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.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Vlog #14: My First Dressage Show!

Finally happened. Another goal off the list.

Song: "Aloha" by Møme

(I don't the music, but you should definitely check Møme out)

Filmed 8/11/17 to 8/13/17

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Easy Taco Salad Recipe for the Discerning Athlete

And by "discerning" I mean "couldn't cook even with the blood of Gordon Ramsey in their veins".

I tried out this recipe a couple weeks ago after finishing a work out and having no dinner planned. I went straight to the Equestri-fit Group and asked Gabriela for some ideas. She recommended taco salad. I hadn't had Mexican food in a while, so I rolled with it.

I used this recipe as my reference but decided to put a bit of a twist on it. It's easy to make one serving of this, and it's probably decent in the nutritional value things, but I don't pay much attention to all that. Just follow the 20 steps, and you're good to go.

Step 1: Rush to the grocery store directly after riding because you need to get the pictures done for this blog post before your parents return from Turks and Caicos and start asking questions.

Step 2: Venture into the produce section. Avoid buying copious amounts of blueberries while simultaneously losing it at the amount of lettuce options available. Miraculously find shredded lettuce at the end of the vegetable labyrinth.

Why is there so much? Who is buying all this???

Step 4: Mistakenly find canned chili and conclude that the process of cooking ground beef and beans separately is dumb. Also, you'd probably screw it up because, again, can't cook, y'all.

Step 5: Find tortilla chips. Find cheese. Pick up milk and Greek yogurt because you can at least prepare for breakfast ahead of time.

Step 6: Drive home.

Step 7: Time to start cooking! But first, make sure to put on your "Liked Tracks" playlist on Pandora that plays mainly all the songs you liked from 2012 when you actually used Pandora.

Step 8: Open can of chili. Realize it smells like dog food. Check the back of the can and see that it contains 16g of protein per serving. Remember that you want to get swole. Ignore dog food smell and empty into pot. Follow cooking directions (Sidenote: I do add about 1/2cup of water because this is the chunky chili).

Step 9: While the chili is cooking, sit down at your computer and ignore the open flame on your stove because being a responsible adult is a concept.

it's over there, waaay over there, in the back, open flame, 0 oversight
Step 10: "Wanted" by Hunter Hayes comes on your Pandora. You start to feel lonely. Text your Australian friend Darcy asking for insight.

I was going to have a picture here but her response wasn't PG enough for this blog.

Step 11: Hear chili in pot about to boil over. Dash to the stove and start stirring, ignoring the fact that chili is now burned onto the side of the pot.

Step 12: Reduce heat and prepare other ingredients. I did mine lettuce first, then chili, then everything else on top.

Step 13: As you prepare the other ingredients, consider making a cover of "Wanted" as a way to express your feelings in a productive manner instead of internalizing and trying to sleep them off.

Step 14: After the chili has cooled for a little bit (cause I don't like eating foods that are too hot temperature wise), pour desired amount on top of lettuce. Add crushed tortilla chips and cheese on top.

Step 15: You still with me? Shocking. At this point, you should start looking for Picante sauce. As your search continues, you slowly realize that you live in a house with Africans who don't know how to eat less than a pint of Picante sauce per hour.

All this orange juice and no Picante
Step 16: Miraculously find Picante sauce in the depths of your fridge.

Step 17: Realize that the Picante sauce is the "hot" version which your mom uses for her home made chili and doesn't let you use lest you wanna get beat.

Step 18: Take the L.

Step 19: Record a cover of "Wanted" but get nervous and don't post it because you refuse to let people know that you can sing.

Step 20: Enjoy your delicious taco salad!

Saturday, August 12, 2017


So, drowned my first iPhone after about two months of having it. Only my second fastest time killing a phone. With it went a decent amount of media (and also my sanity for a day & a half since most of the people I need to communicate with do so through text).

Trainer had to cancel last week's lesson, so I ended up having two this week on Roman. At the end of my lesson on Tuesday, I let her know that I planned on doing the show this weekend, which I thought she knew, but apparently she didn't. Many emails later, my (very) late entry was in. Bless show staff.

