Thursday, March 31, 2011

Taking a poll please make your vote.

Thank you ALL so so much.  You have really made me remember that I love my horse and just need to keep working at this process of finding a saddle to keep him as comfy as possible.  So here is my predicament.  I need to make a choice here and because I am so indecicive and you all are SO smart I thought I would pick your brains.  Here is the thing I want to ride!  I feel like I NEED to ride.  Now I know I will not die if I do not ride but my exsistence will be depressing not doing so.  And with my strong drive to train and compete that is what I WANT to do.  I have already made a deposit on event camp for July.  I was hoping to be fit and ready to really get my moneys worth at this camp as far as training.  So I am now confronted with a few options in order to make this happen or to even just ride.  What say ye?

The County came in the mail today and I rode in it.  My conlusion about it that it is not perfect but I could possibly make it work for the time being.  Alone it sits too close if not on his withers.  But with my Lami-cell pad it comes up off his withers and looks to me to fit fine(but what do I really now about saddle fitting).  Truely if I had to guess he would need wither gussets to fix this problem that we have with every saddle.  Here is the County on Steady with the Lami-cell.

A saddle fitter will be coming to event camp in July that I was planning to make an appointment with.  She is and independent fitter and also has saddles for sale that she brings with her.  There is also a saddle fitter coming to CAF at the end of the month.  I was planning to make an appointment with her but  I found out that I had to have a saddle for her to work with and that is not my situation at this point.

So here are the options in no particular order

1:  Buy the County for $995 and buy a Mattes pad to  make it work until I can meet with a fitter.
       options for fitting
      A: Meet with the fitter at CAF at the end of April with the County.
      B: Call up the local County rep and have her fit the saddle.
      C: Meet with the fitter at camp in July with the County.
2: Ship back the County.
    A: Just wait and see what happens with the saddle fitter at event camp and just be happy that I get to own a horse and plan on taking training seriously next year.
    B: Get a bareback pad and just enjoy trail rides and hacks.(these two options mean I probably won't ride in event camp.  I think I will get everything back but the $100 deposit if they can fill my spot which I am sure she can)
3:Try something like Trumbull Mtn. and take another risk and shipping costs trying to make it work.
4: Any other option I may not be seeing.

I feel like such a f@#%ing idiot.

Sorry for the language but I am so frustrated with myself right now.  I love my horse.  I would never knowingly put him in any pain or danger.  The problem is I am ignorant.  There are some people that I see with horses and I think to myself "they do not deserve to own a horse".  But the truth is sometimes I think that I don't deserve to own a horse.  I have constant reminders of my ignorance on my horses back that I will never be able to make go away.  They will always be there staring back at me to tell me, if I could do that to a horse what makes me think I should own one? 

I posted a picture a few posts ago of Steady and I am sure if you saw the picture you know what I am talking about.  I will post it again in case you missed it.

There is one smaller one on the other side too.

 The glaring white spots on his back.  They follow us everywhere telling everyone, "Look everyone this lady is an idiot horse owner and she put her horse in terrible pain!!"  I can say I didn't do it on purpose.  I can say I didn't realize he was in pain until it was too late.  I can say I didn't know and all those things would be true.  But it doesn't change the fact that it happened.  It doesn't change the fact that I fear that I will do something in the future like that out of ignorance to endanger my horses wellbeing.  Sometimes I just don't think I derserve to own a horse.  Looking back I can see SO many signs that Steady was trying to give me.  It's like I have to be whacked over the head with a 2x4 to take a hint.  Hind sight is 20/20 but I wish I had a little insight in the present to prevent such problems.

I can give every excuse in the book to try to justify why I didn't know but it doesn't change the facts.  That everywhere I go and anytime someone sees my horse including me it is like the scarlet letter painted on my horses back.  That I am a f@#&ing  idiot!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The month of, "NO EXCUSES"

I love this statement that Shannon made and am adopting it.  What is it that you haven't been doing that you wish you had time or energy for?  That thing that is standing between you and the you that you want?  For me it is more than just one thing and in more than one area of my life.  There are things I have been stressed and frustrated over that I felt I just couldn't fix for one reason or another.  Most of the reasons(excueses) have to do with too little time, too little energy and too little money, too cold, too wet etc.  Well I am done making excuses for why I can't have what I want!  So here it is I am following suit with so many bloggers I read like ShannonCalm, Straight, Forward, and Trainng my OTTB.  They have made it known that they are making "no excuses" and going for what they want.  March has been an enlightening month and I have had distinct moments that I have said "I need to make a change".  There are other aspects in my life that I want to make changes but since this is a horse blog I will keep it to the horse/riding related revelations.

Fitness!  More specifically my core.  My stomach, back and chest are weak and unfit.  How many times have we heard that good riding requires a strong core.  My excuse for this one has mostly been that I just lost 45 lbs isn't that enough?  The answer is NO!  It is not enough.  It is time to take the next step and get fit.  So "no excuses" I am going work out 5 days a week.  Primarily focusing on cardio and core but not negleting the other areas like butt, legs and arms.  It is time to make a change and the time to do it is now.

