Stretching

With the small adjustments I’ve been making to my posture while riding and how I feel after doing a bareback ride, I’ve noticed one thing. My hip flexors? They must be made of ceramic or something. Hard, inflexible and fragile.

Seriously, my hip flexors are so tight. I’ve never been a flexible person except for maybe when I was 1 and still didn’t have bones. It doesn’t help that my job requires me to sit at a computer for the whole day. I don’t really move around to loosen them.

I’ve been trying to remember to do some stretching sessions periodically during the day. It’s quite difficult to remember when you’re in the middle of a project and all your brainpower is focused. I need to set a timer or something so I do get up and stretch some.

I’m also stretching how comfortable I am with the heights of fences. Sunday I wanted to do some jumps and my plan was to put some larger than normal cross rails out. There happened to be a fair amount of people out and about when I got on. Scarlet was doing really well and I was feeling pretty good. I went over the small cross rails a few times to warm up. This was a bit difficult because there were 4 horses going every which way but we managed.

K was riding and mentioned that we looked good. I told her about our change to the canter and how much it’s helped us with our approach to fences. She said that every time she sees us we look pretty good and she notices that we improve. That’s always nice to hear. She doesn’t get out much so her seeing us ends up being after a decent chunk of time.

I got off and set up some larger cross rails and a verticle. (And subsequently left my crop at the base of a jump) Scarlet was so freaking good. We got some longer and shorter take off points but they were all smooth and didn’t feel terrible because we were moving at a forward canter. It was just so much easier to jump like that.

I think having the idea of setting jumps higher is a good stretching point. I plan to inch them up since I know Scarlet can handle them. I just need to prove that to myself.

What about you guys? What are you stretching lately? Any physical stretches that you do for riding that you’d like to share?

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Breeches

Smartpak was having a bit of a sale this week (when are they not?) so I thought I’d give their piper breeches a try. I’ve been wearing one type of breeches since I got back into riding after college.

https://www.doversaddlery.com/devonaire-versailles-breeches/p/X1-35247B/

These breeches are knit, lightweight and super stretchy. They are awesome for riding in CA. There is really only one problem with them. The top of the knee patch tends to develop holes where it connects with the material. I guess that’s due to the stretchy nature. It’s good for a while but they all tend to have holes by the time a year is up.

I’d like to keep breeches for longer than a year, if possible. I don’t want to spend $250 on a pair of breeches but I also thought spending $40 to have them go out in a year was silly. People seem to like the piper brand and they aren’t that expensive, especially with a sale.

I got this pair, cause it was one of the only sale options left in my size.

https://www.smartpakequine.com/pt/piper-breeches-by-smartpak–classic-side-zip-knee-patch-clearance-13894

And I saw this pair and though, ooh knit! Those might be lighter.

https://www.smartpakequine.com/pt/piper-knit-breeches-by-smartpak–mid-rise-knee-patch-13074

What I neglected to notice about the second pair is that they have silicone knee patches instead of suede. I’d avoided silicone because my thoughts were that they would be too sticky and would interfere with movement once I was riding. But since they were already here, I tried them on. And I, unfortunately, LOVE how that pair fits. Which leaves me with a dilemma. Do I keep them or send them back?

I can’t, in good conscience, try them in a trial ride and then send them back. I’m too rule-abiding for that. But this pair wasn’t on sale. They were full price but I added them due to the knit material. So they were 70ish dollars. I’ll be super annoyed with myself if I ride in them and hate them. $70 is nothing to sneer at.

So, blog-o-sphere, what are your experiences? Have you ridden in silicone knee pad breeches? How do they compare to suede? Any experiences you can share will help me make my decision!

Working Hard

Since L’s amazing help with my riding, I’ve been trying to practice the things that she helped me with. These have all been quite difficult. It’s a battle against my body’s habits and that’s never an easy thing.

The main thing I’ve been focusing on is the canter. I want it to be quite forward. I’ve got a good feel for the canter now. It’s sometimes a little more “fast” than “forward”. If I feel like Scarlet isn’t getting the forward, I got into a half seat to give his back a bit of a break. It works pretty well and I’m able to sit down afterward without issue. Scarlet loves this canter and is quite happy to canter like this. Circles are a bit difficult now. He’s not as balanced and wants to get shorter in his steps or motorcycle around the circle.

