Sore!

On Sunday I rode bareback again. I tried to work harder at it since I knew that I was able to stay on Scarlet’s back. It was just as much work as the first time, possibly even more. I was really really sore and my hip flexors now hate me for eternity. I wanted to try and get more actual riding done so I was trying to get bend and such. Letting go enough with my hands so that Scarlet could move forward was hard though. I know that holding onto his face wouldn’t keep me on his back if it came to that so why do I have such a hard time of letting go of the freaking reins? Silly brain.

I was able to get more bend through the corners and a few more circles. I tried really hard to let go for canter transitions but they were still pretty bad. Did you know, that if you put your inside leg on the horse while going around a corner or on a circle, your weight naturally stays more centered? Who knew. lol. It’s funny how you know some stuff about riding but then when you ride a different way, the mechanics of it blows your mind.

Monday I thought his bite might be good enough to not be aggravated by the girth so I did a saddled ride. It was much easier on my body in general. What wasn’t easy was that I tried out some spurs I had just bought. I rode with spurs back when I first had him, though not until two years after I bought him. My trainer back then was adamant that I not ride with spurs until I wasn’t going to bop him with them due to my wiggly legs. So I’ve ridden with spurs before. But it’s been about nine years since I’ve ridden with spurs. And I’ve gotten lazy with my cues. I could not freaking figure out how to cue without spurs and make it effective. My legs felt so odd as I tried to do the inside of my foot or my calf for cues. It really sucked. I’ve got one more aspect of my riding that I need to fix. I didn’t really think about how my cues were being communicated these past couple of years but apparently, I’ve been lazy. Sigh. More work on getting my toes to turn a bit more forward so that my cues are more correct. After the ride, the bite on his girth line didn’t look like it was agravated so I’m hopeful I can continue to use my saddle while riding.

Tuesday, I was just too sore to do anything. So I didn’t. I haven’t ridden four days in a row in a long time. Plus, two of those days were bareback. So I told myself to not feel guilty about missing out. Instead, I went to the library to pick up books (eleven! XD) and then went out to the barn to give Scarlet a bit of time in turnout. When I got there, there were a couple of dogs running around the barn on the back end of the property. I was annoyed because people should have their dogs on the leash always when at the barn. Both for the horses’ safety and for the dogs’.

I got Scarlet out and put him into the arena for a bit of a roll and a stretch. Then I marched over to the dogs, ready to figure out who their owner was to give them a piece of my mind. At this point, one of the dogs was barking at the horses and that is NOT okay. But, it turns out that they were runaways that had escaped a yard.

So, my dad has this really deep voice that he uses when the dogs aren’t paying attention, misbehaving, or some other dog tries to come out and bark/attack during a walk. It’s this really deep alpha growl of a voice and he yells at them. I’ve figured out how to approximate that with my own voice (Scared the crap out of my husband the first time I used that on dogs that were coming over to bother us while we were walking, lol) So I yelled at the dogs. The barking one, a shepherd mix, came loping over to me and stood right next to me. He was all “okay, okay, you said not to I stop.” Since he had obliged me by coming over, I snapped the lead onto his collar and took a look at his tag. His buddy was a blue and white pit without a collar but he was really chill and pretty tired. He just moseyed over and stood next to us while I called the number on the shepherd mix’s tag. I called up the owner.

Me: “Um, hi. Do you have a dog named Guinness?”

Guy: “Uh, yeah. I do. ”

Me: Do you also have a pit looking dog? Grey and white?”

Guy: “Yeah, Blue.”

Me: “Okay cool. I have both your dogs. It looks like they got out. They are at X”

He was really sorry and said he was still at work but would leave and come get them. So I kept a hold on Guinness. He looked to be about one and was really energetic and excitable. I figured Blue wasn’t going to head off anywhere without Guinness so at least I had a hold of one of them. I got some water and let them drink. They were pretty thirsty. One of the ladies said she had been trying to get them for a bit but they had just come close and then ran off.

The guy called me back and said his girlfriend was actually closer and would be there in about five. I waited with the dogs and she came to pick them up. She was thankful that I had grabbed them and kept apologizing. It wasn’t their fault that the dogs decided today was a great day to go on an adventure. I didn’t hold a grudge, especially since the dogs didn’t do anything to the horses. She was surprised that I was able to catch Guinness since he is pretty slippery. She said he would let anyone pet him but not grab him. I explained that all I did was yell at the dogs and he came right over. She laughed and said that was what their owner did so maybe that was it. The dogs loaded right up into her car and she took them home.

After that, I just sprayed Scarlet down with fly spray and then put him away. A lot more eventful than I expected the lazy Tuesday at the barn to be but I’m glad I was able to make sure the dogs got home safely. But, in my silliness, I forgot to get pictures of the dogs! And Guinness was soooooo pretty too. Lol. I fail at blogging and putting up pictures.

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Unexpected Milestone

Scarlet and I had an unexpected milestone happen on Saturday. And I’m going to put that at the bottom of the post because a lot happened during the week before that so I’m going to make you all wait to read it. Mwahahaha!

