Holy Lateral Movement Batman!

Scarlet was amazing on Sunday! I went out with the plan to maybe try a bit of shoulder in and some spiraling circles at a trot to work on stretching and lateral movement a bit. We haven’t been working on lateral movement much since I have been more focused on moving forward and feeling like he is lifting his back lately. But I want to make sure that I practice different things and work on other skills. Especially since my rides have been getting a bit monotonous lately.

We were able to get the back arena to ourselves on Sunday morning. People leave barrels and jankey poles lying in that arena all the time. Most of the time, I just ride around them but this time I wanted to be able to actually use the middle of the arena and not have to worry too much about steering around anything. I turned Scarlet out in the arena while I moved the stuff around. He got a good roll in and then just watched me move stuff. He didn’t want to come with me to the gate so I just left him there and got my saddle and stuff out at the crossties. The grain comes from the same tack room so he was tricked into thinking I had grain for him and came to meet me once I came back.

We warmed up at the walk and trot. I wanted to make sure we had lots of walk breaks since it was so hot but I still wanted to get some good work in so I decided to stick the shoulder in work during the walk break rather than after cantering. I had to correct my aids a bit but he figured out that I meant for him to walk somewhat sideways pretty easily. One side is always better than the other but we got a good half of the arena length in each side. So much better than the few steps we had done previously. I decided to ask for some leg yeild work since we were already doing lateral movement. He moved quite easily off my legs (a real shock). Our walk lateral problem has generally been that he goes too sideways. This time, we were able to get a bit more forward in there.

After the walk work, I asked him to pick up a canter and we warmed up on the right lead first. I was able to do lots of 20 meter circles at any point in the arena since I had moved all of the stuff out of it. We were in the center doing a circle when I thought “Can he spiral at the canter?”. And so I tried it. First I asked him to move toward the outside of the arena. We did, though not at as steep of an angle as we can at lower speeds. I think he wasn’t entirely sure what I was asking him. Then I asked him to spiral inward. We got to quite a tight circle before I allowed us to go back to the rail.

I was pretty stoked with his movement and decided to be really bold. I asked him to attempt a leg yeild while cantering. Now, I was really expecting almost nothing from this. I have never asked him to do this and I was not expecting him to just do it. Lateral work is hard. But he did! Not fantastic but we got about a quarter of the arena over. Twice! I was so happy with him. I let him take a walk break and then we did it on the left lead. This time, the spiral in and out was easier as he understood that I was actually asking him to move sideways. The leg yeild was about the same but I was so flipping proud of him.

After another walk break, we did some trot leg yeilds across the arena. Those could use a bit more energy but he worked so hard and listened so well that I was just super happy with the ride. I gave him a bath afterward as he was really sweaty. He didn’t appreciate that but I’m sure he felt better. He definitely liked the treats I shoved into his mouth while we were bathing.

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Terrible lighting but look at how long his mane is!
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The Heat of Summer

It looks like summer has fully come upon San Diego. It was weird/nice to have high 60s for a while during May. It was quite nice for riding but definitely weird. Its been 80s for a while now with an occasional upper 70s day.  Since I ride after work, for the most part, it’s been a bit more difficult. I’m trying to make sure that I manage Scarlet’s walk breaks a bit more. He handles the heat way better than I do. I think its the Arab in him. As long as he has had enough water during the day, he sweats and stays cool. The only effect the heat seems to have is that he gets a bit lazier.

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Partial side eye

I’ve been out riding a lot lately, much more than the past few months. I’ve been getting consistently 5 days a week for a while now. Scarlet has been behaving consistently well and listening to me. I’ve made a concerted effort to be quiet with my lower leg when riding and to use leg aids before hand aids and it seems to have made a difference in his responsiveness. I also changed how I wear my spurs. At my last lesson Trainer D moved my spurs beneath my stirrup rest so that I can give spur aids only when meaning to. I’ve kept them there and I really prefer it. I’m not good at asking with my calf and use my heel for most of my aids. The way my spurs sit now, I can ask and then really insist on the aid. I’ve felt like I’m getting much better responses during rides.

