Two-Point and Transitions

Monday I wanted to try to focus on my two-point. I figured we wouldn’t be able to get a lot of fancy stuff done after all the rain on the weekend. I was right about that. The arenas at the barn weren’t slop, but they were pretty close.

Scarlet wasn’t muddy, shockingly. Normally, he either rolls in the mud of his pen after the rain or stands in the rain, thus causing the dirt embedded in his hair to turn into mud. It made grooming not bad at all. Mondays are normally pretty quiet at the barn but the gloomy weather and wet ground made it even more so. I think there were two other people out to turn out their horses but no one else riding.

I did get Scarlet’s new saddle pad on and I think it looks pretty stylish.

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So stylin’! Now I guess I need to gather together all the hunter green stuff for him. $$$

The arena we normally ride in was wetter than I’d like so I went to try one of the others. One of the arenas that is generally used for turnout wasn’t terrible. The middle section of that arena is harder than the outside since all the horses just pace the edge of the fenceline. I was able to get a pretty decent sized oval going.

Two-pointing at the trot seems next to impossible for me. My steering goes kaput, my legs shoot backwards, I over balance forwards and I have huge hunks of Scarlet’s mane in my hands. I almost got it a few times by making a pseudo strap out of the extra reins. I stretched that between my hands and leaned it on his withers to give me a larger balance point. Canter worked so much better. I was able to stay up, balanced and away from his back 75% of the time. I could probably be slightly stiffer in the two-point there as I bob a lot with the rhythm of the canter but it was much better. I did lots and lots of circles at both speeds.

I’m not sure why my two-point at the trot is so terrible. I have a few theories. One is I just don’t have enough muscle. I definitely have pathetic core muscles at the moment. (Do those core workouts Alex!) I could feel a bit of steadying when I managed to get my core tighter. So that may help. Another theory is that my saddle/stirrups aren’t helping. I had my stirrups at my jumping length. I think it may be too short. Or just too short on this particular saddle. I have a Wintec AP saddle, so the seat is somewhat between a dressage seat and a jumping seat. It’s not as deep as a dressage but it definitely doesn’t want your legs up in a jumping position either. I didn’t feel nearly as stable as I wanted to, riding around like that for a while. I’m going to try one hole down next time. I’m not sure if that is going to make much of a difference but it is what I have until I get a second opinion on how my stirrup length/saddle works for me.

Tuesday was super dreary. It was grey and cold. I even wore my winter vest out to the barn to add some warmth. Scarlet wasn’t really reactive, even though it was windy and cold. So good boy there. I wanted to get him really stretching through the warm up as I probably didn’t do his back any favors by being so freaking terrible the day before. It’s hard to get him to consistently hold a low and long position. He will go low, so low his nose almost brushes the dirt. He holds it for a few strides and then pops back up.

It took a bit but we got some good trot work with his head lower but his back still feeling like it was working. I think it helped a lot. I want to integrate this more into the warm up. Hopefully, we can get it faster in the future.

After that, I decided that I wanted to work on some transitions. Scarlet has been hollowing a lot in the trot canter transition so I wanted to work on that a bit. I got a few in there that felt good, but I’m not positive if they just felt good for Scarlet or were actually correct. Someday, I’ll get back out to a dressage trainer for a lesson to help me with those. Or any trainer who works flatwork. I don’t have a preference, as long as they actually know what they are doing.

So, do you guys have magical core exercises? Specifically, ones that target your lower back muscles? I do planks and supermans (though those last ones don’t seem to do much) but that area is much harder to target than the rest of my core.

Del Mar National

I may not have been the biggest fan of moving to a huge city. I knew it was going to have to happen as those places are really the only ones with job opportunities for Nik. It was either here or the bay area. I’m from the middle of nowhere and getting used to all the people and the huge roads (OMG 8 lanes of freeway! AAAAAAAA!!!) has definitely been hard. But one amazing thing is the access I have to stuff here!

For example, the Del Mar National Grand Prix!

I haven’t been to a super fancy Grand Prix before. (Some people will debate if the Del Mar one qualifies, lol) The horse park that was built up in Paso had folding chairs up on the berm above the arena. That was still pretty awesome but it wasn’t a stadium and didn’t have near the amount of stuff connected to it.

