Long Weekends

*All pictures posted are with the permission of the kids’ mother*

I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend (if you got it off). I love long weekends because I can still be productive and have a full day of being lazy without feeling guilty.

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Saturday our friends came down to visit and the mom and kids went with me to ride Scarlet. They’ve been out once before and seemed to have a lot of fun. I tried to see if the used tack store had any children’s stirrup leathers as they are so much shorter than me. They did not so we had to resort to shortening my stirrups all the way and then putting their feet in the leathers on top of the stirrups instead of in the stirrups proper. It worked well enough for a 5-10 minute walk in circles.

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I rode first to make sure Scarlet wasn’t feeling too good. He wasn’t, per normal, so I threw their mom on the lunge line and had her just focus on riding the gaits. Scarlet’s trot is… hard to sit if you aren’t able to get him lifting his back at all. So I ended up having her walk and canter for a bit. She used to ride when she was younger but has forgotten how much effort it takes. ūüôā

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After she rode, I stuck the oldest kid on. Last time, I just walked them around on the lead. This time, I wanted them to focus a bit more on actually learning to ride. Since they both wanted to come ride again, I took it as a good sign. We worked on her starting and stopping Scarlet. Unfortunately, my saddle doesn’t make it easy for her legs to signal to Scarlet but we managed to get a light pony kick and vocal commands to work out pretty well. After that, I had her practice it in a circle around me on the lunge line. I then had her let go of the reins and practice moving her arms out and around to help her remember that she had balance without holding onto the saddle. She even trotted a bit, though that was pretty bumpy and she didn’t like it as much.

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Afterward, her little brother got on. He is super enthusiastic about grooming and giving Scarlet treats. It’s really funny to watch because he is so small that he doesn’t even clear Scarlet’s legs but he will stand there and give it all he’s got. Scarlet had a bit of trouble figuring out that the small creature had food at first but afterward he would constantly sniff him to see if he had treats. I ran through the same process with him as I did with his sister, here is how to go, how to stop. We practiced that a bit and then I had him balance on his own as well. He did very good with that. He wasn’t as interested in trotting but he did do about half a circle. Trotting is pretty overwhelming and while Scarlet is a small horse, its a long way off the ground for a kid.

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We called it a day there and put him away. Scarlet was glad because he kept giving me side eye as each new person got on. I could practically hear him saying “Again? What on earth are you doing to me cookie lady?!”

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Saturday I took a completely lazy day but I went out Monday morning. Holly happened to be out lunging in the arena so I took Scarlet over after tacking up to say hi. He and Uno sniffed each other over the fence and played bitey face a bit. It was all completely friendly and not too enthusiastic. We are pretty confident we can introduce them over the fence another time or two and then put them out together after a ride and supervise. We think they would just play but play can get dangerous if they get too into it. We’d rather take it slow and then be able to safely let them have some horse time than get too ambitious and end up with injuries.

We had a good ride after that and I felt pretty satisfied with my weekend overall.

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Riding Lesson (Five months delayed)

When life gets busy, the non-essentials fall off the wagon. In my case, work got crazy and I only had so many spoons to use. Those did not get used for scheduling riding lessons, though I had time to do so. I went out and rode during those days, which takes just as much time as a lesson. It doesn’t, however, require a text message to schedule a lesson. Sometimes, that extra step is just too much to handle.

But! Now that my work and life has slowed down a little bit, I got a lesson scheduled for Tuesday!

I got to ride Brad again. I didn’t bring my saddle this time because I wasn’t sure if I should. (Not sure why I didn’t. I think I had some idea that it wouldn’t fit or whatever) Next time I will bring my own saddle and that will hopefully work.

