Back to the Important Stuff

With my half marathon over, I’ve been trying to get back to my normal rhythm of life. This first week back wasn’t quite normal but it was definitely closer than I have been recently. I was able to get out once on Tuesday and then Friday and Saturday. Monday I was too dang sore to get out period.

Tuesday was freaking cold. (Seriously winter why do you wait until the end of February to get here?) It was blowing hard and that made it about 20 degrees cooler than the actual temperature. I got Scarlet out and put him into an arena to run around a bit. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I was going to ride or not. It had been almost five days since I’d ridden him and it wasn’t calm horse weather.

He rolled and then had a fun little sprint down the line of the arena. I walked in and he lunged in a circle around me at a trot and canter without too many shenanigans so I decided that I could probably manage a ride.

He was so good for the ride. I’m so proud of him. He was tense for sure but he didn’t have a fit or spook and just kept going forward when asked. I just wanted to get him out and moving so I didn’t ask for much more than circles and serpentines as far as hard work.

Friday, I got out of work early due to having a meeting through my lunch hour so I was able to spend plenty of time grooming and fussing with Scarlet before getting on. I wanted to make sure that Scarlet worked for at least 30 minutes as he has definitely not been getting as regular of work in the last couple of months. After warming up, he was pretty sure we were done and needed to leave the ring. He just kinda slid sideways at the opening. I told him we weren’t done yet and he continued working.

It was only about 20 minutes in for our ride and I wanted to trot a lot more. Scarlet stocks up in his sheath area without regular work and trotting gets the blood flowing the best. But just trotting forever is boring. I decided I wanted to try to have him trot without much rein direction from me. I slid my reins to the buckle and we trotted.

It was hard. Scarlet speed up like nuts without rein direction. I know my hands do too much while riding and it’s something I need to work on. Sometimes we are good and he isn’t leaning on my reins but it takes a lot of effort to get to that point. He trotted without listening. I had to fight my body to not lean forward and thus encourage him to go faster. Leaning back, I tried to slow down my posting to encourage him to slow down as well. But I’ve never really understood how to do that without getting off beat on the posting so it didn’t go well. (If anyone has a good article explaining that, please let me know.)

After a bunch of circles and some voice commands to slow down, we ended up getting the idea of trotting at a normal speed down. I kept trying to use the reins to tell him to slow down but with my hands basically on the buckle, they really didn’t do anything so I had to really stick with my voice and body.

To cool off, I tried to get him listening to my body to halt from the walk. I shortened the reins and combined the voice command with doing my best to still my seat per what I’ve read in Jane Savoie’s books. I backed it up with the reins if he didn’t listen after a few steps. It got better as we went along. I’m hopeful we can figure out how to do this together.

Saturday was more just for moving around riding. Nothing new there.

After each ride this week, I took Scarlet to graze on the grass growing in the field. Hand grazing isn’t something we have easy access to at this barn. They don’t have a patch of grass they maintain that we are allowed to graze on. I really dislike it but it is what it is. The last barn had a huge lawn to graze on and I loved just letting Scarlet scarf up mouthfuls for half an hour or so after each ride.

I did find myself zoning out while hand grazing. Does anyone else find the sound of horses eating grass soothing? It allows me to get to an almost meditative state, just holding the line and watching Scarlet eat. I wish I could graze him more often but that’s CA for you. I’m making a point to take him to graze as often as possible while the grass still exists.

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Next phone I get needs a good front and back camera. Also, does anyone have any classes on selfies? This took 14 tries!
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Half Marathon: Accomplished

Saturday, I ran my second half marathon.

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I did one back in college and I was in really great shape when I was training for it. I don’t get in shape very well without a concrete goal to goad me into working out so I signed up for another half marathon. As I was training for it, I realized I really don’t have the time to devote to running like I used to.

In college, I could run for 2 hours each morning no problem. I still managed to go to school, do homework and work. Now, I just don’t have that time. I was able to run during my hour-long lunch. But that was about it except for the weekends. If I had wanted to do more, I would have had to give up days with Scarlet. As it was, I was too tired to ride some days.

