Friday I wasn’t out at the barn as the night before had been a late one. My work took us all to see End Game in theaters. It was amazing and I’m so grateful to have an awesome job that does stuff like this. But it did cut into my riding time a little bit. Worth it!
Saturday was a bit of a shorter ride than I prefer to get on the weekends due to having something to do around lunch time. Scarlet was ignoring my right leg per usual. I had to really get after him with asking, spurring and then digging it into his side. I’m considering moving my spur on that side above the spur rest a few times until he starts respecting that aid a bit more.
We didn’t work on too much technical stuff. We were trying to avoid the other horse in the arena that was circling randomly at the trot all over the middle of the arena. Normally that would be fine but… the rider didn’t seem to be focused on anything but trying to trip her own horse up. We managed though. It was hard for me to do any of my normal circling and serpentines as I couldn’t predict at all where she was going.
After we got warmed up, we crossed the diagonal at a canter and kept the counter canter for roughly 2/3 of the arena. He’s really balanced at the counter canter so this is not too much of a problem for him. On the right lead, we broke to the trot right before I turned us back to go across the arena to the correct bend. I think that was my fault. He’s not as strong on that lead and I didn’t support him well enough for us to be able to stick it. We did it again while I was more present and it went just fine.
I meant to grab a neck strap for keeping my hands forward but I keep forgetting to grab one of my old stirrup leathers. After I was done on Saturday, I hung it up with my bridle so I wouldn’t forget in the future.
Sunday morning was Dante’s return to showing with L. I got coffee and donuts on my way out to the show. I arrived just before the warmup round started.
I love supporting my friends and being their paparazzi at events like this. It’s something I’d love if I were doing this someday in the future. Plus I get to spend time with people I like. And horses. Always horses.
Especially this big goof.
No concept of personal space.
After her classes and sending Dante back home, L and I went to Mary’s. It’s really difficult to resist going when the showpark is literally right next to it. Plus I needed more grain and wanted to pick up a few more things. I’d gotten some socks there during the tack sale and they are the most comfortable socks ever so I had to grab a couple more pairs. I just love when the weekend has horse stuff every day.
I have no idea how I can do it but I’ve gotten up an extra 10 minutes early so that I could manage to get to the barn exactly on time this week. And I still am getting to the barn 10 minutes late. How on earth do I add 10 minutes but come up with no extra time? Who knows!
Monday I wasn’t looking for anything specific out of Scarlet. I wanted to just get moving and forward. I also wanted him to stretch out more than he had been. So I rode around a lot with super duper loose reins. As in, I basically held at the buckle. And he stretched and his movements were a lot better. Which led me to the realization that I must be pulling back with my hands a lot. So I need to fix that.
I also practiced half halts at the canter on the loose rein. I asked just with my seat and legs. He is really good at listening on one lead but not on the other lead. His more balanced side is better, obviously. I slightly regretted doing this for the rest of the day as my abs were KILLING ME. It was really good practice though and something I should probably do again.
Tuesday I wanted to do some lateral work. Lateral work is still really hard and I STILL don’t know if I’m doing it right. We get sideways movement but I cannot tell if it is good sideways or horse going sideways but not reaching sideways. I’ll have to get someone out to film me one of these days so I can see if its good. Or somehow save up the money for a soloshot.
Wednesday we jumped! I managed to get out to the barn five minutes earlier than was typical for me. This allowed me to change a couple of the jumps. I set a smallish warm up X at the fence that I currently don’t like. Then I changed one other one to the a reasonable sized X and then another to a big X. It was set higher than the current vertical was set.
Scarlet warmed up super energetically. He knows what it means when I move the jumps around before we ride. I loved the energy though he was being a bit of a brat about being straight while we were riding. We warmed up over the small fence. I may have to suck it up and make the first fence something larger soon. He just trots over it and I’m not ready for a trot over. I’m prepared for a jump so my body goes all sorts of weird.
I circled over the small X and the medium X a few times each way and then went for the vertical. There’s a reasonably long approach to the vertical so Scarlet gets a bit rushy with that fence. We jumped it a bit awkward a couple of times because he wasn’t listening to me asking for no rush. But we got it in the end.
