Lesson and Catchup

Ack! Where’d the time go? I literally had a blog post open and ready to write in last Sunday and it just… never happened. But I shall do my best to catch up now!

First, the bestest boy. Scarlet is doing good. I feel like this last week I figured out a good schedule and rhythm for my mornings. He still gets his walks every day and grooming on the days when I’m not riding Ezio or when I have more time in my day. On the two weekdays where I’m riding, he only gets about a 10 minute walk and his stretches. It’s only been one week so it’s not a good dataset but he seems to be doing well with this system so far.

Now the second bestest body! I had my first lesson on Ezio! It was a week ago Friday so it has been some time since then. But it was a great lesson!

Obviously the first thing I did was ask Trainer J what she thought of the saddle fit. She thought it would do okay. It didn’t strike her as fitting particularly terribly and might last a bit while he fills out a bit more. I just need to keep track of if he develops any soreness. Then Ezio really wanted to make sure he introduced himself so she spent a bit of time petting him while I talked about how we’d been riding in the handful of rides that we’d done. I talked about being very soft with my hands and mostly working on steering. She was not worried about how slowly I was taking it and that I wasn’t cantering very often.

We started with the walk for the lesson and she immediately told me not to walk for him. Ezio likes to shuffle along. He does have a forward walk when I asked for it, but apparently I was getting it with my legs and then keeping it with my seat by having a very driving seat. She wanted me to only follow with my hips, not drive. I was to ask for him to walk forward in front of my legs, escalating my cue until I got what I wanted and then leave it. I also needed to be quick to correct when he slowed down. This was a bit difficult as I wasn’t as quick as needed and trying to only follow with my hips led me to shutting down my movement. It took a bit of practice but we did get it.

For the trot, we worked on riding bending lines and asking him to move his ribs away from my inside leg to get him to soften. This was actually fairly easy for him, so I think he had the idea of it already in his head. It was nice though to feel him move slightly and for his trot to improve as we went.

While trotting around, he did toss his head as he had been the previous rides. I asked Trainer J if she thought it was a pain response or just him being annoyed. She didn’t think it was a pain response, but she thought it might be him anticipating being forced into the contact, so I should keep my hands as light as possible and let him reach down and find the light contact. He will get there contact-wise. No need to force him.

The last thing we did was work on our downward transitions. Ezio is quite happy to go slower at any moment. I don’t have to fight him to go but the stop is really really there. Too much there actually. I explained to Trainer J that any time we did a downward transition, he just pumped the brakes and dumped all his weight on his forehand. It’s quite jarring.

Heya handsome ❤

So we did a bit of transition work. She wanted me to try to sensitize him to an exhale and ask so there is just a hair more time for him to prepare himself for the transition. This was very difficult with him but we got one really good transition and I called the lesson there after praising the crap out of him. We’d been riding for 45 minutes at that time and I’d been riding him about 30 minutes at a time. I don’t know how often he was worked before I purchased him so I don’t want to push him too hard.

Trainer J is of the same opinion as me. Working him lightly for a while as we build up strength will be good. And after all he is only four. We’ve got plenty of time.

I focused on the things we worked on during the lesson over this last week of riding. I tried my best to not drill him. We’ve definitely gotten better at the walking in front of my leg without me doing the work for him. But the other stuff not as much. The transitions are still crap. So hopefully we can work a bit more on those next lesson. We also broke our steering to the left this week. I couldn’t figure out what was going on but he would NOT TURN LEFT. I could haul him around and he still wanted to ignore it. I think it was my fault, since I kinda figured it out by the end of the week. I think with the softening to the leg cue, I was using my hands a little more to try to get him to soften as well. So I stopped using my hands as anything but barriers to guide the shoulders and added a ton more outside leg along with overexaggerating turning with my core. We kinda got it by Saturday. It was not pretty though.

I’m still super excited as we are making progress together. I find new and exciting (sometimes I say that last part sarcastically) baby things to be working on. Like backing. There was no reverse button installed. He’s actually picking that one up quickly. He’s different from other horses that I’ve ridden as he doesn’t respond to increased pressure at all until he figures out what you’re asking. He just ignores it rather than trying to do something. So everything needs to be clear and in small steps. Another fun baby thing was do not let your focus zone out. Ever. I let my focus drift in a walk break for just a moment and he decided he wanted to hug the fence. My leg being in the way was of no consequence. So now I have a lovely gash in my knee and I need a new pair of breeches.

