May 2005

May 8 , 2005

I was lax in updating this blog over the past week. Sorry about that! I've had a couple of rides on Guin, and one good session with Blue. Not too much other than that though, because both Brandy and I had things in our personal lives that kept us away from the barn quite a bit last week.

The lessons with Guin are going well. I actually feel my own riding getting better. I'm definitely not 100% consistent, but I'm at least having more and more (and longer and longer) moments of posting correctly. Brandy complimented my sitting trot yesterday too. We haven't really been working on that in class, because Jay isn't ready for it, but I work on it in short stretches here and there.

I'm about ready to start working on trotting in two-point. I'm not pushing it, because there will be a learning curve for learning to do it without putting the horse on its forehand, and since Guin is still learning balance under a rider, I don't want to do anything that will make her job harder. I wish, wish, wish I could afford two lessons a week. If so, I could ride a school horse in one of the lessons and Guin in the other. It's tough to concentrate on my own skills, when I'm also trying to teach her the basics.

Guin is soooo willing, but she has a lot to learn. For example, she doesn't know how to bend through the corners... and I'm not sure I know how to teach her. She has so much potential. I wish she had a more experienced trainer to help her achieve that potential.

Cute story... Before our lesson, I like to turn Guin out in the indoor arena to work off some energy. The last two Sundays, there has been a low jump set up in the middle of the arena. She loves to canter, and buck, and free jump! It's so much fun to watch her trot and canter those jumps on her own.

Last week Brandy had us trot over a pole during our class. After watching Guin free jump, I was worried she would try to jump the pole, but she didn't. She actully trotted over it quite nicely. I'm anxious to add poles now, and really start working on her stride. Hey, maybe we'll do that on Wednesday.

The session with Blue last week was a lot of fun too. Brandy wasn't there, so Catherine and Sophie helped me fit him with a saddle and bridle. I'm anxious to ride him, but because he hasn't been ridden in so long, and because we're using equipment different from what he was trained in, Brandy is going slow. She wants Sophie to be the first to ride him. Well, I was ancy, and encouraged Sophie to ride him last week. She laughed and suggested we lunge him a while first.

Good thing! Catherine lunged him in his new tack, and he was just fine at a walk. But when he started to trot, the stirrups came down, banged against his sides, and the rodeo was on! What a hoot. He bucked and bucked and bucked. Sophie said she was really glad she wasn't on him. (She also added that she didn't believe he would have done that with a rider.) We fixed the stirrups, and he was just fine from that point. He was a little spooky, but we all agreed that he was just cutting up, rather than truly afraid.

He hasn't been worked much... maybe once a week for less than an hour. That just isn't enough. He's so distracted and excited when we catch him and bring him up that his mind never gets into the work. What he really needs is to be worked an hour a day, just so he can get into a routine. I don't know when that will happen though. I can't get to the barn that regularly, and there's no one else to work him. I can't afford to send him out for training either.

Money is a pain.

May 9, 2005

Had a great time with Blue today. It started with another long walk into the pasture because the staff still can't catch him. They moved him to a smaller pasture next to the mares, and we hoped that would make catching him easier, but he is having none of it. I, however, have no trouble. When I got to the pasture, he was at the fence chatting with Guin. He walked away when I approached, but I went to her, and he immediately pursued me to claim the attention I was offering her. Painfully easy.

When we got back to the barn, I turned him into the indoor arena to run around a bit with Lexy, another horse at the barn. After a little exercise, I put him in cross-ties and groomed him. He was calmer in the cross-ties than he has ever been. In fact, he was terrific! I told Brandy about his bucking episode last week, so we decided to saddle him up, put the stirrups down, and let him get all his bucks out.

He had a good time bucking initially. But, as he ran up and down the arena, it was clear that he was getting over it. We upped the ante... made the stirrups longer, and after that got no reaction, added some soft rope wrapped loosely around him that would brush and tickle him. He got over it pretty darn quickly. I'll probably do this once more, just to be sure he's really over it. I'm not sure if Brandy will be ready for Sophie to hop up on him at that point, or if she has more she wants to do with him first.

May 11, 2005

I cantered!!!!

Okay, I know this is no big thing to anyone who rides. But I haven't cantered in 20 years! Although intellectually I knew that cantering was actually easier than trotting, I was still afraid to do it. I've been really glad that Brandy moves so slowly, really making sure each chink in the foundation is solid before adding another piece.

I asked her a while ago when we canter, and she said, "When you can do seven strides posting trot, seven strides sitting trot, and seven strides in two-point." In our "class" -- me, Jay and Lesley -- Brandy hadn't officially even introduced the sitting trot yet. I, however, had started working on it back before I started riding Guin. Brandy commented on Sunday that my sitting trot was looking nice, and that also happened to be the week that I had begun to pester her with questions about riding in two-point. I didn't actually ride any two-point on Sunday because I didn't want to put Guin on her forehand.

Today the plan was for Brandy and I to ride together. The plans just basically went to hell, and neither of us rode. Blue and Guin had been taken back to the field, and I was about to leave when Smokey was brought in. Smokey is a lovely quarter horse, new to CCEC. She's trained for both upper level dressage and western pleasure. I'd seen her and admired her, but hadn't gotten the chance to ride her. I mentioned that I wanted to, and Brandy said, "How about now?" I jumped at the chance.

