First post of the new category and I’m really hoping that it works out well. I’m not as great with this blog formatting stuff as I’d like to be. This will be up every Wednesday (obvs) and my regular horse posts will be up twice a week, Monday and Friday. If you’re just here for the horse posts, please be sure to come back then.
Writing is my other main hobby. It seems silly to call it a hobby as I’d like to earn money from it some day. I’ve been writing fiction for too long to remember at this point. I’ve talked a bit about it on the blog, when something large comes up or during NaNoWriMo in November. I work really well with outside deadlines like NaNo. But I’m finding that I have difficulty keeping myself on track as well without it. I’ve had some days where I don’t want to ride that I go out to do so because I want to have more material for the blog. So I thought that this might also be a good motivation for writing. If I have to ‘report’ on my writing each week, maybe I’ll make sure I get a lot done. It’s worth a shot.
So, this last week has been pretty good. I’ve met at least the minimum word count goal I’ve set for myself each day. I’m not usually as good about writing a bit each day for a full week so I’m quite pleased with myself. My current project is split between rewriting and editing a novel I’d finished a rough draft on. I don’t write fiction with an outline. I do have a general idea of beginning and end with some major plot points along the way but most of it just comes out of thin air. This means that I sometimes don’t really know character or story until I get pretty far into it. I’ve now got the daunting task of making the beginning look like the end of the story. There’s a lot more rewriting than I had anticipated but I’m excited to be editing.
This is my first time editing a novel I’ve written. I’m learning so much each time I sit down to the computer. I know that after I’d been able to finish the draft of a novel, I had a much easier time writing the next novel idea. I’m hopeful that I get a similar result with editing. If I edit, I’ll understand problems I made while writing and will hopefully make less of those same problems on my next draft.
Whether I learn to not make as many mistakes or not, my goal with this current novel project is to try to query for an agent. I need to have a really polished draft before I do that so this is probably the first of several revisions before I get it out there. It’s not the best thing to not have a job right now but it does give me some extra time during the day to write. I’m going to try to use that to my advantage as best I can.
It’s starting to get warm here again just before its set to rain. San Diego sure has some weird weather. But when it hits 78 in the afternoon, you’ve got to ride in the morning. Especially since Scarlet is just starting to shed out his winter coat.
Saturday morning was pretty calm. There was only other person out riding and they only rode for a short period of time. Almost all the jump standards had been knocked down by the wind we’d had the previous day. I expected Scarlet to spook at them but he was strangely chill about it. Only one downed standard seemed spooky and I think that was just because we were riding straight at it. He might have thought I was going to ask him to walk over it.
I wanted to try the canter poles again. Repetition is important with skills like that. He was much more chill about heading toward the poles. I think he understood what was going on this time. I did find an interesting thing as we were going around. Scarlet’s right lead canter is more unbalanced than his left lead. He had trouble bending to the right so this makes sense. The unbalanced lead also makes it harder for him to collect. He had trouble trying to go through the poled on six strides to the right. He would break to the trot and just couldn’t get the sit happening. I need to figure out some ways to work on that and help him improve it.
I took us on the trail loop for a cool down. Scarlet was not sure about this. We haven’t done the trail in a while now. He was even more unsure when he was people with a dog walking in front of us. The people were really respectful and had their dog on a leash but he was very concerned. They even pulled to the side at the fork in the trail to let us by. We were taking the other fork but I appreciate the consideration. After we passed them, Scarlet started to trot off. He wasn’t running out of my control so I decided to just let him. I want to be able to trot him around this loop for conditioning. It was probably not the best though as he was trotting out of tension and worry instead of trotting from being asked. I had a devil of a time getting him to walk down the steep hill and walk back to the barn. No point in a cool down lap if we don’t get walking. Once we were headed on the final stretch to the barn, he did relax and let his head drop down. We will have to do the trail more so that he at least isn’t on high alert if we can’t actually get relaxation.
Monday was so ridiculously windy. We had gust warnings for the whole day. I headed out to the barn with the intent to ride but… Honestly, it was just too windy. I really didn’t feel like dealing with the spooking that would come along with that type of wind. Scarlet had been ridden for the three days previous so I figured I’d let him run around the arena for a bit, give him some grass and then head home.
Scarlet will free lunge quite well so I hardly use the lunge line. I also do not have to resort to running after him chasing him into a faster gait. I just grab a lunge whip and he focuses. I didn’t even need the whip that day.
After he ran a bit of energy off and was listening to which gait I was asking of him, I took him out to graze. I didn’t read while holding him that time as I was concerned he’d eat and then spook at something and run me over. But he focused solely on eating. I let him graze till I was bored and then put him away.
He got new shoes on Tuesday. The farrier said his feet still look good. I was concerned that standing in the mud had hurt his feet but it looks like it has not. I’d still like his stall to dry up completely so that his feet stay good.