I can moan about baby behavior but I’m still loving it. I haven’t found a moment where I regret purchasing him yet. Of course, it’s only been a month. Give it a little more and he might find the end of my rope. But I plan to do my best to not let that happen. We will both be calm and try our best together.

Getting to Know You

I’ll get back into doing this on time for a Monday update some day, I swear. This week doesn’t look like it has that day though.

It has been very interesting getting to know a new horse. I’ve technically bought a horse twice before, but that doesn’t really count since it was Scarlet twice over. Yes he had some more experiences that I wasn’t there for but at the core he was the same horse. No real new things to learn. That is definitely not the case this time.

Enjoy your new shavings buddy? lol

Not to say that I’m not enjoying myself! I’m enjoying myself immensely. I’m exhausted but enjoying myself for sure. Ezio is really personable and very easy to work with so far. He’s been very well behaved overall. Lippy and treat focused but very easy to walk around the barn. Easy to groom. Easy to ride.

Having my old old saddle working okay right now means that we’ve been able to ride a bit more consistently now. I’m still trying to figure out my schedule with getting to two barns in one day without neglecting either horse. Its going to be a work in progress. It might not be possible but I’ve got to give it my best shot before I give in and go to the barn twice a day.

So for riding, I have cantered Ezio now. I was on the second day of riding him and I managed to longe him before getting on. He didn’t kick up his heels too badly so I figured we’d probably be fine. And we were. He was very well behaved in the canter. I forgot how delightful his canter felt to me. Did I go to slowly by having a few rides with only trot? Probably. Do I regret taking it slowly? Not in the slightest. He’s a baby. We’ve got time for everything.

I did take Sunday and Monday off from riding as I was exhausted after finishing up my lease rides last week and riding Ezio as well. Monday I did free longe Ezio a bit but he seemed more interested in hanging out with me than running around. Tuesday, I needed to finish up quickly since the farrier was coming for Scarlet so I didn’t longe and just got on. I even pulled Ezio away from his food to do it. He was great for that. No fuss, no attitude.

I did only walk and trot but I was on a limited amount of time. And I was focused on figuring out steering. Steering had felt kind of optional in our previous rides and I wanted to keep my leg attached to my body, not rubbed off on the fence. So I focused on that. I’ve noticed that Ezio seems to hate my hands. He’s definitely reacting to something I’m doing and I wanted to figure that out. Turns out, my hands are very connected to my steering and he was unhappy. He wants leg, weight and some outside rein for a turn, not being directed with the inside rein. Fair enough horse. That is bad on my part.

I’m looking forward to more of these little discoveries. Figuring out what works for him and figuring out what I need to show him so that he understands what I’m asking while riding. We’ve got our first lesson scheduled for Friday and that should be very fun.

Bienvenido!

I probably should have written this post so much earlier but things have been hectic lately so this is when it’s happening.

Say hello to Ezio! (Eht-zee-oh) I got a second horse!

After Scarlet retired from riding late October 2019 due to his neurological issues, I knew I wanted a second horse. But that was so far from a reality at that point. We had purchased our house two months prior and were extremely house poor. So I thought about it, dreamed about it, but did not act on it.

Then, late last year we were in a financial position where making a second horse happen was a possibility. My budget was small when I started looking in September so I didn’t find anything much. If you haven’t been looking, the horse market has been quite wild for a long time. So anything in my budget generally had problems. Most of them weren’t things I was willing to risk. So I waited and saved. I definitely wasn’t patient. (Thanks L and Ruth!) But I kept looking. I do kinda want to do a post about the horses I tried and the frustrations of searching for a horse. But I’m trying to figure out how to not talk to specifically about the horses I’ve looked at. Some of them are still on the market and my opinion on them is only my opinion. So that might take a while.

Most of my photos are from this angle or similar. He wants to be nose in my face or in my hands all the time.

