Tuesday, April 30, 2013

All the damage...

I will do a couple posts recapping my wild 4 day trip to Lexington and Rolex.  Including morning breezing at Keenland and breakfast with the jockeys.  A tour of Three Chimney Farms.  And the Thoroughbred for all Event I attended all of which were awesome.  And of course Rolex!  Though most of Rolex can be summed up in five words, Awesome and whole hellofalota walking.
But first the fun stuffs.  I said I was suffering from buyers remorse and it is true.  Ever since I spent my very last dollar on Friday I have been filled with guilt.  I have never gone shopping and spent that kind of money on myself and even still do not feel entirely ok with it.  But not to trouble you with my own guilty conscience I was obviously not torn up enough to return anything when I had the opportunity when I returned on Saturday.  Over all I am happy with the deals I found and the big items I purchased were a good price.

This is what about $1100 of horse stuff looks like.

First I will list the largest of the purchase items largest to smallest.

Tredstep Donatelo tall boots: $259.99 from Wise Choice Tack.

I have not been able to find them less than $289 anywhere else and even at the other vendors at Rolex they were $299.  I loved the sizing options.  Next to custom for this price you can choose foot size, height, calf size to find the best fit to make them fit just lovely. 

Majyk Equipe XC boot Front: $85, Hind: $95

The next largest purchase is one I have hemmed and hawed over the price tag on it.  But they truly do seem like they are the best of the best and for the price tag was actually reasonable.  They were released at Rolex for the first time.  And the first time publicly ridden in at Rolex by Boyd.  Boyd helped design the boots along with a group of riders and runners.  Designed with the idea of barefoot running shoes in mind.  The inside is made of a memory foam material.  They are butter soft.  I was told they do not slip, hold water or dirt and they are very ventilated.  The tendon guard is quite unique in that if you handle it, it is flexible in all directions but with direct contact it becomes solid.  So the tendon guard was the first selling point for me.  The solid tendon guards are not ideal in my mind(just opinion no scientific proof behind my feeling) I just don't like the idea of something so solid being strapped to something so flexible.  Then they appear very airy and ventilated, the non neoprene and butter soft body forming material for Steady and his sensitive self was ideal and the ringer was the not holding water.  So I did it.  I bit the bullet and spent more on boots than I wanted to but hey the intro price was a special and after Rolex were going up about $30 so at least I got them at a good deal.

Stuebben fancy stitch overlay girth: $129
I paid the same price as I can find this online but being able to see it in person is what was important to me on this.  I would have never paid that for a girth had I not been able to see it, touch it and really see the quality.  It is just lovely.

Smart Pak Plymouth Elite Dressage bridle: $109 with rubber lined reins

It is really nice quality leather and walking around and looking at the price tags on some of the bridles this for the price and the quality was the best I found.  It has a padded nose band, brow band and a padded monocrown. The leather is soft and thick.  And they normally sell for $119 so I saved a couple bucks.

Ariat Cobalt Quantum Paddock Boots: $89.99
I am quite happy with this purchase.  You cannot touch these anywhere that I can find online for under $139.  They are extremely comfortable and I hope they last.  I kind of had to rummage through some boots to find them but I found my size!

Last larger purchase was Nylon lined stirrup leathers.  I only paid $44 for them!  That was again by far the best price I could find on leathers that were lined.  Closest I could find was around $100 and I just couldn't justify that price tag for a couple strips of leather.  So I snatched up the last pair on the shelf!

Other smaller item are
Moxie blue schooling half chaps $36 and gloves $16 in blue These were simply because they were cute and looked quite airy for summer.
Bit for Lily: $28
Fly mask for Lily: $25
SSG all weather riding gloves: $25 actually my biggest regret LOL didn't feel like that was a good deal at all.
Bridle for Lily: $25  Obviously not the best quality but for that price it is nice enough for a kid who will probably not take care of her tack the way a mother would like.

In the end I spent way too much money but I am over all happy with my purchases and they were things that I did actually need and I felt that while yes if I waited and watched I may have saved a couple bucks online but to me the hands on factor and seeing and touching what I am buying on especially leather items is worth buying in person.  And I pretty much stayed with the budget of $1000.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rolex Hangover.

