The title of the post very accurately reflects how I feel about my life right now. Everything is too much! Too much work. Too many chores at home. Too many dishes awaiting me. Even too much horse.
Now that Scarlet has gained some weight and some top line, he has so much energy. It doesn’t even feel like we have tapped into that energy by the time we end our rides. Don’t get me wrong, I love when my horse is feeling good. I know he is excited and feeling good and just reacting to the extra energy he has. But man is it hard on me. The ride ends up tiring me way more than it ends up tiring him.
We are finally through the weekends that I had to go out of town for so hopefully I will be able to get back to a consistent schedule of riding. Scarlet does better when he is consistently ridden – doesn’t every horse – and I’d love to be able to access his brain again.
Tuesday I wasn’t planning on doing much with Scarlet because the -hopefully – last heat wave of the dying summer just finished and it was still in the upper 90s when I went to ride. But he was very up and ready to go so we focused on transitions. I’ll be honest. They were terrible. So awful. Every time I tried to signal for a transition, Scarlet’s head would pop up and his back would drop. Up or down. It was extremely frustrating. Transitions have been difficult for me for a while. However, we could normally do an okay upward transition. This is something I hope to address in a lesson soon.
Wednesday was a bit more transitions but mostly a lot of trot work in circles. I did not have Scarlet’s attention. At all. He was focused on the trees, the horses moving past the arena and anything but me. His trot speed fluctuated from ploding to speed demon. It was awful. He would sometimes try and duck his head and then drop in speed. He tried to walk when trotting or trot when cantering by pulling this trick. He only got away with it once or twice. He has been doing this quite often recently so I was prepared for it.
During the circles, I was really trying to get a good bend established and the feeling of some weight in my outer rein. I never really felt like I go that. I definitely felt it during our last lesson but I haven’t really been able to develop that. There are so many things that we need to work on. I scheduled a lesson for Sunday morning with my trainer. Here are the things I hope to address: the avoidance issues I’m feeling from Scarlet when I ask him to use his back, bend, contact on the outside rein and transitions. These are the exact things we worked on in the first lesson but I feel like we only brushed them since we didn’t have the muscle structure for much. I hope we can be a bit more thorough and tough with these now that Scarlet has muscle and energy to spare. I really need exercises to drain his energy or I am going to end up being the only tired one.
Scarlet was reshod last Thursday. His new shoes look pretty and he is moving much better. There was definitely a good chunk that needed to be taken off. This time, the farrier scheduled the next visit while I was there. He is trying to get more organized which is great for me.
I also ordered a new saddle pad for Scarlet. We normally use a fitted pad and a baby pad when riding. The fitted pad has been slipping and sliding underneath half of the saddle in the back. I end up feeling off balance which isn’t helping while riding. I’m excited to get the new pad. It should be a better fit for my all-purpose saddle.
Monday, I did a light ride on Scarlet because it had been five days or so since we rode. I didn’t really need to worry about it. He was extremely energetic. Even though I feel like I’m not progressing much more on him using his back, he definitely has more muscle than before.
Since he was so good on Monday, on Tuesday, I lowered a bunch of fences. I had two 12″ cross rails set up and then a cross rail with a pole four strides away. We hopped over those many times. Scarlet barely even lifted his feet when at the trot. It felt almost like he was doing a shoulder shrug. At the canter, he tried a bit more. But the fences I’m putting up really aren’t that difficult for him. I think we can raise the rails a little bit more without a problem. However, I don’t want to do too much more without working on other things. One issue with jumps is that he gets a bit excited. I need to work a bit more on rating him to the jump so we don’t mess up the canter quality while also not jerking on his mouth over the jump.
Wednesday was focused on transitions. Those were bad. Scarlet was deliberately trying to avoid doing the hard work so he would drop his back and stiffen during every transition. It was bad both up and down. I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I settled for okay and just left it at that. I’m busy this weekend but I’m hoping the weekend after that I can schedule a lesson. I need some help identifying whatever problems I’m causing. If its not me, then I need some help figuring out exercises in order to improve the transitions.
So life has been getting in the way of riding. I knew that weekends were going to be difficult this month due to me having almost every weekend booked out for things. But I wasn’t expecting things with my family nor feeling icky several times this month already. C’est la vie though. I’ll get through it. It just means that Scarlet and I will not get as much riding done as I would like.
I’ve gone out on Sunday and Tuesday this week. It isn’t enough and I do feel guilty for slacking. But it must not be too bad because everyone is commenting on how nice Scarlet is looking lately. It makes me feel all fuzzy when people compliment him.
For riding, he is doing okay but I need to make a lesson happen again soon. I can identify his stiffness on his right side now easily but I can’t seem to figure out how to get him to loosen up. He seems to be constantly leaning on my right aids rather than lifting himself. I know that he won’t be able to support himself for very long because he is weak but I really feel like I need some more tools to encourage him to do so, even for a little bit.
We’ve also had the problem of Scarlet’s hooves being overdue for a shoeing. The farrier had a rodeo to get to last weekend and I was out of town the weekend before. He should be getting them done this weekend but I’m hesitant to push him while riding with long feet. He tends to start tripping when his feet get long and I don’t want him smacking his leg without need.
