High Energy

Less riding so far this week than I would have wanted to have. The friends that were here this weekend stayed Sunday and Monday night. Monday we took off work and went to the Safari park together. Since they were here Monday night, it meant that I was going to get out of the house late on Tuesday morning so I didn’t even try to go out to the barn.

Wednesday I was able to get out to ride. I wanted to just flat around as he hasn’t been ridden much in the last week. (Darn being busy) Scarlet was reacting to the shots that could be heard from the base. There isn’t much between my barn and Mira Mar except for open land. Sound carries well. He was a bit spooky and looky due to the noise. It was annoying but we worked through it.

He was a bit hard to move off of my legs. I really had to work on the forward and the sideways. I’m noticing that with me focusing on keeping my hands a forward like Trainer A wants, he is even more wiggly. Which goes to show that I was using my hands a lot more than I needed to be. When we are moving forward and well into the bridle (OMG does he feel awesome with my hands forward and him moving into the bridle) its easier to stay straight but he is so wiggly when we aren’t perfect. I’m hoping that we can get him listening to my legs and seat a bit better for straightness.

I tried to do some more quarter seat while cantering and man its hard. So much core is needed and I could really feel my lower back hating me. I’m going to do more but I also need to do a bunch more core workouts. I need to do more workouts in general…

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He is quite skeptical about my ability to make myself workout…

Thursday I decided to jump. I went straight to the arena to move the jumps around to my desired heights. I can do it no problem when I have Scarlet tacked up. I can even leave him chilling there with the reins hanging. He will stand really well while I’m moving jumps around. But it does take longer. I don’t feel comfortable leaving him in the middle of the arena while I’m moving things, especially because there isn’t a gate. So hauling him from jump to jump sucks.

I rushed tacking up a bit by just brushing him off instead of the full curry-brush etc I like to do for grooming. He was just dusty so it was fine. K was walking around the arena ponying her second horse when I got in there. Scarlet was nice and forward even at our first walk because he was trying to catch up to the other horses. Made my life a bit easier.

After we warmed up, I started us over the medium X I had set up. Zero issues with that one. It is well within Scarlet’s capabilities. Instead of going over that one again, I continued around the arena to jump the large X on the other side. It had looked so big when I had set it up. And it looked big when I had been warming up. But jumping? Not that bad. Scarlet had no issues with it either. He didn’t have any issues with the single jumps except for bad turns on my part.

I tried to keep my legs on more to the jumps. Not pushing, but being there supporting him. This is something I’ve noticed when jumping during lessons. My automatic reaction to being on the approach was to soften and try to do nothing. That works okay on horses that want to jump but it also isn’t fair to ask them to do all the work. So I was trying to do my part. Scarlet was slightly thrown off by that. He seemed a bit confused but worked out of it in a few jumps and seemed to feel more confident due to it afterward. I did have to focus harder on not throwing myself over the jump when keeping my leg on. So many things to remember while jumping!

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Enough with the pictures! Take me back to my food!

We did the one stride a couple of times and then went to the four stride. The first time through we didn’t have enough impulse and got four with an awkward chip. The second time I think I may have been looking down at jump two of the line as we almost stopped. Scarlet hopped awkwardly over it from basically a stand still, saving our butt. The third time was much better. We powered up correctly and got the four strides.

I did circle around to the 2′ vertical I’d set up and jumped it once. But I’d basically run out of riding time by then and couldn’t do more than the one jump and still finish out my ride with the trot. As it was, I ended up pushing it as I trotted until I got a more relaxed trot instead of the anticipating-the-canter-trot he wanted to give me. Darn that work for making me get off.

I really do have so much fun riding my horse, especially when jumping sessions go well like this one.

 

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Wednesday Writing Wrap-up: Emotions

I was reading a book this week and I came back to myself realizing that I had gotten dragged into a different headspace. I was giddy and excited for the main character and things that were happening for her. I was tense when battles were happening and things were going wrong. I felt relief right along with her when problems were resolved.

Those emotions are pretty much the reason I keep reading. I love being in another person’s life and feeling like I’m right there next to them, dealing with the same problems. It’s exhilarating and it helps separate from the daily stresses of my life.