Wednesday, the icky cold my husband had given me that I’d been fighting for more than a week decided to rear its head. I was super drained all day and just couldn’t manage to scrape together the energy or willpower to go riding. I decided to go buy the new fly mask I’d been meaning to get for a while.

At the store, I got a new fly mask and some wound spray/liquid bandage. And I bought some more grain because we were getting low. And a salt block. And a sun visor. I ended up buying more than I wanted. Most of it was needed but I’d been wanting the visor for a while and finally just said what the heck.  I meant to go out to the barn after buying everything to put the fly mask on Scarlet but I was so drained when driving back that I just stopped and went home.

Thursday, I normally don’t ride and wasn’t planning on it. I did go out and spray the wound spray on his nose. He wasn’t super happy with me doing that as it stung a little I’m sure. But he was a good boy and got lots of treats. Before the spray, I tried on the fly mask. And well….

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It was too big. By like 3 inches. Scarlet’s head is a bit odd as he has a thin face but it’s not super small like a typical Arab. Which means he hops back and forth between Arab and horse size depending on what the item is. There is a small feed store near the barn so I went over there quickly to see if they happened to have the Arab size of the same mask. They did. It’s much better.

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Friday, I felt so much better. I was not dragging at all that day and was really happy about it. Getting sick sucks but if I get sick, I prefer to be actually sick vs the really annoying my-energy-is-just-sapped-away sick that I had. So out to riding I went. I tried incorporating some walk-halt transitions after doing a round of stretchy walking and then trotting. The change was pretty impressive. Scarlet’s initial trotting is pretty lack luster and I have to nag after him to get moving. After cantering, he is much more forward. Adding the transitions made him bring his forward trot into the game earlier. Some of it was tension due to the transitions. He anticipates with those and gets himself a little worked up. But I was much happier with that trot and I think if we do that more often, he might not have as much tension as he gets used to it. I definitely liked the warm up more than previously.

I also tried to do some trot-canter transitions. I’ve decided that we need to stick on circles more until we have a more consistent upward transition. It is much easier to get him reaching and using his hind legs properly on a circle so I will take the training wheels for a bit. We had a bunch of bad transitions and two decent transitions each lead so I finished on that. We will continue to work on it. I’m also doing a bit more backing up to try and bulk up his hind muscles a bit to help him out. To finish up the ride and not encourage him to think canter = end, I did sitting trot serpentines around the arena. It was hard but Scarlet actually listened to me asking him to lift his back more and they weren’t as bad as previously.

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I tried my new sun visor out. It happened to be kinda cloudy so I didn’t get the best trial run but it was windy so that was a good thing to test out. I could feel it and feel a bit of tugging as the visor acted as a sail but it wasn’t too bad. I think I’ll keep the visor. Having more sun stay out of my eyes and off my face will be very welcome.

Okay so now for the grande finale: Saturday!

Scarlet has not liked the flies in the last week. At least, I’m pretty sure its flies and not him playing too hard with his neighbors. He has bites on his body like he has bit at them pretty hard. Most of them are tiny and are healing well with the wound spray. He hadn’t had any more on Friday than Thursday when I checked. Saturday though, he had one more. On his girth line. I couldn’t put a saddle on him without rubbing that spot. And I didn’t want to do that.

So I rode bareback.

I had planned on doing 30 minutes minimum. I’d ride it all at the walk if necessary. But guys? I SUCK at bareback. I’ve probably ridden bareback a handful of times in my life. Horse’s backs are slippery and Scarlet had never been an easy horse to ride. His trot always requires a bunch of effort from me to get it to be nice and smooth. When bareback, all my effort is focused on staying on. I have no brain or muscle left for actually riding. So I wasn’t expecting to trot much, if at all.

Scarlet seemed okay with me getting on bareback. I’d drug a mounting block into one of the arenas with a gate that can latch. (Not going to have my horse running around everywhere if my dumb ass falls off) I got on in there and Scarlet responded by walking off at a swinging walk. I shifted around a bit to try and figure out where my best balance was. Once I found it, things felt pretty okay. I lapped the arena two or three times and then tried a circle. And didn’t slide off. Last time I tried to circle on anything smaller than a 20-meter round pen, I almost fell off. So far, it was going much better than my last attempt at bareback.

Feeling slightly optimistic, I asked Scarlet to trot. Omg bouncy. We got about half a lap before he dropped back to a walk. He was basically telling me, “Mom, get your shit together.  I’m not going to do all the work.” I apologized and resettled myself. Then I rode. We trotted around so many laps I lost count. It took a bit for me to get him to a good trot where I could sit without falling. It wasn’t a very fast trot but it was a trot, not a jog. It felt so weird to feel his skin moving so much with me bouncing along at the trot but we figured it out. I reversed, trotted a bunch the other way. It was amazing.

Then, I must have been overcome with insanity. I’d trotted bareback before, briefly. It was never good. Mostly I stuck to a walk. I’d never cantered bareback. Scarlet’s transitions are not smooth and never have been so I’d never dared to try for fear of bouncing right off. But I asked for a canter. And he gave it to me (Pinning his ears at me a little. I was kinda holding onto his face and making it hard.) And we cantered a bunch. Then switched directions and cantered again. I freaking walk-trot-cantered bareback.

