Expect the Unexpected

So much happened this week. That’s how it goes sometimes.

Monday I shortened my stirrups like Trainer A suggested. It felt so weird when I first got on. Buuuut… I did feel like I could actually get my calves on to push with them rather than have to use my heels. Using my heels would cause my legs to crunch up and probably threw off my balance a lot as well.

Most of my ride Monday was based around me figuring out what I was doing. Also me trying to move through the soreness. I was so sore after the lesson. I always work so much harder when I’m in a lesson than when I’m riding on my own. As difficult as the ride was, I’m glad I went out. I’m sure that after I would have been worse if I hadn’t worked out some of the stiffness.

Wednesday I went out looking forward to a good ride. It was not a good ride. We came out to see *gasp* wood chip piles near the arena that weren’t there before. Scarlet just about lost his mind.

While losing his mind, he also lost all feeling in his sides apparently. He gave my leg cues a HUGE double middle finger for the whole ride. The ride quickly devolved into us arguing over GOING FORWARD WHEN ASKED. Nothing was done besides walking and trotting. I’m hating that I have to chase him into anything more than a plodding walk and it takes a while to get his trot forward as well. We worked a lot on a quick response to a soft leg cue and continuing to speed up until I removed my leg. I ended before I got exactly what I wanted but I had to go to work.

I was pretty frustrated over that ride for the rest of the day. It really sucks when things end like that. And I don’t know exactly what to do in this situation. I don’t want to have to constantly shove him forward at the walk. Every other gait is not as bad once we get going. But the walk? He might as well be going backwards sometimes.

That evening, Holly texted me that Scarlet’s mouth was swollen. He was still eating but I immediately freaked out. I’d just cleaned his bridle and used denture cleaners to get the gunk off his bit. I knew that it had to have been that.

Thursday morning I go out to see this:

That’s right. Hives. All over. Slightly swollen sheathe/back leg area as well. AND a lost shoe. They were put on on Tuesday. At least I knew that his mouth wasn’t my issue.

Now, I get out to the barn at 7~ in the morning. Scarlet has been so low maintenance that I’ve not had to figure out much medical stuff. And 7am is too early for vet, friends, other people at the barn, etc. No one was up. I did text all my horse friends (Thanks for talking me through it later L!) But I was really feeling the lack while I tried to decide if I needed to go to work late and call the vet in for an emergency call.

I also felt the lack of having a barn where I trust the trainer/BO. I was concerned about leaving the barn. It had started with just his mouth swollen and went elsewhere. What if it got worse? Not too many people around the barn look out for each other’s horses. Id has to be something super big for people to notice. Friends notice but Holly isn’t around the barn much more than I am. Lots could happen in the hours we weren’t there. And the BO/trainers do NOT care. Nor do they pay attention. So I was feeling extremely worried and helpless.

I did end up leaving a message around 7:30 for the vet. Meanwhile, Scarlet ate his grain, rolled in the arena and then started eating his hay when I put him back. So he wasn’t really in any pain. He also didn’t seem to care about me poking his mouth. The skin was definitely tight there.

 

L started texting me somewhere after 8 am and I got a call back from the vet ~8:25. I started driving to work shortly before that because I was pretty sure Scarlet wouldn’t die but I needed to at least go in shortly and then get my laptop so I could work from home after whenever the vet had free time. He surprised me and swung by on his way to another call. So I turned around and headed back to the barn while telling work I’d be late. He gave him a shot of banamine and dex, then checked his temp and breathing. They were normal and Scarlet was pretty good. A bit confused about all the fuss right outside his stall. I got two packets of dex, one for the evening and one to hold onto. The vet said not to worry if this isn’t a chronic thing. Whatever caused the hives did transfer through the bloodstream (indicated by the widespread swelling) so it might have been a bug or a bee he bit in his food or something.

I went back in the evening and everything was so much better. Immediately I could see that his mouth swelling was down. He had wrinkles in his lips again! He was excited to get more grain and ate the dex up without issue. I ran my hands over his sides and there were a few small bumps left that might have been hives but also might have been the result of bites from neighbors.

