Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, May 7, 2012

In the Arena # 120 - Putting on the big girl panties...

A pair of rides to report on (finally).

We fit in a nice session on Tuesday while waiting for the farrier to arrive. Our warm-up was very effective, and brief. My focus was on soft, even, continuous, elastic contact. I rode a good deal of the ride with my eyes closed, which helped me concentrate on the feel of the contact. On the open eye parts, I kept my head up, looking through Val's ears where I wanted to go.

We did a ton of transitions, and worked a bit on leg yields as well. In a freshly dragged arena you can definitely see the results of lateral work. I tried to make space for Val to move into by opening my inside leg and rein, and having the feeling of a halt before I asked for the yields. I have a feeling that these will improve at the trot, as many things do when there is more energy.

Our trot work is (still) about more forward without nagging aids. I was very pleased with our school figures - there was fluidity and smooth changes of rein. We finished off with a few walk / canter departs. (dessert!) I even had time to clean all of my tack before W. arrived. Val took a nap on my shoulder as I cleaned. His head is soooo heavy!

On Sunday, guess who showed up? If you said crazy horse, you'd be right! I think he arrived along with the big winds, and the king of super loud cussing next door. (yes, I am once again complaining about my neighbor - I cannot wait until I can afford to screen him off with plants and/or big fencing!)

Val went from ants in his pants during tacking up, to full on nut job who reared and bolted twice, yanking the reins out of my hands and nearly tearing my finger off. (not even kidding) As much as I didn't feel like dealing with it, I knew there was no way I could avoid addressing this behavior, for his or my sake.

We did a some leading work around the arena. I quietly demanded Val's full attention on me - not the swishy trees at back of the property, or the noise and distractions next door. When I had that, I led him to the mounting block and got on. I made sure that I didn't block him with the reins. Lots of quick transitions. Keeping my seat "fat", all three points in contact with the saddle at all times - no perching. Also hugging lightly with my legs. After it was over, I was really glad we rode.

I haven't kept up with blogging as well as I want to these last few weeks. Keeping up with my (actual) responsibilities is super challenging these days. Besides riding, there have been several marathon yard work, weeding, planting sessions topped off today with an all day hay and feed run. (300 miles, 36 bales of hay, 6 sacks of feed, 8 1/2 hours) Plus a few snake encounters - only nice ones.

Oh, and I made a decision about what to name the farm. We're located adjacent to one of the last remaining maritime forests on the east coast, so I think it will be Edgewood. :)

kiss my grass


  1. Glad you survived the maniac horse and got in a good ride after all - that does take guts!

  2. I like the name, great choice. I am impressed that you have your garden going! We have had such a cold, rainy spring and I am such a wimp that mine was not started until a couple of days ago. Probably not going to be getting much this year.

    Just look at all the noise as a training tool, to listen to some of these DQ's at a show you'd think their horses never came out of a barn. The neighbors at my barn shoot guns and drive four wheelers all over during the summer and I think it is a great desensitizer.

  3. Woo hoo for big girl pants! By the way, your garden is amazing!

  4. New reader here - Val is gorgeous! Hurray for those determined rides.

  5. Your first ride sounds great. I know how you feel about the second one. When you think you're just going to get on and have a nice ride and then they go crackers on you...ugh. Then you know you have to deal with it and make it right which can sometimes be not only challenging but time consuming and also a little deflating. Glad you got him sorted out and wound up with a good lesson for Val. I'd blame it all on the guy next door.

    You really have a long haul to get supplies but now that you've got them you can relax for a while.

    All of your gardening beds look great. I could do without the snakes though. Can't believe you picked it up! I like Edgewood it's a nice name and makes perfect sense. Are you going to add farm or center or something like (forest farm, by the bay, on the water, tides, beach, sands of time, etc.)?

  6. Maniac horses are no fun, but it sounds like you had him well in hand and worked through it. Good for you!

    I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one with the snakes, although yours seem rather smaller and cuter than mine. Trade you?

    Also, are those... STRAWBERRIES?!? They look delish! I only got one (ONE!) sad berry this year. Pout.

  7. So our parallel lives continue - Derby was uncharacteristically tense at the show on Sunday. I only had my medium-girl panties packed, not the full on big girl version. And in retrospect, had I ridden "more" - asked for more, and required more from him in terms of prompt transitions and bend, we probably would have had a better ride.

