I was so tired when I got out to the barn Friday morning. My cats had woken me up at 4ish that morning and 4:30 on Wednesday morning so I was running on a couple of days of less sleep than I would like. I got out to the barn later than my new normal. It was actually closer to my old arrival time.
Based on my late start time, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do much. I did a shorter ride just doing the basics. I’m still focusing on my cues for transitions. I can’t really say if they are getting better or not. They get better during the ride but I’ll give it a few rides before I hope that there is actually improvement ride to ride.
Saturday my parents were in town and we went to the Mira Mar Air Show. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing my parents watch the shows for the first time.
Sunday I went out in the morning to ride. I got to the barn around 8am. Sunday at 8 seems to be pretty good as far as how many people are at the barn. It was a nice cool spell so it was only upper 60s still. Scarlet anticipated walking away from the mounting block to go walk around the barn before we started working. I made him go into the arena to walk a little before we went around the barn. I really do like the barn walk as a warm up as he gets looser but he doesn’t get to decide where we go.
After we actually started working, Scarlet was pretty tuned in. He has been doing really well with the long and low part of working. It’s not as forward as I’d want but I’m slowly trying to urge him forward without losing the relaxation.
After our warm up, I decided to have some fun and jump over the small jumps that were set up. We trotted over a small X to start and Scarlet basically just stepped over it. Obviously, he is too good for a small X now. He was super happy to canter around the couple of small Xs and the short vertical. One thing that I’ve been noticing with jumps now is we are more comfortable with jumping from any spot. Scarlet used to never take the long spot but he has been taking them more often. Being able to move forward into a proper pace might just have something to do with that.
We did the jumps on both leads and then did the short vertical quarter turn to a short X. I praised him a lot for that as he went super easily over it all. He stopped at the praise and turned his head to me like “Do I get a treat now?” I had to laugh and agree that that effort deserved a treat. I gave him one and we did a bit of walking around and backing before going on a walk around the barn for cool out.
I need to make sure I get to the barn early enough that I have time to put the jumps back up to height so we can do some real jumping again. I just have to be more efficient with my time. Yeah…. super easy….
This week was a little less riding that I would have liked. Things came up, etc.
I got to ride Monday and Wednesday. I’m still working on gaining more stamina for myself which means I’m not working on Scarlet’s stamina. It’s still possible for him to get a good workout if I’m focused. I decided to focus on something smaller while I work on getting myself back to where I need to be.
I know that I’m a fairly noisy rider sometimes. Scarlet can be pretty lazy so I feel like I have to push a lot to get him in front of my leg. He will go easily, but going properly? That’s hard work. I had experimented in the past with trying to make him more reactive to my legs. It sometimes seems to work. I try to keep it up by asking lightly and then not lightly all the time but I cannot drill transitions as he gets quite tense over them.
A Enter Spooking had a great post recently where she talked about working on the light go leg cue with her horse. She took it in stages of squeezing, lifting legs away for tapping, and spurs going up in stages if she didn’t get a response. I’m sure her cues are much much more subtle than mine are at all the stages but the post made me want to try it.
I practiced on Monday and Wednesday about being really quiet with my legs at all gaits unless I was asking for something. My legs were on Scarlet’s sides but I was focusing hard on not nagging at the walk or accidentally squeezing with my posting. For every transition up, I started going up the stages. I had to get to the spurs a lot before Scarlet seemed to get the idea.
I did a lot of transitions and even some transitions to “lengthened” (mostly just faster) trotting as well. I’m not sure how well I’m doing in my asks as I can get Scarlet to transition easily enough. I’m thinking his response might need to be more prompt and I may need to react quicker if I don’t get it. It’s something I’m planning on playing around a lot more with until it is in our muscle memory. It seems to work so I will stick with these stages of ask.
The most difficult part is remembering to do it all the time. I have to think a lot more while riding than I normally have to in order to transition. It will take time. But I think it will be a very good thing for both of us, making our riding more correct in response to my aids.
I made words this week! A fair amount of them. I’d actually been feeling down about my progress until I added up my word count for this post. Seeing that I’d done so much made me kinda giddy.
Its not much progress on my actual story rewrite. I’ve fixed a scene that needed to have some info changed. Im halfway through the next scene. I had a plan for that scene but when I checked my notes after writing a chunk, it had deviated slightly. I’m okay with the new direction for now. Its got the right tone.
Im still struggling with motivations. I’ve got some articles pulled up that I’m slowly reading through in my spare time at work. I haven’t had as much time as work has been busy. These articles won’t be a solution but the hope is that I will have a few new ways to think about motivations.
