Friday, July 29, 2016

Houston, we have a canter

Well, a better canter. A more appropriate title would be "Houston, we have a right lead," even if it's a bit rushed. Max is really trying his best despite the physiology not helping him out all that much.

Whatta ham
Max and I had our last lesson at Miss El's on Tuesday, and he went back to his home on Wednesday. He was actually supposed to go back on Monday, but for some reason we got an extra two days. Totally worth it, tho. He keeps getting more and more consistent with less BTV moments and taking more contact. For the moment, he still likely to lean, but we didn't have much in terms of rooting or giraffing.

The biggest focus for the day was softness in the transition. Thus far, we have allowed a hollowing and giraffing through the transition with a correction once the transition is complete; this is basically where the walk to canter and trot to canter transition are because, well, he's not super balanced and we've gotta let him do what he has to do at this point. The walk to trot and trot to walk however are ready for the softness part. If anything, it'll be fixed once I deal with my lack of attentiveness and general bracing through transitions. I've made a mental note of it.

After some very successful trot work (including some nice, soft ankle sitting trot), trainer asked if I wanted to give the canter another shot, to which I mainly thought "Eh, really?" That little voice in the back of my head really didn't want to do it, but we've been in this place before, so I sucked it up. I was aware that it wouldn't be fixed that week, but if you don't try then you're guaranteed to get nowhere. An attempt opens up the possibility for progress.

image from Pinterest
We started to the left and BAM! Instant improvement since the last time (when was the last time, again?)! His pace dropped by about half, and he was waaaaay softer. He still fell in, but there was a lot more sitting up through the turns and circles. We got the right lead on the first try, even though he broke to the left at one point, but he was quick about correcting himself. We finished on that, exceptional note.

"Let me be" -Evee, probably
Then it was on to pony squishing with miss Evee (possibly Eevee, no one gives me the full story). She's a medium sized (possibly small, again with the limited background information) Chincoteague Pony that's owned by one of the boarders. I haven't been on a pony this small for a while, nor have I been in a Dressage saddle for a while. Soft knees, guys, soft knees.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fashion Thursday: me? blue? where???

me? blue? where???
1. Jack Jones Men's Striped T Shirt
    no longer available
2. HUGO BOSS Textured Leather Belt
3. De Niro Salento Greta Blue
4. Charles Owen Leather Look AYR8 Helmet
5. Wilker's Hunter/Jumper "Winning Colors" Saddle Pad
6. Hunter/Jumper Memory Foam Half Pad
7. Horze Supreme Grand Prix Men's Knee Patch Breeches
    no longer available
8. Tekna S Line Jumping Saddle
9. Noble Outfitters Perfect Fit Glove

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Goals Part 2

So what, exactly, do I want to do in the near and far future that I'm so hesitant to commit to? Well, it's a couple of things.

1) Get a saddle

Yeah, I want my own again, mainly because I hate getting to the barn at school and having to fight gladiator style over a Toulouse. I really just want something that fits me and that is adjustable enough to fit a decently sized range of horses. If anything, I'll get a cheap, shimmable half pad with it for good measure. The main reason that I'm hesitant is because I don't want to make that kind of investment then bring a lease horse home and have it not fit them at all.
I want it, idc what hunter peeps think

2) Lease a horse

And that brings us to the second point: leasing a horse next year. I mentioned in Vlog 1 that I was thinking about leasing Beorn. I just texted Steph today, so we'll see how that turns out. If his owner is open to it, and I'm able to play my cards right, I'll hopefully be able to work with him during the school year and bring him to this side of the bridge in early May. If it doesn't work out, I'll be trying horses in the winter (and maybe some before the summer ends depending on what Steph sends back).

Other than Beorn, I already have a couple horses that I've been meaning to ask about. I have sent one Facebook message about potential leases. Still waiting to hear back on that. Ginger from the IEA barn is also on my list, but, as with many horses, I don't think Miss Jan would be open to an off site lease, for obvious reasons. Ginger is also a very very nice horse and will likely come with a very very nice horse price tag. I've looked at some horses online, and there's a handful that mostly fit the bill while hitting the low end of my budget. If anyone wants to free lease their 3'0" eq/first level Dressage horse to me, a failing internet personality, let me know.

Cute but expensive
3) Qualify for things

The first thing would be IHSA regionals which I put down as a goal for this year not realizing that it takes significantly more points to qualify than with IEA. Plus, I only went to three shows total, and would have had to place first every time to qualify. So, that's getting moved to next year because of a mistake on my part.