Scarlet and his buddy Uno got turned out a bit together this last weekend. Holly and I were both there to watch to see if they fought. They had… so little reaction to each other that we felt silly for being so overprepared. Scarlet ignored Uno and went straight to roll. Uno was a bit more interested and Scarlet squealed at him as he came up while Scarlet was down. He was able to roll again later in order to really get that good scratch. Then they just stood next to each other and played bitey face. Scarlet kinda herded Uno around a bit. I never would have taken him for the dominant in a group but he was trying to take that role. Holly and I are going to do another supervised turnout or two and then we will feel pretty good about allowing each other to just grab the horses and throw them out into a turnout. It will be very good for them.

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Uno (His other eye was removed when he was young).

We had a flub up earlier this week when we were jumping. I was thinking of connecting two jumps in a curving line. They were crossrails and I thought Scarlet wouldn’t have a problem with it. However, the directions to jump in that I normally take would require us to change leads over the jump. I’m not sure I can do that. I haven’t asked Scarlet to land on a particular lead off of jumps (something on my list now). So I considered it and thought we could probably make a different slightly tighter turn than normal and stay on the right lead for both jumps.

I turned us in and we met it so terribly. I didn’t hold my position well and jerked on his mouth as well as flopping hard on his back. He was very good and launched us over it anyway. I apologized to him and circled so we could approach the jump from a normal angle from us. We cantered up and he just stopped. Not dirty, not hard, no sideways movement. He just said, “No, I don’t really want to do that one again.” I was a little shocked and circled to trot over it. He tried to stop again but I had enough leg that he had to hop over it awkwardly. I jerked on his mouth again and felt terrible. So I cantered us around, loosened the reins and grabbed mane. He jumped that one without as much hesitation and I kept out of his way. I called it a day after that.

Literally all of that was my fault and I felt/feel terrible about it. I was just having fun hopping over things and I wasn’t doing my part to make the jump really happen. I need to practice holding my position at all points over the jump. I don’t hold it enough on landing. I need to just practice the two-point more. I also need to make the release a much higher priority so that I don’t yank on his face. All things to work on for me, not him.

He didn’t seem to hold a grudge though and we had good rides after without any issue. Thursday we had some freaking amazing trots right off the bat. He was light and connected and moving forward. I was so happy with it. The canter wasn’t as good, very up and down. The canter is still very hard for us to improve. I would love some instruction on what is good because his canter feels good as long as it isn’t up and down but I don’t think he is trying very hard or lifting most of the time. Always something to work on.

Question for those of you who ride with dressage whips: how do you switch sides with your whip when you switch directions? Or do you not? I like having the whip on the inside side to give a bit more enforcement if I need it though I can do it with the whip in one hand. But when I change, any connection I had gets lost when my reins move around to change.

Long Weekends

*All pictures posted are with the permission of the kids’ mother*

I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend (if you got it off). I love long weekends because I can still be productive and have a full day of being lazy without feeling guilty.

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Saturday our friends came down to visit and the mom and kids went with me to ride Scarlet. They’ve been out once before and seemed to have a lot of fun. I tried to see if the used tack store had any children’s stirrup leathers as they are so much shorter than me. They did not so we had to resort to shortening my stirrups all the way and then putting their feet in the leathers on top of the stirrups instead of in the stirrups proper. It worked well enough for a 5-10 minute walk in circles.

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I rode first to make sure Scarlet wasn’t feeling too good. He wasn’t, per normal, so I threw their mom on the lunge line and had her just focus on riding the gaits. Scarlet’s trot is… hard to sit if you aren’t able to get him lifting his back at all. So I ended up having her walk and canter for a bit. She used to ride when she was younger but has forgotten how much effort it takes. 🙂

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After she rode, I stuck the oldest kid on. Last time, I just walked them around on the lead. This time, I wanted them to focus a bit more on actually learning to ride. Since they both wanted to come ride again, I took it as a good sign. We worked on her starting and stopping Scarlet. Unfortunately, my saddle doesn’t make it easy for her legs to signal to Scarlet but we managed to get a light pony kick and vocal commands to work out pretty well. After that, I had her practice it in a circle around me on the lunge line. I then had her let go of the reins and practice moving her arms out and around to help her remember that she had balance without holding onto the saddle. She even trotted a bit, though that was pretty bumpy and she didn’t like it as much.

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Afterward, her little brother got on. He is super enthusiastic about grooming and giving Scarlet treats. It’s really funny to watch because he is so small that he doesn’t even clear Scarlet’s legs but he will stand there and give it all he’s got. Scarlet had a bit of trouble figuring out that the small creature had food at first but afterward he would constantly sniff him to see if he had treats. I ran through the same process with him as I did with his sister, here is how to go, how to stop. We practiced that a bit and then I had him balance on his own as well. He did very good with that. He wasn’t as interested in trotting but he did do about half a circle. Trotting is pretty overwhelming and while Scarlet is a small horse, its a long way off the ground for a kid.

