Monday, September 15, 2014

Super, awesome, Jerk.

Recap of the last week in horses.

Ok ride,
Steady was good and compliant.  Did some flat work jump a few smallish jumps.  All was good.  I rode in my jump saddle for the first time in a few weeks and I felt insecure.  I hated that feeling.  Because that saddle always makes me feel so safe. I have been working so hard to figure out how to ride in a dressage saddle I guess it messed with my jump position.

Jerk
Jerk face bucked then started pitching a fit.  Then since I was home alone and not really wanting to get hurt battling sir jerk face I made him regret being a jerk but did it from the ground.  It took a bit of time but I did finally win that battle.  In turn making me run late for school but hey I had to finish what I started.  The only picture I have is of when I was lunging him for bucking.

It takes talent to look this good while being a complete a-hole!


Super awesome ride
I went and had a lesson with LAZ on Thursday because school was closed for an in-service, yay!  My thoughts going into this was to figure out if It was going to be beneficial to my health to show up at Team Challenge in a few weeks.  We have not gotten out to one show this year so far and I am apprehensive to say the least.  Well Steady was a complete rock star.  It was amazing!  He didn't put a foot wrong.  I guess he had one rail the entire lesson but it was a "lazy rail".  My horse had a fricken LAZY rail.  No joke.  He was quiet at quiet could be.  I focused big time on my breathing. Which is something they talk quite a bit about at school for massage.  It was phenomenal.  I could literally feel him down shift the moment that I took a deep cleansing breath.  LAZ made it clear that I need to keep my shoulders back hands down and no pulling upon landing. 

Horse shopping
Yes we are on the look out for a new horse for Elaina.  She got her season with the bitty Pony and now we need to find a better fit for her.  She went a tried out a little gelding that might be "the one".  Still working out details with owners so not deats about him quite yet.

No riding for 4 days
This makes my heart hurt.  Life needs to slow down just a little so I can get into the saddle more than 2-3 x's a week.  Seriously, I'm not kidding my butt needs more saddle time.  My butt misses my horse.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What we've been up to...

I'd love to do an individual write up of each fun thing we've done but it just isn't realistic right now in my life.  Steady has been fantastic every ride lately.  I have to say it is pretty cool to get on a horse that feels like an actual trained horse.  It has been years and years since that has been the case for me.  Like since probably 20 years ago.  YIKES! That makes me feel old.  Elaina and I got to go out and hit the trails a couple weeks ago and that was a blast.  The weather has been amazing all summer.  Not too hot not too humid.  Perfect for riding.  I signed up for Team Challenge in October.  It was a funny feeling having multiple people wanting you to be on their team.  Haha I guess that is what getting 3rd individual and 1st team will do that for you.  I had a hard time deciding which team and even whether or not I should even sign up at all.  I just have not had the time to train and condition this year what so ever.  My riding has been sporadic at best.  Steady lost all fitness and I have lost any fitness I had.  Did we have time to build back fitness?  Did we have time and money for the lessons we needed?  Did I have the time and money to hit a schooling show before had since we had not been out even once this year for a show?  I still don't know all the answers to those questions and sure hope I can pull it off.  Poor people that thought it was a good idea to have me on their team!!

Some more exciting news that after all these years I finally have a dressage saddle.  Not just a dressage saddle but I found one that fits me, my horse, it was an incredible deal and my very favorite brand.  Albion!

There isn't much else to announce riding wise.  School is going great and I am getting more and more experience each week.  I am also researching the best equine body work programs out there.  I have some traveling, classes and an internship in the works for the equine training.

I'm just doing my best to hold it all together. Oh wait and since insanity seems to be my sanity I was asked to take on the Regional Secretary position for our Pony Club region.  Regional Secretary is basically the leader for the entire region.  Yeah, why not, I'd love to.  Ha!