I then looped together the two Xs and the vertical. I wanted to do some different leads as a challenge. We started on the right lead and came to the small X. We then needed to land on the left lead, loop around to the medium X and then right lead circle around to hit the vertical. So somewhat like a serpentine jump line.
Scarlet hopped over the small X perfectly but was not into the changing the lead thing. Since his counter canter is pretty balanced, I just let us continue. In the future I’ll work on the changing leads better but I was starting to run out of time for my morning ride at that point. Counter canter over the medium X went just fine. He even kept it together over the vertical.
After that, I eyed the large X I had made. It looked huge while I was on his back. But I knew that it was only somewhat higher than the vertical. I’d stood by it and measured it. Scarlet was jumping great. We’d jumped that height before. And I wasn’t feeling scared.
So I turned us toward it. We had a curving approach of about 8-10 strides. Scarlet locked on. I felt hesitant and almost pulled us aside at around 5 strides to go. Then I told myself to suck it up and trust my horse. I did my best to stay out of his way and we were over it. I gave him so many pats on the neck for that. Plus a treat for my really good boy.
I’m glad that I forced myself to go over that jump. It wasn’t a dangerous thing to try. We’ve done that height before. But large Xs were the issue last time that ended up getting refusals. I’d pointed him at large ones for warm up and really set him up for failure. The mental blockage that caused for me was more than I had realized and the large X really was scary. But it went fine. And I’m feeling positive about jumping in the future and slowly inching the warm up jump up from ankle level. As long as I am not unfairly pointing Scarlet at something, I think he will be right there with me.
I actually got quite a bit of editing done in the last week. I didn’t manage to get anything done during the weekend (lazy reading ftw) but I’ve been getting more consistent during lunch. The only issue continues to be that people see me lounging on my computer and HAVE to ask me what I’m doing.
Yesterday’s lunchtime editing was actually the best. The thing that changed was I put headphones on (over the ear ones) and put some instrumental music one. Two fold change. One – no one bothered me while I had my headphones on. Two- the headphones helped block out a bit of the distraction from people walking by.
Editing is a slow process. But I don’t know if I can 100% complain about that. So far, I’ve only been editing this for… five months if I say that I was editing during December. I cannot remember if that’s actually when I started writing. I know that it took me a full year, one nanowrimo to the following October, to even make the rough draft. That was also my second time actually finishing a rough draft. And yet the first time I’m editing, I somehow expect it to go quicker than the rough draft. And I’m still less than half the time. I think I’m about ⅔ of the way through so I’m in a really good state to finish quicker.
The critique group is still working on the first round of critiques. I’m a little behind on actually getting to my part of the critiquing. I need to at least read the submissions this week so that I can devote more time on the weekend to actually writing out the critiques.
I pulled out an old notebook the other day to read some notes that I’d written about a story I was thinking about. It’s just notes but I got the distinct feeling that my writing has come a long way from where I was when writing at that point. Yet I look at my writing now and I still feel like I’ve got miles and miles to go before my writing is publishable. It’s a really strange feeling, a mixture of pride and panic. Pride because “Look at what I’ve done! I’ve gotten so much better.” Panic from “There’s so little time left. I need to work faster so I can get the next steps of getting published to happen faster.”
I feel this rush in a lot of aspects of my life and it usually makes me panic and run the other way. Which results in frustrated procrastination on my part. Part of my getting more serious about writing has been working to change that mindset and focus on the now and what I can do today. It’s hard. Sometimes I do well and sometimes I don’t. Lately it’s been a lot of I don’t. But I’m working at it. One editing session at a time.
I keep forgetting to post. Ugh. I feel very bad about it. Especially since I was so consistent for a while. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much to post about.
So last week I didn’t ride except for Monday and Saturday. I had a minor health issue that kept me off the horse for the weekdays. I was so ready to get out there on Saturday.
Scarlet seemed happy to get out as well. He was pretty well behaved, though stiff when we were riding. I took my time warming up and walking around the barn. I’d gotten new stirrup leathers recently and Saturday was the first time I had a good moment to try them on.
The previous leathers I’d been using had gotten gummy and were the biggest pain in the ass to try and adjust. I spent ten minutes fighting with them when attempting to adjust them for my nephews that were in town a few weeks ago. After that, I decided I needed new leathers. Ones that I could take on and off without having to fight.