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We called it a day there and put him away. Scarlet was glad because he kept giving me side eye as each new person got on. I could practically hear him saying “Again? What on earth are you doing to me cookie lady?!”

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Saturday I took a completely lazy day but I went out Monday morning. Holly happened to be out lunging in the arena so I took Scarlet over after tacking up to say hi. He and Uno sniffed each other over the fence and played bitey face a bit. It was all completely friendly and not too enthusiastic. We are pretty confident we can introduce them over the fence another time or two and then put them out together after a ride and supervise. We think they would just play but play can get dangerous if they get too into it. We’d rather take it slow and then be able to safely let them have some horse time than get too ambitious and end up with injuries.

We had a good ride after that and I felt pretty satisfied with my weekend overall.

Riding Lesson (Five months delayed)

When life gets busy, the non-essentials fall off the wagon. In my case, work got crazy and I only had so many spoons to use. Those did not get used for scheduling riding lessons, though I had time to do so. I went out and rode during those days, which takes just as much time as a lesson. It doesn’t, however, require a text message to schedule a lesson. Sometimes, that extra step is just too much to handle.

But! Now that my work and life has slowed down a little bit, I got a lesson scheduled for Tuesday!

I got to ride Brad again. I didn’t bring my saddle this time because I wasn’t sure if I should. (Not sure why I didn’t. I think I had some idea that it wouldn’t fit or whatever) Next time I will bring my own saddle and that will hopefully work.

We started off on the flat over some ground poles to warm up. We were going to head to the big jumping arena but there was another lesson finishing up so we had to wait a bit.  Brad was reluctant to move out at first because hey, working is hard. I got after him a bit and we got marching. At the trot, I was able to get more of a rounded frame than Trainer D was expecting. 🙂

We trotted and cantered over some ground poles set on the outside lines. Trainer D wanted me to keep the same pace and weave over them as I saw fit. She wanted me to focus on pace, where my hands were and that I didn’t lean forward. Basically, keep focused on pace and not anticipate the pole.

We went out to the jump arena since the lesson was concentrated on a few fences on the right. Trainer D told me to be careful of the guy who was taking the lesson as he isn’t safe to ride around. She said he would run you down without a second thought. That was disconcerting to say the least but we didn’t really have an issue.

Trainer D had me work on getting up and down from my two point at the canter and not removing my calves from Brad’s sides. If I did, he would break from the canter to the trot. He is a very honest horse. He is completely willing to do anything but I have to tell him correctly. He will literally do anything so I cannot mess up because it shows what I am doing. It’s a great quality for a lesson horse because my flaws and habits really get worked on.

After I got that under control, Trainer D had us canter over a crossrail a couple of times. The first time, I didn’t lean forward. I generally have the habit of anticipating the jump but this time, I didn’t lean forward enough at the jump. The next time over, I relaxed and trusted myself to sit back enough and followed correctly. Trainer D switched it to a vertical and we hopped over that as well. Then we did two verticals in a row away from the barn. That went okay. I had to keep the impulsion up through the turn and not slack on my legs through it. Brad glanced at the shadow in front of the tiny vertical and ended up chipping a stride in there. We went through a second time and he remembered that shadows don’t need to be stared at.

We went through it going home and Trainer D suggested we get it in 9. We did, but the last stride was a somewhat hastily added one as Brad had sped up toward the barn. The next time over, I asked for him to slow down and had to ask twice as we ended up getting a deep spot to the first fence and landing longer than I had expected. But Brad listened well and we made a nicely fitting 9 strides.

I’m so glad I got to take another lesson and I’m going to do my best to take another one next month instead of waiting five months again!

Working on Feeling

I was able to ride three times last week before I had to fly up to Sacramento to prepare my parent’s surprise party for their 30th anniversary. I’m trying to make sure that whatever we work on is still very focused on stretching and bending. I’m always concerned that Scarlet’s age is going to cause him to suddenly stiffen up to the point where he cannot work anymore.

Monday, I just wasn’t feeling riding much but I needed to get out there because he needs the work. I decided to try a walk-trot only ride, which we don’t do very often. It allowed me to just focus on my posture for the posting trot and do lots of bends and serpentines. It was a good change to a much calmer ride overall.