I went with Karen from Spanish Walk and boy was it fun! We got there a couple of hours early and watched a few of the hunter rounds in the back arena. The employee at the gate let us through but we seemed to be the only non-rider, non-rider associated people back there. Hehe. We also toured the stalls there. Luckily, I’m not in the market for any big ticket items. At least, none that I could buy just from seeing them. We did find the Smartpak booth and bought a few saddle pads. I got a lovely hunter green for Scarlet. I never really gave him a “color” so I guess I’m doing that now.

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Pulled pork and mac grilled cheese. Quite good, though not as mind-blowing as I would have liked.

It was really windy and we had looked at everything so we got to our seats in the stands.

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OMG! A decent selfie! =P

The first thing that we got to watch was the Ride and Drive class. I’ve literally never heard of this before but its a sponsored prize class where the riders rush over a small course, hop off their horses and drive a car around a course. It was freaking hilarious and so awesome. I think the best part was watching the riders trying to sprint in their tall boots and going, yep I know that feeling. Really, when you can’t bend your ankles and your weight is shoved towards your heels, it’s impossible to run well.

Then, we were able to watch the retirement ceremony for Flexible. I a big mushy mush of a person so I teared up a bit as I watched it. He was a freaking amazing competitor and I’m sure he will be much loved on during his retirement. I’ll be waiting to watch Flexible babies enter the ring.

Then we watched the Grand Prix. It was a very difficult course. There were lots of refusals, a few RTs and a few EL. There didn’t seem to be just one problem fence though, so it was a nice course. Five pairs moved onto the jump off. I think that is just about the right percentage for the class size (30). Somewhere, I heard that course designers aim to have a jump off of only 10-15% of the class.

I don’t remember the final placing, but the pair of Pumped Up Kicks and Jennifer Gates put on a heart-stopping show. Pumped Up Kicks really tackled the jumps, but they ran into an issue at the last two fences. The striding between the liverpool and the last vertical didn’t work out for them. Gates pulled up and Pumped Up Kicks basically got to no momentum before the last vertical. Somehow, he deer hopped over the last vertical and didn’t even touch it. It was freaking amazing. As Gates cantered off, she pointed down at Pumped Up Kicks, giving all the credit to him. It was amazing to see the horse push and make an impossible jump. It was also awesome to see a rider giving credit where credit was due. I know they were in the top five, but I can’t remember if it was 4th or 5th place they got. I really should have forced myself to take notes on the placing cause my brain was frozen by then! I’m glad I did buy a saddle pad because it helped keep me warm for the show!

A small note about Sunday. I didn’t ride as it was pouring. Scarlet has been good so I figured it wasn’t nice to ask him to ride. I did go look at another barn and trainer as my barn is larger than I’d like and I am not super fond of the trainers. But this barn was more of a bunch of pens in the middle of the brush. The arenas were good but the rest of it? Not up to my standards. The barn I’m at is good for what I’m paying. I’ll most likely have to wait till I can fork over a couple hundred more a month before I can move to the barn atmosphere that I really want. Makes me miss my old barn soooo much!

Delayed Post!

So, ever have those days where you let one thing slide and all of the sudden your weekend is over and nothing was accomplished? … yeah that’s what happened to me this weekend.

So, belated post that is normally supposed to be up on Sunday shall now be split into multiple posts both going up today!

Wednesday, I was pretty out of it. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on when I went out to the barn. Normally I think, “We should work on leg yields.” or “We should work on transitions.” but I didn’t think any of that.

So, since I had been neglecting something I had promised myself I would do, I took my stirrups off my saddle for the ride. I want to ride like that at least once a week. It will help me build up my muscle and improve my balance in my seat overall. I’m hoping that if I do this regularly, removing my stirrups for all of November for no stirrup November won’t seem as insane.

The ride actually went really well. I got some good walking out of Scarlet right off the bat. I am never worried about walking stirrupless though so I probably don’t tense. The trot work was what really improved this time. Last time I went stirrupless, I didn’t even try to post. This time, I did. I wasn’t able to post for as long as I would have liked but the posting was smooth and not as hard as I would have though. I think I got 3/4 of a lap of the arena as my longest posting section. Altogether, I posted about 3 laps. Which isn’t fantastic but its improvement from where I was. Plus, the sitting trot without stirrups was better as well. Scarlet was not as pissed at me. Canter was fine, though I always forget how hard it is to canter without stirrups, even though it’s by far my easiest gait.

