Out of Town

I am out of town for the weekend so I only got one ride in before I left.

Amazingly enough, Scarlet gave me an amazing ride. He was fairly easy to get through the corners, he listened well and we got transitions and lateral movements really well.

He was barely sweaty, just under the saddle. I wish I had a better plan for working him harder.

Great news for me! I got a promotion at work! I think it’s enough to cover the expense of going to a different barn. I’m hoping to talk my husband around to agreeing to it. I’d love to have a better place to ride at along with a trainer available for occasional lessons.

Lateral Movements

On Monday, I tried some more counter cantering when riding. It went fairly well. We actually had better balance going in a circle at the counter canter than doing loops along the arena. That was a bit odd to me as the loops were larger and it should be easier to do a larger turn on the wrong bend. Either way, the counter cantering went well.

I also did some figure eights with simple changes. I wanted to ask him for the same lead after changing a couple of times to ensure that he was paying attention to me and not anticipating. He was anticipating. So we ended up on the wrong lead for a couple of steps. We fixed it and after a couple of more times, he listened a bit better to me.

I think I got a couple of good minutes of a sitting trot as well. I’m desperately trying to figure out how to move my body with the trot without asking Scarlet to slow down too much. I can’t quite seem to get there. I have no issues sticking with any of the other movements, including spooks but I can’t figure out the trot. I really would like to fix that tendency of mine. I’ve thought that it may be easier to do if I can get Scarlet to carry himself well but that’s difficult for me to do. I’m realizing more and more that I’m hopelessly under-educated in proper riding. I understand the concept of using your legs to channel your horse’s energy forward and your hands being the part the contains the energy and drives the legs underneath the body. But I can’t figure out how to do that. I really need lessons in these things so that when I do figure it out, someone can tell me so. Once I feel it and understand how I did it, I can do it again. But I need help getting there.

We also did some leg yields across the diagonal. We always have issues with those. I learned to do those mostly sideways. (IE start from a halt and move sideways and barely move forward enough to get the cross) Definitely not the way to learn these in order to get the movement of across the diagonal. I find myself struggling with getting the correct amount of sideways movement. I am either restricting forward movement too much and it feels like we are going abruptly sideways or I am not asking for enough sideways movement and we hardly move sideways at all.

Most of this post is complaining about my failures as a rider. I am upset by all the things I can not do correctly. However, I am also happy to know that I am good enough to see how much I really don’t know. Now all I need is teaching to reach the things I’m missing.

Work Harder

It is definitely harder to both ride and work out in the same day but I’m managing so far. 

It’s been beyond windy recently so it been quite difficult to get a good ride in. Just about everything is scary to Scarlet when the wind is blowing at 40 mph. I am getting tired of the spooking so I’m planning on getting some things to do a sacking out session sometime in the future.

My main focus on Wednesday and Friday was just to get through my rides. We never really got forward or stretched out. It may have been due to the wind. We were very energetic and up and down. Not great rides either time.

On Saturday, I just decided to keep riding and keep working. I started doing serpentines and circles just after warming up. Then we went across the diagonal. I did that at both the trot and canter. Then I did some figure eights at the canter, simple changing between. After a few of those, Scarlet didn’t listen to my cue to transition to the trot so we ended up having a circle of counter canter in there. I did it the other way as well to make sure we worked both sides.

I’m surprised that he could counter canter as I haven’t been working him that hard. He always surprises me with the amount of work he can do. I should have remembered that. 

I also should have remembered that we almost always had to work for 30-40 minutes in my lessons before his brain would turn on. We did all of that and the more we did, the more focused he got. We still had spooks but he was much easier to deal with. I believe that I may have to find warm up exercises that work his brain as much as his body so that we can have more productive rides. I also am going to have to work harder with him as we end rides with a lot of energy left. I definitely do not want to exhaust him, but if he is this energetic, I can work on things that I didn’t believe him fit enough to do. 

