Riding and Lost Memory

I really need to start writing down what I do while riding right after I do so. My memory seems to be taken up by everything else in my daily life and I can barely remember that I rode on X date. Things to be trying. 

Friday I went for a ride. I arrived a bit later but I wasn’t too worried about it. My work isn’t strict on in and out times. They are even more lax on Fridays so I figured I’d just go till I was done.

I rode around the barn as a warm up, which I don’t usually do on the weekdays. Scarlet likes it but he gets a bit lazy now when we aren’t headed in the direction he wants to go. I need to be a bit more on him to actually MOVE at a walk and use his body. Our walk is just horrible. 

I remember that I spent some time arguing with him about walking with his head out of the clouds during our ride. He can’t use his back if his head isn’t at least a bit down now. I’m pretty lax on the walk though so I can’t blame him too much for not expecting to have to work. We did have some good trot work but that’s about all I remember about Friday. 

Saturday I had meant to get out there and do a chore day. Bath for Scarlet, cleaning buckets, cleaning saddle, etc. But I had other life stuff to do and by the time the afternoon rolled around, I was just not able to get my butt up to do it. 

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Sunday, I got out later in the afternoon. There was a good breeze but it was still quite warm. I was feeling lazy and I figured Scarlet would feel similar. So I didn’t plan on much. 

We walked around the barn again to warm up. Then we trotted in the arena. Lots of circles in both directions as he was very stiff. We also went over the trot poles to make him have to go a bit more forward. Once we got the correct forward, the poles and the trot afterward felt amazing. 

We took a walk break and I sent him out to walk around the front barn. He’d spooked recently going around there and didn’t want to pass one corner at all so I’m making him go around it as much as possible so this doesn’t continue. I also saw this as a good opportunity to remind him that we don’t stop working just because we leave the arena. 

We went back into the arena and he was pretty responsive to me asking to work. We picked up the canter right away and did some work for that. I finished off with some trot serpentines and then we walked around the barn again. 

The heat made us both sweat a bit so I hosed him off quickly to clean him up. He wanted to walk away from the hose at first but stood still when I asked him to. It went so much quicker when I didn’t have to ask him constantly to stay still. 

I gave him some grain after and combed out his tail while he was eating. I had gotten some Equifuze at the last tack sale and figured I should try it. I had to apply about 3x the amount you normally need due to his tail being really tangled. But it helped so much! It only took me ~15 minutes to comb out his tail and make it look lovely. I’d worked on his tail for ~40 minutes a few months ago and got maybe half of it combed out. And I believe Scarlet liked it better as I wasn’t tugging on his tail so much. Definitely recommend it. 

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Mugginess

Wednesday I got out to the barn much later than I had planned on. Its difficult to get moving in the morning and I didn’t have everything set up to go the night before. C’est la vie.

Since it was a bit later, I just grabbed the brushes and his grain and went to his stall to groom him. I figured he could eat his grain and some of his hay while I groomed him. Whatever time I had left over would be the time that I go to ride.

Scarlet had his face stuck into his flake of alfalfa and was so focused on that that I literally had to shove his nose into the grain bucket for him to realize that I’d brought it. He was happy to consume the grain and then switch back to the alfalfa.

I got him groomed and tacked up. Since it was a shorter time, I stuck to the back arena. I used to ride a lot more in there but the footing has gotten bad. There is a large ish circle in the middle of the arena that is fine but the edges and corners are super deep. Scarlet will run there on his own but I don’t feel comfortable riding him through there. So I tend to avoid this arena because there isn’t much usable space. But its the closest to my backroom and I wanted to get as much as I could do, even if it wasn’t in a large space.

We did some basic walk/trot/canter with a bunch of transitions. It was muggy out and Scarlet was being really good due to that. He even left his head down vs stuck in the air like normal. A hawk swooped over the arena close enough for me to hear the wind in it’s wings. That was pretty cool.