I freaking walk-trot-cantered bareback. I cannot emphasize enough how big this was for me. I have NEVER done that before. I suck at bareback. I am terrible at it. But my seat has improved incredibly in the last year or two since I had tried it. There is no other explanation. I feel like I have a better feeling of the movements of each gait now and I stuck with it. I am so incredibly happy and proud of this accomplishment. I’m so sore but it is worth it. And I’m so thankful that Scarlet is pretty forgiving and didn’t mind me hanging on his mouth too much while I figured out how to sit each gait before giving his mouth back to him. He was so good and listened so well to me. He definitely got all the cookies.

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This is his “Can I have that cookie you are holding?” face.

Scarlet Rates Stories – The Lady Review

This review is based on my opinion entirely and I’ve received zero incentives to review the books I’ve chosen. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for books or any particular books they would like reviewed please feel free to comment!

The Lady by Anne McCaffrey

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Summary: They are the Caradynes, who for over 200 years have bred and trained horses of the finest caliber on Coernanagh. But all is not idyllic at hearth and home. Catriona, the youngest child, longs to ride her family’s big jumpers and show horses. Her father Michael, recognizes her gift, but her mother hates the very idea. All are in a stalemate until Lady Selina Healy enters their lives, and provides for Catriona and her father a stunning example of how the reins of power can be held by a glorious, fearless woman.

Scarlet’s horsey opinion:

My mom thought I’d like the horses in this story much better than the last ones and she was right. There were lots of horses in this book and they all acted like horses. The farm they were on sounded like lots of fun, though I’m not sure how I would like the trails they talked about. It would probably be okay since it didn’t sound like they ever went out alone. I don’t like the trail by myself.

The horses all had really good sounding food! I wouldn’t mind having extra food like theirs. Food is good.

All the people treated their horses well. They really cared about them. I was most impressed with how well they treated any injuries that the horses got. Mom does a good job with my little cuts but some of the horses had much more than that. Mom told me she wouldn’t have been confident on how to treat those without calling out a vet. This family did. It must be because they have had horses for forever and ever.

Alex’s reader opinion:

I very much enjoyed reading this book. I was a bit surprised that McCaffrey had written real world fiction as I only knew her through her Pern books but I was really excited to see how her narrative style worked for a book of this style.

The first thing I noticed was the POV. Generally, modern books stick with either third person limited or first person. This helps keep the reader following along without any confusion. Third person omniscient is not as popular as head hopping is very difficult to follow and knowing everything about every character makes suspense even more difficult. This book was in the third person limited but it hopped around heads. This was a lot more common with older fiction than modern. I didn’t dislike the point of view but it did cause some confusion at different points of the book. There weren’t any signals that the point of view was changing, no page breaks or new chapters. It would suddenly switch from Catriona to Selina and I’d find it confusing as the pronouns would be the same. It didn’t take long to fall more into the rhythm of the changes and I didn’t get confused as often.The setting of Ireland was quite fun. The general attitude of the characters was much different than what I’m used to with very American style characters and it was cool to see

The setting of Ireland was quite fun. The general attitude of the characters was much different than what I’m used to with very American style characters and it was cool to see inside the everyday habits of an Irish family. There weren’t as many sweeping visual descriptions of the lands as I thought there would be. The setting was more there as an actual place for the story to happen than as a very important part of the plot. It’s good that it was like that as sometimes the setting can take over. This one just melded right into the story.

This next thing I noticed really isn’t a criticism or something I praise but its something I’ve noticed after reading this book and George Morris’ Unrelenting. The kids in these stories jump high! In both books, they talk about the height being at 4 and 5 ft for the jumps. I don’t think I’ve ever jumped over 2 and a half feet. I didn’t know kids were even allowed to jump in classes with heights that high. Maybe its an older generation thing though. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone who looks younger than at least late high school actually jump in the higher classes.

I really enjoyed this story overall. It was fun to go back to a more flowing type of story telling versus the immediate action and one main huge problem stories that are typical of books published today. The horse story was solid. The characters were interesting. I kept reading and reading, just to see what horse things the next day would bring. A solid book.

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AH VACATION!

I can’t prepare for vacations apparently. I was not prepared for this one last week. I meant to have a book review post ready for Friday and a post ready to upload Sunday but no dice. I cannot handle life and getting ready for a vacation at all. Fail!

Except for the book review, the posts would have been pretty light. The heat wave caused me to not do much at the barn. I did head out to check on Scarlet’s nose. It looks like it is healing well. Me being a dummy, I forgot to take photos until a week after I first saw it so here is a week later update pic.

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I had left his flymask completely off while the rub healed. I was able to get out Friday before I left to visit the in-laws and saw that that wasn’t going to work. He had taken to rubbing his eyes and had rubbed a teeny tiny bit of skin off the inside corner of one. Eyes are more important than his nose so I put it back on. I put it on loose though, in the hope that he wouldn’t rub the exact same spot. I haven’t been able to get to the tack store to get another one yet but I will be going soon.

