PS- I’m still in the process of responding to comments, but I can’t express to you just how happy I was to read all of your encouragement and positivity yesterday. I should’ve known that my blog people would be the best. Seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the wonderful supportive people that you are. I’m one lucky girl to have a tribe like you all. I raise a Dorito to you as a toast.
PPS- The farrier came out and Addy’s feet look 1000x better! He said he sees this type of thing happen a lot this time of year with the new grass, changing ground conditions, heavier workload, etc. and said that he would keep a close eye and trim more often since her feet are growing so fast. He said glue-ons or going barefoot are options if we want, but he wasn’t concerned about the health of her feet- any weaknesses were superficial and looked worse than they really were. Big sigh of relief. I’m still going to chat with Owner Lady about any other steps we can take to make sure Beastly maintains her nice healthy tootsies. Thank you all for the amazing information!! It was beyond helpful and I feel like I could actually carry on a knowledgeable conversation about hoof health.
PPPS- I like to think I’m moderately talented at a variety of things. Keeping the “wordless” in “wordless wednesday” is not one of those things.
I have hemmed and hawed and debated and changed my mind about sharing this post, but goshdarnit I’m proud of my hard work and I want to share that with my readers.
Over the last few months, I’ve gotten in shape. Lost a few pounds, toned up my muscles, and I honestly think I’m in the best shape of my adult life.
I haven’t really gotten a great reaction to this when I’ve mentioned it to people, and it makes sense. I’ve always been on the slender side, and literally no one wants to hear the thin girl talk about getting in shape. The kinder folks brush me off with dismissive looks and little laughs and the “bolder” people tell me that I don’t understand the true struggle of getting into shape, as if it’s some club that I don’t deserve membership to.
And who knows, maybe I don’t truly understand the struggle like someone else would. We all have our own struggles and approach them in our own ways. But I’ve made some lifestyle changes and worked hard, and I’ve seen the changes in my body.
I really can’t blame them for not seeing the same changes though. They can’t see that my stomach now has real life abs under the squish instead of being pure squish. They can’t see that my legs have gotten more toned and muscular, and they didn’t see me running 2 miles (which is 1 mile more than I’ve ever managed). They have no idea that my leg is more stable over jumps or that I can post without stirrups for a longer time, and they have no idea that when I walk into work without limping from muscle soreness, that is a victory my new muscles have given me.
I’ll agree with those who have told me that I can’t take credit for some of this- I’m genetically predisposed to be fairly lanky, and I still have my early-20s metabolism. But I’ve been cooking healthy food for every meal instead of ordering take-out, staying super active, and drinking tons of water, so I will take some of the credit. To the people who have told me to “enjoy my metabolism” or that it’s “just good genes,” I’d like to point out that my healthy choices have made a difference in my body. It can’t all be metabolism and genes. I’ve chosen to make healthy choices even when it was easier to take the unhealthy route, and I’m thrilled that it has shown in a tangible way.
I honestly don’t know what I’m hoping to get from this post- I’m not asking for congratulations or kudos from you all, because Addy has clearly shown her happiness that I’m not as floppy as I once was. I’m not really asking for encouragement either, because I’ve gotten that from manfriend as I’ve kept up with him on a run, and from my trainer as she’s seen me wrangle the Beastly Unicorn around more difficult courses. I’m especially not asking for anyone to diminish what I’ve worked hard for, because I’ve gotten plenty of that in real life as well.
Forgive me if this sounds defensive. It’s not meant to be. I suppose that the real reason I’m sharing this is because I have made such amazing connections with so many of you, and friends celebrate their accomplishments together.
Tomorrow I’ll go back to talking about the ups and downs and successes and setbacks of a working ammy. But today I’m going to take a deep breath and smile at myself a bit and eat a GIGANTIC freakin’ bag of Doritos because GOSHDARNIT I’M SO SICK OF CHICKEN. And I hope you’ll be eating Doritos with me in spirit.
PS- Thank you times a million to Jenn from Stories in the Saddle, who encouraged me to celebrate and write whatever the heck I feel like and forget the haters 🙂
Or more accurately, today I’d like you all to talk to me about hooves.
Addy has pulled enough shoes lately that the bottoms of her hooves are starting to get a little weak and crumbly, and we’re starting to get a few cracks. She is not tender, sore, ouchie, sensitive, or otherwise in any sort of pain that I can determine- and I’ve poked, prodded, scraped, massaged, and gotten all up in her business. She’s super chill, but I’m pretty sure she would’ve given at least a little reaction if something fishy was going on. I’m glad she’s not hurting, but it means that I’d really like to take care of her feet before they reach that point.