 

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I’m grateful that the vet came by quickly and the allergic reaction was mild. My farrier said he’d come back out tomorrow.

I definitely had a pretty icky day after that though. The amount of stress and panic from that roughly 1.5 hours of not having him treated was just… horrible. He means way too much to me and having something unexplained happen just set me off. He’s older, what if the reaction got to him worse? I did manage to keep myself from spiraling too hard but that took a lot of energy out of me. I’m glad its almost the weekend and that he has mostly recovered. I need a break!

Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up

Writing is so much easier for me when I do it consistently. I don’t know why it feels like a new discovery every time but it does. Ideas flow easier, words come together, my focus stays sharper. Even at work I find that my focus is there. I also write quicker so it takes me about half the time to get my word count goal out when it would take the whole lunch period and then some.

It’s gratifying to have things roll out better. However, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m making much progress, even though the words are coming. I’m not entirely sure why this feeling is happening. It may be because I’m in the slog middle of the current work. The middle is a very slow part for me in general. I’ve heard that other writers feel similar about it.

I’m also half concerned about how to get from where I am to the ending that I imagine. This makes moments while writing somewhat odd as I’m focused on two things at once. I have some more large problems that I’m introducing to my main character and I have a big end fight/problem that is going to happen. But I’m not 100% sure how to get her to the point where she is desperate enough to make the choices she has to. I’m sure it will come to me later. Either that or I will have to have a brainstorming session where I constantly ask what she would do and why to various questions until I get to the end I want. Or I realize that she wont do that ending and then have to change stuff. It’s never set in stone with books.

Word Count: 1153

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Lesson!

I got to have a lesson this weekend! It was on Sunday morning so I went out to ride Scarlet on Saturday. It was a really busy day at the barn and he really wasn’t feeling working. So we did a little bit of stuff and then went around the trail. He was pretty good for the trail. He got a bit tense and trotted in a couple of places but he came back to me when I asked him. It was a pretty good little trail round.

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A very good girl before the lesson

The lesson was a group lesson at L’s barn. I’ve never had a lesson with Trainer A there so I was quite excited. I got there early and got the horse I was riding, Mimosa, tacked up and ready to ride. Trainer A told us to warm ourselves up. It’s always really odd to be riding a horse that isn’t Scarlet. The movements are so different and it takes a while to really feel the rhythm.

We warmed up over a tiny cavaletti on both leads. There were four of us in the lesson so warming up took a bit. To be honest, I don’t remember all the jumps we did. The lesson was quite long. And we only did a few jumps with just different right and left turns off of them. So there wasn’t much distinction between each go around.

I did get a video of one round, thanks to Carey.

Mimosa was a push ride horse, which Scarlet is decidedly not. She was 100% honest, so I never felt uncomfortable. She also went over every jump. All the jumps were definitely small for her so there wasn’t much effort needed.

One thing that was great about this ride was that it pointed out a lot of flaws in my riding. Nothing completely major. I managed to make everything happen and adjust myself as Trainer A was requesting me to do. But things still appeared. I drive a lot more with my seat and my whole body than my legs. Why? Who knows. But it really highlighted my tendency to lose my stirrups when trying to ask for more. I also had issues with bending at the hip while going over the jump. I don’t think I jumped for Mimosa so that’s quite good.

The above things are the things that Trainer A said I should work on when I asked her for homework. She suggests that I shorten my stirrups at least one hole. That way, I can get out of the saddle when I feel like I need to but I still have my weight in my stirrups. I’ve been trying to work on that losing stirrup thing myself so I’m glad to have a suggestion. I’m not sure how folding at the hips is going to go as far as practice. I can’t really judge if I’m doing that correctly. The best I can do is keep that in mind.

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Had to say hi to an elephante while I was there. Such a cutie pie!

My husband and I were talking about finances recently and he said that if I wanted to do more lessons this summer, I probably could. So I’m gonna take him at his word and try to do one every other week. We will see how that works out as far as me remembering to plan it and other plans popping up. I hope that I can. I want to improve myself since I’m limited in getting Scarlet to a lesson. Maybe someday I will find someone with a trailer who is willing to take several hours out of their day to bring us to a lesson. Or maybe I’ll randomly get rich. lol

Starting out Tense

Always fun when the week starts off with some rain. Monday, I woke up to hearing rain outside my window. That definitely put me in a grumpy mood.