Since I was out in the morning, I was able to ride. I didn’t do much since we were leaving shortly but I got about a 30-minute ride in.

Monday was cooler and I was able to get home from our trip early enough to get a ride in the evening. It was pretty humid and I was tired, so I decided to stick to an easy 30ish minute ride again. I rode in the jump arena and warmed him up. By the time I was done warming up, I was ridiculously tired. That’s what I get for riding inconsistently for a few weeks. I’m so out of shape now.

But I wasn’t done riding. I wanted to send him over a few jumps as a fun thing. So I trotted over a few. And they weren’t terrible but they weren’t good. He decided to lose all momentum at the base of the jump and awkwardly hop over. He didn’t do that at the canter. After a few successful canter jumps, I went back to the trot and forcefully booted him over the jump at a good pace. That went much smoother. I like cantering jumps better and I guess I’ve been letting Scarlet get away with being bad at trotting. I’ll have to put that on the list of things to practice.

Tuesday I went out and rode for only 30 minutes again. I’m catching a cold and it drained some of my energy but I stuck out the ride. I focused on circles and transitions. Scarlet’s trot after some frequent transitions is so different than his typical trot. He is much more elevated. Part of it is tension from anticipating but part of it is he just has to use his back a bit more. I’m thinking of adding some halt-walk-trot transitions into the basic warm up we do just to get him pepped up a bit. Not a lot as his back won’t be warm but just enough to engage his brain. I’ll try it for a bit and see if we can do it without him getting too anxious and tense.

FYI, the book review will be up this Friday, promise.

Minor Guilt and a Busy Life

So last week, due to literally everything happening right at the same time, I wasn’t able to get out to the barn until Sunday. I hadn’t been out for 4 days. I felt bad but hey Scarlet and I aren’t competing or anything so he doesn’t need to be in the best shape possible. He can survive a week or two with less riding.

So I go out and walk up to his stall. I took his fly mask off and turned to shake it out. I let him scratch his face on me while I do that so he scratched away. I turn back to put his halter on and see this:

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I felt like the worst person in existence. Horses get hurt, that’s just the way it is. But I hate when I inadvertently hurt my horse. I felt the same way when his blanket rubbed him raw. Right now, he has his fly masks on 24/7 because taking off and putting on masks isn’t something this barn offers. And understandably so. There are about 100 horses, that would take forever to do. But I can’t go out to the barn first thing in the morning and put it on so I have to leave it on all day. And he managed to rub himself raw. Even more than raw, he kinda rubbed a hole in his face.

I wasn’t going to put his halter on with that so I got his bridle, removed the noseband and slipped that one. I took him to the tack room, cleaned and put some gall salve on his nose. I debated whether I should ride or not but the nose band isn’t necessary and it was his nose. He hadn’t flinched when I cleaned it out and was much more interested in getting treats than anything else.

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So I rode. I ended up doing a bit of arena work and then going on a trail ride with a lady at the barn. That was nice and Scarlet was pretty good for that. I’m glad I rode but it was (still is) hard to shake the guilt I felt for having caused Scarlet to get hurt. I left off his fly mask and will do so till he heals up. I’m looking for different options of masks. Some of the ones I’ve considered are: Roma Stretch Bug EyemaskCashel Crusader. One of my friends also suggested the fringe that hangs over their eyes but I’m not entirely sure about that one. I’m not sure it’s effective and I’m pretty sure Scarlet will not like it. The only problem with the above fly masks is I’m not sure where the pressure point on the nose will sit. It’s not going to do any good if it sits right at the same spot on his nose as I still have to keep the mask on all day. I’m going to take a look at them before buying to see where about they sit.

I did go out Monday and ride again. After the ride, I cleaned his nose and gooped it up. It looked pretty good. The redness around the raw area had gone away and it looked to be scabbing quite nicely. With the rest of the water in the bucket, I sponged down Scarlet. He actually took that quite well, which surprised me. He hates baths and water in general (except to drink, horse hoovers up water) but he was completely fine with a dripping sponge. He only moved when I poured the bucket over him. I’m going to try the sponging off again and if he is still okay with that, I’ll probably do that after more rides as I’d like to clean off sweat more often but I do not like having to fight with him over a bath.

The heat wave is making riding impossible without it being bad for Scarlet and me so I’m going to just go out and check on his nose each day in the evening. I’ll be gone this weekend to go visit the sister-in-law and family so he will have plenty of just lounging around time for his nose to heal.

I do have a couple of questions for y’all. One: any suggestions on fly masks that won’t sit on the raw part of his nose? If you are squeamish, look at the 2nd picture with the goop on it as it is less icky. Two: what are the best wound pastes you’ve found for hot weather? I like the gall salve but it separates when it is this hot out and that makes it difficult to put a paste on that will last longer than 10 minutes on his face.

Re-Transitions

So after getting some suggestions for transition exercises, I was determined to tackle them with Scarlet. Sunday, that was my focus while riding. Generally drilling moves isn’t a great idea for horses but I have been so frustrated by the canter transitions that I couldn’t help it. And I schooled several different transitions between gaits so it wasn’t fully drilling. At least, that is what I’m telling myself.

