Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In the Arena #86 - We are stardust, we are golden + award!

Just in case anyone thought I was exaggerating about the veritable plague of mosquitoes we were having, check this out... caught by the Park Service in a trap, not too far from my farmette last week. 24,000 in 12 hours... (disgusting - right?!)


Val and I had a very satisfying ride Tuesday evening, although it didn't start out so promising. First, I had to follow Val around the paddock with his halter for a while before I could catch him - unusual. And then he developed a major case of ants in his pants during tacking up. He didn't seem super enthused about the prospect of working after sooooo long. Plus it was technically dinner time. Some firm, gentle persuasion got us on the right track. The ride starts on the ground...

Our warm-up at the walk was uncharacteristically energetic - I'm chalking that up to the lovely cool weather. It did take some work revving up into trot mode however. After a few d-r-a-w-n out attempts on the long sides, we got into gear. Val began responding to my leg immediately. He was very relaxed, snorting and blowing. During our walk breaks, we did a number of correct turns on the forehand, and a few rein backs as well. I'm relieved. It won't take too long to get back to where we were before our extended break from working. 

It's funny how sometimes the things you resist are in reality just what you need. It's been really stressful to me not riding for these many weeks... my horse lost fitness... I lost my fitness (sore sore thighs yesterday!). And even more so not having had regular instruction for so long. 

The reality is - it's time to put my big girl britches on. I'm officially 100% responsible for my riding at the moment, and may be for some time to come. No more relying on someone else's feedback - I must develop the feel for what is right under saddle.

My plan of action moving forward is:

Regular work schedule. Check. I'll be living full time at the farmette by next weekend so riding time will be optimized. Four days a week would be ideal.

Balance my dressage goals with my riding goals. Time to regroup. I've spent too many sessions getting hung up, sometimes arguing with my horse and I guess letting my reach exceed my grasp. Time to go back to basics. From here on out, my plan is to get Val moving forward at the trot. Lots of long and low, reaching and stretching. We'll concentrate on the walk after warming up at the trot. My job will be to keep him moving, do tons of two point and no stirrup work, and perfect my posting. Loose flexible ankle, legs long and draped, and open hips. My position is important, but not at the expense of impulsion and cooperation from my horse.

Future trainer search.  I'd like to take lessons school horses for a while once I do find a trainer prospect. I want lunge lessons - my seat needs the work. Once I've found the right trainer we'll see about putting Val (and me) through all of the work, stress and expense of trailering several hours away and getting used to a new farm. And - I would like to find a trainer who focuses on biomechanics. Who sends me home with exercises to work on, in and out of the saddle. I feel that my intellectual understanding of dressage is competent, but my body fails me, which leads to frustration.


Annette over at News From Aspen Meadows kindly bestowed an award on our blog... the One Lovely Blog Award. I say - it takes one to know one Annette. She regularly fills her blog with beautiful photos, good training and horse keeping info and fun stories about all of the darling inhabitants of her ranch. If you haven't visited her - do :)

So a stipulation of receiving this award is recommending fifteen blogs and sharing this award with them. Due to many of my choices already having been recognized by Annette and Grey Horse Matters, my list will be limited to these eleven - which amounts to much of my blogroll minus Annette and GHM's lists. ;) I have been remiss in searching out new blogs, as well as posting and commenting lately - as soon as I have completed my move to the farmette, I plan to spread my blog wings again.

In no particular order... every one of these blogs is heartfelt, horse loving, informative and lovely:

The other stipulation of this award is to share seven things about myself, so here goes...

1. I studied classical piano, classical ballet and Latin when I was younger - and now classical dressage. This pattern will be explored in a future post, and possibly in therapy lol.

2. I studied graphic design in art school - the equivalent of six years - no degree. Ran out of money or I might have stayed forever...

3. I've never owned a vehicle with automatic transmission. Neither have I trashed a clutch. I'm inordinately proud of that fact ;)

4. I've been a vegetarian (lacto-ovo-pesco) for almost thirty years. Longest commitment in my life.

5. I worked as a sous chef in NYC for several years. Great learning experience but sooooo underpaid!

6. I've broken six bones... none from a riding incident. Best one was (as a four year old) falling out of a the bottom bunk while having a super active dream.

7. I've had four concussions where I lost consciousness... only one from a riding incident. (Tell the truth... are you thinking "that explains it"?!)


