Monday, June 29, 2015

Just another unconventional

Except this one got technical. Introducing F.O.A.L., a North American equestrian apparel company that just hit the shelves of retail stores in February of this year. From the F.O.A.L. website, "Choosing a name for F.O.A.L was easy. It is the birth child, or foal, of Arista. Arista has been developing beautiful clothes for the equestrian market for over 25 years. Like a foal, the F.O.A.L brand is full of spirit, energy and promise. And F.O.A.L is an acronym for emotions we feel every time we are with our horses: Freedom. Optimism, Adventure. Love. Every piece of clothing we launch is designed with these four words in mind."

F.O.A.L. has created a line of apparel that work with both the hunter, jumper, and schooling rings by skirting that fine line between traditional and modern. Their breeches are pretty simple with a slight twist on the knee patch shape. I'm a big fan of all the belt loops.
The shirts require a double take because, hey, look at these beauties.

This is the style that I love, one that doesn't hide the color and the patterns so easily. Of course it won't show underneath of a show coat, making it conservative enough for the equitation ring, but once that coat is off, it gives a sense of individuality. It's also something different that breaks up the constant white/beige/navy blue color scheme. It's fun, to put it into simpler terms. I'm used to shirts of this type showing up in only European stores, so it's nice to have a more local brand with cheaper shipping.
They also have a collection of schooling and relaxation items, including a pair of funky colored tights and various schooling tops for warmer weather.

And look, they even have a parka (they call it a rain jacket, but it fits the description for a parka).

Their prices are right in line with similar brands and products, so the next time you're looking to replace show items, take a look at F.O.A.L. I can't wait to see what they come up with in future seasons.

All images are from the F.O.A.L. website.

Friday, June 26, 2015

It's all about rhythm

Every good song is based on a solid rhythm, just like every horse's training is (should be) based on the horse's rhythm (in conjunction with relaxation). I didn't have to work much on rhythm with Baby, however the relaxation part was a fairly constant issue, rearing its ugly head almost every ride, sometimes uglier than usual. With Music, it's the opposite. She's pretty relaxed almost all the time, almost too relaxed. You know how it's important to establish a forward, marching walk in order to create an energetic trot? That only happens sometimes. Other times, we're dogging or we break gait. Fun stuff.

Nevertheless, the last two rides have been good ones. She's already gone up a girth hole; maybe now I can start using one that actually belongs to her owner rather than having to borrow. She also made it out on Wednesday with a longer workout and less sweat, though I think the cooler weather and cloud coverage made a difference. Thursday was a walk day with a short bareback ride then handwalking a bit around the track. She's in heat and an absolute hussy but she doesn't do anything mean. It's just a lot of very loud very persistent whinnying.

Little Izz is here for a couple of weeks, too, and she hung out with Fifi and me at Fifi's beach house. There's nothing quite like a good beach day, and she greatly enjoyed the barn cats.

Then she went in the water in jeans.

Friday, June 19, 2015

This'll be new for me

My local show association is looking for donations for the medal & hunter derby finals (So if you have anything that you can donate to the prize buckets, let me know and I can get you an email!). I've wanted to put charms in each bucket for a while, but I thought it wouldn't be right if I was competing in it. Now that I'm not trying to qualify for anything, I have freedom, and so I decided that I'd put six charms in for one of the medals.

Also, since the shirt turned out so well, I'm going to do tote bags, each with a different decal. They're all meant to be (more or less) funny. I would do shirts, but sizing and price are a big issue for me. I finished all six decals last night, but I don't want to share them just yet. I want them to be a surprise for all the winners. I do, however, have the next shirt design done.

The best part about it is that while I was making it, my mom was looking over my shoulder, and I could just hear her repeating "leg" in confusion.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fashion Thursday: The Parka

Okay, this is a little bit different than my usual Fashion Thursday, but bear with me. I think it'll be interesting.
Parka (n) - par•ka /ˈpärkə/ : (as defined by Google) a large windproof jacket with a hood, designed to be worn in cold weather
From Wikipedia, by George R. King
It goes without saying that every parka doesn't fit this definition. According to Wikipedia (this isn't a college essay, so I can use them as a source), the parka was originally created by the Caribou Inuit of northern Canada as a coat meant to protect against extreme arctic weather. I live in Maryland, so the only time I face arctic weather is when my mom puts the thermostat below 75ºF. Still, the parka has served a practical purpose for me while also being a fashion statement.

