Saturday, December 31, 2016

2k16: A Review

I've just been staring at my computer with a resting bitch face trying to figure out how I want to start a post that is guaranteed to be filled with bitter undertones. Because, let's face it, I'm bitter.

2016, I have a lot of shade to throw at you, and, honestly, most of it doesn't even have to do with horses. It has been . . . a year. In it's entirety, 2016 wasn't all bad for me. As a matter of fact, a lot of good things have happened. Instead of doing the usual goals review format (since I already addressed that during the summer) it's time to just focus on the good.


Old saddle was a bit, um, dated? That show outfit is also dated, tho.
Through leasing Max, I was able to put a handful of new tricks in my pocket to be more successful with green horses.

*wiggles inside rein on every horse ever*
I started vlogging! And it's been so much fun!!!

I've been able to be a part of two amazing companies who have expanded my knowledge and experience in marketing and writing.

I rode several confidence builders who are putting me on the right track to getting back to 2'6" next year. Thanks Oscar, Boomer, Smooch, and Ajax! Also thanks to Coach S and her business partners, A and P for making it possible!

The best Moose!

I actually did manage to convince Miss El to let me ride Roman. It was also easy. Really easy. It was her idea.

Of course, the non-horse related aspects of my life had their ups and downs this year, but this year is over! Leaving the bad parts in the past because, frankly, screw 'em. Good bye, 2016! Good riddance! You will not be missed!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Out with a bang

One of the pros of living on the Eastern shore is the generally mild winters. It's only ever "bad" during Em Niño years since nobody is quite ready for winter after having 80℉ weather well after Christmas. The occasional 50℉ days during a regular year are nice, but they come at a price: rain. What's one thing horse people (especially those without an indoor) hate? Rain.

Rather than reschedule my Thursday lesson for today, I opted to suck it up and haul with the gang to the place where Max was boarded in August. It's still a nice place, and four of Miss El's students fit rather snuggly in the indoor with another lesson happening. I took Roman, who's never been to this place before. He's been off-site several times and has visited many different barns, but, he's Roman. Very large very distracted Roman.

We got there, unloaded, I put him on the cross ties, and baby War Horse couldn't stop moving. Just pacing as much as he could, tried to straight up walk out of the cross tie at one point, then almost backed up over me. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I love horses, I swear. He actually rode fairly well. Looky and overly spooky at things we passed 100000 times? Yah, but he looked cute with every scoot to the inside. We walked for a long time at the advice of trainer then started trotting. He was pretty inconsistent and behind the leg at first, so much so that I just focused on getting him forward before asking him to start softening. I actually prefer a horse that will back off a little bit instead of bolting when stressed.

The softening took a lot of effort. Trainer had me really ask him to bend and keep his focus. Pay attention to me, Roro, not the screaming children. Lots and lots of circles and serpentines and changes of direction. He got pretty heavy on me, too, but I just tried to push him forward again. Slowly but surely, he softened and lightened. We had some killer trot work.

We moved up to the canter and stepped into the left lead fine, maintaining it well. It was much easier to sit and hold my leg steady this time (posting was easier too). Always a good sign. Right lead just didn't happen. I tried and tried, but it wasn't gonna be a thing, so I quit with some stretchy trot to the left. He was leaning to the inside, and I just don't have the strength yet in my right leg to support him. Overall, the left rode much easier than the right for this ride. Time for more weighted lunges.

We hung out in the arena for a bit to cool out, then I went to untack him. Suddenly, the anxiety returned. He screamed my ear off for a good 30mins while I attempted to untack him. Hint: if the horse is still trying to walk out of the cross ties, perhaps don't use the cross ties. Hindsight is 20/20, and he ended up snapping one of the bungees. I almost made an impromptu Amazon purchase, but the BO said not to worry about it.

Everyone hauled back fine, Roman got a couple more treats, then he went right back out into the field. He's a really funny horse.

Edit: lol at the previous formatting

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fashion Thursday: Laid Back Dressage

Take my word for it: Dressage isn't nor will it ever be laid back. No matter how many big, loose sweaters you put on, it will always hurt.