This is also one of my main reasons to write. I want to inspire those feelings that I love in other people. I want to share my imagination with them and bring them out of their lives to experience the life of someone else. It’s one of the craziest ideas, being able to connect with someone across the globe or centuries later just by having experienced the same world through a book.

It is daunting though. Especially when I’ve had over a week of not writing. Getting to that point sounds next to impossible. I’m not a horrible writer, in my opinion. But I’m no where near the level of the authors I admire. At times, that seems like an insurmountable goal.

But I have to remind myself that all those authors went through the same steps I have. They had crappy drafts, weird word choices, flat characters. And I just have to work through it. The more words I write, the better I get. And I can’t see my work the same way someone else might. It’s hard to see something as shiny and beautiful when you’ve painstakingly carved each inch and dug out all the mod and bloodstains that hid in the cracks.

It’s one word at a time. One sentence at a time. One paragraph at a time. Just steps up to the amazing experience I hope to share in the future.

PS- The book I was reading was the fourth in the Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews. Highly recommend. 😉

Busy Busy

Life has been pretty crazy this last week. Work had a bunch of events going on which made riding in the morning not feasible. I was only able to ride Tuesday morning. I believe it went well, though I honestly can’t remember at this point. I didn’t have much plans for that ride as I knew there was going to be a break between rides.

We had a team outing and some hack days at work, which are like big parties with lots of activities and lots of work for us so I enjoyed those, even if I missed riding.

Saturday I woke up too late to sneak in a ride before we had an appointment. It stunk but I needed to clean the house for friends visiting this weekend so it all worked out in the end.

Said friends were here with their band to play in a video game cover performance at a brewery. We went to hang out on Saturday and it was a lot of fun. The crowd actually got pretty large. I think the brewery decided they want to do this again as they didn’t expect the crowd size.

Sunday I did get to ride and that was a lot of fun. It was getting quite warm quickly which wasn’t lovely but Scarlet and I dealt with it pretty well. I warmed us up and he was reaching pretty nicely into the rein that I was allowing him. He didn’t stay consistently out but it was a lot more that usual. I was really focusing on keeping my hands forward due to feedback from my lesson. His reaction to my hands makes me think that I was pulling a lot with my hands unconsciously. I had thought that might be a problem but I think this cements the thought.

After warm up, I couldn’t resist doing some jumps. They were all set pretty low and I didn’t feel like getting off and changing the heights. We hadn’t ridden much the last week either so I didn’t want to strain him too much. But Scarlet happily cantered over the smaller jumps. I did the one stride with him once and then turned to the four stride line.

We never seem to get that line right. We wobble our way through it partially due to me having conditioned him to turning out of the line by jumping just the first fence. But I kept my leg on this time and we made it through relatively straight. The first time through we chipped for five strides. I had only planned to do it once but after that, we had to do it again. The second time was the same issue, five from a chip. I kept us going around the arena to try a third time. This time, when I turned us to face the line, Scarlet powered up to the first fence. When I felt him kick into gear I knew we were going to actually make the four strides that time. He continued to maintain the same pace through the line and we jumped out nicely. He got tons of pats and a treat for that. I’m really happy he figured out what he needed to do. I was planning on really kicking on after we jumped the first fence to get the striding but him realizing it on his own is awesome.

I love jumping this horse. Now if I could just figure out how to get him over to the barn for lessons…

Another lesson!

I was serious about taking advantage of more lessons.

Friday morning I rode my horse. Scarlet spooked at a chain hitting at the beginning of our ride. Like full whirl spook. He ended up super tense for a while. We spent some time circling in the spooky corner before he stopped 100% focusing on whatever had caught his eye. Then we did a loop around that end of the arena until I got something less tense.

I tried to focus on keeping my legs on and supporting him through turns. I want to try to hold him up to be more balanced so we can develop the muscles that will allow him to do it himself. We did lots of figure eights with some canter simple changes during the figure eight. He did pretty good at those.

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The lesson was on the same horse as last time, Mimosa. It was at 2:30 though. I was not looking forward to the heat. We ended up having a good breeze so it wasn’t too bad.

After the warm-up, Trainer A said something about making me move my stirrups up again. I’d already done so previously. I was reluctant to do it again but after doing the first course of poles, I definitely had issues still keeping my legs on her so I ended up shortening my stirrups a hole.