Thursday is normally my day off so I got to go see Catalina and Karen’s other horses from Spanish Walk. She is such a huge baby! And so freaking cute. She wanted all the scratches and I was happy to oblige. I love Scarlet but he has never been the horse to move for scratches and wiggle his head when you get to the right place. Catalina definitely wanted specific places scratched. So did most of her other horses.

One thing that was really cool about visiting Karen’s herd was it really was a herd. I’ve never really had a chance to go out into a field and be part of that. The horses came up to us and just stood around, loving being scratched and getting attention. It was fantastic. I loved giving scratches and just spending time enjoying the horses.

Friday, I just didn’t want to go out to the barn so I didn’t. I wish I had due to all the rain we got over the weekend but it was nice to just chill at home after work and cuddle with the cats.

I’ll include Saturday and Sunday in the next post!

Partay Time!

Sunday I wasn’t able to go out and ride. Instead, I spent the day with these cuties.

Our best friend is a vet and she is fostering these little guys. Bottom left is a boy, top right is a girl. They were born on St. Patties day so her kids named them Guinness and Patty respectively. They are super adorable. Everything you want from kittens. They play hard and then sleep hard. Patty is a little terminator though. She is super adventurous and likes to play toe piranha. She nibbled on my toes a ton instead of going after the toy. 🙂 (Anyone in the SoCal area, they will be adoptable soon!)

I also got an early birthday dinner from them. The husband is a fantastic chef. He does it as a hobby but everything he has ever made has been amazing.

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Chicken pot pie
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Lemon Praline Genoise Torte

One of the best things about being down in San Diego is we now get to see them more than once or twice a year. But it means that I don’t get a ride in on that day. Sacrifices have to be made.

Monday I did ride and it was a really good one. I dropped my stirrups back to flat length and wanted to really practice on responsiveness to light aids. I only needed to do a couple of walk-trot transitions before Scarlet really hopped on it.

It was really cool as I felt him get a more uphill balance for a bit. Not extremely so, probably more even than actually uphill. But my imagination could extrapolate and guess what a real dressage horse would feel like. Transitions seem to wake him up and he was really focused on me.

As we went around, I realized that my reins were really wonky. I was holding my right-hand way close to his crest, no matter which bend we were on. I figured that wasn’t good and definitely wasn’t giving him even pressure from both sides. So I fixed it. And it felt like his back popped. He slid into a more upright posture around the corners. I was amazed. So I tried to keep that up for the rest of the ride. That was hard for both of us. But he did try for me so I tried my hardest to support him while he did.

I’ve always had a habit of almost crossing my hands over the crest for signals. I’ve been working on that. Shorter reins have really helped that habit but I still get close. I hadn’t realized how much that caused problems. I should have. One of the exercises my former trainer had me do at the trot was hold onto the pad to keep my hands still. I thought that was to stop me from bringing them up with me while I post. And somewhat it is, but it is also to keep even pressure on the reins. I felt what that can do for the ride. I’m going to do my best to be conscious of that for future rides.

Tuesday I didn’t ride again as it was my actual birthday and the husband took me out for a nice steak dinner. Yum! And just to make you all even more jealous, here is the yummy, oh so rich cake I made myself.

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Showing off!

Wednesday, Karen from Spanish Walk came to play with me and Scarlet. I love showing him off. He was a good boy for her and only tried to nudge her off balance once looking for treats.

I rode him around for a bit just warming him up. I think it’s always polite and safer for the owner to ride the horse first so that whoever is riding doesn’t have a bad experience. He was very good and we even got a fantastically smooth downward transition from canter to trot.

Then Karen got on. They had a few issues with not understanding cues at first. Scarlet was super confused as to why someone new was on his back but he was listening. He kept moving and then dropping his head like he was saying “This? This? Maybe this?”. It was really fun.

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Friday, I wasn’t super interested in going out to ride but I wasn’t sure what riding I would get this weekend so I forced myself to go. It’s a good thing I did. There was only one other person out at the barn when I got there and by the time I left, they were gone. I had the whole jumping arena to myself.

