Ermagerd I’m Alive!!

Hi everyone!! I miss you all tons.

Long story short: I’ve been dealing with some health problems over the last few weeks, but am doing MUCH better. So get pumped to see hellomylivia showing up on your feeds because I’m back, baby.

And what better way to return than to give you a classic lesson review? Rhetorical question. There is no better way.

So when we left you we just had an amazingly awesome adventure cross country schooling, and I was gushing about how much better things have been going now that we adjusted her feed.

I also tried riding tackless. Hilarity ensued.

The good times continue to roll.

We’ve been doing lots of no-stirrup work because my trainer is a masochist believes strongly in No-Stirrup November, and canter work has been focused on softening. Once she realizes that we’re going to canter (and presumably jump), Addy gets very excited and doesn’t tolerate my leg very well- not that she misbehaves or anything. She just moves sideways. And jigs. And puts her head in the air like a giraffe. And does her absolute darndest to avoid all my aids so she can just freakin’ run already.

To correct this, we’ve been doing a couple things:

  1. Walk work is hard work. Walk work is not just waiting until we can go faster. Over bending, changing the bend, leg yields, shoulder-fore, anything to break up that forward momentum and encourage Addy to soften to my aids. It’s interesting- she’s so responsive when she’s keyed up and gives me beautiful lateral work if I can convince her to remain walking.
  2. Short ends of the ring are an opportunity to create more bend and soften her jaw. Locking at the end of the rein is not where we want her.
  3. If I’m not getting a response by asking nicely, start asking not so nicely. Otherwise I’m just dulling her to my aids.

This is definitely a work in progress but I can definitely see the progress happening! I could absolutely let her lope around on a loose rein and she would be very content to take me, but that’s not what the goal. Our goal is adjustability. Taking it back to basics and asking her to respect my aids even when it means she has to work her muscles harder.

Now that she has a princess crown on her butt she thinks she runs the show.

Then time to jump! After warming up over a crossrail a couple times (which went well despite Beastly trying to drag me to them), we started putting together different exercises.



We began by doing the broken line C-D. This was a steady 5 strides when we trotted in, and I really had to bow our track wide to fit that in.

Next was going up the green box and rolling back over the brick wall A-B. Once I remembered to steer with my legs and not just my hands the turn to the brick went well.

Then course time! It was A-B-C-D-E-F-G: up the green box, rollback over the brick, up the broken line in four, back down the outside vertical, and up the diagonal line in three.

Fun fact: I sang Row Row Row Your Boat, Happy Birthday, and Oh Canada while on course. “Why were you singing?” you ask. “Olivia, you sound like a goose fart on a foggy night, your own father said so,” you exclaim.

The only thing better than singing on horseback? Drinking wine on horseback. Outside. With a friend.

Dear Reader, I agree. My singing voice is atrocious and I pity anyone in the vicinity when I start grooving. BUT. My main enemy on course is tension. Tense rider = tense horse = DragonMare going 203948398 mph. Relaxed rider = relaxed horse = hit every distance because we’re actually communicating.

So yeah. I sang to force myself to breathe.

And whatdya know, it worked! I was able to plan out my ride and follow through with that plan because I wasn’t starving myself of oxygen. Go figure.

Overall I was really happy with this lesson! I feel like we’re getting to work on more of the subtleties of riding instead of having to wrestle around a course.

A few exciting updates: this Friday a saddle rep is coming out the the barn to measure me/talk to me/whatever saddle reps do, and she’s going to help me find a saddle! I’ve been riding in a borrowed saddle for a year now and it’s very comfortable, but the woman who owns it is 5’2″. I’m just shy of 5’10”. And most of that is leg. You do the math. I’m really really excited to look at saddles and find one that I don’t have to fight against to get the right position!

And then this weekend is clinic time! Unfortunately Kip Rosenthal is sick and can’t make it to VA, but we’ve got Paul Matthews teaching our sessions and Dr. Ann Reilly giving the talk on sports psychology (if that name looks familiar, it’s because she literally wrote a book about sports psychology for equestrians). I’m in the 3′ section with some fantastic horse-rider pairs and I’m so excited to learn!

I also managed to take a shower, slap some paint on my face, and convince manfriend to take ridiculous pictures with me at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. In case you were wondering about non-horse shenanigans.

In the works blog-wise: a stocking-stuffer guide for the horse-crazy peeps in your life, a clinic recap, and show updates (spoiler alert: it involves spending a week in Ocala).


17 thoughts on “Ermagerd I’m Alive!!

  1. Britt 11/19/2015 / 2:38 pm

    1) I award you major cool points for wine on horseback. Why have I not done this yet.
    2) I sing all the time to get myself to relax. Staying Alive always feels pretty accurate, but I like to mix it up depending on my mood- lots of Frank Sinatra (Fly Me to the Moon) happens on XC.


    • hellomylivia 11/19/2015 / 2:49 pm

      1) I don’t know why you haven’t done this but I HIGHLY encourage it. For real.
      2) Ooooh I’ll have to jam to some Sinatra next time! I really sound like a creaky door hinge but hey, whatever works, right?


  2. SprinklerBandits 11/19/2015 / 4:04 pm

    Glad you’re back! šŸ™‚ I’ll join the win-on-horseback club. Can we do it via skype?


    • hellomylivia 11/19/2015 / 5:06 pm

      I’ll let you know next time and we’ll totally get you in on video chat šŸ˜‰


  3. Karley 11/19/2015 / 4:17 pm

    welcome back!! Glad you are ok!!

    Can’t wait to hear about the clinic!!

    Oh man, no tack- so brave!


    • hellomylivia 11/19/2015 / 5:07 pm

      Eeek so excited for clinic stuff!!! And all I can say about the tackless adventure is that I’m glad Addy is such a safe beast haha, I was bouncing around all over the place


  4. Rebecca 11/20/2015 / 8:37 am

    Woot, welcome back! Abby looks perfect with her crown. I totally used to sing as well to force myself to breath – it’s a great trick.
    Wine on horseback um yes.


    • hellomylivia 11/20/2015 / 9:10 am

      Forever wine, forever horses, forever wine on horses. Match made in heaven.


  5. draftmare 11/20/2015 / 9:22 am

    When I first started cantering my instructor would have me sing my ABCs or tell her what I liked on Pizza, anything to keep me breathing and keep me relaxed. Even now I have a bad habit of holding my breath when cantering, and have to fall back on what my first instructor use to have me do!


    • hellomylivia 11/20/2015 / 9:27 am

      That’s so smart! And it definitely makes such a huge difference, I’m going to have to have conversations over my courses from now on šŸ˜‰


  6. emma 11/20/2015 / 10:14 am

    love her clip job!! and also very badly want to ‘wine and ride’ now haha


    • hellomylivia 11/20/2015 / 2:03 pm

      Isn’t that little crown the cutest thing?! It was such a sweet surprise šŸ™‚ Wine-and-riding is the best thing ever and you definitely need to do that ASAP


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