Hello Hip Flexors

So Tuesday I rode without stirrups for around 35 minutes. And that was not just walking. The majority of it was walking. But I did a surprising amount of posting trot, a tiny amount of sitting trot and a lot more canter. So yay me.

Scarlet was not as eager to deal with me this time. In previous times, he seemed annoyed at my sitting trot but was happy to just walk around while I moaned over my aching legs. This time, he had some gas in his tank and just wanted to go. This also resulted in an interesting occurrence while we were walking around. Someone had set a black longe line on the post next to the entry way. Scarlet noticed it when we passed it the first time and gave it a good side eye. I figured it would be easier to pass again if he was able to nudge it with his nose so I directed him toward it. Just as he reached out, the wind blew through the leaves and the combo spooked him. He planted and spun around. I laughed, remained balanced and pushed him back to the longe line. Definitely a shot of adrenaline. It was pretty cool to realize that yeah my seat (at the walk at least) is solid enough that I can handle a minor spook without stirrups.

I mostly trotted circles while I posted one or two circles and then sat one. I either sat one at the trot or walked one and stretched my hips out. It’s so hard to keep your legs up high enough to really support yourself without stirrups. That is at any speed. Even if I had just walked around for the whole ride, I’d still be sore. Sure you can let your legs hang but if you use no muscles, your pelvis ends up tilting forward and all your weight is on your hoo-ha. I’m riding a horse, not a bike thank-you-very-much. I will keep my weight on my padded rear, not my tender bits.

The trotting was okay. There was about one circle where I seemed to magically rock into a perfect position and the posting was super easy. But, like most magical things, it lasted only that circle and I couldn’t figure it out again. Oh well. It’s in there somewhere.

Our canter transitions haven’t been great lately and me being unbalanced didn’t help that. Scarlet wanted to just run into the canter and that was not okay. I had to actually ride from the walk/trot into the canter transition. I know that he needs me to set him up somewhat balanced in order for him to get that transition. However, when I’m doing these stirrupless rides, I really don’t have enough motor control left over to ride. I’m doing the best I can to stay in the saddle. This is the reason that I’m doing these rides (masochistic torture though they are). I need to improve so that if one part of my support system is taken away, I can still ride. I need to be able to ride and focus on my own position. I won’t ever be able to do that without forcing myself into situations that are hard for me.

We did okay this ride. I think overall, it is an improvement from last time but I really really really want to be able to do more trotting and actually be able to get Scarlet into some type of frame. If I can figure that out, then we can do more sitting and posting. Without the frame, Scarlet abhors when I sit the trot. I get that. I bounce. I’m better than I used to be and working on it but I bounce. And it totally isn’t comfortable to him. (side note: really interesting article I saw via fb the other day about how a horse’s back works via physics The Physics of Flexion in a Dressage HorseThe Physics of Flexion in a Dressage Horse) So, lots improvement and lots of things to improve on. We will get there someday.

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No media so enjoy the pic of my new Roeckl summer gloves.
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Showing off my boy!

Wednesday, L from Viva Carlos came over to meet Scarlet and ride. It was so freaking fun. I got on first to warm up Scarlet. It’s something that I think is a good rule for anyone. If the owner of the horse won’t ride first, then you shouldn’t get on the horse. Of course, if you have ridden that horse before that’s another story.

Scarlet was using his guest manners and was well behaved for our warmup. I made sure to add some bending into the warm up as I thought he would probably be a bit more stiff than normal after not being ridden for most of two weeks. I was also a little concerned because he lunged a tad bit tender after his shoeing on Tuesday but he didn’t show anything on Wednesday. I asked if L wanted to hop Scarlet over any of the jumps. They were mostly set to tiny crossrails and a vertical that he could jump. She said she was up for it. So I hopped Scarlet over the crossrails a few times, just to make sure he wasn’t going to do his surprise huge jump. He was good so I handed the reins over to her.

There is always some anxiety/nerves associated with showing off your horse. I wasn’t looking for approval of anything or worried about her judging me, but there was still some nerves. L hopped on, adjusted her stirrups and rode off. Scarlet was focusing on her better than I had expected. I think Karen was a surprise to him as it has been a long time since I had anyone ride him but me. After that warm up ride a bit ago, he settled into a different person in the saddle quickly.

