Friday, November 29, 2013


For Literature Friday. Happy Thanksgiving, guys.
I find it funny how I thought that I would be able to stick to that diet of mine as the holiday season set in. Do you know how good ham is? Do you know how difficult it is to just stare at a glazed ham, with its pineapples and cherries, while your stomach grumbles and rumbles after having been basically starved for the past month? I want me some ham! my digestive system screamed, but I requested that it kindly hush for we were sharing what we were thankful for.

“I’m thankful for my loving family,” said my aunt.

Ironically, she had basically been exiled from the family for stealing the entirety of my grandfather’s fortune when he died, but, according to my dad, it was too soon to boot her out completely. I pitied her slightly, very slightly, but blame fell only on her.

The focus was passed on to my brother. “I am thankful for the creators of Grand Theft Auto,” he joked, “And I’m thankful for my parents who have funded my college career.”

“I’m thankful for Google,” my teenage sister said. She wasn’t joking.

The attention then turned to my baby cousin, who, at the time, was barely six years old. She still liked to shove her fingers in her mouth and hid behind mommy’s leg when meeting new people, but there was obvious wisdom about her. Even at a young age, you just knew that she was special and that she would do something more. She was, eventually, successful, but, back then, she was little more than a pair of curious eyes, an inquisitive mind, and potential.

“What are you thankful for, sweetie?” my other non-exiled aunt asked the girl.

She pulled her pointer finger out of her mouth and wrapped her other hand around it, then she spoke, “I am thankful for mommy and daddy and my doggy and my house and everything about me.”

She went back behind her mother’s leg and shoved her finger back in her mouth. Her words were so quick and simple that everyone else seemed to brush them off as child’s talk, but they’ve stuck in my mind after all these years. Everything about me, the words turned over in my mind, and my mouth wasn’t very quick to move when it was my turn to speak.

I was conflicted at that point. Should I say what I was truly thankful for? There was so much. How would I put it quickly? On the other side, was I to be as sarcastic and humorous as usual? I picked the latter.

“I’m thankful for the ham.”

They all just laughed completely ignorant to the epiphany that I had experienced at the words of a six year old. Everything about me, I thought as I took my first bite of the ham. That was some good ham, and if I’m being honest, I was truly thankful for it that night. As I looked around the room, I saw people who had shaped me even a little bit throughout my entire life: my parents, my siblings, grandparents, my neighbors, family friends, and now my little cousin. Those soft words hit hard, and they really made me think about just what I was thankful for.

I am thankful for my family and my friends. I’m even thankful for that old rag of a horse that was thrown on me oh so many years ago.

“Wait a minute,” I said to myself.

I eyed a bad of baby carrots that my mom had left out after making one of her dishes. In a few discrete movements, I snatched the bag and stole away through the porch door. I marched with purpose across the wet grass to the shedrow just a short way from the house. I opened up the top half of the Dutch door, and, inside my horse stood, undisturbed, munching on the abundance of hay that sat in front of him.

At the sight of me, his ears pricked forward, and he moved away from his meal to greet me.

“Hey boy,” I whispered to him.

My horse was a real nag most of the time. He wasn’t spectacular. He was given to me by my real dad after he left so many years ago. It was his way of making peace with me after walking out, but the animal that I was gifted with had more attitude than a popular girl on a Monday after she hasn’t had her morning dose of Starbucks. To me, he wasn’t mean or nice; he was somewhere in between, but escaped the label of indifferent. I hated him for a long time, and he sat in the field, mostly untouched, for about a year before I finally just took a look at him and decided that something needed to change. I got a trainer, and you’d be surprised how basic his issues were. It was a respect thing, and it required consistency and firmness to fix, but I was determined. I had a lot going on back then between my dad leaving, my mom going through boyfriend after boyfriend, the bankruptcy scares, and, on top of that, I got bullied through all of it, but, no matter how hard my day was, I always looked forward to coming home and working with my horse. He was getting better, so much better. Everything that pulled me down went away when I was working with my horse, and ever since we came to an understanding, he has been my shoulder to cry on for years.