A marriage, 3 young kids, a farm, 3 horses, sell a house, move states, buy a new house, go to school full time and clinics to fulfill and now PC responsibilities, oh my.  I can't say I'm doing it alone though.  My husband has been an absolute invaluable support system.  He has stepped up to the plate in every way needed.  Even making sure I have time to ride and completely happy with me taking lessons and competing.  Proof that miracles can happen!  Getting massages multiple times a week may be some compensation for him.  Maybe I need to write an inspirational book titled, "How I won over my reluctant horse husband and how you can too!"  LOL!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sacrifices

Sacrificing sounds all good and fine until it comes down to the nitty gritty and you actually have to give things up.  Real things.  Things you love.  Things that make you happy.

I write for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes I write for you.  To keep in connection with my virtual, yet very real blogger community.

Sometimes I write for my horses.  You know cause they read this blog too and I don't want them to feel neglected!  No really, I write for my horses when I work through training issues and document it here to help me improve for their betterment.

Then other times I write for me.  To get things out that otherwise kept in might just make me spontaneously combust.  Now is one of THOSE times.  I am having a hard time sorting out all that is inside of me right now and getting it black and white does help me. 

My question is; what would you be willing to sacrifice?

Sacrifice for a time, not forever but even a short time relatively speaking.  Could you give up riding?  Could you give up spending the quantity and quality time with your equine partner, lets say for a year?  Give up competing? 

If it was for something that you KNEW would better your life, your families life and also provide more time and money in the long run so that you could ride and compete more than you have been able to in the past.  Then could you?

I think most would say yes, that makes logical sense to give up something you love for a short time to allow you to pursue it more passionately in the future.  That of course makes logical sense, but it does not make it easy.

I rode today.  Like I did last week and the week before.  For like an hour one time a week.  My horse is lacking the incredibly muscular specimen he was this time last year and I hate seeing that.  I see my horses multiple times a day.  Mostly just as I am walking up to the back door  but when I look at him and don't see him ripped with gorgeous shiny muscle it makes me sad.

I want to keep up with it all but it just hasn't happened.  I say about every other week that I am going to ride 5 days a week no matter what.  And every time I have more homework, more house projects or more responsibilities that suck my time and energy away.

Like I said I rode today and not 5 minutes in both me and my horse were huffing and puffing.  It's sad.  It makes me sad.  And today I again committed to start riding every day.  And it wasn't a second later it occurred to me that I will be out of town the next 3 days.  There goes that plan.  I will check back in and let you know if my determination continues when we return Monday.  I hope so.  I know these really are not real "problems" but they are my thoughts and feelings and it is where I am.  And the problem is real to me. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I used to think I was pretty bad ass.

There is nothing like small children jumping large fences on small ponies to make you feel like a chicken shit.  Seriously saw some bad ass riders this week and they were all 14 years old or younger with the average age being 10 at Pony Club D camp.  I love pony club!  Really every young aspiring riders parents could do them no favor greater than joining pony club.
I saw them with looks of concern, when asked to jump something new yet take it on any way with boldness and land with smiles from ear to ear and more confidence in themselves than they've ever had.  Kids who last year were struggling over poles on the ground who worked all year and came back this year and now jumping beginner novice and novice jumps with ease.  These are the cream of the crop.  The future of our horse sports and I am proud to be along for the ride to watch them grow and learn.

These are no ordinary kids.  They work hard, they don't complain, they may weigh less than the manure bucket they are trying to empty but they figure out a way to do it.  Because they understand that their teammate is the most important one in their partnership and deserve the best care no matter how hard.  Each kid willing to help the other.

I saw some take spills and refuse to take a break and more determined to ride better and get it right.  Not one get angry with their horse but instead heeded instruction to give a better ride.  You truly get to see these kids grow in so many ways over the 5 days of camp.  Now here are some pictures to make you too feel like a chicken shit.