I sat up in the chair and watched L go around. My stupid phone had too much memory taken up so I didn’t get as much video as I would have liked but I got several short snippets and a handful of pictures. When I had been warming up, I was telling L just a few things about how Scarlet rides. (He honestly is an easy ride for just going in circles. Anything complicated, you have to convince him that he needs to work.) Flying changes came up and I mentioned that I didn’t think Scarlet had any. At least, I’d never installed them and I’m not 100% sure I could ask correctly anyways so I never bother. So she got him going in a canter, did a little loop and boop. Wait, did he just nicely change? Yes, yes he did. That was pretty cool to see. It was his bad lead to his good one. The good to bad he didn’t like. I kinda expected that, as he is really stiff/weak on his right side. I’m working on it and it is getting better but it takes a lot of time.

L also popped him over some of the crossrails and the verticle that was setup. He did very well. While he didn’t look like he overly rushed, he definitely popped his head up still when focused on the jumps. Someday, we will get it so he doesn’t try to crush your nose when we jump.

It was a very fun day and I’m so happy to show off Scarlet, since he is so important to me. Anyway, see the bottom of the post for a huge slideshow of images from that day.

Friday I did a bunch of transition work. I noticed that Scarlet was not as responsive as I would have liked when we were working on Wednesday. I tried to mix it up. Walk-halt-walk. Walk-trot-walk. Trot-halt-trot. Canter-trot-canter. One walk-canter transition. He listened well but it wasn’t engaged like I wanted for the majority of it. I need to make sure that I practice transitions with him more and insist that he not hollow as soon as I ask for a transition.

We also counter-cantered a bunch on both leads. We had been practicing a bit of counter-canter recently so I wanted to see how we would do with that. We mostly did well but somehow, I have accidentally trained Scarlet to drop to a walk when I say “Good boy”. Sure I praise him after hard stuff but I didn’t think that I dropped to a walk every time. We ended up having to fight a bit more than I wanted to get the loop of counter canter I wanted. If anyone had been near the ring, they would have laughed at me as I did that loop with a lot of leg and continuous “Good boy”s.

Saturday I wanted to work him stretchy and loose. I want to make sure that he gets stretched after we work hard. He really stretched out in the canter after I gave him a bit more rein. I think I may have to warm up with a stretchy canter from now on. He wasn’t well balanced, but he moved really free. We normally stretch the walk and trot easily but not the canter. Gotta do them all I guess.

For myself, I tried to focus on doing my two-point a bit. I two-pointed at a walk and… well it wasn’t a disaster but it wasn’t great. Lots of mane grabbing and wobbling. I trotted him over some poles on the ground and two-pointed there. Going over the poles, I felt more stable than when we were just going around. My legs kept feeling like they were sliding back while I was in the two point. It was frustrating, to say the least. I also really have little control over what Scarlet is doing. I have general direction and speed but not much besides that. If I wanted to correct or do something more, I lost the two-point. I know it will improve with work but I really didn’t feel like I was in the right position. After we cooled off, I halted Scarlet and tried to hold the two-point while timing myself. I held it for half a minute and then felt my legs sink a bit and I felt more stable all around. I could move my arms and let go of the mane and wiggle a bit. I think my upper body was still a little more forward than it should have been but it was much better. I only held that for 1:25. A starting point. Nowhere to go but up from there. I also realized I need to stretch a lot more than I do. My hamstrings need to be able to stretch down more to get a more solid base. So much to work on!

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New Shoes!

First off: Scarlet finally got new shoes! Yay!

The farrier came out on Tuesday and did them without me being there. That is really super convenient because, with a full-time job, it’s just really hard to get out to the barn when a farrier would like to be working. I get they want to go home to their families but I can’t get out there except in the evenings. So it was great that this farrier was able to get out. Bonus, he said Scarlet’s feet look good and I don’t need to worry about anything. Yay!

Monday was the only day I’ve gotten to ride recently. It was still warm out but not terribly so. Definitely better than the weekend. I wasn’t trying to do too much with Scarlet. I just wanted to get around for my mental sake and to keep him from being super out of riding.

We did some walk-trot-canter work. Scarlet has been getting a bit spooky at a certain spot in the arena so I kept my leg on much more in that section than I normally would to keep him on the rail. I also worked him about three feet off the rail after we had warmed up at the trot. This totally blew his little horse-y mind and he didn’t know how to go straight anymore. I had to work really hard to keep him between my legs and reins. It ended up being harder than I wanted to work but it was a good ride. I need to throw that in more so that Scarlet doesn’t depend on the rail. He shouldn’t be doing that as much as he is.