Forward

On Sunday I wanted to focus exclusively on getting Scarlet moving forward. The past couple of weeks, he had been really pulled in and tight together. I couldn’t get him to stretch out and down at any gait. We normally wouldn’t have issues at that as he learned early on that he could stretch down if I let him have the reins.

So I rode around with very long reins. They dangled while we moved. I know that isn’t great form nor what you are supposed to do but I just wanted to get him moving out. After a looooot of going around the arena, he finally started to stretch down at all three gaits.

Focusing on forward seemed to help a bit with the problem corner. We managed to move through the problems with a lot of leg help. I’m trying not to focus too much on the corner as I’m worried that I might be becoming part of the problem. I know that he is going to be focused on the corner as he has always been spooky. If I can make him work through it, I should just do that and keep going.

I let him graze a bit as I groomed him after the ride. I really went after him with the curry comb. He still is a bit fuzzy on his butt and his belly and I wanted to try and tackle those areas a bit to see if I could get some of that off. I don’t think it was much better than before. It was nice to just focus on grooming him though. I love doing it (even though my arms get sore) but Scarlet seems indifferent. The only grooming part he likes is when I take a brush to his face. He loves scratching his face on a stiff brush.

Exercise

It has been a goal of mine to get fit for a while now. (Isn’t it a goal everyone has?) I hadn’t been making much progress on it. Obviously riding my horse counts as an exercise but it’s not enough. I wanted to get fit, not only for my sake, but for Scarlet’s sake as well. If I was fit and weighed less, it would be easier for him to do his job. My mom had just got a new workout dvd set and was saying it worked really well for her. Half an hour didn’t seem like too much time commitment so I bought it. My husband and I have done four days so far.

It’s full of interval style workout so I dont actually feel too overwhelmed after working out. I do feel the soreness though. It was especailly bad on Friday. Friday was a leg centric work out and I had just gone to ride. So much leg pain. I don’t remember the last time my legs were in so much pain. It burned. Though I recovered very quick the next day. I’m hoping that this extra effort will help me ride better.

One thing I have noticed due to the exercises is that my hamstrings are really tight. I’ve been having issues with keeping my weight in my stirrups and my legs along Scarlet’s sides. This is probably one cause of this. I’ve added another goal to my list now: work on hamstring flexibility.

I’ve worn my boots around the house a couple of times and they have fallen a bit. I’m hoping a couple more times will get them to the point that they do not cut into my inner knee when riding. The left ankle is also slightly tight. Odd, since my right foot is my larger foot. Hopefully that one relaxes a bit. I’m sure it will as I use it but I’d like to have full feeling in my toes while riding.

Motivation

Tuesday was the first day I had gotten out to the barn in about a week. I had some issues with my renewed license not arriving by mail by the time my old license expired. So, obviously, I couldn’t drive out to the barn on my own.

His heels are starting to get quite dry so I’ve been putting hoof oil on them. I haven’t been doing it consistently enough to tell if it is helping yet. I hope it does. I’m really worried about the ground becoming so hard. Most of the arena is quite hard already. The left half has more sand and is deeper so it’s not as hard. But the right half (the half he gets scared on) is super hard. I’d love to be at a place that had a better-maintained arena. I’m not sure I will be able to, though. It’s 200 extra dollars per month for any other place in the area.

Despite that, we had a fairly decent ride. We just walked and trotted around as it had been a while. My new boots still aren’t broken in enough for me to ride in them yet so I’m still riding in my old boots. They are still functional but I cannot wait until the new boots can be ridden in.

I was trying to figure out why I am not motivated to do more of the things I have been planning on doing. This blog, for example. I did a bunch of posts consistently for a long time. Then all of the sudden, I’m not posting the days I plan on and not feeling guilty about it. Motivation is such a weird thing. It’s in all of the aspects of our life and seems to come and go. I have been trying to force myself to do things recently and I feel like I am getting a little better. My goal is to start doing more than “a little better” and actually do the things that I wish to do.

