The Little Things

I’ve been knocked flat on my back by a killer sinus infection all week (seriously I have never experienced such excruciating sinus pressure before), so I was absolutely ITCHING to get back on my horse.

Spent roughly three days like this: bathrobe, slippers, and snuggly pup.

I managed to join one of the lesson groups on Thursday, and we learned a lot!

Well, I learned a lot. Frankie kinda has his end of the bargain covered.

This lesson focused a lot on polishing up the basics. In the words of my trainer: “This is easy stuff, so do it perfectly.” No pressure or anything.

But in all seriousness, this was a fantastic lesson. I’m not going to outline every stride of it (spoiler alert: we walked, trotted, cantered, and popped over some little jumps), so here were my big takeaways:

  • My stupid toes point straight out. If you’ve ever seen a picture of me jumping, you already know that this is my bad habit. I have no idea where this habit came from because it never was a problem as a junior, but unless I’m being very conscious of it, my toes point straight out and I jab my horse in the ribs with my spurs. Frankie is extremely tolerant of this, but I’d rather not test that tolerance and poke the poor guy unnecessarily. TOES MUST POINT FORWARD.
Even though my new spur straps are SO PRETTY DO YOU EVEN SEE HOW PRETTY THEY ARE
  • Frankie loves to round over his back into the bridle at the canter. This is a new feeling for me, and it’s a good one! The only problem here is that sometimes he’ll stretch and drop his head so much that he drops right onto my hand and hangs there. This is where I need to refine my half-halt to maintain the stride while re-balancing him up off my hand. I’ve had a couple successes here so now I’m trying to internalize that feeling so we can get it every time. My instinct is to pull up with my hands and that doesn’t do anyone any good- when I half-halt from my seat and just use my hands to balance and contain the energy, we get some GORGEOUS movement.
  • I need to use more outside aids around the corners. He’s such a big guy that he needs a little extra support keeping his body together, so I need to let my hands be softer and use my legs to keep that energy flowing. I got some great homework for this: ride about 5ft in off the track so we’re not just tempted to fall out to the wall. I LOVE getting homework!
  • Don’t drop him when we walk. After cantering, I like to give him a walk break on a loose rein so he has a chance to catch his breath before we proceed. BUT. When I ask for that downwards transition, I shouldn’t just let my reins get longer and fall down into the walk. If he gets used to that, he could start rooting if I DON’T immediately give him a loose rein when we walk, and that would be killer in an eq class. My goal is to get clean downwards transitions, continue walking on the contact for a bit so that he knows we’re still working, and only THEN loosen the reins to let him stretch.
  • Auto-release is the name of the game. Frankie will jump the jump. And I can set him up for the next jump. But wouldn’t it be great if I could land ALREADY setting him up for the next one?? I’m generally pretty strong in my jumping position and Frankie is nicely adjustable, so nailing that auto-release is going to be what puts us into the next level of continuity and smoothness through our courses. My trainer has promised to call me out on this and remind me to work on this in every lesson.

We learn something new with every ride! This weekend we’re planning on doing a little trail ride and I’m SO excited to get my seasoned foxhunter outside to play around. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m in awe that I get to call this horse mine. I’m learning so much from him and above all, we’re having fun together.

Show update: our first show will likely be the Loudoun Benefit show at the Upperville showgrounds mid-June. The plan right now is to do a 0.90m class to see how we’re feeling, and then give the 1m a try. I reserve the right to change this plan at any time, but I’m feeling very determined to give the 1m a go!!


Also: one of my trainers has assigned us a challenge. You know those 30-day challenges that you see on Pinterest where you do more squats every day or something like that? It’s like that. You can pick any 30-day plank challenge or sit up challenge, and if you don’t notice a difference in your riding at the end of 30 days, you don’t have to keep going. I will be doing a plank challenge, and would love your help in keeping me accountable!

In case you were wondering how the DragonMare is doing, Frankie lives right across the aisle from her and I still stuff her face with treats every time I see her ๐Ÿ™‚ Frankie is my best boy, but Addy will always be best girl.

