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).