Tuesday was better. No rain, just an overcast morning. I don’t mind not having sun in the morning. Less sunblock to lather on. Plus its less hot. I decided to ride bareback. It had been my plan for Monday morning. I haven’t been riding bareback in a long time. It’s good for me to do. It builds up my muscles and works on my balance.

I started of trying to post. Scarlet didn’t help much. He was super tense and looky. It makes it really difficult to ride bareback. Especially since he was very hollow in his back. I kept telling him that this would be more comfortable for both of us if he actually used his back. But he didn’t seem to care much.

One thing I did notice while riding was that I’ve got some bio-mechanical issues. My left side has a lot of trouble staying against his side while my right crunched up as soon as I try to do much. That really doesn’t work well when trying to keep myself moving. I do notice this in smaller points throughout the day. I need to work on trying to make my sides more balanced.

Wednesday was a jumping day! I raised one of the Xs a little higher than normal. I also started the warm up with an X that was a little higher than my normal tiny jump. We’ve been doing really well lately so I figured we were good to try higher first. I feel like we’ve gotten the hang of the forward stride we need in order to jump properly.

We jumped the two Xs and a single vertical a bunch on both leads. I wanted to do the one stride again so I turned to that next. We went over it on the right lead. On the out, we stumbled a bit. Not quite enough that we hit the jump but it wasn’t great. We went through again. This time it was much smoother. We switched to the left lead and it was perfect that time. Very forward and smooth. He’s really figuring out how to keep moving forward within the one stride. I’m hoping to have some time to set up a different gymnastic some time in the future with three fences to go over.

Thursday I got out a bit later than I’d have liked to the barn so I rushed through grooming a bit. I did pause to reapply the EquiFuse to Scarlet’s tail. It’s really really helping to keep it tangle free. It lasts longer than just a day so I’ve only applied it once after my initial application. I don’t normally try to brush his tail but if it only costs me a minute or two, I can definitely add that to my routine.

We worked on getting Scarlet more forward in every gait. He was, again, really looky and freaking out over small things. (Hello horse eating squirrel) After we worked through most of it, we cantered serpentines with simple changes. He got pretty responsive to my transition requests. They weren’t great transitions but they were okay.

To cool off, we walked down the trail to our normal turn around point. About one third down the trail, a woman and her older dog walked out and down the turn to the left. Scarlet was watching them but didn’t seem too concerned. Then we were almost to the end and a bird flew up. That knocked him over the edge. He tried to bolt back to the barn. I kicked him forward and had to smack him once hard with the crop. He was convinced the bird was going to murder him. It was the size of his ear. So scary! I had to nudge him forward each step until we got to the end of the trail. He was reasonably relaxed after we turned around.

I’m getting really tired of him being spooky to small things and noises. I’m going to purchase a squeaky toy that sounds close to the stupid squirrel alarm call to start desensitizing. I’m so over him freaking out over that. Hopefully that helps us.

Shower Thoughts

Shower thoughts are super interesting. It’s always amazing what comes to mind when you don’t have anything to actively occupy yourself. This was one of the reasons why I didn’t actually mind running without having music before I got my first iPod.

I haven’t been able to actually sit down and plan for the rework I need to do for my previous wip. It’s part being busy with a bunch of other stuff and part reluctance. So I wasn’t even thinking about it when I got into the shower last night.

However, it creeped into my thoughts. And it was actually a really good thing. I had some good ideas for a few new scenes and some different motivations. I changed when a realization happened for the main character. Some good things came out of the shower ruminations.

I wrote a full page in my notebook of things I’d thought about in the shower before they could trickle away. I’m still sad that a lot of the story has to change for it to work right. But I’m feeling a bit better about it after seeing some good ideas spark in my head. Hopefully there are more where those came from.

