Pushing Yourself vs Burning Out

Before getting to the meat of the post, I wanted to talk about meeting Emma from ‘Fraidy Cat Eventing. I’m sure many of you have read her post or L’s post on her blog. It was amazing. Tacos and new blogger friends, what more can a girl want? Emma was exactly as I expected from reading her blog. Funny, quirky and sassy. I regret that we only had a couple of hours to talk but hopefully we can get more time next time she is out west.

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Now, to the main topic.

I’ve always had issues pushing myself. I am the very definition of lazy and it is extremely easy to allow myself to talk myself out of whatever I need to do. I’ve procrastinated on projects my whole life and allowed myself to be lazy whenever it suited. It’s something I’ve tried to fix on and off. But willpower is something I’m not good at either.

Recently (for the last month or so) I’ve made a real effort to not allow myself to come up with excuses to get out of responsibilities. The biggest areas I’ve been focusing on are exercising, chores and a side project of mine. Riding generally hasn’t been a problem but I’ve been continuing to make sure I go out 5-6 days a week. And I have to say, I’ve been doing pretty well. But I still am stumbling.

I’ve talked about the ab challenge I’ve been doing and I have kept that up. It’s really difficult but I get it done each day, using that time as my break from work in the morning. I’ve also been running more often. Then, after work, I go ride for 50ish minutes. This last week was a tipping point. I pushed my body too much and fell apart when finishing up the ab exercises on Friday. I also couldn’t run the majority of my normal route. My muscles were just exhausted. It was demoralizing and I found it very difficult to tell myself that this is going to happen. I had been running, doing an arm workout, doing a lot of core work and riding a lot this last week. I had been pushing myself to add more abs, push a bit more for the 30 seconds of pushups, run just a bit more this time. I’ve been pushing myself in small bits across many things during my day. And I pushed just a tiny bit too far and it fell apart.

The thing I’m finding difficult to do is to know that line. I need to push myself to improve. No one else is going to do it. I’m not under any deadlines for exercising or chores. No one is going to go tell me to run for 30 minutes. I have to be responsible for keeping myself moving.  I can so easily say “Oh, I’m tired today. Let’s just do a little less.” or “I’ll get to those dishes tomorrow”. And suddenly we are a week later and I’ve done nothing. So I can’t see where that stops and my body is actually telling me I’m pushing too hard. I am working toward finding this line but it is extremely hard to do so.

While I am tired, both mentally and physically, I find myself bouncing back and forth between being annoyed with myself and proud of myself. Proud, because I’ve consistently pushed myself in my daily life for a while now. And it had become easier, more default to want myself to push more. That means that my overall mentality was changing to the habit of pushing. Annoyed, because I seriously can’t manage to hold that plank for five more seconds? I really can’t figure out how to just run the same amount I did before? It’s really not that many dishes, why didn’t you do that instead of watch that YouTube video? It’s really easy to beat myself up when I don’t meet every expectation I have for myself. I’ve had a lot more practice giving myself guilt trips so that tends to be my default.

But I’m getting there. It’s a work in progress. I’m going into every day with a list of things to do. I’m getting most of the working out done. Riding almost always happens. Chores are getting better. My project is coming along. I’m getting there. I need a bit more time to stop with the guilt trips on the days I don’t but I think I’m getting that as well.

How about you guys? Are you guilty of being lazy often? Do you find it easy or hard to push yourself to do more each and every day? How do you know your limits?

Jumping and Transitions

Wednesday I went out to the barn hoping to do some jumping. It had been a while since Scarlet and I had done some and I like to try to repeat anything that I had done during my lesson as soon as possible with him. But there were lessons going on in the jumping arena so I wasn’t able to do so. I rode around in the arena hoping that the lesson was almost wrapping up so that I could jump. It looked like it was but the horse the kid was riding wasn’t cooperating. They are currently using another boarder’s horse for lessons (with permission) since they have a limited amount of horses.