Training!  I need to step it up a notch if I want to make the kind of progress I hope to make this season.  My biggest excuse for the is the weather.  Now reality is I do live in Indiana and when there is 6 inches of ice on the ground I cannot ride.  But we are past that now and I find myself still saying, "well it is only 35 degrees outside and it is windy, boohoohoo".  That stops now.  Like I said I live in Indiana and if I wait around for the weather to cooperate to ride then I may as well throw in the towel now.  So "no excuses" I am riding 4-5 days a week.  I do not have a plan as to what our rides will be like right now because I am still feeling out where we should focus but riding with a purpose each time.  A purpose to make progess, build strength and have fun!

There they are and by the end of April we will be well on our way to who we want to be!!!

It doesn't end there...yes we are still on the clinic.

I haven't even gotten to actually riding in the clinic...sheesh.  Well I can fix that pretty easy.  Nothing fantastic really happened.  Steady was super.  He gave me his best and did EVERYTHING I asked him to.  Charles had us doing some basic gymnastics.  Well basic for those who do gymnastics.  I have never done any.  Not that I didn't want to I just was never taught anything about them.  So I would say that is the only good thing I took away from the clinic was a few gymnasitc exercises I learned.  We did the four leaf clover, which we struggled with at first but Steady soon got the idea once I figured it out.  Then lots of polls laid out in a row that he would raise one at a time.  We didn't do all of these because Steady was just not ready for bounces yet.  The very first time we went up to the polls he did not stop be he sure did slow down and put his head down to look at them.  I am sure his thoughts were "ahhhh WTH is this, there are like 10 polls laying here.  What do you expect me to do with them?"  Just a little encouragement and some stumbling he never batted an eye and kept at it until he figured it out.  He is so awesome!  We jumped a couple 2ft fences and that was about it.  Over all it was a disappointment.  I don't feel like he ever gave me any specific instruction except for keeping my hands higher.  Not something I would pay for again.  That was that.

After we were done I went and put Steady on the cross ties and noticed that Steady is one less shoe then when we started.  I had front shoes put on him last week.  And one came off already???  I looked at the other and it was pulled up a little on one side,  what in the world?  We had probably 6 people out there scouring the arena looking for it and could not find it.  I know it was on when we started.  Remember I said in the first post that I picked his hooves and went in to warm up?  Well that was the last thing I did and went from the cross ties to the arena.  All of about 15 feet on cement.  Everyone was in disbelief that he lost it in the arena.  But I SWEAR he did.  I thought is strange too.

I called the farrier first thing on Monday and he got back with me that evening and agreed to come out in the morning.  So he looked at them and said that Steady pulled it off with his back hoof.  Though I had never heard of this before it made sense.  Especially the way the other was bent.  I checked Steadys back hoof and there is a small chip where he probably caught it.  When he put the shoes on last week has was saying how Steady's feet are between a 1 and 2 and he was having a hard time deciding which one to go with.  He ended up going with a 2 and it did come off the back a little.  Well I think that was the problem.  He came out yesterday morning and put on 1's and made sure they were bent in.  He did not charge me for anything though tried to insist to at least pay for the shoes but he said no and appolgized and said it shouldn't have happened.  The purpose of the four leaf clover exercise was to get him reaching his hind legs under himself more and working from behind.  Well I think Steady did exactly what he was being asked to do and in turn reached so far under that he caught the outside of his shoe and ripped it clean off.  Which Jessie (ferrier) said he must be really over reaching in the back because he pulled them off from the outside and he has only seen them pulled like that from the inside.  Interesting I thought, anyone have anythoughts on this?  Is it good, bad or indifferent that he is reaching under himself so much??  Should I know this

Not what I want to happen and it seems that Sunday was the day from *&^$.  It was so bad that I had to spend yesterday cleaning up the messes from that day.  But all is good now and we will just move forward.  All we can do right.  Yesterday I went from hauling the farrier back and forth (he is amish so I pick him up) to driving the hour it takes to get to THE tack store to return THE saddle then back again to get and oil change on the truck.  Seemed like a waste of a perfectly good Monday but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Good thing is this wraps up that entire day and now I no longer have to speak of it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How I became a criminal.

So I am doing the clinic posts out of order but I was thinking maybe you guys will be able to chime in and give me your input on this one.  Though I do have to leave in an hour to return the stolen merchandise so you must respond quickly.  Here is how it happened...

First off I don't know how people travel with horses alone.  OK I do know how it is done because I do it all the time but how do you do it well.  Without the overwhelming stress and frustration that I get.  The actual travel is ok it is when I get to a place and don't have a stall is when it all starts to fall apart for me.  I will do anything in my power to never leave my horse unattended.  I am just not comfortable with that, but being alone that can sometimes be unavoidable.  So to set the stage it is me and my frazzled state of mind and my lovely horsey.