 First is Elaina on Penny.  My 7 year old daughters pony who Elaina has been having some fun with this summer.  She is some where around 12 hands and jump all the beginner novice like is was no big thang.  Adorbs!  Mind you Elaina has never jumped XC jumps of this size and has really only ever schooled XC twice over some itty bitty stuff.  But she to made it all look like no big thang.









 Then the last XC day they did a switch ride and Elaina rode another girls pony Sheldon.  Who after watching him the first day everyone who knew him said he was a "dick of a pony".  He proved to be just that but Elaina gave him some great rides and she did great with him.

 Jumping the double bank down beautifully.




Canter through the water and up and over the Novice rolltop.



Big stuff! 

Ahhhh perfection

He was acting squirlly to this jump but Elaina rode it well and she is learning young the benefits of "staying in the backseat!" 

Again he got squirlly and she rode it out with success.
And here are a couple of the other kiddos at camp.  Really amazing little riders.  Both of these young riders are 10.




The smile!




Tuesday morning we leave bright and early with two other girls from our club(one of them being the one riding the big bay above) for Kentucky Horse Park for Pony Club National Championships and Festival.  Where they will be competing in Pony Club Quiz.  Wish them luck!!!  Go Pony Club!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

If I died today...

If I accomplish nothing else in life I can die feeling like I've succeeded and accomplished more than I ever thought I would or could when starting out on this journey over 4 years ago.  This is my horse, whom I've trained from his first day off the track and my young rider whom I've birthed and instructed from her first day in the saddle.  If I had a dream about what my life could be this beauty of a video would sum up all of those dreams.

So much has gone into this moment. Time, money and sacrifice being a few.  All the struggle and challenge that I have dealt with and worked through to make this life a reality not just for me but for my children have all been worth it to see this.

I'm telling you it hasn't been easy and some of you that have been around this blog from the beginning may remember some of those struggles.  There have been money struggles, marriage struggles, guilt struggles and let's not forget to mention the seemingly endless training struggles with this giant 17 hand athletic, intelligent ball of fire.  Then there is the chance that your children won't even want to ride horses and even if they do not with the same passion you have for it.  To work their butt off and over come difficulties to keep at it to become great.  There are so many variables and if and when they fall into place you just never know, until they just do.  And they all did for me this week.

This was a purely experimental experience.  I put Elaina on Steady in one of her lessons at pony club camp just to see how they got along.  I thought maybe they would go over a few single x's at a trot.  But over the course of the warm up it started to become clear that she was riding him perfectly.  She was nervous.  You could see it on her face but she never once rode like she was.  She never gripped the reins and held his face and instinctively made every right decision.  She was a very quiet rider.  If he got quick she didn't react she just sat up and half halted.  If she need him to slow down more she circled.  I was floored. Of course I do think my daughter is a good rider for an 11 year old but I NEVER expected her to have those instincts.  I then had to tell her that she is a better rider than she thinks she is while she was up there.  Because she kept looking to me and the instructor with this look of "help me, what do I do" all while doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing.  So we had nothing to instruct her on except for to realize she has got this!  The humility in her abilities makes the whole thing even sweeter.

Here it is folks my 11 year old daughter showing us how to ride a beginner novice height show jump course.  She has not jumped a course that high on any horse let alone on a tough to ride 17 hand OTTB for her very first time ever over fences, like she was born doing it.



Someone said the other day, "some Mom's have to worry about their daughters stealing their clothes as they get older, but I have to worry about my daughter stealing my horse."
The problem is real people!  I also have to worry about the day that her abilities pass up mine and then she will start bossing me around.  I am not quite ready to let my spot in the saddle go yet but I do believe I can share.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

It's happening

I am actually writing something on my blog.  Don't get to used to it because the way things are going it seems it will be few and far between.  I am reading my favorite blogs but even then rarely have the time or stamina to actually comment.  I am so very sorry for that.  Here is a catch up post.