I picked up a pair from Mary’s. (Can’t remember the brand atm. Will have to update later today.) They are thinner which is what I was looking for. They match my saddle pretty well.
I yanked the old leathers out and put the new ones on. It took maybe a minute total which is sooooo much better than my previous ones. I measured the leathers against my arm and they actually turned out to be correct first try. Definitely impressed with myself for that. They felt a little awkward at first as they were stiffer then my old stirrups. Posting and cantering didn’t feel weird though.
I had to go over a few jumps just to see how they feel while jumping as well. Scarlet got really excited when we got to the vertical. The rest of the jumps were really tiny xs but the vertical was roughly 2’. He was so happy to jump that that we had to go over it about three times before he started listening to me asking for not a headlong dive into the jump. I was happy with how we went and how the stirrups felt.
Hopefully this coming week is more consistent riding and more consistent posting from me!
This past week was pretty consumed with setting up the critique group discord, dropbox etc. And for some reason, focusing at work was really difficult. I really need to get over that and figure out how to make it work better for me. I think I just need to find the perfect place to work but that is quite difficult.
Since I didn’t have much of an update as far as my progress for working, I figured that I’d put a tiny piece of the chapters that are being critiqued by my group for you all to read. This chunk came from when I was reworking the first 5,000 words last year before the writing conference I attended. It got the best reaction from the professionals who read it. I’m pretty proud of how cool of an opening chunk it is. Now if I could just get the rest of my words to feel like this!
Kamille leaned against a tree, trying to breathe deeply. Her eyes burned but she didn’t let any tears fall. She took another breath and finally looked at the body lying prone in front of her. The shadows had stretched across the ground more, obscuring some of his features. She could still see the distinct tattoo on his shoulder that had given away his identity. She could also see the dark stain of blood spreading across his chest.
This wasn’t the first corpse Kamille had seen, nor even the first one she had caused. But it was the most problematic.
She pulled a cell phone out of her pocket. Her fingers shook slightly as she dialed the only contact she had in the address book.
“We have a problem.” She said. The light of the sun fell completely away as it dipped beneath the horizon. She continued to stare at the body as she said the next words. “The coven has found me.” She stuck the phone between her shoulder and head. She grabbed the arms of the corpse and heaved it up. Moving carefully, Kamille pulled backward until the body was further in the bushes. It was hard to move a huge body and try to get as little blood on herself as possible while listening to the person on the other end of the phone. “Okay. I understand.” She stood up and brushed her hands off on her jeans. “Yeah, okay. No. I’m fine. But I do have a body we need to get rid of.”
She ended the call and clenched her eyes shut. Everything was going to change now and the only thing she could do was do her best to survive. Kamille opened her eyes and glared down at the corpse, barely visible now that the sun had fully disappeared. “Too bad I can’t kill you twice.” She muttered as she settled in to wait for help disposing of the body.
Friday was the only day I did anything horse related this weekend. Saturday we had some friends visiting and Sunday I just really needed to be lazy. I feel a little bad because Scarlet doesn’t leave his stall if I don’t get him out but I don’t think he is going to worry too much about one day less.
Friday morning I didn’t want to do anything too complicated. At first, I thought I was going to work on lateral work but that’s not really what happened in the ride. Instead, we did a bunch of canter work. I wanted him hotter off my aid for the canter rather than trotting several steps and then cantering. So we did a few transitions and I praised him for anything under two steps of trot. This is a work in progress like anything having to do with transitions.
We also did some more difficult counter canter work. Scarlet has zero issue counter cantering around the arena and can turn down the diagonal fine. Since it’s so easy for him, I wanted us to do some counter canter circles, trying to make them smaller and as well balanced as possible. He did really well with it. I thing we got to around a 30 m circle. He didn’t try to break or swap leads and we were relatively well balanced.
I try to make sure that we don’t end our rides on canters. Scarlet sometimes thinks he’s done after we canter for warm up. I don’t want to encourage that thought process. So we did some trot figure eights and serpentines. I focused on getting some good bends out of him. But we encountered a problem. My sitting to change direction made him think that we were stopping. Even when my legs were on. So we had to have a discussion about that. He’d toss himself on the forehand as well so it took forever to get back to a good trot. More stuff to practice.