Back story:  I have done business with this company ALOT over the last year.  I have spent probably 1000's in their place of business.  I have purchased, saddle, boots, gloves, breeches, blankets, saddle pads amongst other things along with many lessons with trainer.  Last week I trialed the trainers saddle and it did not work for Steady.  Laying on his withers of course.  In coming to the clinic I was going to return the saddle and asked if I could try one more saddle.  It was a wintec that I had put on Steady before and thought it might work.  She said yes that would be fine. (this was all done through email).  So my ride at the clinic was over and I was attempting to pack everything up and keep Steady happy.  Which was all delayed by the simple fact that at some point during our lesson Steady threw a shoe!  WTHeck???  It is a sand arena.  But more on that later.  Just wanted to mention it because it not only added to my stress level but also I spent and extra hour scouring the arena looking for it with no luck.  I take Steady along with my arm loads of stuff to the trailer.  I tie him to the trailer and give him his hay bag to try to calm him.  He was still antsy and calling out which always makes me nervous(I hope to get more comfortable with all of it but it is just what it is right now).  So I was trying to figure out the best way to go about switching the saddles out.  I saw the trainer out at the outdoor arena watching the clinic.  So I decided I would run in and switch out the saddles then grab her and let her know.  So I did just that as quickly as I could.  When I got back out to the trailer everyone had made their way to the indoor now.  So I put the saddle on Steady and thought, this doesn't look like it will work...hmmm.  Well I am running behind I will just try it and bring it back.  So I threw it in the truck and attempted to load Steady who of course decided to be a butt and not load.  So I grabbed the closest person I could find and asked for some assistance.  We got him in and I thanked them for their help.  As I was doing so Steady started dancing around in the trailer and calling.  So I jumped in the truck and hit the road because that is what settles him down.  I got home and unloaded Steady, went inside and plopped on the couch in exhaustion. 

The next morning I go out to my truck open the door and say "SHIT, I have that saddle.  And I never told Amanda I took it!!"  Well I will let her know.  I mean she knew about it and said it was ok but I still wanted to give her the heads up before I left,  So I sent her an email yesterday morning saying that I had forgotten to tell her I grabbed the saddle before I left.  She replied and said that I needed to call with my credit card info and the price of the saddle.  I asked if she planned to charge me because if I misunderstood about the trial I would bring it back today!  And this was her reply: 

I'm not going to charge you for it, but I was at the clinic the WHOLE day on Sunday.  You should not have taken it without someone from the store pulling the tag, as some of the saddles are on consignment and belong to other people.  It's about proper channels Amy...  Emailing me after you have taken it, is a little odd and feels like stealing...  While we are low key here, we can only stay that way, if everyone is up front.  I don't mind you "trialing" saddles, but not one every week so you have something to ride in while you save pennies for a new saddle, that's why we allow horses to haul-in and try on saddles and ride in the indoor.

Please make sure the saddle is back in the shop on Friday.


And though I agree with her that I was in the wrong about not going through the proper channels I still do not like to be accussed of stealing.  Or accussed of "trialing" saddles while I save up my "pennies"  WTF?!  I am trying to find a saddle to fit my horse.  I have only trialed ONE saddle from them before this one and that was the one I returned at the clinic.  That I had for less than a week.  Not to mention the fact that my saddle is in their store on consignment which is worth way more than the crappy torn up wintec I took out.  I was super appologetic and this is my reply:

You are right and I am so sorry.  I really screwed up.  I just want to explain to you how it happened.  I did not do it on purpose.  I tend to get really stressed trailering Steady alone.  I hate to leave him unattended for fear something could go wrong.  I saw you sitting and watching the clinic and tried to think of the best way to go about it all.  So I thought I will grab the saddle real quick while you were watching the clinic then get with you to staighten it all out.  Steady was calling and acting nervous and when I went to load him he wouldn't load.  I guess I got all caught up in that I completely forgot to get with you.  It was an idiotic thing to do and again I am so sorry.  I will have the saddle back tomorrow by 12:30 and won't even ride in it.  I am a very honest person and I would never steal anything and even the idea that someone would think I am makes me want to get this taken care of as soon as possible.  So I will pick up my daughter from school at 11 am and come straight there.  It was not my intention to "use" it until I got another.  It was just the only other saddle I ever remember fitting Steady when we tried them on him the very first day I brought him there.  So I was honestly just trying to find a saddle to fit him.  I will not trial anymore saddles from your store for sake of you feeling taken advantage of. I cannot appologize enough for doing this it was an honest mistake.  I am not saving pennies for a new saddle.  I will not be purchasing a new saddle.  I was hoping that I could but it is not going to work at this time.  That is another reason I was hoping I could make the Wintec work.  I really hope you and Jane can forgive this mistake and I cannot appologize enough for my actions on Sunday.  I did not mean to do it.  I would also like to pick up my Coventry that I left there for consignment when I come on tomorrow.  If I need to speak to Jane to straighten it all out I would be more than happy to do so.  Again I will be there tomorrow by 12:30 and make this right.  I am so sorry.

Jane is the owner of the stable/tack store Amanda is the barn manager.  I doubt Jane knows anything about it but she is the owner so I wanted to make sure I was covering my bases.  So yesterday I felt like a real idiot for what happened and was completely beating myself up about it but today I realized that I made an honest mistake with a person and business that I have given alot of money to.  Then to be accused of stealing and using their saddles just until I got a new one, that kind of pissed me off.  So I was going to walk in their like a cowering dog with my tail between my legs and maybe that is what I should do but now I plan to walk in their with my dignity still entact and let them know just that.   That I have done enough business in their store and stable to be given the benefit of the doubt especially when I immediatly tried to make it right.  Then to be scolded and made to feel as if I had intentionally done them wrong.  No I am not going to stand for it.  So I plan to walk out of there with my consignment saddle and my self esteem and know that it was a mistake we all make them and there are plenty of other places that I can give my business to!