On my part, the canter is taking a bit to get used to. I don’t feel uncomfortable but it’s definitely more energy and canter than I’m used to having. It feels just on the edge of breaking into a gallop. I trust Scarlet to have brakes though so I’m not concerned about that. It’s also so flipping hard to sit! My core hurts so much! I’m getting there but it definitely makes me feel like I’m so out of shape. It’s worth it though. This canter really makes jumping sooooo much easier.

The other two things I am prioritizing at the moment are my hands and my legs/seat combo. The hands are difficult. I’ve been raising them up since I started taking lessons but they haven’t quite reached the level that they should be at. I have been consciously moving them whenever I noticed that they’ve drifted down toward Scarlet’s neck. That is also going to take quite a while to fix. One thing that has surprised me about the hand position change is that my wimpy noodle arms hurt after holding up my own freaking hands.

So pathetic.

I really need to do some more arm exercises. T_T

I considered my leg position and how they managed to move forward into a chair position. I think that one thing that influenced it was my stirrups being slightly too long. I’ve felt like it’s difficult to keep my right stirrup occasionally and have been pushing my heels down more in order to attempt to keep it. This resulted in my whole leg moving forward. With the stirrup change, it’s definitely easier to keep them and I’m able to keep my legs back and heels down without issue.

My seat bones don’t stay under me as well as I’d like. My core isn’t quite as strong as it should be (again, more exercises needed). I’ve been really focusing on this while walking but I lose my focus when doing faster gaits. There’s so much to focus on improving. I know this will get better as I keep trying.

It’s been quite fun to have things to focus on while riding. I generally go out with a loose plan for my rides and this had just added more things for me to work on. Plus, all these things I have a feeling for the “proper” way for me to do them. I’m quite happy with the way I’m working for now. I can’t wait to see what improvements happen as we keep working.

A Helping Hand

Recently, I’ve felt a bit frustrated with my riding. Scarlet has been good and we’ve been making progress but I’ve been feeling like there is a blockage. I feel like I’m almost there for some things but that I’m missing something.

L. had been reading along and chatting with me as I struggled and she volunteered herself as a videographer and advice giver. I really felt like I needed someone to watch and tell me what I couldn’t figure out myself so I jumped at the chance.

I had Scarlet all groomed and tacked up when L got there so we headed up to the jump arena. There was one other person riding around the time. It wasn’t a problem to ride around her.

I started off by warming up. L walked around the arena and gave me tips on how I was riding while I talked about the things that had been bugging me. A trailer bumped it’s way up the driveway and Scarlet got quite tense and spooky. He had his head straight up in the air and was very short strided.

I wasn’t super worried about him running away but I was trying to keep him moving to keep him focused. I got tense and choked up on the reins. L told me to lift my hands to match his head and to just push him forward. More and more forward. I need to remember that forward is ALWAYS the answer.

Its been a while since we rode. I went on a camping trip right after the ride so I didn’t have time to write it up then. I’m going to write the notes down that I wrote right after as a reminder of the things I need to work on. I’ll talk a bit about each one.