My big goal would be to act like a real adult amateur qualify for the Ariat Medal and/or one of the MAEF medals. I'm still bitter about last year, and I will compete at MAEF if it kills me. The Ariat medal has been a part of my plan since last summer. I was hoping to do it with Music assuming she was sound & sane enough (remember, fox hunter), and if she wasn't I already had another horse lined up. Realistically, I could lease her, but the cost of maintenance, training, and board and feed doesn't make it a sound financial option for me.

I'm hoping to start the 2017 season back at 2'6", then go up to the 3'0" if I feel comfortable enough.

4) Go to HITS or Upperville or something

Local shows are getting boring. I'm a new woman. Let me live.

Also wanna eventually show Dressage because it's looking more and more like that won't happen this year because of time constraints. In terms of skillset, Max is coming along, and I have another lesson tonight. I don't doubt his abilities at all. It's just a matter of scheduling.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fancy, dancy mustang

Because that's what Max is.

Yes, you, ya cutie
Sure, he'd be a bit fancier if he lost some weight and could get his legs under him, but he tries. After a discouraging second ride, I was pretty excited to have Miss El right there to help me with Max last week. Granted, that second ride was certainly the calm before the storm, and we're still in the aftermath, but the eye has passed over, and we can now move forward (literally and metaphorically).

As mentioned in Vlog 3, my ride on Tuesday was straight outta Tartarus. Basically everything we had accomplished on Sunday was completely gone. It was argument after argument with 0 softness and a ton of negative tension. My hands were heavy enough to break some skin, which doesn't happen unless I'm being excessive. Max shut down on me, rightfully so.

ne pas bien
No doubt I was upset about that, and I was ready to go crying to my trainer about how I'd ruined all her work. I took Wednesday as a day to settle myself. That's actually when I started writing that Goals post. I set up a lesson for Thursday and kind of went into it with a "whatever" attitude because I was convinced I'd destroyed this horse past fixing.

But let's be honest, most horses are pretty forgiving, and Max is most horses. He was still happy to approach me in the pasture, and he's quite cuddly by nature. I was just happy that the horse didn't hate me (and yeah I'm anthropomorphising a bit, but LET ME LIVE). Miss El got on him again, and yeah it took an effort, but she got him back to where we were on Sunday. Then, once I got on and we got going, we made even more progress. I had been thrilled with Sunday, but this was even better. A horse in the hand is a horse in the hand; there's no faking that, and it feels a helluva lot better than ripping open my ring fingers.

Then came Friday, and holy mother of all that is good. I'm on a completely different horse than I was a week ago. I mean, look at him.



Underneck where???? (ok, it's still there, but it's gonna be gone by the time I go back to school)

And to think I wanted to be done with trainers, lmao. He was wonderful on Friday. Right from the start, he was significantly less inverted. He responded better to just my leg and the cluck, and I could be lighter on my whip cues, plus I didn't get a huge reaction every time. We did some very nice serpentines, and he's gotten better about not dropping his shoulder or falling out/in depending on what we're doing. We even tried some extensions across the diagonal, an while those have a long way to go, he freaking did them. No questions asked. When I watch the videos, I get chills every time I see his neck muscles start working.

If I feel comfortable enough, I do want to show him. Miss El has told me that the canter will just need a lot of work on a lunge line because right now he just pulls down because he doesn't yet have the muscles to balance himself properly. For now, it's a lot of trot.

lots of rolling, too

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Vlog #4: I Can't Find A Lunge Line

In all honesty, this vlog wasn't really planned at all. I just filmed some stuff.

Filmed Friday, July 22, 2016.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


So after yesterday's disgustingly-sad-with-cliché-inspiring-last-paragraph post, it's time to pat myself on the back for the times that I've managed to kick ass and take names. Beckz from I Will Jump Sweet Jumps (arguably the sickest blog title) came up with this awesome blog hop.

In chronological order . . .

The start of my 2013 show season, when I showed Duke in long stirrup and pleasure pony. He was losing it, but guess 👏 who 👏 kept 👏 it 👏 together 👏. Course when I thought he was finally chilled out during the combination hack, he ended up booking it through the line and took a daring distance to the second fence. I stayed on, though. Props to Duke for his athleticism.

There was also that time I bombed my way through the o/f classes only to win the flat because you can't have a refusal when there are no fences to jump.

After a rough season, Baby & I finally qualified for the medal final and made it over everything, then switched it over to the hunters and got reserve champ in low hunter.