So am I wrong?  I am ok with you calling me out if I am.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How do you feel when I say the words...

County Eventer?....

I am having this one shipped to me as I type.  Description: County Eventer, 17 1/2" seat, brown, narrow tree with cover.  Thanks to you all and a friend I have scraped the idea of a new Fletcher and going with used.  I found this saddle and am crossing my fingers that all the saddle luck in the world will be with me for just a brief moment and this saddle WILL fit!  I promise to pass the luck along.  In other saddle news I accidentally stole a saddle over the weekend.  Yes you read that right, long story and I won't bore you ok maybe I will but not at the moment.  I will be returning said stolen merchandise tomorrow.  So then I won't be a thief, or maybe I will still be a thief, I don't know.  I guess I don't know how this whole criminal thing works.

So what do you think of the saddle?

Charles Pinnel Jump clinic.

So the scoop on the clinic from yesterday.  Well I guess I will start from the begining.  I woke up early to get the family going for the early service at church so I could make it back in time to hit the road.  I needed to be moving around 11:30 am to make optimum time.  So back from church about 11 am I was in a crunch.  Ryan made lunch while I started packing up.  Packed everything in the truck and ran inside to quickly scarf my lunch, which I wasn't hungry for with my nerves from rushing and the clinic but couldn't not eat it after my husband made it for me.  Done and now time to load up Steady and hit the road.  about 15 minutes late but no biggie still had enough time to get there tack up and warm up for a few minutes.  The trip there went off without a hitch and now my confidence is starting to build again with hauling alone.

We unloaded and he of course was just an old pro.  No big deal.  He always throws his head way in the air as soon as we get out of the trailer to make his grand entrance but other than that he just follow right behind me as I have him, along with arm loads of stuff to carry in the barn.  I mean I wouldn't want to have to make two trips.  No the truth is I HATE to leave my horse unattended when I am traveling alone.  I know Steady and he can in a moments notice turn into a pill.  Not often but he can.  I cleaned him up the best I could.  He wasn't to bad just shedding quite a bit.  I was curious who I was riding with and soon a teeney bopper and her mother started getting her horse ready.  So I figured it was her.  She informed me that there was another girl riding and that there must be 3 of us riding together, followed by her statement, "well thats a bummer".  I agree, I was bummed to be riding with her and another teeney bopper  All tacked up I picked Steady's feet and headed in the arena to warm up.  He warmed up quite nicely.  This particular arena can be rough on him because it has pretty deep footing.

Then Charles had us come to the center for introductions.  I explained that Steady and I have spent the last almost year either getting him acclimated to life away from the track or working on dressage and have spent very little time on jumping.  He is also the least fit of the 3 of us :( but such is life when you don't have an indoor and you have had the winter we have had.  To be continued....

The blackhole.

Yes I went to the jumping clinic yesterday and that will be my next post.

I feel like I live in a blackhole.  Not really, but when it comes to horse people around here it seems like they are simply nonexsistent.  We have plans to move in the next two years and is it strange that one of the things I most look forward to is moving somewhere where there is a community of horse folk.  I guess there is not a shortage of people who own horses but there is a shortage of "riders".  Not just those who jump on their horses come summertime to skip down a trail on their pasture ornaments.  I hope this does not seem cruel but I don't consider that riding.  Throwing on your western saddle and hanging on long enough to make it through your 4-h classes.  There are NO good stables within an hour driving distance.

Then the one barn that is within an hour driving distance primarily has young riders.  Young as in, mommy and daddy hand me everything and all I have to do is my homework and play with my pretty pony, young.  It probably makes me a terrible person but when I have to spend much time around them is kind of makes me sick to my stomach.  It is probably because I have never really had anything handed to me and have always worked for everything I have.  Even as a kid I rode at a barn that had lots of those girls and never really fit in.  I always worked to pay off lessons and was the recipient of all of their hand me downs.  At the time I was just grateful to ride and didn't understand all of it though I always had that feeling of not fitting in.  So maybe it just brings back those memories but all I know is I just don't enjoy riding with these girls.  Nor being compared to them (but more on that in the clinic post).

Basically what I am getting at is I read these posts about people who just want a horse to ride and I would love to have someone ride my guy.  Not Steady, Moonlight.  I want to get out on the trails but before I take out my daughter for the first time I would like someone to come out with me to make sure all systems are go after a bad winter of little riding time.  I have friends that love to go out on the trails with me but frankly my daughter rides better than them.  And I do not want anyone getting hurt.  My daughter is a fantastic rider but the last time I have taken her on a trail is when that little girl got hurt so badly.  So I know that has alot to do with my hesitation in hitting the trails again with her.  I know that it will be fantastic conditioning for Steady but I am not hauling him there alone.  He will go alone when asked but he does not like it.  He likes a buddy.  I just wouldn't think finding a riding buddy would be difficult.  Especially when I have the horses.

I have even considered putting an ad on craigslist about it but craigslist makes me nervous sometimes about who might answer my ad.  Anythoughts?  Anyone want to head to Indiana for a trail

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I've got a good feeliing about things to come!

