Talked to MT and TW a little yesterday.  Not for long or in any deep way, but I'm wondering if Reveille is the right horse for me.    On the one hand, I don't trust her as much as I think I should -- I'm still worried she's going to buck me off, even though she hasn't tried recently at all.  I'm not 100% confident that she'll jump, even though every time she hasn't it's been my fault.   I feel like we should be way farther along than we are, even though we're farther than we were, by a long shot.   A friend did point out, though, that when one is in a valley like I am, everyone else seems wayyyyyy up there.  And it seems like no one else ever goes through what one goes through when one is in a valley, like no one else ever slips down into the dark places.

And yet I know it's not true.  I know.   I just need to convince my emotional self to get in line with my intellectual self, and I'm set.

Anyway, on the other hand, Rev is, as horses go, an extremely safe ride and a calm ride.   She's not extra spooky -- no more so than any other horse, and less than most -- she's not a bolter, she doesn't rear, and she's not so interested in piling me any more.  She's the right size for me, height and build wise.  She's athletic.  She's smart.  And when I'm not in a dark place, she and I are very well matched.   And every time I've thought of selling her in the past, I've chosen to wait and keep her, and I've been glad every time.

MT's question when I asked him if I should sell Rev was "well, what then?"  My answer is that I'd buy something else, something much more been-there-done-that, something willing to pack me when I need it but help me learn to ride correctly and effectively too.  Something willing to forgive if I mess up.   Something not too tall.  I'm willing to do some maintenance on an older horse or one with slight issues, like Grayson or Brego, but not to prop up a horse on its last legs.

I  guess the question boils down to whether my confidence in myself as half of the me/Rev team is going to be enough and whether I'd be trading up if I were to sell her and get another horse.   Am I having fun with this horse?   Lately?  No.  Overall?  Actually, yes.  She can be so wonderful when she just goes forward.

And I guess that's what I need to remember.  If I learn to ride her better, we have a great time.   Maybe I ought to just pull back for a year.   Wait and see how I feel about it next spring.

TW suggested that I go back to just doing ground poles and flat work ... I'd kind of rather just step the jumps back down to 2' or so and work over small jumps.  Ground poles are so. boring.  :)  I'd like to get to the point that 2' - 2'3 is deeply boring too, actually!!   We'll see.  Longe line lessons have also been suggested, and I am definitely interested in that.  I'll talk to MT this weekend at lessons.

I kind of want a specific training plan, too.  I ought to pick up one of Woff's books about gymnastic exercises or something and work with one or two a week, maybe.  And build a specific gym/workout schedule for myself too.

Hmmm.   I think we can work our way out of this valley.  I can, and I know Rev can.  Just ... work.  Right?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts for the day and evening - EDITED

Good thing it's summer hours; it's going to be a late ride tonight.   Then again, it's occurred to me just now that a good long longe session might be good for Rev too.  That would eliminate me having to go home and get my breeches and barn shoes, which I didn't put in the truck this morning.   Yeah, I think I ought to do that.  Get Rev some good work in side reins, groom her, and whatnot, and then I can go home.  And I can grab my workout pants and sneakers and go to the gym afterward without being completely covered in eau de cheveaux.

And speaking of the gym, I also have to think that another thing that will build my confidence while riding is greater physical strength and endurance.   I feel so top-heavy when I ride that getting into a two-point can feel a little precarious.  Of course, when I'm in a correct two-point, with my butt balancing my shoulders and boobs, it's not in the least precarious.  ;)   What I need to be able to do better is keep that balance and keep the tone in my muscles.   I'd feel better about this if I knew I were in better shape.

My inner wuss says "man, why's everything gotta boil down to more exercise?!"

My inner drill instructor says "get ON it, soldier!!"

I have to listen to the DI more, obviously.  :)

And a thing I forgot: I'd really like to go schooling XC off-site more.  I would love to get more experience off property for Rev and me to deal with.  I'd like to school XC at home more too, get more practice getting over my fear issues.   But I completely want to go up to Rafter K sometime, and Golden Spike sometime, and just school.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I am ready to go back to this now.  *nodnod*   My head has stopped hurting; my hip is doing better; my hand won't be healed for a good long while, nor my rib.  So I'm as good as I'm going to get for a while.

And the switch in my brain flipped back over to green today.  Ready to do this.  I got on Rev this morning briefly, and all was well.   I've found all the pieces of my brain, and I'm ready to ride.   Whew.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Still working on it.

I think I said something like this last year after my adventures at Rafter K, but: last weekend seems to have affected me more than I realized at first.  It's not physical any more (my head is better, but my hand and hip still hurt; they'll take more time); it's emotional.   I'm in that place where I oversleep and find myself needing time away to get my head together.  Working on not feeling guilty for needing said time.   I have to remind myself that riding isn't my job.  It's what I love to do, and it's okay if I need some time to sort out my head, or do the things that pay for all of this.  I am who I am, even if I'm not as strong or as ... committed?  whatever ... as other people.  I can do this, but I have to have a little more time to finish picking up the pieces of my confidence and fitting them back together.

So ... yeah.  Didn't make it to lessons this weekend.  I'm conflicted about this -- oversleeping has become a symptom of something going on in my head instead of just How It Is any more.  I want to be ready to jump back on and jump, but I think the time while the barn is off at a show this coming week will be good for me to just get on and ride, practice position, and kind of be alone in my head while I do it.  No pressure, just ... ride.  Stay in the saddle for a few rides before I go jump anything again.

I know I can do all this.  I can.  Just ... hang on a sec while I find the last little bits of my brain, k?

Friday, June 1, 2012

New low.

Quickly:  The derby at home was a total disaster.   It was cold, it rained, and I fell off three times in two days.   I had a bad, bad weekend.    I've scratched from Golden Spike.   I'm healing a mild concussion, a deep hip bruise, and a sprained finger.   I'm also taking serious steps toward fixing my damn brain/emotions/attitude and my out-of-balance body.    I don't care that I'm not even at BN level yet -- I want this to work.  I want to event.  I want to fly around cross-country without freezing up.  My horse is awesome and she can completely, totally do this.  It's me that needs adjustment.

And honestly, I've had weekends this bad before.  Including falling twice in a day.  I think this is common, yes? I just need to get better.  In all ways.   Trying to avoid negative thoughts and self-talk (to be all pop-psych about it), trying to find a good, constructive way to direct anger.   Thinking too hard about it still makes me choke up, though.

So ... I'm back to the saddle today.  Off to go ride around in two-point.   New rule for the month of June: no dressage saddle.  Jumping position practice only.   Except maybe for a Test of Choice, but we'll see.

I could use some encouragement.