I pushed a carrot between his lips, and he happily took it, but it wasn’t long before he was eager for me. I fed him until the cold started to get to me, then I closed the stall door and made my way back to the house with the empty carrot bag. There’s a lot that I’m thankful for; I’m thankful for everything that makes me who I am. My horse just happens to be a big part of that.

Awe, it's over so soon?

Welp, I just had my last ride for this month on Wednesday. All I can say is . . . YES! OH GOD, YES! THANK YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST, YES! I don't think I've ever experienced such torturous leg pains ever before in my life. Even my bareback only lesson wasn't as difficult as riding with no stirrups.

I guess this month did do some good, though. I've learned what and what not to squeeze with, and I built up a decent amount of core strength despite only having three rides the entire month. I also got my posting without stirrups down, which is something that I'm very happy about because I had the feeling that I was posting off of my stirrups rather than doing it the correct way.

The canter is still iffy. The first ride this month was good, but the second and third were not as nice when it came to the canter. I rode by myself two weeks ago, and it was okay going to the right, but really bad going to the left. Throw that on top of the fact that Baby is very difficult on her left lead, and it's almost impossible to stay with her. I've started stiffening my hips again, which is something that I have worked very hard on this past year to stop, but I guess it's just going to be an ongoing bad habit of mine.

My last ride was the best trotting wise. It was much easier to deal with the speeding up and slowing down that Baby occasionally throws. She was throwing it a lot on Wednesday, but you'd be surprised what a simple relaxation of the hips and straightening of the spine can do.

Besides the usual walk, trot, canter, and transitions that we do, Miss S had us do an exercise with moving the hip. "I want you guys to know how to control every part of your horse's body," she said. Well, that's easier said than done. A bit of history on Baby, she's an all around horse. Western pleasure, hunter under saddle, hunter over fences, trail, she can do a lot, and she's got a great head on her shoulders (or, withers?). She's broke to the nines, BUT you have to know how to ask. The specific movement that we were doing was a turn on the forehand. We started on the long side, trot around the short side to the next long side, stop far enough away from the way, do a turn on the forehand, then trot off. Everybody does it, then it's my turn, and, at that point, I deduced that it could go two ways. Way one was that Baby decided to be perfect, push button horse and just do the turn on the forehand simply because I asked kindly. Way two went more along the lines of Baby would pretend that she has no idea what leg means (she's done that before, even when I bend her in a corner). It ended up being somewhere inbetween since Baby is not a push button horse (Bomproof? Yes! Pushbutton? No!). Of course, I exaggerated the leg position, which caused issues, and then there's her issue with stopping and not going until I ask. At the end of the day, it wasn't perfect. I didn't expect perfect, but every time we went ended in success of some sort, and I can say that I am very happy about that. The only way is up, right?

On an opportunistic note, Miss S approached me with a deal after the ride. I clean the big pasture on the property on Sundays, and I wanted to put the money that I made from that towards a lease on Baby in the month of April. The idea was that I could get in some extra ride time before show season started, but, my goals for next year have shifted and shifted, and at this point I'm not exactly sure what I want to do. Either way, a lease in April would no longer provide me with the preparation that I needed. As I was just coming to this conclusion, Miss S mentioned the lease, but then she asked me if I would clean the pasture for an extra ride every week. My heart stopped then, I swear it did. I would diffuse an atomic bomb the size of Russia just to get an extra ride in every week. It's sort of like a mini lease, in my opinion. Needless to say, I agreed. So, now I'll be riding twice a week instead of just once a week, and I think I'm going to start filming my rides. I say think because we ride indoors this time of year, and the video quality may not be very nice. Plus the dust; my poor camera is going to suffocate if it stays with me. Oh well, that's what happens when you're into horses.