My first focus was trying to figure out KC of The Pilgrim Chronicles exercises in connection. Scarlet’s connection is okay at the trot sometimes. It is usually much better after we have done a full warm up. So I warmed up, trying to get connection while doing so to help him reach over his back correctly. Then, I started halting and walking. I tried really hard not to pull down and to ignore Scarlet’s head set. He didn’t really like it but after a bit, it seemed like we had a good understanding so I moved onto trot-halt.

My initial problem was Scarlet would tense up, hollow out his back and throw his head skyward. After doing the trot-halt sets, I had a different problem. The little s*** decided behind the vertical was much better if I was going to be constantly asking him to halt. No dude, it is literally just as bad. A lot of the trot-halt sets were me just pushing him forward into the contact while he tried to wiggle away both up and down. We finally got something decent but man it was hard.

Moving on to the canter transitions, well they were still somewhat of a disaster. While I had been able to coax connected transitions in walk and trot out of Scarlet, the transitions did cause him to anticipate even more for when the canter was asked. He was completely tense the whole time. It did not result in anything good. In fact, he tried to run away into the canter even more.

Instead of just allowing him to do that (it wasn’t going to get us anywhere and I was getting frustrated) I took a bit of advice from Karen of Spanish Walk and backed his butt up any time he just ran away. I then asked him to canter from there and got a much prompter transition. It was still pretty tense but after working on it a bit, I was able to get some transitions on the left lead (good lead) that were about half as hollow as before. The right lead still needs a lot of work. We might have to stick to circles to start that lead for a bit.

While I have a few more tools in my arsenal, I still don’t feel as if I understand exactly what part of the transition is causing Scarlet to tense and hollow. I’m pretty sure it is me and how I’m asking/signaling the transition but I’m not knowledgeable enough to figure out what yet. I’ll keep working on the transition and trying various things. I’m open for more exercise suggestions if anyone has anything!

Tuesday, I didn’t want to drill the transition this time. It would annoy Scarlet and bore me to do it every ride. Obviously, transitions are included in every ride so I made sure to keep those as through as I could manage. I decided to make the canter transitions as easy as possible and did those on a circle.

Once we were warmed up, we did two laps of counter canter each way. That went pretty well. I had been doing figure eights without switching the lead for counter cantering but Scarlet’s right lead was a bit weak and we would flop apart before completing the 8. So I’ll work on the counter canter more and then go back to the figure 8s. I also worked on my sitting trot. My butt now hurts but we did a lot. After the end of what felt like 10 minutes of working on it. I think we finally got a few steps of lifted trot without rushing while I was sitting. It didn’t last very long but it happened. We cooled down by doing some leg yields at the trot and walk. He was very good for those, though he wanted to try and avoid as well.

And somehow, my life got really busy this week so Tuesday is literally the only weekday I get to ride. I’m going to have to wait till Saturday to get another ride in. 😦

Pushing Yourself vs Burning Out

Before getting to the meat of the post, I wanted to talk about meeting Emma from ‘Fraidy Cat Eventing. I’m sure many of you have read her post or L’s post on her blog. It was amazing. Tacos and new blogger friends, what more can a girl want? Emma was exactly as I expected from reading her blog. Funny, quirky and sassy. I regret that we only had a couple of hours to talk but hopefully we can get more time next time she is out west.

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Now, to the main topic.

I’ve always had issues pushing myself. I am the very definition of lazy and it is extremely easy to allow myself to talk myself out of whatever I need to do. I’ve procrastinated on projects my whole life and allowed myself to be lazy whenever it suited. It’s something I’ve tried to fix on and off. But willpower is something I’m not good at either.

Recently (for the last month or so) I’ve made a real effort to not allow myself to come up with excuses to get out of responsibilities. The biggest areas I’ve been focusing on are exercising, chores and a side project of mine. Riding generally hasn’t been a problem but I’ve been continuing to make sure I go out 5-6 days a week. And I have to say, I’ve been doing pretty well. But I still am stumbling.

I’ve talked about the ab challenge I’ve been doing and I have kept that up. It’s really difficult but I get it done each day, using that time as my break from work in the morning. I’ve also been running more often. Then, after work, I go ride for 50ish minutes. This last week was a tipping point. I pushed my body too much and fell apart when finishing up the ab exercises on Friday. I also couldn’t run the majority of my normal route. My muscles were just exhausted. It was demoralizing and I found it very difficult to tell myself that this is going to happen. I had been running, doing an arm workout, doing a lot of core work and riding a lot this last week. I had been pushing myself to add more abs, push a bit more for the 30 seconds of pushups, run just a bit more this time. I’ve been pushing myself in small bits across many things during my day. And I pushed just a tiny bit too far and it fell apart.

The thing I’m finding difficult to do is to know that line. I need to push myself to improve. No one else is going to do it. I’m not under any deadlines for exercising or chores. No one is going to go tell me to run for 30 minutes. I have to be responsible for keeping myself moving.  I can so easily say “Oh, I’m tired today. Let’s just do a little less.” or “I’ll get to those dishes tomorrow”. And suddenly we are a week later and I’ve done nothing. So I can’t see where that stops and my body is actually telling me I’m pushing too hard. I am working toward finding this line but it is extremely hard to do so.