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Tuesday, I really wanted to work on keeping his weight off of his forehand. I’d noticed recently that when I worked on transitions within gaits or coming back to a trot after a canter, Scarlet felt a lot more downhill than normal. I worked on half halting as well as transitions between gaits to get him shifting his weight back some more. It felt good, but I’m never 100% sure I’m feeling the correct thing. But, the subsequent rides have felt less heavy so I think I’m on the right path.

I also worked on ensuring that shoulders followed the bend on circles, both him and mine. My balance and position have gotten lazy recently and I noticed it when I rode M recently. Keeping Scarlet’s shoulders between the aids is difficult but adding my shoulders on top of that makes it mind-blowingly difficult. It’s funny how many things you need to do to ride that become super difficult if you focus on them. Thinking this way, it’s quite impressive that I ever got to the point of being able to do multiple things at once on a horse.

After we worked, I decided to jump a bit. None of the jumps were set tiny, which I wasn’t in love with. I like to trot/canter Scarlet over a bitty jump as a “hey we are jumping now” warm up. But I’m also lazy and didn’t want to get off to adjust any of them so I had him walk to the smallest cross rail and take a look at it.

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He really wasn’t impressed.

He hopped over it without any shenanigans. And then I turned him and went over a few decently sized verticals. And then called it a day. I like doing just a bit of jumping with him pretty often when he isn’t in great shape. Also, it enforces that this is fun and not something that we drill.

Friday it decided to rain which was weird. It wasn’t really rain, more like spurts of heavy mist but still weird. It was very cool, in the upper 60s. It had been 90 recently so this cold weather really got all the horses excited. Scarlet was mostly pretty good but he definitely was feeling himself. I didn’t ask for too much from him as he was doing his best to just listen. It was good to get out, even if it was weird weather.

This week, Scarlet’s dinner had another flake of alfalfa in it. I’m not sure if I mentioned it here, but Scarlet has been getting a bit porky looking. I thought it was due to my lack of riding in the recent months, though he has been out 2-3 days a week on average if not more. Then, I was out when they were feeding dinner (which is normally about an hour before I reach the barn) and saw that he had alfalfa in his feed. Scarlet gets a flake of alfalfa and a bunch of grass in the morning and then all grass in the evening. He doesn’t need more as he is a) an easy keeper and b) not working super hard. It turns out Scarlet has been getting alfalfa twice a day, which definitely contributed to the preggo belly he is sporting right now. I complained to the barn owner and she said she’d talk to her guys. I can’t get out there early enough to check on it but I started watching for alfalfa remnants in his feed. This week, I was able to see half of a flake in there. I emailed her again.

I got an email response that said she talked to them and it was the other guy this time and it probably happened due to most other people having alfalfa fed at night to keep their horses warm. Did I want to change my feeding? I almost said yes.

But then didn’t.

Why should have to change my horse’s feeding schedule? He isn’t getting anything complicated: 1 alfalfa in the morning with grass and grass at night. A and G on the signs. It’s not complicated. So I said no, I want him to have it in the morning. Definitely ruffled my feathers a bit that her suggestion wasn’t to enforce that the horse gets the correct feed when this has happened multiple times but suggest that I change to match. I’m not the only one that feeds different hays during the day. Everyone has their own personal balance between alfalfa and grass. It should not be a problem which order it is in the day.

Hopefully, this will not keep happening. I’m working on uping our riding time with some longer trot sets to get him burning off some of the fat he has stored. If he goes back to his normal food schedule, that should be enough to get him back in shape. Fingers crossed.

Del Mar Grand Prix

Saturday was the Del Mar Grand Prix. I went last year with Karen and I knew that I wanted to go again. It was so much fun last year. I’ve been hanging out with a few people from my barn more often. In light of that, I thought that it would be fun to gather a group of people together for the show. It ended up being Holly, her bf, Kristen, and Karen. Unfortunately, Karen ended up not being able to make it suddenly the day of.

We all met at the fair and wandered around the vendors a bit. I got a rootbeer float and some kettle corn as a treat. I got enough kettle corn to share but everyone else didn’t seem interested. They each only had a few pieces and I ended up eating about half the bag myself.

This year was a lot warmer than last year. I brought a big jacket but I didn’t need to put it on at all this time. Oh well, at least I was prepared in case it had gotten cold.