Wednesday we rode in the jump arena again. It was completely dry and groomed after all the rain. Scarlet was really excited to get out. Holly and Uno were riding when we got there so he really just wanted to join his friend. He wanted to throw a fit when they left before we did but I got him focused. After warming up, I decided to do a tiny bit of jumping. The cross rail and small vertical were left where I had jumped them before all the rain.
Scarlet perked up when we trotted toward the cross rail. He was a very good boy at jumping and then cantering off. We did that a couple of times both ways before cantering it. He was a little too excited to canter it and powered over it. No real problems with that, though it felt a little bit more like his old rushing the fence. We may have to do some work on that. We popped over the small vertical twice and I called it there. I want a lot of good practice as we slowly inch the height back up to where I know we can go.
I also want to try some placing poles to help with getting us to the base of each jump. I also think that it might help with the feeling of rushing the jump. I’ve got the 101 jumping exercises book so I think I may try to use some of those to work on. I have the time during the day to set up the jumps as I want before I ride since I’m not on a tight schedule.
Progression of wanting grass
Hey c’mon Mom
That grass looks good…
Thursday I wanted to try adjusting the canter stride. L and I had talked about this last time we hung out and she suggested poles set at five strides where we could collect and extend within those poles. I tugged Scarlet along while I moved the poles around. I thought his stride might be a little shorter than the normal 12 ft stride so I set them at 50ft apart. After we warmed up, I pointed Scarlet at the poles. He saw them, laughed at me, said ‘Bitch please!’, and cantered it in 4.
Serves me right for underestimating him. I had to get my butt out of the saddle, adjust the poles out another stride and then get back on. That rode really well at five. Scarlet was super gunho for the poles as well. We’d turn the corner and he’d power forward in an amazing (slightly fast feeling but probably better paces) stride. We did it left and right before I asked him to shorten to six. That was really really hard. Scarlet was pulling against me the whole time.
The whole reason I wanted to do this exercise was to try to help us figure out how to actually rock back on our butt when I ask him to “collect”. I can get him to slow down, but that’s really not what I need when I half-halt etc. I am going to do this more to see if I can get some more relaxation instead of excitement. I’m hoping we will be able to progress in this as we go along.
(WordPress ate my blog post and kicked it back to drafts with last nights work but not this morning, so if you’ve read this before, apologies!)
I had an epiphany while showering last night. (All the best thoughts happen in the shower.) I had been really down last week, feeling upset about not having much response to the job hunt, down on my writing, etc. I was thinking about having to keep applying but realized that even though my situation hasn’t changed since last week, I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t know what changed. Then I figured it out.
I’d been able to ride. I got out and rode three days in a row. I was spending time with my horse and exercising.
So, remember this Future Alex. You get depressed and not nice to yourself if you haven’t spent time with your horse. Now, onto the rides!!
Friday was the first day that it was not raining. I had no idea if the ground was going to be rideable. I figured something was going to be dry enough. The ground is hard and hopefully it would be useable.
There were a lot of people out at the barn and some people were hand walking so I figured I was going to be fine. I had to park up at the only concrete parking which was all the way across the yard. The mud was super deep in some areas and I had to pick my way across carefully. I pulled Scarlet out of the stall on my way back to the tack room. He was a bit excited and tried to rush and hop. I had to yank on him before he subsided.
I swung on and Scarlet took about 5 steps before he got excited. He exploded into mini rears and spun around moving sideways. I wasn’t worried about coming off but he was moving right toward a visible slurry of mud. I didn’t want him to slip and hurt either of us. He wasn’t listening to me at all. It took a bit and we got dangerously close to the slippery parts but I got him moving forward and around the dryish part of the barn. I was pretty tense for a while. There was a small dryer track we could walk on and it was very difficult keeping Scarlet to the good spots when he was not listening to me. He tried to jig a lot but eventually he settled down. I was able to relax gradually after that and we walked for over 30 minutes. Not the best exercise but we got out and did it.
Saturday, I was super excited to get out there. We’d had one full day of sun so I was hoping that the barn would be even drier. EVERYONE wasout at the barn. This time, we were able to park in the dirt parking lots so there was room for all the cars. I noticed the BO lunging in the front most arena as I was driving in. I have stepped foot in that arena maybe twice since moving to the barn. I thought Scarlet might be a bit of trouble to get up there but it would be worth a shot to get some actual work done.
Scarlet was still quite tense during grooming but didn’t explode when I got on. I did a lap around the barn before heading up to the front. No one was in the arena and it was perfectly dry. Scarlet was not cool with being in that arena though. There are dogs and privacy fences along two sides and they were barking a lot. We made it around by doing circles and moving the edge out further and further each time. Despite not being used to the arena, he was a very good boy.
