Wednesday Writing Wrap-up

I finally finished re-reading my WIP that I transitioned to in order to give myself some time to rework my other novel. I’m still quite pleased with it. This one is a YA paranormal/horror story. Being YA, the writing style is a little more straight forward. I didn’t think I had changed my mentality quite that much while I was initially writing it but I can feel a real difference when I read it.

Another thing that pleased me was I still got emotional with the main character when a huge fight breaks out with her friends. I got affected by my own writing. I’m sure its not all that and a bag of chips but I’m gonna ride that good feeling.

My routine for writing at work is steadying a bit. I don’t think editing in the office is ever going to be easy. Editing is too easy to look away from. There are plenty of distractions in the office and with writing, I’m at least head down focused for a good chunk of time.

I’ve also been doing word sprints on a discord channel for the 30 minutes I have to write. I’ve even had other people join me, even some not in a close time zone. Having others write with you but not be right next to you is extremely motivating. So I’ve gotten a decent amount of words written in the last couple of days.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to settle into a 100% consistent schedule at work. Lunch events, meetings and lunches provided by work happen one to two times a week. Even those few times really can throw me off. I do need to find a chunk of time at night to reserve for a bit of writing so that if I miss my lunch time, I won’t be on a zero word day. But I’ve also added running on the treadmill at night so I’m again losing time after work.

Any creative pursuit always hinges around time management and, if I’m honest with myself, I suck at it. I need my daily habits and if something gets thrown off, its really difficult for me to get back on track. It’s been a thing I’ve been historically bad at and it is always on my mind to improve. But it is slow going. Little by little I’m getting better. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out before I’m 80.

Word Count: 996

Weekend Riding

It has stopped raining… For now. I think we are supposed to get a bit more around the end of the week.

Regardless of rain, I was going to go out and ride this weekend!! I got out Saturday morning just as the rain was trickling off. I think it stopped sprinkling just as I pulled into the driveway at the barn.

I groomed Scarlet in his stall just in case it was going to start again. It didn’t. Instead, I had to deal with a horse that knew I had carrots and really didn’t think he needed to wait until grooming was over.

I rode longer than normal on Saturday. I think I was subconsciously trying to make up for the lost time during the week. We didn’t do anything particularly fancy. We hadn’t worked all week so I was just trying to do stuff.

We warmed up, did a bit of bending, did some cantering. I didn’t plan on doing anything specific so I started doing some transitions between gaits and then some within gaits. The trot transition is really difficult to get a good feeling out of. Scarlet will happily slow down but it’s a slow down and dump himself on his front more often than he ‘slows down’ by sitting on his butt.

Cantering half halts were next on the list. I chose the harder lead first as my legs were going to be quite tired. I had to argue with him about actually keeping to the canter. Breaking to a trot was easier. We did the other lead as well and finished off with our ever present trot end.

I was definitely tired when we were done. We’d ridden for almost 50 minutes by the time I got off. Most of my morning rides end up being somewhere around 30 minutes due to constraints. So it was almost double. But Scarlet was acting like he couldn’t go on. Such a tired old man. He was perfectly fine, just being dramatic.

Sunday I got out a bit later and just wasn’t feeling riding. I need to though because I knew that next weekend was going to be a bust as I was out of town. Since there were more people at the barn, I decided I was going to do a trail ride. I don’t do those in the morning because there wouldn’t be anyone to call an ambulance and find me if Scarlet bucked me off on the trail in the morning.

Scarlet was confused when I was asking him to move out on the trail. I wanted us to trot around the trail once and then walk it again. Once he figured out that we were trotting, it actually went pretty well. He wasn’t really tense. He wasn’t relaxed but I will take not tense. We got about half of the way around and then I asked him to walk.

There was a guy walking on the trail with a dog. He went over to another trail so that he wasn’t near us but didn’t bother to stop his large dog from barking aggressively at us. Scarlet got tense at that point. I had to hold him back from trotting away at that point just because we were heading downhill. He isn’t very surefooted on the trail and I wasn’t going to nosedive because he was trotting. After we got down the hill, I let him trot out the nerves back to the barn.

Before we went around again, I took us to the arena to canter a bit. I wanted to give the guy and dog some time to get away from the trail so we didn’t have to do that again. Scarlet is fine with dogs but no one really likes being barked at.