Literally everything that happened with Enzo and Zoey.

My very first IEA show, I was mor-ti-fied to be on Willow. By the time I'd gone over the second to last fence, I was ready to be done, and that's the only reason I took that inside turn. All I could think while going to the gate was, "Get me out of this ring, get me out of this ring, get me out of this ring." I was also worried because I got three strides in the line when Miss J specifically told us to get four (literally, her exact words were "There is no reason why you should get three strides in that line."). The f@%k yeah part? I won it, and at the end of the day, the barn's trainer thanked me for how I rode.

Hitting 3'0" with Babes and Corbinator.

My first real jump school on Music was so awesome I nearly cried.

Pulling it together on Pixel to get a 2nd at my third IHSA show.

Beorn. Just Beorn. I was blessed on that day.

And also all of these pics of Baby make me feel happy 💕

To be clear, this isn't every picture of Baby that makes me happy. These are just the ones I could find. There are a lot more.

Friday, July 22, 2016


I believe this is only my third year actually have specific, well noted goals to accomplish over a course of 12 months. Unfortunately, this is my second year having to scratch most of my goals due to life circumstances.

from College Essay Guy
To be quite honest, it's frustrating. I spent the whole year excited to come home and get back to riding the mare. I took the time to plan and prepare, including a back up plan. I knew what I wanted to do for the next two years with a horse that I felt comfortable on and had faith in. Then, at the hands of others, none of that was possible anymore. Getting a text that just started with a "No . . ." crushed me. The things that I'd hoped for and daydreamed about every day while walking to class were gone. On top of that, I hadn't ridden for a while, it was now highly uncertain when I would ride again, I had no new content for this blog and had painfully watched my stats suffer (I do actually care about this thing), and I had hit a very deep emotional low, one I haven't experienced in years.

I grew spiteful. I was angry at everyone and decided that, since other horse people caused so many problems, I didn't want to be well associated with them. I didn't want a trainer. I didn't want someone else's horse. I didn't want anything close to a "barn family" because I felt like that concept had screwed me over more than once. I was going to do it myself. So, I opened my laptop, and I looked a horses for sale, then I looked at their prices, then I looked at my bank account and had to make myself take several seats because wow that was a complete over reaction.

from Neurodivergencey of the Day
After some back and forth, Max came to be, and I know exactly what I want to accomplish with him. I am also looking forward to going back to school in the fall and continuing my work with the equestrian team. I have begun planning for next year, but the process is filled with hesitation because, well, this crap could happen again. There is a lingering sense of dissatisfaction; after all, much of what happened only occurred when I was in school, many hours away and unable to do anything about it. This isn't what I expected, and it's going to take some getting used to.

But I do have goals, and dammit I'm gonna achieve them.
Preferably with your cooperation

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

Some oversight

So, Max and his buddy Oaklee are staying with my trainer for the next week or so while their owners are away on vacation. Hooray for me because Miss El finally got her own place, and it's right down the street from me. I could bike there if I wanted to; I could probably run there if I really wanted to. I took a lesson yesterday because, well, I need her to understand fully what I'm dealing with so that she can better assist me in the long run. Max is full of resistance, and while he does go, we can go better.

Miss El hopped on before me and basically softened him up so that I could be more successful once I got on. I've never been a big fan of letting a trainer ride my horse before I do because it makes me feel like I'm mooching off of someone else's work rather than putting in my own effort . . . but let's be real, I needed her. My version of getting a horse soft is never touching the reins and hoping that they magically understand the concept of contact through me whispering Phillipe Karl quotes into their ears.

Or I have Oaklee do it
When it was my turn to ride, it was a wow moment. Max felt like a completely different ride, mainly because his ears weren't at my eye level. There was suppleness. I like suppleness. It was mainly trot work with some long breaks; the weather has been brutal lately going back and forth between severe thunder storms and uncomfortably high temps. By 9am, it was probably pushing 80 with 0 cloud coverage.

We had some work at the canter, but it's still pretty rough around the edges. Long story short, I need to get my own whip.

"Say what??"
I also got some shots of Sanibel and Fi, which is always nice.

Friday, July 15, 2016

July's 10 Questions

Thanks, L for giving me a reason to talk about myself.

1. Do you actually always pick the horse’s feet? Always? Really?
Like 80% of the time. If they've been out and the pasture is mostly dry, I shrug it off. Otherwise, I pick.