While we were cooling down, I had us back up and walk a few steps forward around the rail. Scarlet hates backing up. He curls his neck and angrily chews his mouth. I’m praising when we’re doing it so its not that he is anxious that he doesn’t know the correct action. He just hates it. We need to do it more often so that he gets used to it.
Saturday I cleaned my brushes and then went to the zoo with friends and Sunday I lazed and did some chores. One of the chores was replacing the laces on one of my boots. It had snapped and was slowly wiggling itself loose. So I unlaced it and laced it back up with a cheap lace I got from CVS. It doesn’t look too bad. I’m quite pleased with myself. Whenever I have to do it again, I know how to lace it in an easier fashion than attempting to do it backwards. So while I may have been lazy as far as leaving the house, I at least got things done.
One thing that I try to keep in mind when I’m riding is that I’m not able to have lessons on my own horse. I’m hoping to have lessons for myself on a lesson horse but that isn’t going to happen very often. So I try to keep in mind that I want to improve myself and Scarlet when I ride.
Mondays are days for improving myself. Trying to at least. I rode bareback again on Monday. I had my stretchier breeches on and they definitely aren’t the best option for attempting to post bareback. They move around a lot and really mess with the feel when trying to grip. I didn’t want to do continue posting after trying it but I told myself to suck it up. So I posted. Which sucked but I did it. And I didn’t end up feeling as sore as I had the first time. I hope that means my muscles are getting back into shape.
One thing I have noticed after having ridden bareback much more frequently over the past year or so. I can actually ride while being bareback. When I first started to do this, it was all I could do to keep myself on the horse. I could maybe steer if we weren’t trying to do anything serious. But now I’m able to ask for bending. Or for smaller turns. Or for keeping his back engaged and his haunches in line. Just being able to be more effective. It’s kinda cool to realize that I’ve leveled up a bit.
Wednesday I wanted to try out something L. had discussed with me last weekend when I had complained about the eternal problem of canter transitions. She suggested trying to do a downward transition within the trot before asking for a canter transition. So transition from a slow trot to a canter. It was worth a shot. Scarlet is better at transitions within the trot than anything else.
I worked on w-t-h transitions and transitions within the trot. Scarlet wanted to throw his head up in the working trot to slow trot transitions at first but after we did then for a while, he started working into them. They didn’t quite help our canter transitions though. I’m not sure if that is because it wont help or because the whole thing is hard. I did transitions within the canter as well.
Speaking of the canter, I had to give him two huge whaps when I first asked for it. Not only did he throw his head up but he tried to run-trot instead of actually cantering. He knows so much better than that. That was the only time that day that he tried that. He was definitely offended by the whap but I felt like he respected my aids much more.
I really really had to hold Scarlet in the short stride. I was so freaking tired after the ride due to literally needing to have my legs on 100% of the ride. I do think this is something that deserves more attempts. We need to focus more on transitions within the gait as well as between the gaits so its a good thing to look for after we build up more muscle. I’m hoping that once I don’t need to literally hold Scarlet in the gait that the trot-canter transition might benefit.
Thursday I was tired and I’m sure Scarlet was tired as well. I wanted to do some jumping for fun. I also wanted us to get some stretching as I’m sure he was tight due to the work from the day before. The guys started feeding early that day. I got to the barn around 7:12 and by 7:15 all the horses had been fed. Scarlet’s in about the middle of the barn stalls and he normally doesn’t get his hay tossed to him until around 7:25 ish. Since I knew that pulling him away would make our life hard, I just groomed him in the stall. He got roughly half of his alfalfa flake before I was done which made for a happy pony.
I had us walk around the barn to warm up. I don’t normally do that in the morning any more as it takes longer than I want for a walk warm up. But the goal was relaxation and fun for this ride. After that, I headed into a trot in the arena. I kept my reins super long. Scarlet started off with his head in the air and wanting to twist around to get away from the monsters outside the rail. I put him into a 15′ figure eight with the loose rein and it didn’t take that long for Scarlet to actually reach down and out into the reins.