The first part of the show was a celeb ultimate trail course. A few of the riders for the grand prix were in it. A movie star/tv star that Holly recognized and the CEO of the fairgrounds rode. It was pretty funny to watch as they all were doing their best but not quite getting the precision you’d see in professionals of that style. A lot of the horses had glitter on their butt. One horse had glitter all over his body. He glowed like a holographic picture under the arena lights.

The show was awesome. The course had a lot of turns and long distances that you had to push for followed by lines that rode shorter. It was amazing to watch everyone go around. There were a lot of noisy people in the audience behind me that either were drunk or just really really into the show as they yelled during at least 50% of the jump attempts.

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Michelle Parker and Cupilor were the winning pair after a 9 pair jump off. The top three pairs at the finished ended up going one after another and each one beat the previous time by a large chunk .5-1 full second. It was amazing to watch these people fly around these long distances and clear huge boxy oxers at speed. It was awesome to watch and I had a lot of fun watching with friends.

I didn’t take as many videos as I did last time and I don’t have anything from the winning pair but here are two videos of the main course for your pleasure.

Bloggers at a Baazar

The one part of getting married that I had really enjoyed (besides the getting married part) was actually planning my wedding. I loved looking at the options, comparing prices, researching etc. I had seriously considered becoming a wedding planner as I had so much fun with it but quickly realized that trying to deal with bridezillas would be my downfall. When L. got engaged and mentioned that she wanted some company to a bridal baazar happening at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, I was there for that.

We ubered from the showpark to the fairgrounds. It was quite crowded when we got there even though we were there early-ish in the morning. L had specific things she was looking for but was interested in looking at most of the other stuff.

We walked around, got a bunch of free information, ate some cake slices (YUM!) and got a few pictures from a photo booth. It was a lot of fun, even more so since I didn’t have any pressure of paying attention or worrying about which options would work for me.

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The fashion show was interesting. There always seems to be a trend in wedding dresses for the year. This year seemed to be sparkly. There were a lot of dresses with sparkles. There were a few that had see-through sections as well. Scandalous! It’s hard to picture how a certain dress would look on someone and L agreed. It was good to see the variety but she wants to go and try on a bunch of styles to see what she likes.

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Afterward, we ate lunch and watched some equitation classes at the showpark. Then, we said hi to Dante and watched him be a goofy baby in turnout. He is so handsome and has really bulked out over this last year. It was a really fun day being silly with a friend.

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Rugged Maniac 4/28

Backlog of posts incoming. I’ve had ideas/media for all of these posts but just haven’t squeezed in the time to write them. I didn’t want to not share them though so let’s all take a trip back in time.

My sister asked me back when I was training for my half marathon if I wanted to do a rugged maniac run with her. She had done it last year and really enjoyed it. The race was a 5k with obstacles and mud to get over throughout the course. This one had 26 obstacles. I agreed to do it and found myself gearing up to get completely dirty on a Saturday morning.

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I felt a little concerned about my ability to complete the course when there was a chest high wall you had to boost yourself over before you even got to the starting line. I was able to get over it and it wasn’t as hard as I feared but talk about throwing you into the deep end.

We got most of the way through a mile before we even hit the mud section of the run. The obstacles were stacked on the back two miles of the run so we didn’t get much running in there. I’ll spare you the description of each one and just say look at the pictures.

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Instead, I’ll tell you about one. One terrible, horrible obstacle that I cannot remove from my brain. It was called Claustrophobia.

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They took a large drainage tunnel under the road and filled it with mud. This wasn’t ordinary mud either. I swear that they added corn starch or gelatin to it because it was the stickiest, most slippery mud that I have ever seen. We had to wade through around 15 feet of mud that came to mid-calf. You had to carefully pull your feet up in a somewhat sideways motion or you’d lose your shoe. After the wading, they had made a huge mound of the mud for another 15 feet that you had to climb up onto and either walk bent in half or crawl. I had the worst time trying to get up there. Slippery mud doesn’t help with climbing up things. I ended up getting my sister’s bf to boost me from behind and then I crawled through. The mud stuck to hands and feet like nothing else. It looked like I had dipped my hand into wax. It would not come off when shaking your hand or scrapping it off. It took forever to get clean. My feet felt 10 pounds heavier with all the mud stuck to my shoes.

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We had to go back through it on the way back to the finish line. It was definitely the worst/best part of the run. I’ll definitely remember it for a long while.