We started off on the flat over some ground poles to warm up. We were going to head to the big jumping arena but there was another lesson finishing up so we had to wait a bit.¬† Brad was reluctant to move out at first because hey, working is hard. I got after him a bit and we got marching. At the trot, I was able to get more of a rounded frame than Trainer D was expecting. ūüôā

We trotted and cantered over some ground poles set on the outside lines. Trainer D wanted me to keep the same pace and weave over them as I saw fit. She wanted me to focus on pace, where my hands were and that I didn’t lean forward. Basically, keep focused on pace and not anticipate the pole.

We went out to the jump arena since the lesson was concentrated on a few fences on the right. Trainer D told me to be careful of the guy who was taking the lesson as he isn’t safe to ride around. She said he would run you down without a second thought. That was disconcerting to say the least but we didn’t really have an issue.

Trainer D had me work on getting up and down from my two point at the canter and not removing my calves from Brad’s sides. If I did, he would break from the canter to the trot. He is a very honest horse. He is completely willing to do anything but I have to tell him correctly. He will literally do anything so I cannot mess up because it shows what I am doing. It’s a great quality for a lesson horse because my flaws and habits really get worked on.

After I got that under control, Trainer D had us canter over a crossrail a couple of times. The first time, I didn’t lean forward. I generally have the habit of anticipating the jump but this time, I didn’t lean forward enough at the jump. The next time over, I relaxed and trusted myself to sit back enough and followed correctly. Trainer D switched it to a vertical and we hopped over that as well. Then we did two verticals in a row away from the barn. That went okay. I had to keep the impulsion up through the turn and not slack on my legs through it. Brad glanced at the shadow in front of the tiny vertical and ended up chipping a stride in there. We went through a second time and he remembered that shadows don’t need to be stared at.

We went through it going home and Trainer D suggested we get it in 9. We did, but the last stride was a somewhat hastily added one as Brad had sped up toward the barn. The next time over, I asked for him to slow down and had to ask twice as we ended up getting a deep spot to the first fence and landing longer than I had expected. But Brad listened well and we made a nicely fitting 9 strides.

I’m so glad I got to take another lesson and I’m going to do my best to take another one next month instead of waiting five months again!

Working on Feeling

I was able to ride three times last week before I had to fly up to Sacramento to prepare my parent’s surprise party for their 30th anniversary. I’m trying to make sure that whatever we work on is still very focused on stretching and bending. I’m always concerned that Scarlet’s age is going to cause him to suddenly stiffen up to the point where he cannot work anymore.

Monday, I just wasn’t feeling riding much but I needed to get out there because he needs the work. I decided to try a walk-trot only ride, which we don’t do very often. It allowed me to just focus on my posture for the posting trot and do lots of bends and serpentines. It was a good change to a much calmer ride overall.

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Tuesday, I really wanted to work on keeping his weight off of his forehand. I’d noticed recently that when I worked on transitions within gaits or coming back to a trot after a canter, Scarlet felt a lot more downhill than normal. I worked on half halting as well as transitions between gaits to get him shifting his weight back some more. It felt good, but I’m never 100% sure I’m feeling the correct thing. But, the subsequent rides have felt less heavy so I think I’m on the right path.

I also worked on ensuring that shoulders followed the bend on circles, both him and mine. My balance and position have gotten lazy recently and I noticed it when I rode M recently. Keeping Scarlet’s shoulders between the aids is difficult but adding my shoulders on top of that makes it mind-blowingly difficult. It’s funny how many things you need to do to ride that become super difficult if you focus on them. Thinking this way, it’s quite impressive that I ever got to the point of being able to do multiple things at once on a horse.

After we worked, I decided to jump a bit. None of the jumps were¬†set tiny, which I wasn’t in love with. I like to trot/canter Scarlet over a bitty jump as a “hey we are jumping now” warm up. But I’m also lazy and didn’t want to get off to adjust any of them so I had him walk to the smallest cross rail and take a look at it.

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He really wasn’t impressed.

He hopped over it without any shenanigans. And then I turned him and went over a few decently sized verticals. And then called it a day. I like doing just a bit of jumping with him pretty often when he isn’t in great shape. Also, it enforces that this is fun and not something that we drill.