Thursday was cooler and I wanted to do some jumping. So that’s what we did. We warmed up and then I trotted him over a cross rail. He cantered off nicely so I just circled around and we went back over it. We did that a couple of times and then I pointed him at the smallish vertical set up. I think it was around two feet. He did okay on that. I switched directions and we jumped the cross rail and the vertical off the other lead.

I wanted to do one last jump where I made sure I stayed off his back. I over thought it and tried to jump the jump for him. I seem to do one or the other. He tapped the jump with his front feet cause I goofed but I did stay off his back and he wasn’t mad at me.

Jumping was hard because I’m super out of shape. Even just hopping over the little we did tired me out. I need to work on that so I can do more jumps. The one stride was still set up and I really wanted to go over it but I ended up not doing so as I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to support him. I don’t want to ever over face him or me when jumping. I’m doing all this solo and I don’t have the tools to fix things if I break our jumping. So I decided not to do the one stride and we will do that next time maybe. I’d actually like to make it a two stride to mix it up a bit. More lines are in our future for sure.

Riding Catch-up

The only thing I was thinking about once I felt better was riding. I was leaving to visit my friend in Idaho last weekend so I knew that I needed to ride as much as possible before then. I got out Monday and Tuesday, doing normal rides. I knew that I was going to be leaving again so I just tried to make sure we both had a work out. 

I still had to stop and take a breather those rides. It was getting better though. I did my best to be there for Scarlet and make sure we got limber while riding. I think he was probably happy that I wasn’t able to make any demands of him. 

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Wednesday, I was planning to go out but I was just so tired. I’d ridden four days in a row after not riding for over two weeks, as well as all the rest of the stuff I had to do just for living and working. I was exhausted. So I slept in. I was flying out Thursday afternoon so I knew that I would have plenty of time to get a good ride in Thursday morning. 

 I’m glad I did so, as Thursday’s ride ended up being AWESOME! The jumps had been changed around again to a on stride on the center line and a small vertical between them but perpendicular. I was definitely excited to try stuff. 

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One stride and perpendicular vertical. You can also see my canter poles on the ground behind them. 

Since I had plenty of time, I actually walked around the arena first and adjusted everything. Which is always amazing when I can do that. I generally have to default to the small stuff that is set up because it takes a lot of time to adjust fence height and when you’re riding against the clock in the morning, you just don’t have that time. 

Since I did have the time, I walked around and moved the fences to a reasonable height. Nothing too big because we hadn’t jumped in a while but not ankle height either. I then moved a pole in front of an X so we could practice trotting in and cantering out for future grid work. I also moved three poles into canter poles on the quarter line. 

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Cross rail with trot placing pole. 

Scarlet was tense and looks when we started but he stayed with me pretty well. We worked through it and he started focusing when we began going over the poles. I was legit shocked when we went through the canter poles perfectly. I just assumed that I was going to set them horribly. But nope, we got a perfect one stride between each pole. I’m sure I could have set them as bounce style poles but I liked the one stride for that day. 

The trot pole was a little odd. I put it about 9ft away from the x, which is what I found online as a trot pole. But we got our whole body between the pole and the jump. That wasn’t quite what I was looking for. But it worked. Scarlet was like, okay trot over trot out. It took a bit of convincing to make him think that yes I did want him to canter out over this tiny X. Seems like when I’m riding well and forward, Scarlet doesn’t care about the height even if we haven’t jumped in a while. A lesson for next time. 

We headed off to do some real jumps. Scarlet was 100% distracted. I turned him to the vertical that was between the one stride. “There’s a jump!” He said and dodged sideways. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t dirty. He was just not paying attention. I did give him a smack with the whip and then circled us around again. He went over it the second time with zero issues which confirmed my “he’s distracted” thought. We continued onto a larger X and jumped that a couple of times. Then I wanted to try the one stride. 

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Larger X

Another rider had entered the arena at that point. She was pretty aware of where she was so it wasn’t an issue to jump around her. Scarlet was pretty good for the one stride. We probably could have been a smidge more forward but it came in a one stride. It definitely came awkward though. I was focused on sitting still and just pushing us through to make sure he actually jumped both jumps. We got through the first fence fence but kinda bumbled out. He knocked it with a hoof but not hard. I think he got a bit backed off when he saw it. 

