Riding seemed physically more difficult for me this week. It’s not Scarlet’s fault, its mine. I definitely don’t have the stamina to both ride and exercise almost every day yet. Its a struggled to get back into shape. I wish I’d remember that every time I let myself lapse. Alas, hindsight etc.
Monday I didn’t get out because I somehow managed to turn my alarm off with ZERO recollection of hearing it. I haven’t done that in a while. I was a little irked at myself but instead of beating myself up, I just decided to accept it. Scarlet won’t be hurt by having an extra day off.
Wednesday I noticed that some of the jumps had been set up as small verticals versus the itty bitty xs other people generally set them up as. I decided I’d take advantage of that. Scarlet was very happy to canter over whatever jump I pointed him at.
Normally, when we have a jumping day, that’s all I focus on. But I decided to do a bit of everything that day. We did some work on lateral movements and transitions. The lateral movements were hard because Scarlet was tense and anticipatory. I had to work on just getting us to go a couple of steps and then stopping the sideways movement. He was either scooting super sideways or taking tiny mincing steps. I wanted the movement to be sideways and forward. With just taking a couple of steps, we could generally keep that feeling.
The transitions ended up coming on because Scarlet was really really horrible at the canter transitions that day. He just did not want to canter. Even after warming up. I don’t normally drill those but I felt the need to since he was ignoring me when I asked for them. It makes me think I might need to go back to carrying a whip. But I can hold my hands better without one. I’m going to try to keep riding without it for a bit longer but if this persists, I may need the additional aid.
Thursday I was feeling tired and sore from running the day before. I decided it would be a good day to do just a trot ride. We haven’t done that in a while so its about time. I focused on light aids for transitions and getting some good bend. Scarlet was fairly well behaved. It was a short ride since I had things I needed to do before I headed to work.
I do enjoy riding but its sometimes tiring to come up with things to do in order to feel like I’m improving. Of course, I don’t have to improve. It’s fine to just ride around and enjoy my time. But I want to improve. If I don’t feel like I am, I get frustrated. Hopefully now that we are mostly settled into our house, the expenses will settle down and I will figure out some way to save money for lessons.
Friday I woke up to my alarm but felt so tired that I decided against going out to the barn. It ended up being a good thing as I got a text from my farrier around the time that I normally would start riding. He was asking if I’d moved barns. I had forgotten to tell him that Scarlet had moved stalls. Of course, he hadn’t let me know he was coming out and Scarlet was literally two stalls to the right. But he probably has tons of horses he does so its not realistic to expect him to remember what every one looks like. I directed him to the right stall and lazed in bed, knowing that Scarlet would have fresh tootsies when I next rode.
On Saturday, Holly was able to be out at the barn at the same time as I was. This was unusual due to her changed work schedule. It was nice to be able to ride around with her again. We got to catch up a bit while doing so.
We had an interesting incident that happened that day which is directly connected to one of my greatest pet peeves about this barn. The barn is not enclosed in a fence. There is a gate across the driveway but the back of it opens to a large hayfield. The trail that I ride in a loop around that field is used by a lot of people for hiking and jogging. That’s fine. It’s not fully a public trail but I doubt the owner of the land cares more about them using the trail than horses using it. What bugs me is a lot of people will then walk right through the barn! We are not public property. They will walk through with their dogs on and off leash. They will go JOGGING through a horse property! I’ve even seen a dune buggy come crawling through our barn!
So on Saturday, a family with a couple of dogs came onto our property from the trail. One of the dogs was loose. I was pissed at that. It looked like the dog had escaped. But they were following after it like it was a chicken or something that would run far away if they made any sudden movements or loud noises. I was just about to yell at them to actually make a greater effort to grab their dog (it was feet from stalls at this point) when one of the horses in the arena saw that they had suddenly appeared. And he freaked out. He bolted around the arena. The girl on his back was not prepared and was a newer rider. So she couldn’t straighten up and keep her balance enough to get him to stop. They made it around most of the arena before she came off. Luckily, the horse just stopped and waited for her to get up. Neither of them were hurt and she was in good spirits about having fallen off. The dog was grabbed and the people left in a hurry. But I’m so angry that something like this happened. I know it wasn’t just the horse freaking out over nothing as I’ve seen this horse a lot and he is really chill. I wish there was a way to force people to stay away from the barn.