My parka is from GAP (although for a while I thought it was from Banana Republic, but I made a mistake and told a lot of people that, sorry). It's 100% cotton, and I would consider it a medium weight parka. The purple-brown color isn't my favorite, but it gets the job done. I'd say the medium weight makes it pretty versatile. Even when it's humid outside, I can use this parka to protect myself from the rain. I was able to ride in it without any issues when temperatures were in the fifties. While I know it wouldn't do much in a downpour, it's a useful outer garment, and it's adjustable and easy to layer.

OOTD 6/18/15

My OOTD, not exact, but close

If you face real arctic temperatures in your area, parkas close to the original design are available as well. Parkas can be a bit less bulky and puffy compared to a winter coat, which is important to me when riding and doing barn work. With that being said, by all means layer up when you head out to the barn, but once you start moving, a simple lined parka can act as a sufficient top layer. Emma also talked about a few upper body layers that can keep you warm in the winter.

Forever 21
TL;DR: Get yourself a parka because you deserve nice things in life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Meet Music

And get ready for an overload of music puns because I already have a number of them planned.

She's a 22 year old Cleveland Bay mare, somewhere in the 16-17 hand range (haven't sticked her, haven't asked), bay with not a lick of white on her. She was going to be someone's event horse, then they found another horse, so she became a fox hunter, and she was good at it. Now she'll be my eq horse. What a life.

While Miss El and Lee are away, Fifi and I were assigned to set up jumps. We just had this discussion lat week about why you shouldn't let the barn children set up jumps, but I guess some people never learn. The ring isn't super big, and we still needed space to practice movements on the quarter line, so that limited us a bit, but we got through it.
The barn owner's son came out and helped us, and it went smoothly except for when they got snippy about me having a narrow fence, and I got snippy right back because I wanted a narrow fence.

I made an attempt at having a low stress ride today, but that didn't exactly work out. She was fine to go in the ring and see all the jumps set up, no big deal about that, but then we tried to go for a trail ride, and the flies decided to be very rude. Music's issue with fly spray didn't help things at all. I was smacking flies off of her non stop. Two rides in, and I'm already killing for this horse.

I also got a nice delivery today: my own custom t-shirt! I made designs a long time ago, but I finally figured out what I wanted to do just a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, the shirt was ridiculously expensive, so after I use the complimentary coupons, I'm gonna have to find someone else who can do it for a better price. There's a place at the mall that is getting screen printing soon, or at least that's what the cashier said. He was cute. I trust him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A new tune

So the switcheroo is almost complete (the waiver has to be signed and returned), but no complete barn and new pon pics until tomorrow. Sorry! I'm riding with Miss El at a facility nestled behind tranquil woodland. It's homey. I like it. Miss El and Lee are out at a show in Pennsylvania this week, but she squeezed me in for a lesson yesterday.

The rain forecast held off until later in the day, but the heat was there. The high was a whopping 95°F, and we were in the 80s by the time I was on. Not to mention the humidity was killer. It was a low stress workout.

The new mare, Music, hasn't been worked in a few years, except another girl who's been riding her weekly for just a couple of months, and now me riding twice a week. She's old, and she's opinionated . . . and she hates fly spray/the hose/any liquid that isn't in a bucket or falling from the sky. I am slowly winning her favor through treats and face rubs, which she really likes. She's not the biggest love bug, but she's what I'm working with.

We started out with the usual two point at the walk and trot with some circles in the corners. The idea during the warm-up was to get her to soften to the contact and maintain a steady pace. She's very responsive to seat and leg, which is nice, but, again, she's opinionated; the side that she likes to stay close to is the one with the trees. I got hit in the face multiple times.

Our walk and trot were pretty good once we got the pace and relaxation down. We did some trot poles which took a couple go throughs to perfect. When we went to canter, Miss S had me do so from a trot. We already had a long walk break, so when I asked Music to trot again, it wasn't nice and took a couple of circles to get in check. Pretty much the same thing happened in the canter, but it didn't take as long to correct. The right lead was better minus almost running into a jump standard. The biggest issue with the canter is that when a horse gets faster, my reaction is to sit back and deep to stay with them, but Music isn't in shape. Sitting heavy on her will 1) make her back sore and 2) put too much pressure on farther back areas, which, to her, mean to engage and move even more forward. So for now, I have to keep a lighter seat (not exactly a half seat, but not a full seat either), and just keep it together.

More to come tomorrow!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

And here we go

One thing I've learned in my time with horses is what to do when your emotions get the best of you. There's one thing I always try to not do: think. I don't think about things when I'm emotional. I wait until I am settled and with a clear mind (usually after a good night's rest and a complete breakfast), then I start to work through any pressing issues at hand.

