Riding Guilty

Pair weddings/new job/actually-trying-to-see-friends-before-they-forget-I-exist with summer evening thunderstorms and really, I haven’t ridden much recently.

photo

But here’s the crux- even when I know that it’s not safe, and it looks like God is getting ready to shower the earth with lightning bolts, I have to have an external discussion with someone (poor husband) justifying why even riding in a covered arena in a thunderstorm is bad news bears. Metal horse shoes, in a metal container, sounds like a bad idea to me. Plus walking the horse outside, however briefly, to get to the covered arena leaves me wringing my hands. But still, I won’t feel better until I have a slightly scared person on the other end nodding that yes, I am making the right decision, and no, my horse won’t fall to pieces if I’m not there to save him. Last night I actually needed two such persons. Yikes.

Foster loves his cuddles. And I swear my nose does not look that beaky normally.

Foster loves his cuddles. And I swear my nose does not look that beaky normally.

Pretty much, I always feel guilty if I can’t ride, even if I have a stellar excuse not to. I know it’s my responsibility to keep him fit, that we won’t move forward without practice, and basically my horse loves a good cuddle, and it makes me feel like a bad person when I don’t see him for a long time.

Am I alone here, or does anyone else out there struggle with the guilt of not riding? How do you balance those feelings with having some kind of social life? Or how about balancing those feelings with basic things like a normal sleep schedule, and eating?

Keeping all our fingers and toes: A successful lesson recap

The cooking of Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch, the turkey was perfect, the timing worked out, and no one died of food poisoning. Of course, in a small house with 9 people in it, something is bound to happen, but luckily this presented itself just after dinner, when one of the tables collapsed, sending red wine, candles, and leftovers to the floor. But no one died, so it’s OK.

Thanksgiving: Centerpieces, Good food, and English Christmas Cracker Crowns

Thanksgiving: Centerpieces, Good food, and English Christmas Cracker Crowns

Anyways, regarding that lesson… If you really want to watch part of it (and I won’t take offense if you don’t), here’s the video- otherwise pics and talking below!

Though the temps were definitely in the lower 30’s, we did indeed drag ourselves out to the trainer’s farm for a lesson this Sunday. Foster has been making progress with his canter transitions in the draw reins, and I was eager to report this to our instructor and take advantage of her beautiful mirror set up an focus on weaknesses in our trot- namely, lateral work and lengthenings.

Trotting

We warmed up at the walk and trot (and a bit of canter, in which there was minimal bracing -good boy!-) and then started with an exercise to get him thinking about crossing over behind. We were asked to do a head-to-the-wall leg yield, similar to a haunches in but with more angle. At the walk it’s okay to ask for more cross over than at the trot, and it helps stretch the muscles and get him mentally prepared for the real thing. Foster handled this exercise quite well, other than hopping up the bank that surrounded the dressage arena once (XC schooling and a dressage lesson- cool!).

Accidentally schooling banks...

Accidentally schooling banks…

Then we moved on to proper leg yields at the trot. Come down the quarterline, leg yield to B or E. Moving off of my left leg, the instructor describes him as a magnet to the wall, he tends to fall over too quickly. The solution to this, for now, is to break the leg yield into two parts, moving off the leg a few strides, then a stride going straight, then over again. This definitely helped Foster to balance and perform the movement more correctly. Moving off my right leg is more difficult, and I just need to be patient with him and if need be bring him back to a walk to explain more slowly what I am asking. We did get a couple leg yields done in this direction, it’s simply more difficult for him.

Leg Yield Left

Leg Yield Left

After a quick break to discuss we then moved on to shoulder in and then lengthenings. I explained that he doesn’t seem to have that 4th gear that my last two horses have had in the lengthenings- where they would explode off the ground and really enjoy the work, Foster gets a bit worried and rushing. One piece of advice I got is the try to verbally get him excited, which I will be sure to try at home and hope no one mocks me terribly. What also started to help was collecting, asking him to really sit on his haunches, and then drive forward for 12 meters or so. After doing this for some time I did finally feel a burst of impulsion when asking for the lengthening, and I think eventually this will help us get a true lengthening that last the diagonal length of the arena.

Shoulder In

Shoulder In

Overall, it was a great lesson and I have plenty to work on and new exercises to implement into our dressage schools. It was obvious to me that he is still a bit green, but every time he repeats an exercise he gets better. Foster felt great, and was very workmanlike the whole lesson, amazing for a 6 year old in freezing temperatures.

Good boy!

Good boy!

XC Schooling

FosterXC

Yesterday we headed out to a local cross-country course to get some schooling in. We haven’t been over any kind of terrain or solid fences since June and I felt it was really important to get out again to continue building our confidence and prepare for Novice this fall. While we have been schooling 3′-3’3″ showjumping fences at home (training level height) we have never been over anything larger than beginner novice cross-country. I wasn’t worried about the height as much as my (and therefore his) relaxation.

It was super hot so we kept it minimal, but what we did I was really pleased with! We had a slightly rough start due to me losing my stirrups over a couple fences- this is because I desperately needed to shorten them and had been hoping to do this in a show jumping school, but hadn’t done it yet. So we rolled my stirrups (somehow I have the longest stirrup leathers in the world- just look at the excess!) and proceeded. As a result I feel like my leg was much tighter but my upper body felt a bit unbalanced with the change. Looking at these photos I realize I could do with closing my hip angle and a couple other adjustments, but nothing we can’t fix!

Foster sailed over the Novice fences like a champ. We had one minor discussion about the ditch as a result of my jumping up his neck on his first attempt over it, but thanks to Ali’s egging me on we made it over again. I definitely came away with some great feedback (like MORE ENERGY!) and am super stoked about what this season will bring.

Next week we have a showjumping lesson with Holly Hudspeth and then a dressage lesson over the weekend at Eliza Sydnor’s (where I’ll get to ride in front of mirrors! yay!) We have plenty to work on and I’ll post recaps after. In the next couple weeks I want to get in a jumping photoshoot with my new camera and a bangin’ new brick arch jump I’m about to go paint with Ali! Stay posted!

Before shortening my stirrups! Yikes!

Before shortening my stirrups! Yikes!

 

Whee!

Whee!

Some eq work to be done still...

Some eq work to be done still…