Saturday, September 15, 2018

Not dead

Who else hated this 13 month drought as much as I did?

By some miracle of god, my schedule managed to work itself into something doable this semester. I cut back to 12 credits, which was only possible since I front loaded so many classes freshman and sophomore year. I'm working eight hours a week, which is less than I wanted, but it's also a three hour round trip commute . . . gotta love the DMV.

Lessons are on Tuesdays this semester, and we get three practice rides per semester too, which is, as the kids say, lit.

I'll probably use those rides to do polework and other assorted riding things that I've missed. No, hip stretches do not fall in the "things that I've missed" category, but I'll do them for my sake.

The first ride back was fairly uneventful. The most exciting part was just my ridiculous Instagram story. Coach S put me on Leia, which was surprising but appropriate. Fun fact: when you only go to the barn a handful of times in the course of a year, the ponies start to look larger. A lot larger.

It actually wasn't as difficult to get back into the swing of things as I thought it would be. The whole ride was mostly painless, including the no-stirrup work. I can't hold my two point for very long. My lower leg kinda flops all the time. There weren't any new or shocking issues; mostly, I just need to be less stiff and keep my thumbs up. We've heard it all before, folks.

I did also switch onto Penny at one point. Besides randomly spooking then bolting at . . . nothing . . . she was a doll.

I decided to do a quick workout after the lesson, just to stretch things out and keep myself moving. If you're coming back from a hiatus, leg lifts are the way to go. The only place that had opinions was the inner thigh muscles that I used to settle Penny when she decided we were Preakness competitors.

I also bought a new pair of breeches because I'm young and dumb. Your favorite barely 20-something is back, this time with no limits.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Not to be forgotten

Hopping back into 2017 for a moment to address what the heck happened with Vodka. While Roman was basically on vacation at the end of August, Vodka was a different situation. I was only on him for about a month, but I saw major improvements in the quality of his gaits, softness, and consistency.

"Treat lady, come back"
Tack definitely made a difference in how he went. He had been ridden in a poorly fit saddle for quite some time prior to me even trying him out. During said trial, he crow hopped and kicked out going into the canter, expecting a saddle to pinch his withers. While I swapped between the Dressage and close contact saddles, I still noticed that he was much more comfortable in the Dressage saddle. At one point, I even tried out a different girth because he was just a touch too opinionated with the anatomical one.

A lot better than where we started
Conclusion: sensitive horse does better when you consider his sensitivities.

Vodka was like Roman in that when it came to giving to the bit, he would over do it, under do it, and everything in between, and it was just a matter of getting the right timing so that he would learn to be more consistent. He did get significantly more consistent.

Lots of decent screenshots available
He actually had lipstick during our last two real rides. On the very last one, he gave me a beautiful canter. I'm talking so good I almost forgot what horse I was on.

Our last ride was just a bareback one. I rode both of the boys bareback at a walk before I had to go back to school, and Vodka was a solid citizen, as is to be expected. The future with him is a bit less grim; after Miss El moved, all the boarders went to the farm down the road. Both properties are owned by the same person, and I shave about 60 seconds off my commute. Since I have no idea what I'm doing with my life post graduation, I might go home and start leasing him for real if the option is there. I guess I'll know more when I actually get my shit together.

I'll never have my shit together :)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2k17: A Review

Yeah, this again. Completely missed the last quarterly review, but meh it would have basically been the same as this. Before we get to the categories, some highlights:

Competed for the first time in forever
Went through the whole leasing debacle

Spent the summer with the war horse
And went to my first Dressage show with him
Added another horse to my regime for all of no logical reason
Almost died
Went to an event for the first time and saw Boyd Martin
And onto the goals:

Improve my equitation: I mean, with Miss El screaming at me to bring my shoulders back all the time, I guess my equitation had to improve at some point.

Continue to open hip joint and soften ankle: Yes, actually. Sitting trot got pretty good.

Strengthen my right side & continue to improve balance: Also yes, but I've been having trouble lately due to not working out as often. Can't wait to see how bad it is when I ride a horse again.

Exercise 5 times per week: Was pretty solid through September, but my education takes priority over abs.

Ride with Miss El at least once a week when I'm home (weather/finances permitting): She up & moved to NC, so that's that.

