Friday, December 28, 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Wiz

There's always a good deal of excitement that comes with a new horse, especially in a schooling barn. Add to that the fact that my trainer has loads of friends on the A circuit who like to retire their horses into her lesson program. But then there's also a good deal of anxiety because a) I'm me and b) I saw the corkscrew bit before I saw the horse and also c) I'm me.

So yes, very exciting but also slightly terrifying.

But then, I saw THAT FACE, and who can resist an actual unicorn?

This is Wizard a.k.a. The Wiz a.k.a. Wiz Kid a.k.a. Harry Potter a.k.a any other ridiculous nickname I can come up with before his owner thinks I'm weird and takes him back. He's a something warmblood that's done a bunch of amateur owner things on the A circuit. Very steady, very reliable, a real good boy. Laid back enough that I tacked him up in the stall without tying him.

But, again, the anxiety set in the moment I went to mount up. Now, here's where I realized just how perfect this horse is. First, he's a dropped rein type of ride and will go directly where you point him. At the same time, he's still very well trained and doesn't hate contact or some leg pressure. He can also take a joke, and a bad one at that.

His best quality: breathing. Not really sure why he does this, but Wiz breathes loud and deep, not enough to cause a health concern but enough that several people have commented on it. The good news for me though is that a horse doing deep breathing shockingly encourages me to breathe deeply and calm down, something that probably made our ride significantly more successful than if he didn't have this really weird trait.

I know this sounds like such a Weird Horse Girl thing, but, guys, it worked. Deep breathe with your horse. Inhale, exhale your way to the top.

He also fell asleep three times in under an hour, and I only know that because he almost fell over all three times.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018

Show Up, Show Out

I had decided a while ago that I wasn't planning on showing this academic year. Studio, work (i.e. commuting), grad school applications, fraternity matters, and even this blog take up a decent amount of my time. Actually, not a decent amount. They take up all my time. Every second. Nothing left over at this point.

But then, at my first lesson back, Coach S asked if I was showing this semester. I said no, to which she replied, "But you're showing next semester, right?" Cue panic.

We had a practice show coming up on September 16, so she recommended that I sign up for it. I wasn't sure what the format would be, but it ended up basically being a regular IHSA show but with divisions instead of individual classes. She also added a test for each division since this show was entirely flat classes.

My draws were Ed, Kodi, and Murry. Kodi and Murry I've ridden before, but Ed was new, and he was my first ride. I was holding him for most of the day as well and happened to watch him have a not so stellar class with one of the more experienced riders. Ha, love feeling . . . terrified. I ended up having a great ride on him. Ed is an experienced equitation horse, just quirky. Our ride was straightforward, and the judge said that she liked my position but my open fingers affected my placing. Personally, I think my riding is still a bit messy and unorganized right now, and I need to think through my cues and movements. My ride with Kodi was pretty much the same as Ed; both of them got lots of "Good boy"s throughout the class. I placed 3rd on Ed and 2nd on Kodi.

The test is where things kinda went south. Murry and I started fine with our entrance and trot across the diagonal, but I couldn't quite get him off my inside leg for the left lead canter, so our transition was super late and super gross. We finished the rest of our test, and the judge commented that if I hadn't messed up the transition, I would've won the class.

I actually loved the test that she had us do. It was just the right amount of complexity for where I am physically and mentally with riding. I'm typing this post as I'm waiting to leave for my next lesson, and hopefully I can convince Coach S to let us practice it again.

Also, while I'm here, as great as it's been getting back into writing and riding and writing about riding, I'm thinking it'll be easier to do monthly vlogs. Actually, through the process of creating one for September, it's a lot more straightforward than writing out posts and takes less time. Shocking, I know. So I'll have one for September and see how that goes, then maybe one for October but definitely one for November. Time will tell.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Equestrian Essentials for Fall

Now that we've officially hit the first day of fall, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorites for the season. We all know that I hate winter, the cold, and anything having to do with snow. Fall is usually the time where I start to get ready for the impeding suffering, so here are some things that help make the shift a little bit easier.

1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Yes, friends, I am that girl who will wait in a line of any length, credit card ready, to get my goblet of pumpkin coffee. I pair it either with a pumpkin muffin or a buttered croissant for a quick snack before I head to the barn. If you're not a fan of the taste, get a Starbucks gift card for a friend because I know you have one that likes pumpkin spice. We all do.