While I am tired, both mentally and physically, I find myself bouncing back and forth between being annoyed with myself and proud of myself. Proud, because I’ve consistently pushed myself in my daily life for a while now. And it had become easier, more default to want myself to push more. That means that my overall mentality was changing to the habit of pushing. Annoyed, because I seriously can’t manage to hold that plank for five more seconds? I really can’t figure out how to just run the same amount I did before? It’s really not that many dishes, why didn’t you do that instead of watch that YouTube video? It’s really easy to beat myself up when I don’t meet every expectation I have for myself. I’ve had a lot more practice giving myself guilt trips so that tends to be my default.

But I’m getting there. It’s a work in progress. I’m going into every day with a list of things to do. I’m getting most of the working out done. Riding almost always happens. Chores are getting better. My project is coming along. I’m getting there. I need a bit more time to stop with the guilt trips on the days I don’t but I think I’m getting that as well.

How about you guys? Are you guilty of being lazy often? Do you find it easy or hard to push yourself to do more each and every day? How do you know your limits?

Jumping and Transitions

Wednesday I went out to the barn hoping to do some jumping. It had been a while since Scarlet and I had done some and I like to try to repeat anything that I had done during my lesson as soon as possible with him. But there were lessons going on in the jumping arena so I wasn’t able to do so. I rode around in the arena hoping that the lesson was almost wrapping up so that I could jump. It looked like it was but the horse the kid was riding wasn’t cooperating. They are currently using another boarder’s horse for lessons (with permission) since they have a limited amount of horses.

I don’t agree with a lot of the teaching I see from the trainers here (hence why I’m not in lessons with them) but I have to say, using this horse is probably the worst idea. He is a hard ride even for the trainer. No one can really get him to behave properly and the kids that get put on him aren’t confident and aren’t they type to sit down and kick him through whatever they are doing. He is a horse that needs that kick to see that he can’t get away with his crap. But, not my horse, not my business. I just watch and shake my head.

Friday is usually a low activity day at the barn. I was crossing my fingers when I went out so that I could have the jumping arena to myself. And it was empty! There might have been one other person out on the property but they weren’t anywhere near me. I moved a bunch of the jumps up before getting on as they were set at ankle height and I wanted heights that would make Scarlet respect the jumps. We warmed up and jumped. He was spooking at one whole side of the arena which made him run squirrely into the jumps when they faced that side. I had to repeat a bunch of jumps just to make him listen to my leg when telling him not to try and move side to side.

It wasn’t as relaxing and simple as I would have liked due to the squirrely-ness but he was very good about actually jumping. We had some messups but we would go to repeat and the second time would be better. I managed to connect the jumps together in patters and run through them several times and we did pretty well. He doesn’t want to land on his right lead so we had to do some simple changes but I expected that. I was pleased with the rounds as they were. I found myself counting strides more and when I’d reach one, Scarlet would take off every time. It wasn’t necessarily the best take off spot but we were in sync for the ride which I liked.

Saturday I just wanted to hack around and maybe do some lateral work since Scarlet has been ignoring my legs more and more. We did do some leg yields, TOF and TOH at the end of the ride along with some backing up. But what I noticed the most was our terrible upward canter transitions. I’ve noticed this happening for a bit but figured I was the cause. Now I’m not so sure.

Scarlet hollows his back really easily, probably due to training and breed. So lately, when I’ve been asking for an upward transition, he will go from a nice lifted trot into super hollow giraffe head. I’m trying to push him upwards and not hold with my hands but also not throw them away. I just don’t know what is going on. And the problem compounds with once I’ve asked, he gets tense at any moment of sitting down from me and anticipates. I haven’t found a way to haul in for lessons yet so I don’t know when I’d be able to get a trainer to assist me on this. I’m going to be doing a lot more transition work in my rides overall to hopefully help this trot-canter transition.

Does anyone have any exercise suggestions for the trot-canter transition to help with hollowing within the transition? I’d really appreciate some ideas as I don’t want to just drill transitions on a circle if I can help it.

New Segment! – Scarlet Rates Stories

I’ve been wanting to add something to the blog that isn’t just a daily rundown of what Scarlet and I do together. I love doing that and it is a great chronicle of what we do, but I also like the variety I see in other posts (DIY, reviews, etc) so I wanted to try something new. But I also wanted to stick with things I love. I love horses obviously. I also love reading. What I don’t get often are good horse books meant for adults. I loved the Thoroughbred series when I was a kid but it seems like every writer assumes that we readers grow out of the horse crazy phase (NEVER!) when we get older. So I wanted to try to find more horse stories that are appropriate for adult readers. I’m not sure how successful I will be but I want to try. And since I’m going to be reading them anyway, why not share on the blog to see if anyone else benefits from my reviews?

So here is the first iteration of my horse book reviews. I’m trying to find books where the horses are integral if not the main point of the book. I’m primarily sticking with books I have not read yet so I can give a first impression type review. I’m open to suggestions of books to review if anyone has one they have been interested in but didn’t want to take the plunge themselves. Also, since this is a new thing, please feel free to leave comments on what you think of this segment below.