Be more fluid with different tack (i.e. Dressage form vs. Hunter form): Not horrible. My first time back in the hunter tack was a ride on Vodka after Culpeper. It wasn't the best; I felt stiff and like I had no where to go, but the subsequent times were fine.

Qualify for Colonial Classic:

Qualify for MAEF Finals: No

Qualify for MHSA Regional Finals:

Go to Brandywine, HITS, or Upperville (only once though and preferrably Brandywine): No

Compete at First Level & begin working towards my bronze: . . . technically, yeah, but no.

Compete on Roman: Yes? Somehow? When it was 100% not expected.

We're not even gonna go into the magical goals because exactly 0 of those happened.

So that's 2017 in a nutshell. Really not that bad. I'm happy that I actually kept up with the vlogging because it's something that I enjoy. Taking a break from riding and focusing on some of my other passions has been pretty therapeutic. By some odd chance, it's made me more passionate about riding since it's been one less thing to stress me out this semester.

But anyways, that's a wrap 2017. Here's to 2018.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Learning to let go

So, after going ghost post my first Dressage show, I'd like to say that big exciting things happened for me and Roman and the barn gang. But, nothing huge happened. I basically reverted back to my mindset during that one awesome spring I had with Baby where I wasn't really keen on lessons and whatnot and just wanted to have some fun.

Some really good memories here
Prior to going to Culpeper, Miss El pretty pointedly told me that to get the stretch on Ro, I needed to learn how to let go. Literally. Like drop the reins and just leg him into a circle. It's a pretty simple concept, but the execution is a lot less pretty. Hence the 5 we got . . . anyways, Ro had a fairly intense summer between me and Fi. Both him and Sanibel had time off from the end of the show until at least the day I moved back to school.

This was the good stretch, and yet
I think for all but two rides, I slapped the jump saddle and a halter on him and went. I sat in the Dressage saddle with a bridle once. I went bareback with a halter for the last ride. Realistically, I don't need to learn how to let go, I need to re-learn. The opportunity to do so hasn't been present for a while, and yet it was easy to slip back into that mindset once I had no one thing to focus on.

Since Ro is so amicable, he responded pretty well to having a bunch of 15 minute rides on a dropped rein.

But, of course, we can't forget his demons.

Miss El says he grew up and got dumb.

I wish I could say what's next for the two of us, but I don't. Miss El moved to start training with Julio Mendoza, which is super awesome because holy heck JULIO MENDOZA, but she' in a whole other state, and the commute would be not ideal. Based on her Instagram, Roman is loving North Carolina. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to see them again, but Ro is living his best life. So I'm happy. 'Till we meet again, war horse.

Chubby, cuddly, Dressage whip eating war horse

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Waredaca 3 Day

Ok, let me start off by dashing some hopes: I was not competing. I haven't ridden a horse since August, and I'm not riding with the equitation team this semester due to some poor planning. That being said, there might be practice rides starting soon, which I will definitely be taking advantage of. You can't escape me, Carlos.

Jumping away from my own nonsense
I also stopped beating around the bush and became a full time member of the eventing team. Helping out at the vet box for this event is mandatory for everyone, so that's how I filled most of my Saturday.

In case anyone forgot, I am not on my way to becoming a vet. As a matter of fact, that's one of the career paths that I have aggressively avoided at all costs (despite what my mom might say). We were being directed by Dr. Chad (not sure if that's a first or last name) who was basically Anderson Cooper but in vet form. It took a a couple run throughs for me to catch on to everything, but I got the hang of it. Guess you could say I'm basically a vet, right?

No, I am not, and I'm 83% sure it's illegal for me to say that I am
It was also my first time ever going to an event at all, plus it was long format. Took about two hours of people saying "roads and track" before I understood what the heck they were talking about. Also, steeplechase is really fast.

I didn't get a picture of steeplechase because my anxiety had no time for that
It took four or so hours to get through everyone, which was a lot quicker than expected. We decided to watch some show jumping afterwards, so feel free to enjoy this low quality photo dump.

Also, to be clear, y'all eventers are absolutely insane. This distance gave me heart palpitations. AND they went to another fence afterwards. AND they were double clear. End me.

Even got to see Boyd Martin who my teammates recognized by the fact that he is a certified Tall Man.