I had been planning on working on flat work in my jumping stirrup length and working on my two-point but the arena was completely mine. How could I resist jumping? After warming up and doing a bit of two-point at the canter, Scarlet and I hit the jumps. We trotted in and cantered out of the straight line with the small cross rail and the gate that scared me before. (It’s not scary now). And then we trotted over a pile of poles and jumped a vertical. Scarlet definitely perked up now that we were cantering.

I wanted to link the diagonal line with the cross rail/gate line on the straight side so I switched directions and got Scarlet to trot into the diagonal so we would be able to make a nice sweeping turn at the end of the arena into the line on the straight. He definitely didn’t listen to me. He made it over the jumps but had sped up so much that we had a motorcycle turn and I had to pull him away from the jumps rather than head into the line.

We went back to the jump that we trotted in and I circled him a few times on the approach until he was listening to me a bit more for pace. We then went through it again. The turn was still shallow and he landed on the wrong lead and wasn’t picking up the correct lead so we ended up trotting into the straight. Again, he didn’t listen on pace and decided he wanted to take a flyer. We ended up messing up the striding for the canter line since he wasn’t listening. We had to add half a stride (All Scarlet’s doing. He really is doing most of the thinking going through lines at this point for us.) and then he rocked back and launched over the jump. He cleared this little bitty 12-foot fence like it was three feet. I was not prepared. I lost my seat, fell way behind and yanked on his face. But I didn’t lose my stirrups or my whip (no wrist strap since it was my dressage one I use for flatting) and was able to resettle pretty easily.

I took us back up the line and made sure to over exaggerate my release. I didn’t want him to feel bad about jumping it due to me yanking his mouth. I shouldn’t have worried. He jumped it just fine. Scarlet also listened a bit better so that was a good jump. I linked the two lines together, got a good turn and called it a night after that.

I definitely have jumping related things to focus on. For me, more two-point and thinking about striding and deciding what we are going to do. For Scarlet, he needs to listen to me for pace and not get too excited when the jumps start happening. After the first jump, any time a jump came close to being in a line to him, he would almost lock onto it thinking that was the one we were going over. I like that, but he needs to listen to me more. We need to do trot/canter poles and small cross rails with me controlling what pace I want him to go through so that we don’t have this problem of speeding up when we don’t need to again.

Saturday, I got Scarlet out on the trails! I wasn’t expecting it as I am not comfortable going on my own and didn’t know anyone at the barn well enough to plan for a trail outing. But some ladies were tacking up at the same time as me and I asked if I could tag along!

He did so well. I was really proud of him. He was a little jiggy at the beginning but he wasn’t worried about leaving the barn since there were other horses with us. Definitely would love to do more trails in the future.

Fun Stuffs!

So I had ordered a bunch of stuff from Dover (not my preferred place but their socks were on major sale). Sunday I was finally able to unbox and take it all out to the horse.

Saturday was our jump lesson so Sunday I wanted to work on getting him just moving forward and easy. I got out later than I had intended due to not waking up till almost 9. It was already pretty hot out and Scarlet was feeling it. He was pretty sluggish the whole time.

There was a jumping lesson going on but they don’t mind if you ride in the arena at the same time. Scarlet liked having the company and I was able to watch the lesson. After we cantered, Scarlet started throwing his head about and trying to list toward the jumps. I think he was annoyed that other horses were jumping and he wasn’t.

Since it was so hot, I called it after just a bit more than our normal warmup. We had taken lots of walk breaks as well. He wasn’t sweating very badly due to that. After the ride, I let him out into one of the turn out arenas to roll while I cleaned up. He rolled and then looked around to see where I had gone. Instead of running around or talking to the horses near the arena, he decided to stare straight at me. Silly horse.

 

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Mom, what are you doing?

Sunday was also the first day I was able to try out my early birthday gift from my husband.

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A Polar H10 chest strap heart rate monitor. It’s super zoomed in on the image so it looks much wider than it actually is. It’s about an inch wide.

I’d been contemplating getting a heart rate monitor of some sort for a while now. I’d done a ton of research on wrist vs chest and different brands. I wanted a way to track how much I was working while riding and the chest models ended up being the best option based on the research. The one concern I had was chaffing. It would be horrible to ride and then undo the strap and find out that you had huge rub marks on your ribs.