They dealt with me at this stage and continue to deal with me
Roman has just been his normal self lately. It's really the same update as usual: softness is getting more consistent, pace is getting more consistent, less bracing, less curling, better canter transitions, less sticky.

The canter transition is the most frustrating part because the quality of his canter is getting disgustingly good. The quality of my canter position actually took a huge step up this week on both horses. But holding myself together through the transition is difficult, and I think it's because of my mindset when it comes to cantering. Part of it is leftover fear; I'm afraid to canter thus the whole process is me trying to get through it as quickly as possible without even thinking of trying to make it look nice.

Exhibit A: Bad position means bad transition
Second part has to do with how Baby/most stock horses are trained. Canter transitions are prompt, and I know this may seem like the most obvious thing in the world because almost every discipline calls for prompt canter transitions. It's quite a bit more strict and timely when it comes to stock horses, and Baby was a horse that was always timely no matter how trash I was. Rarely did I have to deal with the whole fast trot/might canter/might not canter/probably will get the wrong lead thing because I was blessed with a horse that was beyond perfect and incredibly reliable. So, however long later, I'm still expecting every horse to be trained like a stock horse with the mind of a complete baby sitter and just step into the canter. In summary, I'm lazy. Just a matter of getting in the right mind, setting the boys up well, and putting myself in the right place to get a good canter. Doesn't have to be prompt right now.

In addition to the regular serpentines and diagonals, Miss El also had me do a modified serpentine exercise where I would walk to cross center line but have a really forward trot for the rest of the arc. The goal was to keep him soft through the down transition but not so dead that he couldn't hop back into a solid trot. We also tried a moderate spiral starting on a 20m circle in the center and circling to 10m across two circles. Goal was to encourage a true bend - stretching of the outside muscles and a lift in the inside hind - rather than him just curling away from contact.

Lastly, to add to our warm up, she had me trot him on a dropped rein while standing in my stirrups and doing one of my arm stretches. Best. Day. Ever. It was soooo much fun. Our ring is just a big field with letters and a plowed area for the Dressage ring then the rest is just grass. Roman trot everywhere with his little brain trying to process it all, and it was hilarious and surprisingly easy. No lie, I highly recommend this exercise. Zero hesitation.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Equestri-Fit Challenge Week 5

Gonna be honest, I *think* we're on Week 5 at this point, but I haven't had to do math in a while, so no guarantees here. I've been meaning to write posts all this week because I have been doing things, but my mood took a turn for the worse last Sunday, and I haven't had the motivation to do much of anything. I ended up not even riding on Friday because riding green horses when you're an emotional wreck is definitely not a good idea.

Yeaahhh not easy when your serotonin abandons you
Despite how this week turned out, it actually started out pretty good with the 8:45 mile. My pace has stayed generally around 9:00/mile, sometimes getting too close to 10:00. Most of the fluctuations come with the weather; when it's hotter, I run slower because I'm dying. Simple correlation.

Riding 5x a week has definitely put a strain on how long I can make my workouts, but the elimination of intense abs with every workout has opened up the schedule quite a bit. Things would probably be a bit easier if I didn't start every workout with a 30 minute run, but I'm not getting rid of that part. I love cardio. She is my wife.

This is complex for me because I love the squat rack as much as I love cardio
I had one pretty intense leg day this week, and next time I do legs, I'm adding in weights. 20 reps of squats is just a tad too easy right now.

I can also do 10 pushups in a row! Without wanting to quit! It's amazing!

Diet wise, I'm still pretty lost. I am very resistant to the idea of giving up carbs. I'm surviving right now on fruity toast, pasta, and overnight oats. I tell myself that since I run so much, I need the carbs, and I definitely do, but maybe not as much as I consume. That being said, I try to get protein with every meal, even if that means just popping some peanut butter on my toast instead of cream cheese. I definitely need more vegetables, and I've been tackling some of my toast cravings with salads instead. I bought a huge box of arugula, and by God I will finish it before I get back to school.