So I’ll just give a summary of how I found Ezio here. I found a facebook ad for him. He was local and in my then price range. I asked about him and got a video. When asking questions, the seller didn’t label him as forward so I passed on him initially. Then I thought about it more and decided to follow up a couple of weeks later. I tried him and was immediately thinking “Shit, I like him.” I tried him again the following week and decided to move forward with the PPE. PPE got delayed once but nothing major showed up and I purchased him on April 16 and then brought him to the barn Trainer J works out of on Wed the 20th.

He’s a four year old technically ottb though he never raced nor has published workouts. He’s tall. Vet says hes 17-17.1h though she used a tape on him which isn’t as accurate as sticking him. He’s tall and that’s pretty much as much as I care about. I wasn’t looking for tall so his height is unimportant to me. He is sensitive when I ride him and very person focused. He’s also lacking in a few ground manners and very pushy when it comes to cookies. We’ve already had a few discussions about manners and he’s getting better each time I work with him.

I threw my old saddle on him when I first got him settled in and it definitely doesn’t fit. He’s got some decent sized withers but is very skinny still. He’s a bit of a hard keeper so getting weight and muscle on him will help with that but not for the immediate need of a saddle to ride him in. I was fully planning on getting a saddle and needing to get a new one within the next couple of years but I figured I’d take my trainer up on her offer to try her saddles out for fit first.

He’s cute. ❤

Two of her saddles looked possible and I hopped on him for the first time on Monday. The saddle I chose did not fit me. It fit him nicely and the sweat pattern was good but it tipped me forward in my pelvis until I felt like I was going to go face first into the dirt. We only walked and trotted due to me feeling unstable. That saddle was a wintec dressage saddle and it reminded me that I never got rid of my old wintec AP saddle. So I excavated that and tried it on him on Wednesday.

The sizing looked okay and my trainer got to look at it as well. She had some sort of sizing guide she placed around his withers and said he’s hovering between a medium-narrow and a medium seat at the moment. Of course, that’s mostly a guide and not a guarantee. I believe the AP saddle is a medium but its been years since I bought it so I have no idea. We rode and I felt waaaayyy more secure. I still kept the ride to a walk and trot because Ezio was pretty hot at first. He came from a barn where he got half day turnout with other horses. That’s pretty unusual for around here and unfortunately I cannot provide that for him. He’s been getting walks, turnout and lunges with me but its not the same. And while dealing with the saddle, I haven’t been working him enough to get the energy out. Hopefully that will change soon.

Even though he was hot, he was very good. He kept spooking at the birds and squirrels around the arena so I took him in a large circle in the center of the arena so we could be further away from distractions. After a while, he settled into the work and was much less up and tense while trotting. If I hadn’t had work, I would have probably tried to canter but I had a limited amount of time to ride and preferred to keep it low key during my time crunch.

Post first ride!

So my old AP saddle looks like it will fit him okay for now. I’m getting him a nice half pad to give him some more cushion and just a little bit of padding since the saddle slid a tiny bit while riding. I’ll keep riding him in this and checking to see how he feels after the rides. Hopefully everything goes well in that regard and I can hold off on buying a saddle for a bit longer.

But even without having consistent rides, I’m so ridiculously happy. Scarlet will always be my bestest boy and I’d give half my bodily organs to have him still ridable. But he isn’t and this is the reality we have. He’s fat and happy being retired and, most importantly, still here with me. And I’ve got a new baby to learn how to ride and figure out what shape our partnership is going to take. This is going to be fun!

A Canter Lesson

I’ve done at least one lesson with Trainer J that I haven’t written about. I got bad about updating. I realized, after the removal of some extra work load at work, that I was really really close to burnout and kinda dropped everything to chill a bit and regain some mental balance. Which did help me but didn’t help with posting.

For most of our lessons, I’ve been only walking and trotting. While being limited would usually ignore me, it was much better due to me wanting to focus on me instead of this horse. But this last time, we did end up cantering.

I was tacking up Zoe this time. While it was nice to come to a horse all tacked up and ready for me, it did feel disconcerting not touching the horse while grooming etc. So doing it myself was nice. I managed to get all the tack on correctly which yay me. I’ve never put on a dressage saddle before. I think Zoe had just gone through her heat cycle or was still in it. She was sensitive to me touching her back half and had some crud trailing down her legs and on her lady parts. I told Trainer J about it so someone could wash her later when it wasn’t cold morning time.