That definitely didn’t happen. The strap is really soft and fits me pretty snug. I know others have had issues with it. The H10 is their newest version (like came out a couple of weeks ago) and has a few new things that I liked. There are a bunch of little rubber dots along the strap to provide friction to hold it in place. The monitor itself also has the capacity to store a work out on it without being connected to the device. That appealed to me because I do not ride with my phone on me.

It kept track of my ride and I was able to see how hard I worked. I could track the trotting sets, cantering, and the walk breaks on the graph. I also was impressed by how often my heart rate stayed in the 70-80% range for working.

Monday was much cooler and oh so much nicer to ride in. I did a bunch of lateral work with Scarlet, trying to get him to really move off of my legs. We started with some turn on the forehands since his hind end tends to trail more on lateral work. I wanted him remembering that this means move your butt. He did pretty well during the walk lateral work. The trot work was harder but he still did it.

Then I decided that I should ride around a bit in my shortened jumping stirrups since I did not feel as stable as I should during the jumping lesson. I tried to hold my two point at the trot and omg it was hard. Trot two points are just way harder than at the canter. Scarlet was really annoyed with me because my weight kept shifting back and forth and I was too busy holding onto mane and trying to balance to actually steer and ride. He put up with it which got him a lot of pats. This is definitely high on my need to work on list. I’m going to make an effort to do more flat work in the jumping stirrups and ride my two-point as often as I can manage in order to work on those muscles.

Most of the jumps in the arena had been raised to over two feet for another lesson but there were a cross rail and a line that were still at heights that we could manage. The line was super small but had a cross rail and a little gate. It looks solid to me and just kinda freaks me out so I had never jumped Scarlet over any of those. I weaved him into the line at a trot and we hopped over the little cross rail and the stand alone cross rail a few times. Then I decided I needed to pull my big girl pants up and turned him to take the full line. We trotted in and trotted up to the gate. Scarlet hopped over it like no big deal so I took the whole line at a canter and then called it good.

Let me tell you, my heart kinda raced as we approached the gate but I told myself that I trust Scarlet to get over jumps, even without me. He isn’t a dirty stopper or a horse that likes to run out. The height was totally within our reach to jump. And he did it. Trusting my horse totally helped. And I definitely got a thrill out of tackling something that was making me uneasy. Now, Scarlet and I can do almost all the jumps that are normally set up in the arena. Go us.

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My nemesis. Yes, it is really super small. Idk why I was so utterly scared to take him over that.

I also wore my monitor for that ride and jumping put me up into the 90-100% level of work. Woot! I’m definitely loving using this monitor and will continue to track my work with it.

Jumping Lesson

Yay for jumping lessons!

I got back from being out of town for work training Friday evening and immediately had a lesson on Saturday morning. I’m really glad I insisted on it being earlier. If I wasn’t tired from driving for 7 or so hours on Friday, I would have wanted it to start at 8. It was hot already when I got out there. I started sweating even before I got on Scarlet.

I kept my stirrups long for the warm up. The warmup wasn’t as good as I normally do since I was trying to talk to Trainer J at the same time as warming up. Since it was the first lesson, she doesn’t know much about me or Scarlet. So I was answering a bunch of questions and riding at the same time. I’m not in good enough shape to do that. I was heaving for breath when we stopped talking. lol.

Scarlet definitely wasn’t as in front of my leg as I wanted but he was bending and stretching quite nicely so it wasn’t a total bust of a warm up.

Trainer J set up a small cross rail to see how we do while I shortened my stirrups. We hopped over it at a trot. Scarlet barely gave it any respect. So she raised it and added a bounce ground line for us. And then had to raise it again to actually get him to use himself and jump rather than just flounce over it.

We did the bounce at a trot and canter (obviously adjusted the striding when we started cantering). Trainer J wanted us to work on Scarlet keeping his neck low and rocking back onto his butt to jump over. Getting his neck low is okay when just doing flat work but he immediately reverts to saddlebred neck when a jump is put in front of him. He gets excited and tries to rush. I was riding on a really loose rein as I didn’t want to have our first jumping lesson have me banging against his mouth. So I wasn’t doing much more than steering. I’ll have to work on that now that I know what we can do and what we need to practice on.