I can't tell if this is Boyd cause these pictures are so blurry, but if it ain't,
enjoy this random tall person
And a pony with birdcatcher spots! So pretty!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Isabel F deSzinay Memorial Dressage Show: Sunday

After Saturday's success, I went into the show on Sunday with the goal to simply improve on what we had the day before. With a ride time around 3:30p, there was plenty of time to work with. Also plenty of time in the morning to take a lot more pictures. I ended up clearing my SD card midday to free up space.

Y'all ever see something so beautiful it kills you on the spot?
Fi had her two tests back to back, first with Sanibel then with Roman. There were a couple of scratches, so I ended up moving my ride time up to 3p at trainer's request cause it was a long drive home.

He is, quite literally, a beast
With the down time between Fiona's last ride and mine, we got the trailer mostly packed. Then I changed, we went to school, aaaaaand it wasn't as good as Saturday. I could not, for the life of me get the horse to bend. I think it was a combination of him being tired and not wanting to be away from Sanibel, but it wasn't happening. I kept trying and trying until it was our time to go in the ring. I got him to step off of my left leg just as we were turning in at A, but that's as good as it got.

The test was rough, to say the least, but I was much happier with our stretch and free walk. Haven't looked at the report card fully, but I think we did go up in those areas. When we were done, he got some big pats, a hose off, and then we finished packing. It was a pretty silent ordeal since I was thoroughly pissed with my ride. When we were basically ready to go, I went to the office to grab my test . . . 57% BUT first place. And I got a free bottle of liniment with the ribbon.

Cute and talented!
Conclusion for the weekend: Dressage is weird, and I can't wait to do it again.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Isabel F de Szinay Memorial Dressage Show: Saturday

Had an easy start to the day on Saturday. Woke up around 6am, and we were on the road to the show grounds by 6:30. Trainer was the first ride of the day at a little bit after 9.

It was a pretty dreary morning since the rain had stuck around from Friday. It drizzled on and off, but the clouds finally departed by the time I had to get myself ready. As we were schooling the night before, I noticed that my old and worn out show gloves were ripping and shedding onto Roman's half pad. Since I 100% did not want to walk into the ring with flakes of faux leather dotting my tack, I grabbed a pair of Heritage gloves from the VTO Saddlery that was on site. Bless vendors.

My ride wasn't until 1:21p, so we grabbed lunch at an Italian joint beforehand. Guys, they had tuna bruschetta. I haven't had tuna bruschetta in forever. I nearly sobbed.

After eating my weight in bread and tomatoes, we went back to Commonwealth, I changed and tacked up while trainer braided. Then it was off to school, which went just fine, and then we were ready to head into the ring.

Not gonna lie, I was definitely mortified heading in. I remembered my whole test (miraculously), but after the right lead canter, I was super worried that I had forgotten something. You ever tried to pull yourself together between H and C? Doesn't take a genius to see that the test wasn't perfect. I was tipped forward, didn't have myself or the horse together, like, at all. No bend, no softness, and that stretch? Lol, embarrassing.

But I genuinely couldn't have been happier after the final salute. I did it. I freaking did it. My first Dressage test that I learned two days earlier on my lunch break. I honestly wasn't expecting much in terms of scores or placings, but lo and behold, a 62%! And third place! Go Roro!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Isabel F de Szinay Memorial Dressage Show: Friday

Yeah, it's a name. Sounds nice when it's your first Dressage show. Did I mention it was in Culpeper? At Commonwealth Park? Ya girl is moving on up.

Since Virginia is so damn far away, we hauled out around 8am on Friday. Earliest I've woken up on a Friday in a long time. After packing literally everything at 10pm the night before, I was pretty tired and went in and out of naps for most of the drive. We arrived a bit after noon, unloaded with no problems, and got the horses settled. After that, we checked into the hotel, sat around for a bit, got lunch, then head back to the show grounds to school.

The town was really cute, too! This is where we had lunch.
Fi and I went for a very long walk with Ro and Sanibel around the property. We talked about things, laughing when Roman would give big snorts and arch his neck at, well, everything. He honestly took everything pretty well and only had a true spook when he saw something off in the woods at the edge of the property. After walking around, we actually schooled, and Roro was fantastic. Honestly, super duper, and I'm pissed I didn't record or take pictures. We kept it simple; trot/walk a couple steps/trot along the rail outside of the Dressage ring, then some trot around the ring, then we practiced the canter pattern both ways, then some stretchy trot. After that, I just walked around the outer ring while Fi schooled.

Training 3, here we come.
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