Friday it decided to rain which was weird. It wasn’t really rain, more like spurts of heavy mist but still weird. It was very cool, in the upper 60s. It had been 90 recently so this cold weather really got all the horses excited. Scarlet was mostly pretty good but he definitely was feeling himself. I didn’t ask for too much from him as he was doing his best to just listen. It was good to get out, even if it was weird weather.

This week, Scarlet’s dinner had another flake of alfalfa in it. I’m not sure if I mentioned it here, but Scarlet has been getting a bit porky looking. I thought it was due to my lack of riding in the recent months, though he has been out 2-3 days a week on average if not more. Then, I was out when they were feeding dinner (which is normally about an hour before I reach the barn) and saw that he had alfalfa in his feed. Scarlet gets a flake of alfalfa and a bunch of grass in the morning and then all grass in the evening. He doesn’t need more as he is a) an easy keeper and b) not working super hard. It turns out Scarlet has been getting alfalfa twice a day, which definitely contributed to the preggo belly he is sporting right now. I complained to the barn owner and she said she’d talk to her guys. I can’t get out there early enough to check on it but I started watching for alfalfa remnants in his feed. This week, I was able to see half of a flake in there. I emailed her again.

I got an email response that said she talked to them and it was the other guy this time and it probably happened due to most other people having alfalfa fed at night to keep their horses warm. Did I want to change my feeding? I almost said yes.

But then didn’t.

Why should I¬†have to change my horse’s feeding schedule? He isn’t getting anything complicated: 1 alfalfa in the morning with grass and grass at night. A and G on the signs. It’s not complicated. So I said no, I want him to have it in the morning. Definitely ruffled my feathers a bit that her suggestion wasn’t to enforce that the horse gets the correct feed when this has happened multiple times but suggest that I change to match. I’m not the only one that feeds different hays during the day. Everyone has their own personal balance between alfalfa and grass. It should not be a problem which order it is in the day.

Hopefully, this will not keep happening. I’m working on uping our riding time with some longer trot sets to get him burning off some of the fat he has stored. If he goes back to his normal food schedule, that should be enough to get him back in shape. Fingers crossed.

Del Mar Grand Prix

Saturday was the Del Mar Grand Prix. I went last year with¬†Karen¬†and I knew that I wanted to go again. It was so much fun last year. I’ve been hanging out with a few people from my barn more often. In light of that, I thought that it would be fun to gather a group of people together for the show. It ended up being Holly, her bf, Kristen, and Karen. Unfortunately, Karen ended up not being able to make it suddenly the day of.

We all met at the fair and wandered around the vendors a bit. I got a rootbeer float and some kettle corn as a treat. I got enough kettle corn to share but everyone else didn’t seem interested. They each only had a few pieces and I ended up eating about half the bag myself.

This year was a lot warmer than last year. I brought a big jacket but I didn’t need to put it on at all this time. Oh well, at least I was prepared in case it had gotten cold.

The first part of the show was a celeb ultimate trail course. A few of the riders for the grand prix¬†were in it. A movie star/tv star that Holly recognized and the CEO of the fairgrounds rode. It was pretty funny to watch as they all were doing their best but not quite getting the precision you’d see in professionals of that style. A lot of the horses had glitter on their butt. One horse had glitter all over his body. He glowed like a holographic picture under the arena lights.

The show was awesome. The course had a lot of turns and long distances that you had to push for followed by lines that rode shorter. It was amazing to watch everyone go around. There were a lot of noisy people in the audience behind me that either were drunk or just really really into the show as they yelled during at least 50% of the jump attempts.

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Michelle Parker and Cupilor were the winning pair after a 9 pair jump off. The top three pairs at the finished ended up going one after another and each one beat the previous time by a large chunk .5-1 full second. It was amazing to watch these people fly around these long distances and clear huge boxy oxers at speed. It was awesome to watch and I had a lot of fun watching with friends.

