Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just for fun.

I thought this might be a lighter and more fun post than getting all overly philosophical like I can sometime do.  Don't worry we will get back to our regularly scheduled programming soon enough.

1. Favorite thing about riding? I just love riding horses.

2. Draft horse or pony? Being 5'9" tall I am not the ideal pony rider.  I do love ponies though and the fact that I own two of them and have small children I often get to jump on naughty ponies and teach them a lesson.  I think drafts are beautiful and cool horses but they #1 are not athletic enough for my liking and #2 they eat too much.  So for my personal riding horse I guess my answer would be neither.  Though I love all horses and can appreciate almost all breeds.

3. English or western? English

4. Dressage or Hunter/Equitation? I rode Hunter/Equitation for 10 years but now am fascinated and enthralled in the depths of dressage and think if done correctly can help any rider and horse become better in any discipline.

5.Green horse or trained horse? Not that I know what it would be like to own a trained horse but to me it just seems kinda boring. So green.

6. Worst fall? In a show when I was about 12 years old.  I went head first into a stone wall jump and was knocked unconscious.  Though back in those days things like concussions were not considered injuries.  When I came to I was immediately thrown back up on the horse to finish the round.

7. First fall, what happened? Not sure if I can remember my first fall but my first very memorable fall was when I was about 8 years old.  I was in a jump lesson on a 17hh half Clydesdale whom had just had his mane roached.  I found it terrifying to jump with no mane for a security blanket.  I lost my balance over the jump and slowly made my way to the ground.  All the while hearing my leather skinned trainer yelling, "you better not fall off that horse!  I did NOT tell you that you could get off!"  I was far more terrified of my trainer than falling from the giant horse.  I was put right back on and you can be sure that the lesson was not finished until I was successfully jumping with no mane.

8. Have you ever wanted to quit riding? No but I did quit for about 15 years.  It was not by choice it was just life circumstances that kept me from horses.  One being the fact that I spent several years in a religious reform school in the middle of the Ozark Mountains that was surrounded by 30ft chain link fence topped with barbed wire.  Needless to say we were not aloud to ride horses.  There are times though that I feel like I suck so bad I should quit.

9. Favorite thing about your horse? His sheer athleticism.

10. Least favorite thing about riding? How expensive it is.

11. What does the fox say? I do not know what this means because I am an old fuddy duddy.

12. Do you prefer to ride inside or outside? Outside hands down.

13. Do you show? I love to show and it keeps me focused and motivated.  Wish I could do it more.

14. How long have you been riding? Since long before I can remember.  This is me on our horse in my back yard.  I was always obsessed.  But with a long break in between about 18 years.

 15. Why did you start riding? It just always was, not really a reason why.  I started lessons at 6 in a hunter barn because well my parents put me in them because I was obsessed.

16. How many times a week do you ride? 3-5x's a week.

17. Have you ever fallen off at a show? How? Yup more than once.  One time I explained above(the whole stone wall thing).  Most recent was last year in the show jumping phase at a recognized event because of poor riding.

18. Ever fallen onto a jump?
 Haha yes both falls I have already described were into jumps and having jumped for my entire riding career I have fallen into many jumps.

19. Ever been bucked off? Oh my gosh, yes.  More times than I can probably count.  Do people that ride for as many years and a ton of horses really not fall off?  Cause I thought that was a given.

20. Do you have a private or group lesson? Almost always private.

21. In your opinion does it make you less of a rider if you don't own a horse? I actually think if you don't own a horse and still ride to me it makes me think you are probably a more dedicated rider than I am .

22. Trick riding or eventing? Eventing!  It is the BEST!

23. What discipline do you want to try? Why? I don't really have any desire to change disciplines at this point in time.  Really would like to get to Training level in Eventing maybe once I get there I will get bored with it and look into something else but I don't really see that happening.

25. Ever had barn drama? Sometimes I have to yell at my kids for not cleaning their stalls, does that count as barn drama???  haha I do understand barn drama though from being a barn rat in a hunter barn for a decade as a kid.

