Bounce on Bounce on Bounce

Short lesson recap!

We decided to move my lesson to Tuesday so Frankie could have a couple days to not jump before the show. Actually, starting next week I’ll be lessoning on Tuesdays in my new private spot! But this week there were two of us there.

I hopped on and actually had a moment where I thought Frankie might be sore or NQR. And then I realized that he was just being lazy and slow. And the reason I thought something was wrong is because I don’t think I’ve ever had him be lazy and slow before.

Legit my horse slows down a bit and I’m like DID HE BREAK?! Spoiler alert: no. The shift in temperature combined with his high workload made him tired. Kinda funny that 6 months in, this is pretty much the first time he’s been slow.

But he felt great once we got moving a bit more. I’m asking more and more for him to keep that poll high and come onto the bit, and it’s coming together. A better rider than I could definitely develop that more quickly, but Frankie doesn’t have a better rider as a mother. He has me. So we’ll get there when we get there.

You don’t get a diagram today, because it was gymnastic day so my rich vocabulary and vivid descriptions should serve you just fine.

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We started out warming up over a crossrail and some canter poles. And then more poles started getting lifted up off the ground and I’ll save you the progression but what we ended up with was a gymnastic on the outside- one stride x-rail to vertical, one stride out over oxer- and then four jumps on the quarter line set to be fairly tight bounces.

That’s right folks, we made the Amazing Leaping Alpaca do three bounces in a row. I am the meanest mom in the world and made him pIcK uP hIs FeEt WhY1??!11/1? He was such a good boy about it though! Required TONS of leg to get through it and it definitely wasn’t his favorite exercise, but was very game every time.

alpaca
Literally exactly like this

We ran into the exact situation my trainer warned me about- we’ve been working SO hard on packaging and collecting with our flatwork, but once the jumps go up we need to get that spicy forward motion back. That delicate balance between packaged and energetic. I don’t want to run Francis at the jumps, but I can’t be holding him together the whole time either. We need to get the energy up and get him tuned into my aids so that we can package or extend as the need arises, and don’t get stuck exclusively packaging (which is what happened in our lesson).

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HEY MOOSE YOU’RE REAL CUTE BUT THERE IS ZERO IMPULSION IN THAT LITTLE HIPPITY HOP YOU GOT GOIN’ ON

Trainer ended the lesson the way she likes to end most gymnastic lessons- going to a larger single jump set on a long approach. I think Frankie was quite happy to open his stride out after all those bounces and very obligingly brightened up to it. It was a nice physical and mental decompression from the grid work we had been doing, and the bigger height made him actually stretch a little bit.

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Bonus: I’ve started to get better about not changing my ride based on the height. I used to run my horse at bigger fences which was SUPER counter-productive, but I’m getting much more comfortable waiting to see the spot and then riding to the spot. You know, like you’re supposed to do. Doiii.

Really though, that bounce exercise was SO good for Frankie. I plan to incorporate raised cavaletti/pole work often over the winter so we can have a low-impact way to practice PICKING OUR FEET UP ALL THE WAY, HORSE.

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ALL the way up.

Frankie is already at the showgrounds this afternoon and I’ll be there tomorrow morning bright and early! Planning to follow pretty much the same schedule as last time- tomorrow is a 0.90m to get us warmed up and thinking, and then our first Low class will be an hour or so after that. Updates as events warrant!

What kinds of grids do you like to use? Have you found bounces to be helpful to get your own pet llama to pick their feet up?

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Speak Up and Ride Hard

I mentioned recently that public speaking is totally my jam. I love it, and I’m pretty confident up there! But this hasn’t always been the case- despite wanting to be good at public speaking, I wasn’t very strong at it.

I’d be so excited to get up to the podium, and I’d get up there smiling. And then my eyes would go wide and I’d get that wavery shaky voice we all get when we’re terrified. Cue the cold sweat.