We went around again and had a similar reaction. The third time, I pushed him to a much more forward canter and held it. He knew what was up and actually took us to the fences this time and we got through so much better. I gave him tons of pats and a treat. I wanted us to do it off the other lead as well before we called it a day. That one went well too. 

We cooled off around the barn, just kinda toddling around. I was so happy with him. He worked through being somewhat spooky and really did well on a jump striding we really hadn’t ever worked on before. Sometimes he is just so amazing. 

Wednesday Writing Wrap-up

Someday I will not be running around trying to catch up again. Someday…

So, a writing wrap up to try to get myself back on track. Writing hasn’t been happening a lot. I did get a bit done last week during lunches and a tiny bit today. Like everything else when I was sick, writing fell behind.

I haven’t had a chance to do more brainstorming to see how I could fix my one novel yet. I’m sure I can do it, though it feels like I’m going to have large chunks that are just going to be brand new. That hurts because it sucks to see hours of work basically go down the drain. I do need to get over that though. That is writing. Lots of hours put in, lots of hours of work ruthlessly pruned to make a better finished work. I also need to think of those hours as a learning experience. I wouldn’t be able to write the new stuff without having written the old stuff first. No one starts with perfection.

I also need to catch up with my critiques for my online critique group. They’ve been really nice about not being annoyed with me being behind. I do feel horrible about it. I’m the one who wanted to start this thing and I’m the one who is falling behind.

So, not much of an update. Just a little bit has happened. I’m hoping next week will be a bit more fun.

 

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The free books I brought home from the Nebula conference

Word Count: 881

Aliveeeee!!

That’s how I feel right now. Roughly three months ago, I got an in office job. I had been working from home for roughly two years before this job. My human interaction was minimal and my immune system had been enjoying the vacation. Two weeks ago Thursday I woke up with a really sore throat. I had a conference I was going to that weekend so I medicined up and pushed through it.

That was not the best idea but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Pushing through the weekend caused my cold to get worse. My immune system threw up its hands and said, “Screw this. I don’t have to work this hard any more.” So it’s been about two weeks of recovering and trying to be able to breathe again. It sucked.

Wednesday was the first day I got to see Scarlet in two weeks. I went out before work to groom him and give him a bit of turnout.

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I groomed him and was sweating by the end of that. Getting that sick really takes it out of you.

I had to leave town for a work trip Thursday-Friday so I didn’t get out to see him then but I was determined to make the weekend worth it. After all, I could almost breathe at that point.

Saturday I met up with Holly and we rode around together. Scarlet was super energetic. I think he was happy to be out. I forced him to walk more than we normally do. He was super stoked when we trotted and did a tiny bit of cantering. I loved every moment of the ride but I was definitely tired by the time we were done. I was really happy that I was even able to get out there.

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The hikers on the hill across the hay field might be dangerous. He has to keep a close eye on them just in case.

Sunday, I was definitely tired but I was determined to go out again as I am going to be gone the coming weekend again.

Scarlet was eating dinner when I got out but didn’t give me too much of a glare when I took him out. I wanted to just do a short ride, no longer than 30 minutes. I’ve got to be careful how much I do so that I don’t push myself before I am fully healthy. I was planning on heading out around the barn at a walk to warm up. But Scarlet wasn’t cooperating.

I got on at the mounting block and he immediately tried to walk off and hurry back to the barn. So, we walked in circles around the mounting block. And he kept hurrying around and trying to trot out away from where I was telling him to go. So right to the arena we went. I forced him to walk for one lap and then we trotted around. I was able to trot for about six minutes at a time, which is pretty good. We walked some more and then cantered. Walked a bit more and then finished off with some trot serpentines.

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I kept myself focused on being as precise and correct in my position and cues as I could be. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to help much with the ride so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t in the way. I think it helped some with the bending. It also helped keep my balance proper. I’d notice myself leaning forward at the trot and I’d realize my lower leg had gotten out of place. Fixed that and the lean would stop.