I’ve also been thinking about NaNoWriMo recently. It’s only just over a month away. Initially I wasn’t planning on doing it. I burn out like mad each year I complete it. But my online writing friends have began planning which is making me want to plan as well. I even have an idea.
But I need to consider if doing it is going to be healthy for me. It’s lots of stress and absorbs all my focus. I even did some calculations to try and see if I could do the minimum during the weekdays and load up on the weekend days. The numbers weren’t in my favor. If I did that, I’d end up needing to do 4k words each day of the weekend. That is the absolute most I’ve ever been able to do and I basically couldn’t think afterward.
So nano is up in the air but I am making progress on my current work. We will see what these next couple of weeks bring.
Saturday I went out with the plan to work on bending on a circle and transitions. When I got out there, I had to change my plans. I went out a bit later than normal and there were four or so horses in the arena when I was ready to ride. I don’t mind a crowded arena but two of those were people I’ve had issues with not steering. They just don’t care where other people are in the arena and expect you to move for them.
Not wanting to deal with that, I did a lap around the barn and then headed to the front to do a bit of riding in the trail arena. The trail stuff being laid out everywhere prevents easy circles so I changed up my plan. The front arena is scary and Scarlet gets tense about the dogs barking behind the privacy fence. It was a very good lesson in chill. He didn’t take that long to listen and stretch down.
After trotting for a while, I decided to take a walk break around the barn. The non steering people had left the arena at that point so I decided to go in there for a canter to finish up my ride.
After cantering a bit, I did some canter circles over a pole. Scarlet actually did that well and cantered over steadily. Since he did well, I tried the itty bitty x (like 6″ off the ground) on a circle. I was so impressed that he did that on a large canter stride on both leads. He was such a good pony that I called us done.
I didn’t want to get off though so we did the trail to cool off. There was a lady with two dogs walking toward us and Scarlet was just interested, not spooked.
He tried to jig a couple of times but came back to me when I asked him to walk. I’m hoping to do more trail stuff to build his butt up more. I need to figure out more ways to build up muscle on him.
Sunday I was lazy and just slept in and relaxed all day. My mind says I should feel guilty but I don’t. Oh well. XD
I am ridiculously out of shape. It’s easy to say that but really hard to deal with the consequences, both physical and mental.
I’ve been trying to get Scarlet to move forward at every gait. One thing I do during the canter is two point and push him forward. I did just two laps of that on Monday and was exhausted. It was horrible.
Just doing that little of two point shouldn’t exhaust me that badly. But it does. I find myself needing to walk longer when taking breaks for my benefit, not Scarlet’s. I also cut my ride at pretty much exactly 30 minutes. I tell myself that this is due to needing to go to work on time but it’s not. My start time is so flexible that I could easily go for another 10-15 minutes. But I’m exhausted.
Its affecting me mentally as well. I feel more tired and then beat myself up because I’m not doing everything I need to do. Being out of shape also contributes to that horrible number on the scale going up.
So I need to make a change. I have a desk job. It’s hard to get a lot of exercise during the day. But I need to change my eating habits. I shouldn’t eat the snacks provided by my work. I shouldn’t buy myself a whole cheesecake from Costco (even if it tastes sooo good). I should find more ways to get veggies in my diet. And I need to find time to work out in the evening. At this point even a little bit would help.
All of this leads to pushing myself to do the correct thing and saying no to the wrong thing. I’m not good at that. But its a process. I went for a walk last night. I pushed myself to ride a bit longer this morning. It will take a while before my habits change to make the hard choices easier.
But I will get there. It will take time but it’s important for me. For my health, both physical and mental. For Scarlet. He will love when I can support myself better and have less weight on his back. I will get there.
The writing front is not moving anywhere really. I’ve definitely been thinking about writing a lot more. I feel stuck though.
I got some feedback on a partially finished story from an internet friend. She didn’t think it was crap, which is always good. I hadn’t been able to tell if it was a bad story or if I was just in the sticky middle and hating the slog. I was going for horror YA ish as the genre and she pointed out that it’s more YA with horror elements at this point in time. I had kinda felt the same but I was writing in the time crunch of NaNoWriMo so I didn’t really have time to stop and fix the direction. I think I may have to do that now, if I want the story to go the direction I want it to go. I may also try to *gasp* outline (I never outline) in order to really figure out what the elements I’m looking for are.