Monday, July 31, 2017


Since last year, I've been trying to find a running app that I like. I couldn't put anything on my phone because it had no memory, and I was limited as to what I could put on my iPod because it only has IOS 6. I guess the one perks of finally switching from Android to an iPhone is that I can actually do things with the phone. After visiting my aunt on Saturday, she recommended the Nike + Run Club. She uses it. My sister uses it. My cousin uses it. My cousin's boyfriend (who I am just now hearing about, what gives?) uses it. I probably have friends who use it, too, so I jumped on the bandwagon.

It's a bit confusing to use, not gonna lie, but I'm also an old woman when it comes to new technology. My skillset peaked with the iPod Nano and whatever TV came before HD. I figured out how to set up a regular run and took it along with me. The app works just fine behind music and updates you every mile. First mile, the app pipes up "Time, 8 minutes 45 seconds, one miles completed, average speed, 8 minutes 45 seconds."

Excuse me? What? Who? Me? Don't know her.

No, but seriously, I thought I was maybe just getting under a 10 minute mile since all my runs felt more like jogs while I was in school and when I got back. Mile two had an 8:44 average and mile 3 was 8:47. At the end of my 30 minutes, I had gone about 3.4 miles with an average 8:45 pace. Now I'm wondering if I can get it to 8:30 . . .

The floor is not being obsessed with cardio
I also decided to actually do yoga last night. I've been telling myself to do it for a month now, but I'd always default to abs instead. A couple days ago, I read a post by Jay Valentine where he said he doesn't work his abs, and that it's mostly based on diet, which is wild because this man is ripped. But I've always had kind of a backwards mindset when it came to my abs, so I'm trying to move away from focusing on them too much.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Growing The Squad

So remember about a month ago when I tried out Vodka? Yup, riding that one now, too, lol. I decided that three days a week wasn't enough barn time, so I sent a very direct and probably kinda creepy message to Vodka's owner, but she was cool and let me ride him. Shout out to stepping out of my comfort zone!

I decided to start out with a lesson just to get us on the right track, and I'm glad I did. Listen, guys, I've started to develop a pretty vague idea about what inside leg to outside rein actually means, but it's still kinda iffy. That being said, when I do it right, it works. Horse doesn't fall on the inside shoulder as much, less rushing, less tripping & funky steps. Stuff gets done all of a sudden. Doesn't mean it ain't hard, though.

When you ask for a canter and just get fancy trot instead
I lessoned on Monday, and Miss El made it very clear that in addition to pushing the idea of inside leg to outside rein I really need to do more no stirrup work and fix my chicken wings. Whenever the canter gets hard, I go on my toes instead of sitting up and half halting. This is probably a remnant of my terrified to canter days, but ultimately something I need to move past. No stirrup work is already something I like to do and includes more benefits outside of giving me a longer, more active leg; I just haven't really done it since I got home. I've been meaning too, trust me, but I forget, or Roman does really well so I don't feel like pushing it with him, or yadda yadda yadda. Lots of excuses I could give.

I left the audio on for once because I don't think anything I say can emphasize how much she harshed on me about my elbows.

I rode the war horse on Tuesday per usual, and he was fine but a little bit up. The stickiness returned, which is a bummer, but it didn't take as long to work out of. In terms of his frame, he was much more consistent than usual and offered some amazing canter work.

But he was tense and a bit backed off at times. I don't consider it a major issue after one ride. Trainer texted that he was a bit off on Wednesday, so she had the vet out on Thursday, and Roro got his knees cracked. Perhaps that was the issue, but I don't know. Fresh doesn't seem like it would relate to tight knees.

Since Ro had off, I rode Vodka on Wednesday, and it was pretty good minus some really bad canter work. I also traded out my Thursday lesson on Roman for one on Vodka instead, and yah, my trainer definitely hates me. I forgot to mention that on Monday she actually had me do arm stretches and hip stretches at the same time. I sit at a desk for 8 hours a day; I don't have the coordination for that. But, whatever. We warmed up to work on Vodka, then it was onto dropped stirrups for the rest of the lesson. 20 steps posting, 20 steps sitting, then onto doing hip stretches while trotting.

