Friday, October 30, 2009

No & no

No, I did not go in to ride Rol. And no, I did not go in to ride Bart for Andre.

Sigh. I feel like some slacker, which is something I haven't felt like in quite some time. But I'll be better enough by Monday to go in and work. And work Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday is library day and Friday maybe a trail ride and work Saturday and if I'm not careful I'll be sick again because except for Friday there is no rest. And then the 14th is the show and what test will I ride in that?

And I don't feel much like I'm working it out all that well right now.

My teeth hurt. That's the hopefully last symptom of this damned flu. I need to re-make my peace with doing the dishes.

On the good side, Lisa got to ride Bart in the lesson hopefully and that thought makes me smile.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Laid Low

TMI: it started with a cough that wasn’t from sinus. Progressed to fever and aches with more cough. More fever. Then my head exploded, a big gaping red hole over my left ear and eye that I had to keep a pillow pressed into to keep everything in there from leaking out. The fact that I was freezing was also helping to keep it from leaking out. When the worst of that pain lessened and moved to the back then the other side of my head, then I got hot, burning hot, and puked nothing but bile. Four times. In the middle of the second night my kidneys felt like they were cutting their way out of my back. Daybreak was the first sign I’d had that I might actually get better at some point in the distant future. Now I am just sick - hacking and sneezing and blowing and aching - not dying anymore, and maybe even gradually getting better.

October has been a month of horse opportunity for me. I’ve gotten to ride Rolinette regularly, work at a big horse show, trail ride, be in the fun show with the girls, and even to ride Bart in a lesson with Andre.

I simply cannot do this much, stress this much (even when it is good and pleasant stress), go this much. When the kids were small and I was strictly a SAHM, I seriously tried to never “do” more then two things in a week - generally no more than two trips to town for any reason in a week’s time. We didn’t pick this life out here in the sticks in order to go go go all the time. We’ve always felt that time spent here, with each other, doing simple things like eating home cooked meals together, would be how we defined success. A long long time ago I figured out that the pace of my life needed to be slow . . . if it wasn’t slow, I made mistakes. If the pace of one's life is too fast, one misses things.

Ah, but horses. My chance with horses. When I first got Duke, it became obvious to me that I simply breathe better with horses than without horses. When I got the barn job, it became obvious to me that I was happier still with those horses and those horse people in my life. And with the barn job, I always wanted and hoped for more opportunity - to ride, to teach, to do anything responsible and horse-y. And I got it and I did it and I got sick from doing too much too much.

Oh, I’m not saying I could entirely avoid the flu virus if I didn’t do too much: I’m just saying that its part of it, it feeds into it. Everything is connected. There are no coincidences. What I’m saying is, I’m paying attention. I acknowledge.

I have to figure out how to do it all AND slow down. Does that sound crazy? I don’t think it is crazy though. Part of slowing down is just being aware to hear the slow beat of the cow chewing her cud - be aware of that and keep that as the bass beat of my life. Part of it is knowing that saying yes to everything is not how one does it all. I have to be more present in all of it - at home, at rest, at the avocation.

Lisa says for me to come ride Friday for Andre anyway, and I will if I feel like it, no prep rides notwithstanding. If I feel like it, I’ll go in on Thursday and ride Rolinette because otherwise we’re going to have to go intro in the November schooling show instead of training. But Saturday, Halloween, and making sure all on the farm is ready for Halloween, that’s all family.
Just to keep all rides on here too, I did ride Rolinette last Friday and Saturday, neither strenuously but both adequately. Friday was mostly a tune-up for the show coming up and we trotted the entire arena and she and my daughter schooled the trail class, and my other daughter and a different horse had costume fittings.

Saturday was the fun show. Husband actually decided to come even though I had rather encouraged him to just stay home. These sorts of standing around and waiting things drive him batty. But we walked in and very soon daughter did the trail class since you could do it at any time. Lisa had suggested that I take Rolinette in the arena during a schooling break but that would have meant tacking her up very early and . . . well, I just don't like overdoing the schooling. Some horses need more than others, true. I think Lisa still thinks I should have done that as she commented that Rolinette was "tense" "without any warm-up at all". Well, she was somewhat tense in the scarey end of the arena where there had recently been killer cows on the other side of the fence but I'd schooled that two days already with just minimal improvement. I could make her do it but to do that just made her more tense, not less. And I did warm her up, just in the other arena . . . and then we did stand and wait for the class. Anyway, I thought she did well. It is funny in that I realized I'm actually less nervous for competition than for lessons. We got a third in our class . . . and I was so proud of Dianne that she and Adonis beat us! Daughter in trail got a fourth (in a very big class), and daughter in costume got a medal, and we all got to go home where I then realized I was getting sick. There ya have it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

everything together

No photos of the horse show. I'd never been to the Kentucky Horse Park -- I think they were beginning to build it maybe when I was last in that part of the world which would have been when I was about 18 and for several years before then. Didn't have time to see much of it while we were there but what I did see was beautiful. The Gypsy show was in the new and *almost* finished Colosseum and the horses were in brand new barns. Camping was full so we pulled the LQ horse trailer into tent city and didn't have water but we did have electric which meant heat and that was very important because it was COLD and at least what little time we spent in the trailer we were warm.