26. How many barns have you been too? Not sure how to answer this I have been to many many barns.  My dad bred and raised thoroughbreds when I was a kid and we were always going to barns I have also shown my whole life so been to many barns from that and then all the barns I have lessoned at there are too many to count.  But as far as horses I owned I have always been fortunate enough to have my horses in my own barn.  So 2, my barn at my house I grew up in and the other the barn I have about 100 feet from where I sit.

27. Do you plan on having horses in your life, for the rest of your life? I can't imagine it any other way.  Like I mentioned I had to live without horses for enough years of my life I hope I never have to do that again.

28. Favourite tumblr equestrian? Don't know what this is, remember, cause I am old.

29. Favourite tumblr horse? refer to above.

30. If you could ride any famous horse (dead or alive) who would it be? Why? I really have no idea.

31. Does winning ribbons matter to you? Yes!  To me it has less to do about winning or losing but more of a reflection of competing at the level that I belong in.  To me if I can't consistently ribbon at the level I am competing then I am probably not doing something right and need to back down.

32. Do you show? Yep

33. Worst riding experience? I think I can learn from every experience good or bad.  And I have never had anything exceptionally scary happen so I guess that I am grateful for.

34. Ever been on a trail ride? Yes it is GREAT for horses brains and I try to as often as I can.

35. Hunter or Jumper? I like both, jumpers are bit more relaxed and fun to me and hunters I like the accuracy and preciseness it requires.

36. Why did you start riding? I think I answered this already.

37. Ever wanted to buy a school horse? Yes, I loved a school horse that I regularly rode and showed as a kid named Heller.  She was never for sale and no way would my parents have bought her for me anyways.  Then she was leased by a friend so I didn't get to keep riding her.  I would have settled for just leasing her to have her for my own but that was never going to happen for me.

38. How many times a week do you ride? 3-5x's again I answered this already.

39. Ever ridden a horse 17hh+?  I currently do Steady is 17hh.

40. Ever ridden a horse 13hh or under?  Ha yes I am sure I rode several ponies that size as a kid and as an adult I have jumped on our large miniature horse once in a while and he was like 11 hands :)

41. If you have made it this far then you deserve a prize.  Due to an error in the shipping department you all have a chance to win a Higher Standards Saddle Soap.

It is the winter scent of Cinnamint it smells wonderful!  I have been told about these products from a good friend for quite a while now but I finally ran low on my current soap and decided to give it a try.  I personally bought a saddle soap and leather balm and am very excited to put it to use.
I received and extra and figured why not give it to one of you lovely ladies!  Just share about the contest on your blog and comment here that you did and you are entered.  I will randomly pick a winner Monday the 25th.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Feelings vs. Reality

What to cover first?  The thought of showing with my daughter was not the best one I have ever had.  I do not recommend it at all.  Then two more kids and a dog?!  You are just asking for trouble.  The day was completely insane.  From running through isle ways like a crazy person, "shouting, get on your pony your supposed to be in your test!"  To tacking up on the way to the class to arrive just in time to hear the bell ding.  It is not my definition of fun.  The over all frazzled feeling of the day was not a good thing.  It is hard to feel happy and satisfied with anything when you are stressed and rushing.  I am a low stress person and do not enjoy high stress situations so it made an atmosphere that did not set a good tone.


I have to be honest when I say that at the end of the day I felt crummy.  I did not feel good about how the day went.  I felt I rode poorly.  I made poor decisions.  I short changed my daughter.  I am a, give a 110% kind of person and when I was torn in that many directions I felt like I only gave any one thing 50% at best.

I was mentally drained and physically exhausted.  Everything hurt from my head to my feet.

I do understand that feelings are not something to base lasting decisions off of so don't get too worried when I share my true feelings with you.  I won't be jumping off any bridges or anything.

By the end of the day I felt as if I just am not cut out to do this.  I don't have enough time to dedicate to it.  I don't have enough money to pour into getting to a million competitions that would surely help me and my horse.  I just don't belong doing anything I can't give my 100%.  My horse would be far better off with a much better rider.

I made a decision that I feel was pretty much the undoing of the day.  I made SO many mistakes that contributed to not just poor riding on my part but an unfair environment for my daughter.