The whole lesson consisted of a bunch of poles with looping turns.  The other lady in the lesson wasn’t jumping quite yet with her horse so she stuck to the poles only.  After the warm up ‘course’ Trainer A started adding in jumps for me. They were generally some of the last ones in the course and they weren’t very high. Maybe 18″. It was still quite fun and quite hard. Mimosa really likes to drift to the left so you have to be on with all of your turns.

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Tired good mare

One of the things that was brought up consistently for me was staying into more of a quarter seat. I need to use lots of leg and keep my hands forward while doing so. I also looked too much at the jumps. I need to look more past the jump as I was messing with the jump. I still need to work on keeping my hip angle more closed as well.

It is definitely hard work to ride Mimosa. It is really good for me even though I end up really tired. I have to do everything right; she isn’t going to give me anything. On the second to last course, she was fading to the right when I was trying to ask her to move off my right leg before we cantered off. We were basically headed straight for a standard. She was reluctant to start moving again after everything we had done. I got annoyed at her ignoring my leg so I spurred her hard. She objected by kicking but cantered off after that. And that round was much better. She really listened to my leg and worked with the tight turns we had to make. She is super hard on the left leg so A made sure to have a hard turney last course for me to do.

My homework is to sink my weight more into my legs and try to use the quarter seat more. I need to develop my inner leg muscles more. I’m going to look up some other exercises I can do to improve that off my horse.

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Horse schnoz

Sunday I made myself go out and ride. I was exhausted and sore but I knew that riding would make me feel a bit better.

Scarlet was pretty good. The even shorter stirrups feel super weird still. I’m not sure I love them being that short on Scarlet. I’m going to give them a few more days before I decide how it feels though.

I really tried to focus on my homework while riding. I think sinking into my legs is probably the solution to my habit of swinging my legs around. But the quarter seat on Scarlet felt odd. We biffed it over a jump when I tried it. I think I have to sit before jumps for now and continue practicing a lighter seat, but maybe not a quarter seat. It’s a work in progress.

Jumps on the Holiday

Monday’s always end up being a bit rushed at the barn. No matter what I do, I have trouble getting back into the groove of things after the weekend. So I ran a bit late. Scarlet already had his hay and he was not in love with me taking him out of his pen. He did pick up the pace after a few reluctant steps. He does get grain when I pull him out so life isn’t that bad for him.

We had to rush the ride so I wasn’t particularly amazing about doing anything. Forward is always a focus and then bending and circles. All gaits and then go. It was pretty straightforward and typical.

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Tuesday, my friend K happened to be out at the barn when I arrived. She’s moving out of the area soon so I was happy to see her, even if I couldn’t really chat. I did talk a bit while I groomed Scarlet but I went to a different arena to do my ride. Tuesdays are the days the groom the jump arena so I rode in the middle arena. I was already planning on doing a walk/trot ride so that worked well. It didn’t matter that the footing wasn’t as nice.

After I’d done a bit of walking and trotting, K wandered by and picked up her other horse to pony around. I asked if she was heading to the trail and all of us went out. I don’t normally do trail in the morning because a) time crunch and b) no one else is at the barn. I’ve got my phone on me while I ride but I’d prefer to have someone available if I fall off and Scarlet goes running. It was nice to have a bit of time to chat with her before I finished the ride. Scarlet was fine except for getting spooked by something half way through the trail. He scooted forward but came back relatively well.

Thursday I planned to have fun. Being the 4th, I didn’t have to go into work. So I was going to get out in the morning still early enough to benefit from all the cool air. Which did mean waking up at more or less my normal morning time. I’ll sacrifice a bit of sleep for my horse.

I got Scarlet all tacked up and adjusted some jumps. I hadn’t tried jumping a large X since the last time we refused one back in the winter. I was pretty sure we could do whatever height I set it at because we’ve jumped verticals that are higher. However, I was concerned about the mental aspect.

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The (relatively) large X

After adjusting all the fences, I got on and warmed up. Scarlet was a bit lazy to warm up and was overly focused about stuff in the field on one of the long sides. We got through that and I had a completely different horse once we started jumping. Super rocket ride. He was so eager to go over everything.

We did the warm up Xs on both leads and then went to the one stride. He is still so good at doing that. The technique for that really has stuck with him. Sometime in the future, I need to make it a two stride so we can practice that.