My plan is to get closer to my normal amount of riding done for the rest of this week. Hopefully that happens and Scarlet and I get back on track. Not that we have a track to aim at but I’m always trying to make improvements for the both of us. Gotta have them goals!

Bleh Week

This week… just didn’t work for me. I had hoped that I was getting Scarlet shod this week but no one I could afford had openings till next week. So he is a bit longer than I like. I didn’t pay attention to how long it had been and started looking on the 7th or 8th week of his normal shoeing cycle. And we have been riding, on average, 5-6 days a week. His hoof has definitely grown faster than I expected. So in the meantime, his feet are a bit longer. So I haven’t been riding much. It has also been a difficult week due to small various personal issues so it felt nice to take a bit extra time off to just focus on myself.

I took my stirrups off for the ride on Monday. It didn’t go well. Not bad per say but when I started trying to post, the inside of my right thigh burned, like I had ripped my skin or something. I couldn’t figure out what on earth had happened. I shifted my weight and tried again but it still hurt. So I gave up on that and tried to do more sitting trot and forward walk. After getting around a bit at that, I tried posting again and it went fine. I kinda failed at doing it and wasn’t able to do as much as I would have liked but no pain. No freaking clue what caused it. My working theory is that I somehow pinched my skin but there are no marks there so *shrug*.

I didn’t ride again till Thursday. I wasn’t feeling great at that time so all I wanted to do was get on and ride around. I had created a plan on my drive out there to work on lateral movements and such but I ditched that on the ride there. I just needed a “fix the human” ride so that’s all we did.

Scarlet was feeling a bit frisky and he spooked at a couple parts of the arena. Not too badly so it didn’t really throw me out of the happy ride zone I got in. We rode around at all gaits and he was very good. We got a really really really nice canter depart on the left lead the first time I asked for it. That has been something that hasn’t been happening lately. He has been hallowing and trying to run into the canter. That isn’t good because it literally is avoiding working. This time, I had a really nice trot that was balanced and his back was being used correctly so that definitely helped a lot. When I’m feeling more up to it, I’ll work on those a lot more. But this ride did what it needed to do for me. I got into a better headspace and enjoyed the ride.

Tuesday is when Scarlet is going to be getting new shoes. I’m pulling off the back ones cause I can’t afford to do a full set of shoes with the farrier I could schedule. We mostly ride in the arenas so I don’t think it will be a big problem. We will see how he does without the back shoes.

Pushing Yourself

Pushing myself is the hardest thing. I’m inherently lazy. So trying to accomplish goals is really hard for me. I tend to slingshot in the opposite direction of “productive” as soon as even a little bit of pressure is applied. Lately, I’ve been trying to combat this.

I’ve been pushing myself to make goals and stick with them. I’ve been running three times per week for almost a month now. It’s not much, but I am consistently pushing myself to go out and actually run. It is really hard when I do not want to do anything. And none of that bs “oh you’ll feel better once you do it”. That just doesn’t happen. You don’t feel better when you do it. You feel better later – maybe- when you finally gain the muscle and extra energy working out does.

My running days have been overlapping with my riding days. I ride five to six days a week and run three days. There is literally no way to not have those days overlap. So sometimes I’m tired. And I can’t decide if this is good or bad. It has elements of both.

On Wednesday, I went out to the barn with the intention of riding without my stirrups again. But I was so tired from running (I had pushed myself to run more than I had been doing) that I just couldn’t. So I rode with stirrups. This led to riding with stirrups the whole week rather than keeping with my plan of strengthening myself without stirrups.

All of this ranting basically rounds up to, I need to hold myself to my goals. It’s not enough to just “get out there”. I don’t have lessons right now since I decided not to go back to the one that is at my barn. I need to keep myself focused on improving what I can on my own. Otherwise, Scarlet and I are just riding around in circles. Which is fine, but I do want to improve. I don’t have someone else’s whip at my rear so I guess I need to figure out how to be my own whip.

Friday, I did accomplish a bit while riding. I wanted to try jumping since Friday is normally a day where no one is out but me. Except for this Friday. The day I wanted to jump because the arena is empty. Such is my luck.

