Side Effects

It’s no secret that I haven’t been getting as much barn time lately. Mostly because it’s literally all I talk about on this blog #sorrynotsorry. And while this is for an excellent cause and I’m really enjoying all the little details that go into planning this amazing wedding, it’s having a few side effects.

First of all, I’m so out of shape it isn’t even funny. I haven’t been this weak since before I got back in the saddle, way back in 2014. My muscle strength is low, my endurance is even lower, and I get aches and pains way more easily. Sitting wrong in my desk chair is now cause for a sore back. Rolling over wrong while sleeping leads directly to a crick in the neck. I’m trying to build in more time for workouts before work, but ya girl here is exhausted. I’d like to at least throw in some yoga or something to help me out, because this is getting a little ridiculous.

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I mostly ride like this now (also omg look at that long-suffering face on the poor guy hahaha)

Second of all, it’s not all that great for my mental health. I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with SAD in the past (check this post and this one), but luckily I found something a few years back that almost completely eradicates all of my symptoms. It’s an expensive therapy, and very time consuming, but I can’t deny that it has helped more than any other intervention that I’ve tried.

That therapy is named Francis, obviously.

Training with him has given me a needed structure to my days, goals to work towards, forced fresh air and exercise no matter the weather (hello endorphins), regular social time with friends, and that certain X factor that comes from having a close bond with a giant fuzzy wonderful creature. For the relatively mild symptoms that I’ve experienced, the structure and love he provides are exactly what I need to feel my usual energetically positive self year-round.

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“Mahm you look like we both need head scritches I shall provide”

And I don’t have much of that right now.

I didn’t really realize it until chatting with my best friend about how I’ve been in a funk lately, and she commented on my lack of barn time. The woman is a genius, I swear.

Am I miserable? Absolutely not. I’m far too busy with wonderful things to be miserable. And I still get 1-2x a week to go see my friends, move my body, brush my increasingly fluffy pony. Things really are pretty good. And extremely necessary- especially now that we’re in the final stretch, I can’t imagine doing everything ON TOP OF spending several hours at the barn most days. There simply are not enough hours in the day.

This self-enforced break is just reminding me of what I already knew- training with Frankie isn’t just good for my body, but it’s good for my heart, my mind, and my soul.

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Sneaking It In

With just about 50 days left until the wedding, I feel a lot like a deer that someone has slipped some caffeine pills to. High alert and gangly. Now that invites are out and we’re getting RSVPs back, it’s really kicked into the next gear of our final approach.

My bridal shower and bachelorette party were both last weekend, and both were amazing. So many friends from so many different parts of my life were all in the same room for the shower which was weird and amazing- Trainer was chatting with my in-laws’ neighbors, my cousins were hanging out with my college roommates, etc. It flew by and I felt incredible loved.

For the bachelorette part, I’ll just leave you with this picture from the morning after.

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#classy

Despite my current extreme case of raccoon brain, I’m managing a sneaky amount of horse-related activities over the next month or so until I head north.

Folks at the barn are organizing a group excursion to WIHS to watch the medal and GP classes go. I’ve gotten to go for a couple years now, and while I was hoping the next time would be on Frankie, I’ll still take a seat in the stands!!

One of the ladies also organized an event at a local animal park for the barn folks. I think it’s geared mostly for the kids, but I’ll show up for anything that includes llamas and my barn peeps.

Lastly, by some incredibly lucky stroke of fortune, our annual XC outing is actually going to happen on one of the only weekends I am available to participate. I may not be actively competing, but I’m excited to get off property with Francis! Hoping we can enlist someone for more media than last year, because he is such a tank and I know all you eventing folks would love to see my weenie butt cling on as he packs me around.

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It was so fun with both of these beasts, can’t wait to do it again!!

Lucky me to have so many fun things on the calendar ❤ Can’t wait to share them all with you!

Reaping the Benefits

You know how after every single ride I spaz out about how great my horse is and how much I love him? Hope you’re not sick of that yet ’cause it’s still a thing. Sorry not sorry.

I’m really just overjoyed at how much he’s taking care of me lately. I’m not nearly in the shape I was a few months ago, my mental focus is pretty scattered, and I went around half the ring yesterday on the wrong diagonal before my trainer’s laughter caught my attention.

20 years of riding under professional instruction. And I forgot to check my diagonal.

So yeah, clearly I’m not “all there” for him right now. You know how he handles it? Happy ears, obediently going left when I have an oh-crap-turn-left-not-right moment, toting my potato butt around without complaint. It’s awesome.

I have to share our course because of how cool it was. Trainer said it was an adaptation from the West Coast 3’3″ Jumper Seat Medal Finals that happened last week- I love finals season because we get to try out all the fun Big Eq courses! We sometimes have to tweak a bit for the shape/size of the arena but they’re always fun to play with. Here it is:

west coast gymnastic course

So it’s corner oxer, forward bending 4 strides to bounce, shaped short 5 out over the natural; other natural to box in a flowing 4, s-turn out over blue in a short 4; up the outside line in a one to a three; then other s-turn also in a forward 4 to short 4.

Phew!

This course was SO MUCH FUN. Lots of rating our stride bigger and smaller and focusing on our track. That one stride to the three felt incredible. I was a Big Eq Princess in that moment. It just came up perfectly and I could sit there and look pretty as my horse flowed effortlessly through. I think that’s what being on drugs must feel like because I am jonesing for another hit of that.

I guess I’m just really thrilled with how easy this all felt for him. It was ok that I wasn’t all there giving him explicit instructions, because he didn’t really need that much input despite the technicality of the course. He rated easily, he was prompt off my leg and forward-thinking, he was straight up easy to ride.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve worked really hard to educate him to the job. It’s been a joy and has gone quite smoothly, but it’s definitely still been a lot of sweat and time. And I plan to continue putting in the sweat and the time to continually improve both of our abilities.

But right now in this in-between where I’m not super actively training, I feel like I’m getting to sit back and enjoy the outcome of all that hard work. I’m simply enjoying my incredibly well-trained horse.

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Also really enjoying his love of drinking from the hose ❤