After we cantered, I took us back to the trail. Scarlet was again, a bit reluctant to start out but he did such a good job walking for the whole trail. On the last chunk back to the barn, I dug a carrot out of my pocket and held it out to the side so he could see it. We were still walking when I did that.

Guys, he deadass made skid marks from how quickly he stopped. Boy loves carrots. I wish that I’d been able to film it, it was just so comical how quickly he stopped.

I was very pleased with him overall. It’s nice that we are getting to a point where I can just do some loops on the trail for a relaxing ride. It’s perfect for those days where I don’t want to use my brain.

Bitching about the Rain

So here I sit, grumpy as F, having only been able to get out to the barn ONE morning out of FIVE due to the rain.

It’s safe to say, the rain sucks. Can we do something about this climate change that is throwing everyone’s seasons out of wack? I’d like to ride. Riding is my me time, my zen time. It’s my time to get a bit of exercise, spend time with my boy and not have to deal with people.

I got out on Wednesday but I don’t know how productive our ride was. Scarlet was fresh and I mostly had to keep him from spooking at things.

Saturday it might rain again. I’m really hoping not. I basically only have Saturday morning as an option to get out as I’ve got plans for the afternoon already. So I’m going to just go out no matter what happens. If I’m just doing chores around the barn, well at least I don’t have a time limit and I can actually get stuff done. It just sucks and puts me into a bad mood.

I’m going to cut this post here because its just going to be me bitching otherwise. Hopefully the rain wraps up soon.

Del Mar Gran Prix Again!

The Del Mar Grand Prix was awesome, as always. I got to go with Holly, her bf and Kristen from the barn. 

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This year, they had Land Rover as a sponsor and did the jump and drive fun class before the Grand Prix. They did this at the first one I went to three years ago. It’s always so fun. Especially seeing the riders try and run fast in their tall boots. That’s very difficult. 

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The first person to go went clear. He also ended up being the only one to go clear for a long time. Rails didn’t seem to be a problem as much as the time. There were a fair amount of rails but there were a lot of people with a bit over the time but clear.  

We ended up with four riders in the jump off. But that isn’t to say that we didn’t have some crazy stuff happen before. 

One ride really stood out to me and I really regret that I didn’t take note of who the rider/horse was. All I know is the rider was a man. His horse didn’t feel like jumping fence five, which was one of the fences right next to me. So the pair went through the fence. Amazingly, he continued on without much hesitation. As he jumped the next fence and turned, I realized he had lost BOTH of his stirrups. There were X fences in the course and he jumped the rest of them with no stirrups! The crowd went wild after he finished. Understandably, the rider looked a little annoyed because they took down a fence which equaled no jump off for them. But it was still an amazing feat of strength to get through that course like that. 

The jump off had an interesting ride as well. Uma rode around the course very well and was clean up to the very last jump. They went over and she lost her balance over the last fence and fell off at the very end. It looked like she was going to win until Enrique Gonzales had a clean round one second faster. 

I love going to this show with friends and watching the horses do things I can only dream about riding. I hope I get to continue going in the next years. 

A Little Late

A little late on this post but I’ll add an extra two days wrap up in there to make up for it. I’ll still have plenty of content for Monday as I’m going to the Del Mar Grand Prix tonight.

It’s been quite the long week. Monday, I got up and noticed that the mist seemed a little heavy. No big deal I thought. I’ll just be a little damp. Well I get half way out to the barn and it starts raining. I still think, well maybe it will only rain for a short while. I continue out to the barn because I’m half way there. What was I going to do? Turn around?

So I arrived at the barn. And since it was still raining I thought I’d groom Scarlet within his stall. That way, he’d be dry and I could still throw tack on him if it stopped. It didn’t stop. I ended up just spending the 40 minutes I’d normally ride trying to comb out his tail. I never do anything with it so its pretty nasty. He doesn’t love me combing it but tolerated it since he was eating his hay.

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Wet horse face equals hay sticking to it. 

Tuesday, it rained as well. Cue cranky Alex. Several days without riding makes me so bitchy. Luckily, Wednesday wasn’t wet. The arena was actually quite nice. It was soft, damp and recently groomed. I was the only one there so I got the perfect arena all to myself.

I tried the neck strap made from my old stirrup leather. It was a bit too short though and pulled my hands in and down so I was in a really odd position. I’ll need to get something that is around 4-6 inches longer to be able to put my hands in the right places.  We did a lot of changes of directions and some transitions during our warm up. There was a small vertical set up and we hopped over that a couple of times. He didn’t think that we were going for it and got really excited when I pointed it at him. To continue my ‘canter doesn’t equal done’ rule, we did some sitting trot at the end. He was very quick and it took a while for him to chill before we were done.