I didn’t take as many videos as I did last time and I don’t have anything from the winning pair but here are two videos of the main course for your pleasure.

Bloggers at a Baazar

The one part of getting married that I had really enjoyed (besides the getting married part) was actually planning my wedding. I loved looking at the options, comparing prices, researching etc. I had seriously considered becoming a wedding planner as I had so much fun with it but quickly realized that trying to deal with bridezillas would be my downfall. When L. got engaged and mentioned that she wanted some company to a bridal baazar happening at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, I was there for that.

We ubered from the showpark to the fairgrounds. It was quite crowded when we got there even though we were there early-ish in the morning. L had specific things she was looking for but was interested in looking at most of the other stuff.

We walked around, got a bunch of free information, ate some cake slices (YUM!) and got a few pictures from a photo booth. It was a lot of fun, even more so since I didn’t have any pressure of paying attention or worrying about which options would work for me.

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The fashion show was interesting. There always seems to be a trend in wedding dresses for the year. This year seemed to be sparkly. There were a lot of dresses with sparkles. There were a few that had see-through sections as well. Scandalous! It’s hard to picture how a certain dress would look on someone and L agreed. It was good to see the variety but she wants to go and try on a bunch of styles to see what she likes.

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Afterward, we ate lunch and watched some equitation classes at the showpark. Then, we said hi to Dante and watched him be a goofy baby in turnout. He is so handsome and has really bulked out over this last year. It was a really fun day being silly with a friend.

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Rugged Maniac 4/28

Backlog of posts incoming. I’ve had ideas/media for all of these posts but just haven’t squeezed in the time to write them. I didn’t want to not share them though so let’s all take a trip back in time.

My sister asked me back when I was training for my half marathon if I wanted to do a rugged maniac run with her. She had done it last year and really enjoyed it. The race was a 5k with obstacles and mud to get over throughout the course. This one had 26 obstacles. I agreed to do it and found myself gearing up to get completely dirty on a Saturday morning.

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I felt a little concerned about my ability to complete the course when there was a chest high wall you had to boost yourself over before you even got to the starting line. I was able to get over it and it wasn’t as hard as I feared but talk about throwing you into the deep end.

We got most of the way through a mile before we even hit the mud section of the run. The obstacles were stacked on the back two miles of the run so we didn’t get much running in there. I’ll spare you the description of each one and just say look at the pictures.

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Instead, I’ll tell you about one. One terrible, horrible obstacle that I cannot remove from my brain. It was called Claustrophobia.

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They took a large drainage tunnel under the road and filled it with mud. This wasn’t ordinary mud either. I swear that they added corn starch or gelatin to it because it was the stickiest, most slippery mud that I have ever seen. We had to wade through around 15 feet of mud that came to mid-calf. You had to carefully pull your feet up in a somewhat sideways motion or you’d lose your shoe. After the wading, they had made a huge mound of the mud for another 15 feet that you had to climb up onto and either walk bent in half or crawl. I had the worst time trying to get up there. Slippery mud doesn’t help with climbing up things. I ended up getting my sister’s bf to boost me from behind and then I crawled through. The mud stuck to hands and feet like nothing else. It looked like I had dipped my hand into wax. It would not come off when shaking your hand or scrapping it off. It took forever to get clean. My feet felt 10 pounds heavier with all the mud stuck to my shoes.

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We had to go back through it on the way back to the finish line. It was definitely the worst/best part of the run. I’ll definitely remember it for a long while.

It took about two hours to complete the whole run since there ended up being quite the bottleneck at the obstacles. There were a lot of people out running as well. I managed to not get burnt except for a tiny spot on my neck where I missed with sunblock. I’m sure the mud helped protect me from the sun as well. It was fun. I’ll have to see how I feel next year before I decide whether to do it again or not. I definitely would only ever do this as a team. Without other people there, I would have had a lot of issue getting over the obstacles and would not have had as much fun laughing at myself.

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