Monday, April 18, 2016

Saddle Shopping for Broke People...

...turns into me dropping a few $$$ on a used Circuit I found on my local tack swap FB page. It's a 17.5" medium tree - not sure of model. It's in great condition and is much nicer than my old one (not saying much there). The leather is nice and sticky and the seat looks comfy. I'm very excited to try it out in my next lesson. I will be asking to borrow some leathers though because my current ones are so so SO old and I'm afraid they'll break.

I have no media from my first few lessons of April, but I do have a little vid from Tuesday the 12th of Wolf and I going through a little three stride. This lesson and the one before it I worked on a couple of small courses of about six jumps. Wolf was amazing in that he let me do whatever and still jumped each jump willingly.

Had a lesson this past Saturday and rode Moose, a huge chestnut gelding. He was good until we went to canter and he just wouldn't. In fact he would halt almost every time I asked for it. M got on and had the same trouble, but finally did get a lap or two out of him. I got back on and tried again and worked on canter transitions the rest of the lesson. Eventually we were able to do a couple of flying changes and called it good so that Zoe could start her lesson. As I've now come to expect, she was unbelievable. She is now trotting and steering by herself (in her fourth lesson). No media because my phone died :(

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lessons 3/26 and 4/2

I rode Junior again last Saturday, March 26. We finally were able to ride outside! I really do prefer outside to inside. Up here in the Northeast we are stuck in indoors for several months, so any chance to ride outside is a bonus! We warmed up with some trot poles; again I sat down and asked for a leg yield over the the rail, but failed every time. I'm sure it's all me. We come out of the poles, I sit, use outside rein and inside leg, but not enough. I don't think I'm strong enough yet. Plus Junior likes to root and pull so my leg yield ends up being just me trying to pull his head up and push his body over while he trots quickly and I bounce there on top of him. I don't have any video of that portion of the lesson, unfortunately. But Almost-Fiance did get the canter poles and 'jumping' recorded so I will post that.

Junior's canter is quite nice. He gets into a steady rhythm and I'm able to stand off his back and let him keep a good pace.

Canter poles were fine:


Next we did some baby jumping for this big baby (me). The first two times through I completely dropped him and he stopped. I'm definitely not going to post that. He wasn't dirty about it, just responded to my lack of direction. I let myself tense up and freeze - my leg came off, eyes looked down and I gave up. There's my jumping fear for you. Third time around we caught the jump fine. We continued around on a big circle, catching the jump each time in both directions. Even though I'm barely jumping, what maybe 14"?, it still feels amazing to be back doing what I love.

tiny baby jump

And I'll say, even though Junior 'stopped' I didn't feel nearly as afraid as when I was jumping Vinny.

Zoe also had a lesson and did fabulously as usual: 

yeah i know i cut her head off.

This past Saturday morning I was supposed to have another lesson on Junior, but alas he was feeling mighty stubborn, so it turned into more of a training ride. The old man would not stay at a trot more than a few steps. I tried big spurs, little spurs, small squeeze with my calf, kicking, smacking his flank with my hand, a crop, kissing sounds, clucking etc. Even M got on and while she was a bit more successful than me, still couldn't really get him to go all the way around the ring. After twenty minutes of fighting with me, we finally did a few laps and circles at the trot in each direction and that's about all we had time for. M didn't charge me thankfully. It only occurred to me later when I got home that maybe I should have tried picking up the canter to see if that would wake him up a little and then come down to the trot. Oh well. No media - nothing really to see anyway.

Next lesson is on Wednesday, First group lesson in years. M said it would be fun so I thought I would try it out. Not usually a huge fan but hoping that maybe I'll get to know other riders this way. (I'm awkward and horrible at making friends). 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Zoe Rides 3/19

I know I mentioned in a previous post that my step-daughter, Zoe, is just learning to ride. Here's a little update on her. She had her second lesson, ever, on the 19th and boy did she amaze me!