I think there would be too many tales to even start the telling. Lots of people, lots of horses, lots to do. In the end, the horses were happy and did well; the owner of the horses came and saw them and I think had a good time horse showing; and Lisa and I bonded I think. Of course, maybe it was just that by the time we got home we were totally punch drunk! After all, Saturday we didn't leave the show grounds until 11:30 and we were back around 5:30 am because our first class Sunday was at 7:48. We left around 3 to get back to home barn around 8:30 but when we were almost there (I mean like a mile away), a wreck had the road blocked and the fireman told us to turn around in the church parking lot where we proceeded to bottom the trailer out and get stuck and block the road ourselves. Ah, but our community came to the rescue in that the nice volunteer firemen also got us out of that predicament and we shortly did get home. I could have kissed that guy when we walked up and said, "Lisa? Is that you? Don't worry -- we'll take care of you! You are the only one I know who drives a rig this big on this road."

After four days at the horse show, I had two more to run the barn. So I'm just now home. Monday everything just went too slowly to get on Rolinette so I lunged her to get her legs moving and hopefully improve her fitness since she'd already had five days off. Tuesday things were going well but then with the vet coming suddenly it was three o'clock and I still hadn't ridden or finished so I finished, brough horses in, fed, and rode *anyway*. Oh, and let me tell you, this ride felt good. I don't know quite why. She still isn't consistent in the bridle although it is improving but boy did she have an engine and the transitions were much much better (one I could even feel picking the horse up in my legs like I remember it feeling). The cows were out and two lawnmowers and she didn't like any of that but eventually (and with Lisa's help leading the way) we conquered the scary end of the arena. Well, I don't know about "conquered" but we went through it several times so that if we do the old timer's class in the fun show on Saturday we can hopefully go through that side of the arena.

That ride just felt good all over.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rock N Rol

Yesterday’s ride on Rolinette can be summed up thusly: great stretches at the walk, sucky transitions, mediocre trot.

I rode at the same time a lesson was going on and that was a mistake because there was only this one little area of the arena that felt usable without being in someone’s way.

BUT we canter next week! It is funny, isn't it, that I haven't cantered her yet? And I'm planning on doing this test with canter? I honestly at this point have no idea how we will do. She is very inconsistent, mostly. And honestly not the best gaits. Will I be able to get her to trot off? much less canter off? without everything being short and stubby in that transition? Will my position not suck?

Oh, I bought a pair of boots! Used and cheap, the ones I borrowed for the last show. The girls and I will probably enter one class each in the Pony Club fun show which is less than two weeks away. This coming weekend is the big Gypsy and Drum show that I get to work through so it is proceeds of that that are buying the boots. But my secret ambition for some of that money is to do a clinic lesson with his name is not Pierre himself on Halloween weekend. It is secret because it seems presumptuous of me that I would be ready and in shape to be able to really take advantage of a lesson with him. My self says that when I've told other people that they should definitely take because he's so good at working with riders and horses of all levels! I need to listen to my self. And I will. It just takes me awhile to broach the subject out loud.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rol-lin' with it

Rolinette and I didn’t work too hard today -- and it was cooler too which helped us both be comfortable. I let her free walk around the arena in both directions, steering clear of the menacing cows now in the neighbor’s field at one end of the arena! Then I began working her at the walk, gathering her together and then asking her to stretch down alternately. I got the best stretches I’ve ever gotten out of her today, and working on it with her I felt as though I were asking her to understand what I wanted her to do almost more than I was asking her to do it, if that makes any sense -- like we just have to learn to speak the same language. So again and again I asked her to come together (often doing 10M circles or half turns) and then to stretch down.

Then we would trot. As always, her trot started very choppy but she seemed to loosen more quickly today. After she was going I tried to ask her for that real trot she has, just a bit. I’m not sure if I got it or not but all in all the trot felt very good. We did a number of transitions, trot to walk to trot to walk to halt, etc. It seemed she had a tendency to fall into the circle at the trot which honestly is probably my weakness with that outside rein. So she’ll teach me that.

We went back and forth several times between walk and trot work. And then we stopped.

I probably didn’t pay enough attention to my own position today. I lengthened the stirrups a bit more today but I’m still unsure as to which is best for me. I rather like them longer. I certainly enjoyed myself on her and I think she is warming to the idea that we’ll be partners for this time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

trail ride -- Shay

Three blessed hours in the saddle. I think that’s what I’ll say after every trail ride. I grew up riding a lot like this. I don’t think a horse has to work on bending and extending and collecting and stuff all the time. ALL the time. There will come an opportunity in almost every trail ride to engage in these things so one doesn’t need to introduce them deliberately.