We finished up on a two pole lead up to the crossrail at the canter. Trainer J set it up and it ended up being a little long for Scarlet. We cantered in and he made the striding but it was a bit rushed when he realized that he needed to stretch to make it happen. She adjusted it to be a bit smaller and we went through with a fairly slow canter and he jumped it quite nicely.

My homework is to get him to go over trot poles and low crossrails without popping his head up and practice my two point. The last one is more me assigning myself that rather than Trainer J saying I needed to do it. I know I need to. I have no muscles for the two point anymore.

Thinking about the insistence to have his head low… I’m conflicted. On one hand, Scarlet immediately throws his head straight up when faced with jumps. I know that allows him to hollow his back rather than use it. However, I don’t like how low she wanted us to get before going over. The speed of the trot and canter she wanted also bothered me. I didn’t feel like it was a very free moving and forward speed. Scarlet isn’t strong enough to do a collected canter or even a slower canter still using his back. So I didn’t feel like I actually had the correct use of his back and hind at that speed.

I’m still going to do another lesson, but I’m not 100% on board with how she would like us to get over the jumps. I will definitely be working on getting him to stop hollowing over the jumps but I don’t think I’m going to get it by insisting he bring his head down. We will have to see what exercises work best for Scarlet in order to get the correct form that we need.

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Wet pony got a bath after the ride. No face though. Water is way to scary for the face.

Jumping!

I got some jumping in with Scarlet this week! It was so much fun.

Wednesday, Scarlet was feeling somewhat lethargic and it was difficult to get him to move forward at a good clip. I tried to get him moving and do some transitions within gaits. That usually gets him a bit more up as he likes doing the lengthened gaits but I didn’t really get much out of him. So I didn’t push it.

We have been working out a lot more lately. He had basically had the last three months off. We did a few rides here and there but definitely not enough to keep him in peak shape. So I completely understand him being tired after three weeks of pretty consistent rides.

Thursday was his day off so I hoped that he just chilled and relaxed in his pen being a horse.

Friday I wanted to just get him moving forward and stretching as much as possible. I rode him around on long reins and pushed him forward into the bit. It took a bit for him to get with the program but I was able to work him long and low at the walk and trot. We even got a few laps of really stretched down. I then asked him to canter around a bit at an easy pace with a couple of trot poles after. He seemed to appreciate the easy ride.

After the ride, I gave him his grain in the cross ties while I groomed him. I’m still trying to get used to the perfect water ratio for the new beet pulp based grain that I am starting him on. I put a small amount of that in the bucket and soak it while we ride and then add in some of the old grain. Well, I overestimated the water this time. It all turned into a nice slurry mess. Scarlet didn’t care though.

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Get all that food. All up in my face…
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And this was AFTER he had cleaned up all the dropped food.

I cleaned his face up with a cloth cause it was just covered in goopy grain. He didn’t seem to care though.

Saturday was the day we went over a few jumps. I got out there at 9 and that is still too early for some horse people I guess. I never understand why people don’t get out until later on the weekends. It’s so much nicer getting out when it’s cooler and before you start your day.

I hauled Scarlet behind me to change some of the jumps back to cross rails. I have a lesson scheduled for next weekend and so I’ll start lessoning with jumps. I trust Scarlet to get over almost anything put in front of him, I don’t trust myself to do my part. So I didn’t want to deal with any verticals.

After a short warmup, I pointed him at the line of trot poles we did the other day. He sped up into them, as usual, and bonked his hinds on them. So I did them again and halted him after the line. Then we did them a third time and he kept a fairly even pace. Its nice when his brain kicks in and he stops rushing the lines.

We started our jumping with a line down the rail. He hopped over both of them at a nice even trot. It was super awesome. Then I went back around and he trotted in, cantered out no problem. Then a diagonal with the same results. Then I strung the lines and a small single cross rail together. He did freaking amazing. It’s so nice to just be able to point him at the lines and say go get them. At this height, Scarlet has no problem and I’ve  never had him try to run out or stop on me. He likes jumping too much. I’m sure we will have a few issues when/if we raise the jumps higher in lessons. I’m pretty sure they will all be caused by me. We had a couple of bad jumps due to me. He overjumped due to a filler being a bit scary than he had thought and I got super left behind. I also came down on his back hard at another jump. I need to practice my two point so that I don’t make him sore by not being able to stay off his back.