In the middle of jumping, one of the dressage ladies started riding in the jump arena. I have no problem riding around other people, but she is a horrible person to ride around. She uses the whole arena, which is great for riding but she still does that when people are jumping. When someone is jumping, just stay on the rail. Instead, she will just stop at the last point so I have to try to predict where she will stop. It’s very frustrating but not much I can do about it.

I still wanted to jump the high X so I said f it and continued jumping. We did it on the right lead first and he didn’t hesitate at all. Super smooth and super good. I was so happy with him. I then tried the left lead. That didn’t go as well. He didn’t hesitate, but for some reason, we didn’t get the striding quite right. I tried it again and same result. The third time as well. It was getting close to an hour of riding so I accepted that and cantered on the left lead over the medium X to get a good jump to finish on.

Overall, the ride definitely told me that if I ride correctly, we are 100% good to do higher stuff overall. I need to increase the warm up fence past ankle level too. I think my verticals have been the same height as the large X but it feels different when the ends are higher.

Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up

Writing went reasonably well this week. I got most lunches while writing. Its difficult when we have lunch meetings quite often. Lunch time is my guaranteed writing time. I keep telling myself that I need to write during the evening but it is difficult to make the time for it.

My word count per day goes up pretty easily when I am writing often. I do still find it a little difficult to focus during my lunch hour. It’s easy to get distracted by people walking by. The door to our lobby is locked and we don’t have a receptionist. My place to write is the couch in the lobby. But we get lots of deliveries during my lunch hour and I end up having to get up and open the door for the people who can’t get it. Im thinking of trying to dip into a meeting room during my lunch to see if that works better. But I also don’t really want to sit in another desk chair during lunch. The couch is comfy!

I started on my ideas for remaking the novel I’ve decided has major issues. I’ve got a couple scenes idea’d out as well as a few other later plot problems and character traits. But I’m not sure if I should just start writing those out while I’ve got them in my mind or do the whole outline thing. I don’t generally do more than have a good idea of the major points when I write. But I already have most of those. I need better in between stuff now.

I see it all the time when I read published authors talking about their work, but man is writing a lot of second guessing yourself and just believing that everything you’re doing is wrong until its not.

Word Count – 1201

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It’s All Good

I was definitely a little worried when I went out Friday morning. Scarlet had looked much better Thursday evening when I gave him the powdered dex. He still had a few hives on his barrel area but I wasn’t too worried about those. I still wanted to see if he had gotten better or if he had gotten worse.

As I was pulling in, I saw a guy walking a horse away from the barns. It struck me as odd because I’m usually the only one out there at that time. I got myself all situated and headed to Scarlet’s stall.

He wasn’t there.

Guys, when my farrier said tomorrow morning, he meant morning. He was the guy that led the horse away. It was Scarlet from behind, which I don’t see often so I legit didn’t recognize my horse. lol

I wasn’t annoyed. I hadn’t planned on riding as he was missing a shoe. I also didn’t want to ride him right after the allergic reaction. So I had planned on doing maintenance stuff around the barn and giving him some grain. So I cleaned out his stall and cleaned up the tackroom while I waited for the farrier to be done.

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He better keep them on this time!

I gave Scarlet some grain and the offer of a roll in the arena once he was done. He wasn’t interested in rolling, preferring to head straight back to his alfalfa. All his hives had cleared up and he looked really good.

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His poor lips were peeling from being stretched. 

Saturday I planned to ride with Holly as that is the only day our schedules match up now. However, she got delayed so I went out to ride as I had plans for the afternoon. I ended up getting on at 10am. What a mistake. It was so hot and humid. We really don’t like the heat after early morning coolness.

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Small bird? Horse eating for sure. Giant soccer ball with screaming children? Meh. ?????

Scarlet was pretty good actually. I moved my spurs above my stirrup rests and he was much more responsive. I went for the spur earlier than I probably should have but I made a real effort to ask with my calves first. I’m still figuring out how to use my calves with this new leg position so I’m hoping I get better and he gives me quicker responses to my leg.

We did a bit of jumping over a couple of cross rails and the vertical that was set up. It was the first time I’ve jumped with my new stirrup length. I’m actually quite pleased with how easy it was to move. I don’t think I threw myself forward over the jump. I was really focused on it but I also think that the length helped. I didn’t feel as stuck in the saddle. I mostly noticed the difference over the vertical as I really try to stay out of his way over those. I didn’t jump much due to the heat but I’m looking forward to seeing what it feels like for subsequent schools.