Sunday Scarlet was in a funky mood. He was very well behaved but he dropped his head, curled his neck and stuck there no matter what we were doing during the ride. It was very strange. I need to check his mouth to see if his teeth are looking bad. He is due for a floating soon. But I find it odd that Saturday he could be perfectly fine and then Sunday he just wasn’t.
Since he seemed to not want to ride, I cut the arena part short and we went for a walk around the trail. He was a little reluctant to start but once we got going he was fine. He power walked most of it but I wouldn’t say he was tense. He was alert for sure. We definitely won’t hit relaxed on the trail for a while. But he wasn’t worried. It was a very good end to the ride.
Monday I followed through with my plan to try the new fence setup. I didn’t bother raising any of them from the small height they were set at. I wasn’t looking for jumping heights as our goal. I wanted to work more on the turns. We generally only jump one or two fences at a time so courses aren’t a normal thing.
Scarlet was pretty good, no spooking while grooming. I think he has figured out that I’m not carrying a whip. He tried to stop several times when doing our warm up. This resulted in me having to spur him. His ears said he didn’t like it but he paid attention after that.
Once we warmed up, I pointed him at some jumps. He went over our normal warm up fence just fine so I continued on to the next fence and the next. We ended up doing the whole course I was planning on doing without any issues the first time.
We switched leads and did a different course that stuck just on the left lead. And he was amazing that way too. Our left lead is our worse jumping lead. I have been trying to jump more on the left lead. There has been a couple of rides where we popped over a very small fence on a circle. I think its a byproduct of Scarlet not wanting to move as forward on that lead. He prefers a lope-esque canter on the left. Getting him moving forward on that lead has been my goal on flat work days. It’s… a work in progress.
Wednesday was a hard day at the barn. I got there and a horse in the stall across from Scarlet was down. Not colic but she was old and definitely had a wound on her head. I’m not sure what made her fall in the first place but she wasn’t getting up. Not even with four people attempting to make her stand. I spend a lot of my ride leaking. Every time I came around the arena, I had a good view of her stall and the people attempting to help her. The vet was called but hadn’t gotten out to the barn before I left. I called it an early day as I felt so sorry for the owner and couldn’t help but think about what I’m going to do when that time comes. I know for sure that I’m going to fall to pieces so I try not to think about that as often as possible.
Thursday I planned on going out to do lateral work but that plan got thrown to the side when Scarlet basically gave the middle finger to my canter aid. So we ended up working on transitions. We did lots of transitions from canter to trot and back. He got tense, as he always does when we do those transitions. I avoid repetition with this transition for that reason. But that is probably the wrong response. He needs to be able to relax when we do multiple canter-trot transitions, rather than anticipate that he is doing something wrong. I’m planning on doing more of those thrown in throughout the rides now.
As for two-pointober, I haven’t been committing to it like I have in the past. I am doing some. I’m two pointing for two laps on each canter lead. I had been doing a bit of that to get Scarlet moving forward and his back looser but I increased it in honor of the month. And my thighs are sore, which is probably a good thing. More muscles equals success right?
Habits make things better for me. I know this. And yet every time I have a break in writing and then get back into the habit I’m shocked at how easy words flow. I can get the same amount of words during my lunch break in a fraction of the time.
Writing every day works well for me. It isn’t the way that everyone writes but having that habit matters. I sometimes try to figure out why that matters so much. Is it that I have the story more constantly in my thoughts? I’m pretty much always ruminating on one story or another when I’ve got free time so I’m not sure its that. Is it that I’m more focused? Possibly. Whatever it actually is, it works.