Smokey was a dream to ride. I could sit her trot for days! Because there were other people in the arena, we worked on a small, 20-meter circle at one end. This was a good opportunity for me to work on bending, something Guin needs help with. Small circles are a little intimidating for me -- I always feel like the horse is going to slie out from under me. (Hence the reason we bend the horses -- it keeps them balanced around corners and curves.)

Anyway, Brandy gave me some coaching on my hands and then on my leg aids, and she mentioned the cue to canter. I said, "Is that just for my information or am I supposed to do it now?" She said to give it a try. I was a little nervous at first. Not only was I going to canter for the first time, but we were riding a small circle. But I just bit the bullet, sat deep, and did it.

It was wonderful!!! And not at all scary. It was so lovely, that rhythmic rocking-horse movement. Exactly what I remember. Even my downward transitions were smooth and controlled.

When I first started taking riding lessons a few months ago, riding felt weird. It didn't feel like riding -- and it was scary, because it felt so wrong. My instructor was trying to fix long-ingrained problems in my seat and back, which required me to sit differently than I was used to, but the weirdness was more than that. I didn't feel like I was riding... I wasn't in sync with the horse. Everything I did felt mechanical. I just didn't fit right.

But lately it's been coming together. Everything... my body position, my posting, my sitting trot... it all feels RIGHT. I feel like I'm riding again. It's not that I'm riding perfectly -- far from it -- but I feel like I'm in sync with my horse. Or something. I don't know what it is -- but I'm awfully glad I got it back.

Now if I could just ride every single day for the rest of my life!!!

May 16, 2005

I spent the last several days at Alexandra Kurland's advanced clinic in Toutle. Here are my notes, if you're interested. I had an amazingly wonderful time -- but I was glad to get home to my family.

May 17, 2005

Today is the only chance I have to spend time with the horses this week. I had hoped to spend most of the day with them, but I had a horrible toothache all weekend, and I had to get to the dentist this afternoon. So in the end, I had only about an hour to spend at the barn.

Rather than waste time bringing the horses to the barn, I just walked into the pasture and spent time just "being" with Guin. It was a lovely day (for a change), and it was really nice to just lean against her and talk. She was sweet and patient and seemed to enjoy the attention as much as I did.

Blue was in the next pasture, and I called to him a few times, but he ignored me in favor of green grass. After spending time with Guin, I started to walk over to talk to Blue, but just then he decided it was nap time. I would have disturbed him if I'd gone over, so I just called it a day.

I've got to work at Microsoft tomorrow and Thursday, so I won't be back to the barn until Friday.

May 20, 2005

I had a root canal at 7:00 this morning. Ouch. Really don't want another one.

After that I got to the barn and got the horses in to get their feet trimmed. It always seems that one of my horses is a pain in the butt when it comes to trims. Today Blue was a doll, and Guin was... difficult. It wasn't that she was acting up, so much as it seemed like she had some pain somewhere. She REALLY didn't want Christina to work on her front right hoof. Christina, however, couldn't find any pain in the hooves themselves. She thought it might be a chiropractic issue. I already knew that Guin probably needed an adjustment, so this just motivated me to try to get on the chiropractor's schedule.

May 22, 2005

Riding lesson day! It was an interesting day. I rode Guin, and she was a little off from the beginning. She actually bucked a little when I first got on! Brandy watched her and said it didn't look like it originated from pain though. She thought she just looked like she was in a really good mood.

Then, in the middle of the lesson, she tripped anf fell! Fortunately, she was just walking. It felt like she just plain tripped over her own feet. Jay and Brandy said she went down on three knees, and only because she planted her nose(!) and pushed up did she manage to not go all the way down. I rode it just fine -- sat back and deep and supported her head with the reins -- but I was incredibly glad it happened at the walk. It might have been ugly if she had been going faster.

At some point after that, I thought she felt uneven at the trot. I asked Brandy to watch, and she decided that she saw it too. She couldn't tell which leg it was, though, and hypothesized that it might be in her neck. Yes, another reason to call the chiropractor.

I put Guin away and went back to watch the rest of Jay's lesson. He was riding Smokey, the horse I rode last week. It was a good ride for him. He has been riding horses that are... not very sensitive to the aids. Smokey is VERY sensitive. So he had to learn to give much more subtle cues. She gave him a good opportunity to ride a more forward horse.

When he finished, I jumped up on Smokey for a few minutes. I really like riding that mare! Brandy said she wants to do a lunge lesson with me on one of the warmbloods in a bareback pad because that's the easiest way for her to teach me what it feels like when a horse is in a rounded, balanced frame ("on the bit"). I was instantly worried. I used to love to ride bareback or without stirrups, but I haven't done any riding without stirrups yet in these lessons. I had planned to work on that with Guin, but thus far I've had to conentrate too much on HER, and this would require me to concentrate on me.

After the conversation, Brandy decided that we would have some lessons riding without stirrups before she brought out the bareback pad and tried to teach me to ride "on the bit." High school before college. This works for me!


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