"Good luck. I'm gonna keep eating"
This woman is trying to kill me. It was actually somewhat successful, but staying in control and balanced while trying to do them was a task. Much to my dismay, I did canter because that's truly where the big issue lies. Vodka was a bit speedy, but he listened for the most part, so yay for that.

Truly, the boys are doing well, and I'm really happy with how both of them are going overall.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wednesday Night Lights

So this will be the last catch up post for last week. The show was a 3 day endeavor, and since Roman was leaving on Thursday morning, I opted for a Wednesday lesson just to make sure that he was set up well for competition. As usual, horse was very far away because if you live in a big pasture you might as well chill at the very back.

Trainer had me do a lot of walking to encourage forward motion and get him loose. She said he ended up being really out behind, so I was interested to see how his movement would change.

And change it did. No more sticky! He hopped right into his normal trot. There was still a bit of a warm up needed to get a good quality trot, but that's to be expected. It's looking like everything will be uphill from here (no pun intended).

His usual post rinse ride sand bath
The trot work was nice in terms of getting going. He was pulling down a lot more than usual, which is probably him saying "Contact feels bad, and my butt feels good, so let me focus all of my energy on not doing this weird thing you humans want." Thanks, buddy, I can't feel my shoulders, but whatever. Canter transitions were both meh, but the left had its merits. The right was just bad, but man I was really lax on workouts last week. Legit, after that ride, I kicked my own butt, possibly cracking it in the process.

Not relevant to this post but look at how Sanibel rolls, like lol why are your
legs like that

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tuesday Snoozeday

Last Tuesday, Roro got his hind end adjusted, and a lot was messed with, so my trainer said to give him the day off. Of course, "day off" only means I don't work him. Doesn't mean I don't get to give him the kind of unnecessary attention that I, too, constantly crave.

Turn out is great, but my horse is so far away
I mentioned a couple posts ago that Roman is always a bit sticky when we first go to trot. He eventually warms up out of it, but it takes an effort and some coaxing to convince him that yes forward movement is good. Welp, trainer decided to see if the chiro had any input, and long story short, he got his butt cracked a lot. Too cracked to ride.

In any case, leasing gives me the right to mess with the lease horse whenever I feel like it . . . well, not whenever, but you get the point. I brought him in and gave him a good, deep brushing. Horse is very fond of deep scratches and sugar cubes.

Also the hose.

And my shirt collar, apparently.

Pro Tip: Don't go to the barn dressed business casual.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Not wanting to mess up but doing it anyways

So, we're up to last Sunday's ride. Um, yeah, it was pretty laid back. Tried and failed once again to beat the heat, so things were rather light. Roro is actually at his first show this weekend! Because of that, Miss El let me pick up an extra day of riding this week which I didn't end up using because the fam traveled up to Baltimore on Monday for my brother's 21st.

Haven't even started and he's already exhausted
Most of the ride was actually really good. Like damn good. Like horse is out here taking names good. We actually had a couple laps of completely relaxed inside rein with him holding himself, maintaining his pace, respecting my leg, and filling up my outside rein. We were even going to the right, so you know he was trying really hard.

Truthfully not that bad for either of us
Two struggle areas: the serpentine and the canter. Serpentine is meh because I'm still trying to be better about the change of rein. It's still kinda confusing, and I rarely get it right, and of course Roman doesn't make it any easier. It's a process. The canter was also hard because I didn't do anything to set him up for it. I've decided to not mess around with the leg yields on my own because he isn't as straight as he should be. Since I don't exactly know where the correction should come from, I'd rather not do them as opposed to setting him up incorrectly for true leg yields in the future. Granted, that means I need to be more diligent about moving him into corners and whatnot to establish an awareness of the inside leg. And also holding myself together through transitions would be a gr8 idea.

He's actually slimmed down a bit, but that neck needs some work
This ride was actually after two days of no work outs. Honestly, I've been pretty lax on my fitness regime as of late, and it definitely shows in my riding. Perks of having a suede saddle: you don't have to guess if you're unbalanced.

Left side is doing soooo much more, which I am thrilled about . . . :^) . . . yeah, nah, time for more lunges.
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