There are a number of lessons that I've cried after, for whatever reason. Usually, it was because I felt inadequate, and that feeling is a recurring theme in my posts. In those times that I did cry, the one thought that seemed to possess me the most was "I want to quit" which is obviously absurd. Riding is one of the most important things to me. It's what I want to do with my life (plus I'm 99% sure that everyone has that feeling at least once in their career). At some point, however, "I want to quit" turned into "I want to switch barns".

Of course, that thought came at a point where I was emotional, so I slept on it, and over the next couple of weeks, I kept thinking about it. I went back and forth on it, wondering if I really had a reason. Even after I had finally decided that I was going to move on, my last lesson made me hesitant.

Comparatively, it was a good ride, but I had to think about what I was comparing it to. The past year has been a lot of rushed courses, refusals, and just generally difficult jumping with Baby. While the flatwork has improved by miles, Dressage is not what I want to compete in. I want to be able to do it through the highest levels, but jumping is my focus, especially equitation, and it's difficult for me to equitate or ride effectively on a horse that simply isn't very experienced. After this past Friday, when I felt sick to my stomach about doing another course, I realized that it just wasn't going to work out anymore. Neither Baby nor Miss S can take me where I want to go, so I've found someone else.

I will admit that I have some unfinished business. I never really solved Baby's gaping issue, and I didn't get over my fear of Molly. I didn't get to have as much fun with Zoey as I wanted to (although that was just me being hella lazy), I never worked Chess over fences, never rode Bella, never taught Baby how to bow (but we were getting there, just wanna point that out). I am, however, extremely happy about what I did accomplish. After a particularly rough winter together, I'm so grateful to have had those few months of absolute perfection with Baby. Nothing can ever compare to the feeling of being completely in sync with an animal that would rather do otherwise. I will always be happy about that.

As they say, where one chapter ends, another begins. Here's to my next chapter.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A new course of action

Note To Self: Do not let barn children set up the entire jump course. Yes, they may get the striding perfect, but you're going to see some weird combinations.

I am still technically a barn child, and I did help set up that course, and I was the one to walk all the strides off (because the measuring wheel decided to just break, like, how rude can you be?). I will admit that, while I had intended on walking off horse strides, I got the pony strides. Oh well, Baby makes pony strides anyway. There was also one fence that was completely natural. The "standards" were logs sitting vertically, and then we used a plain wooden pole and added sticks as a filler. We were going to add pine needles, but, alas, everything on the outskirts of the woods is covered in poison ivy. Talk about an inconvenience.

I've ridden Chess the past two days because Baby was being used in lessons, so I was relieved to be back on her. I checked her mouth for ulcers or sharp points: zip, nothing, nada, so that has been ruled out as the cause of her mouth issue. She was actually way better today than she has been. She started out pretty annoyed but settled pretty quick; however, I will say that she was pretty uppity today, which is what she hasn't been for the past couple of months. We had some jigging (darn jig).

Otherwise, she was fairly average in our flatwork: plodding along at the trot, requiring regular half halts at the canter, jumping into the left lead, the usual. We did a cross bar as a warm up, then we did two courses, both of which were pretty solid (minus me twisting my body cause sometimes my inner show jumper comes out). It's still nerve racking to do courses, no matter the height, to the point where I got nausea just thinking about doing my second course. It'll take time, just like every other confidence issue. The blisters on my ring fingers opened up again, too, which is a bummer, but they didn't hurt nearly as much during this ride as they have been.

It wasn't a bad ride. I think maybe Baby enjoys me poking and prodding in her mouth before every ride. Whatta lovely little dork she is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Turn on the A/C

I have a full show recap ahead with a handful of pictures too. I woke up late on Sunday, and I forgot to dry my show pants, but Annie's came to the rescue. They had a flash sale on their show pants a couple weeks ago, and I went for it, and I have to say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I will gladly show with little silicone horse heads on my knee patches. Fun Fact: Miss S was picking me up that morning, and she also woke up late. Horse people, everyone.

Of course Saturday and Sunday were polar opposites. The barn owners and staff were frantically trying to clear the water from the outdoor ring and move the dirt around to fill spots in. The effort started on Saturday evening and didn't finish until right before the 9am ring start. Even with their work, the lower spots still had puddles that needed to be maneuvered around; there just wasn't enough sun in the morning to dry the whole thing out.

Needless to say, we had a couple water jumps.