Zoe on Rosie, and me on Brielle. The mares were not pleased by this photo op. 

M had her on the longe line for only a few minutes before she set her loose around the ring. She is already starting to master posting and sitting trot, and changing gaits from walk, to trot to walk, to halt, etc. I'm sure you can tell how proud I am of my girl!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lesson 3/15

A wee bit late on this post I know.

I rode Junior this time and really liked him. He seemed to be the perfect school horse, in my opinion. A tall bay gelding, with typical school horse quirks. He liked to pull blankets and halters off of their hooks, and avoid being bridled. But then again he was so sweet that I really didn't mind.

He didn't take a whole lot of leg but did need some guiding through my outside aids to avoid bulging shoulders in both directions. We had a nice relaxing warm up of working walk and trot, then M sent us through some trot poles where we then did a leg yield over to the rail at the sitting trot in each direction. It felt just okay. I need lots of work on my sitting trot. I felt as if I was bouncing all over the place and tended to brace a little more than I would like.

Junior is an interesting ride when asked to do downward transitions. He likes to pull and will literally throw his head down and trot as fast as he can while I try to get his head up. Kinda funny. M said he wouldn't do that so much if he had a regular rider. I'm sure she's right. Other than that I really enjoyed him. We moved up into his very (to me) up and down canter. M said our pace was good, but man did I feel like we weren't going anywhere. We did some circles so that I could really feel how to correct his bulging and then hit the quarter line into three canter poles. Each time felt pretty good and I was able to work on myself a lot - like counting strides and keeping my shoulders back.

Eventually we added a little jump into our circle at the canter and again I was able to work on seeing the distance by counting down from three and five. I felt great on Junior and was really able to trust him. That's something I had been missing for over two years - being able to have some sort of trust that my mount is going to get me over the fence. I was able to take a deep breath and not totally freak out that I would botch the distance and end up on his neck, or worse. What a relief.

After a few jumps in each direction we called it good. I can't express enough how wonderful it feels to be jumping a trust worthy horse.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Goals 2016

This post is a little late, yes, but I'm doing it anyway.

Fitness Goals:

  • continue to work out at least five days per week - right now I do a combo of HIIT, walking, yoga, and riding 
  • bust out 25 'real' push ups - current total: 10 
  • climb up to Heubline Tower without stopping - did this twice last year, I know it can be done! (the first part is about 1/2 mile up hill)

  • do yoga 2x per week - this will hopefully translate wonderfully into my riding 
  • find new hiking spots with hills - change it up! 
  • continue to track and log my calories every day - I use My Fitness Pal for this - love it

Riding Goals: 

  • ride at least once per week 
  • work out a deal to have one lesson and one hack per week by end of year - $ permitting
  • get through a lesson without any breaks - doesn't count if I need water or horse needs it
  • work on closing hip angle over fences - I know that Alyssa and Niamh have had issues with this and apparently it's a flexibility issue (hoping yoga will help) 
  • if riding goal #2 works out, do lots of no-stirrup work and two point - and participate in 2pointober and No Stirrup November!
  • get over fear of jumping - maybe a riding (sports) psychology book will help? Feel free to recommend one.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

New Trainer=Better Lessons

At the suggestion of a riding acquaintance, I decided to email a place that I knew of about 10 minutes from my house. Friends board their horses at the cheaper facility across the street from the barn they take lessons at. (What a good idea - gotta keep that in mind whenever we are able to purchase a horse)

Something must have clicked in my head because I chose to be very upfront and firm with my email; letting my future trainer know exactly what I was looking for and especially about wanting help in getting over my fear of jumping.

A few days later I got a call from the BO and we spoke for a few minutes about the three trainers they have and what times would work best for me. We arranged a lesson and it was really a great one. I even posted on my FB that it was the best lesson I'd had in the four years I've been back to riding.

                                           Here's a pic pulled from Google of new facility. 