As I am sure many others I am officially starting my Rolex hangover.  I am home, exhausted, sore, sleep deprived and it is all SO worth it.  It was a blast!  I spent my budget and then some.  I must fill you in on all the dirty details another time.  But I leave you with these as a intro of the wackiness that went on.
My friend Dorie in the 3-D glasses and YES that IS what you think it is!  A disposable speculum with LED light both items she found on the floor in the back seat of my husband's care I was driving for the weekend.


Yup the stranger that we asked to take our photo on the duck thought it quite funny to snap this as I was climbing my fat ars on the duck in the Head of the Lake.  Haha, she's so funny.

Till we meet again, and I recover from excessive buyers remorse.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's here and a thank you.

Thank you all so much for you kind, encouraging and wise words regarding my last post.   They seriously made me tear up and were so reassuring that I am not crazy and Elaina and Lily make a fine pair.  I actually reasked elaina at dinner tonight the question tonight of whether she would rather have an easier ride and more trained horse/pony.  Her response?  No I would rather have Lily.  An easier horse sounds boring.  Haha girl after my heart!  Then my 8 year old piped up and said, "you learn way more about riding when they are tough to ride."  Smart kids I tell you!  So thank you all again!

I need to close my eyes because in about 5 hours I need to be up and getting ready to make the voyage to Eventing Mecca!  The tentative schedule:  Thursday spend all the money!  Friday course walk, course walk and course wall.  (Also squeezing in some dressage rides of some our favs).  Also friday evening I am stoked about attending the Thoroughbreds for all event!!!  Saturday:  well stand on awe as I watch the best riders on the world take on one of the hardest cross country courses on the world!  Sunday:  catch some stadium rounds and take some tours of a couple farms.  And all the crazy awesome fun to be had will be!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's a tough question.

Over mounting.  After this weekend I would be foolish to not at least question whether or not my daughter is over mounted.  I am going to be vulnerable here and open this up for debate.  You may be honest but be kind.  Know that while I value you, as my readers, opinions greatly.  I also will always do what I need to or what I think is best in the end.  I also have the best vantage point since I spend hundreds of hours with this pair and know them better than anyone could.  But also outside eyes can often see things what those who are too close cannot.  Also know, I am not an idiot and will seek a local professional opinion on the matter also.  Someone who will have the opportunity to visually see the pair together.  These are just some thoughts that I need to kick around in my head, aka, my blog.

The day after: That is when the guilt sets in.  On one hand I think, well I was so nervous about what could go wrong and now that one of the biggest no, no's did, I feel like I can relax a  bit more.  I mean the worst that can happen is my daughter getting hurt but I really don't fear that.  I feel that safety wise they are a matched pair.  My daughter has always been able to handle anything the pony throws at her and the pony has never offered to be dangerous in any way.  There are SO many angles one could look at this from though.

Having a made horse?  Is that is what is best for kids?  An old schooly that will pack them around no matter what?  Is it OK for them to have to work for it some as long as they are not in any danger?  Or is it more about getting out there and getting it all right? 

In reality I am putting a very young child on a very young pony.  Something that I would NEVER recommend for anyone else.  Is that hypocritical?  Lily is young.  I knew she was young.  Though recently I found out that she is actually even younger than I had thought.  She was a rescue from a very bad situation.  At three months old starving because the owners were starving the mother who in turn had nothing to feed Lily.  She was standing in manure up to her belly.  I acquired her at some point after that from a friend who did not have the experience to raise a baby.  I thought I got her as a two year old or what I though.  Come to find out she was actually not yet two years old.  I had her for a year and did all the ground work with her that I could.  I sent her to my dads for a year who did nothing with her at all.  Then last year I got her back at what I thought was 4 almost 5.  So this year I thought she was 5 years old and going to turn 6 in September.  My friend that I aquired her from recently moved and we were going through old pictures and looking at the dates it appears that Lily will only be turning 5 years old in Sepetember.  Only one year difference but the idea of a 9 year old riding a 4 year old does seem a bit crazy.  I didn't plan for my daughter to ride her for some time but last year when I got her back to my place it was a very short period of time before her temperment proved that she would be safe for Elaina.  Elaina is a tenatious, and good rider.  I do not just say that because she is my daughter those are things other instructors have repeatedly said to me about her.  You got to see how well she handled herself even through and after the trouble the pony gave her.  She keeps it together, makes the adjustments and does what she needs to.