    So good on you for sticking it out on Sunday!

    I'm also doing better on forward. THe response is getting better, and I'm desperately trying to quit nagging. Part of my issue is the fact my lower leg still isn't quite still - Christy will occasionally say that it looks like I'm working hard to maintain a gait, when really Derby is motoring along. But the activity of my lower leg makes it look like I'm actively asking him - which means that I'm also nagging.

    If it's not one thing, it's another!

  8. Love the name Edgewood. :-) Good for you for riding through the crazies with Val! You are one brave lady. Hope your finger is OK. The garden looks great and your little snake friends will keep down the bugs and rodents. My dad used to keep 1/2 of a large broken ceramic pot overturned in is veggie garden to provide a home for toads. They eat insect that might feast on flowers or veggies.

  9. Well, I guess you've been a little busy! ;) Great work on a spooky windy day, and Edgewood is looking fabulous!

  10. Glad you worked through the issues - hope things remain calm for you!

  11. How pathetic am I? Snakes bother me so much I can't even look at those pictures. Ugh.

    Where'd you buy those big girl panties? I need to get me some...

  12. Kate -

    I don't know why he was so reactive - he hasn't acted that way in a long time. Ride the horse you have today! ;)

  13. horsemom-

    I definitely saw the meltdown as a training opportunity, but did get a little hung up on trying to pinpoint where it came from...

  14. Niamh-

    Thanks :) Are you planning to garden at some point since you're a homeowner now?! Congrats btw. :)

  15. Hi Lara!

    Thanks for visiting. You have a handsome grey yourself! :)

  16. GHM-

    Deflating is exactly how it felt. And I wasn't prepared for the extra concentration, but it's all good. I had to rearrange my expectations, that's all.

    Glad you like the name. I'm not positive about the modifier to put with Edgewood - thinking about farmette or microfarm, but they don't sound right out loud. :)

  17. jenj-

    We have the big bad snakes too... Cottonmouths as big around as your arm. I'll keep them, and you can keep you sneaky scorpions!! ;)

    That picture is of my radish bed, with tiny carrots coming up underneath.

  18. sarahsherick-

    Regarding the wiggly leg - which I have too and is why I don't own spurs yet - we're still responsible for involuntary movements. I got busted on that at a clinic. No such thing as "I can't help it!"

    I enjoyed your assessment of your show experience. You are very aware of what you need to work on - and it's coming together. Loved the blog referral you posted today.

  19. Wolfie-

    Your dad was full of wise ideas. I am going to make an amphibian apartment tomorrow! :)

  20. smazourek-

    I love snakes. Not so much as to have one as a pet, but I appreciate their function in the environment.

    That one on the photo was hanging out at about eye level right on my tack room door. It startled me, so I relocated it to a safer place.

    As to the big girl panties, I had to look real hard to find mine. ;)

  21. 1. Dislike snakes - big girl breeches or not - seeing that ity bity thing would have sent me off screaming like a little girl.

    2. KUDOS! for riding the horse you had that day and making it a good ride.

    Love the name for your farm - dislike you have to travel so far for hay/feed etc. Kinda sucks but heck you live on an ISLAND - I wanna live on an island.

    Forward trot - since I ride a "slug of a plough horse" I've been doing halt to trot transitions. Really making her sit her butt down and "leap" into trot. It's been doing some amazing things to our trots - so much so that I am the one falling apart after 5 or 6 strides - not her!

  22. Jeni-

    Love your suggestion for getting the lead out!

  23. I liked the description of how you kept your seat in the saddle. That makes a lot of sense!

    The snake is pretty.

  24. I know how you feel about days like that - but that's really all they are. We all have our days, and so do our horses. It's good that you rode through it. Edgewood is a great name. I don't suppose you could say it was a "ranch". I'm always partial to "ranch", being cowgirl at heart. Why not just a "farm" - instead of a "farmette"?

  25. Late to this...sorry!

    Love the name Edgewood! That is really wonderful.

    Also, your leading in the ring until Val was paying attention to you is the VERY thing! Then, you followed up with the great presence in the saddle. So proud of you two! You are such a team - and snakey makes three! Eeek! I don't mind seeing snakes so much, but I don't know about holding them! Your veggie beds are perfect - very jealous. I remember when I was a gardener/farmer once long ago...


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