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Mosey around the barn cool off. 

Expect the Unexpected

So much happened this week. That’s how it goes sometimes.

Monday I shortened my stirrups like Trainer A suggested. It felt so weird when I first got on. Buuuut… I did feel like I could actually get my calves on to push with them rather than have to use my heels. Using my heels would cause my legs to crunch up and probably threw off my balance a lot as well.

Most of my ride Monday was based around me figuring out what I was doing. Also me trying to move through the soreness. I was so sore after the lesson. I always work so much harder when I’m in a lesson than when I’m riding on my own. As difficult as the ride was, I’m glad I went out. I’m sure that after I would have been worse if I hadn’t worked out some of the stiffness.

Wednesday I went out looking forward to a good ride. It was not a good ride. We came out to see *gasp* wood chip piles near the arena that weren’t there before. Scarlet just about lost his mind.

While losing his mind, he also lost all feeling in his sides apparently. He gave my leg cues a HUGE double middle finger for the whole ride. The ride quickly devolved into us arguing over GOING FORWARD WHEN ASKED. Nothing was done besides walking and trotting. I’m hating that I have to chase him into anything more than a plodding walk and it takes a while to get his trot forward as well. We worked a lot on a quick response to a soft leg cue and continuing to speed up until I removed my leg. I ended before I got exactly what I wanted but I had to go to work.

I was pretty frustrated over that ride for the rest of the day. It really sucks when things end like that. And I don’t know exactly what to do in this situation. I don’t want to have to constantly shove him forward at the walk. Every other gait is not as bad once we get going. But the walk? He might as well be going backwards sometimes.

That evening, Holly texted me that Scarlet’s mouth was swollen. He was still eating but I immediately freaked out. I’d just cleaned his bridle and used denture cleaners to get the gunk off his bit. I knew that it had to have been that.

Thursday morning I go out to see this:

That’s right. Hives. All over. Slightly swollen sheathe/back leg area as well. AND a lost shoe. They were put on on Tuesday. At least I knew that his mouth wasn’t my issue.

Now, I get out to the barn at 7~ in the morning. Scarlet has been so low maintenance that I’ve not had to figure out much medical stuff. And 7am is too early for vet, friends, other people at the barn, etc. No one was up. I did text all my horse friends (Thanks for talking me through it later L!) But I was really feeling the lack while I tried to decide if I needed to go to work late and call the vet in for an emergency call.

I also felt the lack of having a barn where I trust the trainer/BO. I was concerned about leaving the barn. It had started with just his mouth swollen and went elsewhere. What if it got worse? Not too many people around the barn look out for each other’s horses. Id has to be something super big for people to notice. Friends notice but Holly isn’t around the barn much more than I am. Lots could happen in the hours we weren’t there. And the BO/trainers do NOT care. Nor do they pay attention. So I was feeling extremely worried and helpless.

I did end up leaving a message around 7:30 for the vet. Meanwhile, Scarlet ate his grain, rolled in the arena and then started eating his hay when I put him back. So he wasn’t really in any pain. He also didn’t seem to care about me poking his mouth. The skin was definitely tight there.

 

L started texting me somewhere after 8 am and I got a call back from the vet ~8:25. I started driving to work shortly before that because I was pretty sure Scarlet wouldn’t die but I needed to at least go in shortly and then get my laptop so I could work from home after whenever the vet had free time. He surprised me and swung by on his way to another call. So I turned around and headed back to the barn while telling work I’d be late. He gave him a shot of banamine and dex, then checked his temp and breathing. They were normal and Scarlet was pretty good. A bit confused about all the fuss right outside his stall. I got two packets of dex, one for the evening and one to hold onto. The vet said not to worry if this isn’t a chronic thing. Whatever caused the hives did transfer through the bloodstream (indicated by the widespread swelling) so it might have been a bug or a bee he bit in his food or something.

I went back in the evening and everything was so much better. Immediately I could see that his mouth swelling was down. He had wrinkles in his lips again! He was excited to get more grain and ate the dex up without issue. I ran my hands over his sides and there were a few small bumps left that might have been hives but also might have been the result of bites from neighbors.