I’ve talked to Owner Lady and right now our course of action is to use the super-duper herbal hoof ointment that she has to lock in moisture and keep it from getting any worse (it’s homemade and seriously better than any of the chemical-y stuffs. I’ll see if I can grab the recipe to share with y’all.) until we can get the farrier out to take a closer look later this week. We’re waiting for his professional opinion, but one of the options might be to take off her shoes and let her feet grow back without any nail holes for a couple months. That would be a bit of a bummer since we would have to keep the jumps lower and probably slow or stop showing for a while, but I’d much rather her have healthy strong feet. Shows are just a fun perk.
Sorry about the pseudo-radio silence this week, my browsers have been acting up. I was saying that it was my internet acting up, but I’ve been reliably informed that my internet is just fine, and it’s just that all my browsers decided to go on the fritz. Oh well.
Anywho, this week has been super great in some ways and super sad in others. Let’s get the sad out of the way so we can focus on the good.
The entire farm is at Upperville. Sob. They’ve been absolutely kicking butt and grabbing tons of satin with their awesome ponies, but I’m not there with them. Instead, I’m watching the livestream during my lunch break when my stupid internet browser is working. This also means no lessons this week, so I only got to jump little tiny jumps instead of doing big fun courses.
Poor me, right??? HAH.
On to the good! Addy and I had two super productive “homework rides” on both Monday and Wednesday- we were both sweaty and out of breath by the end. We worked on similar things both days in different ways- accepting the contact and collecting.
One thing I’ve mentioned before is that Addy will move off when I pick up my reins. Smart pony is too smart for her own good. So I’ve started picking up my reins and really utilizing our walk instead of letting her assume that walking always equals relaxing. She’s still not convinced, so she spends a lot of time prancing and wiggling, and I spend a lot of time half-halting. It’s the funniest thing- this bombproof horse that will jump the moon turns into a snorting fire-breathing dragon as soon as we turn the speed down. Lots of leg-yields, haunches-in, turns on the forehand, etc. as well as circles and serpentines to give her something to focus on besides jigging along. I’ve already noticed a difference in her willingness to accept this, so I’ll just have to remember to consistently incorporate more walking into our flat work.
Addy has gotten much more sensitive and responsive to our lateral work at the walk, so I’ve started incorporating that a bit into our trot work as well. She leg-yields like an absolute pro, and our haunches-in have improved by leaps and bounds. She definitely lets me know that she’s working hard by getting snorty and prancing, but she so clearly wants to please. It’s awesome working with a horse with this kind of work ethic! I’ve also been working on my sitting trot and maintaining the power through that- to make it easier to sit, I often just ask her to slow down and we lose power. Lately I’ve been trying to keep my leg on more strongly so that we maintain the power, and just package it up into a nice round bouncy trot. I need someone to film this! Pretty Girl seriously turns into a fancy dressage horse when I ask her correctly, and it’s gorgeous (from what I can see in the ring mirrors). We got some beautiful foamy horse lipstick from this work. I also had some trot poles set up so we could get her legs moving and stretching and take regular breaks from the collection and lateral work.
At the canter, I’m working a TON on our adjustability. We can hand-gallop all day long. She does not need to practice a nice open stride. She needs to practice a short bouncy stride. I know that’s very hard for her to do, so we’re doing it in short sets to help build the muscles she needs to carry herself more. Any line set on normal 12′ striding is too short for her natural step and I need her much more responsive to me so that I can tell her when to shorten or open up. We’ve definitely gotten much better at this that we were a few months ago, but if we want any success in the jumper ring then I need her listening to my cues to wait to the base of the jump instead of charging and taking fliers. Holy crap this takes so much leg. It’s always my instinct to take my leg off when I want to slow down, but oh em gee that is so not correct. When I add my leg, I can basically get Pretty Girl cantering up-and-down beneath me with very little forward motion. It’s a super cool feeling to get her so compacted and powerful and waiting for my cue.
Until she sees a jump.
Then, she absolutely loses her mind and runs at it unless I’m holding HARD. I do think that part of this is the 20* drop in temperature, getting rained on in turnout, and lack of jumping in the last week or so. But Beastly Unicorn ran right at those crossrails I set up and took off hand-galloping away from them. Never dangerous, but if you don’t particularly like going fast then you would have had a terrible time riding her that day (I had a fantastic time haha).
We tried two exercises with varying degrees of success. One was a single crossrail that we approached from both directions, first at the trot and then at the canter. As simple as you can get. I really wanted her waiting to the base and maintaining a steady rhythm instead of laser-ing in on the jump and blowing through my aids. I also wanted her waiting after the jump, but that definitely needs more work. If you check out my Instagram, you can see a short clip of Pretty Girl giving me exactly what I asked for!