New trainer, M, set me up on Anton - a bay gelding (wish I had a pic) of, I'm assuming here, some WB descent. He was awesome. Forward, and willing, and sensitive to the aids. We worked on some bending, collection and extension at the trot and canter, busted out a clean change through the diagonal, and hit some trot and canter poles.

I surprised myself by being able to clearly count out the distance on the canter poles. I thought my eye was shot for sure, but I guess that's not the case! Yay.

Finally we jumped a tiny Xrail back and forth, stopping straight. He was perfect, seemed to enjoy it, was forward, and didn't scare me at all. Winning!

We had a few laps of cool down while watching another rider jump her huge WB around some tiny jumps (she never called where she was going so that was interesting) and untacked and groomed.

Needless to say, I am stoked about this facility and trainer. She really pushed me and seemed to know what she was talking about. She didn't let me take long breaks and called out my little bad habits as they came up. Loved it.

Next lesson was wonderful as well. I was put up on Brielle, a dark bay mare - pretty sure she was some TB or TBx.

She took a lot more leg than Anton and tended to bulge her shoulders out in both directions. My aids really had to be spot on to get her to bend in our trot circles. We eventually got a few good ones.

                                                     Am I pitching forward, errrr?

 We worked on some trot poles, where she loved to die out and stumble, and then went up to the canter.

                                                                      Sit, Kaysee, Sit!

M had us do some lengthening on the long sides and then collect for some bendy circles. This went much better than the trot ones in my opinion. Finally we went through canter poles and again, she loved to die out. I had a hard time keeping leg on in my half seat. Guess I need to really work on my legs.

                                                           Heading into some poles.

Tuesday is my next lesson! Maybe I can drag Almost-Fiance out to take vids again.


  I'll leave you with this baby-meets-horse cuteness.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Some Okay Lessons

About 1.5 months ago (when Whitney, our daughter, turned 9mo) I decided that I desperately needed to get back into the saddle. I was in quite a rush apparently, and didn't really research facilities like I normally would. I chose the first one that I could think of that was within a few miles of my house.
(For anyone wondering what happened to the old facility I was at, it was bought out by a woman that does Vaulting)

I called the instructor up and we arranged a lesson for a few days later. The facility was nice - a traditional red and white wooden barn with an indoor in the center. I couldn't see much of the outside since it was dark out, but I know there was a big outdoor and another barn up a small hill.

Here's a pic from Google Images. Hopefully that's legal.

She put me up on a little red QH mare that was quite sassy on the ground but okay once in the saddle. Gem was a typical QH, probably had been started western and just doing up down English lessons now. She dove into the center often and took actual kicking in order to move her body laterally. But she was cute and didn't say no to anything I pointed her at.

That's right, this instructor had me jumping little crossrails and 2' verticals on the first day, even though I had told her about my jumping fear (thanks to Vinny). I didn't feel especially proud, since I just sort of sat there and let her do whatever. I quickly realized that she liked the long spot, so I began to ride her right up to the base of the fence. Also I was figuring, if I had some speed and made my intent clear, she wouldn't stop. Mind you - instructor told me that she wasn't going to stop - this 'fear' was all in my head.

Instructor said, hey we're not doing jumpers here, just relax and slow down. So I did. And Gem was fine. She was relaxed and kept a good but slow pace. The rest of the lesson went okay but I wasn't super impressed with the instructor. She seemed more geared towards working with kids. She liked me to stay on the rail (yes in the dreaded rail ditch) and kind of just watched as I went around, without saying much. I tend to like an instructor to pick at me and really make me work so as you can probably tell - this facility and instructor didn't work out for me.

I still took two more lessons with her before deciding that I would find a new place.

My step daughter, Zoe did end up taking her first lesson at this facility and blew me away with her natural skill. A working student led her around as she got the hang of posting the trot - on her first day! Maybe I will post a vid. Have to make sure it's okay with her dad.

Unfortunately, I don't have anyone to take pics/vids of my riding. Sorry everyone! Maybe on Saturday the Almost-fiance will be able to take some.