I don’t agree with a lot of the teaching I see from the trainers here (hence why I’m not in lessons with them) but I have to say, using this horse is probably the worst idea. He is a hard ride even for the trainer. No one can really get him to behave properly and the kids that get put on him aren’t confident and aren’t they type to sit down and kick him through whatever they are doing. He is a horse that needs that kick to see that he can’t get away with his crap. But, not my horse, not my business. I just watch and shake my head.

Friday is usually a low activity day at the barn. I was crossing my fingers when I went out so that I could have the jumping arena to myself. And it was empty! There might have been one other person out on the property but they weren’t anywhere near me. I moved a bunch of the jumps up before getting on as they were set at ankle height and I wanted heights that would make Scarlet respect the jumps. We warmed up and jumped. He was spooking at one whole side of the arena which made him run squirrely into the jumps when they faced that side. I had to repeat a bunch of jumps just to make him listen to my leg when telling him not to try and move side to side.

It wasn’t as relaxing and simple as I would have liked due to the squirrely-ness but he was very good about actually jumping. We had some messups but we would go to repeat and the second time would be better. I managed to connect the jumps together in patters and run through them several times and we did pretty well. He doesn’t want to land on his right lead so we had to do some simple changes but I expected that. I was pleased with the rounds as they were. I found myself counting strides more and when I’d reach one, Scarlet would take off every time. It wasn’t necessarily the best take off spot but we were in sync for the ride which I liked.

Saturday I just wanted to hack around and maybe do some lateral work since Scarlet has been ignoring my legs more and more. We did do some leg yields, TOF and TOH at the end of the ride along with some backing up. But what I noticed the most was our terrible upward canter transitions. I’ve noticed this happening for a bit but figured I was the cause. Now I’m not so sure.

Scarlet hollows his back really easily, probably due to training and breed. So lately, when I’ve been asking for an upward transition, he will go from a nice lifted trot into super hollow giraffe head. I’m trying to push him upwards and not hold with my hands but also not throw them away. I just don’t know what is going on. And the problem compounds with once I’ve asked, he gets tense at any moment of sitting down from me and anticipates. I haven’t found a way to haul in for lessons yet so I don’t know when I’d be able to get a trainer to assist me on this. I’m going to be doing a lot more transition work in my rides overall to hopefully help this trot-canter transition.

Does anyone have any exercise suggestions for the trot-canter transition to help with hollowing within the transition? I’d really appreciate some ideas as I don’t want to just drill transitions on a circle if I can help it.

New Segment! – Scarlet Rates Stories

I’ve been wanting to add something to the blog that isn’t just a daily rundown of what Scarlet and I do together. I love doing that and it is a great chronicle of what we do, but I also like the variety I see in other posts (DIY, reviews, etc) so I wanted to try something new. But I also wanted to stick with things I love. I love horses obviously. I also love reading. What I don’t get often are good horse books meant for adults. I loved the Thoroughbred series when I was a kid but it seems like every writer assumes that we readers grow out of the horse crazy phase (NEVER!) when we get older. So I wanted to try to find more horse stories that are appropriate for adult readers. I’m not sure how successful I will be but I want to try. And since I’m going to be reading them anyway, why not share on the blog to see if anyone else benefits from my reviews?

So here is the first iteration of my horse book reviews. I’m trying to find books where the horses are integral if not the main point of the book. I’m primarily sticking with books I have not read yet so I can give a first impression type review. I’m open to suggestions of books to review if anyone has one they have been interested in but didn’t want to take the plunge themselves. Also, since this is a new thing, please feel free to leave comments on what you think of this segment below.

As always, these are entirely my opinion and I’ve received zero incentives to review the books I’ve chosen.

Green Rider by Kristen Britain

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Genre: Fantasy, YA more than Adult

Summary: Karigan runs away from school before being expelled due to a fight and finds a dying Green Rider – a member of the special messenger group for the crown. He pleads with her to take his message to the king. Karigan agrees and finds herself chased across the land by evil with the Green Rider’s horse and magic to help her complete the mission.