Riding seems scarce.  Someone thought entering into an accelerated college program with 3 kids, 3 horses, 15 acre farm, 2700 sq ft house and a husband whilst trying to prepare to move to another state was a good idea?  I have to admit though I am LOVING learning about massage therapy.  It is the perfect fit for me and I am so excited about what it means for my future.  I am massaging people on a regular basis and even worked on my first horse with much success last week.  I just love getting my hands on peoples angry, stressed muscles.

I did get to take a XC lesson last weekend on Steady along with Elaina on Penny Pincher.  That experience was like an amazing out of body experience.  Not only did I get to have a ton of fun soaring over jumps on my kick ass horse but in between I got to watch my daughter and her adorable pony navigate XC for the first time and see her face after each jump.  It does NOT get better than this people, I am telling you!  I believe she is officially hooked on the adrenaline rush and jumped a ditch, banks, coops, roll tops, water, banks out of water.  It was awesome to watch!  If there was video you would all collectively go, awwwww after each jump because oh my, that pony!

Steady was pretty great considering the insane amounts of rain we have been getting have kept me off of him for a good couple weeks.  He was really quite chill besides a few "steady" moments.  I Lee Ann reinforced and worked on not snatching him up upon landing.  Instead letting go a bit and adding leeeeg and half halting and just "waiting him out".  Now I need about 100 more lessons on this point to develop new neural pathways from my brain to my motor neurons so that out on a XC course I can do this without thinking and instead it becomes an acquired reflex. (you can thank A & P for the medical terms)  Because we all know that thinking on XC for me is not necessarily in the cards.

This week has also been the 4-H fair for us.  Kelcie is still a mini 4-h'er and showed Hank and Penny.  7 year old on most adorable pony on earth!


 Macy showed Hank for the first year in obedience and agility and they did awesome!  They got a 4th in obedience and 6th in agility.  Corgi on agility course=adorable.

 Elaina decided not to do the 4-H norm and enter every single class but instead just show in the things that really mattered to her.  So we skipped all the pleasure stuff.  Thank God cause that stuff makes my eyes bleed.  And just hauled in for Dressage and over fences day.  And then again on contesting night.  She got 1st in her dressage class doing intro test C, 2nd in Hunter Hack, 1st in Eq over fences and 1st in Hunter O/F.
They had their picture in the paper the next day.  Friggen adorable!


 They had the absolute best round of the day including all the Sr. 4-H kids and I am not just saying that because I am her mother.  Most of those kids were down right terrifying over fences and the couple rounds that weren't had rails down.  She ended up wining Jr. High Point Champion for the day! 
Happy kid, tired pony.


Contesting night was rainy and we decided to do the crazy horse people thing and go anyways and ride in the rain.  We only stayed for the first two events because contesting always goes until the wee hours in the morning and having school in the morning it just wasn't happening.  Elaina, the good sport she is, was just grateful that she got to go at all.  She ran poles getting 2nd and barrels taking 1st Oh em ge can we again collectively say adorable perfect pony?!  Then we left with 2 more event to go.
Did I mention we do contesting in full on English?  In an egg butt snaffle, no whip, no spurs, no flailing body parts but instead excellent equitation.  Showin' the big ass bit, tight ass tie downs, giant saddles and monster spur folk how it's done with class!!!!


  The next day I heard word that her name was announced at the end of the night for Jr. High Point Reserve Champion!

The kid won more swag this week than I have my entire life.  She was also nominated for the sportsmanship award, that's what that plaque is.

 What a fun rewarding week for her.  I won't get any more sappy over it all but I'm telling you it couldn't have happened to a more deserving, humble kid who never cared about winning anything just that she did a good job and that her pony was happy and healthy.