Word count: 1578

Riding and Lost Memory

I really need to start writing down what I do while riding right after I do so. My memory seems to be taken up by everything else in my daily life and I can barely remember that I rode on X date. Things to be trying. 

Friday I went for a ride. I arrived a bit later but I wasn’t too worried about it. My work isn’t strict on in and out times. They are even more lax on Fridays so I figured I’d just go till I was done.

I rode around the barn as a warm up, which I don’t usually do on the weekdays. Scarlet likes it but he gets a bit lazy now when we aren’t headed in the direction he wants to go. I need to be a bit more on him to actually MOVE at a walk and use his body. Our walk is just horrible. 

I remember that I spent some time arguing with him about walking with his head out of the clouds during our ride. He can’t use his back if his head isn’t at least a bit down now. I’m pretty lax on the walk though so I can’t blame him too much for not expecting to have to work. We did have some good trot work but that’s about all I remember about Friday. 

Saturday I had meant to get out there and do a chore day. Bath for Scarlet, cleaning buckets, cleaning saddle, etc. But I had other life stuff to do and by the time the afternoon rolled around, I was just not able to get my butt up to do it. 

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Sunday, I got out later in the afternoon. There was a good breeze but it was still quite warm. I was feeling lazy and I figured Scarlet would feel similar. So I didn’t plan on much. 

We walked around the barn again to warm up. Then we trotted in the arena. Lots of circles in both directions as he was very stiff. We also went over the trot poles to make him have to go a bit more forward. Once we got the correct forward, the poles and the trot afterward felt amazing. 

We took a walk break and I sent him out to walk around the front barn. He’d spooked recently going around there and didn’t want to pass one corner at all so I’m making him go around it as much as possible so this doesn’t continue. I also saw this as a good opportunity to remind him that we don’t stop working just because we leave the arena. 

We went back into the arena and he was pretty responsive to me asking to work. We picked up the canter right away and did some work for that. I finished off with some trot serpentines and then we walked around the barn again. 

The heat made us both sweat a bit so I hosed him off quickly to clean him up. He wanted to walk away from the hose at first but stood still when I asked him to. It went so much quicker when I didn’t have to ask him constantly to stay still. 

I gave him some grain after and combed out his tail while he was eating. I had gotten some Equifuze at the last tack sale and figured I should try it. I had to apply about 3x the amount you normally need due to his tail being really tangled. But it helped so much! It only took me ~15 minutes to comb out his tail and make it look lovely. I’d worked on his tail for ~40 minutes a few months ago and got maybe half of it combed out. And I believe Scarlet liked it better as I wasn’t tugging on his tail so much. Definitely recommend it. 

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Mugginess

Wednesday I got out to the barn much later than I had planned on. Its difficult to get moving in the morning and I didn’t have everything set up to go the night before. C’est la vie.

Since it was a bit later, I just grabbed the brushes and his grain and went to his stall to groom him. I figured he could eat his grain and some of his hay while I groomed him. Whatever time I had left over would be the time that I go to ride.

Scarlet had his face stuck into his flake of alfalfa and was so focused on that that I literally had to shove his nose into the grain bucket for him to realize that I’d brought it. He was happy to consume the grain and then switch back to the alfalfa.

I got him groomed and tacked up. Since it was a shorter time, I stuck to the back arena. I used to ride a lot more in there but the footing has gotten bad. There is a large ish circle in the middle of the arena that is fine but the edges and corners are super deep. Scarlet will run there on his own but I don’t feel comfortable riding him through there. So I tend to avoid this arena because there isn’t much usable space. But its the closest to my backroom and I wanted to get as much as I could do, even if it wasn’t in a large space.

We did some basic walk/trot/canter with a bunch of transitions. It was muggy out and Scarlet was being really good due to that. He even left his head down vs stuck in the air like normal. A hawk swooped over the arena close enough for me to hear the wind in it’s wings. That was pretty cool.

Thursday was cooler and I wanted to do some jumping. So that’s what we did. We warmed up and then I trotted him over a cross rail. He cantered off nicely so I just circled around and we went back over it. We did that a couple of times and then I pointed him at the smallish vertical set up. I think it was around two feet. He did okay on that. I switched directions and we jumped the cross rail and the vertical off the other lead.