Two days on one day off, today on, tomorrow off, Saturday on and Sunday we ride in a jump clinic with Charles Pinnell.  This being our first "real" week seriously back into training.  Up until now we have been just trying to work our way back into riding.  And with just one week back at it I'd have to say I am extremely pleased!

Ok I have to get one thing straight, not that it is not obvious but I just have to put it out there.  I don't know all this fancy fandangled dressage, perfecto riding language.  Up till now I have been wingin' it trying to explain the best I could what was going on in our rides but I am kinda tired of trying.  At some point I am sure more of it will come to me but don't come here expecting some sort of education in riding or the lingo used to describe it.  Phew glad that is over with.

But what I do know is I like what I am seeing.  If we can progress at the pace we have been this past week we have a great year ahead of us!  I can't wait to see where this year will take us!

Here is my guy.  I have already started to see some muscule developing and even the dip in his neck filling in!

 He is such a treat to ride.  He gives me his all every time and today I think he actually enjoyed jumping.  He was forward but not overly strong that I had to hold him back.  We galloped through the feild!!!!  I have not at any point until today felt he was under control enough to gallop out.  And it felt SO good and it was SO fun!  And I could tell he was loving it too!  In our flatwork he was reaching for the bit not that my contact is great but he is trying.  His canter is coming along but more than anything his is trying.  He is listening to me and he wants to please me.  I cannot imagine this progress without having lessons.  Well I know it wouldn't have happened.  I know now that if I can afford nothing I must afford lessons at least once a month if not twice.  Man I lucked out with this amazing horse.

Responsibilities, Responsischmilities.

Yes it was 70 degrees yesterday.  Yes it was lovely and sunny.  Yes I was having visions of me floating dreamily aloft my fluffy pony having the most spledidly serendipitous ride.  There was perfect gaits, balance, contact, dressaggieness going on.  We easily glided over 3'3" fences me with perfect position that just screamed Rolex material!  All while I was hauling wheel barrow fulls of poo to the compost pile, stripping stalls, cleaning the barn, switching loads of laundry, making breakfast, lunch and dinner, cleaning the house top to bottom, washing out sap holding/boiling containers, homeschooling and being a drill sargeant perfect mother.

Need I say no riding went on?  Dare I mention it dropped 50 degrees last night if you take into account the wind chill?  Now visions of me shivering stiffly atop my lanky steed are dancing through my head.  This is me not complaining and laughing in the face of mother nature and saying, "thanks for the reality check"...that sometimes life gets in the way and weather does not cooperate but it doesn't change the fact that my pony is mine and I am his and we don't need no stinkin'perfect ride to stay madly and hopelessly in love!  So in my evilest, maddest tone, "BWAHAHAHA, responsischilities and mother nature, BWAHAHAHA, you ain't got nothin' on me!"

(disclaimer, I may have momentarily lost my mind and frightened my childern and made them wonder at what age they are going to be caring for the coo coo Mama.  I am not held responsible for anything said or done in the process of writing this post.)  Signed, Amy

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gettin' our groove back!

The weather has cooperated beautifully and we have actually been able to get some halfway consistent ride time in.  AND the late winter thaw and flooding has subsided and there is no more mud.  No more mud means we can canter and jump!!  It is hard to get into training and conditioning when all you can do is trot carefully in circles.  After our lesson I have been more confident in working on our canter.  And the decent footing has made it a possibility to do so.

Yesterday, Steady was very forward and a bit jumpy as he has been since we started back the past few weeks.  There has been an unusual amount of spooking at everything that moves or could possibly have moved in the past.  And so forward that holding him back made my hands hurt by the end of our ride.  Though he was still very forward and spooky we still got in some good work.  We cantered the most we have ever cantered to date.  Probably about 5 minutes each direction.  We added a few small jumps in here and there and by the end he had worked up his first good sweat of the year!!!   I didn't work him to death but I did finally felt comfortable gettig him huffing and puffing.  He wanted to work so I put him to work.  We had lovely moments of round, flextion and great movement from him.  And some control using my seat and legs, posting that didn't involve plopping my fat but on his back and not relying on my hands for balance from me.  Far from perfect but moving in the right direction.

That brings us to today.  I could tell from the get go that the super forward Steady my have had his butt kicked yesterday and was feeling it.  He was lagging a bit.  Ok we are talking OTTB lagging here so probably more forward than most.  But without all of that energy kind of being thrown out the window with his goofyness.  It was like he said "Ok I know exactly how to get out of this a quickly and painlessly as possible.  Just do everything Mama asks and surely she wil take it easy on me"  Lovely suppleness, roundness, flexion, bending in both directions.  Very little sign of the stiffness he was struggling with only a week ago.  So trot in both directions and got what I wanted, walk.  Canter both directions got what I want, done.  Hopped over four jumps and got the compliant, obedient horse that I wanted, done.  It was a short ride but I feel soooo good about it and am proud of my boy.  He puts his heart out there for me everytime and I love him for it.  So his plan worked, give mama what she wants and you are back grazing in no time.

It feels so good to be back in the saddle again...oh don't get me started on the saddle thing...ugh.  That will be coming soon.  But like I was saying it feels so good to be back on the road to a fit horse that is in work and progressing....YAY!