There was a mother-daughter pair that got on just as I was about finished with my warm up. I considered not jumping, but it was only two other horses and I’m pretty confident in my ability to steer Scarlet. He does lock on to jumps but not so much that I cannot pull him up if I decide to. So I went ahead and shortened my stirrups. We did a few warm up jumps, which went fine. Scarlet actually listened more to my half-halt and holding him so that he jumped at the jump. I would like to work more on that so that I don’t have to hold as much in the last couple of strides. That or I really need to think hold-hold-hold-big release as I caught him in the mouth a few times.

When I tried to do the lines, they didn’t go as well as I wanted. Scarlet over jumped a cross rail that was set higher than we normally jump but not out of our range. He made an over three-foot jump or something. It completely left me behind so I pulled him out of the line while I resettled. Then we tried cantering in and out but we chipped a bunch. I gave him a walk break and the mom and daughter decided to leave the arena. I think the daughter may have not been comfortable. She didn’t seem comfortable riding her horse. She wasn’t in control of halts and transitions and her voice, whenever I heard it, had that tone of “I’m upset but it’s really that I’m uncomfortable/scared but I’m hiding it” to it. After that, I did a few trot in canter out lines and they went much better. Either Scarlet got his brain on or the other horses were distracting him. Either way, we finished on a good note and ended up cooling out on a small trail loop with some ladies. Scarlet was particularly tired so the trail went very well.

Two-Point and Transitions

Monday I wanted to try to focus on my two-point. I figured we wouldn’t be able to get a lot of fancy stuff done after all the rain on the weekend. I was right about that. The arenas at the barn weren’t slop, but they were pretty close.

Scarlet wasn’t muddy, shockingly. Normally, he either rolls in the mud of his pen after the rain or stands in the rain, thus causing the dirt embedded in his hair to turn into mud. It made grooming not bad at all. Mondays are normally pretty quiet at the barn but the gloomy weather and wet ground made it even more so. I think there were two other people out to turn out their horses but no one else riding.

I did get Scarlet’s new saddle pad on and I think it looks pretty stylish.

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So stylin’! Now I guess I need to gather together all the hunter green stuff for him. $$$

The arena we normally ride in was wetter than I’d like so I went to try one of the others. One of the arenas that is generally used for turnout wasn’t terrible. The middle section of that arena is harder than the outside since all the horses just pace the edge of the fenceline. I was able to get a pretty decent sized oval going.

Two-pointing at the trot seems next to impossible for me. My steering goes kaput, my legs shoot backwards, I over balance forwards and I have huge hunks of Scarlet’s mane in my hands. I almost got it a few times by making a pseudo strap out of the extra reins. I stretched that between my hands and leaned it on his withers to give me a larger balance point. Canter worked so much better. I was able to stay up, balanced and away from his back 75% of the time. I could probably be slightly stiffer in the two-point there as I bob a lot with the rhythm of the canter but it was much better. I did lots and lots of circles at both speeds.

I’m not sure why my two-point at the trot is so terrible. I have a few theories. One is I just don’t have enough muscle. I definitely have pathetic core muscles at the moment. (Do those core workouts Alex!) I could feel a bit of steadying when I managed to get my core tighter. So that may help. Another theory is that my saddle/stirrups aren’t helping. I had my stirrups at my jumping length. I think it may be too short. Or just too short on this particular saddle. I have a Wintec AP saddle, so the seat is somewhat between a dressage seat and a jumping seat. It’s not as deep as a dressage but it definitely doesn’t want your legs up in a jumping position either. I didn’t feel nearly as stable as I wanted to, riding around like that for a while. I’m going to try one hole down next time. I’m not sure if that is going to make much of a difference but it is what I have until I get a second opinion on how my stirrup length/saddle works for me.

Tuesday was super dreary. It was grey and cold. I even wore my winter vest out to the barn to add some warmth. Scarlet wasn’t really reactive, even though it was windy and cold. So good boy there. I wanted to get him really stretching through the warm up as I probably didn’t do his back any favors by being so freaking terrible the day before. It’s hard to get him to consistently hold a low and long position. He will go low, so low his nose almost brushes the dirt. He holds it for a few strides and then pops back up.

It took a bit but we got some good trot work with his head lower but his back still feeling like it was working. I think it helped a lot. I want to integrate this more into the warm up. Hopefully, we can get it faster in the future.