He was really loving the stretching and kept himself down without much urging. He did have more of a lazy trot than I would have liked but that was not a hill I wanted to die on. After a brief walk break, I did a few transitions to warm him up for more work. We then went to the canter.
We were warmed up and I trotted us toward the small X. And immediately flubbed it. I expected him to jump it and he trotted over it. I wasn’t prepared for that and flopped ALL over his back. I hopped off and fixed the poles. I was much more prepared the next time and we had no issues. Cantering was super smooth. I cantered us over the bigger X and he was super good with it. Not really rushing and we got a really smooth take off.
I was feeling pretty good about us so I decided we’d try the oxer. I got a good canter going, focused on not jumping for Scarlet and the oxer came up smooth. It’s really easy to jump when you’re not trying to do your horse’s job. I felt so good about it that we went around and did it again. Scarlet was so good and we did it great. I called it then since it was such a good result. I ended up being a bit late to work but that’s what happens when your ride is just fabulous.
So many fails from the flower photo
So many fails from our flower photo shoot. So many.
I actually got some writing work done this week. I’m quite proud that I’ve made myself start back up.
My current schedule is I’m writing/editing for about 30 minutes during my lunch break. There isn’t really a separate break room with seating area in my office so I’m sitting in a common area. This results in my attention being distracted by people walking by. It’s not the greatest place to work but its better than not doing anything at all.
I’ve gotten through a couple more chapters while editing during lunch. I’ve still not figured out what feels the best with the power/consequences stuff. But I’ve decided to just leave it for now. I want to finish the rest of this editing pass. I’ll leave it till the next pass. Or maybe even the one after. I’ve got other plot threads that need more help than this one element.
The online critique group is spinning up. So far we have three participants (including myself) and two who aren’t ready to be critiqued but want to critique. Our first submission time is going to be this next Monday. I’m really excited for this.
I’m especially stoked about the extra people to get critiques from. I want lots of feedback on the stuff that I’ve written. I want to take what I have out on submission to agents and I feel like having someone else look at it will help give me fresh eyes. After having created and almost finished an edit pass, I don’t know if I can see all the things wrong. Or even if the things that I see as wrong actually are.
I submitted the first 5k to a professional review at the writing convention I went to last year. While not everything they said felt right to me, I definitely did rewrite part of that 5k to fix the problems they had seen. And I personally feel like they are much better because of it. I’m excited to see what I learn from these critiques.
I got a lot of riding done this weekend. It definitely made up for some of the crappy days this last week.
Friday started off the “weekend” quite terribly. I got up at my normal early morning time and came out of the bathroom in the morning to the dulcet tones of rain on my window.
Luckily Friday was the only day I had to crawl back into bed in a cranky mood due to rain. Saturday was a pretty nice day, back up in the mid-70s. Saturday is the only day Holly and I have that we can manage to match up our schedule for riding so the time is erratic.
This time we ended up riding in the evening. Holly was setting up some jumps when I arrived. She’d changed some heights and made a two stride up the diagonal. The two stride was set higher than Scarlet and I are ready to ride at this point. We did set up the rest of the jumps at heights we are able to do as well as a mini oxer for fun.
Scarlet was definitely excited to ride with his friend. We warmed up and then trotted over the mini fence set at the bogey fence. No problems there or at the canter with it. I tried the X we’d set up that was much higher after that. It went super well too.
Then the next time I pointed Scarlet at it, he charged it. We went over but it was definitely not graceful. I think he was just excited because he listened a lot better for the rest of the jumps. We went over the vertical we’d set up a couple of times. I think it’s about 2’-2’3”. We also attempted the oxer but knocked down a rail each time. First time was the back rail and the next time was the front. I’m pretty sure I caused those rails so I pointed him at the larger cross rail and called it a day.
Then Holly and I hopped on each others horses. Uno feels so weird compared to Scarlet. He also really didn’t want to go forward. We figured it out and then I aimed him at the mini x. He didn’t lock on like Scarlet does so we turned toward it and then continued in a circle. After that, I TOLD him we were jumping and though we faded to the side, we made it. I did it again and it was much better. I want to try again at some point and see if I can ride better next time. It’s so weird riding a horse that isn’t mine though.
