Odd Friday

I’ve been in occasional contact with the girl who owned Scarlet in between my ownership. I’ve sent her the occasional update and picture. That didn’t bother me since I felt some obligation due to my gratitude. She didn’t have to contact me when she was looking at selling Scarlet but she did. It was something I never expected to happen and I will always be grateful that it did.

She contacted me on Friday morning and said she was going to be in the area. She wanted to know if she could stop by to see Scarlet. A small part of me wanted to say no. A small part was worried that he would have a reaction to her and that would hurt me. But I said yes. Because those small parts didn’t make enough sense to keep me from doing something that wasn’t very difficult for me.

She stopped by at the end of our ride. I gave her a tour of the barn while Scarlet and I cooled out. We chatted a bit and she took a couple of pictures with Scarlet. She asked if it was okay if she posted them online. I didn’t mind. And then she went off to do what had brought her in the area.

I’m glad that I decided to do that. It made me feel good to show a bit of my gratitude and I’m glad I was bigger than my small voices. And I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time obsessing over it on Friday.

Saturday I decided to have a fun ride. Scarlet and I had been focusing on the things we had learned in our lesson all week so I thought we deserved to change it up. I lowered two jumps and created a cross rail and an itty bitty vertical. I ended up making the vertical super tiny due to being a little nervous about getting over it. The fence looked ridiculous when I got on Scarlet. They always look much bigger when I’m on the ground.

We warmed up and then went over the cross rail a handful of times. Then we went over the vertical. I was a little nervous but reminded myself to break and heels down. I shouldn’t have been nervous. Scarlet popped over it like it was nothing. We did that a couple of times and then I did a circuit¬†each way of the two jumps. They were on opposite sides of the arena from each other so there was no need to really worry about striding. Scarlet launched himself over the vertical the first time I connected the two jumps. He left me far behind and I ended up yanking on his mouth. I felt bad and made sure to watch my hands the next time. He didn’t hold a grudge and popped over the fence without issue.

I loved having a small jumping day. I’m hoping that we can have a jump lesson after a couple more flat lessons. I feel like the flat lessons are extremely necessary whereas the jumping is just to make me happy. I will continue to work on keeping up the flat because that will be where all our muscle building comes from. Jumping will come if we keep at it.

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Lesson!

We had our lesson on Sunday! It was awesome!

My trainer started off by asking what I’m looking for and how he goes around normally. I explained that I’d like to do jumping with him as long as he is comfortable but he is 19 and I need to make sure that we build his muscles correctly. I wanted to make sure we are using our back correctly as well.

She then had us warm up as we normally would and then put us to work after she got a view of how we moved. We worked on a circle for a lot of the ride, focused on maintaining Scarlet’s bend and his impulsion while bending. She wanted his neck and back engaged and his stride marching. After we got that, we focused on pushing Scarlet into the outside rein. It was much more difficult going to the right than the left. Scarlet is very stiff in that direction.

It really helps to have someone tell me when something is going right. I could really feel Scarlet marching along and the bounce in the canter but it is difficult to get the bend and the outside rein without some instruction.

My trainer really liked how he moved and feels like he can really get it with some more work. Our homework is making sure he moves his legs when going forward (impulsion), bend with emphasis on the right since he is so stiff on that side and getting Scarlet to move into the outside rein. Obviously, all these things contribute to the other but its good to have things to focus on.

On Monday, I was really looking forward to testing how we would do on everything without someone watching over us. I was really impressed. Scarlet was very responsive and bent well. We didn’t have as much of a marching feeling but I did feel like we engaged out back. I was so happy with him for focusing well. There was someone who came in halfway through our ride to lunge in the arena. We did have a discussion then about keeping his head down so his back could engage. He wanted to raise his head to watch the other horse. It was a tough discussion but I eventually talked him around to it.

Tuesday was our day off. I went back out on Wednesday. The fire here has picked up again so it was pretty smokey. I wanted to get back out but it isn’t great for either of us to be inhaling tons of smoke. So I decided that we would just do a short ride of walk and trot. Our walk was amazing. Scarlet was forward and swing-y even when engaging his back and keeping his head lowered. We had a couple of good circles and transitions each way and then I called it quits.