It’s so nice to ride Scarlet sometimes. I just know him so well now and he is behaving so nicely at this new barn. It’s really nice to be able to decide on focusing on him for a ride, focusing on me, or just riding to feel good.

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The mare behind Scarlet has decided that he is mighty fine. She nickers at him every time I bring him back to his pen.

 

Friends!

So as many of you have probably already read, I hung out with Karen from Spanish Walk and L.Williams from Viva Carlos at the Diamond Jubilee Horse Show on Sunday. It’s my first time being over in Del Mar so I was really excited for that and definitely excited to meet them for the first time.

Before I hit the show, I stopped by Mary’s Tack and Feed to pick up a few things for Scarlet. And of course, to drool. And drool I did. I don’t need most of the things in there but boy did I want them. But I’d have to have way more money than I do in order to get them.

 

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The color organization of the saddle pads just made me want more so I could so that. lol

The show was really fun. L and Karen are awesome and I’m really glad we got to meet up. We talked a ton and watched all the classes. I may have a part saddlebred but I know nothing about saddleseat.

I know the people at the show worked hard and they all looked great, but I couldn’t help but think that it has to be uncomfortable for the horses to have someone sit that far back while they invert their back and run with their head straight up. And their front hooves are so long. Sometimes they even had what looked like platform shoes on.

We got the hang of what the judges were looking for after a while and were able to pick out the top horses with regularity. Of course, most of the classes has two or three participants so we had a pretty good chance. But we did well in one class that had six and the big class of eleven as well so I’d say we picked up a bit. It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the next hangouts.

Despite wearing a bunch of sunblock and my sun shirt, I still managed to get burnt so I stayed inside and layered aloe lotion Monday.

Tuesday, I went out for a short ride. Scarlet was listing pretty well and I worked on getting a more connected feeling on our outside rein through serpentines. It was hard and he really really does not want to bend to the right and put his weight in the left rein. I didn’t want to do too much as I still wanted to stay out of the sun so I didn’t do much more than a warm-up. After cantering, we worked on a bit of lateral movement. Scarlet has a lot of stiffness in his right side so leg yields to the left are hard. We did them both directions at both the walk and the trot. He did his best at the trot but he sucks back a lot there. I need to work on getting those to happen with more forward movement rather than just sideways. A work in progress for sure.

After the leg yields, I took the advice I’d gotten from Karen and L, relaxed my butt, kept my knees away from the saddle (ie not squeezing) and did two laps of sitting trot. O.M.G. I’ve ALWAYS had trouble with the sitting trot and no explanation has really helped me with it. Somehow, these ladies nailed it on the head. I was able to sit to the rhythm and absorb it. Scarlet wasn’t sure about just trotting while I was sitting. He’d much rather canter. But he wasn’t objecting to me sitting, which is super good.

After we left the arena to cool out. I’ve been doing that the last few rides to get him accustomed to walking around the barn and seeing new stuff. He seems to like it. I felt oddly brave and decided to turn him onto the path that leads to the trail to see how far he would go without freaking out. He went farther from the rest of the horses than I would have guessed he would. He was so brave!  He then ate all his grain, which was a mixture of the old LMF Senior and the new Integrity Senior that I picked up at Mary’s after discussing what I needed with their feed guy. Being brave must be connected to being hungry.

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That’s my secret, mom. I’m always hungry. 🙂

I think I’ll try it every once in a while as a cool out thing to see if we can inch ourselves further down the trail each time.

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The trail Scarlet walked down. We got to the dark blob (pile of dirt) above the post in the middle of the picture. So brave!
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My selfie game needs some serious help. I feel like such an old lady but I do not know how to make these look good! lol

Good Rides

I was so sore from riding and working out that for our Wednesday ride, I wanted to keep it simple and short. In all my amazing wisdom, I said “You know what is the perfect way to have an easy short ride? REMOVE THE STIRRUPS.”

And that’s what I did.