It took about two hours to complete the whole run since there ended up being quite the bottleneck at the obstacles. There were a lot of people out running as well. I managed to not get burnt except for a tiny spot on my neck where I missed with sunblock. I’m sure the mud helped protect me from the sun as well. It was fun. I’ll have to see how I feel next year before I decide whether to do it again or not. I definitely would only ever do this as a team. Without other people there, I would have had a lot of issue getting over the obstacles and would not have had as much fun laughing at myself.

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SO MUCH RIDING!!!

I got to ride so much in the last three days. I rode four times!

Four times you say? How could you manage to do that with only one horse? Did you ride him multiple times in one day?

The answer to that is no. I got to ride two horses in one day! XD But that didn’t happen until Sunday so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Friday I ran again for probably the first time since my half marathon. I shouldn’t have let it go so long as all of my endurance totally disappeared but it is what it is. It was only a short two mile run but I could still feel it. Riding was a bit harder as a result since my legs were quite tired. This week has been a lot more exercise than I’ve been able to get recently. I’m very happy with this but the result is that I’m extremely tired.

Scarlet was well behaved and we did a bunch of simple changes across serpentines during the ride. But I was honestly too tired to really ask for much more. I’m hopeful that my stamina will improve now that I’m getting back to my normal routine. (My tiredness is probably  not helped by the fact that I stayed up late three nights in a row to read)

Saturday, I meant to get up before it got hot out to ride but did not make it. I had wanted to get out to the barn around 8:30 but that was when I woke up. It probably ended up being 9:30 before I made it out there. It was hot. Hot hot hot. It was one of the first days that I felt like it was really uncomfortable for both me and Scarlet. My plan for Saturday was to ride him longer and get him really working but I did not. I gave up to the heat (I’m a weenie sometimes).

Sunday was awesome. I am friends with a lady named K at my barn. Our paths don’t cross too often during the week since we have different schedules. On the weekends, if I get out in the morning, we can generally say hi or go for a ride together. She has three horses and offered to let me ride her horse M. I jumped at the chance. K is an eventer and M has gone up to Training level before. She is a much more trained horse that I’ve had the chance to ride outside of a lesson in a long time.

I set an alarm so I’d get out of bed on time and met up with K at 8ish at the barn. We got M and another of her horses, JC, ready for the ride. K had put up a grid of fences for the ride with her first horse and she adjusted it down to a trot pole, cross rail to another pole that would eventually be a vertical.

While I warmed up, M made me work for the ride. Not that she was naughty or lazy but she made you ask for real work and ask properly. A lot of my warmup involved really getting her through the outside rein and her shoulders not popping out toward the rail. We did a lot of circles and spirals in and out. K coached me a bit on how I needed to ask her. It took a bit but I got the hang of it.

One amazing thing about riding M was you could immediately tell if something wasn’t right. If her shoulders popped out, her trot got very bouncy and almost gaited feeling. It was really difficult mentally and physically to keep remembering what my body needed to do. Scarlet isn’t micromanage-y like that but he also doesn’t have a ton of difference between his bad and good gaits so I don’t know as quickly if there are problems.

There were a few trot poles set in the arena. One set was a bit short, so I had to remind M to keep it slow and steady. The other was set a bit long so I had to ask for a more open stride. I  must have asked too well because once we got over the first pole, M CANTERED through the trot poles. It was the weirdest and funniest thing I’ve had happen to me on a horse in a while. K was laughing as well and pointed out that she got all her feet in between the poles. Mare is flexible obviously.

After we finished warming up, K pointed me toward a couple of fences and reminded me to commit to the fence and taking off where I want to take off. My bad habit of throwing my upper body at the fence emerged and I had to remind myself at every stride to think “Sit back.” We got several good trot fences once I reminded M that we were waiting until we got to the fence, not taking the spot that is twelve feet away. We repeated for the canter.

Sufficiently warmed up, K sent me through my first grids ever. We trotted in and over the cross rail. The pole was left as is until I went over it a couple of times. K had to remind me to not act like I was jumping the pole, let it come to me. I also needed to lower my hands and let them follow M’s mouth. I did my best to improve and M seemed to appreciate it.

Then K set the pole as a vertical. M loved the extra jump and rocketed through the grid. Not that she was being overly fast. She just has this… force to her jump that I’ve never felt before. Mare reaches under herself and really gets up and over the jumps. It was fantastic. It felt so powerful and so much fun. We called it after a few go-throughs as the horses were sweating and the lesson kids were showing up. We put the jumps back in their original places and hosed our horses off.