I was able to speak in front of clients at a recent conference hosted my by company, and it was the first time I’ve ever gotten up there and jumped in without feeling like I needed my inhaler and a double dose of Xanax. I was able to pull up my slides, say good morning, and hop right into my topic.

And the more I think about it, the more similarities I see between public speaking and competing at a horse show of any level or discipline.

  • The preparation: you don’t present at a conference without thoroughly knowing and practicing your material. You go through your topic, update and refine your slides, and then practice practice practice until you know all of the details backwards and forwards. You study the information to be able to answer any questions that pop up. By the time you reach the podium, you’ve done your homework.

Just so with riding: you don’t get to a show and think “CRAP I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO POST THE TROT.” You do that at home until it becomes second nature, and then you go compete with your professional-as-hell posting trot. You learn the rules for your discipline, you practice your test, you practice HOW to learn courses to test your memory. You figure out what to do if something goes wrong- you do your homework so you can answer the questions.

  • The nerves: despite your preparation, you step up to the podium and realize your hands are shaking. You’ve done all the hard work and in theory everything should just fall into place, but suddenly you wonder if you can do this. But once you take a deep breath and pause for a moment, your nerves settle and you’re able to speak without stumbling. You find places to pause during your talk to catch your breath and it lends you the presence of mind to continue on smoothly even when you trip over your tongue.

You reach the show and realize that even though you’ve schooled 2’6″ courses at home a million times, the 18″ class you’ve entered looks HUGE. Everything is scary and overwhelming. But then you take a deep breath and pause, and you ride the way you know you can. You find places to stretch up and breath on course, and that lends you the presence of mind to continue on smoothly even when bobbles come up.

  • The audience: you look out on a sea of judgemental faces. “Ohmanohmanohman they probably know more than me and they think I’m an idiot.” Except no- they’ve shown up to hear you talk about the topic. You’re the one that has put in the work, and they’re choosing to listen. Suddenly you realize that they aren’t there to condemn you and pick you apart, they’re there to listen and learn.

You see the judge staring out of the booth with his judgey judge face, and pass a sea of unimpressed juniors and ammies. “They all think I’m such an idiot who can’t actually ride.” Except no- the judge will see a bazillion people that day and unless he’s a total dick, won’t actually think you’re a bad person even if you hit a rail or two. Most of those ammies have been in your shoes and genuinely want to cheer you on. Most of those juniors- well, they’re probably bratty teenagers- but WHO CARES. There are two groups of people at the show: people who are supportive and encouraging and push you to learn, and people we don’t give a flying rat’s ass about.

  • The aftermath: you finish up, say thank you, and leave the stage. Your heart is still pumping with adrenaline, but it’s in a good way. How cool was that! It may not have been perfect, and you may have said “sequins” instead of “consequence,” but probably no one noticed. You made it through in one piece and feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride that you did this.

You come out of the ring grinning and patting your pony, still trying to catch your breath. Sure, you put 5 strides in the 6 and 4 strides in the 3, but you made it through in one piece. You’re so proud of the progress that you and your steed have made.

  • The familiarity: you’ve given a couple speeches by now. When you get up to the podium, you smile at the crowd and launch right in. You know your stuff, you like your audience, and any slips of the tongue are easy to laugh off. It’s exciting in a good way.

This isn’t your first show anymore. You’re there to compete, strut your stuff, and learn. You know what you’re doing, you like what you’re doing, and a round doesn’t need to be perfect for you to have a good time. It’s exciting in a good way.

With riding, as with speaking, the only real way to conquer nerves is to prepare and then to DO IT. It’s so hard to get over fear of public speaking if you never speak in public. It’s so hard to get over show nerves if you never show.

I’ve been participating in a Toastmasters group with some coworkers, and I sincerely believe that strengthening my confidence with public speaking has a strong effect on my ability to think on my feet while in the saddle. I look at it as mental cross-training for the show ring.

As someone who has always mentally blanked-out a bit on course, I’m excited to put my new skills to the test this weekend for a strong finish to our first show season together!