Not exactly brilliant. It was short but I forgot just how much muscle was required to even keep your legs correct at a walk! It was good for me because I was able to stretch my legs and hip flexors while walking with Scarlet. We did try some trotting. It was terrible. I have never been able to sit the trot. Follow the motion at a walk and canter? Hell yeah, I got that. Follow the motion at the trot? Whu? Scarlet let me know just how bad it was by sticking his head straight up in the air. I agreed with him and let us walk. I did a circle and half a lap at the canter, which I was pretty pleased with. And then I called it a much needed day. I was quite sore afterwards (no duh Alex. Work harder when you are tired. So smart)

Thursday is Scarlet’s day off from riding but I still went for a run. It wasn’t too bad.

Friday, Scarlet and I worked on transitions between the gaits. He was very good and pretty responsive. He edged over into too responsive when I did big figure 8’s switching leads via a simple lead change. My butt had to touch the seat just a hair longer than posting and he would canter off. Correct lead so I didn’t get on him too hard. We just did a few trot-sit-trot on moments to remind him that he does need to wait until I cue, even if he is smarter than me.

Saturday was the first time I’d been out on a weekend to ride in the morning time. It was quite nice. There was hardly anyone at the barn, which was odd. I wasn’t out there super early. It was around 9 when I arrived. But I had the arena all to myself still. There was only a horse in one of the turn out arenas and a couple of people using the round pens. I wanted to focus on getting Scarlet to move forward and be in front of my leg that ride with a tad bit of lateral thrown in for stretching.

After our normal two loose rein walk laps, I asked Scarlet to move forward and the walk and on the bit. He kinda ignored me and tried to pretend he was moving forward by dropping his head. So we did a bit of halt-trot transitions to get him remembering what forward was. Then we worked the walk and I actually felt his back come up underneath me. We moved into the trot and worked on keeping that back up. He got a bit distracted sometimes by things moving outside the arena but was focused overall and listening. We could get the connection back fairly quickly by doing circles.

I did some figure 8’s at the trot holding onto the front of my saddle pad to check how my hands had been doing while trotting. I’m pretty bad at holding them steady and I haven’t been focusing super hard on myself during the rides so I figured I should check. It was a good thing that I did because Scarlet was really unhappy with that. Which means I’d been letting him get away with tugging at my hands instead of moving up into them. So we did figure 8s and he eventually gave and moved forward correctly. It’s always difficult to do figure 8s without my hands. I do rely on my hand aids for direction more than I should. It’s a bad habit.

Our canter transitions upward were lovely and pushed from behind. After we had cantered a bit, I let him walk for a break. Then came the lateral work. We spiraled in and out on a circle both directions at a walk and trot. Then I asked him to leg yield both ways walk and trot again. It’s definitely hard for him but I got a few good steps both ways. The trot was better than I thought it would be since I haven’t been working on that with him. I let him canter off for some fun and then ended the ride.

I actually borrowed my husband’s Fitbit charge for the ride on Saturday to see how it did. It said I burned 477 calories for a 43-minute ride. My high was 145 bpm with the average around 125. Which seems about right but I don’t really have any other comparison for exercise using the Fitbit, let alone while riding. Though I rode with it to see if I wanted one of my own, I’m leaning towards no.

I ride in long sleeve sun shirts always. Even when it is overcast. I do this because I’ve already had one brush with skin cancer and do not want another. So I cover as much of me as possible and use sunscreen on the rest. So my arms have long sleeves and gloves on. Which makes it a bit difficult to see a watch. Not to mention, the reason I wear a watch while riding is to keep an eye on the time. Since the Fitbit has to be in contact with my skin to keep track of my bpm, it can’t be seen under my sleeve. My normal watch that I wear while riding is one I fasten over my sleeve.

I still do want a way to keep track of my bpm and calories burned while riding but I don’t think a wrist mounted heart rate monitor is going to work well for me. I’m looking into polar’s chest strap heart monitor. Its got great reviews and is supposed to be very accurate. My only concern is chaffing, which is why I’m going to try and see if I can find a store where I can touch/try it on to see how it feels.

Scarlet has been really good lately with the rides. I know that I could always be clearer and more direct with what I’m asking him to do but he tries to listen. He hasn’t thrown fits in the arena, even though we have only been here for two weeks. He pays attention even when horses are leaving the area or arriving. Sometimes, he is just a really good boy. I’m very happy with our riding recently and am very glad that he seems to be a content, fat happy horse as well.