 

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I’m grateful that the vet came by quickly and the allergic reaction was mild. My farrier said he’d come back out tomorrow.

I definitely had a pretty icky day after that though. The amount of stress and panic from that roughly 1.5 hours of not having him treated was just… horrible. He means way too much to me and having something unexplained happen just set me off. He’s older, what if the reaction got to him worse? I did manage to keep myself from spiraling too hard but that took a lot of energy out of me. I’m glad its almost the weekend and that he has mostly recovered. I need a break!

Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up

Writing is so much easier for me when I do it consistently. I don’t know why it feels like a new discovery every time but it does. Ideas flow easier, words come together, my focus stays sharper. Even at work I find that my focus is there. I also write quicker so it takes me about half the time to get my word count goal out when it would take the whole lunch period and then some.

It’s gratifying to have things roll out better. However, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m making much progress, even though the words are coming. I’m not entirely sure why this feeling is happening. It may be because I’m in the slog middle of the current work. The middle is a very slow part for me in general. I’ve heard that other writers feel similar about it.

I’m also half concerned about how to get from where I am to the ending that I imagine. This makes moments while writing somewhat odd as I’m focused on two things at once. I have some more large problems that I’m introducing to my main character and I have a big end fight/problem that is going to happen. But I’m not 100% sure how to get her to the point where she is desperate enough to make the choices she has to. I’m sure it will come to me later. Either that or I will have to have a brainstorming session where I constantly ask what she would do and why to various questions until I get to the end I want. Or I realize that she wont do that ending and then have to change stuff. It’s never set in stone with books.

Word Count: 1153

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Lesson!

I got to have a lesson this weekend! It was on Sunday morning so I went out to ride Scarlet on Saturday. It was a really busy day at the barn and he really wasn’t feeling working. So we did a little bit of stuff and then went around the trail. He was pretty good for the trail. He got a bit tense and trotted in a couple of places but he came back to me when I asked him. It was a pretty good little trail round.

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A very good girl before the lesson

The lesson was a group lesson at L’s barn. I’ve never had a lesson with Trainer A there so I was quite excited. I got there early and got the horse I was riding, Mimosa, tacked up and ready to ride. Trainer A told us to warm ourselves up. It’s always really odd to be riding a horse that isn’t Scarlet. The movements are so different and it takes a while to really feel the rhythm.

We warmed up over a tiny cavaletti on both leads. There were four of us in the lesson so warming up took a bit. To be honest, I don’t remember all the jumps we did. The lesson was quite long. And we only did a few jumps with just different right and left turns off of them. So there wasn’t much distinction between each go around.

I did get a video of one round, thanks to Carey.

Mimosa was a push ride horse, which Scarlet is decidedly not. She was 100% honest, so I never felt uncomfortable. She also went over every jump. All the jumps were definitely small for her so there wasn’t much effort needed.

One thing that was great about this ride was that it pointed out a lot of flaws in my riding. Nothing completely major. I managed to make everything happen and adjust myself as Trainer A was requesting me to do. But things still appeared. I drive a lot more with my seat and my whole body than my legs. Why? Who knows. But it really highlighted my tendency to lose my stirrups when trying to ask for more. I also had issues with bending at the hip while going over the jump. I don’t think I jumped for Mimosa so that’s quite good.

The above things are the things that Trainer A said I should work on when I asked her for homework. She suggests that I shorten my stirrups at least one hole. That way, I can get out of the saddle when I feel like I need to but I still have my weight in my stirrups. I’ve been trying to work on that losing stirrup thing myself so I’m glad to have a suggestion. I’m not sure how folding at the hips is going to go as far as practice. I can’t really judge if I’m doing that correctly. The best I can do is keep that in mind.

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Had to say hi to an elephante while I was there. Such a cutie pie!

My husband and I were talking about finances recently and he said that if I wanted to do more lessons this summer, I probably could. So I’m gonna take him at his word and try to do one every other week. We will see how that works out as far as me remembering to plan it and other plans popping up. I hope that I can. I want to improve myself since I’m limited in getting Scarlet to a lesson. Maybe someday I will find someone with a trailer who is willing to take several hours out of their day to bring us to a lesson. Or maybe I’ll randomly get rich. lol