So, Shay is a youngish horse. He has thirty days of trail riding training on him so he is capable, trail wise, of doing anything, tackling most any situation he finds himself in. Our last trail ride, we just walked and relaxed and didn’t ask much. This time we did the same for the most part, but it was a much longer trail and so we decided to begin addressing one of Shay’s issues. He actually seems to do fine by himself but he gets very nervous, nay, a bit crazy, if he feels like he is being left behind by the “herd”. So what we did was that I trotted ahead a bit and then walked. He was fine with that and Pogo was fine with that. Then Pogo came up and passed us and trotted ahead. Shay was most definitely NOT ok with that. He got all light in the front and bucked some (but thankfully not very athletically) and threatened to spin and just generally went to pieces under me.

I asked that Pogo just go on so that Shay and I have a chance to work through it -- to allow him to go forward but not too fast and not allow that bucking stuff to get him what he wants. Because I could just feel him saying, “I’m going to intimidate you into letting me have what I want.” So of course, I’m not going to be intimidated. But I am mindful of the dangers of getting thrown off way up here in the National Forest. At least I’m not alone. And have my helmet on. So anyway, we do the leap frog stuff a couple of turns and he’s always nervous but he does get better about letting Pogo go ahead of him a bit. It even made Shay nervous to just trot behind Pogo -- again, he was fine (if slow) leading, but nervous following.

The other thing was a blowdown over the trail. We crossed it on the way up without incident but it looked scarier on the way down. Pogo was led across it and sort of bunny hopped his rear legs over it in a big effort. When he did that, Shay lost it. Both front legs off the ground although he didn’t really raise his body in a rear. Spun a bit. Threatened to buck. Again, I think it was the fear of being left thing because as soon as he believed me that Pogo was just standing on the other side of the log, he settle right down. He crossed the log in good form, backing right off from his urge to rush it when I asked him to settle down.

It was a good long ride. Our legs were numb and the horses were wet. Seeing as how I was a bit sore from riding Rolinette earlier in the week, I was really glad to get this ride in to help work out the sore.

Which, speaking of Rolinette, we decided our tentative goal with her was to ride Training Two at the JEF schooling show which is in five weeks. I’m excited. I was not wanting to be so safe as to go for Intro. But we’ve got a LOT of work to do.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I should start with just the facts. Although I feel like I have about fifteen posts rolling around my brain. On Monday I lunged Rolinette. I guess keep in mind that there is nothing to do with horses that I haven’t done before . . . but most of it has been thirty years ago. And lunging is something I taught myself from a book when I was in high school. And that there is nothing that I do exactly like Lisa. And that how Lisa does it is right. I don’t mean that she is terribly dogmatic about it. I do mean that she is my boss, and it is her horse, and I always feel wrong. That’s my sh*t. So anyway, the lunging. The first day I just felt uncoordinated. The second day with Lisa I felt uncoordinated. The third day by myself everything felt better, stronger, more confident. I mean, it is just walk, trot, canter but she was more responsive and kept the canter and had the go and just seemed more coordinated herself too.

Tuesday we tacked her up, lunged her just a bit both directions (and again with Lisa there I felt less capable rather than more -- that’s like social anxiety disorder or something, but still, it was better than before), and then mounted up. I’d ridden her once before but quite some time ago. I am very honored to be able to ride her. She is a truly nice horse. I mean, she can move. And she has go. And she is willing mentally.

So of course mounted I feel like an idiot again. Sit back. Sit tall. Sit back. Use your seat first, not your legs first. Keep that outside rein. With Rol, I almost feel like I could think about it and she would know and do . . . except we don’t quite know each other that well yet and my position is not steady enough yet. Her mouth is a feather, and she tends to curl up behind the bit, and so I felt tentative with the contact and yet evidently need more. My seat needs to be more there, and if it is there, and that outside rein is there . . . well, we did have some good steps. I mean some awesome steps.

So I will basically be trying to ride her 3X week. Maybe an extra day if I get to town for anything else. That in itself is a huge challenge for me because of the regular work -- at a barn none of it is something that can be put off until tomorrow, except maybe raking the isle. But we have fewer horses now so that makes it easier. The schooling show is November 14, five weeks from now. The goal is to do Training test two. I am very excited by that actually because I was anticipating needing to not be disappointed to just ride an Intro test. I may be so ambitious as to try to take an Andre lesson too. Let me get through a week or two of riding her and see. He’ll be here Halloween.

When I taught myself and my horse how to lunge when I was in high school, my dad was amazed that I could make this horse go around me and do what I said just because I said it. The horse would have been Dusty, the palomino who was really gorgeous but did not like to be ridden. He taught me how important attitude was in a horse.