What do you think of this metaphor? Do you do any sort of “mental cross-training?”

Meeeeee

I’ll have more fun updates on how training is going later this week, but until then enjoy some filler fun facts about yours truly:

  • I don’t get stage fright. I grew up doing ballet and absolutely LIVED for recitals and performances. I seriously love being the center of attention. It’s not even that I’m some uber extrovert (I’m really not), I just love having all eyes on me. It’s why public speaking is my jam. Maybe it’s from being the youngest child and only girl? Who knows. I try to not be obnoxious about it.
  • I have a theory that greater comfort with public speaking directly translates to greater presence of mind in the show ring. I need to put together a post on this.
  • I have a weird thing with lizards. I love them. I don’t know why, I just absolutely lose my mind when I see one. To an absurd extent- I saw some guy dressed up as the Geico gecko at a baseball game and literally started crying. It was out of control.
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I have shed countless tears over this picture
  • If I suddenly received a gazillion dollars, I don’t think my life would materially change. I like working, I love my roommate, I love where I keep Francis. I’d probs buy a lot of tack and then go to more horse shows, but that’s about it. Things are pretty good as they are and I wouldn’t make a whole lot of changes even if I had the money.
  • I credit a lot of the arc of my life thus far to my high school chem/physics teacher. He’s the one that nurtured my love for science and encouraged me to apply to some competitive engineering programs for college. Science and math had always been my jam, but he was hugely influential at an age where that support and encouragement opened my eyes to so many more possibilities.
  • I have a fear of edges. Not heights. I can be super high up and as long as I’m secure, no problemo! But stick me near the edge and I freeze and get tunnel vision and freak out.
  • I jumped on the bandwagon and did the three fictional character thing that’s floating around Facebook:

threecharacters

Honestly I could probably limit this to just Elliot. Pasty New England perfectionist with a penchant for making any situation awkward (“Elliot Reid, Moment Killer”). But then Hermione is my jam- loves to learn and gets shit done. And Jess from New Girl kinda has the humor- super goofy and positive.

Prepping this week for our last show of the season this weekend, can’t wait to let you know how it goes!

2 Years at Home

I had not ridden a horse in quite some time as of September 23rd, 2014.

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And then this fateful email exchange.

September 24th, 2014 was the first time I sat on a horse in years. Literally years.

I went into that lesson planning to walk and trot around for a little while- I knew my muscle memory was likely relatively intact, but my muscle strength was absolutely abysmal.

The stone-cold badass who I now proudly call my trainer had other ideas. She had me jumping a full course in that first lesson and I haven’t looked back since. She’s been kicking my butt around the ring for a full two years now.

In some ways it feels like only a few weeks since that first lesson! And then at other times it feels like I’ve always been at Clairvaux. It’s home to me.

I don’t know that I can fully describe the impact this barn and these people have had on my life over the last two years, but I’ll certainly try:

I had been so unhappy here in Virginia- even though I had some family here, I missed all my friends and was having a really hard time making new ones. Everything seemed very alien and it was just so different from home. To be honest, I was starting to look at jobs in other areas because I simply couldn’t see myself staying another year.

Joining this community is what turned my life around- I know it sounds dramatic, but I mean it. I have gotten to meet and spend time with some AMAZING women- they are driven, interesting, kind, helpful, and straight up fun to be around. I have found a place where I can go to feel centered and welcome, no matter what happens. I have re-found a part of myself that feels such incredible drive and passion for this sport.

And I have gotten to work with trainers that I respect immensely- who I trust with my wellbeing and who I trust to have my best interest at heart. They have demonstrated time and time again that they are not in this to make a quick buck- they are in this to keep us all safe and having fun while learning.

I had never even dared to dream that I might make it to the 1m division. That was so far out of the realm of possibility. But with the support and encouragement and guidance of the Clairvaux family it has all felt not only manageable, but natural. Now my pie-in-the-sky goal is a stepping stone to even bigger and better things.