I warmed up like I normally would. Trainer J let me do it and just called out adjustments to me. Then she asked what I wanted to work on. I explained that lately I’ve been feeling like a muppet during canter transitions, both up and down. I feel like I’m flopping around and flailing ineffectually a lot of the time. So we worked on the transition up.

Wow was that a lot of hard work. I was exhausted by the end. But I had some serious breakthroughs. Basically, what we discovered is it has been a long long time since I haven’t had to make the canter transition happen. I’ve had to use my whole body to get the green horses to do it, so I’ve not been asking properly for a while.

It was amazing to work with a trained horse on that. I really got the feeling of the inside leg as kind of a pivot point when on the girth getting that flexion to the inside and the scoop with the outside leg. I ended up needing to hold Zoe’s face a little more so she went up rather than out into the trot. It was a little difficult for me to ask properly and wait a moment to see if she got it but it worked really well once I put all the pieces together.

I did get a chance to try it more properly on Cav and even that showed a remarkable difference in how he responded to me. So my bad habits weren’t helping there either. But now I’ve got this to practice and I’m so happy!

Second Lesson

It took quite a while to get a second lesson to happen as the last several Fridays were rained out. This last Friday, I finally got to have another lesson.

I rode Zoe again and Trainer J got her ready for me again. I still feel quite spoiled with that but it is quite nice to spend all my time riding in my lesson instead of extra time grooming.

We started our lesson with me just warming up as I pleased. I incorporated some leg yields during both the walk and trot to get Trainer J’s eyes on what I’d been practicing. She seemed pretty pleased with what I was doing. We also discussed how difficult it is for me to do it on Cav. Cav doesn’t really understand communication from my outside rein. She gave me a couple of tips for when I’m working with him. One, don’t go any more sideways than he will keep his shoulder with me. If that means only one step sideways, only do one step sideways. Two, try doing leg yields at a 45degree angle on the rail. The rail will keep his shoulder in place so it would b a good practicing option.

After the warmup, I needed my stirrups adjusted. Dressage saddles are still super weird for me. I do like how flat work feels in a dressage saddle but with always riding in a jump saddle but my legs want to shorten up. I kept losing my stirrups. I’ll get there eventually with letting my legs hang properly.

Then Trainer J asked what I wanted to focus on. I considered it and decided lets focus on my position again. I don’t get to do that much on Cav as he’s pretty green still and requires more of an active ride when messes up my position. So we did.

Wow did we ever. We focused on my seat a lot. She’d noticed that Zoe was bulging out to the left in a weird fashion. She said it could be her, it could be me. So she asked me to move my right seat bone until I felt like it was in the center of my saddle. That felt so awkward. Not quite like I was going to fall off the horse to the left but close. Then I felt like above my pelvis was twisted around weird to compensate for the feeling. She had me twist my torso to the left a few times and my body just kinda slotted into place.

My weight was much more even and I could actually feel both seat bones. But I had to struggle to maintain my position. We did a bunch of walk and trot that way and I had to focus so hard to keep my seat coming back down evenly. She also suggested I try to keep both sides of my core lengthened to the same length on both sides, which helped.

We then focused on my arms. My hands keep wanting to turn so the backs of my hands are too the sky. That ends up pointing my elbows out some. We focused on rotating my thumbs up to the sky and over rotating them so that I can fix the feeling.

Trainer J also wanted to fix my elbows. I thought they were hanging nicely by my side and staying soft but she wanted me to imagine touching my jacket with them and that ended up bringing them back to my side. Again, that felt like my elbows were sticking so far behind me that I’d look like a turkey.

But feelings are never right when correcting bad posture habits. We kept at it and I could feel my lower back working super hard to maintain the correct posture. I was so sore for several days afterward.

I’m glad I found a trainer I can keep having lessons with. Each time we work on what are really small issues that have a large impact on how I’m riding. I’m looking forward to my future lessons.

Birthday(s)!

Scarlet turned 25 on Friday! He had a good week, including getting his toes done. He actually did amazingly this farrier appointment. No wobbling or anything this time. It was great. It’s always good for me when I see him doing well. I know his improvement can only go so far but its nice to see examples that my efforts of keeping him in some sort of shape are working.