Scarlet’s horsey opinion:

My mom reads lots of books. Sometimes she shares them with me, especially if there are horses in the book. Mom tells me that a big problem with horse books is that horses don’t always act like horses. I would have asked her what she meant by not acting like horses. Every horse has its own personality. After all, I’m nothing like my paint neighbor, who sticks his nose through the fence to greet everyone. I would have asked, but my mouth was full of cookies and I didn’t want to be rude. She asked me what I thought of the horses in this book. After all, who would be better at judging a horse book than a horse?

The horse in this book, Condor, acted horse like. He wasn’t able to do anything that I can’t physically do with more exercise to build up my stamina. The major thing that Mom told me about that seemed off was how he acted. His responses (though we horses are very responsive to our humans, they like that) were more human than horse. But he lived in a world with this stuff called magic. Mom explains that it makes impossible things happen. So maybe the magic made him think and act a bit more like a human than a horse. Condor’s behavior wasn’t enough to make Mom not like the book just due to that.

However, Mom’s biggest pet peeve with horses in any media form existed in this book. She will rant every time she sees it. Horses cannot run around at top speed everywhere. Condor did that a bunch. She did say it might be that magic stuff again but really, even with magic Condor would have to get tired at some point.

Alex’s reader opinion:

I try to start off with the positive things before focusing on negative things so the positives of this book were the magic system and the world.

The magic system was quite interesting. There weren’t too many magic practitioners in this world. When the magic is limited to certain circumstances, it makes for a more solid magic system. It also makes the magic more impressive when it does happen, as it isn’t as normal as tying your shoelace. The magic mainly centered around the magic that the Green Riders possess. This magic is tied to a brooch that is their symbol of office. Each brooch has unique magic and chooses its wielder. One magic is invisibility. Another is to tell when someone is lying. Simple but useful magics overall. I thought that was very well done.

The world was very well developed. The author had specific distances in mind from place to place and those didn’t seem to vary for the sake of the story. The world had a history, a caste system and an explanation for why things happened based on historical references. World building is hard to do without getting so sucked into it that you sound Tolkien-esque. Britain did a very good just having enough information there to make the world seem completely solid without droning on about facts. Some things I didn’t like were the protagonist herself and the presence of romance in the book.

Some things I didn’t like were the protagonist herself and the presence of romance in the book.

Now, before you think that I hate romance, I really don’t. A world isn’t complete without having love in it. Love exists in everyday life so why shouldn’t it fit in books? Th problem I have is the specific romance in this book. There are two implied romantic attractions and I never saw it till the main character said it herself. I was completely surprised by this. If I’m responding with a “wtf?” and it’s not just with the character being surprised themselves, the romance has just been forced into the book for romance’s sake. Neither of the romantic interests had spent much time with Karigan. Neither of them showed any indication that they thought anything of her before it was directly stated that they liked her. There was no basis for attraction (beyond physical but that was not the attraction that was stated in the book) and I cannot stand random romances.

Karigan herself is just… flat. Everything about her falls flat. She is the protagonist but she NEVER DOES ANYTHING! Everything just happens to her and she goes along with the flow. She doesn’t really choose to start as a Green Rider, it’s forced upon her. Then she just shrugs and says okay sure why not. That first “choice” that she has at the beginning of the book is indicative of how she acts for the rest of the story. No choices, just going with the plot.

I wanted to like this book but I really just didn’t. The summary and premise really seemed good. I had bought this book a while ago and didn’t get very far in it. I then put it down for a number of years and decided to try and read it again. It was hard. I just couldn’t get engaged in Karigan and her problems. They just weren’t problems for me. Nothing that started the journey really mattered or would change her life. Later, once she was already in, the stakes rose and things matter to her life but it was too little too late. Not a terrible book, but it really wasn’t for me.

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Lesson!

I had a lesson on Tuesday! So happy that it is a new month so that I could have one. I rode a different horse this time. Still huge compared to Scarlet. I’ve ridden 3 horses at this barn and I believe all of them have been 17hh.