It’s certainly been a whirlwind two years: I jumped into a half-lease almost immediately, started a horsey blog, re-entered the show ring, moved from 2’3″ to 2’6″ to 2’9″ to 3′ to 3’3″ in height, moved over to the jumpers, spent a week in Ocala, bought a horse. In retrospect, that’s a heck of a lot to fit into two years!

While there have been all sorts of milestones over the past couple years, I’m most thankful for two. First of all, Frankie. He is my unicorn and every day with him is better than the last. Next week we’ll spend our 6 monthiversary at a show and I know it’s going to be amazing. Second of all, you guys. The blog community. Getting back in the saddle gave me my passion back and pushed me to join in and I can’t thank you all enough. I’ve met some of my closest friends through blogging!

I’ll stop talking now. I don’t have pictures from the VERY beginning, but here’s a part of my journey over the last two years:

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December ’14: One of the first “big” jumps I did with Addy
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February ’15: Our first “BIG” jump
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March ’15: First time back in the show ring in ~10 years
2year_sunsetcanter
April ’15: Maaaaaajestic
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May ’15: Warming up for our first time in the jumper ring!
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July ’15: Absolutely killing it in the 3′ hunters
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August ’15: First rated show at HITS Culpeper doing the baby jumpers
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September ’15: Headed out for a paper chase! Dream team.
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October ’15: First time XC schooling
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Dec ’15: Addy and friends making me smile during a tough winter
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Dec ’15: Christmas time!
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February ’16: Stepping into the adult medals with Poppy down in Ocala
2year_victoriosa
February ’16: Fastest 4-faulters in our classic with Victoriosa down in Ocala!
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March ’16: Our last show together
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March ’16: Enter Francis!
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May ’16: Braving the trails with a buddy
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June ’16: Learning the ropes at our first show
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August ’16: Getting better and better at our second show

I thank my lucky stars every day that my random “hunter jumper barns near me” Google search sent me directly to a trainer I trust and respect, and who pushes me to be the best horsewoman and rider I can be.

Cheers to two years at home, and cheers to the future!

Twisty Turnies

Uh. Wow. Thank you guys! I honestly did not expect the outpouring of awesome support you guys have chimed in with and it’s totally baller. It seems that this topic really resonates with a lot of you, and for that I’m glad!

One thing I do want to ask for your help with though: let’s do our part to not make talking about mental health a “brave” action. I appreciate it so much and don’t want to sound ungrateful- but this is just opening up a conversation.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away, it’s this:  mental health struggles don’t have to be some secret, terrible thing. It can just be a thing. Obviously not a fun thing, but plenty of stuff isn’t fun and we still talk about it. Like taxes or baby vomit or that weird shade your teeth turn after a glass of red wine and you don’t notice it until you see the pictures the next day.

So yeah. Y’all are awesome wonderful human beings and I wish balanced brain chemistry for all of you! There may be only so much that a corner of the blogosphere can do to de-stigmatize conversations about mental health, but I’m hoping you’ll join me in keeping that conversation open and candid.

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Now let’s talk about ponies because we had an awesome lesson!

We’re continuing our mega-hard work and this was the first lesson where I really felt it starting to pay off in a big way.

The new fun torture training method the dungeon masters trainers have come up with is two-pointing without stirrups. And their form of encouragement is to gleefully yell “THE SADDLE IS LAVA YOU CAN’T SIT.” Luckily Francis is a remarkably tolerant horse who will bop around no matter how much I slide around up top. Thanks bud, you da man.

Our quality of canter is also developing nicely. I still have to kinda get in his way and pick his front end up, but he’s starting to realize that rocking back and balancing around the turns is not some form of devil worship.

Also very pleased with our walk- I mentioned that Frankie shortens up considerably and loses steam when I pick up the reins. With some practice and reinforcement, he’s very quickly learned that contact still means forward! I’ve been also doing lots of lateral work at the walk and this seems to loosen him up over his back at all gaits.