BUT should she have to?  Would she be better off with a more expereinced mount?  Would Lily be better off with a more seasoned rider?  What is your opinion?

I am torn on the subject.  I lean more toward the "give this particular kid a tough mount and she will only be the better for it"(albeit safe of course) side of the coin.  Than the "give her a schooly so they can excell farther, quicker and easier" side.  Most people in the situation of a kids first horse do not have parents who have the ability to instruct their child and work the pony when needed so this is more of an exception not the rule.  I personally had both growing up.  I rode and competed in and for a Hunter barn.  I rode well trained and fairly experienced horses.  I did well and enjoyed it.  Though even those mounts had their quirks.  One was spooky at the same things all the time.  One would take off bucking if you sat on his back incorrectly.  So still anything can happen people they are horses.  Then at home I had my very little training or experience arab that was mine.  I rode him everywhere and did everything with him.  The stories if told would take many many pages.  I was bucked off, thrown off and ran into trees more times than I can remember.  I have scars to this day from some of those stories I could tell.  Now if he were my horse today I would NEVER make him my daughters mount.  Especially in the situations I put him in on a regular basis.  Hey I was a kid with a horse and very little supervision what would you expect?  It is a wonder we both survived though many times we did not escape unscated.  Each situation had their benefits and disadvantages.  Through my instructors and trained horses I learned how to show and compete something I love dearly.  I learned how to ride correctly and to look nice doing it.  But with my Arab I learned how to connect with a horse.  How to bond so deeply with an animal that they become your best friend.  I learned how to keep my ass in the saddle and to stick up for myself with a horse who is taking advantage of me.  I learned that I actually have something to offer the horse and something to teach him and that I could not teach it by force.  I learned how to gallop bareback and bridless through a feild, how to dismount and mount a moving horse, how to handle myself if many different experiences and how to help a horse through them also.  And quite honestly I learned how to fall off well, which I believe really is an invaluable tool. So I had both worlds, the elite trained and the back yard adventures.  I also went on to, in my early teen years, train my Arab to jump, do contesting and anything else that tickled my fancy at the moment.  We did great in the hunter/jumper ring together.  One of my proudest moments was taking my (back yard, looked down upon in the hunter barn I was at) Arabian into a show ring with them and walk out with the blue ribbon.  It was huge for me and taught me invaluable lessons.  I have a box of ribbons from when I was a kid and none mean more to me than the ones I took home with my Arab.

I do not feel my daughter and Lily are an unsafe pair.  Its more of the fact that I cannot say that this won't happen again.  Lily will take a couple more years before she is the consitently reliable, steady mount I know she can be.

If I look at the bad, Lily had trouble with gates.  If I look at the good.  This was Lily's first time in a dressage arena, first time doing a dressage test, Elaina's first time for both of those also.  Lily was mannerly and safe.  Elaina rode awesome!  Lily has never really jumped any jumps with color and none of that was an issue at all for her.  Lily is turning into an adorable jumper and my daughter has done almost all of that work with her.  Lily handled the big show environment like it was no big deal.  So much good and only one big issue.

It is tough because I ask myself if it was almost anyone else I would strongly oppose the idea.  But then in our situation I look at that my daughter lives with her "trainer".  Every single ride she rides with her "trainer".  I feel like I am essencially training Lily through my daughter.  Yes she is riding her but I am teaching her every single ride every single time. She works hard and doesn't mind having to work her pony.  Keep in mind this was their first combined test but not their first show.  They did the week at fair last year bringing home trophies and ribbons galore amongst some good competition.  They also showed an open show last fall that they did very well in.  Also against older and good competition.  This was the first real issue we have run into.  I also have to keep in mind that it is April this is their first show of the year and that can be taken into account right?   If you are a mom I know you understand 'mom guilt' just add onto that 'trainer guilt' and that is why I am driving myself bananas over this.  P.S. I have asked my daughter if she would rather have an easier horse and she looked at me like I had 3 eyeballs and said, "ah NO".  She thinks her pony is perfect even on her worst day.  She understands that she is young and still learning and quickly admits that when Lily does something wrong it is usually because of the way she rode.  Gawd I love that kid!  So what do you think?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Can you handle this much cuteness?!