I also started to dislike running because it became a hated chore. Not a good thing to do when you need to run multiple days a week. I was counting down the days till the stupid run so I could just stop running.

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Someday I’ll hike here so that I can appreciate the view without trying to suck in air like it’s going out of style.

The track was off-road and had a super steep mountain we went out and back across. It was a lot harder than I had anticipated and I had to walk a lot more than I had planned. My joints hurt from rolling my ankle and not having a flat place to set my foot down. The track was narrow and a favorite of mountain bikers so we had to dodge those while running. I was out there so I just kept my focus on finishing because I had to.

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I finished in 3 hours and 5 minutes. Almost a full 30 minutes slower than my previous one (that one wasn’t off road). I’m a little disappointed but mostly just glad to be done. I don’t think I’ll ever try an off-road half marathon again. And if I ever run a half again, it would ONLY happen if I have a work schedule that would allow me the time I need to actually work out to the point where I feel prepared. So basically, never. XD

Now that I’m done, I’m very much looking forward to getting back into a normal routine with relaxing occasionally during lunch, running a bit and riding all the days I want to. 🙂

How to break up with a farrier

Okay,  haven’t fallen off the face of the planet I swear. Work is still nuts. (Seriously how long do they expect us to run at 120%? This is nuts. It’s been product release time for about 4 months now and it’s killing me.) My half marathon is this Saturday and I’m freaking about that. My goal is to finish and anything else is a bonus.

I’ve not been able to get much horse stuff done. I visited my best friend over the weekend which requires flying up to NorCal. It was delightful but I didn’t get any riding time obviously. (Not a horse friend.)

One thing that has been on my mind is breaking up with my farrier. I’ve never done it and have zero idea how to go about it politely. It’s such an awkward thing.

My farrier isn’t bad. He hasn’t done anything noticeably bad with Scarlet’s feet. He is just “meh” as far as quality goes.

My problems with him are centered around 2 things:

  1. I have limited knowledge of how horse feet are supposed to go and what healthy feet consist of. I like asking my farriers questions so that I understand what is going on. The farrier I had before I moved was fantastic about it. This farrier barely responds to direct questions. This isn’t a huge problem because I’m also not there when he shoes so my questions are over text. Still, I’d prefer to have more back and forth when discussing my horse’s hoof health.
  2. He keeps creeping the reshoe dates closer together. He contacted me for the first reshoeing at about 7 weeks. We planned it for the week after. Every subsequent time, he has been trying to get it to a 6-7 week cycle. Not because Scarlet needs it. He is fine until the standard 8 weeks. Longer right now since we aren’t riding terribly much.

I don’t generally allow the quicker shoeing and push back the time he will come out. When I was out of town this weekend, he texted me asking if he could shoe Scarlet since he was out there. It’s about 6 weeks. I told him not yet as he was still good. I then was told that Scarlet had twisted a shoe and he had already pulled it since he noticed it when he was walking by. I then gave him permission to reshoe since Scarlet was already missing one.

He explained that the back nails were loose. That’s not a twisted shoe. That’s not something you are really going to notice when walking by a stall filled with soft dirt. Maybe you would as a farrier but that’s kinda the last straw. If my horse’s shoe was really twisted and would be causing him pain, yes please do pull it before contacting me. Loose nails? I’d rather you don’t.

I’d been contemplating trying another farrier in the area that L and Carrie used. I think he is the same price for a half shoe or maybe 10$ more. I think I’m going to reach out to him and schedule a shoeing the next time. Now, I just have to figure out how to convey that I’m not using you again to my farrier. It should be simple. “Oh, I’m switching to a different farrier.” But I’m worried about being asked why. I’d ask if there was a specific reason so I could know and improve upon said reason so I’m just expecting him to ask. And as I said, there is nothing terribly bad about him, just that his service is meh and I feel like I can find (and deserve) better when I’m paying $140 for a half shoe.