But let’s talk about the jumps because even if the flatwork is interesting, going zoomies over wooden sticks is actually the fun part.

We warmed up over a broken x-rail to vertical in 6 or 7 strides- my goal was to get plenty of energy up to the trot jump, and then channel that energy out in 6. Overall very pleased with this- trot jumps have always been my archenemy, but adding a little leg into my hand has made them much less lurchy!

And then here is the super fun course:

sep_twistycourse

Woof. We were given the opportunity to pick one “piece” of the course to school first- I chose the bending 9 to 10. The reason 10 looks so skinny here is because it is the skinniest skinny ever. Off a 90 degree bending turn? I wanted to give that a go before stringing it all together.

Francis is a jump-happy fiend though, so I basically opened my right rein off the vertical and he was like YES WHICH ONE OK THE SKINNY SOUNDS GOOD. And I tucked my knees in real tight ’cause I was 80% sure they were gonna bash through the standards. And all was well.

So the whole course: came through the middle to a short approach down the gray oxer, around to the bending line in a forward flowing five strides, then down the diagonal line in a flowing six strides, up the s-turn (skinny green vertical, bending four strides over the box, bending three teeny strides over the skinny rolltop), bending vertical to skinny, then coming around to the box, bending four strides to the one stride combo.

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Wasn’t joking. So skinny. Francis for scale.

Goshdarnit guys I REALLY wish I had gotten video of this. Frankie was just a pro at this whole thing. Bobbles we ran into during the first go-around: I needed to stay straighter into the corner after jump 3 to set us up for a clean change if needed. The bending 3 from 7 to 8 was tiny, so I needed to set that up and balance better to fit it in. Then I needed to support more with my leg through the one-stride at the end.

So the jumps went up in height a little and we went back and it felt SO GOOD. That better quality canter really became apparent here- I still had to sit up and help Frankie balance through the turns, but neither of us is having to work as hard at that since the balance is already there. And when I’m present with my leg and keep him straight, we get nice clean changes. And with his better balance and power from behind, combined with waiting with my shoulders to the base, we were able to make even the tighter distances powerful.

I think most telling was the one-stride: these have always been lurchy for him and I’ve had to pressssssss him through to help him out. I was certainly still there with my leg, but this had a different feel to it- he was powering through instead of heaving himself out of there. He was able to land and immediately balance himself instead of landing on his forehand and lumping through the rest.

The pieces are definitely coming together. Better fitness and better knowledge are opening up a lot more choices on course rather than accepting whatever track and distance comes up. Bootcamp is awesome!

frankie_twins
Francis also has a new turnout buddy that IS HIS LONG LOST TWIN BROTHER. It’s kinda adorable. Everyone is struggling real hard to tell the difference in this picture!

What do you think of the course? Which piece would you have chosen to practice first?

Mental Health

Riders as a whole seem to be pretty conscious of their health: physically, mentally, and emotionally. We all want to be in sync with our horses and know that in order to do that, we have to be fit in all of those ways. I don’t mean having the body of an Olympic track athlete and achieving a state of nirvana with every ride, but achieving balance in whatever way works for each of us.

Getting physically fit has always been the easy part for me. Thanks to genetics and *mostly*  healthy habits, I can maintain a decent muscle mass without too many lifestyle changes. Where I struggle, and have always struggled, is the mental game.

I’ve mentioned in many posts how timid a rider I was when I was younger- crying in almost every lesson because I was scared to jump, refusal to move up a division even though my horse could do it in his sleep, and general terror at everything my trainer asked me to do besides trotting. But not trotting too fast because that was scary too.

And I’ve also mentioned in many posts that I’m much more confident now! I still have my “oh crap” moments, but I’m much more willing to try new things and trust my mount. I’ve done so many things that scared me as a kid and had so much fun with all of it.