As par the course for eventing things did not go as we had hoped.   But I cannot say that I am disappointed in either my daughter or her pony.  Were they perfect?  No.  But Elaina tried her heart out and in the end was beaming,  After jumping of course.  That is a proven genetic trait passed down from mother to daughter. I swear it is.  Look it up.  What a fun weekend!  The first event after the long winter is like medicine for the soul.  Seeing familiar facing, hugging friends and the busyness of the show scene.  It all keep us coming back for more no matter what.  This post will contain unmearsurable amounts of cuteness, stubborn pony tricks and memories for a life time and of course a corgi sneaking adventure!  My daughters introduction to eventing!

Pick kids up from school at 3pm on Friday with trailer packed with all the trimmings for the weekend including fuzzy pony 4 giggling girls, myself, tolerant husband and a puppy. Pick up my daughters Pony Club friend then hit the road for the next two hours, taking the back way as to avoid Indianapolis at 5pm on a Friday(made that mistake once hauling Steady, never again).  Unpack, settle Fuzzy Pony in, take daughter out to school a bit.  Realize Fuzzy Pony has her own ideas of socializing with EVERY SINGLE HORSE that she comes with in 20 feet of.  Made my daughter work for it but she won the war and we tucked FP in and headed to the hotel.  Took four giggling little girls and one tolerant husband to swim in the pool.  Dry off and head to dinner with some of the my eventing besties.  Ate some steak, called it a night and dozed off a bit after midnight.  Awoke grogily to my alarm at 6:30.  We all drudged our way through breakfast, packing up and made it to the HHP.  Side note: we brought Fuzzy Puppy along for the adventure also.  The hotel we stayed in did not allow pets..hmmmm.  So we smuggled a large sweatshirt up the back stairs and into our room that may or may not have contained the cutest 13lbs on 2 inch legs in all the world.  There will be no admission of wrong doing.  The sweatshirt was also of course smuggled back and forth a few more times because we all know large sweatshirts must go potty outdoors.
walking over to school on Friday evening.

My family must love stubby legged red things.

Show day!  Behind schedule of course I attempt to lunge FP which was again more interested in wandering around at her leisure.  If you are not familiar with the pulling breeds when they have it in their mind that they have somewhere that they need to be that have no issue getting there.  Even if there is a 150lb (give or take a few pounds) woman attatched to a rope attatched to their face along for the ride like a water skier on a deep sand arena.  I hate that about the breed.  What I do love about the breed is that they (or at least this FP on particular) never does it with any sort of meaness.  There is not a hateful bone in her body.  I mean she likes everyone but she can't help it that we don't all agree on where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing.  This was the theme of the rest of the day.  Told daughter to get ready I got FP ready and we took them out to school with about 30 minutes to spare.  To find out when we enter the warm up that they are running about 30 minutes ahead and there is one rider in front of her.  I laughed appoligized and said that we will not be going early.

They are just so cute, I can't help myself.

I was pleased to see that my daughter got right to work and FP was much better behaved today.  She was listening and obedient.  I was happy about this and relieved a bit.  So we did end up keeping warm up to about 10 minutes.  Elaina said she felt ready so we headed over.  There were three arenas set up inside one of the large arenas.  Theirs happened to be closest to the gate.  She entered at A and so it was her first dressage test.  Oh and her ponies first one too.  They started out nicely.  A little bobbling in the halt but a nice transisions.  Actually the entire test went really well.  Her gaits were nice and steady.  Her transitions were good and only two that were a bit ahead of schedule.  Elaina remembered her test with one little mistake at the free walk going from F to H insead of F to E.  Very minor especially considering this was the first time the kid has had the opportunity to actually ride the test in an arena and with letters.  I was quite proud of her and how she rode and how she handled herself.  Those were all the wonderful things that happened and I wanted to point those out first because they are the most important and 95% of what actually happened.  A very small part though taken quite seriously in the sport of dressage it that you must stay in the arena for the entirety of the test.  Oh the little details.