I’m super impressed as to how much the one lesson impacted our riding so far. I’m also very happy with how Scarlet has ¬†continued to respond. It has been 3 days with only two of riding and he is still going great. I’m excited to see how far we can take this and what we can do next time if we have this down by our next lesson.

Itty Bitty is still fun

This is going to be a super long post as it is going to cover Wednesday to Saturday. And yes, I did get out all those days.

Wednesday was fairly normal. I am in love with the huge jumping arena and I really like going in there. I almost always have it to myself but there are always people at the barn so it is still nice. I did share on Wednesday. A woman was riding a draft-y looking pony breed and doing some nice dressage work. It was amazing to see the horse keep his neck and head perfect. Scarlet and I didn’t work on anything specific on Wednesday. We mostly just enjoyed each other’s company.

Thursday, I got to the barn and noticed someone had lowered one of the jumps to maybe 6-9 inches off the ground in a cross rail. I looked at that and really wanted to try jumping Scarlet over it. So instead of going into the dressage arena like I was planning on, we went to the jump arena. After warming up and working for a bit, I took Scarlet over it at a trot a couple of times and then at a canter a couple of times. He was very not impressed. I think he only picked up both front feet at the same time once. I could totally hear him saying, “Really Mom? This is nothing.” It was fun none-the-less. At least for me.

Friday, I really wanted to jump again so I lowered another jump to just a bit higher than the one on Thursday. I shared the arena with a teenager who was jumping pretty high on her warmblood. All verticals. It was a bit more complicated to keep out of her way since I was never sure which fence she was trying to take. She had a couple of issues at some fences. I don’t know if I’m right but it looked like she was not getting the right striding to the jump for her horse to take off. Anytime he was refusing, it looked like he got right up next to the fence and just went, nope I can’t get that. My itty bitty jump looked pathetic in comparison but I really had fun. Scarlet jumped extra high once. Maybe he was trying to tell me he can handle more? I definitely came away from that ride with a really good feeling. I love doing more things with my horse. Definitely a lot of fun.

On Saturday, I promised myself that we would go in the dressage arena and focus on flatwork because that is really important. The dressage arena is better for that because the shape helps me figure out the circle sizes and such that are needed. I was planning on focusing on transitions but Scarlet was just too good. Except for the first trot-canter transition (always a sticky moment) he was golden for the whole ride. I couldn’t bring myself to drill transitions or counter canter or such when he was responding beautifully. We did do a few leg yields. He was pretty good for those as well. We also trotted and cantered down the center line and got a decently straight line. I knew he was listening well when he was trusting my aids enough to believe that I really was trying to send him straight down the line. It was a really good ride and we managed to be calm enough to cool off while walking around the barn yard.

Extra special thing from Saturday: I saw the barn trainer just before I was getting on so I grabbed her attention and scheduled a lesson. For Sunday morning! No time like the present right? It’s at 8am which is really early for the weekend but lesson! I’m so excited and I really can’t wait to see how we benefit from this.

PS – I’m changing the update schedule from Wednesday and Sunday to Thursday and Sunday. I plan to take Tuesday off every week and it would just be really disappointing to update on Wednesday with only Sunday and Monday.

Smoky Air

California is on fire. Which really isn’t all that unusual for the summer. Unfortunately, a new fire sprung up near to me over the weekend and smoke is now filling the air. That isn’t good for me to breath and neither is it good for Scarlet. So I only rode on Sunday and did not get out on Monday or Tuesday.

Sunday was pretty good. I really like the jumping arena. Its so large. The footing is good too. On Sunday morning, Scarlet and I were the only ones out there. I wasn’t out extremely early, around 9 am or so but it was just us. It was already hot by then so I made sure to take many walk breaks. I focused on getting him moving forward. Once we were warmed up, we did some leg yields at the trot. He can do them okay at the trot. I would really love if we had someone on the ground to tell us if we are crossing over at all or not but I make do with what I have. He moved away from my leg fairly readily which is good. That is something we have struggled with recently.

We also did a bit of counter canter work. We can hold it for a large loop in the arena. I’d like to work up to counter cantering for a whole lap, then two, then I’d like to work on asking for a lead and getting it, no matter which way we are going. That last one may be hard as Scarlet has become a point and shoot for most things with canter leads.