  1. I'm all for having an instructor, because it is invaluable to have eyes on the ground to catch your mistakes, not to mention another brain and set of experiences to help you problem-solve. But, I also think that there are points in time when you need to think for yourself and make your mistakes. I have always believed that we learn best when we are allowed to strike out on our own and make our mistakes. We learn more from the mistake than we do from the constant nagging reminders of what to do right. And, really, our horses are more forgiving of our mistakes than they are of our constant nagging reminders!

    Thanks for the award! I'm honored to be mentioned! For the record, I've had six concussions, two horse related (but only one from falling off) and I guess that explains a lot about me and my crazy ideas! All my broken bones are horse-related, though. This is possibly due to the fact that I have more balls than brains....

  2. Holy smoke that's a *lot* of mosquitoes.

    Congrats on the award, you deserve it :)

  3. That is an absolutely disgusting pile of mosquitoes. Better there than here!

    Thanks for the blog nod. =)


  4. That's an incredible amount of mosquitoes and disgusting. Makes me itchy looking at them.

    I think you've got a good plan in place. A trainer or eyes on the ground is always better than doing it alone. I'm sure you'll figure it out one way or another.

    Exciting about moving into your new place this weekend. Put up pictures.

    Congratulations on your award too! Lovely picture at the end of post.

  5. Those mosquitoes are gross!!! Love your fresh start plan and looking forward to your updates. Congratulations on your award. It's so nice to get to know more about you. :-)

  6. First, you need some bats to eat all those mosquitos. Shall I send you some of mine? :)
    Second, I'm in the same spot as you in terms of relying on myself to train my horse. Jackson hasn't been sound enough to trailer to a lesson in seven months. It's amazing, and gratifying, to learn how much we actually know and can accomplish on our own.
    Third, lunge lessons are the best. Good goal.
    Fourth, thanks for the kind words about my blog.
    Fifth, I have a car with automatic transmission at the moment - my first one - and I really miss the clutch.

  7. Well, thank you much, sweets!:)

    Those bugs...just, no. It's October, are we not DONE already? Oy.

    Love your plan. You are so dedicated to your dressage journey with Val you can't help but succeed. Love your new header too!

  8. Plans are good.... but keep it fun or I think it all goes down hill. Sometimes a trot around the field and practice riding out of the ring are very rewarding. But maybe you don't have that available.

    Glad you are back in the saddle!

  9. Thank you SO much for the award...I'll be back soon to enjoy your post properly. My Maizie is lame and my world is a little scattered now because of it.

  10. Good to hear how things are going and congrats on your award!

    I have been going it alone wrt riding for a few years now and along with Jane Savoie's Happy Horse DVD set, I think I'm made a lot of connections between the actual "in the saddle experience" of dressage, and the classical theory. I can get very caught up in the theory so I think this has actually advanced me more so than if I were in lessons focusing hard on doing very specific things.

    I'd like to get into lessons again at some point, but just wanted to say that I think sometimes having a go on your own is a good thing. Especially when you know what your focus is, and you have a lot of information already in your head, as you do! Enjoy!!

    Can't wait to read your first blog post when you're living on the farm!!!

  11. Ummmm, the little vampire bugs...ewww!!!!

  12. I have to agree with everyone else that the pile of mosquitos is ridiculously gross.

    I've never owned an automatic either! They are downright boring to drive.

  13. Am I the only one who gets a surge of insane glee while looking at that pile of mosquitoes? Yes, it's incredibly gross, but they're all DEADER than doorknobs! Hah! The Park Service just needs to put traps like that all over the place. That would teach the little buggers a lesson.

    I hope the weather (and the bugs) settle soon. I know what you mean about feeling like you've got to start developing your own expertise and how uncomfortable that can be sometimes. I think developing that is really important, though--besides Val, experience will always be your best teacher :)

  14. disgusting!! fortunately my blood is not as appealing to the buggers as much as other people (I read a theory that people with high-stress emit a chemical in their blood that is unappetizing to mosquitos; hurray, finally an upside to my stress!). However, when there are that many out, they are more than happy to vampire my ankles and legs.

    gorgeous sunset!


  15. I know what you mean about getting organized in your approach to training. I've been without lessons and it's HARD. Your plan sounds really good.
    I've given you the award too, although I know you already have it. Great blog.

  16. Thanks for the shout out (delayed). SO cool that you were a NYC Sous Chef. I'm addicted to cooking and cooking shows, etc-LOVE IT!! That is such hard work....kudos!


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