I could not fault my daughter one bit for the mishap.  She rode and did everything right.  You will be able to see on the video that you could not even see the dirty little stunt FP pulled until it was too late.  I already knew the pony has a problem with gates.  You can call it what ever you want but the pony knows where every exit is at all times and she will pull these stunts to exit stage left, or right in the instance when ever she thinks she can get away with it.  I warned my daughter of A and when she went down to that end to be prepared for it.  I did not mention the large arena gate that happened to be a few feet from the edge of their arena.  Appearently those little poles a few inches off the ground were not obstacle for FP whatsoevery.  I am not putting blame on anyone or making any excuses because it was no ones fault except for the pony and she is so inexperienced and so young that I can't even blame her.  It is what it is.  But I can't help but think if they had just gotten to ride in the center arena or if there weren't 3 crammed in the same big arena then it would have ended differently but it wasn't the case and it ended the way it did.  I was upset.  Not at anyone or anything just at the outcome.  I didn't want my daughter to see me upset in anyway because I knew she would take it to heart and feel she was at fault.  I told her she did a good job and sent her back with my husband to put the pony away.  I wanted to find the correct person to ask for permission to jump.  I didn't want this to be the way it ended for her.

I went back and found her on the verge of tears and all it took was me saying hey let's go ask for permission to jump for her to just crumble.  She was upset and crying.  I am not one to play into tears I don't mind them because we all have to cry sometimes but I also know you have to rationalize why you are upset.  So I made her verbalize why she was crying.  I asked if it was at her pony.  NO.  Is it that you got eliminated.  No.  Then why?  "because I had more time to practice and chose to go early and I should have taken the time I need and had".  Damn that girl has her head on straight.  I said well it is a good lesson to learn and it is a good place to learn it at a schooling show.  And the good news is that we are going to have to enter more so that we can get it right!  I did make her ask for permission to jump.  We all have to learn to suck it up and move on and not all 9 year olds are capable but my awesome daughter just is.  She choked up a little while asking but it was good for her and it didn't really matter once she got the answer she was wanting.  YES!

There are not many pictures from show day.  My nervese were at an all time high.  My husband had to do the video taping because I couldn't handle doing anything except watch on the edge of my seat.

So we ran back and got FP ready again.  Again warm up went well.  She seemed to be listening and she was jumping well.  We headed over.  You will get to see on the video it wasn't a perfect round and there were she had two refusals and BOTH again were issues with the gate then not getting straight.  FP paying far too much attention to where the exit was.  A very serious problem.  That yes we knew she had at home but did not realize that it would be such an issue at a new place.  I mean she walks through a gate once in her life and then becomes obessesed with getting back out.  Weird?  But in the end the smile on my daughters face was the only thing that mattered.  She could have cared less about a score, a ribbon or even that her pony wasn't perfect but that she went out there rode her best and got to do the thing she loved with the pony she loved.  I hate to brag but I am doing a damn fine job with this one!!!

One one hand it was not how we imagined it turning out but the things that are the most important to me were accomplished.  Safe rides with a smiling face! 
About to go into stadium.  Elimated?  Who cares, I get to jomp my poneh!  And that is my popcile of a girl in a pink coat in the background.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The post.

The post about the supposed exciting news will be a toughy to write and that is why it has been put off.  SO much has happened, is happening and about to happen in my life all reguarding the horsey aspect but one thing that was on the list and is now off the list has to do with the mystery mentioned in previous posts.  Well it all fell through and was a flat out mess and makes me kinda hate all humans, except the ones I like of course.  But there was a huge lesson to be learned and this gave me the opportunity to learn it I guess.  I will  divulge the long story, just not right now. I will just tell you that I bought a horse and the horse was taken back all in the same day.  I really can't get into the nity grity of it.  1) because it is still too close and swearing will ensue and 2)  because I really really need to be packing up everything for my family to go overnight to Edinburgh Indiana for my Daughter Elaina's first Combined Test!!  So Many Nerves!  The down side of being mom and trainer is all of the responsibility and all the blame if any is on ME!  If she is not properly prepared, if her pony has a bad day, if she has a bad day it all falls back on ME!  If I was just Mom and not trainer then well I could potentially blame said trainer for any mishaps.  It just seems like a lot of pressure.  Did I mention the fact that there is also the Mom I hope my daughter doesn't get maimed or something nerves?  Oye!  It's a good thing I am a rider/competitor myself and I have learned over the year how to keep my nerves in check NO MATTER WHAT.  I also understand that crap happens.  The only thing I will need to focus on is NOT to be trainer or mom for the day and just be there for her.  It's not like any last minute training or mothering ever helps anyone.  And she needs to enjoy it above all.  But the idea of my baby girl entering at A makes me want to cry tears of pride and vomit well out of nervousness a bit at the same time.  KEEP it together MAN(smacks self across face!) and don't forget to breath.  I tell you what I have never had this many nerves taking my fast ass thoroughbred out on cross country.  It is amazing how these little people have such control over us.