I also have been given the okay by the husband to get lessons once a month! I am so excited. You can always improve and I really feel like I need some guidance on my position, my cues and our work. I’m really looking forward to scheduling a lesson with the trainer at the barn. My biggest goals are to learn how to engage Scarlet’s back through the correct cues with my hands, seat, and legs and to be able to feel when he does have it properly engaged. I don’t feel like I can reliably do either of those things right now. These will be key in keeping Scarlet’s muscle tone as he gets older so we can continue to ride together for a long time.

The Big Kid’s Arena

We made it out to the jumping arena sooner than I had thought we would. Scarlet wasn’t being bad while riding but he had still been calling out during the warm-up phase so I wanted to stay in an arena that had fences. The dressage arena has fences. The jump arena has short little boards delineating the edge of the arena. I didn’t think Scarlet would try and run out of the arena but that was not what I wanted people’s first impression to be of us at the new barn.

When we went out on Wednesday, Scarlet still had a bit of issue with calling out. He was okay when there was another horse with us in the dressage arena but he didn’t want to be alone. I warmed him up and did a bit of work in the warm-up then walked. I wasn’t planning on working him super hard so I decided to cool him out in the jump arena. There were a couple of other horses working in that arena then so I figured that Scarlet would be less likely to spook or have issues if he wasn’t alone. We went out and chit-chatted with another boarder while we walked around the arena. Scarlet definitely was looking around at the arena and the surroundings. There are a lot of jumps and platforms around so I was not reprimanding him at all for it. He was only looking and didn’t spook at all. He did so well that we even did a couple of trot and canter laps around the arena. I thought about staying out more but I decided that we had pushed it enough for the day and should quit while we were ahead.

On Thursday, someone had moved a couple of the jump poles into walk and trot pole lengths. So obviously we had to ride in the jumping arena again. I decided to just start us off in there instead of warming up in the dressage arena. Someone looked to either be getting a lesson or having a training ride on their horse in that arena and I didn’t want to get in the way. Scarlet was still looking at the things around the arena but no spooking again so we had a decent warm-up. I couldn’t get him to relax enough to really stretch down during the ride but we got lower and stretched a bit. It’s improving. I’m sure we can stretch easily again once we are completely settled into the barn.

Saturday was also in the jumping arena but there was no one else this time. He did very well and even stretched down a bit to stretch his neck and back. We had a great ride. We didn’t do anything in particular while riding as far as Scarlet was concerned. I did do a bit of two point work for myself. I was attempting to do it at the trot but I couldn’t hold myself up. I had to canter so that I could even partially hold the two-point. It was so hard and I’m so out of shape. I am going to work on the two-point while riding and do some core and squat work at home in order to improve that. As I was cooling out, two of the teens that board came and started riding. I got to watch them hop over a couple of fences. The fences seemed massive to me. They were probably ranging between 2′ 9″ and 3′ 6″. I can only dream of doing that right now. Someday I definitely will jump like that.

Cool news outside of riding. I got an unexpected raise at work. I’ve only been in my current position for 2 months so I was definitely not expecting any raise for a while. Obviously, I’m quite happy about this. It is really nice to be consistently rewarded for being a good employee at work. Now, all I need to do to make this really good is figure out how to convince the husband to let me use that for lessons.

Settling In

So Scarlet still isn’t quite settled in. Sunday I went out to ride later in the evening as I had errands to run during the day. When I got there, I found out that the mare who had been stabled next to him had left the barn that day. So he had just gotten okay with things and his new buddy left him. He was screaming out when he saw me. I went and pulled him out to ride.

It went… well not great. I brought him around to the cross ties next to my tack room and he almost lost it because he was walking out of view of the horses. He called out the whole time I was grooming him and was quite antsy. It was really deafening. During the actual ride, he was calling out during the walk and basic trot work. When we did more complicated stuff at the trot and canter, he stopped calling because he only had brain and breath for one thing at a time. But as soon as we took a walk break, he was back to calling out. Every time he called out, we went back to work. He wouldn’t relax or pay attention so I figured I’d get him a little tired so he couldn’t freak out as much. We finally got a full walk lap during the cooldown so I got off. He continued to call out while I was grooming him again. This time, he didn’t try and kick me.