The other exercise we did was a simple line set in a normal 3 strides. I wanted her waiting for the 4. As you may know, Addy is very comfortable doing a 3-stride in a 2, and getting the 3 means she has to a work a little. Putting in 4 means she has to work extra hard. She gave me the 4 when we trotted in, but got so excited cantering in that even getting the 3 was a struggle.
My suspicion is that there are a few holes in Addy’s training, and that if we can patch those holes we can go higher and higher. She loves jumping, but needs to keep her brain in her head instead of losing her mind and galloping at it. She loves having a job to do, but needs to accept the contact so that I can accurately communicate that job.
And if we always have rides like we did this week, then it’s gonna be AWESOME to patch up those holes. Despite the snortiness and the prancing and the goofiness, or maybe because of all those things, I had a ridiculous amount of fun on both rides. No frustration, no drilling of any one particular thing, just working together and building our strength so we can keep doing awesome things together. I adore this mare.
Maybe we can even get good enough to go to Upperville next year 😉
What has your “homework” been lately? What basic things have you taken a step back to work on?
Yeah, I know that was months ago. Cut me some slack.
But I finally made some real progress on finishing my coffee tables that have been disassembled and sitting in various places since February! The painting is just about done, all that remains is spraying a clear protective coat to get it nice and glossy.
I had originally tried spray-painting everything since I had luck with that technique before, but the cheapo material basically told the spray-paint to eff off and it looked like a cancerous growth. The ugliest tables ever. Manfriend dutifully sanded down a section below the topcoat to see if that would help. It did not. We had to give up on my spray-paint dreams.
Sand-acrylic paint-sand-acrylic paint-sand. Blue for the panels because why not, and white for the frames because white furniture makes me happy. I can’t wait to get these finished up and back in the apartment!
Infinite gratitude to manfriend’s parents, who let me put my crappy tables in their garage for weeks, put up with me blasting movie soundtracks while I painted, and gave me super helpful tips on how to make it turn out the way I wanted. They are the best.
So that was Saturday. I woke up early Sunday morning with aches in weird places from stooping over those tables for hours, and made my way out to the Upperville Colt and Horse Show with D’Arcy (lesson/show/real life bestie) to help the team get set up for the week!
Yes, I woke up at 7am on a Sunday to get prepped for a show I’m not even riding in.
But it was seriously so much fun! We were able to get all the stalls ready for the horses; converted one into a baller grooming stall- complete with rubber mats, shelving units, white board, and tons of hooks; created a dressing room by moving some panels around- complete with mini-fridge and a zippered door; and set up one of those fancy areas that every barn seems to do. Mulch went down, drapes went up, flowers were hung, tables and chairs and chests were places, and it looks AMAZING.
You might be able to kinda see the church pew that the rider is sitting on, and that comes from the Clairvaux Abby over in France- cool piece of history we have at the barn! The dressing room is directly next to the seating area on the right, and the grooming stall is first on the left. There were still some plants and trunks to set up, but you get the picture.
I also had the chance to perform some circus acts yesterday. The outlet for the aisle was about 20 feet in the air on one of the tent poles, and no one could reach. So they start looking around for tall and immediately look at me- I’m really not that tall! But apparently not-that-tall was still the tallest person there, so I was volunteered.
We tried putting a step ladder on top of a garbage bin. Still too short. But we did not admit defeat! We simply stacked a hay bale on top of the bin and put the step ladder on top.
I managed to climb my way up, plug in the cord, tie off the baling twine, and make it down in one piece. I was shaking like a leaf and nervous-sweating like a pig, but we have power! I posted a little clip of that adventure on my Instagram, but I’ll be sharing the full spectacle soon if you care to see me risk death.
D’Arcy and I took the scenic route back to the car after everything was set up. There were so many incredible setups under the tents- people put down paving stones, set up fences with gates, planted flowers, and I even saw a fountain. No joke, a bubbling little fountain. It’s amazing what people put into this week-long show. The showgrounds themselves are obviously stunning- big beautiful rings with trees growing right in the middle, shaded stands for spectators, food and vendor stalls everywhere, and of course GORGEOUS horses. I could’ve watched people go around their warmups all day long. I adore Addy and she is a stunningly beautiful creature, but these horses just floated over the ground.
I’m hoping to head over on Saturday or Sunday for a few hours to watch some classes and cheer on our riders! Of course I would rather go every single day to hang out at the showgrounds, but my boss put the kibosh on that pretty quickly. Heartless.
So excited to ride with D’Arcy tonight on her first day of her half-lease on Gracie. All horses, all the time. Boom.
Have you seen any amazing setups at these big rated shows? And how on earth does everyone manage to re-do furniture and make it look so easy and awesome??