One thing that also helps my writing is taking in other novels. I have to read to fill my creative well. I’ve been doing that more lately. And I mean new stuff, not old books that are comfort re-reads. I’d had a pause when I got deep into the house buying process. And then the move packed all my books away. Now that I have the unpacked, I’m starting to read again. And it’s awesome. I feel so much more creative and happy when Im reading cool books.
So far, I only have two things that work well for me to get the words flowing. Writing it out like this, I feel like I need to get some more. Writing solely during my lunch break isn’t going to get novels written very fast. At my best, I can write 700 words in 30 minutes. That is at my very best with a very clear story and an outside deadline pushing me. Generally I get somewhere between 250-350 words. Which is not a number to sneer at but also not enough for me.
So, any creatives out there: what makes your creative thoughts flow?
Is just freaking amazing. There are times that I’m annoyed by him and his antics. But there are many times that make me remember why I chose him in the first place. And why I went to go get him when given a chance one week after my wedding. Super sappy, I know. But its just how I feel about him sometimes.
Friday was a perfect example of why I get sappy. I hadn’t ridden him since Monday. I hadn’t jumped him at height in a long while. And we were still able to do it.
It was cold Friday morning. Which I’m still grateful for. It’s a warm spell so it warms up to mid to high 80s during the day. It’s nice to be able to ride when it is still cool out. Scarlet was feeling good in the weather. He was also a little spicy from not doing anything. He was spooking and looking around a lot. He spooked during our warm up walk. He was still twitchy when we were trotting. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to jump. Like I’d said, it had been a while since we jumped jumps that were higher. I didn’t want to jump and ruin our confidence again if we mess up.
Eventually, I think he just decided that physically spooking was too much work and he just gave things the side eye. He settled into working so I decided to hop over the jump I’d set as a warm up to see how he felt. He locked in, per usual. We jumped around almost all the jumps in the arena. We had a couple of long take off points, a couple of chips and some good takeoffs. Even when we messed up the approach, having a good pace and being focused on the jump meant we got over well. There were a few jesus take the wheel moments where I just got out of Scarlet’s way and trusted him to get us over. He is so athletic occasionally. Not in a typical fashion, but he twists his body to get us over when we shouldn’t. He got lots of pats for the great jumping day.
Sunday I went out a bit later than I normally do. That meant I had to share the arena. I had to share it with the one lady I don’t like riding with. Oh well. Just gotta remember to get up earlier and take advantage of when no one is around. Scarlet was very well behaved, stretching himself down nicely in the trot.
He listened pretty well to my cues for transitions. I was riding without my crop for the first time in a while. I’ve got issues with turning the hand that the crop is holding into a bad position for good rein communication. I wanted to see if I really needed it or if I could do it all with just my spurs. And it seemed pretty good. A few reminders needed to be had but overall pretty good. I’m going to try it a few more times before saying anything definitive.
We got trapped talking to a bunch of people after the ride. I like chatting with people but some people just don’t know when to stop. Each one caught me by asking if Scarlet was a saddlebred. I can’t resist talking about my boy so that lead into a longer conversation with them. Oh well. Scarlet was getting done by the middle of the last conversation and kept taking tiny edging steps sideways toward the barn. I ended up using him to escape. He was such a good pony for being so patient.
Someone changed up the one stride to move one of the fences to another diagonal line. I’m really excited to try it. I was planning on riding bareback on Monday but I really really want to jump and do a lot of the turns between all the jumps now. So I guess I’m going to ride with my saddle!
Riding has been a light load this week. I was given some extra responsibilities at work this week as a lot of people are at our customer conference this week. I’m super happy that I’ve been given these responsibilities as it shows people trust me. I’ve only been there for just over six months at this point. But I definitely dislike missing my riding. It’s a temporary thing.
I was able to get out Monday morning, though I cut my ride shorter deliberately. I did work a bit on transitions with Scarlet. Some trot-walk transitions but a lot of canter transitions. We did a bit across the diagonal and then in a serpentine. Scarlet had some issues with the transitions at first but he picked it up and was listening nicely by the end.