As always, these are entirely my opinion and I’ve received zero incentives to review the books I’ve chosen.

Green Rider by Kristen Britain

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Genre: Fantasy, YA more than Adult

Summary: Karigan runs away from school before being expelled due to a fight and finds a dying Green Rider – a member of the special messenger group for the crown. He pleads with her to take his message to the king. Karigan agrees and finds herself chased across the land by evil with the Green Rider’s horse and magic to help her complete the mission.

Scarlet’s horsey opinion:

My mom reads lots of books. Sometimes she shares them with me, especially if there are horses in the book. Mom tells me that a big problem with horse books is that horses don’t always act like horses. I would have asked her what she meant by not acting like horses. Every horse has its own personality. After all, I’m nothing like my paint neighbor, who sticks his nose through the fence to greet everyone. I would have asked, but my mouth was full of cookies and I didn’t want to be rude. She asked me what I thought of the horses in this book. After all, who would be better at judging a horse book than a horse?

The horse in this book, Condor, acted horse like. He wasn’t able to do anything that I can’t physically do with more exercise to build up my stamina. The major thing that Mom told me about that seemed off was how he acted. His responses (though we horses are very responsive to our humans, they like that) were more human than horse. But he lived in a world with this stuff called magic. Mom explains that it makes impossible things happen. So maybe the magic made him think and act a bit more like a human than a horse. Condor’s behavior wasn’t enough to make Mom not like the book just due to that.

However, Mom’s biggest pet peeve with horses in any media form existed in this book. She will rant every time she sees it. Horses cannot run around at top speed everywhere. Condor did that a bunch. She did say it might be that magic stuff again but really, even with magic Condor would have to get tired at some point.

Alex’s reader opinion:

I try to start off with the positive things before focusing on negative things so the positives of this book were the magic system and the world.

The magic system was quite interesting. There weren’t too many magic practitioners in this world. When the magic is limited to certain circumstances, it makes for a more solid magic system. It also makes the magic more impressive when it does happen, as it isn’t as normal as tying your shoelace. The magic mainly centered around the magic that the Green Riders possess. This magic is tied to a brooch that is their symbol of office. Each brooch has unique magic and chooses its wielder. One magic is invisibility. Another is to tell when someone is lying. Simple but useful magics overall. I thought that was very well done.

The world was very well developed. The author had specific distances in mind from place to place and those didn’t seem to vary for the sake of the story. The world had a history, a caste system and an explanation for why things happened based on historical references. World building is hard to do without getting so sucked into it that you sound Tolkien-esque. Britain did a very good just having enough information there to make the world seem completely solid without droning on about facts. Some things I didn’t like were the protagonist herself and the presence of romance in the book.

Some things I didn’t like were the protagonist herself and the presence of romance in the book.

Now, before you think that I hate romance, I really don’t. A world isn’t complete without having love in it. Love exists in everyday life so why shouldn’t it fit in books? Th problem I have is the specific romance in this book. There are two implied romantic attractions and I never saw it till the main character said it herself. I was completely surprised by this. If I’m responding with a “wtf?” and it’s not just with the character being surprised themselves, the romance has just been forced into the book for romance’s sake. Neither of the romantic interests had spent much time with Karigan. Neither of them showed any indication that they thought anything of her before it was directly stated that they liked her. There was no basis for attraction (beyond physical but that was not the attraction that was stated in the book) and I cannot stand random romances.

Karigan herself is just… flat. Everything about her falls flat. She is the protagonist but she NEVER DOES ANYTHING! Everything just happens to her and she goes along with the flow. She doesn’t really choose to start as a Green Rider, it’s forced upon her. Then she just shrugs and says okay sure why not. That first “choice” that she has at the beginning of the book is indicative of how she acts for the rest of the story. No choices, just going with the plot.

I wanted to like this book but I really just didn’t. The summary and premise really seemed good. I had bought this book a while ago and didn’t get very far in it. I then put it down for a number of years and decided to try and read it again. It was hard. I just couldn’t get engaged in Karigan and her problems. They just weren’t problems for me. Nothing that started the journey really mattered or would change her life. Later, once she was already in, the stakes rose and things matter to her life but it was too little too late. Not a terrible book, but it really wasn’t for me.

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Lesson!

I had a lesson on Tuesday! So happy that it is a new month so that I could have one. I rode a different horse this time. Still huge compared to Scarlet. I’ve ridden 3 horses at this barn and I believe all of them have been 17hh.

Trainer D wasn’t in as much of a hurry to leave that day (or the fact that the kids are back in school leaves her with less minions) so I groomed and tacked up before my ride. I don’t mind that at all. It was kind of fun to see what it would feel like to have someone get my horse ready for me, but I really enjoy the grooming part of riding. Not because Scarlet likes grooming (he is more or less indifferent to it) but because it’s part of my ritual of getting into the riding headspace. With new horses, it allows me to get to know them a bit and get a feel of their temperament while doing so.