I’m looking forward to getting my rides in the morning again before work. I’m looking forward to rides period but going before work puts me in a pretty good mood for the rest of the day.

Wednesday Writing Wrap-up

I finally finished re-reading my WIP that I transitioned to in order to give myself some time to rework my other novel. I’m still quite pleased with it. This one is a YA paranormal/horror story. Being YA, the writing style is a little more straight forward. I didn’t think I had changed my mentality quite that much while I was initially writing it but I can feel a real difference when I read it.

Another thing that pleased me was I still got emotional with the main character when a huge fight breaks out with her friends. I got affected by my own writing. I’m sure its not all that and a bag of chips but I’m gonna ride that good feeling.

My routine for writing at work is steadying a bit. I don’t think editing in the office is ever going to be easy. Editing is too easy to look away from. There are plenty of distractions in the office and with writing, I’m at least head down focused for a good chunk of time.

I’ve also been doing word sprints on a discord channel for the 30 minutes I have to write. I’ve even had other people join me, even some not in a close time zone. Having others write with you but not be right next to you is extremely motivating. So I’ve gotten a decent amount of words written in the last couple of days.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to settle into a 100% consistent schedule at work. Lunch events, meetings and lunches provided by work happen one to two times a week. Even those few times really can throw me off. I do need to find a chunk of time at night to reserve for a bit of writing so that if I miss my lunch time, I won’t be on a zero word day. But I’ve also added running on the treadmill at night so I’m again losing time after work.

Any creative pursuit always hinges around time management and, if I’m honest with myself, I suck at it. I need my daily habits and if something gets thrown off, its really difficult for me to get back on track. It’s been a thing I’ve been historically bad at and it is always on my mind to improve. But it is slow going. Little by little I’m getting better. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out before I’m 80.

Word Count: 996

Weekend Riding

It has stopped raining… For now. I think we are supposed to get a bit more around the end of the week.

Regardless of rain, I was going to go out and ride this weekend!! I got out Saturday morning just as the rain was trickling off. I think it stopped sprinkling just as I pulled into the driveway at the barn.

I groomed Scarlet in his stall just in case it was going to start again. It didn’t. Instead, I had to deal with a horse that knew I had carrots and really didn’t think he needed to wait until grooming was over.

I rode longer than normal on Saturday. I think I was subconsciously trying to make up for the lost time during the week. We didn’t do anything particularly fancy. We hadn’t worked all week so I was just trying to do stuff.

We warmed up, did a bit of bending, did some cantering. I didn’t plan on doing anything specific so I started doing some transitions between gaits and then some within gaits. The trot transition is really difficult to get a good feeling out of. Scarlet will happily slow down but it’s a slow down and dump himself on his front more often than he ‘slows down’ by sitting on his butt.

Cantering half halts were next on the list. I chose the harder lead first as my legs were going to be quite tired. I had to argue with him about actually keeping to the canter. Breaking to a trot was easier. We did the other lead as well and finished off with our ever present trot end.

I was definitely tired when we were done. We’d ridden for almost 50 minutes by the time I got off. Most of my morning rides end up being somewhere around 30 minutes due to constraints. So it was almost double. But Scarlet was acting like he couldn’t go on. Such a tired old man. He was perfectly fine, just being dramatic.

Sunday I got out a bit later and just wasn’t feeling riding. I need to though because I knew that next weekend was going to be a bust as I was out of town. Since there were more people at the barn, I decided I was going to do a trail ride. I don’t do those in the morning because there wouldn’t be anyone to call an ambulance and find me if Scarlet bucked me off on the trail in the morning.

Scarlet was confused when I was asking him to move out on the trail. I wanted us to trot around the trail once and then walk it again. Once he figured out that we were trotting, it actually went pretty well. He wasn’t really tense. He wasn’t relaxed but I will take not tense. We got about half of the way around and then I asked him to walk.