A funny thing happened on Monday. It was our first cold day so Scarlet was loving the morning. Very much feeling the oats he hadn’t consumed yet. I was warming up his bit as I’m a nice horse mom like that. (It was maybe 55 degrees so it wasn’t like the metal needed to be warmed.) He was standing lose at the end of the lead and I farted. He tried to take off to escape the noise. I laughed so hard because it was so much quieter than his own fart but it was just one of those mornings.
Tuesday was our normal day off. I snuck out for a bit of time on Wednesday. I didn’t have time to ride but I did give him some grain, some grooming and we did a bit of lunging. Scarlet was mildly annoyed that he had to just run around in circles and wanted to be lazy with his transitions. I had to crack the whip once to get him moving smartly and then he was much better. He got a lot of treats when we were done but decided to stare at me with a very annoyed expression when I was trying to let him roll. He just wanted to get his breakfast.
Thursday was a no go for going out. I should be able to go out Friday. I’m looking forward to it because I’ll have a lot of extra time in the morning I can take advantage of in order to actually have a nice ride.
I’ve mentioned that NaNoWriMo is coming up. Now that October has rolled around, its even closer. I hadn’t been planning on doing it this year since everything was happening very close to November. But my discord writing group has been talking about it and I’m too excited not to do it.
So, now I need to do some prep work. The discord group is doing a boot camp in order to get all the way up to the massive daily word count that NaNo requires.
Our plan is to ramp up to roughly 1600 words in a day on Oct 31st. That way, we aren’t going from zero to 1666 words on Nov 1st.
I have zero idea how that is going to go for me. I generally get somewhere between 250 words to 350 words a day during my lunch. I will have no problem until we get to higher than that count. I don’t have time blocked out for writing outside of my lunch hour. It’s not a bad idea to get into that habit though. And external factors really tend to motivate me. So we will see how this goes.
Outside of writing words for the ramp up, I want to prep my story idea for Nano. Having finished a couple of stories now, I have a better feel for what I’m missing when I’m just pantsing. I’ve got a coolish story line going generally. And some cool scenes. But I don’t have the greatest hold on characters outside my main characters nor motivations for anyone. I’ve got vague ideas in my head but it doesn’t translate as well into paper.
I don’t generally outline but I want to experiment with it this time. It may not work out for me. I may only use parts of outline ideas. I may use all of them. I may find out I’m a better planner than a pantser. I don’t know. For now I’m researching methods that might work. I was going to give the snowflake method a shot first. It seems to be a little less regimented. I’m also going to keep in mind the MICE quotient (see bottom) while doing this. This is something used by a lot of authors I really respect to explain how story structure should work.
I’d love to go to some more conventions or some workshops to get some more ideas on how to better my work and how to think about stories in different ways. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in my future outside of reading about writing. So I’ll do that while I can. And do practical practice when I can’t. After all, one of the most common suggested ways to get better at writing is to write!
I was so tired when I got out to the barn Friday morning. My cats had woken me up at 4ish that morning and 4:30 on Wednesday morning so I was running on a couple of days of less sleep than I would like. I got out to the barn later than my new normal. It was actually closer to my old arrival time.
Based on my late start time, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do much. I did a shorter ride just doing the basics. I’m still focusing on my cues for transitions. I can’t really say if they are getting better or not. They get better during the ride but I’ll give it a few rides before I hope that there is actually improvement ride to ride.
Saturday my parents were in town and we went to the Mira Mar Air Show. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing my parents watch the shows for the first time.
Sunday I went out in the morning to ride. I got to the barn around 8am. Sunday at 8 seems to be pretty good as far as how many people are at the barn. It was a nice cool spell so it was only upper 60s still. Scarlet anticipated walking away from the mounting block to go walk around the barn before we started working. I made him go into the arena to walk a little before we went around the barn. I really do like the barn walk as a warm up as he gets looser but he doesn’t get to decide where we go.
After we actually started working, Scarlet was pretty tuned in. He has been doing really well with the long and low part of working. It’s not as forward as I’d want but I’m slowly trying to urge him forward without losing the relaxation.