Laid Back Dressage

1. Chloé Striped Chunky Knit Sweater
2. Retro Candy Color Skinny Belt
3. De Niro Ottaviano Brushed Jachtkap Koole Ruitersport
    no longer available (but these can be ordered as custom boots)
4. Horze Silvia Women's Denim Full Seat Breeches
5. Charles Owen V8 Helmet

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

4th Annual Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange

This is my very first year participating in the gift exchange. I'd seen everyone posting about it the past couple of years, and I decided that 2016 was the time to make it happen.Thank you to Tracy for hosting, and thank you to Draft Mare for the lovely package! It was on the steps when I got home on Tuesday, and while I had originally planned to wait until Christmas to open it, I couldn't help myself.

First was treats! They have already been shared with Silver and Roman, though I'm saving some for the barn back at school. School ponies need to feel loved too.

I also received some leather treatment products by Higher Standards Leather Care. A super useful gift considering the new saddle; I'd bet money that thing is as old as me.

Finally (and I swear Draft Mare was being psychic about this one) concentrated hair moisturizer. Let me be clear: I am very serious about the condition of the mane and tail, more so the tail since most manes are cut too short to bother much. I am also far more apt to detangle by hand with the aid of product rather than attempt with a comb. So long as I have the time, my tails are flawless. No knots, soft, voluminous, silky, and, most importantly, show ring ready. Bonus: this one is au naturale.

Nice tails win blue ribbons
Thanks again to Draft Mare and Tracy! Happy Holidays, y'all, and enjoy the rest of your 2016!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Let's not get that close

Ride #2 on Silver, another success!

Decided to opt for a lesson this time bc the canter needs much work. We started in the Dressage ring working on getting him onto the bit. His owner commented that he tends to be behind the leg, but I haven't felt that personally. He's pretty responsive. He just doesn't always respond how we want him to. Forward is there, now time to get soft.

Lots of inside leg (mainly thigh) and inside rein, steady outside rein, sometimes outside seat bone, just depends on what's happening. He's a very, erm, opinionated gelding, but when he's good, he's good. Happy to have him in the Big Gray Gelding Squad, even if he's small horse sized. Trot and canter were generally fine, and we had our good moments. He's much harder going to the left than the right, so I might opt to add in some carrot stretches. Transitions also aren't as prompt or together as I'd like them to be, but that'll come with time.

Current jump setup; this diagram is only vaguely accurate
since our arena isn't a friendly polygon
Once we finished with that, trainer said "Let's go jump some things" which was shocking. I haven't jumped with her since Music, and while we were going up in height every lesson, we never made it past 12". I guess it's a reward for having been grilled on the flat the past year. Perhaps she thinks I'm starting to figure things out.

Anyways, we jumped everything that I jumped on Wednesday, except she mixed it up and added some things. We warmed up with trot poles and a cross rail, then added the far vertical afterwards. She then had me do the rolltop to the flower, a tight turn that would require me to, ya know, ride and not be a passenger. I completely scrubbed up the first time and had Silver take a spot that was waaay too close and with 0 support. Very angry pony rubbed the fence and thought passionately about dumping me before settling and being nice enough to offer me redemption. Second time was much nicer. Also, we have adjustability.

Current plan is to have one lesson on Silver a week then one lesson Roman. The baby horse is scheduled for Thursday.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Goals Part 4: The Unexpected & Unprecedented

I got home from break and literally did not even wait to step foot in the barn. I went to bed on Tuesday, woke up on Wednesday and went straight to my lesson. The goal for this winter break is to ride twice a week. I'm going to be home for at least a month, and Miss El already kicked my butt in the first lesson, so it'll be a productive break.

I had actually asked her a couple weeks ago about riding during break since I knew I was going to be trying horses. I told her I wanted to ride twice a week, and she said I could absolutely ride Roman if that was the case. Now, let's rewind for a minute. First, who the heck is Roman? Roman is Miss El's personal horse who she's had as long as I've known her. When I first met Roman, he was a very curious, inquisitive, personable, distracted 3 year old. He's still all of those except now he's 6.

Whither is basically head height
One of my goals for 2016 was to finally ride him because why not. I planned that as one of the things to accomplish over the summer, and when it didn't happen, I just shrugged it off. At the time I asked Miss El about riding over the winter, I asked if she had a horse I could ride expecting her to say that I'd need to find something, but she offered up Roman. I was shook.

Anyways, as the vlog showed, I finally had my first ride on him. Score! What's hilarious is that his personality under saddle is completely different from on the ground. You can't stand next to the horse without him sniffing you or resting his head on yours or grabbing your coat zipper (the last of which he does with shocking consistency and accuracy). Then you sit on him. And he's like "nah". Distracted, sure, but also slow and generally disinterested in any sort of work what so ever. Apparently, he's like that to jump, too. Someone should explain to him that he's too fancy to be this difficult to ride.