I found my notebook for my full novel and the changes I wanted to make there. I’m still trying to figure out what the main parties motivations are before I start trying to write again. I know I need to do some major overhauling of the book. Trying to convince myself to let go of scenes that I really like is quite hard. I don’t know if they will fit into the next rewrite. So I need to be ready to ax whatever doesn’t fit. But its hard.
Motivations for characters are also hard. I don’t want cardboard characters. I have those in the current draft. The other characters besides the main character just exist to help the main character reach her objectives. I know they have lives outside of my MC but I didn’t put them on page. I didn’t make it seem like they were doing anything else. I want to figure out the whys of the helping parties. Which means I need to figure out what the bad guys are doing. And their whys as well.
Villain whys are hard for me. I want to make everything either cartoon villain level where they are just evil or I want to make them too relatable where you start to question why the MC is fighting against them. Which can work for some stories but I don’t really want that tone in this one.
Tuesday I sat down and brainstormed what exactly the coven is doing that is so bad, besides brainwashing their members and killing people. That’s definitely happening. I came up with a few plausible ideas. None of them felt perfect so they may need some more iteration. But WHY would any of this happen? I feel like I’m asking myself that a lot this past week. Hopefully I will arrive at the answer soon.
It’s really nice that it has cooled down. Its so nice how cool it is in the morning. There isn’t much breeze that early so when its going to heat up it tends to be pretty muggy. But when it stays cool we get to go a bit more toward the crisp coolness.
Wednesday I had some stuff I needed to do at work so I didn’t plan on doing much. I wanted just a quick ride to get us both moving. As I walked around Scarlet to check the girth, he sneezed directly in my face! It was so disgusting. I’m glad I didn’t actually have my mouth open or anything. I feel like he did that on purpose but it was probably just luck.
He was really long and low almost immediately when we started trotting. I’ve been trying to get him to reach out more even as he moved forward. He was not as forward as I would have liked but I didn’t mess with it. Its hard to ask him for both things and if one was amazing, I was going to just let it roll. Pick your battles.We finish up with jumping over a ridiculously small jump just for fun.
Thursday I got out and raised the jumps first off. It’s easier if I don’t have to get off after we’ve warmed up to move the jumps around. He was a bit looky during warm up because another boarder was taking her horse out for a walk on the trails. He did focus eventually and we got all loose.
I kept looking at the jumps as we were riding around them and I wasn’t 100% sure about them. I ended up deciding to get off and make a smaller X out of one of the verticals. I probably didn’t need to but I didn’t want to do over face him like I did last winter. We haven’t jumped anything significant in a while and I felt like it was better safe than sorry.
We went over everything and he was having so much fun. I love jumping him because you can tell he is quite excited. We were able to get some longer take off points and actually take them instead of chipping. He doesn’t love those but having a good pace is helping him realize that he has more ability than he thinks. We just did a few as we were running out of time.
A lot of my focus was on not throwing myself at the jump and staying up afterward. I did not do a great job at either. It did make me think about when will all that just be muscle memory to me. Do Grand Prix riders still have to think about all of it?
Now that I’m back on a regular schedule, I need to fit in more jumping. Scarlet gets so excited when we do jump but it does kinda make it a bit hard to focus on improving. He wants to just motorcycle around the corners to get to jumps faster. When we jump more often, he listens a little better. So hopefully a lot more jumping in my future!
So there is a figure of speech where you say you have only so many spoons to do things. If you run out of spoons, you run out of ability to do more things during X time period. I definitely ran out of spoons for lots of things while the house buying process was happening.
One of those things was writing. Writing takes up a lot of mental and emotional effort. I had none left to give. I did miss it. Writing is a lot of fun when it is going well. It’s not very fun when it is going poorly. And for the story I was working on, it had been going bad. I cannot tell if it is a bad story or the sticky middle.
I have trouble writing parts of the middle. I can build the beginning, build up the problem and tension and I can come up with a cool ending but connecting the two is hard. It is something I need to improve on. But I do feel like there are developmental issues with the story.
Since I can’t easily tell the difference myself, I asked my writing group what they do to figure it out. One lady who I have been talking to said she’d read for me and let me know what she thinks. We exchanged works. I’m very grateful to have an outside opinion coming to me at some point
Since I’m not sure about the current work, I decided I’d switch back to editing my previous novel. I’d gone through a light edit around April on that novel. In doing so, I identified some serious plot issues. I’d mused over the issues for a while and wrote down some ideas I had on how to fix some of it. I started to work on that during lunch on Tuesday. But I didn’t have the notebook with those notes. Four notebooks on my person and I didn’t have the one with those notes. wtf.