After our warm up, I decided to have some fun and jump over the small jumps that were set up. We trotted over a small X to start and Scarlet basically just stepped over it. Obviously, he is too good for a small X now. He was super happy to canter around the couple of small Xs and the short vertical. One thing that I’ve been noticing with jumps now is we are more comfortable with jumping from any spot. Scarlet used to never take the long spot but he has been taking them more often. Being able to move forward into a proper pace might just have something to do with that.
We did the jumps on both leads and then did the short vertical quarter turn to a short X. I praised him a lot for that as he went super easily over it all. He stopped at the praise and turned his head to me like “Do I get a treat now?” I had to laugh and agree that that effort deserved a treat. I gave him one and we did a bit of walking around and backing before going on a walk around the barn for cool out.
I need to make sure I get to the barn early enough that I have time to put the jumps back up to height so we can do some real jumping again. I just have to be more efficient with my time. Yeah…. super easy….
This week was a little less riding that I would have liked. Things came up, etc.
I got to ride Monday and Wednesday. I’m still working on gaining more stamina for myself which means I’m not working on Scarlet’s stamina. It’s still possible for him to get a good workout if I’m focused. I decided to focus on something smaller while I work on getting myself back to where I need to be.
I know that I’m a fairly noisy rider sometimes. Scarlet can be pretty lazy so I feel like I have to push a lot to get him in front of my leg. He will go easily, but going properly? That’s hard work. I had experimented in the past with trying to make him more reactive to my legs. It sometimes seems to work. I try to keep it up by asking lightly and then not lightly all the time but I cannot drill transitions as he gets quite tense over them.
A Enter Spooking had a great post recently where she talked about working on the light go leg cue with her horse. She took it in stages of squeezing, lifting legs away for tapping, and spurs going up in stages if she didn’t get a response. I’m sure her cues are much much more subtle than mine are at all the stages but the post made me want to try it.
I practiced on Monday and Wednesday about being really quiet with my legs at all gaits unless I was asking for something. My legs were on Scarlet’s sides but I was focusing hard on not nagging at the walk or accidentally squeezing with my posting. For every transition up, I started going up the stages. I had to get to the spurs a lot before Scarlet seemed to get the idea.
I did a lot of transitions and even some transitions to “lengthened” (mostly just faster) trotting as well. I’m not sure how well I’m doing in my asks as I can get Scarlet to transition easily enough. I’m thinking his response might need to be more prompt and I may need to react quicker if I don’t get it. It’s something I’m planning on playing around a lot more with until it is in our muscle memory. It seems to work so I will stick with these stages of ask.
The most difficult part is remembering to do it all the time. I have to think a lot more while riding than I normally have to in order to transition. It will take time. But I think it will be a very good thing for both of us, making our riding more correct in response to my aids.
I made words this week! A fair amount of them. I’d actually been feeling down about my progress until I added up my word count for this post. Seeing that I’d done so much made me kinda giddy.
Its not much progress on my actual story rewrite. I’ve fixed a scene that needed to have some info changed. Im halfway through the next scene. I had a plan for that scene but when I checked my notes after writing a chunk, it had deviated slightly. I’m okay with the new direction for now. Its got the right tone.
Im still struggling with motivations. I’ve got some articles pulled up that I’m slowly reading through in my spare time at work. I haven’t had as much time as work has been busy. These articles won’t be a solution but the hope is that I will have a few new ways to think about motivations.
I’ve also been thinking about NaNoWriMo recently. It’s only just over a month away. Initially I wasn’t planning on doing it. I burn out like mad each year I complete it. But my online writing friends have began planning which is making me want to plan as well. I even have an idea.
But I need to consider if doing it is going to be healthy for me. It’s lots of stress and absorbs all my focus. I even did some calculations to try and see if I could do the minimum during the weekdays and load up on the weekend days. The numbers weren’t in my favor. If I did that, I’d end up needing to do 4k words each day of the weekend. That is the absolute most I’ve ever been able to do and I basically couldn’t think afterward.
So nano is up in the air but I am making progress on my current work. We will see what these next couple of weeks bring.