There was a guy walking on the trail with a dog. He went over to another trail so that he wasn’t near us but didn’t bother to stop his large dog from barking aggressively at us. Scarlet got tense at that point. I had to hold him back from trotting away at that point just because we were heading downhill. He isn’t very surefooted on the trail and I wasn’t going to nosedive because he was trotting. After we got down the hill, I let him trot out the nerves back to the barn.

Before we went around again, I took us to the arena to canter a bit. I wanted to give the guy and dog some time to get away from the trail so we didn’t have to do that again. Scarlet is fine with dogs but no one really likes being barked at.

After we cantered, I took us back to the trail. Scarlet was again, a bit reluctant to start out but he did such a good job walking for the whole trail. On the last chunk back to the barn, I dug a carrot out of my pocket and held it out to the side so he could see it. We were still walking when I did that.

Guys, he deadass made skid marks from how quickly he stopped. Boy loves carrots. I wish that I’d been able to film it, it was just so comical how quickly he stopped.

I was very pleased with him overall. It’s nice that we are getting to a point where I can just do some loops on the trail for a relaxing ride. It’s perfect for those days where I don’t want to use my brain.

Bitching about the Rain

So here I sit, grumpy as F, having only been able to get out to the barn ONE morning out of FIVE due to the rain.

It’s safe to say, the rain sucks. Can we do something about this climate change that is throwing everyone’s seasons out of wack? I’d like to ride. Riding is my me time, my zen time. It’s my time to get a bit of exercise, spend time with my boy and not have to deal with people.

I got out on Wednesday but I don’t know how productive our ride was. Scarlet was fresh and I mostly had to keep him from spooking at things.

Saturday it might rain again. I’m really hoping not. I basically only have Saturday morning as an option to get out as I’ve got plans for the afternoon already. So I’m going to just go out no matter what happens. If I’m just doing chores around the barn, well at least I don’t have a time limit and I can actually get stuff done. It just sucks and puts me into a bad mood.

I’m going to cut this post here because its just going to be me bitching otherwise. Hopefully the rain wraps up soon.

Del Mar Gran Prix Again!

The Del Mar Grand Prix was awesome, as always. I got to go with Holly, her bf and Kristen from the barn. 

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This year, they had Land Rover as a sponsor and did the jump and drive fun class before the Grand Prix. They did this at the first one I went to three years ago. It’s always so fun. Especially seeing the riders try and run fast in their tall boots. That’s very difficult. 

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The first person to go went clear. He also ended up being the only one to go clear for a long time. Rails didn’t seem to be a problem as much as the time. There were a fair amount of rails but there were a lot of people with a bit over the time but clear.  

We ended up with four riders in the jump off. But that isn’t to say that we didn’t have some crazy stuff happen before. 

One ride really stood out to me and I really regret that I didn’t take note of who the rider/horse was. All I know is the rider was a man. His horse didn’t feel like jumping fence five, which was one of the fences right next to me. So the pair went through the fence. Amazingly, he continued on without much hesitation. As he jumped the next fence and turned, I realized he had lost BOTH of his stirrups. There were X fences in the course and he jumped the rest of them with no stirrups! The crowd went wild after he finished. Understandably, the rider looked a little annoyed because they took down a fence which equaled no jump off for them. But it was still an amazing feat of strength to get through that course like that. 

The jump off had an interesting ride as well. Uma rode around the course very well and was clean up to the very last jump. They went over and she lost her balance over the last fence and fell off at the very end. It looked like she was going to win until Enrique Gonzales had a clean round one second faster. 

I love going to this show with friends and watching the horses do things I can only dream about riding. I hope I get to continue going in the next years. 

A Little Late

A little late on this post but I’ll add an extra two days wrap up in there to make up for it. I’ll still have plenty of content for Monday as I’m going to the Del Mar Grand Prix tonight.

It’s been quite the long week. Monday, I got up and noticed that the mist seemed a little heavy. No big deal I thought. I’ll just be a little damp. Well I get half way out to the barn and it starts raining. I still think, well maybe it will only rain for a short while. I continue out to the barn because I’m half way there. What was I going to do? Turn around?