Hopefully, next week things will get back to normal and we can continue improving our riding.
Wednesday was the first day I was able to get back to riding after the three day weekend. I was raring to get out there and apparently so was Scarlet. He was almost insane with energy.
When we were in the crossties, he would not stand still. He was swishing around, calling out and trying to yank his feet out of my hands. He also kept moving into me. I got my whip out and smacked him with it a bit to keep him out of my space. Sometimes when he has too much energy or when he is nervous, he tends to forget (or ignore) where I am. So I tend to have to remind him and a crop helps him pay attention.
Once we got out to the arena, he was super powered. His walk started off fast and I had to gather up the reins really early on. He was insistent on walking around like a giraffe. We got to work and man did he have energy. We never really had a plodding feeling to our gaits and after we cantered, his trot was motoring. It was really a lot more horse that I am used to dealing with. Probably from the long break but I wonder if a small part was from having more of the correct muscles built up now.
The other thing that was annoying about the ride was that sometimes I’d get him connected, lifted and bent and then all of a sudden he would assume the V shape. I normally don’t feel an extreme difference between connected and not with him but I really felt it this time. I felt like I was sitting in this huge canyon. His head was straight up and his butt felt like it was somewhere around my ears. We got together and moving but we struggled with this issue the whole ride.
Not being consistently ridden really seems to have made a difference in performance this time. I’m going to have to be conscious about getting out whenever I can these upcoming weeks because my schedule is really packed. If I’m not careful, we will have many more odd ball rides like this one.
Scarlet and I did some more jumps on Thursday. He is starting to laugh at me for how low I am putting the jumps. I thought I had put the cross rails up a couple of holes higher than I had them previously but he is still just barely picking up his legs. I’m going to have to raise the rails so he doesn’t get too bored.
We definitely are having fun rides with jumping occasionally. Now that I have gotten into it I have to keep reminding myself that we need to work on our ground work as well. Especially since that is what is going to build up Scarlet’s topline. I am working on it but our transitions are getting worse. I’m not entirely sure why. Hopefully, I’ll be able to squeeze in a lesson soon to take a look at that. I do need to do more walk work as well. I’m mostly working at the trot with him as that seems to be the easiest gait. It’s a cop-out I know, but sometimes it’s really hard to avoid those.
Thursday’s ride was great and then ended oddly. I like taking Scarlet walking around the barnyard since he can be spooky. I like to try and expose him to things and it’s a relatively calm way to cool out. We walked up past the turnouts and we were walking calmly and on a loose rein. Then, Scarlet planted and spun out of nowhere. I leaned way over to the left and knew I was going to come off. Next thing, I was off on my feet and still had the reins in my hand. The reins were still even over his head. Scarlet wasn’t trying to run off. I think he was as confused by what happened as I was. I’m impressed that I managed to land on my feet. I am glad I did though because the ground was fairly hard and it was going to hurt super bad. After looking to see if there was anything scary, I mounted and we walked back and forth a bit. Scarlet was a little tense but relaxed after we did a loop. Then we finished our walk and I put him away.
That was the first time I had come off since I got him. I’m glad that I landed on my feet, especially since we left town for this weekend and sitting in a car with a bruised back for 5 hours would have sucked.
We’ve been at our new barn for most of a month now and I have to say I’m loving it. Scarlet gets great care and I love the facilities there. Scarlet and I have been having fun hopping back and forth between the dressage and jumping arena. He also is a big fan of the huge lawn that he gets to graze on on the weekends.
Another thing I am loving is the atmosphere of the barn. Everyone always says hi with a smile on their face. It hardly feels like a stiff, obligatory greeting either. People are happy to chat and ask how your ride went.
There are a couple of ladies that seem to have a very similar schedule to me and we are in the same barn row. We chat quite a bit and talk about our horses. It’s completely different from the last place I boarded at. It was only me out there. I loved the me time with my horse but I also really like connecting with other horse people. It has been so long since I’ve been a real part of a horse community. I’m happy that I’m getting that opportunity now.
When I rode on Wednesday, I tacked up next to an assistant trainer from another barn in the are. That barn is super competitive in dressage, jumping, and eventing. Very nice and very expensive. She has her baby warmblood boarded at my barn because she is still pretty green and didn’t want to bring her into that atmosphere yet. Plus, it’s less than half to board at my barn than the place she works. We rode at the same time and she commented that she liked Scarlet’s movement and the little bitty jump we went over a few times. That definitely made me happy.
I then spent twenty or thirty minutes chatting with another lady that has horses in my barn row. She has three currently, two that she owns and one that she is training. She used to be a full-time trainer and had twenty-two at her highest. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have that many horses in your care. It sounds both amazing and tiring. I’d love to do horses as my career. I never competed when I was a kid so I wouldn’t have a very good draw for many clients. I’d love to find a different way to make money that didn’t require working in an office. I’m working on that but in the meantime, I need to keep the money incoming so I can maintain Scarlet.
I’m looking forward to the next month at this barn. I’m excited about lessons and more jumping and getting to know my barn mates even better.