The horse I rode has had an abscess in his mouth for just over a month. They are cleared to ride him by the vet but not with a bit. So I had my very first experience with a hackamore. (It was purple! XD) I was a bit hesitant about that because, hey I’ve literally never ridden with a hackamore. I wasn’t sure if I’d do something wrong with my cues because of the lack of a bit. I shouldn’t have worried though. It wasn’t much different than normal. The horse was also a little girthy. Scarlet will toss his head sometimes but this horse mean mugged and snapped at me. I smacked him back and told him that he better behave himself or he is going to really regret it. He tried half-heartedly to snap at me again when I was checking it before mounting but another smack caused him to stand there and glare at me while I made sure I wasn’t going to slide beneath him.

Trainer D said this guy could use spurs or a crop as well. Since I don’t have spurs (I might need to look into them, just for lesson purposes) she brought me a crop. He was nothing like my previous ride though. I didn’t think he was all that hard to get moving forward at all. He needed a tap with the crop here and there to be reminded to move and reminded not to lean but a very solid equine citizen overall. His trot was almost a western jog feeling but I was told that was about all we would get out of him. That was okay. A super smooth trot is really nice to ride to so I wasn’t going to complain. His canter was very even and slow feeling as well, without actually being slow.

Trainer D had me two point around at the trot each way for a lap and she said she was very impressed with me. All my hard work paid off! I’ve been practicing while riding Scarlet so I’m glad that has helped. I also have been doing a 30 day ab challenge with my friend. We are on day 16 as of Wednesday. It started with 15 crunches, 6 leg lifts and 10 seconds of plank. Then it ramps up by 5, 2 and 5 respectively each day. We end with 160, 64 and 155. It has been pretty killer for the last 5 days so I’m dreading the end of it. Leg lifts are the bane of my existence as well. So hard! But, something I’m doing core wise is helping my riding so if it’s this workout, maybe it’s worth it. 😉

Trainer D had me practice the sitting trot as well. I hate my sitting trot. I never feel balance and Scarlet hates me sitting in the saddle for the most part so when I practice, most of me is focused on keeping my horse moving forward, but not at a canter, versus up and down. I said as much to her and she had me sit the trot in a circle in front of her. She said it didn’t look bad but I explained how I felt like I would occasionally slip to the side and then try to over correct and then all my balance would go to hell. She had me try and exercise of sitting for 5 strides and then posting for 5 strides. It was quite difficult at first to get the rhythm but I got it. After that, she explained that while I had a nice lovely posture while posting, I would sit way back and open my pelvis up a lot while sitting. That was probably what threw off my balance, as I didn’t need to be opening up that much. The explanation made sense to me but I’m not sure how to implement that with sitting at home. The lesson horse’s trot was smooth, Scarlet’s isn’t without a ton of work on my part. It will be something to work on to see if knowing what is happening will help me figure it out.

After the warm up, we started jumping. She had two lines of 6-7 strides. One of crossrails (absolutely tiny, lol) and one of verticals (probably about 18″). We headed over the crossrails and the horse didn’t feel like I was with him so the first crossrail was bad and then the second one he broke to a trot for. I regrouped and made sure to let him know that I was there and ready to head for the jump. I apparently did that too well as we got a half stride for 6 and a half for the second crossrail. Trainer D explained what happened and said we should decide on striding. I said let’s do the 7 as I didn’t feel confident enough to push him forward for the 6. So we went around again with me half halting after the first crossrail. But my half halts are much stronger than that horse needed and we got 7 and a half. At least we weren’t making the same mistake?

The next go through it was much better. Then we went through the vertical. Those rode pretty well each way. I had to ride a bit more forward for that due to actually needing to jump them versus canter over them. Once I got that down it was easier. Then we strung those together. This horse leaned to the left very hard and that was the lead we went through first. Because of that, we ended up making a much sharper turn to the vertical line that I wanted to. But we were there so I said (outloud) okay well we are going sharp and we made it over. We also took the second jump of the line on a long jump but we would have chipped if adding an extra stide. I believed the horse could do it and he felt me be ready so we did it.

Trainer D praised me for just riding with the ride we had considering that turn was terrible. Then we did it again and I put my left leg on hard to keep him out as much as possible. It still wasn’t as much as I wanted but it was many more strides distance to turn and straighten for the jump line. Then we went to the right. We broke to the trot after the crossrails and I had to circle around to get space to go back to the canter. We headed straight for the verticals and Trainer D yelled for us to come back over the crossrails at the end to get a full 4 jumps. We did that and then called it a lesson.

Trainer D said that I was doing really well, focusing on the things I needed to last time. My two point has improved, my knees improved. She said my homework was more or less just keep doing the same thing. A bit disappointing because I like having new specific things to work on but I’m glad I showed improvement.

I did decide to ask about boarding and haul in fees, just because what the heck. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Yeah…. boarding will never happen. The minimum cost is 2x what I pay for Scarlet’s board. I can’t afford that. She didn’t remember the haul in fee because it has been so long since she has done a haul in lesson. She said she would look it up for me and she does do lessons on Saturdays. So, depending on what the fee is, I may try to do a haul in lesson someday. Now if someone could just donate a truck and trailer to me…. XD

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