So I’ve conquered one of my mental blocks (for the most part….I still get a little tense when the jumps go up. At least now I’ll still give it a try despite the nerves!). But I have another mental block that wanders its way into my life every fall. SAD. No, I’m not saying that this mental block is a sad thing. I’m saying that my mental block is Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Some of you likely have dealt with this too- it’s surprisingly common among women. For those of you who haven’t, it’s basically the winter blues on steroids. Symptoms vary from person to person- personally, I get lethargic, tired, stop sleeping well, lose interest in EVERYTHING, get super anxious for no reason, and am basically miserable from October to March. Not to say that every day is a bad day or that I take no pleasure in anything, but the balance of good-to-bad days gets thrown waaaay off.

This has come back around at me for ten years now, and I’ve handled it with varying degrees of success over the years. It’s no coincidence that I’ve changed jobs/moved/picked up hobbies almost exclusively in the fall and winter- changing things up and staying busy seems to help. Being around the horses helps for obvious reasons- it keeps me active and getting fresh air. I take vitamin D and walk outside and have a light box in my office and eat super clean and cut out caffeine and do all of the things I’m supposed to do.

And that’s all certainly helped. But I still had days where getting out of bed was TOO much, and even the thought of doing something routine like taking a shower or brushing my teeth was overwhelming. And that was not ok with me. I have too many goals to accomplish and too many fun things to do for me to be fine with lying in bed with bad breath.

So I’m really happy to say that I finally talked to my doctor about it last year and we came up with a game plan. I’m not planning on sharing my medical history (any more that I already have…lawlz), but I will say that ten years in, I finally DID something about it instead of sitting here dreading the colder weather. I got to love the changing leaves and snow like I did when I was younger.

I didn’t hate winter last year for any reason besides how STUPIDLY COLD IT IS OMG. I guess I can’t blame it all on the SAD.

The takeaway? I’d like to urge any of you who deal with the “winter blues” to talk to your doctor if it starts to get too much. And always feel free to reach out to me if you just need someone to talk to or bounce ideas off. My crazy would love to hang out with your crazy.

For Sale: Antares bridle

So I did a thing. I saw an Antares bridle on sale for a great price and bought it without trying it on my horse. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Alas, my boy has a delicate TB-y face and it did not fit him, so now I’m stuck with a bridle I can’t use or return (those darn sales and their no return policies).

Let me pass my savings on to you!

The specs: This is a size 3 (oversized) flash Antares monocrown bridle. And it’s super pretty. It’s already been oiled once so the leather has darkened a bit, but it could use another deep oiling before use. It does not come with reins. It has never been used- I put it on Francis long enough to determine that he has a comically small face for such a big horse, and promptly took it right back off. Legit, it’s so new that the tag is still on it.

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bridle_hang

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Note: the flash is removable, the little loop is not

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bridle_side

I’m asking $300 to include shipping in the US, just so I can get some money back on it (retails new for about $500). I have a post on ETT on FB (I’m so hip with the acronyms), but lemme know if you or anyone you know might be interested! I’m happy to share more info/pictures.

And once someone buys this, I can get Francis one that ACTUALLY fits his purty little face. So someone please buy this. Do it for Francis.

frankie_selfie_sep
THIS FACE DESERVES MORE NICE LEATHER PRODUCTS

Goals Take Work!

A lot has changed since I got back from Greece a week ago. Obviously we’re making plans which is all well and good, but the big change here is: we’re working HARD to get there. Even harder than before.

Because here’s the deal: I can get away with a decent amount of weakness at 1m. Francis is scopey enough and tall enough that he can get out of trouble with very little assistance from me at that height. Obviously it’s much smoother and cleaner when I ride strongly, but there is a decent margin for rider error.

I cannot get away with weakness at 1.10m and up. My leg MUST be there. My hand MUST be there. I MUST make decisions on course. I will still make mistakes and I will still miss, and Frankie will still be able to make it over, under, or through- but only if I am strong enough to help him out.

frankie_tail
Not relevant, I just really like his tail. It’s purty.