Remind me to adjust my filming ratio
Most of the ride was spent trying to figure out how to stay stable in the Dressage saddle again. I also put the girth on backwards. Overall, Dressage is still dumb and impossible, but I am trying.

The day didn't end there, though. In our recent conversations, Miss El mentioned that one of her students was getting a project horse and wanted to lease out her current horse, one that's been in training with my trainer for I think two years or so. I said sure. I had nothing to lose with trying another horse. By some stroke of damn good fortune, his owner was there on Wednesday and let me ride him and said that I could take lessons on him over break. Welcome to the blog, Silver.

Sassy lil Half Arab
He's currently going at training level and jumps 2'6" easy (and honestly). As I was warming up, Miss El was lungeing another horse. We were fine walk and trot, but his issues are with the canter, so trainer played double duty and was yelling things at me. Low-key, it was a free lesson. After she went to put that horse away, I went to jump Silver, and he was the best little nugget. Took every spot I asked for and got two kind of lead changes (like three strides late behind, lmao). Miss El came back out to teach Silver's owner on her new horse. I geekishly offered to let her see me jump, cause, ya know, my trainer totally hasn't ever seen me jump before. She gave me her usual smirk, so I went for the roll top, and we cruised over it. It was surprisingly successful considering I've never jumped at her place before.

Not a bad way to start the break, if I do say so myself. Sorry for the novel of a post. I just really enjoyed myself.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Vlog #7: The Longest Day

I got home for winter break on Tuesday night, and I promptly had a lesson on Wednesday morning. It was my first time riding Roman, and I was ecstatic. After my lesson, Silver's owner was nice enough to let me ride him, and I felt comfortable enough to pop over some fences. Shout out to Izz for filming me!

I'm also wearing the pair of Buckwild Breeches that I won through Dressage Hub's 12 Days of Awesomeness. They are actually awesome!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fashion Thursday: ROOTD: 12/21/16

ROOTD: 12/21/16

1. WithChic Cable Knit Sweater
2. The North Face Caroluna Crop Jacket
3. Mondoni Kendal Field Boot
4. Style Co Skinny Knob Buckle Belt
5. Burberry Classic Cashmere Scarf
6. Mattes Sheepskin Half Pad
7. Ovation® Sync Helmet
8. Back on Track Saddle Pad
9. Ogilvy Dressage Profile Pad
10. SSG Fleece Lined Winter Gripper Gloves
11. Buckwild Tan Fox Breech
12. Mattes Correction Half Pad
13. Pessoa A/O Saddle (?)
14. Stubben Roxane Dressage Saddle
    no longer available (but check eBay!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas List

While everyone else is doing their yearly reviews, I'm going to focus on what really matters: stuff.

I've tried very hard to be good this year, despite the hand that was dealt to me by the universe. I've kept a Wishlist on this blog for a while, but those are typically things that I plan to get for myself. They also tend to be more practical items. The Christmas List is something different. This year, in an effort to remain humble, I've kept my list fairly simple.

1. $3,000,000,000 in cash, sans tax
I feel like this one goes without needing a reason. There's so much I could do with $3 billion, like disappear completely from my life and have no need to make an appearance ever again.

2. An import, or 12
I'm but a sad child who just wants my own horse.

Or Game Over, tbh, cause he's precious
3. Custom Dressage saddle
I bought the jumping saddle plus fittings. Someone has to give me a break on this one.

4. A custom built home for my fish, Rembrandt
I'll gladly design it, but someone else is building it. I'm an architect not an engineer.

5. First place at medal finals
Any medal final. I don't care at this point. Just let me be successful.

#tbt to getting 3rd out of 3 ✌
6. My degree
I have s u f f e r e d through physics. Let me be an architect already.

7. The entirety of the German showjumping team from every Olympics (but only the ones who are still alive or else that'd be awkward).
Again, shouldn't have to explain this one. It's pretty obvious,

8. Equine Couture Bindia Saddle Pad
I'm convinced it's magical. This is an actual need at this point.

9. Ben Maher
Except he has to come with Tripple X. I will not settle.

10. While we're at it, I'll take Uta Graf, too
Her seat. I need it.

Monday, December 19, 2016

December's 10 Questions

Courtesy of L, as usual.