We’d just started trotting when a lady came out with her horse and asked if we would be okay with her lunging while I rode. This was the only arena that was dry so I said yes, of course. I’m not going to selfishly hog the space when we all are paying for the use of the facilities. She started lunging in a corner and I took the other half of the arena as an oval. We did that for a bit before the western trainer came out and announced she was going to lunge within my oval as she had fifteen horses to lunge that day. I wasn’t in love with the idea but what was I going to do? Say no? A third person came out and took the other corner. So it was a busy arena.
You can pretty clearly see the two lunge circles to the right, my oval and the circle within my oval to the left.
I’m glad Scarlet is good with other horses around. The horse inside my oval was going nuts and not lunging properly so I had to keep an eye out for him. The other two horses were fine. I trotted and walked around while everyone lunged and waited until they all ended up leaving the arena. I cantered then so that we had more space to move. I called it a day then and headed back. We rode for 55 minutes, which was probably longer than we needed but I was loathe to quit. Scarlet got a lot of grain and some carrot stretches as well as his usual large handful of treats as a reward.
I borrowed a metal garden rake someone had at the barn to try and move some of the mud around in Scarlet’s stall. I couldn’t cart it out and replace it with dry stuff but I thought turning it and moving it into a more even layer might help it try faster. Even if it doesn’t, the effort makes me feel a bit better about it.
Sunday was another gloriously sunny day. The jump arena was open but had some slick corners so I figured I’d just go back to the front arena since we’d had no problem there the day before. Scarlet needed a tow from one of the other horses to walk up there for some reason and he was more spooky than the day before. We got around the arena by the same method and I focused on moving forward and relaxing. I really wanted him to stretch down at the walk and trot since we’d ridden so hard the day before. It took a while but eventually we got some good figure eight stretching trot. I did canter a few laps each way but called it at about 35 minutes.
The grassy area wasn’t too wet so Scarlet got a good twenty minutes of yanking up the nice long stems before I put him back in his pen. He got more carrot stretches, which he is already starting to look for whenever I move to his side or by his feet. I can definitely see which moves are harder for him. It matches what I feel on his back which is good. I raked his stall again. I can’t really say if my efforts from the day before helped but it was overall less squishy so I’m going to tell myself it did. It makes me feel better about the ache in my back and shoulders. Raking is hard work!
We have more rain coming at the end of the month. I doubt everything is going to completely dry out before then. I’m going to try to make the most of the sunny time that I have and get out to do something with Scarlet as often as I can. Gotta get my daily dose of vitamin horse after all.
A very sparse update today. San Diego has been impacted by rain. It’s weird. I’m originally from NorCal so I’m not bothered by the rain. But everyone else down here is. The barn is definitely not outfitted for that much water. Most of the barn is dirt which translates to mud when it rains this much.
I went out and hung out with Scarlet. I don’t mind riding in the rain but the arenas are closed and the mud is quite slippery. So I don’t want to risk us slipping and sliding around everywhere. I groomed him and gave him some treats. He was not in love with the rain.
His face was the only part that was wet. I don’t understand why he didn’t just put his head under the covering like the rest of his body. Horses. They are silly.
I like mare motels and I like how large his is. He gets to move around more than the average stall will allow. But its only half covered which means it’s half wet with some dripping from the edge. There are no gutters so all the rain just kinda comes straight down.
So, not much going on with us. The rain is stopping today so we should finally be able to be doing something. I think it will take a while for the arenas to become usable again but the trail should dry up enough to ride on soon.
I did spend some more time with these fluffballs. This lasted for all of the 30 seconds of the video before she bit his neck and said “No more cleaning me.”
Friday, I decided to try some small jumps with Scarlet. There were a couple of cross rails set up at itty bitty heights. I thought we could start there and maybe graduate up to small ones. After a good warm up, we trotted over the first cross rail. Scarlet didn’t really have a problem with it. I was focused on keeping my position as correct as possible so that there was no reason he could stop. We trotted over two cross rails in both directions for a bit. We had to do some circles and reminders to chill. He was locking onto the fence and rushing it slightly.
After the trotting, we cantered. We jumped several times in all directions. While we were cantering for a second jump, someone cracked a lunge whip in the round pen behind us loudly. Scarlet’s neck went up and he went tense so I directed him past the jump and circled us around till he realized the whip wasn’t for him and relaxed a bit. After jumping the itty bitty jumps several times, I felt confident enough to make a small vertical and a small cross rail. The vertical was maaaaybe a foot tall to give you some perspective. After having overfaced us last time, I wasn’t taking any chances of that this time.