So this month of training is not just to kick-start Frankie’s fitness and ability at the higher heights, it’s also to kick-start my own. As my horse becomes better and better schooled and more responsive, I have to rise to the occasion and give him a ride that supports that training. Luckily, the best way to learn how to ride strongly is to….ride strongly!

So here’s what I’m thinking about:

At the walk- insist on a forward walk with poll high, on the contact. Frankie has a BEAUTIFUL swinging forward walk….when I’m not touching his mouth. As soon as I pick up his face he assumes he should either a) walk very slowly or b) start jigging/trotting. He needs to continue that forward swinging walk while accepting the bit.

At the trot- SHORTEN MY REINS. Gone is the era of a light contact. Now it’s time to feel my horse and have a much quicker way of communicating. Half-halt more strongly with my legs to get him up off his front end and rocking back and up into my hand. Push hard inside leg to straightening outside rein to get straightness and power. He will start out with his nose in the air- that’s ok. Once he realizes I mean it, he drops down and gets to work. Don’t give up the contact. Don’t give up the leg.

At the canter- get in his way. No more half-seating around. Sit and drive with my seatbones and legs, and insist that he push from behind. Develop a more staccato, active canter behind. No overbending around the corners- that outside rein still needs to be there. Dropping down onto my hand does not equal roundness- get that poll higher and pushhhh up into the bridle. STOP WITH THE HALF SEAT. We ain’t doin’ the hunters. We are doing the jumpers and we have to ride like ze Germans. This is what works for Frankie.

Downwards transitions- he must stay light. If he tries to bear down and coast to a stop, we rein back and then try again.

Jumping- quick recovery off every jump. This means auto-release and maintaining a feel over the fence. This also means landing and immediately deciding whether to move up or woah for the add. Either will work as long as I ask ASAP. Get to the close spot- no leaving it out.

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Also not relevant, he’s just super cute.And shiny. And did I mention cute?

And there you have it! We are upping the ante and putting both of us to work. Hence the muscle soreness. I love it.

My lesson this week was really tough since we are striving for more than we did before, but oh so insightful. When I got the right canter, I could actually hear the difference in his footfalls. When I got the right trot, I could extend and collect IMMEDIATELY. When I kept my leg on more strongly, I could adjust my striding in a line and get a much quicker reaction. His responsiveness and adjustability is improving in direct correlation with how strongly and actively I’m riding.

 

HUH WEIRD. IT’S ALMOST LIKE HORSES RESPOND BETTER TO BETTER RIDING. WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT. MIND BLOWN.

What’s a time that you or your trainer decided to up the ante?

Big Plans, People

And I’m not talking about Culpeper Finals (which will also be big and I’m so excited for as a wrap-up to our first show season together).

We’re talking about what’s next. As in, post show season.

A NEW FREAKIN’ SHOW SEASON IS WHAT.

Nah seriously though the new season may start on December 1, but Mama’s gotta eat so no shows this winter. We are officially on show hiatus after Culpeper Finals until the spring. But that doesn’t mean we can’t plan!

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I have no relevant media so enjoy these screenshots from my last lesson where Trainer had me jump without stirrups. And Frankie said MAHM TINY STEPS ARE HARD Y U DO DIS DO NOT WANT

Starting in October I’ll be taking private lessons. I learn SO SO SO much from my group lessons and getting to watch other talented riders is great, but Trainer and I think that 1-on-1 attention for a full hour is going to be some next level stuff. I’ll likely be adding another (group) lesson to the rotation also, so I’ll have two lessons a week- one group and one private.

The reasoning for this is that I’m not showing for several months, and then plan to step in the ring at a new height in the spring. With my budget I don’t have the luxury of several “get  back into it” shows, so we gotta be ready for our division when we arrive on the showgrounds in the spring. I’m gonna be working my tail off to make sure we not only don’t backtrack over the winter, but that we progress and the move-up is a no-brainer.