Good Rides

I have a couple of goals that I want to accomplish while riding all the time. They’ve been a bit unrealistic and I’ve been getting frustrating recently. I have realized that and I have been trying to set a small goal for myself to complete each ride. Recently it has been transitions or working on sitting trot. Sometimes, I’m even lucky to get in a ride that allows me to do both.

Sunday was one of those rides. We did have some issues with the corner per the usual. However, we managed to work through them by lots of circles and pushing forward. I wanted forward movement out of Scarlet. The problem I have with him in the corner is he stops moving forward, lifts his head to stare and takes extremely short strides. My goal is to get him moving forward. He can look and be aware but it needs to be forward. When we get that, it seems to better connect his brain.

We did an inside out cloverleaf pattern a lot once we got to the trot since he started to spook all over again. I ended up sitting the circles in the corners to push him forward and it was a very successful exercise. I felt like it really helped bend him and get his brain engaged since he had to focus on me.  The sitting trot has always been hard for me. I just can’t seem to understand how to sit. I get that there is a way to move properly with the beat of the trot but I can’t seem to find it on my own. We do get moments when the trot is beautiful and I can sit well. I know that is when he is engaging his back better. We are improving but I wish I could improve myself more so I could sit the trot better.

I didn’t ride on Monday as we brought home a new kitten and we needed to supervise the meeting between her and our current cat.

On Tuesday, I didn’t really feel like riding but I went out. I briefly considered doing a bareback ride in the round pen but I chickened out. I really do want to do that but I don’t want to deal with spinning when doing so and Scarlet has been doing too much of that recently.  I got on and we putzed around at the walk for a while. I did many, many circles in the bad corner and got him moving pretty well through it. After that, I got off and longed him in the round pen to give him a bit more of a workout. It was a quieter start to the week but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Good Transitions

I had a few very good rides this week. I have been wanting to focus on transitions with Scarlet. It’s difficult to do it I’m fighting him over the scary-not-scary things on the other side of the fence. Some of the rides this week were much better than recently. I was actually able to work on transitions.

I rode a lot of walk-trot transitions earlier on in the rides. I’ve been having difficulty getting Scarlet to pick up his walk into an engaged pace. When I ride transitions, he sharpens up. I’m pretty sure my difficulties are due to him just ignoring me. Our walk-trot transitions have been getting better. We’ve had a few where I really feel like he is on the bit and waiting for the signal to go faster. I even got that a couple of times with a halt transitions.

We are still having our normal troubles with the fenceline and corner that we normally have. And since it has been windy for forever now, it’s been worse than normal. I’ve gotten tired of dealing with it. Plus Scarlet’s back feet are bare and the ground is starting to get too hard for them. The part near the fence is harder than the rest of the arena so I avoided there in order to keep his feet from chipping. It actually seems to be working better this way. After we work off some of his energy, it is easier to get him over to the corner and through it without issues. I’m okay with cutting off some of the side if he will listen otherwise. So far it seems to be working.

I had the farrier put back shoes on Scarlet when he came out on Friday. He wears his back feet down pretty fast. Also, the sides of his feet have been flaring outwards these last two months. Those had developed a few cracks that I was trying to keep from being chips. It isn’t that much more expensive to do a full set of shoes. So I chose to do that. It’s better for Scarlet in the long run. Especially since the ground is just going to stay hard now that we are almost into summer weather.

Saturday we went on a bunch of errands and I went to the only other tack store in the area that has English gear. They had a couple more boots that were within my price range than the other. There were only two of those that had my size. I tried on both of them. They were both leather though one was noticeably thinner than the other. That one had more of a square toe. Both of them fit and had the elastic panel that goes near the zipper. I’m super happy with that as it hopefully will stave off the problem of splitting zippers. The closer fitting square toed one was just a little bit harder to zip up and since there was no difference in comfort/fit overall, I went with the one that I could zip up easier. So happy that I have functional boots again!