Trainer D wasn’t in as much of a hurry to leave that day (or the fact that the kids are back in school leaves her with less minions) so I groomed and tacked up before my ride. I don’t mind that at all. It was kind of fun to see what it would feel like to have someone get my horse ready for me, but I really enjoy the grooming part of riding. Not because Scarlet likes grooming (he is more or less indifferent to it) but because it’s part of my ritual of getting into the riding headspace. With new horses, it allows me to get to know them a bit and get a feel of their temperament while doing so.

The horse I rode has had an abscess in his mouth for just over a month. They are cleared to ride him by the vet but not with a bit. So I had my very first experience with a hackamore. (It was purple! XD) I was a bit hesitant about that because, hey I’ve literally never ridden with a hackamore. I wasn’t sure if I’d do something wrong with my cues because of the lack of a bit. I shouldn’t have worried though. It wasn’t much different than normal. The horse was also a little girthy. Scarlet will toss his head sometimes but this horse mean mugged and snapped at me. I smacked him back and told him that he better behave himself or he is going to really regret it. He tried half-heartedly to snap at me again when I was checking it before mounting but another smack caused him to stand there and glare at me while I made sure I wasn’t going to slide beneath him.

Trainer D said this guy could use spurs or a crop as well. Since I don’t have spurs (I might need to look into them, just for lesson purposes) she brought me a crop. He was nothing like my previous ride though. I didn’t think he was all that hard to get moving forward at all. He needed a tap with the crop here and there to be reminded to move and reminded not to lean but a very solid equine citizen overall. His trot was almost a western jog feeling but I was told that was about all we would get out of him. That was okay. A super smooth trot is really nice to ride to so I wasn’t going to complain. His canter was very even and slow feeling as well, without actually being slow.

Trainer D had me two point around at the trot each way for a lap and she said she was very impressed with me. All my hard work paid off! I’ve been practicing while riding Scarlet so I’m glad that has helped. I also have been doing a 30 day ab challenge with my friend. We are on day 16 as of Wednesday. It started with 15 crunches, 6 leg lifts and 10 seconds of plank. Then it ramps up by 5, 2 and 5 respectively each day. We end with 160, 64 and 155. It has been pretty killer for the last 5 days so I’m dreading the end of it. Leg lifts are the bane of my existence as well. So hard! But, something I’m doing core wise is helping my riding so if it’s this workout, maybe it’s worth it. 😉

Trainer D had me practice the sitting trot as well. I hate my sitting trot. I never feel balance and Scarlet hates me sitting in the saddle for the most part so when I practice, most of me is focused on keeping my horse moving forward, but not at a canter, versus up and down. I said as much to her and she had me sit the trot in a circle in front of her. She said it didn’t look bad but I explained how I felt like I would occasionally slip to the side and then try to over correct and then all my balance would go to hell. She had me try and exercise of sitting for 5 strides and then posting for 5 strides. It was quite difficult at first to get the rhythm but I got it. After that, she explained that while I had a nice lovely posture while posting, I would sit way back and open my pelvis up a lot while sitting. That was probably what threw off my balance, as I didn’t need to be opening up that much. The explanation made sense to me but I’m not sure how to implement that with sitting at home. The lesson horse’s trot was smooth, Scarlet’s isn’t without a ton of work on my part. It will be something to work on to see if knowing what is happening will help me figure it out.

After the warm up, we started jumping. She had two lines of 6-7 strides. One of crossrails (absolutely tiny, lol) and one of verticals (probably about 18″). We headed over the crossrails and the horse didn’t feel like I was with him so the first crossrail was bad and then the second one he broke to a trot for. I regrouped and made sure to let him know that I was there and ready to head for the jump. I apparently did that too well as we got a half stride for 6 and a half for the second crossrail. Trainer D explained what happened and said we should decide on striding. I said let’s do the 7 as I didn’t feel confident enough to push him forward for the 6. So we went around again with me half halting after the first crossrail. But my half halts are much stronger than that horse needed and we got 7 and a half. At least we weren’t making the same mistake?