Anyone done this before? Any suggestions?

Busy life, chill riding

It’s been over a week since I’ve actually written about my riding. Life outside of riding has been extremely busy. Work is stretching this release pressure out as they have now decided we want to fix the quality issues before releasing (duh, couldn’t you have decided that 3 months ago so we could have planned rather than sprinted to try and just get stuff out?) so we are still in release mode. This occupies my brain a lot and riding ends up being some of the only time that I’m getting to shut off.

Subsequently, I cannot remember anything I did while riding last week. I do remember them being good. I’ve been very focused on doing simple things to get the ride done well. Since I know this lack of brain capacity is going to continue for a while, I decided to start writing notes while giving Scarlet his grain. Gotta write it down while it is fresh!

This week, I’ve been out on Monday and Tuesday. I’m still restricted to the jump arena as the light is still an issue but it’s getting lighter each day! I’m super excited for the eventual light lasting long enough to use another arena or go on the trail.

Monday, I started off with an easy warm-up, focusing on getting him to move forward into the contact. After a bit, I tried to work a bit on straightness while off the rail. I rode to a point on the rail working to keep myself on the straightest line possible and making nice corners at each end. It was difficult but after doing it for a while at canter and trot, Scarlet was maintaining it with little active direction from me. I was very pleased with that as a warm-up.

I’ve been trying to get him into a good connection to the rein. My previous trainer explained that when he was properly in the bridle and in the outside rein, you could drop the inside rein and he should continue on as before. I tested it a bit and definitely didn’t have the connection. I want to do some re-reading and research on properly moving into the outside rein. I don’t think I have the concept correct with all my aids. I want to be able to get him forward and moving correctly. Small steps here.

I wanted to do something more complicated with him since we have been doing so well and decided transitions were harder but not so much that he might react. We did transitions in between walk/halt/trot mixing it up as I thought was worth it. I was trying to keep him moving over his back (a really hard thing to do when downward transitions are involved). We got it, but he began to anticipate and hollow out so we had to do lots of 5-10m circles at the walk to get him to actually lift his back again.

I finished off the ride with attempting some two-point. I may have earned most improved in twopointober but between not practicing and getting a new saddle, my balance is fubernucked. I need to add that in a lot more to get back to being able to keep myself up properly again.

Tuesday, Holly was out at the same time so I was able to ride with a buddy. I’m very much enjoying riding with another person. Its never been something I’ve had access too so it’s a new experience overall.

I started off the ride making Scarlet walk and walk until he connected over his back. It took some nudges with the spurs and smacks with the dressage whip before he moved forward. We had a few breaks into the trot but we got a good walk going and the transition to trot was beautiful. We were able to have some good moments in the trot as well of being forward and connected. The canter transition wasn’t great but I may need to focus on being connected in each step of the warm up before going further now. I generally try to work on connection and impulsion a tad while warming up but really enforcing it after Scarlet is warmed up. I think he is in shape enough for me to try to enforce it earlier so that we have better work earlier on in the ride.

Holly moved some trot poles into place so Uno and Scarlet could work on that. Scarlet did very well not tapping any of the poles. He also didn’t slow down going into the poles this time which was very nice.

We then practiced trot/canter transitions to try to get some good ones where he didn’t toss his head up and hollow out. It was touch and go but we ended up getting at least one good up/down transition on each lead and I accepted that for the day. Just for fun, I wanted to see if I could get a flying change from bad to good lead. I asked for it and Scarlet was not pleased with me. He gave a nice big kick in complaint and half changed then fully changed but he wasn’t happy. I’m planning on setting up a pole to work on changes someday in the future so we can try asking for them that way at first.

I did some more two point work, going in circles and over the trot poles. Gotta build those muscles!

Overall, I’m pleased with Scarlet’s reactions during the recent rides. He is still looky at things but he isn’t spooking as much. He also seems less grumpy over all during the rides. I’m trying to make sure I mix things up while riding so he doesn’t get bored. The light coming back will really help with that as we can go do new things outside the arenas.