He got spoiled for his birthday. There were more treats from Emmie’s Edibles for his birthday. I got him two birthday cones, which were basically scoops of horse treats on top of sugar cones, covered in sprinkles. He loved them. I think his neighbor would have loved them as well as she started begging for a treat when I began opening the plastic they were wrapped in.

He made a mess while eating it but loved it, which is really all that matters. It was definitely fun to give him an extra special treat. I’m happy to still have him for his 25th birthday.

Going back in time a bit, there was some wild stuff that happened on Tuesday at the barn. I go out early, earlier than most people get to the barn. This day, I was out around 7:30ish. I fed Scarlet like normal and then went to walk back to where Cav’s tack is stored. As one does, I look at the horses as I walk by. I notice one stall and basically stop in place.

What the fuck?

That’s a baby. That’s a baby horse just chilling in the stall. Up, dry, it’s definitely been around for a while. I sent the above picture to Cav’s owner, since she is the assistant trainer, asking if anyone knew about this and if it was planned. Apparently, she was very sleepy when she looked at my text and thought ‘Gosh Alex is an idiot. Its a mini not a baby.’ (A mini did move in last week) And then my picture came in. And she said, no definitely not planned.

The little colt (we determined later) kept looking around for milk but was nuzzling all over the place. I thought he might have issues getting to her teats with the blanket on so I went in and pulled it off. The placenta was near the front of the stall as well. Mom was a bit defensive but when I placed my hand on her, she realized I was going for her, not the baby and was fine with me actually getting her blanket off. Then I called the owner. The BM had called her right before because the stable guys had sent her a text with a picture saying ‘un bebe’. The mare’s owner said wrong number when the BM called her because she couldn’t believe her mare had a baby.

The mare is actually a rescue from a feedlot that the owner got last June. She was super skinny when she came in, as most rescues are, so apparently no one suspected anything from how she was fattening up. But what makes me laugh and shake my head is her lady bits were looking swollen this last week and multiple people at the barn just thought she was in heat. And then there was wax on her teats Sunday or Monday. And still no one expected this. Wild!

Luckily, even with no one knowing and having her blanket on while giving birth, mom and baby are doing great. The vet has come out a couple of times and gave them both clean bills of health. She’s a great mom, keeping a close eye on her baby. He’s quite adorable and pretty big. He’s a solid little boy as well so all her good feeding definitely helped him develop well.

Quite the exciting thing to find out in the morning. It felt quite surreal, like a movie or something. But it meant we had two birthdays last week. XD

Breaks

Well I fell off the wagon a little bit. I’m trying to not beat myself up over it. I fell into another bad mental slump. Now that I’m having more good days than bad, I’m trying to get back to doing all the things.

We’ve had some rain in the past couple of weeks. Somehow, it always ended up being on my riding days. That or it was close enough that the arenas were too we to ride in. (seriously socal, I grew up riding my horse through puddles in the arena. It’s not going to make us melt…) No new lessons for me but not for lack of trying. They kept getting rained out. I did get some rides in on Cav. He’s been having some issues with his right hind. It seems to kinda… disappear randomly. He also has issues with his right lead canter.

His owner is aware and she’s working on getting the vet out to see him. In the meantime, I’ve been very careful to try to be as thorough as possible in our warm ups. I only ask for as much right lead canter as he seems to be able to do. At least he’s very clear on when he’s not feeling good. He doesn’t have a ‘no’ in him so if he says no, that’s all he can do.

Scarlet is doing good. I got a whole bunch of fancy horse treats from Emmie’s Edibles. I unfortunately cannot remember which blogger I saw link her cookies first but I got like 80$ worth of various cookies. Scarlet is very very pleased.

There are a bunch of options. I got the originals that have little dried apple slices inside them, Delilah’s dots which are little cookies with sprinkles, pill pocket treats and b-day cones. Scarlet’s bday is coming up soon so he’s going to get a nice treat then. The treats are super nice. They’re all handmade and Debbie was super easy to work with. They shipped fast and honestly smell great. If they weren’t so hard, I’d be tempted to eat them myself!

Cav likes them as well. He only gets them after a ride though because he actually gets belligerent once he gets them. He gets pushy and begins trying to search for more good treats.