My current schedule has one show on December 7th then another on the 14th. Yeah, that's right, two shows only a week apart because I'm just that cool.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fashion Thursday: Sweater Weather

This week's outfit, "Sweater Weather"

1. VANCL V Neck Premium Wool Sweater Beige SKU 80438
2. The Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Front Zip
3.  Heritage Performance Riding Gloves
4. Ovation Flex Sport Field Boot
5. More & More Blouse
6. Dorothy Perkins Tan Blunt End Jeans Belt
7. Zara Basic Reversible Belt

And, that's this week's outfit. Looks comfy if you ask me. I was actually inspired to put it together after watching a rider at a George Morris clinic, and, as far as I know, she made it out alive, so I think it's fair to assume that this ensemble received the George Morris Seal of Approval.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Here's something new: Fashion Thursdays

Oh, you want it to be Fashion Fridays? Nope, sorry, Fridays are for literature. Since I am not of a mind to trust you all when dressing yourselves (the tomato . . .), I've decided to inspire your riding outfits in a direct manner. Every Thursday, I will post an outfit with a list of the items that compose it. Now, I'm not usually one to pay attention to price when I make my outfits; I simply use what I like, but if it's the look of the outfit that you like, you can very easily get that look for a whole lot less than the items that I use. T J Maxx and Marshalls remind us of this.

Most of what I put together I would consider schooling outfits that you either wear for your lesson, or a simple ride, or to a show before you put on your show clothes, so just keep that in mind. Some of the groupings could work for a clinic, but I tend to use those Horze half chaps often, and they are not George Morris approved.

First outfit. I call it "How Are Ya?" If you judge me, we aren't friends anymore. I wasn't feeling creative.

     This outfit features:

     1. HANAMI Sweatshirt
     2. Boody Boody Tank Top 2 Pack
     3. Juicy Couture Stella Gold Watch
     4. UNIQLO Women Side Stitch Belt 
     5. Rider's International Wave Pad
     6. The Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Low Rise Front Zip Breeches
     7. Circuit Premier Special DS Saddle
     8. Some tall boots
         from some tall boot website

My eyes burn at the overpricing. I hope this helps out your equestrian wardrobe!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Crowds, Canadians, & Contemplations

Here is a short narrative for you.
I was shaking again. "Relax," they all told me, again. They were my teammates, ya know, the people who push you when you don't want to be pushed. I could barely see into the temporary indoor arena, but I could hear the crowd. I could hear the delighted screams; I could feel the thundering claps moving the seats and the floor.
How many of those thousands of people really knew who was riding that night? Wikipedia can only tell you so much. It tells you about achievements with some childhood facts thrown in, but it doesn't tell you who the person is. No Wikipedia page could tell you that I like to poke my horse's nose until she gets so annoyed with me that she is forced to play along. Granted, I don't have a Wikipedia page, but if I did have one, that wouldn't be on there.
I couldn't really comprehend why the crowd seemed to love every rider so much. The only people who received boos were, well, no one. You could almost say that the crowd was unbiased and loved like a Canadian, but that wouldn't be true because only the majority cheered rather than the whole and not all Canadians are kind.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy No Stirrup November!

It's the most miserable time of the year! Now go back and sing that line otherwise it's not funny.
I started off No Stirrup November with a bang, if I must say. The leathers and irons came off on Monday and they're not going back on until December (honestly, I'm counting the days). I'm kind of glad to be rid of them; I bought my leather brand spanking new and they came to me marked unevenly. I haven't had a chance to put correct holes in them for jumping an flatwork, so they're been affecting my horizontal alignment. If you're confused, look at the photos from my last lesson. See how much I'm leaning to the left? That's what I'm talking about, and it's those little body shifts that easily throw your horse off balance.

Anyway, with my stirrups gone I was not only more centered, but I was way more relaxed. It seems like everything except the rising trot and jumping are far easier to do without stirrups. I should do no-stirrup work more often, it's fun. Of course, it has it's downsides. While My riding was better, I still struggled with my balance at times (it got better as the lesson went on, but it was difficult at first). We practiced flying changes again, and I didn't get a single one. It was mainly because I was having trouble holding on with Baby jumping as strong as she was on Monday. It's a work in progress.

It started to get dark, so we moved to the indoor to work on canter transitions and rounding the gait. It was beautiful. It was all just beautiful, except for that one ugly trot when I asked Baby to the right. No, Baby, stay round. Relax into the transition. Ain't nothing bad gonna happen.

I'm the only one celebrating NSN at my barn, but I hope my other fellow equestrians out there are feeling the burn with me. We can share Tylenol and complain to each other. Isn't that what friends are for?
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