20 thoughts on “The Little Things

  1. Allison Stitzinger 04/15/2016 / 9:11 am

    So many things to comment on! 1. THOSE SPUR STRAPS OMG 2. You and Frankie are adorable together. 3. To help the toe-out thing, sometimes it helps to think about rotating your thighs IN from your hip joint, a lot of times that habit comes from your whole leg rotating out. 4. I bet you will see great results from your challenge! I started working out for real a couple months ago and already feel stronger. 5. I think it’s just awesome that you have such a cool horse and can now refine a lot of things in your riding ๐Ÿ™‚


    • hellomylivia 04/15/2016 / 2:07 pm

      1. THEY’RE AMAZING I’M OBSESSED 2. He’s the actual cutest creature I’ve ever seen. 3. I’m definitely going to try that! I suspect you’re right and it’s more of a whole leg problem than just a toe thing. 4. I’m feeling motivated to get stronger and ready for shows, can’t wait to start seeing results! 5. It’s really cool to start adding more polish and subtlety!


  2. Stacie Seidman 04/15/2016 / 9:37 am

    I hope you’re feeling better asap! Nobody has time for sickness when horse show season is coming!
    LOVE the Mane Jane’s! I have a belt from her in that color.
    Your lesson sounds exactly my lesson when I was in FL. It all boils down to more leg doesn’t it? <> sounds so simple.
    I’m so happy things are going so well with Frankie, and also glad that the Dragon Mare is still in your life โค


    • hellomylivia 04/15/2016 / 2:15 pm

      Already on the mend, just a minor cough that’s already fading! I have too much to do, I have no time for silly infections ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I saw your belt and I loooove it!!! Next time there’s some room in the budget, I’m totally treating myself to a matching belt.
      What’s that shirt you have? The answer is always more leg!
      DragonMare is getting tons of love and gets along well with her new neighbor โค I'll give Frankie a big smooch and a cookie from you ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. heartofhope10 04/15/2016 / 10:15 am

    Those spur straps are gorg! So glad you are having such a blast learning new things about your boy. You two are going to have a great show season!


    • hellomylivia 04/15/2016 / 2:19 pm

      Can’t wait to get out and show!!! And trail ride and go XC and do flatwork and jump big jumps and do everything together haha โค


    • hellomylivia 04/15/2016 / 2:22 pm
      Their customer service is AMAZING and they can do pretty much any combo of colors and charms that you could possibly want!! I seriously can’t recommend them enough ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Erin 04/15/2016 / 12:57 pm

    Hope you’re feeling better! I feel dumb but I never connected rooting to just letting go of the reins. Duh! We don’t have that problem at the walk but the halt is a whole other story.


    • hellomylivia 04/15/2016 / 2:21 pm

      Feeling tons better, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I never made that connection either until my trainer pointed it out!!!! Thank goodness for trainers, amiright??

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lauren 04/15/2016 / 2:48 pm

    Um, those spur straps make me wish my new horse will need spurs so I can get something as pretty as that!


    • hellomylivia 04/15/2016 / 3:47 pm

      I vote you get some of those tiny little spurs so you can have the pretty straps no matter what ๐Ÿ˜‰


  6. Abby F 04/15/2016 / 6:05 pm

    Glad things are going so well!! I’ll be at Loudon with my jumpers, maybe I’ll get to see you guys go!!


    • hellomylivia 04/15/2016 / 9:52 pm

      Oh my gosh yes!! Def let me know when you’ll be there, I’d love to meet up!


  7. Kelsey 04/16/2016 / 6:02 pm

    I love the idea of doing one of those fitness challenges! My friend Jess and I force each other to do them all the time. Throw in my sessions with my personal trainer, and I am getting my ass kicked hahaha.


  8. rachelum33 04/18/2016 / 11:03 am

    Glad you are feeling better. A snuggly puppy really does help the healing process. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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