2. What is the biggest obstacle/reason preventing you from becoming a professional or competing full time with ease?
Money, y'all (and partially no license, but mainly money). That being said, I could be filthy stinking rich and still try to find ways to cut costs.

not my life, unfortunately - image from giphy
3. Do you think it will ever not be about the money?
Nah, not in this world. I think we could easily (more or less) start promoting less than fortunate riders so that they can get their foot in the door of more opportunities.

4. Was there ever a horse that you loved and really wanted to have a connection with, but it just never panned out? Details.
There are a handful, but I think the one that affected me the most was Enzo. It was my third lesson with Miss El, long after the end of my show season. Previously, I had ridden Seren in my first two lessons, and Seren is . . . well, she's Seren, but she can take a joke (if it's a good joke). I'd heard mainly horror stories about Enzo, so when I was told that I'd be riding him, I was mortified. In contrast, Fi was super excited for me to be on him because she's insane. Needless to say, I survived, and I did it with a brand new understanding of contact. Enzo was a horse whose face was nearly off limits, and for me, Handsy Helen, being able to overcome that after a half hour and have him stretch right into my hands was basically magical. For much of the previous summer, I had been telling myself that I wanted to switch barns that fall, and Enzo made a strong argument for Miss El. Plus, he was for sale. I totally saw myself achieving things with crazy, permanent giraffe, ex-stallion Enzo. Then, Miss El went her own way, and Enzo was sold, and I haven't heard anything about him in over a year.

Miss ya, bud :(
5. What is one weakness in your riding that even your trainer doesn’t pick up on, only you?
I can never catch a break, so she ain't missing nothin'.

6. What is the biggest doubt/insecurity you ask or tell yourself in your head?
I have a whole schmorgesborg of doubts and insecurities, and no one is bigger than another. They are all equally prominent and persistent. Probably won't ever grow out of them.

7. There is a barn fire. You are the first person to discover it and see that the roof is collapsing in slowly, and you can tell that it’s going to come down any time. Do you call people first, or head in straight to save the horses?
Kinda morbid, but ok. I'd call first. People need to be aware of the situation. If I could, I'd go in and do what I can, but that's not advisable considering common sense and my asthma.

8. What is one event in your riding career/horse/anything that you’re still not over, even though you might tell others you are?
It's less individual events and more a culmination of things. I mean, my show anxiety didn't just come out of nowhere, but it didn't take only one show to screw me up.

*casually tries to sleep off anxiety*
9. If you could tell off one person you just don’t like, what would you say?
Nothing. Odds are, if I really don't like them, then they aren't worth my time.

10. Have you ever seen questionable riding or training practices, but let it go/ignored it? How do you feel about it in hindsight?
Happens relatively often if you show on a popular circuit. I can ignore (to a point), but I do not let it go. The trainer and/or rider (mainly depending on age and experience) will always leave a sour taste in my mouth. At my first IHSA show, the ring was riddled with obviously poor fitting tack and many martingales that were far too short, but at that point you can't do much else than grimace.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fashion Thursday: American Man

Since it's still American Independence Month, and England didn't make a full brexit out of North America until the War of 1812.

American Man

1. Hanes Men's Graphic Tee
2. Woolrich Hudson Belt
3. IRH Elite Extreme Riding Helmet
4. Horseware Platinum Torino Self Seat Breeches
5. HKM Flags Saddle Pad
6. Wintec 250 Dressage Saddle

Monday, July 11, 2016

That balance nonsense

Today, I was finally (FINALLY!) able to do a proper right facing oblique. It has literally taken all 6 months for me to achieve this, and while it still has some way to go, I'm glad that my body is actually responding to the tougher parts of my workouts. Work on your weaknesses until they become strengths!

look @ that collapse (image from Your Tango)
Related also are my weighted lunges. I've realized that my physiology while doing those is quite similar how I am on a horse, at least on the upper body aspect of things. My right side collapses, and it's much harder for me to recover on my own two feet than it is on a horse. Solution: lift the right shoulder. Even though I had no issues during my last ride, I'm labeling my collapse as something sporadic. Yeah, it's probably a part of my actual, natural anatomy, but it screws with my flatwork, so I need it to not.

Horsey things, my most recent delivery from Divoza came in. FedEx said it wasn't going to get here until this upcoming Thursday, but surprise surprise, my mom thought UPS was delivering something for her, but it ended up being for me. Score. While I didn't get enough to qualify as a "tack haul", they're all coolio items, so I'm gonna vlog about it (eventually).

What could it be?!?!?
Also, please someone kick me in the shins if I don't discuss my most recent ride with Miss El sometime tomorrow.
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