Does your horse need shoes?
I don't currently own a horse, but most of the ones I've known wore shoes. Baby had fronts, and so did Music. Max has fronts in the winter when he fox hunts, but his owner pulls them in the summer.

What do you think of the barefoot vs shoes debate?
Personally, I'd love to see every horse barefoot, but I understand that there are circumstances where a horse is going to need shoes. In the case where competition is the reason, I think we just need to do better work at creating effective, safe hoof boots. Until then, shoes and studs.

Miss J's Romeo and his nakey hoofers
Favorite season for riding?
Summer. Call me crazy, but I like the warmth, and I sneeze less.

How many shows do you think you’ve gone to?
Too many, lol. Whether I'm helping or showing or both, I've been to a decent amount.

Missing this ring and Karl right about now
Do you consider yourself a good rider?
Eh, not really, but that's mainly because I lack consistency at the moment. It's proven very easy for me to have setbacks, and then I get bad habits, and yadda yadda. Not having regular training over the summer (which was totally my fault) led to bad habits with my hands and balance. It's slowly getting better.

How experienced do you think someone needs to be to own a horse?
Depends on the circumstance. There's a bare minimum somewhere, and if you meet that bare minimum but have a professional to help you out, by all means, go for it. If you're going it alone, however, you better know what's going on. Too many people own horses and don't know jack squat about the necessities for ownership.

Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer?
I had a falling out with my last trainer, which I really don't like to talk about.

Describe your dream horse.
A horse. Any horse. I will take whatever you have.

Or this horse. He cute.
Does anyone in your family ride?
Nah. My dad keeps telling me that my mom wanted to have a stable, but my mom has shut down his claim. It would be super convenient if at least someone in my family knew what was going on with the large dogs that I seem to love so much, but such is life.

If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? why?
Chicardo. I also want Fifi to breed her mare to him, but I've been pushing that cart for a while now.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fashion Thursday: The Prep

The Prep

1. Monogrammed Gingham Pullover
2. Mondoni Kingston tallboots
3. Tekna CLUB Saddle
4. Wilker's Hunter/Jumper Schooling Show Saddle Pad
5. Mattes Correction Half Pad
6. Hermes Reversible H Belt
7. Shire's Oakland Side-Zip Show Breech
8. Charles Owen V8 Helmet

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Two weeks, two feets

Friday marked three semesters completed on the eq team. For our last lesson of this semester, I was put on Boomer, which was shocking to say the least. Honestly, Carlos was a bit of a shocker too, considering he's quite forward, and I hadn't ridden in a while. I'm planning on being in a regular lesson schedule over winter break with Miss El, and ideally that'll start next week. We'll see.

Maybe K will let me ride Artec
Boomer was his usual self, always a doll to hack. Like Carlos, he get's a bit anxious when you pick up the reins, so we worked on that a bit. He had good transitions and responded well when I went to pick him up in his canter work. That proved to be useful once we got into the jumping portion of the lesson.

We started with the small filler that we usually do. There was only one fence in the arena located on the quarter line somewhere between B and P. We started by trotting the long approach twice, then we cantered. Boom Boom was awesome to trot, which he usually isn't, so I was quite pleased with that. He was super duper to canter, too.

After we went on the long approach and the short approach twice, Coach put it up to - DUN DUN DUN - 2'. Guess who was the only one in the arena about to piss their pants??? Anyways, I had my dramatic moment going over it the first time where I braced afterwards and had a bout of heavy breathing. The fence itself: perfect. Boomer was a-m-a-z-i-n-g every time we went over it, and we probably did the fence, like, four times. I utilized the long approach to our advantage and tried a couple different stride lengths. We nailed it at both heights all but one time where I was asking for a longer stride, but it led to a distance that was a touch too long, so we were ugly on the back side. I've never commit so hard to a distance, though.

Looking for his reward
So, yeah, great way to end the semester. If break and the spring go well, I'll feel a lot more confident about next show season. I'm aware that I can go around a course in the show ring confidently, but I need consistency right now.

And yes, I still used the frilly saddle pad because it's magical, and I will get my own.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Structural Failure

So I had (technically) my first (kinda) real, architectural review yesterday. It came at the end of a looooong week. To be quite honest, that week is still trudging on. The only reason I have time to blog right now is because the program I need to use for my next assignment is downloading.