Novice 3 day event!

Each year the Indiana Eventing Association has a T3D.  This year they are adding a Novice 3 day to it, which makes me so totally excited.  Not that I will be a part of it.  This year at least, but in the future it means that I will be able to experience the 3 day event!  I plan to never move to training.  I don't feel the need to for me or my horse but I think we will puts around at Novice for years. So we will get to do a 3 day and that makes me smile :)

There are not many T3D's events in the world and only a few offer Novice level so this is big stuff to me that it is practically in my back yard.  Ok it is 2 hours away but still that is close!  This year I am volunteering at the event and will be a scribe and a xc jump judge.  That in and of it self is so much fun!  You get to hang out wtih the eventing crowd.  Who are such a cool group of people and they really take care of you too.  So first weekend in June that is where I will be! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Could I get any busier?

I don't know and I don't want to find out.  I love to stay busy but sometimes it catches up to you.  With this weather I cannot help but makes the best of it.  I have been trying to get to posting about my lesson that happened last Wednesday.  But I have just been so busy boiling sap down, keeping up with homeschooling, squeezing in rides, preparing the barn and goat pen for soon arriving babies, bathing stinky dirty mini's, keeping up with the dishes, laundry, cooking, picking up hay and trying to find a moment here and there to catch up on sleep.  But on to my lesson.

Firstly I have to give a HUGE shout out to Karen at CONTACT!  She is such an incredibly nice lady and I had the priviledge of meeting her.  She has read about my ongoing saddle woes here and had offered up a saddle that she currently isn't using for Steady and I to use until we find something else.  If that wasn't nice enough she then drove and hour to meet me at Come Again Farm where I was having my lesson with Lee Ann Zobbe to give it to me.  Amazing!  We tried it on Steady briefly and it looked pretty good so I finished tacking up.  Karen even baby sat Steady who was tied to the trailer, he gets a bit antsy, while I took my 4 year old daughter to the potty.  She couldn't stick around to watch us ride but I am good with that since Lee Ann may have had a bit too much pleasure tourchering me and it was embarassing enough having her watching me.  I swore she had a hidden camera and was going to post the footage on youtube.  Lee Ann focused mostly on helping me figure out not only my balance but helping Steady stay balanced.

I love taking a lesson from her.  She is amazing!  She is soooo tough on me but also is okay with me laughing at myself as I am on the back of my horse wandering around the indoor standing in my stirrups with my hands on my head and leaning from side to  She doesn't go easy on me but doesn't make me feel like a complete idiot for not being a great rider.  I guess what I am saying is she can tell me I suck without making me feel like a I  Like I said she had me do alot of standing in my stirrups, alot of two point with my hands on my head or hips.  She helped me figure out how to get the correct lead with Steady.  Hahaha she made me post on the wrong diaganal turn to the outside and look at his tail and ask and Viola!  Correct lead.  My position was so awful during the canter she told me to stay in 2point until I get a better seat.  Because I am through off his balance attempting to sit it.

We worked on bending and controling his speed with my seat instead of my hands.  Steady is more stiff to the right than he is to the left.  And as always he walks away with raving compliments.  She complimented is incredible mind and also his willingness and eagerness to please.  She asked what our goals were and I have thought out our goals but never really voiced them before.  She put me on the spot and I asked her not to laugh at me.  She said she woudln't.  She said I should have a short term goal, a longer term goal  and a long term goal and take each goal one at a time and keep them all attainable.  My shortest term goal is to start out the season at Starter at CAF.  Then the next step is to be at beginner novice by the end of the season.  Then make our way to Novice next season and just putter around forever at Novice.  I put a time line on moving up but really I don't care when we move up.  We could hang at starter all year and move to BN next year.  I am in NO rush and will only go at mine and Steady's pace what ever it may be.  After our lesson we headed out to the outdoor and XC course and just walked out, out there.  It was a lovely day and footing was fabulous.  Fabulous end to a fabulous day.  Besides the fact that when I was walking and gabbing to a friend I was not paying attention to what I was doing and Steady in reaching down to try to eat grass stepped on his bridle and SNAPPED it.  It is broke!  No fixing it.  I am not all that sad about it.  I mean it is probably 10 years old and in terrible condition.  It wasn't even a nice bridle to begin with 10 year ago.  So I guess it is a good excuse to get a new bridle. 

It was also the first time hauling with my new truck and I LOVE it!  You can't even tell the trailer is back there.  Man there is so much going through my brain but I will stop here so I do not write an entire book.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Did someone say contact?! let's catch up

So the light bulb went off in October and we went to our first schooling show in November.  We took the next month to muddle through the test we had to learn and getting a better feel for this contact.  We nailed our first dressage test and got a 34!  The judge was impressed with his quick progress.  We had one fault in the event derby and ended with a 69.  This was a day that I got to see the culmination of all of our work thus far and was extremely pleased.  Two greenies figuring out this incredible diverse sport.

And in the clinic we rode in December really opened my mind in Steady's dressage potential.  We got the help to take us to the next level together.  To really get a more consistent conversation and some more "language" I can use.  Alot of great mental pictures that pushed us passed where we were. 