So if you will be at the show I hope to at least say hello.  And if it seems like I completely ignore you the go ahead and smack me to wake me out of my stress coma.   Brrrrrrr and it is a cold one.  Did this last year.  Temps dropped 40 degress over night the night of the show.  It was 80 yesterday and 32 today with a windchill in the 20's ! 

Next posts will probably speak of amazing exciting Rolex plans!!  It is coming so soon!!!  4 days in horse/eventer heaven!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't be mad

I loved hearing what you would or do plan to buy at Rolex.  It's fun to hear!  Some mentioned why I don't just fix the zipper on my boots now.  Though the Ovations have served me well and held up I have never been happy with the leather quality.  I would LOVE to have a soft more conforming leather.  But I most likely will get the zipper fixed at some point.  I know somewhere locally that I can get it done for $80.  It will be nice to have a spare/schooling pair.  Especially since I don't do the paddock half chap thing.  Ok now on to the BIG news.

So I have some pretty big news.  Not something that I was neccissarily expecting but something that was not out of the real of possibilites either.  And you may want to kill me now but I am going to wait just a little longer to let you in on the BIG news.  Hopefully soon!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jump lesson, tall boots, thoughts.

My jumping lesson was great last night.  It wasn't that we got to jomp all the big things because we didn't.  Everything stayed small.  It wasn't great because Steady was amazingly perfect and it all went wonderfully.  It was because we were having issues.  Common issues for the both of us.  He gets quick and inverted and I get braced against him.  What made it great is that we found a way to work through the issues ending on a very great note.  Gaining the control I needed and obtaining the steady rhythm to, in between and away from each jump. My 8 year old daughter took video of some of the lesson but I won't punish you by putting it up.  It is all over the place but I was still able to take parts away from just seeing it.  Biggest thing that I saw that I neeeeeed to get a handle on is that when he starts to rush I get in a chair seat putting my lower leg way too far forward.  For all I know that is the very reason he is rushing.  It frustrates me seeing it because it is such bad riding but I need to see it and get frustrated enough to fix it.  I hope to get some video that is taken by someone above the age of 10 very soon.  I really feel some amazing improvements in Steady's movement and my riding.  I think you guys will too.

Hank was reunited with his brother last night and it was a complete overload of cuteness.

In other news.  Sadly I must plan a funeral.  I knew the day was coming and some say that knowing helps when the time actually comes.  While that may be true it still doesn't make it any less sad. 

RIP my $189 Ovation boots.  You served me well and even up to the very end.

I am not sure what I will do without you but know you will be missed..........Until you are replaced at least ;)

Darn it. I did know the day was coming but I was hoping that it didn't come before Rolex.  Last night it became official they must be laid to rest.

Now what to replace them with??  In conversation with a friend she mentioned how her Ariats gave out after 3 months of daily use.  That was disheartening because I thought of my Ovations as low end and was hoping to upgrade to a "better" quality boot when I replaced them.  I guess I wonder does higher price tag neccessarily mean better quiality.  When I told her that my Ovations have lasted me 3 years and they were my every ride boot.  Those are all I have worn to ride in since I purchased them 3 years ago.  She was surprised.  I was happy by how much life I got out of them and if it hadn't been for the darned zipper they would last much longer.  Oh boy if I spends several hundred dollars on boots and they don't last me at least as long as my trusty Ovations I may just want to decapatate someone.  Hmmmm....

Last but not least I am going to look at a possible project horse.  eeeek....I am excited and questioning my sanity at the same time.  What would you do if a 6 year old Grey, sound, sane OTTB landed in your lap and you owned your own farm?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I had the best lesson yet yesterday.  I have learned a ton every lesson but this was the most pieces of the puzzle that I have been able to put together at one time.  There is so much other terminology that I will just keep it more simple.  Basically all lessons up to this point have been getting my body and position in the correct place.  It's broken down into the tinest bits of information that starts out overwhelming and little by little you get one part right then add another and so on until all the parts are working together to lift the withers, lift the back and bring the hindquarters down and power coming from behind.  Based upon the idea that if you can get your physicality correct then it will free your horses body to be used more correctly.  I just so happen to have such an intelligent and willing horse that most of the time if I get my shiznit worked out he happily gets it correct. 