Scarlet got a really short ride again as I was exhausted by the time I got on him. I did get him over a crossrail a few times at a trot and canter. I wanted to see if I could feel a difference keeping myself back better over the jumps. I think I did feel it a bit but I’m not entirely sure. It’s a very different feel on him since he is a full 5″ shorter and not nearly as powerful.

I’m really grateful that I got to ride M. K would like to do it again as she thinks M needs to get out and be ridden more often. She gets her three out as much as possible but its not easy when you have three to ride and a day job plus a family. I’m very much on board with this plan.

Getting Back to Habits

*Adding pictures from Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC and Seattle for interesting media from my vacation*

I’m one of those people who lives by her habits. If it’s not something I do daily, it’s really hard to get me to do it at all. That’s not to say that I don’t have flexibility in my schedule. I have gaps of downtime to do what I want. But exercise, visiting the horse, chores and such, those need to be on a schedule so I do them.

My schedule has been all kinds of messed up recently so going out to the barn the first time this week was both amazing and hard. I’m glad I went and I feel much better for it but getting out there in the first place was hard. I felt a little off and everything felt a little weird.

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We went on a duck ride tour! It was amazing. Cheesy and silly but well worth it.

It had gotten cold suddenly after a few days of 80-degree weather here (cold being 60s) and I hadn’t ridden Scarlet much lately so I wanted to let him out into the arena to get some wiggles out. I grabbed him out of his pen and got the lunge whip from the tack room. I was thinking I’d let him roll and then lunge him a bit. However, he saw the whip and was not interested in relaxing after that.

He was pretty snorty and did not want to trot around me. I haven’t used a lunge line in forever with him as he is pretty good about circling me and I don’t generally lunge anyway. This time, it would have been nice as he was not listening to my voice when I was asking him to slow down. I kept at it until he responded to me and transitioned down and back up as I asked.

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Portage Bay Cafe had a breakfast bar where you could add whipped cream and tons of fruit options to your pancakes or french toast. Yum!

I quickly tacked up and we walked to the front arena. He power walked his way over. We’ve been doing laps around the barn more often so he is more comfortable walking around. It’s nice because it makes for a good warm up or cool down. I didn’t push hard while riding because we are out of shape. But we did a bit of trot and canter and I called it good.

Tuesday I worked on getting us nice and stretched out. Again, I didn’t push much. Not for Scarlet’s sake but for mine. I could feel my muscles protesting while I moved.

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The bathroom stalls at Pike Place Market are… short. I’m 5’7″ and my head is completely over the wall. Awkward….

Wednesday, it was hard to get out. I had to leave 20 minutes later than normal due to needing to stay back for work stuff and then there was an accident and traffic. I decided to stop by the feed store and grab some shavings. While I was there, I bought a rubber stock tank to put his hay in. I’ve wanted one for a while but haven’t gotten around to getting one.

I dumped the stuff outside Scarlet’s pen and pulled him out. After giving him a quick grooming, I put the bareback pad on him and then walked around the barn. I have been trying to get him to venture toward the front after each ride as there is a trail setup in the far arena and I’d like to be able to use it occasionally. I’ve not got him past the back of the main barn yet as he gets tense. While I want to push him and ask him to go further, I also don’t want to make it a terrible experience. I don’t want to fight him. I want him to trust me when I say it’s okay for us to go up there.

We headed just past our normal jump arena and Scarlet got spooked by… poles? A small piece of plastic blowing? A mounting block? I’m not sure which spooked him but he decided to hurry in the opposite direction. And my heart leapt as I realize I was trying to push him out of his comfort zone with NO SADDLE.

I might be crazy.

After circling him, I made him sniff the things and then pushed forward. And he kept going. I kept my legs on but didn’t really push him much. Just encouraging without force behind it. And we kept going. We made it all the way to the front of the main barn and stood looking at the front arena. I was super happy with him and didn’t want to jinx it by pushing him further so I turned him back to end our ride.

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I moved his hay into the stock tank and cleaned up his stall a little before splitting open the shavings. Scarlet nosed his way through them and looked like he was trying to eat them. I had hoped that he would roll in them but he was more interested in eating. Oh well. I’m glad I got the shavings though. I’m going to work up to getting his shavings built up in his stall somewhat. I can’t fit too many bags into my car at one time though (Prius C) so it will be slow going.