Then winter hit and it hit hard so the next three months are easy to catch up on.  A whole lotta notta.  A ride here and there but progress was at a stand still against all my will power it just wasn't going to happen.  The last two weeks are the first semi consistent work we have had.  About 2-3 rides a week.  And oh baby it is good to be riding again but OUCH!  That semi consistent contact we were really progressing on is few and far between.  We are not starting at square 1 again but it is not what it was.  How could it be we are both out of shape.  He is stiff and low muscule tone.  The nice part is that for both of us it is still there.  It is just like a diamond in the rough and I have a feeling that when we get our way through this fitness and mental block we will come out better than when going into the winter.  That is all I can ask for, progress.  We will get our relaxed comfortable conversation back it will just take time and practice and hopefully a few lessons. 

Right now there is the bracing against the bit, stiffness, rough 20 meters(though I am not asking for many), tough time getting bending and flexion.   OHHH but I can say the only thing I can notice a positive change in is the canter!  We are far from perfect but it has come leaps and bounds.  I don't get to do much of it because of footing but yesterday I did pick up both leads for about two times around and there were some nice moments and we got both leads!!

So we are starting again and I am stoked for the year to come!  Now if only I can figure out this saddle issue.

The new me!

I guess you can say I am a blogging fool today but the chilly rainy day is very conducive to laying on the couch with the kids, netflix, the laptop and a blanket.  First of all I LOVE all of you, my readers!  I mean it I truely, truely mean it.  I also adore your blogs!  Once again the source of inspiration for this post came from one of you.  If you don't already you should read The Life and Times of the Wondermare!  She made me think I don't think I have posted a recent update on my new bod.  And I guess it is fitting for this blog considering well it is my blog but beyond that my source of inspiration for weightloss was my Steady guy and our adventures into eventing.

So here I am the new me!

I guess I am the same me.  I just feel better.  I am healthier.  Have more energy.  Am more athletic.  Did I mention I feel better.  My husband is a happy man!  So I am the same yet I really do feel I am different.  My self esteem is sooo much higher.  My confidence in myself has grown.  When I say I feel better I don't just mean physically, though I do,  but mentally.  It was one of the most challanging things to do and I found out through this process that I can do it!  Not only can loose 45 pounds but I can do more than I thought possible.

What is it that you have been wanting to do?  That thing that eats at you but you never seem able to overcome the obsticles and accoplish it?  Do it!  You can make as series of good decisions that will have you well on your way to that goal in no time.

Did someone say contact?! the begining of the rest of our life.

On April 13th 2010 Steady Smiler was given a second chance and in that so was I.  He was given a second chance at a new life I was given a second chance at a life with quines intertwined, the best life one could have.

Our begining...

Our first ride together.

Square 1!

Square 1 for us was the trot.  Well square 1 was really creating a bond between us but we are talking about contact.  So square 1 for contact was a trot.  A brief definition of contact I found online is;
The guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers by slight movements of the rider's hands, legs, and weight.  We started out a hot mess.  Well he was hot and I was a mess, not to mention 45lbs fatter!  But after a couple months of just trying to get to know each other and not having any expectations I took him to our first lesson.  In which I was introduced to the sport of eventing and Steady's potential to succeed at the sport.  So my back yard buddy and I started to have a goal to work toward. It took months of just working at the trot to find not only how to get contact but how to know what it feels like under saddle so I could recognize when he was doing as I was asking.  I can assure you that the first time my trainer said "thats it, did you feel his back round underneath you?" and when I responed "YES", I was lying through my teeth!  I didn't have a clue what she was talking about.
But ride by ride, step by step we just kept at it.  Repetitious?  Yes, but it was square 1 for us and we could not move passed it until we, not mastered(is that even possible?) but could at least get it on a semi-regular basis and most of all that I could even know what it was that I was asking for.  I mean a trainer can tell you step by step instructions which will make for A good ride but we needed consistent good rides without a trainer in my back yard.  So I needed to know what it was I was trying to get from my horse.  That took months and in our timeline we are probably up to about October.  So from April to October 90% of our time was spent on trot, trot, trot, contact, contact, contact.  We occasionally tried to pick up a canter but no more than a few strides and that was ran into and usually on the wrong lead(well except on trails wherewe would canter and when we just hacked and had fun). 
Finally sometime in October I took a lesson with a different trainer.  She was trying to get me to do the same thing as the other one but with different methods and verbage.  With her help we seemed to be able to get and maintain that contact better than before.  But like I said unless I knew what I was trying to get it didn't help once we got home.  But an amazing thing happened while riding at home a couple days later.  A light bulb went off in my brain, one that had obviously already gone off in Steady's and he was waiting for me to catch on.  The whole concept of this thing called contact!  What it was and I don't mean the definition I mean what it meant for me and my horse.  What we were striving for and why.  It wasn't because it made him look pretty prancing around the ring(sad to say in my ignorance that is all I thought it was).  NO it was a continuous, fluid connection between my horse and me.  It was our method of communication it was our language when under saddle.  My hands, my arms, my hips, my legs, my posture, my seat and even my mood effected this continuous  "conversation" that we were having.  I can only imagine what it was like for Steady between the time that the light bulb went on for him and the time it finally went on for me.  I can imagine it was like any other language barrier.  Have you ever tried to explain something to someone who does not understand your language and you do not understand theirs?  I have to do it on a daily basis when at work.  It is one of the most frustrating experiences.  My guess is Steady was beyond frustrated.  I kept asking him for something he was trying his hardest to give to me and when he did I couldn't even recognize it.
So that was our begining...
To be continued...the next few months=progress.