I am required to always control every foot.  It is amazing the sublte yet profound breakthroughs that we have been making.  I can see the potential of continuing with this method and can only imagine how much it is going to change myself and my horse.  The physical strength it takes to ride that correct at all times is astounding.  Kind of sad that it is that hard for me but at least I am headed in the right direction.  I mean I can go out and work Steady at a trot and canter for an hour and be fine.  But 5 minutes of trot in my lesson being forced to ride so much from my core I am exhausted.  I am excited for the day that these things become second nature and I am just a far better rider because of all the hard work.  I can see glimpses of it now and it is exciting.  It is hard to explain in words to feel those moments when Steady is working over his back, his withers are up and is truely using his whole body correctly.  It is such an amazing feeling.  I had felt moments of greatness before but the huge difference now is that they are coming because I asked when I asked and how I asked it of him and that I am starting to gain the ability to recognize quicker when it is going wrong and are putting into place instincts to correct it.

Example would be yesterday's lesson there was one moment in particular that we were at a walk and previously when Steady would start to "pull the rug out from under me" essencial means his feet get quicker, his back gets lower I would have to make a correction and that correction had to involve a halt in order to properly get it all back.  Yesterday I felt the rug starting to get pulled and made corrections in my own body that  brought him back without needing a downward transition.  Ahh explaining what I am learning is so complicated but it is so astonishing.  All I can say is go buy a book from Mary Wanless I am sure no one can explain it better than her.

S (instructor) even let me canter yesterday!  It felt good to know that she felt we were making enough progress to add in the canter.  She had me forego trot/canter all together and said I would get better results if we did walk/canter.  I was concerned Steady wasn't ready for that yet. We have one done a couple of those and that was last year.  I mean two weeks ago I would get a massive explosion with asking for trot/canter.  But his walk/canter transitions were lovely.  She only had us go about 5 strides and walk.  Focusing on upward transition, 5 good strides and a good downward transtion.  Her point was that downward transitions are such a huge part of the foundation that if you wait until you have a few bad canter (trot or walk) strides and then ask for the downward transition then you will only be practicing bad downward transitions.  So get the transition while the gait is still good.

I am sorry about the wordy post but I have to get some of these things down so that I can reinforce them in my own mind.  You can thank me that I have left some of my lesson write ups in the drafts because while I know that I know what I mean most of it will come out as mumbo jumbo to everyone else in the world.

Well off to my jump lesson!  Dressage lessons on Tuesdays, jump lessons on Wednesdays!  It's a hard life, I know!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

If I had a million dollars! If I had a million dollars......I'd by myself a .....

It may be far from a million but what about $1000?  If you had $1000 in your hand as you walked into rolex on Thursday morning what is it that you would buy first? 

I talk about being a minimalist and I do try to be.  I am not attracted to wads of equipment to make myself feel the part of equestrian extrodinaire.  I feel like if I want to be a better horsewoman and rider then that money is best spent on lessons and clinics and my time is better spent on my horses back than in a store or online shopping.  But the time has come that some certain items must needs be purchased and I have been saving up to head to Rolex with cash in hand.  I have started a list because I know what will happen the moment I set foot on those roadways paved with all things leather and shiney I will loose all sense of neccesity and reasoning.  So I will skip down those roadways with list in hand and on a mission.  Now to decide what it is that I really need in order of importance so that when the money runs out and the list is still long that I have at least purchased the most important items.  Here I will number them in order of importance in my mind.

For me:
1) Boots (mine the zipper randomly malfunctions and I fear the day it stops working)
4) Stirrup Leathers
6) Paddock boots and half chaps

2) Jump Boots
3) Bridle
5) Girth
9) Cooler

7) Cooler
8) Bridle

Inexpensive items by comparison that I will most likely pick up along the way.
Royal Blue Saddle pad
Schooling Gloves
Show shirt
Show shirt for daughter
Flymask for Lily

That is what I have come up with so far.  I now need to get measurements taken and written on the list along with comparable prices and products online to make sure I am getting the very best deal.  But there is much to be said for being able to touch and feel the quality of the product you are buying so paying a fair price in person is better to me than rock bottom online.
Is there more?  Is there something I have missed?  What would YOU buy?