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LOL so glad my muscles survived the two week break and I was able to not look like Quasimodo PSYCH THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN

We’re also gonna start talking maintenance with the vet come spring. Frankie is a superbly healthy horse with very low miles, and I want to KEEP HIM HEALTHY. Now that he’s living the horse-show lifestyle with much more regular jumping, I don’t want to wait to address any problems that may arise. We’re gonna be proactive about his joint health- luckily I have a FANTASTIC vet who loves to talk shop and is big on the proactive vs. reactive side of veterinary care. He actually keeps his horse at my barn so I can bug him with questions all winter.

And then looking ahead to the actual show season. Do you remember back in May when I set some goals? And my pie-in-the-sky goal was to qualify for Zone 3 USHJA Adult Amateur Jumper Championships at some point eventually? Well yeah. We’re gonna go for it. Trainer and I are sitting down in the next few weeks to plan out my show schedule to maximize chances of qualifying. It may happen, it may not, but Frankie and I are gonna work our butts off to make it there. We had a kid do the Children’s Jumper version of it this year and she said it was SUPER fun (and that the ammy teams all brought wine, so I’m sold).

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OK we do have cute moments though. Also note to Francis- THIS IS WHY WE DO TEENY STEPS. YOU JUMP LESS LIKE A DRUNK ALPACA WHEN WE DO TEENY STEPS.

So there you have it! It feels like we’re transitioning from “riders who compete” to “Competitors” with a capital C. Francis and I are having a blast!

PS- THE STUPID LIVERPOOL WASN’T IN THE RING FOR MY LESSON. Ugh. I swear I’m gonna make sure they drag it back in there soon so I can jump it. It needs to happen. I have grabby hands. I want.

PPS- Trainer said that she could really use 5 of Franklin. Cue the warm fuzzy proud Mama moment. He’s such a wonderful unicorn, I still can’t believe I have my dream horse.

Photo Perfection: Thoughts

I really liked Aimee’s post the other day on what pictures/information are appropriate to share online. I started writing out a comment but realized I had more to say! So here goes.

I walk in kinda a gray area where I don’t often share names or specifics (you’ll notice that I usually say Trainer and Assistant Trainer instead of calling them by name), but you could probably easily figure out who I ride with by spending 5 minutes looking through my blog. Between logos and barn names and shows and things like that, it isn’t a huge secret.

 

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Yeah I’m not the most subtle

So because I’m not entirely anonymous (and by extension, my trainer and barn are not entirely anonymous), I feel a big responsibility to keep things civil and reflecting well on the business. Anything that could even potentially be construed as negative towards my trainer or her business does not go on the blog. Period.

This has been super easy for me- I adore my trainer and my horse gets fantastic care. But even if this were not the case, my personal blog would not be my forum to express dissatisfaction. As Aimee said, so much of horse professional’s businesses are built on word of mouth. Their image directly correlates to their income and I decline to be the reason someone I work with loses business.

When it comes to other people on my horse, that will be a new puzzle for me. Up until now very few people have hopped on Frankie or Addy so this has been a non-issue. A few friends have sat on them and I’ve asked their permission to share cute shots before posting.

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Like when Jenn hopped on Addy and it was totes adorbs!

Moving forward, Francis is in training and I will get the opportunity to get some pics of him going with my trainer and assistant trainer. And I’m so excited to document that! It’s a serious pleasure to see him go with such talented riders.

BUT. These pictures will be shared ONLY after being cleared with Trainer or Assistant Trainer. In general I will also offer these images to them to use as example of training rides (they’re active on FB and frequently update the website). If they wouldn’t be comfortable sharing it themselves, then I will not share it.

If my trainer posts something, then she is willingly and knowingly opening herself up to criticism. If I post something of/about my trainer, she has not signed up for that criticism.

I’ve been extremely lucky in my year and a half of blogging: no crazies have darkened my doorstep. The comments I’ve gotten have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging and supportive and I love it! My hope is that this continues.

What’s your privacy policy?