That is it on the family farm front.  Everyone is happy, healthy and enjoying life!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Finding Center

What do the words Balanced, Centered mean to you?  They have been on my mind quite a bit lately.  To me they mean to me is when life is changing, the world changing, gravity, obligations, reality pulling at you. That you being so centered, focused and balanced that nothing moves you.  That your strength is so concentrated in the right areas that you don't start to shift, and change with your surroundings.  You don't have to reach for something to grab on to.  You just stay.  You cannot be moved.  It is beautiful.  It is strong.  It is healthy.  It is comfort. It is happiness, peace, contentment, progress, evolving, forward.  Pretty much everything.  There is so much changing around me.  My entire world for the most part is moving shifting and going in many directions that are new.  That can be unnerving and uneasy.  My time, my schedule, where I live, what I do, when I do it.  All of this can shift my feelings but they do not shake my center.  I am kept together and remain in balance.  In life I have my center, my core kept in balance with God, my husband, my children, my animals.

Balance in riding is equally as important.  I don't just mean being able to stay balanced on a horse.  I have had that skill honed since I was a 10 year old kid.  But I mean both sides of your body weighted perfectly even.  Your weight evenly distributed across the entire surface area that touches the horse.  Your seat bones both with the same amount of pressure in your seat.  Your shoulders even.  Solid through your rib cage and equal on both sides.  No collapsing one way or another.

Having a long riding break can be discouraging but it can also be like pressing the rest button on your position.  When you start to fall into your bad habits and old muscle memory it can mean a world of difference.  I have been starting back slow this year.  And by slow I mean slower than you are probably thinking, nope even slower than that.  Although I have been frustrated by that I have also been using that to my advantage.  We work slow and I have just been paying attention to the small things.  I have been haunted by going to the right for so long now. Every time we go to the right we struggled.  He would fall to the inside, bulge his shoulder in, turning that direction was no fun when you are at full jumping speed on a tight course and in a dressage test it meant we always lacked right bend.  I have done it all to try to fix it.  I have been frustrated because I thought there was something wrong with my horse, that he was crooked and I need to fix it.  I have had instructor after instructor try to help me with this in a hundred different ways.  Finally after a culmination of all of the things I had an eye opening ride a few weeks back and have been progressing in that direction. I realized it was not my horse.  Ha go figure right. Don't get me wrong he is not perfect and has his issues but the going to the right thing was all me.  What was the aha moment you ask?  Finding my right seat bone and concentrating reeeaaally hard to not lose it.  Really, it's life changing those little bones.  Other things go along with this in finding the seat bone but with me essentially what was happening is when I would go right I would tighten up my right side in attempt to use my right leg.  Unintentionally scrunching up my leg, weighting my left seat bone and collapsing my rib cage to the right.  But in finding that seat bone and letting my weight down through it is has a chain reaction where my leg becomes longer, my rib cage opens back up and you see this instant change.  You have a horse moving braced, with his right shoulder bulging and having to steer to the right, I all the sudden see a change, his shoulder moves over, his neck becomes supple and you add leg and the bend around your leg happens.  In reality my horse was crooked but I needed not to fix him but fix me.  He was crooked because I was crooked.  So what does balance mean to me?  Everything.

Ride with Your Mind is life changing people and addicting.
I have heard a million times, "core, core, core, core, core" and while yes core is important you can have a very muscular core and all your muscles in your core tightened and still be completely crooked and sending your horse the complete wrong message.  You need so much more then "core" strength and all the sit ups in the world are not going to fix unevenness.

Balance has much to do with why I am starting school tomorrow morning.  I truly believe that the things I am going to school to learn about human and equine anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, are key in understanding how evenness in your body and your horses body will keep both horse and rider at their best.  Staying centered in your body will help keep you centered in your mind and it will help your riding in ways you never realized it could, it will help your horses comfort, soundness and over all health.  I am excited yet apprehensive.  This process is going to be a big sacrifice for myself and my family for the next 13 months.  If I didn't believe whole heartedly that it was that important and life changing for people then I wouldn't be doing it. I know I will have to remind myself many times over the next year about how important it is and not to get discouraged.

Here's to the world spinning around us but us being so balanced that we keep moving forward and not be lost in the unbalance of uncertainty.