After that, I decided that I wanted to work on some transitions. Scarlet has been hollowing a lot in the trot canter transition so I wanted to work on that a bit. I got a few in there that felt good, but I’m not positive if they just felt good for Scarlet or were actually correct. Someday, I’ll get back out to a dressage trainer for a lesson to help me with those. Or any trainer who works flatwork. I don’t have a preference, as long as they actually know what they are doing.

So, do you guys have magical core exercises? Specifically, ones that target your lower back muscles? I do planks and supermans (though those last ones don’t seem to do much) but that area is much harder to target than the rest of my core.

Del Mar National

I may not have been the biggest fan of moving to a huge city. I knew it was going to have to happen as those places are really the only ones with job opportunities for Nik. It was either here or the bay area. I’m from the middle of nowhere and getting used to all the people and the huge roads (OMG 8 lanes of freeway! AAAAAAAA!!!) has definitely been hard. But one amazing thing is the access I have to stuff here!

For example, the Del Mar National Grand Prix!

I haven’t been to a super fancy Grand Prix before. (Some people will debate if the Del Mar one qualifies, lol) The horse park that was built up in Paso had folding chairs up on the berm above the arena. That was still pretty awesome but it wasn’t a stadium and didn’t have near the amount of stuff connected to it.

I went with Karen from Spanish Walk and boy was it fun! We got there a couple of hours early and watched a few of the hunter rounds in the back arena. The employee at the gate let us through but we seemed to be the only non-rider, non-rider associated people back there. Hehe. We also toured the stalls there. Luckily, I’m not in the market for any big ticket items. At least, none that I could buy just from seeing them. We did find the Smartpak booth and bought a few saddle pads. I got a lovely hunter green for Scarlet. I never really gave him a “color” so I guess I’m doing that now.

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Pulled pork and mac grilled cheese. Quite good, though not as mind-blowing as I would have liked.

It was really windy and we had looked at everything so we got to our seats in the stands.

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OMG! A decent selfie! =P

The first thing that we got to watch was the Ride and Drive class. I’ve literally never heard of this before but its a sponsored prize class where the riders rush over a small course, hop off their horses and drive a car around a course. It was freaking hilarious and so awesome. I think the best part was watching the riders trying to sprint in their tall boots and going, yep I know that feeling. Really, when you can’t bend your ankles and your weight is shoved towards your heels, it’s impossible to run well.

Then, we were able to watch the retirement ceremony for Flexible. I a big mushy mush of a person so I teared up a bit as I watched it. He was a freaking amazing competitor and I’m sure he will be much loved on during his retirement. I’ll be waiting to watch Flexible babies enter the ring.

Then we watched the Grand Prix. It was a very difficult course. There were lots of refusals, a few RTs and a few EL. There didn’t seem to be just one problem fence though, so it was a nice course. Five pairs moved onto the jump off. I think that is just about the right percentage for the class size (30). Somewhere, I heard that course designers aim to have a jump off of only 10-15% of the class.

I don’t remember the final placing, but the pair of Pumped Up Kicks and Jennifer Gates put on a heart-stopping show. Pumped Up Kicks really tackled the jumps, but they ran into an issue at the last two fences. The striding between the liverpool and the last vertical didn’t work out for them. Gates pulled up and Pumped Up Kicks basically got to no momentum before the last vertical. Somehow, he deer hopped over the last vertical and didn’t even touch it. It was freaking amazing. As Gates cantered off, she pointed down at Pumped Up Kicks, giving all the credit to him. It was amazing to see the horse push and make an impossible jump. It was also awesome to see a rider giving credit where credit was due. I know they were in the top five, but I can’t remember if it was 4th or 5th place they got. I really should have forced myself to take notes on the placing cause my brain was frozen by then! I’m glad I did buy a saddle pad because it helped keep me warm for the show!

A small note about Sunday. I didn’t ride as it was pouring. Scarlet has been good so I figured it wasn’t nice to ask him to ride. I did go look at another barn and trainer as my barn is larger than I’d like and I am not super fond of the trainers. But this barn was more of a bunch of pens in the middle of the brush. The arenas were good but the rest of it? Not up to my standards. The barn I’m at is good for what I’m paying. I’ll most likely have to wait till I can fork over a couple hundred more a month before I can move to the barn atmosphere that I really want. Makes me miss my old barn soooo much!

Delayed Post!

So, ever have those days where you let one thing slide and all of the sudden your weekend is over and nothing was accomplished? … yeah that’s what happened to me this weekend.