Firs Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season!
2. Pumpkin Spice Fly Spray
Since climate change is forcing warm weather well into November, pumpkin spice fly spray keeps the bugs at bay (lol horse joke) while also giving a nice scent to the barn. It's basically horse perfume. How can you say no?

3. Tailored Sportsman Pumpkin Spice Breeches
Hunter princesses, clutch your pearls. Tailored Sportsman just came out with a new Pumpkin Spice line that I've heard is quite similar to the Trophy Hunters. The main difference is an innovative CinnaTECH Fabric which infuses spices and minced pumpkin seeds into their traditional fabric for a smoother feel. You'll have cinnamon in so many places it just might revive the cinnamon challenge.

4. Pumpkin Spice Arena Sand
We've made it this far, so why not

5. SmartPak Pumpkin Spice Supplement

Disclaimer: 4/5 of these products aren't real, and if you can't tell which one is real, please seek help. Also, this post was not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned, but, frankly, it should have been.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Not dead

Who else hated this 13 month drought as much as I did?

By some miracle of god, my schedule managed to work itself into something doable this semester. I cut back to 12 credits, which was only possible since I front loaded so many classes freshman and sophomore year. I'm working eight hours a week, which is less than I wanted, but it's also a three hour round trip commute . . . gotta love the DMV.

Lessons are on Tuesdays this semester, and we get three practice rides per semester too, which is, as the kids say, lit.

I'll probably use those rides to do polework and other assorted riding things that I've missed. No, hip stretches do not fall in the "things that I've missed" category, but I'll do them for my sake.

The first ride back was fairly uneventful. The most exciting part was just my ridiculous Instagram story. Coach S put me on Leia, which was surprising but appropriate. Fun fact: when you only go to the barn a handful of times in the course of a year, the ponies start to look larger. A lot larger.

It actually wasn't as difficult to get back into the swing of things as I thought it would be. The whole ride was mostly painless, including the no-stirrup work. I can't hold my two point for very long. My lower leg kinda flops all the time. There weren't any new or shocking issues; mostly, I just need to be less stiff and keep my thumbs up. We've heard it all before, folks.

I did also switch onto Penny at one point. Besides randomly spooking then bolting at . . . nothing . . . she was a doll.

I decided to do a quick workout after the lesson, just to stretch things out and keep myself moving. If you're coming back from a hiatus, leg lifts are the way to go. The only place that had opinions was the inner thigh muscles that I used to settle Penny when she decided we were Preakness competitors.

I also bought a new pair of breeches because I'm young and dumb. Your favorite barely 20-something is back, this time with no limits.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Not to be forgotten

Hopping back into 2017 for a moment to address what the heck happened with Vodka. While Roman was basically on vacation at the end of August, Vodka was a different situation. I was only on him for about a month, but I saw major improvements in the quality of his gaits, softness, and consistency.

"Treat lady, come back"
Tack definitely made a difference in how he went. He had been ridden in a poorly fit saddle for quite some time prior to me even trying him out. During said trial, he crow hopped and kicked out going into the canter, expecting a saddle to pinch his withers. While I swapped between the Dressage and close contact saddles, I still noticed that he was much more comfortable in the Dressage saddle. At one point, I even tried out a different girth because he was just a touch too opinionated with the anatomical one.

A lot better than where we started
Conclusion: sensitive horse does better when you consider his sensitivities.

Vodka was like Roman in that when it came to giving to the bit, he would over do it, under do it, and everything in between, and it was just a matter of getting the right timing so that he would learn to be more consistent. He did get significantly more consistent.

Lots of decent screenshots available
He actually had lipstick during our last two real rides. On the very last one, he gave me a beautiful canter. I'm talking so good I almost forgot what horse I was on.

Our last ride was just a bareback one. I rode both of the boys bareback at a walk before I had to go back to school, and Vodka was a solid citizen, as is to be expected. The future with him is a bit less grim; after Miss El moved, all the boarders went to the farm down the road. Both properties are owned by the same person, and I shave about 60 seconds off my commute. Since I have no idea what I'm doing with my life post graduation, I might go home and start leasing him for real if the option is there. I guess I'll know more when I actually get my shit together.

I'll never have my shit together :)
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