Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In the Arena #150 - Back to the drawing board + a super cool contest!

We're on a roll. Sort of.

A synopsis of events since spring:

- Val becomes three legged lame with a never pops mystery abscess. Six weeks gone.

- I learn a painful valuable lesson about girth tightening and bust my a$$. Six weeks down the drain.

- After a crazy month straight of rain every day, (source of abscess), apparently, it will never rain again. Water table historically low - my sand arena... more like a quicksand arena.

- I find L, my new trainer, who is super helpful, but located far, far away.

So now we're working towards an October 18th clinic. L's a student of Mary Wanless and Mark Rashid, specializing in biomechanics. So fortunate to have this opportunity.

The plan of action to prepare for our trip hinges on short term goals:

Daily - confirm forward, focus on contact, pick one other thing to work on for each ride.

Weekly - keep rides short but increase frequency each week. No drilling. Consistency is key.

Monthly - both of us fit, with the basics confirmed, so we can move forward while we have the benefit of several days with a trainer.

Changing trainers has provided an interesting lens to analyze my riding through. One element where there's a glaring difference, is the go button. With OT the aid was calf related. A wiggle of the ankle to lightly brush the barrel with your calf, tap, tap, tap with the whip as backup. NT - more seat/weight oriented, and straight to the whip if necessary. Thigh on, but calf has a whisper of contact. With OT I remember feeling that the motion of my leg was pulling me out of position. With NT, I'm stable.

With L's horse Tom Terrific, it definitely made a difference, because as I struggled not to nag with my leg while asking for the trot - surprise - we went straight to the canter. A bumpy little "not sure if you were asking for this - crazy lady with the spastic legs" canter. After a few tries I moderated my ask and we had a decent trot transition. Hello forward horse + light aids... it's been a while.

Anyhow - that's where we are. My seat is feeling more secure and effective. Val's been relaxed and blowing, tentatively taking contact. My aids are getting lighter, and lighter aids are all that's necessary. Every ride is a little better than the last. We've only got about a third of the arena that's rideable, but throw some cones in to make it interesting and we're cooking with gas.

If you haven't already, head over to Life of Riley to enter a contest celebrating her 200th post. (with really great prizes) Or don't - better chances for me that way! ;D

smooches for a good boy

Sunday, September 15, 2013

In the Arena #149 - Fifty Bales of Hay...

It's been a productive week at the farmette.

A trip up the road for supplies...

Seriously - what's sexier than a full trailer?

A barn full. Yummy.

Had to de-bug first... sorry wasps. :(

My back is definitely not feeling sexy.  Stacked six high... winter will be here before we know it.

And there were leftovers!

Fit in a trailer loading session... (selfie video not my strong suit, pardon the wiggles)


and a couple of very nice rides. What's not nice - this is what the footing looks like lately.

No rain for ages. I can barely push the wheelbarrow through it. A quick review of the archives reminded me that this is what we usually have to deal with in a dry summer. I've found this to be an incredibly frustrating situation, but resolve to accept it for the time being. Until funds are available for a new arena and a new water source to irrigate it with, we'll work with what we have, because we have to.

In the meantime, our goals are:

-- to implement the position changes I've worked on with my new trainer
-- to keep Val absolutely in front of my leg, requiring minimal aids to stay forward
-- to improve my focus, so that I can maintain steady, elastic contact
-- to know when to quit (holy crap this one's important!)
-- to get fit (both of us... talking about you too Val!)

so we don't make fools of ourselves - at the clinic we're going to in October! (controlled myself on the exclamation points)

I had a second (really good) lesson at L's place in July, but we both feel that lessons on Val would be ideal. (even though I'm quite fond of the other grey ottb in my life - Tom Terrific - edited to add his handsome mug)

It's such a long way to L's farm in Md - a mini-clinic is the only way to make taking Val up there feasible. We'll head up on a Friday and stay through Monday. The plan is for four mounted lessons, and hopefully an unmounted biomechanics seminar with some local riders. Should the weather not cooperate, we can trailer to an indoor. We'll cook meals and watch dvd's in the evenings. All horses, all the time. To say I'm over the moon would be an understatement.

It's a good feeling to have something to work toward again.

It's hard out here for a horse... ;D

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In the Arena #148 - Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...

I've been suffering from a persistent case of writer's block. And worse, rider's block.

Over the past two weeks I have finally climbed out of the emotional hole I tumbled into last fall. True, it has been a very difficult year. But the numerous posts I started and didn't publish, tended towards whining, complaining and excuses. So tedious and boring. And riding started to feel like a chore too. An obligation. 

It's a funny thing, how much good riding and good writing have in common. Self discipline for instance. Not being afraid to make mistakes. Attention to detail. How it's usually a good idea to have a plan before you start. Intention.

Anyone can learn the rules of writing, but without something to say, without that spark - it's just an exercise in form. Many people can hop on a horse and go, but to get on the same page with one, to speak the same language, I think most of us need instruction. I don't want to get in the habit of phoning it in... at the keyboard or in the saddle. And I do want riding to bring me joy.

So that's what I've been struggling with. In the course of keeping up with my favorite blogs, I've been struck by some fine writing about some fine horsemanship. They've inspired me to organize my life so I look forward to writing about it. Inspired to make the sacrifices that will allow me to progress with my riding. Exciting news to come on that front - save this space.

There is light at the end of the tunnel...


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


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