So, belated post that is normally supposed to be up on Sunday shall now be split into multiple posts both going up today!

Wednesday, I was pretty out of it. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on when I went out to the barn. Normally I think, “We should work on leg yields.” or “We should work on transitions.” but I didn’t think any of that.

So, since I had been neglecting something I had promised myself I would do, I took my stirrups off my saddle for the ride. I want to ride like that at least once a week. It will help me build up my muscle and improve my balance in my seat overall. I’m hoping that if I do this regularly, removing my stirrups for all of November for no stirrup November won’t seem as insane.

The ride actually went really well. I got some good walking out of Scarlet right off the bat. I am never worried about walking stirrupless though so I probably don’t tense. The trot work was what really improved this time. Last time I went stirrupless, I didn’t even try to post. This time, I did. I wasn’t able to post for as long as I would have liked but the posting was smooth and not as hard as I would have though. I think I got 3/4 of a lap of the arena as my longest posting section. Altogether, I posted about 3 laps. Which isn’t fantastic but its improvement from where I was. Plus, the sitting trot without stirrups was better as well. Scarlet was not as pissed at me. Canter was fine, though I always forget how hard it is to canter without stirrups, even though it’s by far my easiest gait.

Thursday is normally my day off so I got to go see Catalina and Karen’s other horses from Spanish Walk. She is such a huge baby! And so freaking cute. She wanted all the scratches and I was happy to oblige. I love Scarlet but he has never been the horse to move for scratches and wiggle his head when you get to the right place. Catalina definitely wanted specific places scratched. So did most of her other horses.

One thing that was really cool about visiting Karen’s herd was it really was a herd. I’ve never really had a chance to go out into a field and be part of that. The horses came up to us and just stood around, loving being scratched and getting attention. It was fantastic. I loved giving scratches and just spending time enjoying the horses.

Friday, I just didn’t want to go out to the barn so I didn’t. I wish I had due to all the rain we got over the weekend but it was nice to just chill at home after work and cuddle with the cats.

I’ll include Saturday and Sunday in the next post!

Partay Time!

Sunday I wasn’t able to go out and ride. Instead, I spent the day with these cuties.

Our best friend is a vet and she is fostering these little guys. Bottom left is a boy, top right is a girl. They were born on St. Patties day so her kids named them Guinness and Patty respectively. They are super adorable. Everything you want from kittens. They play hard and then sleep hard. Patty is a little terminator though. She is super adventurous and likes to play toe piranha. She nibbled on my toes a ton instead of going after the toy. 🙂 (Anyone in the SoCal area, they will be adoptable soon!)

I also got an early birthday dinner from them. The husband is a fantastic chef. He does it as a hobby but everything he has ever made has been amazing.

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Chicken pot pie
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Lemon Praline Genoise Torte

One of the best things about being down in San Diego is we now get to see them more than once or twice a year. But it means that I don’t get a ride in on that day. Sacrifices have to be made.

Monday I did ride and it was a really good one. I dropped my stirrups back to flat length and wanted to really practice on responsiveness to light aids. I only needed to do a couple of walk-trot transitions before Scarlet really hopped on it.

It was really cool as I felt him get a more uphill balance for a bit. Not extremely so, probably more even than actually uphill. But my imagination could extrapolate and guess what a real dressage horse would feel like. Transitions seem to wake him up and he was really focused on me.

As we went around, I realized that my reins were really wonky. I was holding my right-hand way close to his crest, no matter which bend we were on. I figured that wasn’t good and definitely wasn’t giving him even pressure from both sides. So I fixed it. And it felt like his back popped. He slid into a more upright posture around the corners. I was amazed. So I tried to keep that up for the rest of the ride. That was hard for both of us. But he did try for me so I tried my hardest to support him while he did.

I’ve always had a habit of almost crossing my hands over the crest for signals. I’ve been working on that. Shorter reins have really helped that habit but I still get close. I hadn’t realized how much that caused problems. I should have. One of the exercises my former trainer had me do at the trot was hold onto the pad to keep my hands still. I thought that was to stop me from bringing them up with me while I post. And somewhat it is, but it is also to keep even pressure on the reins. I felt what that can do for the ride. I’m going to do my best to be conscious of that for future rides.

Tuesday I didn’t ride again as it was my actual birthday and the husband took me out for a nice steak dinner. Yum! And just to make you all even more jealous, here is the yummy, oh so rich cake I made myself.

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