So that’s what we’ve been doing. Nothing much but hanging in there.

Lesson!

I had a lesson! Long post ahead cause I have a lot to say.

It’s been forever since I’ve been in regular lessons. First, I am not at a barn with trainers that I want to take lessons with. I was taking a few on and off before Scarlet showed his neurological issues. After that, I was worried about money trying to treat him. And then just never really had the heart to look for lessons.

Now, I’ve gotten a half lease and have some of my riding muscles back. But I was really feeling like I wasn’t improving as a rider and I was getting frustrated with what I felt like were holes in my basics. I’m a decent rider, even good depending on the day. I know I’ve got a good feel for horses but I want to be better.

I looked up some trainers in the area and there was one dressage trainer near to my barn that had really good reviews. I also got a few recommendations from my neighbor and a lady at the barn about her training. So I decided to contact her. She had several horses she was able to do lessons off of and we managed to sync up last Friday morning. Now, I’m not switching to dressage but I personally find it important. I see it as the foundation for other disciplines you want to do and also like weight lifting. You can go so far without lifting, but if you want to be better, you have to build strength.

Puppy to break up the text

I met the trainer, who we will call J, the week before to get a tour and talk to her to see how we might work together. She was very nice and seemed like someone who I could ride with so I scheduled a lesson. At the beginning of the lesson, I explained to J that while I’ve been riding for a long time and consider myself a good rider, I know there are holes in my basics. My goal with lessons is to fix those so that I can do things correctly for both me and the horse. Once my basics are better, I’m open to moving onto learning more.

I rode an appendix named Zoe. She was much taller than she looked. It was also my first time riding in a dressage saddle ever. It definitely felt weird after a lifetime of riding in all purpose or jumping saddles. My legs felt so long and it was really only my calves pressed against Zoe’s barrel. My stirrups felt too long. J said they looked fine but after starting to trot, I couldn’t really keep the stirrups so we shortened them one hole and that helped a lot more.

So the big thing I struggled with was posting. Posting in a dressage saddle is so different. Between the long legs and blocks on my thighs, I flopped about like a fish for a bit. J explained, through her nifty walky talky system, that I needed to focus on just letting Zoe’s momentum carry me up out of the saddle. I could post as small as possible if I just let her momentum carry me. It took a lot of focus but after many loops and circles I figured it out.

J said I had good shoulders and a good downward transition. I’ve been doing downwards on Cav just kinda sucking up through my pelvis and very light hands. That’s apparently very good and worked well on Zoe. She liked that I didn’t immediately force her to transition within one or two strides but rather let her set herself up correctly.

Nom nom

The next thing we tackled were my arms. J said she could tell I’d ridden primarily green and sensitive horses as my arms were training arms, with my elbows held further away from my sides to try to make my hands even more soft. She wanted me to relax my arms and let my elbows fall next to my sides where they would be if I was standing on the ground with my arms next to my side. She wanted me to focus on that and see that I can keep soft hands and forearms while having more correct arms.

She also said I need to turn my hands a lot so my thumbs face upward. J wants me to practice by turning my wrists far enough that my thumbs actually point out and then let them relax back upward. All this took so much mental effort from me which felt weird. There’s so much that you do subconsciously while riding so having to do that stuff consciously was very odd.

J assured me that all this change would be difficult but to not worry about making sure all of them were good at once. When I’m practicing during my rides, she suggested I focus on one thing at a time rather than trying to do it all at once.

To finish off the ride, J gave me the choice of cantering or working on leg yields. I decided leg yields as I was interested in doing that with a trainer over the canter. The two aids she wanted me to focus on was the inside leg pulsing for sideways and the outside rein to keep the shoulders balanced under the body. That’s not how I’d been asking Cav to move sideways so I really had to focus on not moving my hands toward the outside. When I did that, Zoe happily escaped through the outside shoulder so I figured that out quickly.

We turned down the quarter line and moved toward the rail several times at the walk and then moved to the trot. Trotting has always been my bane with leg yields. Do I sit? Do I post? How do I coordinate my legs with my posting? (Which now that I think about it is probably related to fixing my posting mechanism.) She suggested timing the aid to sitting down. I did that and it actually felt much more comfortable. I got some good steps out of Zoe both ways and we called it there. It was such a good lesson.