The next go through it was much better. Then we went through the vertical. Those rode pretty well each way. I had to ride a bit more forward for that due to actually needing to jump them versus canter over them. Once I got that down it was easier. Then we strung those together. This horse leaned to the left very hard and that was the lead we went through first. Because of that, we ended up making a much sharper turn to the vertical line that I wanted to. But we were there so I said (outloud) okay well we are going sharp and we made it over. We also took the second jump of the line on a long jump but we would have chipped if adding an extra stide. I believed the horse could do it and he felt me be ready so we did it.

Trainer D praised me for just riding with the ride we had considering that turn was terrible. Then we did it again and I put my left leg on hard to keep him out as much as possible. It still wasn’t as much as I wanted but it was many more strides distance to turn and straighten for the jump line. Then we went to the right. We broke to the trot after the crossrails and I had to circle around to get space to go back to the canter. We headed straight for the verticals and Trainer D yelled for us to come back over the crossrails at the end to get a full 4 jumps. We did that and then called it a lesson.

Trainer D said that I was doing really well, focusing on the things I needed to last time. My two point has improved, my knees improved. She said my homework was more or less just keep doing the same thing. A bit disappointing because I like having new specific things to work on but I’m glad I showed improvement.

I did decide to ask about boarding and haul in fees, just because what the heck. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Yeah…. boarding will never happen. The minimum cost is 2x what I pay for Scarlet’s board. I can’t afford that. She didn’t remember the haul in fee because it has been so long since she has done a haul in lesson. She said she would look it up for me and she does do lessons on Saturdays. So, depending on what the fee is, I may try to do a haul in lesson someday. Now if someone could just donate a truck and trailer to me…. XD

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Lack of Motivation

I’ve been lacking the motivation to do anything lately and am jumping at the smallest excuse to not do this or that. Unfortunately, horse time sometimes gets lumped into that avoidance. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going out to my horse. I really do. But after sitting around at work all day, sometimes I just want to veg. This usually is at the expense of anything more strenuous than throwing clothes in the wash. I wish I could arrange my schedule so I could ride in the morning before I’ve used up motivation on other things. I’d get that done and then have the rest of the day to do work and the other things I need. But I’d have to get up at 4 or some other god awful hour in order to make it work with my job. So I am stuck doing my riding after work.

I have ridden and accomplished some things despite my laziness but then I gave myself a 5 day break so I honestly cannot remember when I accomplished theses things so I’ll just give a run down.

(I did see The Book of Mormon in those 5 days off so I didn’t just sit on my butt eating chips.)

I’ve been practicing two-point. It’s still quite hard but I’ve stuck with it. I managed to two-point at the trot for five total minutes. There is no steering and I hardly let go of the mane but I was up there! I’ll improve with practice. My next goal is to go 15 seconds without holding the mane. I’ve been adding some ab exercises to my daily routine to try and improve my core muscles for this. They are working me hard so I’m hoping to see results soon.

I’m able to get Scarlet to go to the bend where the trail turns from the barn. He isn’t in love with it but he goes without protesting too much. It’s a good addition to our cool down and I’m going to keep doing it. Maybe when he is a bit more comfortable, I’ll inch down the trail again. I’m not doing it till he is comfortable though because the turn allows him to see the barn and I know he is going to try to fight me to go right back.

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Horse nose!

I plan to have a lesson soon. Probably next week. I want to wait till the heat drops again and till my breech order comes in.

I also may tentatively be on the market for a jump saddle. In a discussion with my husband about anniversary gifts, saddles came up and he wasn’t a super shut down about it. So I’m currently contemplating trying to find an independent saddle fitter because I’d like someone to be able to look at me and my horse and figure out what we both need. I don’t have a super high budget but I’m hoping that once I have the specs, I can search around till I find the right one.