I spoke to the barn manager and we moved him a few stalls down to put him next to another horse as he was on the edge and there were a couple of empty stalls in between him and the next closest horse. He seemed okay with that.

Monday was better. Still calling out but not close to as much. He almost relaxed enough during the ride to stretch his neck out and down. This ride, there was more action going on at the barn so any time a horse rode into our view, he would stare at them for as long as possible. This made for some really odd contortions as we went around corners and such.

I’m hoping that with a couple more days he will feel less panicked about the possibility of leaving the other horses and will settle into our routine. I completely understand why he is having so much difficulty, I just wish he wasn’t so loud when calling out. It definitely hurts the ears.

Officially Moved

Saturday was moving day! My friends who were helping me move with their trailer had a clinic at 9 am about an hour away so we moved at 7 am. My brain was very confused when my alarm went off. It was thinking “Wait it is not a work day…”. Then I remembered why I had to get up. I had a quick breakfast and then headed out. My friends arrived a couple minutes after 7. Scarlet had been fed at 6 am so he had only  a small amount of his food left. My previous barn owner let us take a bit of hay to put in a hay bag.

I was worried about getting Scarlet in the trailer since he had issues when I had him shipped down here when I got him back in October. I was right. He didn’t really want to get in but did with some encouragement. But once in, he panicked and tried to run out. My friends closed the door so he couldn’t run out but he had gotten himself turned around already. I managed to get him turned around and in the stall but he definitely was panicking. He tried to rear but only did a little bunny hop since the roof was there. We got him in the trailer and we headed out. I wasn’t scared when I was dealing with turning him around but the nerves hit when I got in my car and followed the trailer. That could have easily been really bad if he had completely lost it.

He was pretty anxious when we got there but carefully tiptoed off the trailer and went to his stall fine. I moved my stuff in and let him settle for a bit before pulling him out for a ride. He did not like being pulled away to be groomed. He danced around and called out a bunch. It was really difficult to get him groomed enough to ride. The ride itself wasn’t too bad. Except for at a walk, he hardly called out and focused on moving forward. After the ride, that was worse. He wouldn’t stand still at all and kicked me when I was attempting to pick out his feet. Luckily, it only grazed my thigh but I was absolutely pissed. He was acting completely brainless. I hope he settles in by tomorrow. If he doesn’t I’m probably going to try to stick him in one of the crossties in the barn. I’d rather not deal with him having a full 180 to dance around in.

Almost There!

Sunday was not super warm but when I was riding, there was absolutely no breeze. That made the 75-80 degree morning seem unbearable. I ride in breeches and a long sleeve sun shirt. I’ve already had to deal with skin cancer once so not wearing the sun shirt is not an option. So I sweated. A lot. I had initially been planning on doing more on Sunday than just a short ride but it was so uncomfortable. I ended up wrapping it up early and just giving him some grain.

Monday the barn owner’s daughter was riding for a bit so Scarlet was tensed up and excited. Considering that, he wasn’t actually bad. He just had a lot of energy. Since he did, I decided we were going to work harder. After our warmup, I did a bunch of trotting around. He moved out at the trot like a steam powered horse or something. He has these moments where I go, wow your trot really is amazing. But I can’t seem to consciously get this trot to happen. Maybe with some help I can figure out the cues. He moved out like that for quite a while. I believe he was even correctly uphill in his body because it definitely felt like he sat down and pushed forward. It was quite fun.

We did some lateral work at the trot. I forgot how much easier it is for him to move sideways at the trot. He can leg yield at a trot and at the halt but not at the walk or canter well. Canter is obviously harder but I always forget that the walk is actually a very tough gait to do things in. Its deceptive because it is so slow and calm for the most part.

I’m super excited about our move. We are moving early in the morning as the friend who has the trailer has a clinic scheduled at 9 am that same day but that’s not a big deal. We only have 1 more ride at our current arena. Change always leaves you with a slightly sad feeling but this time, it is very slight. This change will bring a lot of positive things into our life and I’m looking forward to them.