Mistake #1  I choose to braid my horse.  I don't know why I feel so compelled to do it all.   99% of the people at the show were not braided and I should have, especially on this day, just left his mane alone.  At the time I knew that I was choosing braiding over lunging.  There was only enough time for one.  Epic mistake!  I foolishly kept telling myself, "oh he is comfortable at CAF he will be fine".  Even if he is comfortable with Lee Ann's he is not so much used to it being wildly windy with 75 other horses and a ton of people buzzing around.  I found the system for him that worked like magic when we were down in Kenttucky.  Why I messed with that I have no idea.  The braids were not worth it.            
Scored a 40.0% so not terrible but he is capable of so much better.

Mistake #2 letting the excitement of the environment and my horse negatively affect the way I rode.  Warm up was actually quite nice.  Not because my horse was relaxed because he was not.  He was far better than some of the horrific warm ups we have had in the past.  But he was still being more reactive and sensitive than normal.  I would put on my leg and instead of lifting his back and coming round he would scoot forward.  Which is fine it just meant I had to put more effort into my ride than normal.  I was still getting some nice work out of him.  But then I enter at and all I have learned over the last year for whatever reason flies out the window and I HOOOOOLD onto my horses face and won't let go.  I felt myself doing it.  I saw what it was making my horse do but I JUST COULD. NOT. STOP.  My head was saying "that's not right".  But my body was all like, "hold mooooore!!"  Sigh...

After that was over with I made Mistake #3 completely forget I had a daughter that needed to be in her dressage test!  So I rushed to untack, rushed to tack her pony up.  Rushed to the arena and she had to go in about 2 minutes after getting on.  Not a good plan and not what I wanted to do to her.  She went in rode her test and they did a lovely job.  Was it her best riding?  No.  But who am I to talk.  She was at least relaxed and not holding her pony's face off.

Then it was off to tack up Steady again.  I go out to jump warm up and he is high.  Not at his worst but still just wanting to GOOOOOO.  I am realizing that I have a serious hang up with letting him go which just adds to his insistence that we must go.  I actually feel I made a few good decisions in warm up.  But I could have done better.  Since we haven't jumped 3 ft in I can't remember when and the last time we jumped at all was at KHP I did at least want to get him over some jumps before we went in so he would realize that he needed to pick up his feets a little more this time around.  He wanted to rush at the jump and rush off after.  I am sure there were some watching on say, "OMG they are crazy" but hey poop on them if they only knew what Steady's real crazy looked like.  It was not his worst but it was not the relaxed rhythmic jumping I wanted. 

We entered and off in a canter.  He locked on to the first jump and starts to take off running at it.  I did not want the round to start off on bad foot.  I was always taught in the hunter world "if you make the first and last jumps nice the rest in between almost always go well" and I believe that to be true.  So I start trying to pull him back to a trot and he opens his mouth, throws his head in the air and starts to fling his head and neck around like a dying fish.  Low and behold the jump shows up in the middle of this argument and he doesn't even see it with his head going every direction and we kind of just fall out to the right.  Dammit refusal on our first jump.  I was not happy and it definitely threw me off my mental game.  We came back around to it and jumped it.  Jump two I was so distracted in my head that I spaced it and realized that I needed to get my head out of my ass and finish what I started.  I pulled my head out late for the hard turn back to 2, a max plank oxer, and made an ugly turn but but the jump was ok.  That, unlike jump #1, was not Steady's fault.  Jump 3,(max airy vertical) was a on a 3 stride bending again he jumped it ok, then it was off to the XC field.  We fought on the way to jump 4.  He just wanted to go so fast.  The course was clean minus the refusal on jump #1.  We jumped true Novice fences both stadium and XC and damn the horse loves to go very very fast and jump.  When I got off course I was nothing but disappointed.  I don't think I have ever come off a XC course with that feeling before.  Especially one that besided the one silly refusal was clear.  I felt like I fought with Steady the entire way about how fast we should be going.  Then I felt crappy because I really think that it is more my fear of going too fast is why I am trying to hold him back not because he couldn't do just fine if I let him go faster.  I was disappointed and the fact that I didn't know if I should be disappointed in myself, my horse, my inability to properly train him, or my inability to correctly ride him.  Even now I still have not figured this answer out.