Ears

I was super eager to test out all that I’d worked on with Cav. I rode Sunday this weekend and immediately I felt a difference. Posting in a jumper saddle helped me figure out what I had been doing. I’d been posting from my feet, not my thighs. With posting with his momentum, my thighs stayed glued to the saddle and my legs didn’t swing around as much as they do sometimes. I had never felt more secure on Cav. I literally felt stuck in there. My elbows and hands were interesting to work on. I can’t ride with a crop while working on my hands. It just interferes. Luckily Cav doesn’t normally need one. He didn’t pick up much on the leg yield cues but I think we will need to work on that. He’s never been super great at responding to my leg asking for sideways.

I’m so happy to have already seen a huge change from one lesson. Well both happy and embarrassed. It’s one thing to think you’ve been slacking on equitation and quite another to have it so clearly proven. But I’m working to get better and even every other week lessons will go a long way to helping me improve as a rider. I’m super excited to see what other things we can fix next lesson!

Frustration

Not frustration with Scarlet or Cav. Both were good. Scarlet’s been enjoying the fact that I’m letting him hand graze every day I have the time for it. He loves grass and I just wish I had a place where I could see him every day but still let him live in a pasture. But California, its not really much of a thing unless you have your own property.

Cav was super chill this week. He was very hunter-y and rhythmic on Tuesday. My back was hurting so that was great that I didn’t have to do too much to get us to have a little ride. He’s been improving at standing at the mounting block lately. He’s been waiting (mostly) for me to ask him to move off rather than just walking off once I’m on. He’s still off on his right hind. His owner is trying to get him on the schedule for the vet but she thinks this will be a chronic thing and he will just have to deal with it for his whole life.

The frustrating thing is the horse search. Everyone who is on the horse search right now is having the same frustrations I’m sure. The market is wild and everything is expensive. There have been 5 horses that popped up in my area over the last week or so that I inquired about. One I never heard back from. Three of them were from the same seller. I received initial video links and asked for conformation photos. Haven’t heard anything since. Another is really close to me and I was super interested. But still, haven’t heard anything back after the initial videos and pictures.

That’s frustrating. I’m seriously here with the take my money meme and I can’t get anyone to respond. It’s frustrating sometimes to the point where I’m thinking about just giving up and not buying anything until I can afford a talented baby and training to get that baby started. We shall see. Hopefully something works out for me.

Saddle Woes

Tuesday when I was riding Cav, he said an emphatic no to cantering on the right lead. He’d been fine for the rest of the ride so I was confused at his reaction. He felt fine at the walk and the trot but when I put him back in the canter, his ears were pinned and his tail was swishing. So we finished the ride there and I told his owner about that.

She didn’t see anything odd with him and he was fine for her. He did show soreness around his shoulders though so she thought it might be my saddle. She had a half pad with foam pads she wanted me to try with my saddle the next time I rode. I went out to ride on Thursday but she forgot to put the key back in the lock box. Oops. So I rode Friday instead.

I did take a bunch of pictures of my saddle on his bareback on Thursday and it was very wide. I think it might be a bit long for his back as well. It didn’t fit Scarlet either but it worked with pads. I couldn’t afford a better saddle at that moment.

On Friday, I got the pad out and tried it under my saddle. It made my saddle fit better but when I asked Cav to do anything more than a walk, he told me no. Loudly. So off I got and I tried his owner’s saddle. I had to get off to adjust the stirrups again. A whole six holes down and her saddle works well enough for me. Its about half a size to small and the flaps are regular, not forward like I truly need. But Cav was fine both Friday and Saturday in the saddle. I haven’t felt any pain in my knees or back, just muscle pain. So that will be what I ride him in for now.

It doesn’t make sense to buy a new saddle for a lease horse. I won’t lie and say I didn’t seriously consider it. I even looked on resale pages for saddles. But everything I found was at least $2,200 or more. That’s a lot of money to drop on a saddle that may or may not fit my future horse. And it’s money that would be coming out of my new horse fund. So I’ll keep going with Cav’s owner’s saddle as long as it isn’t actually hurting me to ride in. At least I have something that works.

Scarlet is really loving the grass we have right now.