Sunday I got to hang out with L! We started at my barn, had brunch and then moved onto her barn for a full barn day. Can’t beat that.
It’s really awesome to have a ground person while jumping. L adjusted the jumps so that I could keep going around. It was pretty fun to show that Scarlet and I only had a mess up day the last time she saw us. She also is quick to tell me I don’t have enough pace.
We also got to try the two stride set up as a cross rail and a vertical. It was a bit too forward for us so we tried to do it in three strides. The first time I tried that, we chipped in badly so I turned us out of the combination. L scolded me for that, as it could teach Scarlet to run out. So I tried again. We got it, though it wasn’t great. The next time through we tried for two but Scarlet was NOT up for two. I did kick him on but he was determined to not do two and launched himself off of one foot just to get the last stride in. I’ll have to try two strides with poles or something to work on actually getting the two strides in.
After that L had a lesson on Dante. I got to cuddle him quite a bit before the lesson and then I went down to the arena with them to be their paparazzi. I got so many videos for her. It’s great to see Dante growing up and improving in his jumps. He looks so smooth doing it, even with his baby moments. He learns from them which is the important part.
A weekend with friends and horses is always the best weekend. I’m glad I got to have so much fun jumping with them.
This week was an odd week for riding. My nephews came to visit and as I wasn’t able to take time off of my new job, I had to maneuver my schedule around a bit to get a good time to fit them in. Having them here kinda threw off my whole week.
I’ve decided I need to pick back up on the bareback riding. I was trying to do it once a week before the rain started and I was pretty consistent. Its good practice for balance and a good muscle work out for me. I’ve decided Mondays I will do a bareback ride and then Tuesdays will be my typical day off riding. That way, I can give my muscles(and hip flexors) a break after killing them for a day.
Scarlet was not up for the bareback ride on Monday. I think he got used to not having me pull him out in the morning over the weekend and was cranky. He was also very obstinate to bending aids. We had to have a mild discussion about bending.
When doing bareback rides, I generally sit the trot. Trying to post without stirrups is the worst thing in the world and I figured it was good practice. But since I’d decided that bareback rides were about improving me, I did one lap at the posting trot. My legs were shaking for the rest of the day. I always find myself asking why I do this to myself for the whole day after a bareback ride.
Wednesday was… well it was pretty much a literal series of unfortunate events.
As I said before, my nephews were in town. My husband picked them up Tuesday so they were at the house Tuesday night. He had also gotten a poster tube in the mail for a really nice print he ordered. So he was trying to open said tube to check to make sure it arrived correctly. And he was using a chisel to remove the staples. And didn’t have his hands out of the way.
SO! Tuesday night I ended up bundling husband and THREE nephews all under the age of 11 into the car and driving to the 24hr urgent care to get him stitches. It was taking a while so I ended up taking the kids home and putting them to bed. Then I tried to sleep myself but didn’t get to sleep until well after he got back via Uber.
Then in the morning, I realized I needed gas. So I got gas on the way to the horse. And ended up at the barn super late due to that and not having gathered my stuff together the night before for work. So I had maybe 20 minutes to ride. And had forgotten my watch due to not being able to see in the dark. We live in an apartment so the only place to put the boys was the living room. Thus I couldn’t turn on lights.
So my ride itself wasn’t horrible but it was short and rushed. And Scarlet wasn’t willing to work in any sort of connection at all and I really couldn’t take the time I needed to get us working into it.
So Wednesday didn’t work out well. Thursday I went to work early and left early so I could give the boys rides on Scarlet. My husband managed to get out to the barn earlier than I had planned on him getting there so I’d just finished tacking Scarlet when they rolled in. So I warmed him up for 10-15 minutes and then proceeded to give the boys rides.
They actually did really well, even the one who was kinda scared to try it. The two older boys trotted a little and walked around me on a lunge line by themselves. I do like giving kids pony rides. I always hope that I spark the horse bug and convince one of them to become obsessed like I am.
But by the time I was done with them, both Scarlet and I were annoyed and tired. And then I had to rush the grooming process so we all could go to dinner before it got later than late at night.
So, while the nephews visiting was a good thing, it really threw my whole world out of wack. I cannot wait till I can return to my routine and just have nice rides again.