Then it hit me that "SHIT, Elaina needs to be in her second test in 2 minutes!!"  Thankfully a friend was willing to hold Steady still fully tacked up, while I ran to the barn and threw together my daughter and her pony and ran out to her test.  Pretty much as soon as we walked up she had to go in.  No warm up no prep and oh yeah she hadn't looked over her test to get it right.  I begged to borrow the previous readers test to read to her so that she wouldn't forget and she went in and did it.  I was proud of her and the way she handled it all.  The judge is always so great and gives immediate feed back and explained to her that if she just was more accurate in her figures that she would have gotten several more points.  It is a bummer to loose points for that but for what her and her pony have been through I think its easy homework in comparison.  This is also her second dressage show, she is 10 years old she never gets to ride in an actual arena let alone a dressage arena and has worked hard to get her pony to where she is.  There was a split second where Lily contemplated stepping out of the arena and I saw Elaina feel it and stop it from happening.  That right there was progress.

  • Eventers are, once again the most awesome people.  Letting me borrow the test to read.  Holding my horse so I could help my daughter.
  • The jumps in stadium or XC didn't look big at all and they were serious max Novice fences!
  • It was a successful move up a level.
  • Our dressage score was higher than it should have been but there are two big contributing factors one never neglect lunging, which is easy enough, and 2 I need more dressage arena time to not freeze up in a test.
  • Our higher dressage score could not be blamed on my horse at all. 
  • If I would have been able to stop holding his face he would have done exactly what I have been working so hard to train him to do which means we have made incredible progress in the dressage department
  • Our bad day dressage scores are FAR better than our bad day dressage score of just a year ago!
  • We ended with a ribbon and we weren't even last!
  • I feel validated that we were 100% ready and prepared to move to Novice.
  • Though it may have taken longer then planned to get to this point but to do it with just one minor error shows me that I have done the right thing by taking it slow.
  • Though yes my horse locks onto jumps and gets excited and wants to go fast which can be seen as a negative but on the other side of that he is SO incredibly bold and brave and LOVES his job so much that he just wants to do it!
  • After I had some time to think about all of it and begin to separate my feelings from the facts I was able to better put into perspective the event. 
  • And I am quite pleased with my horse. 
  • I need a lot of work!
  • I again completely failed at taking pictures and I am very sorry.  There was a photographer on the grounds and I have been waiting to post this in hopes that I could find some pictures of us on her site but she still has not posted the pictures online.  If I find some I will be sure to share!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blog fail....but that's my reality.

I just finished reading Sprinklerbandits very good and accurate post about what makes up a good horse-y blog.  I now have this overwhelming feeling that I suck at this thing.  Oooooffff, I am pretty sure that I met absolutely none of those criteria.  I have NO idea why any of you come back and read this mess.  I guess I may have possibly met one, I am usually brutally honest.

Not that I don't love and value you all, my enduring blog readers it's just that if I get to the end of any day and I am on speaking terms with my husband, my children have been fed, clothed and educated, my horses haven't bucked me, or any of my children off, I'll settle for no broken bones then it has been a wildly successful day in my world.  I am beginning to think that it isn't even worth entertaining the idea that I might ever actually remember to have a camera handy, then to remember to take a picture, not forget I took those pictures, not loose the camera, the battery on my phone not being too low to take pictures.  Then to find the time to upload those pictures? To write about those pictures?  To make it all coherent?  Then reread to make sure it really is not written in Pig Latin or some other language my semi-conscious mind made up.

You are long suffering few that return time after time.  So thank you!

BTW I entered an event derby this weekend at Novice.  Is it true?  Will Steady and I finally emerge from the ranks of Beginner Novice?  Well I guess we will find out this weekend.  There is a good possibility that we will completely crash and burn.  Elaina and Lily are coming too and doing a couple dressage tests! My first time showing at the same show as my daughter!  Can you comprehend showing and being show Mom all at the same time?  I sure can't, this may get interesting.  Ok and I am taking my two youngest along too so don't forget to add keeping two more kids alive, fed and happy Mom duty to my list of hats to wear this weekend. It is sure to be a fun weekend!!  Ha, and you all think I will remember to take a picture, isn't that sweet...;)