Monday, April 8, 2013

All of the things.

I am finding that there are definite pros and cons to boarding but I will go into more detail on those in another post.  My life has been filled with lessons, dressage and jumping, schooling and the cake was Saturday XC schooling.  Steady has been getting steadily better and better.  The leaser has been learning him and seems to be getting along well.  I have a feeling this year is going to be the best yet.  In short I am sold on biomechanics dressage.  It is the most detailed training method I have ever experienced and gets real results.  But that too will be in another post or series of posts.  So much going on and not having Steady at home has made for a huge challange of balancing my time and responsibilities.  Blogging has had to take the back seat.  It is kinda sad because there is so much to say but I just can't.  I am trying to type out notes after lessons and even that is hard.  I will just give a quick summary of the goings on of The Dude and I.  Here are a few pictures of the place he is temporarily residing. (I hate calling it his home because his home is with me)
My adorable Macy walking Steady into the barn.

He is in pasture 4 with 4 other geldings.  It is about a 4 acre beautiful rolling, green pasture surrounded by woods and trails.  But it is a long ass walk out there to get him ;)

Pasture 3

Steady walking back out to his buddies after a nice ride.  This is his pasture that he spends about 12 hours every day in.

My lovely big guy!

After several lessons in biomechanics I finally got some of the best movement out of Steady I have ever had.  It was 5 strides of pure awesomeness.  Yep, I said 5 strides.  It may not seem like much but to me it means that we finally started to put all the pieces together and that more is to come. 
Here is a random picture of my brother, husband and daughter.  My brother downed a 40ft maple in our yard.  But the relevance here is that, do you see that huge limb?  Yeah that is going in my field as a XC jump!  I will defintely post when it is finished.

We worked on simple changes last Thursday, successfully!  Big stuff considering the explosions I would get just a few weeks ago even asking for the canter.
My 8 year old snapped this during our ride.

Saturday my friend and I went XC schooling.  It was quite awesome!  Especially considering that last minute XC schooling was something I have never done.  Steady really struggled when my friend (C) would canter off to jump a few jumps.  The race in him has definitely not disappeared.  That was a little frustrating.  But we jumped ditches, up banks, down banks and all sorts of other stuff.  Nothing over Novice height simply because he was too hot.  So we became focused on not running off afterwards over even the tiniest things.  He got better and I had to remind myself it was his first time out this year and not get too frustrated.  I was unsure how he would handle things since it had been quite some time since he had seen any of it.  Nothing I presented him to was an issue at all.  He would seriously jump anything I put in front of him.  I wish I could have put more in front of him but I had to scale back because, though the jump was there, the control was not.  So I took it down a notch.  He seriously wanted to jump SO badly.  All of the jumps, all of them.  I was cantering around just concentrating on getting a nice rhythm, with control and steering.  I came down a lane that there was a massive stairstep jump.  I would say the thing was every bit of 4 ft.  We were coming at it on the back side.  I was concentrating on getting Steady's canter nice and I felt the slightest movement and knew he had locked onto that jump!  OMG Steady, we are NOT jumping, just canter.  I made my first attempt about 10 strides out to deter him.  I pulled him of a bit and thought that would do it.   5 strides out I felt it again.  Shit Steady, NO!  I attempted to pull him off again with NO luck.  2 strides out I pulled an OH SHIT NO and yanked him off of it and we breezed by it with only about a foot away from the edge.  Never have I felt that much determination on a horses part to jump something, never.

Needless to say I decided not to go down that lane again.  We went out into a more open space to canter a bit.  I swear to you that every damn jump we were even remotely facing in the direction of became all Steady could think about.  It could have been 70 feet away but I could feel him lock onto it so we would turn to find we were 30 ft away from another and he instantly locked onto it.  After about the 4th time I decided walking was our best bet at that point.  When we came back after that jaunt I asked my friend to get on and she showed me a few exercises to help get his mind off of the jumps.  It really worked and it was great for me to be able to see how she did it.  Though the jumping obsession he oddly developed out there was not what I wanted nor was I comfortable with, it did speak volumes as to whether or not Steady likes his job.  That horse is the bomb diggity and if only his rider could get her shit together the sky is seriously the limit with him.