There was a puddle left over after the rain and I tried to push him through it. It was only moderately successful. I couldn’t get him to walk through it but I could get him to step both front feet in or back both back feet in. I didn’t have more time to fight with him so I had to accept that for the day.

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Thursday was my birthday so I gave myself the gift of jumps! I changed two of the jumps to some largish Xs and then got on. We warmed up and then cantered over a small x and then a small vertical. We did those a few times. He was being super good but super energetic. I don’t mind because as long as I’m sure about what we’re doing, he’s good to go over them.

We went to the larger X I’d set up next. It has a longish approach so he gets a bit rushy to that. It wasn’t super bad this time. We went over the larger vertical as well. Then we went to try a line. I’d set the first fence of the line as a larger X. I didn’t think it was higher set than the gate at the end. Scarlet jumped it quite up and down, higher than I’d expected him to. I lost my seat and almost lost my stirrups so we had to turn out of the line. The second time, we went over it better but Scarlet noped out of the second fence himself.

I wasn’t pleased with that because we totally could have jumped that second fence. I hopped off and lowered the first fence. My goal was to just get us through the line. We could have argued over the higher fence but that wouldn’t be productive. It also could have been unsafe for us. With the fence lowered, we came around again. I gave Scarlet a tap with the whip as well in the air and we went over the second fence no problem.

Again, we trotted around to finish the ride. We went until he was relaxed while trotting. After jumping, he assumes anything more than a walk means we are going to jump again. It took a bit but I wasn’t worried about getting to work on time. It was my birthday after all.

Friday I decided to do a trotting only ride. Scarlet was convinced that he couldn’t manage to bend and go forward at the same time. It took a while to get him over that thought. We did some serpentines and I rode him straight at the fence after he started wiggling himself at the end of the line. He has to go straight until I ask him to turn. It took him a couple of tries but he figured it out. After our workout, I worked on some more backing. He has been anticipating it and backs too much. We worked on him halting when I actually asked him to stop versus just continuing to back until I throw away all aids. He got that rather quickly so I was very pleased with him.

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His neighbor that destroys his masks left so I’ll be getting him a new one soon!

Saturday I let myself sleep in a bit and didn’t get out to the barn until later. The arena ended up being crowded with a lesson, someone toodling and my friend doing dressage. I did a basic ride and then left the arena. My friend ended up leaving shortly after me and went on a loop around the trail. I came along and had a chat with her. Scarlet was pretty calm. Might have had something to do with the fact that it was my friend’s two horses out with us. He had himself his own little herd to keep him safe.

So, even with the horrible start to the week, I still go quite a bit of riding in. And I’m getting more horse time tonight! Definitely going to have fun at the grand prix.

Wednesday Writing Wrap-up

I got the critiques back from my online critique group this Monday. There were some good things and some things I didn’t agree with. That’s pretty typical though.

I have to let the critiques sit for a while before I decide if I want to modify anything based on that feedback. What is unfortunate is that there isn’t much consensus on the problem sections. There are only two people so its hard to have a “majority” confused by the same part. Still it would have been nice to have a clear “this is wrong” signal. But life isn’t quite that easy.

I’ve had this chunk critiqued by professionals before in a workshop. I’d changed some things around based on their critiques but I’d left a couple of things in place. One thing that they had brought up that I hadn’t changed was I have 3 characters with a K name in the first section. But I really liked the names so I said “Everyone is able to remember different names. No problem.”

And someone in the critique group said it was confusing.

So I guess I have to change some of the names now. Which I’m not in love with but I understand the need. I’ve been thinking about stories that I’ve read and what all the main characters are called. I can’t think of many that have duplicates. At least, not at first. Some larger cast stories will have names with the same first letter but those characters usually aren’t introduced within the first book/first chapters.

So I’ve got one thing to change immediately. The general confusion from the rest of the critiques is something I will sit on for a while. They are regarding ideas and the conveying of information, which isn’t something I can whip up in a few minutes.

I’m very happy with the critique group experience over all. I’m excited for this next month as we have changed up the go order a bit. We have one more person joining us as well. I’m hoping to have more information and more things to think about as I move onto a section of my story that has never been critiqued.