So I arrived at the barn. And since it was still raining I thought I’d groom Scarlet within his stall. That way, he’d be dry and I could still throw tack on him if it stopped. It didn’t stop. I ended up just spending the 40 minutes I’d normally ride trying to comb out his tail. I never do anything with it so its pretty nasty. He doesn’t love me combing it but tolerated it since he was eating his hay.

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Wet horse face equals hay sticking to it. 

Tuesday, it rained as well. Cue cranky Alex. Several days without riding makes me so bitchy. Luckily, Wednesday wasn’t wet. The arena was actually quite nice. It was soft, damp and recently groomed. I was the only one there so I got the perfect arena all to myself.

I tried the neck strap made from my old stirrup leather. It was a bit too short though and pulled my hands in and down so I was in a really odd position. I’ll need to get something that is around 4-6 inches longer to be able to put my hands in the right places.  We did a lot of changes of directions and some transitions during our warm up. There was a small vertical set up and we hopped over that a couple of times. He didn’t think that we were going for it and got really excited when I pointed it at him. To continue my ‘canter doesn’t equal done’ rule, we did some sitting trot at the end. He was very quick and it took a while for him to chill before we were done.

There was a puddle left over after the rain and I tried to push him through it. It was only moderately successful. I couldn’t get him to walk through it but I could get him to step both front feet in or back both back feet in. I didn’t have more time to fight with him so I had to accept that for the day.

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Thursday was my birthday so I gave myself the gift of jumps! I changed two of the jumps to some largish Xs and then got on. We warmed up and then cantered over a small x and then a small vertical. We did those a few times. He was being super good but super energetic. I don’t mind because as long as I’m sure about what we’re doing, he’s good to go over them.

We went to the larger X I’d set up next. It has a longish approach so he gets a bit rushy to that. It wasn’t super bad this time. We went over the larger vertical as well. Then we went to try a line. I’d set the first fence of the line as a larger X. I didn’t think it was higher set than the gate at the end. Scarlet jumped it quite up and down, higher than I’d expected him to. I lost my seat and almost lost my stirrups so we had to turn out of the line. The second time, we went over it better but Scarlet noped out of the second fence himself.

I wasn’t pleased with that because we totally could have jumped that second fence. I hopped off and lowered the first fence. My goal was to just get us through the line. We could have argued over the higher fence but that wouldn’t be productive. It also could have been unsafe for us. With the fence lowered, we came around again. I gave Scarlet a tap with the whip as well in the air and we went over the second fence no problem.

Again, we trotted around to finish the ride. We went until he was relaxed while trotting. After jumping, he assumes anything more than a walk means we are going to jump again. It took a bit but I wasn’t worried about getting to work on time. It was my birthday after all.

Friday I decided to do a trotting only ride. Scarlet was convinced that he couldn’t manage to bend and go forward at the same time. It took a while to get him over that thought. We did some serpentines and I rode him straight at the fence after he started wiggling himself at the end of the line. He has to go straight until I ask him to turn. It took him a couple of tries but he figured it out. After our workout, I worked on some more backing. He has been anticipating it and backs too much. We worked on him halting when I actually asked him to stop versus just continuing to back until I throw away all aids. He got that rather quickly so I was very pleased with him.

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His neighbor that destroys his masks left so I’ll be getting him a new one soon!

Saturday I let myself sleep in a bit and didn’t get out to the barn until later. The arena ended up being crowded with a lesson, someone toodling and my friend doing dressage. I did a basic ride and then left the arena. My friend ended up leaving shortly after me and went on a loop around the trail. I came along and had a chat with her. Scarlet was pretty calm. Might have had something to do with the fact that it was my friend’s two horses out with us. He had himself his own little herd to keep him safe.

So, even with the horrible start to the week, I still go quite a bit of riding in. And I’m getting more horse time tonight! Definitely going to have fun at the grand prix.