Palazzo Gondi, y'all
But, enough with that. Our final for this class was a two part project. The first part was completed (more or less) before Thanksgiving, after which we had three weeks to complete part two. When I turned in my first part, my TA made a lot of comments, very few of which were positive. After a semester of trying really hard to impress her, I was kinda bummed, especially since my assignments from the past two weeks were high quality.

I worked on it for a week and brought in a couple of half done iterations. We picked one that represented the space better and would ultimately work better for the final project.

The general concept is a pool room over a Buddhist temple
Part 2 was to take the space and make a 3D model of it but with the same abstract formation and dramatic perspective that the drawing had. Let me tell you, those were the most rushed three days of my life. I was up until 2am the day of presenting, and it's an 8am class. I actually planned well for this one, but I had to redo part of it, which I didn't expect. Had that not happened, I would've slept at a decent time.

When it came time for the review, I was understandably nervous. Fortunately, our critics were my TA and another professor in the building. We presented two at a time with about a minute to explain our design. The professor seemed, like, highly intrigued by both of us. He kept saying that mine was interesting, and my TA's only recommendation was to use more images as textures, but overall they were impressed. I consider this a success.

Sadly, we had structural failure on the walk back to my dorm because of gale force winds. This is one of only two pictures taken of this project. Savor it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Jumping Biggish Jumps

What do you do when you haven't ridden in three weeks, have barely jumped over 18" in a year and a half, and are known to be afraid of rolltops?

My leg is actually in the right place, I swear
Jump rolltops, of course.

Coach let us jump the rolltop in our lesson last Friday. The ring was flooded by most of the jumps . . . except this one. It's not that big, just around 2'0", but it's big for me. We also had another fence on blocks that was also 2'0". Our attempts weren't nearly as graceful.

Chipped in, and my leg decided it was done with me
Carlos was shockingly complacent for a green bean. He walked and trot quite fine, and I was able to work on a frame. The canter wasn't bad, but it required some micro managing and compromises in my position to keep him together. He got antsy when I picked up the reins to gather him, but after a few times of picking up, dropping, picking up, doing something, keeping contact, doing nothing, yadda yadda, he settled just fine, and we had calm transitions coming to each fence. I might have to blame it on this sick saddle pad.

In addition to not riding for a while, I'd decided to go for a run on Tuesday for the first time in a while. I was sore, no doubt, but I had some muscle reset and was able to open my knees more easily. Personally, I want to work on my two point more. I used to be able to hold it for laps and laps at a time. I want that back.

I guess another question is why haven't I ridden for three weeks? Well, first of all, I finally actually joined that frat. I am officially a brother of Alpha Rho Chi fraternity. Sounds crazy to say, especially since I was getting a bit unsure towards the end of pledging about whether or not I was the caliber student that the organization was looking for. Turns out, I am.

M O R E    L I T

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reminiscing (literally a pretty pony photodump)

So, I went for a run last night, and my phone was near dead, so I opted to use my iPod instead for music. One thing led to another, and I started looking through my gallery, digging up some old photos and videos (some of which I posted early on with this blog), including some from my first show season. Let's just say I've always been bitter about having to ride a horse before noon.

Short, cold, tired, AND bitter
Twix w/ her old owner
Baby in her short stirrup mode
Still short stirrup, but looking real good
Sometimes Duke went fast
I also used to take pictures during lesson weekends, too. Two full days at the barn every other week (sometimes every week) from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and noon to 4pm on Sundays. I'm a barn rat at heart, and I hate being an adult and having to do adult things because I get minimal barn time.

Fish/Fisher/Fish Face
Splash (he had no nicknames :/)
Todd/Toddy/Toddster/Mr Todd
The best part is that now I have copious old, embarrassing photos of Izz. Yes, more embarrassing than her walking into the ocean while wearing jeans.

My fellow barn rat
When the jump is 2' but you're dramatic
Probably smart mouthing @ me
Of course, my personal favorite.

wen u try 2 b artsy but ur horse disagrees
I also have a copious photographs of Baby, partially because I used to be obsessed with having post media, but also because she's so damn cute.

Sunset Bean
Sunset Bean but zoomed in with more sass
And, of course, old courses during lessons (I'm G-A-G-G-I-N-G at these).

This is the course from the day I decided that Zoey was too much for me followed by a more daring but laidback ride a couple months later.

As a bonus, some more recent footage of Corbinator just as spring was making its appearance, and Miss J was letting us jump competition height again. 2'6" never felt so good.

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