I did get some writing done which felt pretty good. I’m going to search for the notebook so I can get more done as the week goes on. Hopefully I can get the writing juices flowing again.
It’s been hotter than hot here, with the temps being in the mid to upper 90s with high humidity the last couple of weeks. Sunday was the first day it cooled down. It was a nice mid 80s with a cool breeze. So much better.
Scarlet was really shedding when I groomed him. I guess he is trying to prepare for the winter. I don’t know if that will ever come. It never seems like it does in SoCal. Even if/when it does, he really wont need all that hair. I’ll probably have to give him a shave again before too long. We do ride in the morning so it isn’t as bad but he sweats pretty well when the humidity is high.
I didn’t get much riding in except for Sunday. Moving in is a long process and we had plenty of things that took up my time Thurs-Sat.
I honestly didn’t have a goal when I went out on Sunday. That is pretty unusual for me. I really like to choose something to concentrate on for a ride. It’s my way of making myself improve without being able to have access to lessons. (Lessons are pretty much out of the roster until we save up some money. Buying a house in San Diego is expensive…) But I didn’t. I think I just needed to get out and ride.
The one dressage rider that I don’t like sharing an arena with was on her horse when I pulled in. I may have gone a bit slower with tacking up in hopes that I could avoid actually riding with her. I also took Scarlet on a lap around the barn to start up. Luckily, she was exiting the arena when I got on so I was able to avoid riding with her.
I didn’t really do much with Scarlet. He really wanted to go long and low at the trot so I just let him. Yeah his head was probably waaaaayyy too low for proper form but its so hard to get him to just let his head rest lower that I try to praise the opposite direction. It really did loosen his back up for the rest of the ride. We did a simple w/t/c with some circles and serpentines. I decided that was enough for me.
We did the trail loop as a cool down. He was not as happy to do the trail this time as he has been before. We haven’t been doing the trail much so I wasn’t mad at him. I did want him to walk instead of trotting. So when he trotted off after getting tense, I’d let him go a couple of steps and then brought him back down. It only took about half of the loop to get him to settle down to a really forward marching walk. I was 100% okay with that as we got through it relatively quick and it was all at the walk.
Afterward, I fed him his grain while I tried to remove the giant knot that had formed in his mane over these last two weeks. It was really really stuck in there. I could have cut it out but it would have left a horrible short section to his mane. And I like his mane. I did end up having to cut a tiny bit. It wasn’t a chunk though. I had to cut a tiny bit off the bottom of the knot so I could get something started for unraveling.
I see more riding in my future. I want to get back to a consistent schedule. Yes I still need to unpack and get my house set up but I can do that in the evenings when I come home. The mornings need to belong to me and my horse.
As of last Friday, at way too late in the night, we were move into our new house. I say that, but some bits still got left at the old apt for a day or so while we schlepped them over via car. But 97% of our stuff made it over on Friday so I’m calling it Friday move in.
I couldn’t have done this without the help of my parents. They live on the complete other end of the state (in CA that’s a long way) and they flew down to help us pack up the truck and move over. I will be thanking them for that for a long time.
It was exhausting. I hadn’t seen Scarlet for over a week at that point. Riding got dropped in favor of packing and painting the rooms I wanted painted in the new house. I was tired and cranky. I had bruises all over my legs from the ladder rungs and leaning against them. Some on my arms. Sore muscles every place it’s possible to have muscles. But for all of my bitching, it was so worth doing the move as quick as possible. I wouldn’t have wanted to drag it out for longer.
I did go see Scarlet for just a bit on Saturday. I needed to check up on him and just see him to give myself some sanity back. You know how it is. My parents came with me. This was actually a pretty big thing since I’ve basically cut them out of horse stuff due to them selling Scarlet when I went to college. But after getting him back, it hurts less and less to talk about it with them so I offered to have them along. It was pretty uneventful, they just looked around and remarked on the barn.
Speaking of the barn, it is just over 3 minutes from my house. This is so incredibly nice. The few times I’ve gone over to ride during this week in the morning have been very nice. I don’t have to try to rush myself getting ready in the morning. I can just get ready at my own pace and arrive exactly at 7am on the dot to the barn. This gives me an extra 10-15 minutes of riding time. I also get to go home, shower and get ready for work before heading into the office. Much more comfortable than trying to use the office bathroom.
I’m still settling into the routine and unpacking. I’m sure it will take some time but I’m very happy with it so far. I can’t wait to see how much better it is when we are all settled.