I wanted to do one last jump where I made sure I stayed off his back. I over thought it and tried to jump the jump for him. I seem to do one or the other. He tapped the jump with his front feet cause I goofed but I did stay off his back and he wasn’t mad at me.

Jumping was hard because I’m super out of shape. Even just hopping over the little we did tired me out. I need to work on that so I can do more jumps. The one stride was still set up and I really wanted to go over it but I ended up not doing so as I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to support him. I don’t want to ever over face him or me when jumping. I’m doing all this solo and I don’t have the tools to fix things if I break our jumping. So I decided not to do the one stride and we will do that next time maybe. I’d actually like to make it a two stride to mix it up a bit. More lines are in our future for sure.

Riding Catch-up

The only thing I was thinking about once I felt better was riding. I was leaving to visit my friend in Idaho last weekend so I knew that I needed to ride as much as possible before then. I got out Monday and Tuesday, doing normal rides. I knew that I was going to be leaving again so I just tried to make sure we both had a work out. 

I still had to stop and take a breather those rides. It was getting better though. I did my best to be there for Scarlet and make sure we got limber while riding. I think he was probably happy that I wasn’t able to make any demands of him. 

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Wednesday, I was planning to go out but I was just so tired. I’d ridden four days in a row after not riding for over two weeks, as well as all the rest of the stuff I had to do just for living and working. I was exhausted. So I slept in. I was flying out Thursday afternoon so I knew that I would have plenty of time to get a good ride in Thursday morning. 

 I’m glad I did so, as Thursday’s ride ended up being AWESOME! The jumps had been changed around again to a on stride on the center line and a small vertical between them but perpendicular. I was definitely excited to try stuff. 

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One stride and perpendicular vertical. You can also see my canter poles on the ground behind them. 

Since I had plenty of time, I actually walked around the arena first and adjusted everything. Which is always amazing when I can do that. I generally have to default to the small stuff that is set up because it takes a lot of time to adjust fence height and when you’re riding against the clock in the morning, you just don’t have that time. 

Since I did have the time, I walked around and moved the fences to a reasonable height. Nothing too big because we hadn’t jumped in a while but not ankle height either. I then moved a pole in front of an X so we could practice trotting in and cantering out for future grid work. I also moved three poles into canter poles on the quarter line. 

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Cross rail with trot placing pole. 

Scarlet was tense and looks when we started but he stayed with me pretty well. We worked through it and he started focusing when we began going over the poles. I was legit shocked when we went through the canter poles perfectly. I just assumed that I was going to set them horribly. But nope, we got a perfect one stride between each pole. I’m sure I could have set them as bounce style poles but I liked the one stride for that day. 

The trot pole was a little odd. I put it about 9ft away from the x, which is what I found online as a trot pole. But we got our whole body between the pole and the jump. That wasn’t quite what I was looking for. But it worked. Scarlet was like, okay trot over trot out. It took a bit of convincing to make him think that yes I did want him to canter out over this tiny X. Seems like when I’m riding well and forward, Scarlet doesn’t care about the height even if we haven’t jumped in a while. A lesson for next time. 

We headed off to do some real jumps. Scarlet was 100% distracted. I turned him to the vertical that was between the one stride. “There’s a jump!” He said and dodged sideways. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t dirty. He was just not paying attention. I did give him a smack with the whip and then circled us around again. He went over it the second time with zero issues which confirmed my “he’s distracted” thought. We continued onto a larger X and jumped that a couple of times. Then I wanted to try the one stride. 

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Larger X

Another rider had entered the arena at that point. She was pretty aware of where she was so it wasn’t an issue to jump around her. Scarlet was pretty good for the one stride. We probably could have been a smidge more forward but it came in a one stride. It definitely came awkward though. I was focused on sitting still and just pushing us through to make sure he actually jumped both jumps. We got through the first fence fence but kinda bumbled out. He knocked it with a hoof but not hard. I think he got a bit backed off when he saw it. 