Did someone say contact?! the history

A post over at Calm, Straight, Forward got me thinking about contact.  The how and why of it.  Mostly it got me thinking about how correct contact transfers into every single thing that Steady and I do.  Whether it be the lack of or the correct contact.  It determines the kind of progress we make  in all other aspects.  So how about a series on "how contact helped/s my racehorse". 

As much as it was never a part of my history with Steady it does not change the fact the it is his entire history.  The fact that he IS a racehorse.  He was bred, raised, trained, ran, and ran, worked on a daily basis to be a racehorse.  So much so that his previous owner had every intention to run him straight into the ground.  He was planning to keep running a 10 year old horse in hopes to make a few more bucks.  You don't run the big races at 10 like he did at 2,3,4 and 5 when he won 6 of his 8 wins, and 7 of his 9 seconds, and 6 of his 10 thirds.  When he was running bigger races and winning almost $300,000.  Then he past his prime and started entering claiming races and changing hands until he had a year like 09' that he was ran 14 times!!!  At the age of 9!  With only 1 win, 1 place and 1 show. And just a little over a year ago on January 9th he ran his last race.  The owner giving instructions to the trainer to keep running him but a trainer that forsaw the inevitable an amazing horses who gave his heart to racing breaking down on the track and at best being put down because of injury or at worst ending his career at a kill auction.  The trainer who was owed money by the owner took it upon herself to give Steady Smiler a second chance at life and get some of the money owed to her.

This horse was bred, raised, trained and lived to race!  So many years on the track did leave him with some good habits.  Wonderful, respectful ground manners and the been there done that state of mind when it comes to traveling.  What it didn't leave him was any sort of abilities to succeed in a dressage ring or jumping for that matter.  So CONTACT???  What is that to a race horse?  Nonexsistent.  His idea of contact was you give pressure he brace against the bit and GOOOO.  He had two speeds stop and go.  Ok let me correct he did have 4 speeds 1st gear: prancing around(instead of standing still),  2nd gear: a big expressive walk(the only gear that will come in handy)  3rd gear: gallop and 6th gear: run like a bat outta hell.  Did you notice we skipped a few gears?  Those gears we have and are sloooowly working on finding,  All the while attempting to get rid of the exsisting gears except that walk.  The only other of his gears that will come in remotely handy is the galloping but that gear does not work in the way I need it to.  Example have you ever seen a horse galloped at a racetrack once they are done racing?  They always end up with their but to the outside and galloping sideways. Now I cannot think when that kind of galloping would ever come in handy in a dressage ring or cross country course for that matter.  It wouldn't so we start at square 1 or square 1 for us at least.
We will rate on a scale from 1-10 Balance 0!  Flexibilty 0!  Attention span 0!  Intellegence 10!  Work ethic 7!  Eager to please 10!  So he had the most important things the rest will come in time.

To be continued.... next to come where we began

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A wild, but good ride!

We got out today and took our first spin in our western gear.  Well partly western.  I still used my same bridle.    So what do you call that?  Front end english, back end western.  And what do you know this man looks good in anything.

My shaggy big boy sporting his western gear and playing with his lead.

It was a beautiful sunny, sunny day!  The high was only like 45 but the sun and a little breeze it was lovely.  We actually had a little fun with the sun.

Ok Mom what in the world are you doing??  Me likes to go go go...

Look at my boys basking in it....I love this sight!  The herd leader of course will not lay down.  He has to be ready to lead the heard from all the appearent danger lurking.

Little Snappy almost blends in over to the left but he is soaking up some rays.

Speaking of lurking danger.  Obviously it was around every corner today.  Like when we went out to the mail box to mail off a bill and he jumped out of his skin and almost right into the wagon with little Kelcie.  Then the phantom boogie man jumped out of now where and he did a little dance.  Oh and the empty bags of feed those were flying backwards with your head flinging caliber.  He was a goof and obiviously a little paranoid but with the sunshine beating down on us nothing was going to get us down.  Well that is unless one of his silly moves dumped me but thankfully I was able to stay in my seat and that was probably thanks to that lovely western gear.

The best part is there was no bolting like we had with the poorly fitting saddle so I am hoping this means he is comfortable in this one.  We will see.  But I was able to get him round and supple and didn't push him too hard.  I wanted him to know that it made me happy he was willing and working like I was asking.  We still have to work through the mud but it was doable.  No cantering and I am just not comfortable doing that with the footing I have right now.  I tried a couple other things we don't usually do and I hope to add more in since we will be restricted to mostly walk trot for a while.  We worked on backing which he did fairly willingly.  I am hoping to get better and even do some S movements backing.  Then I was asking him to sidestep over a pole.  He kept trying to back and it was obvious he did not know what I wanted  and go flustered and even threatened a buck.  So we went into a trot to work a few times around and let him be.  No reason to push it, we have time.

So for as crazy as the ride was I was happy with it and can't wait to get out again tomorrow before the rain comes for the weekend.

Best view on earth.