We didn't have a whole lot of schooling time on Sunday, so my muscles weren't exactly warmed up, just sweating awkwardly from the heat. Since we still didn't get a chance to school in the actual ring, Miss S had me do another open card. We had two stops.

It was chip mania
I went off course in my first course for eq, but the course I did ended up being the second course. Score. I'm ahead of the game.

Her speed was inconsistent, so pretty much everything was a chip. So much for getting the five . . . Anyway, the hack was fine, but I didn't have enough forward motion at the canter (but I do try to keep her slow and together because it's difficult for me to sit her stride when she picks up the pace because she hollows out and I haven't figured out how to get that hind end working consistently yet). Thankfully, she picked up that God forsaken left lead when I asked. We came out with two fourths.

She wasn't going to the bit at all on Saturday or Sunday. There was lots of gaping and curling, so this week will be all sidepull until I figure out how to fix this. I have a couple of different bits that I can try, and I want to have Miss S check her mouth for ulcers or sharp points (because I do not know what I am doing in that department). It's just weird. We'll see what the outcome is.

One of many gaping photos
Also, Fifi and I paid a mutual friend a surprise visit yesterday. She ended up not being home, but her parents were there. She has two horses, and her parents want the younger of the two to get to work doing something, so I lunged him yesterday just for kicks.

We were good till I asked him to canter and got a handful of mad bucks that caused me to drop the rope. We tried again, he got it. He's one of Miss S's old horses, so I'm aware of his education. He just needs some manners.

Correct lead tho

Saturday, June 6, 2015

That was unnecessary

It was such a nice morning. The weather forecast was great; I even decided not to bring my parka because it was going to be so nice.

Yeah, no.

I guess it's monsoon season. In all honesty, it is. June and July are our rainy months, and while this time of year is known for thunderstorms with moderate rain, today was more like straight rain with very little thunder and lightening, a true disappointment. On the plus side, I took cover under a golf cart and got to drive it maybe 50 yards, but I was in a golf cart so yes.

The riding thing went okay. Baby was pretty inconsistent with her speed, which put me on the defensive. I only had eq. at 2', and it was in the morning, so my day went by pretty quickly. 5th and 6th over fences then no place in the hack. Oh well. There was only one refusal for the whole day, and it was in a schooling round. I only forgot where I was going once.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fashion Thursday: Check // Croco

Check // Croco

1. Blue Faux Leather Oval Rhinestone Decor Belt
2. Samshield Lezard helmet
3. Tekna CLUB Saddle
4. Abercrombie & Fitch Women Plaid Shirt Brown Blue
5. Hunter/Jumper "Winning Colors" Saddle Pad
6. Sarm Hippique Rebecca Breeches
7. De Niro Ottaviano Croco
8. Hunter/Jumper Memory Foam Half Pad

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

At least she was consistent

Gonna do a super quickie post cause I'm writing a story that I have to complete before the end of the month and I'm on a roll right now.

I had a private last night, simple stuff, the usual walk, trot, and canter, with some emphasis on the left lead departure to keep it relaxed. We did a figure-8 with cross bars, in which she consistently missed every lead. I'm convinced she was doing it on purpose, but at least she's doing something for herself. E for effort. Did a course a couple of times then cooled out.

All was well.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Conflicts of Contact . . . and also more phone issues

Baby is still not enjoying any kind of contact with the hand. She's been resisting my legs a lot less, which is great, and her transitions are getting more precise, but she just seems irritated by bit pressure. I thought that maybe giving her mouth a break might make a difference, so I rode her in the sidepull yesterday, but nope. She was a little bit less bothered, but once we got to work, there was barely any difference from riding in the bit. She also took a few weird steps yesterday when we went to canter to the right. I figured it was a lack of impulsion, so I pushed her forward, but she still didn't feel quite right. When I watched the video from Saturday, she didn't look any different. Her stride was the same, but she was still mouthy. I have a lesson tonight, so I'll see how she is back with a bit, but I just feel like it's going to get worse.

Other than the mouth issue, our rides have been productive and have included some more advanced pole work, including a clover on Sunday and that thing below yesterday.

She probably hates poles now.

Of course, now, the week before another show, my phone has decided to start glitching in ways that I can't ignore. It stopped sending and receiving messages, and my data, while on and available, simply will not work. I got pretty frustrated with it this morning. While the whole turn it off and turn it back on thing fixed things, I know it's only temporary. Ugh, I've gone through three phones this year. Why does technology enjoy quitting on me?

In cute news, the mini mare had her baby (finally).

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