  • Hands – hold them up and like I’m supporting a tray, thumbs up and fingers closed, keep my elbows following (in the appropriate gaits)
    • I’ve been trying to improve my hand/arm position a lot lately. From the videos, it still hasn’t improved as much as I’d like it to. I really need to focus on this. It’s quite difficult to fix bad habits so this is going to be a long process for me. I really like having had someone point out the problems and tell me when I actually did it right. It gives me a good baseline feel for what I need to do in the future.
  • Seat – Sit on my seatbone and press back w/legs, put my leg above the saddle before putting it in the stirrup to get the right feel for the seat
    • L got some biomechanic adjustments from Megan when she visited and she passed that bit of knowledge on to me. (Thank you Megan!) I needed to adjust my stirrups up one hole and push my legs back to sit in less of a chair seat. This is hard. My muscles are screaming every time I practice this. This is a good thing but it makes me quite sore. I’m eager to see how future videos look as I can see the leg position problem that L spoke of.
  • Push forward forward forward if his head gets up of if he gets behind the bit/ducks his head against his chest
    • The ducking his head is actually a problem we’ve been having quite a lot recently. Scarlet has been using that as an evasion technique. He is quite soft in the bridle so it feels weird to push him more and more forward. It also makes pushing him out into longer reins difficult as he just floats there rather than following the bit.
  • How to slow posting – use your thighs and abs, imagine sucking the horse up into you
    • I still haven’t conceptually figured this one out but I need to work on the slower post so I can encourage longer steps at the trot
  • Work long and low as much as possible to improve his neck and back (not a quick fix due to conformation and age)
    • Major goal for me. I want him to stretch out and use his back more. I think that with his age getting up there, I need to do everything in my power to make his job easier and make him strong enough to do what I ask. Building the right muscle is definitely a priority.
  • Work on forward jump canter as primary canter
    • This canter feels so much more up than our normal canter. I don’t have a great video of it but I imagine that the air we get is better too. Scarlet loves it and happily runs around faster. It also allows us to meet the jumps out of stride better and Scarlet doesn’t rush the jump anymore. Surprise surprise. He now has the impulsion he needs to get over it easily. It’s quite difficult to ride but I will gain the muscle as we practice.
  • Work on my two point so I can stay up in it two strides before and after the jump
    • Only a month to two-point-tober and I’m so out of two pointing shape. I don’t do it as much as I should so this is a thing I am focusing on for my rides now.
  • Shoulder in – needs to feel steeper than you think, not quite sidepass but much steeper.
    • This was good because I have no mirrors so I cannot tell if we are actually moving correctly or not.

L hopped on for a bit after I rode and did a few circles in each direction with Scarlet. She confirmed a few things we had been talking about. Poor Scarlet had been going for over an hour at this point and was quite ready to go back to his pen.

So, I’ve got a lot of homework but I feel much better about it. I’ve got plenty of things I can work on. These are things that I now have a feel of exactly what I need to do. It’s fantastic and I’m really grateful that L came out and helped me.

Almost forgot! She used the equisense while we were riding and sent me the data from the ride.

 

All the video L took. Go to 8:06 if you want to watch just the jump portion (no sound. There was a lot of wind noise.)

Millionaire Me

Blog Hop intentionally or unintentionally started by Olivia!

There is a lot of stuff that I would want to do if I suddenly came into a windfall of money. So much stuff. It would honestly be hard to prioritize.

My first thing would probably be purchasing a nice house. I’m dying to own a home and I, unfortunately (for my wallet),  live in San Diego which is EXPENSIVE. So a cool million would almost by me the perfect, modest house. (I’m not joking, zillow/redfin the real estate around here if you think that I am.)

After the house, I’d start looking into other plans. I’m not sure if I’d want to purchase a barn myself or just move into one of the super nice barns that are around here. I’d definitely want to purchase a nice young horse and do tons of lessons on that new horse and Scarlet. I don’t want to live on property with a barn and stuff unless I find the perfect one, hire a barn manager and a bunch of people to do all the rest of the barn stuff for me. I’ve found that I really enjoy being able to leave on vacation without having to worry about who is feeding my horse. I’d also have to find the perfect trainer and convince them to move in and give me lessons all the time.

The next thing I’d probably do is buy a huge plot of land and build a senior animal rescue. I’ve always thought that this is what I’d do if I won the lottery. I adopted both my cats as younger animals but it breaks my heart to look at shelter ads and see the senior animals that gave everything to their families and then were abandoned when they could no longer move as fast. I’d hire my MIL to run the cat side of things. She is the cat whisperer and takes in misfits to her house already. She is currently at 7 which isn’t the most she’s ever had. She’d love to be able to adopt all misfits. It would be a place where unwanted seniors would come and live out the last couple of years in luxury.

I’d also want to save a decent amount because man the upkeep on all this would be expensive! I’d have to make sure that whatever I invest/save is going to generate enough interest to pay for all these things before I did any of these. Except for the house. I would buy a house in half a heartbeat if I had the money to.