We went around again and had a similar reaction. The third time, I pushed him to a much more forward canter and held it. He knew what was up and actually took us to the fences this time and we got through so much better. I gave him tons of pats and a treat. I wanted us to do it off the other lead as well before we called it a day. That one went well too. 

We cooled off around the barn, just kinda toddling around. I was so happy with him. He worked through being somewhat spooky and really did well on a jump striding we really hadn’t ever worked on before. Sometimes he is just so amazing. 

Wednesday Writing Wrap-up

Someday I will not be running around trying to catch up again. Someday…

So, a writing wrap up to try to get myself back on track. Writing hasn’t been happening a lot. I did get a bit done last week during lunches and a tiny bit today. Like everything else when I was sick, writing fell behind.

I haven’t had a chance to do more brainstorming to see how I could fix my one novel yet. I’m sure I can do it, though it feels like I’m going to have large chunks that are just going to be brand new. That hurts because it sucks to see hours of work basically go down the drain. I do need to get over that though. That is writing. Lots of hours put in, lots of hours of work ruthlessly pruned to make a better finished work. I also need to think of those hours as a learning experience. I wouldn’t be able to write the new stuff without having written the old stuff first. No one starts with perfection.

I also need to catch up with my critiques for my online critique group. They’ve been really nice about not being annoyed with me being behind. I do feel horrible about it. I’m the one who wanted to start this thing and I’m the one who is falling behind.

So, not much of an update. Just a little bit has happened. I’m hoping next week will be a bit more fun.

 

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The free books I brought home from the Nebula conference

Word Count: 881

Aliveeeee!!

That’s how I feel right now. Roughly three months ago, I got an in office job. I had been working from home for roughly two years before this job. My human interaction was minimal and my immune system had been enjoying the vacation. Two weeks ago Thursday I woke up with a really sore throat. I had a conference I was going to that weekend so I medicined up and pushed through it.

That was not the best idea but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Pushing through the weekend caused my cold to get worse. My immune system threw up its hands and said, “Screw this. I don’t have to work this hard any more.” So it’s been about two weeks of recovering and trying to be able to breathe again. It sucked.

Wednesday was the first day I got to see Scarlet in two weeks. I went out before work to groom him and give him a bit of turnout.

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I groomed him and was sweating by the end of that. Getting that sick really takes it out of you.

I had to leave town for a work trip Thursday-Friday so I didn’t get out to see him then but I was determined to make the weekend worth it. After all, I could almost breathe at that point.

Saturday I met up with Holly and we rode around together. Scarlet was super energetic. I think he was happy to be out. I forced him to walk more than we normally do. He was super stoked when we trotted and did a tiny bit of cantering. I loved every moment of the ride but I was definitely tired by the time we were done. I was really happy that I was even able to get out there.

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The hikers on the hill across the hay field might be dangerous. He has to keep a close eye on them just in case.

Sunday, I was definitely tired but I was determined to go out again as I am going to be gone the coming weekend again.

Scarlet was eating dinner when I got out but didn’t give me too much of a glare when I took him out. I wanted to just do a short ride, no longer than 30 minutes. I’ve got to be careful how much I do so that I don’t push myself before I am fully healthy. I was planning on heading out around the barn at a walk to warm up. But Scarlet wasn’t cooperating.

I got on at the mounting block and he immediately tried to walk off and hurry back to the barn. So, we walked in circles around the mounting block. And he kept hurrying around and trying to trot out away from where I was telling him to go. So right to the arena we went. I forced him to walk for one lap and then we trotted around. I was able to trot for about six minutes at a time, which is pretty good. We walked some more and then cantered. Walked a bit more and then finished off with some trot serpentines.

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I kept myself focused on being as precise and correct in my position and cues as I could be. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to help much with the ride so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t in the way. I think it helped some with the bending. It also helped keep my balance proper. I’d notice myself leaning forward at the trot and I’d realize my lower leg had gotten out of place. Fixed that and the lean would stop.

I’m looking forward to getting my rides in the morning again before work. I’m looking forward to rides period but going before work puts me in a pretty good mood for the rest of the day.