Scarlet did perfect with those as well. I called it after that, though I wanted to keep inching up the height. It’s supposed to rain a lot this week so I’m not going to be able to jump for a while yet. But my eagerness caused problems last time and the last thing I want is to make him sour at jumping. We did fall back on some rushing issues to the jumps. I’m not sure if that was from eagerness or a reaction to the bad jumps the previous times we jumped. When the arenas dry out enough for jumping, we will have to do some more jumps and try to place poles and such to help with the rushing.
So my friend’s cat gave Scarlet an xmas gift. Appropriate, as he is a horse of a cat:
Since I got some extra money to get Scarlet some awesome treats, I grabbed a bunch of stuff when I went to the feed store for his grain.
Okay so the salt block and container weren’t treats per say but they were necessary. Plus he gets a huge special bag of treats along with his normal bag of treats. (What can I say? He’s spoiled.) And a large bag of carrots. He loooooves carrots. I’d have them more often as they really aren’t that expensive to purchase but they take up a lot of space in my fridge. If I had the electricity to have a mini fridge in my tack room, I’d definitely have it filled with carrots from Costco.
My riding schedule hasn’t returned to a consistent schedule as of yet (working on that. Me a lazy bum. lol). The rain definitely influenced a few things. The arena was closed again on Monday. I wanted to get on and ride as last time hand walking around the barn gave me shin splints.
Scarlet was super eager to be off and was ungodly excited when I allowed him to start trotting. The other horses in the barn started to dart around and freak as we trotted past. I felt a little bad about that so I ended up mostly trotting away from the stalls and in a small circle to the side of the back arena. I figured that if the horses freaked when I was moving there, that’s not my problem as much. It’s literally where horses run all the time so its just the wiggles from not having been out I think.
Scarlet was still extremely eager in the circles so I kept him going until we chilled a bit. Not the best workout for him but we managed to at least get moving.
Tuesday the arena was open again! And Holly was out riding Uno. Scarlet was super duper excited to be going again. He’s always slow to get warmed up at the trot but he was a bit more looky and tense than he normally is. When we cantered, he lit up. You could just hear the thoughts blaring from his head. “OMGZ! FAST! YES! MORE MORE MORE!!” I ended up having to two point around and just let him for for a while. He just wanted to keep cantering and cantering. He was so strong at the trot when I brought him back as well.
We ended up riding for almost an hour just cause he wanted to keep going. Its the thing I love and hate about arabs. They are still fresh when you are worn out.
Since it was warmer, I gave Scarlet a bath. He really really smelled bad and I just really wanted to get him clean. Not going to last very long but it made me feel happy. He hates baths but I think he forgave me as he got to eat grass for another hour afterward to dry off before I put him away.
The holidays have come and gone. I traveled a bunch and am sooooo happy to be back home. This means I haven’t gotten much horse time recently. It’s also been raining a decent amount (for San Diego) so the arenas haven’t been the best.
I hand walked Scarlet on Tuesday because the rain had made the arenas soppy and I didn’t want to try a ride around the barn after close to two weeks without riding and a cold snap. I ended up jogging with him a bit. Except for the very first jog, where he got a bit excited to be going FAST, he was a perfect gentleman. I ended up giving myself slight shinsplints due to running in my boots.
I rode Wednesday and Thursday. The jump arena dries so well now that the footing is maintained and even all across. The corners were a little sloppy but those are easily avoided. I only did just over 30 minutes of riding both days. Scarlet was pretty good all things considered. My muscles were just not there for the rides. It really sucks how quickly muscle structure vanishes. And I’m not over 30 yet so I dread how that’s going to go as I get older.
Friday, I got to spend the whoooooole day at the barn. L. and I arranged to hang out for the whole day as I don’t have a job and she had a couple of weeks off around the holidays. We started with her barn and I got to watch a lesson with her on Dante. It was so awesome to see the monster baby horse again. He’s gotten a bit naughty and more mouthy but I think it’s just because he’s bored. He really had to work his little brain during the lesson and I think it was so good for him. He definitely figured out everything that Trainer M gave them to do. I took lots of video for L to analyze later.
We hung around her barn for a while, putting things away and watching some other lessons for a bit. Then we got lunch and headed to my barn.
I was excited to show off what Scarlet and I have been doing in regards to jumping. Too excited unfortunately. I got too greedy and set all the jumps higher than I normally start. Scarlet did one or two at that height and then was like, um no. So we had like 4 refusals. L ended up hopping into the arena and dropping the edge of one vertical for me and we popped over it while it was tiny and unimposing and then did it twice after she put it up.
I’m pretty mad at myself for doing that to Scarlet. I should have known better. He hasn’t jumped in pretty much a month. We are both fairly green at jumping. I should have given him something smaller to warm up over and more varieties of heights rather than just pushing him to go higher cause I wanted to show off. Lesson learned.
L did hop on afterward and Scarlet behaved super nice for her and she got him over jumps as well. All in all, it was an entire day spent at barns with a good friend. I so want to do that again. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.