Monday, November 30, 2009

winter memories

The perfect rainy winter day. Saw almost no one. Cold and rainy but didn't bother me much. Work went well. No riding though. But it is just so glorious to be there by myself with the horses and the dogs and the cats and go through all the day's tasks and think my thoughts and do what I like to do.

What I have been thinking about lately is why Meredith Manor was such a good experience that I would love to have three months of again . . . or a month of.

One has to remember that I went there in 1979, when the Manor prided itself on its drop-out rate (50%) instead of its retention rate. That is, it was tough. Very tough. And it had very good riders as teachers. Like Kay Meredith was right then and there on Domino competing internationally. Denny Callan had Zenith as a young horse and was getting scary high scores on him at Training or First. And Struby wasn't so bad (can't find a link but really, she was pretty good) and was riding at Prelim then with that giant horse she had (can't remember his name). And many more (forever thanks to Jeanne Vaire Dake especially). They could and did ride. And we watched them. We watched them ride and get instructed. I actually got to see Col Lundquist teach. And Herr Schmidt ride (and the little horse, Nipper, look surprised he could do it so well). And Kay and Domino would unfailingly bring tears to my eyes with every demonstration Kerr (which they don't call Kerrs anymore).

It was great because it was riding Four days under instruction an hour and a half. Four days also with your training colt which was another hour and a half of riding. And one day of show. And you changed horses every week. And you had a pool of horses so you knew some of them and some were new to you. And you rode in a group which meant you could watch how other people handled the horse you had last week, and find out whether or not you could get your horse to do something this week that he wouldn't do last week. It was great, wonderful, timely, natural feedback on how you were doing; how good you were. It was far better feedback and meant more than the grades (which were always in line with what had really happened though) and the ribbons.

It was great because we had Mrs. M once a week and she was So were the others but she was tough in a different way. It was great because I had Holly and Benson and all three of us were good and pushed each other and also helped each other and somehow weren't threatened by the other perhaps because we each had different strengths and weaknesses and we knew what they were too.

It was great. I would love to have that level of feedback although I might not could take that level of intensity again.

Different teachers, different horses, different riders, and lots of all of them -- and no guarantee of success. But every opportunity for it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I rode. It was good.

Well, maybe not "good". There's much to work on. She wasn't too sticky but she was still very inconsistent and I thought, work on the head not bobbing around. I had fun. I think even she had fun. I think she missed the regular work truthfully.

And I got to talk with Lisa about it some. Not much. She doesn't talk much, really. But it was good. It was what I needed I think. Between the ride and the talk, maybe I can stop chewing this bone to death.

I love Lisa and I love Rolinette. And gawd but I love riding.

Monday, November 23, 2009

cowgirls don’t cry, ride baby ride

I’m feeling overly dramatic. I rationally know that. Get back on. Ride.

But today I technically had the time. I hadn’t specifically gotten permission and I’m funny about that with someone else’s horse. I figure I pretty much have standing permission but I still like to get specific permission for every day I ride. I went to get her out of her stall and something didn’t feel right. Was it a real something? I don’t know. I returned the videos and went to the grocery store instead.

And then Lisa came by and asked if I’d ridden and I felt like a slacker for not having done it. I do, in some sense, feel thrown off and I know the only thing to do is to get back on and ride.

So I’m really sure I will not have time tomorrow to ride. But Wednesday I’m only doing evening chores and I’m going in in time to ride! Period. Swear.

Tonight’s turn-out was interesting in that Romeo decided to jump out of his field. Actually, they came running and he couldn’t get stopped. Wasn’t hurt. Turned them out in another field. Will have to fix that fence in the morning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

disappointment to discouragement

I said I wouldn't get discouraged.

I lied.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bless Me Epona

Bless me Epona for I have desired more than I could achieve.

I have so many different levels going on with this one. I am sorely disappointed in myself. I did not ride well. I did not solve the problems that the day and the horse presented. She always takes awhile to warm up BUT in the warm up she was nervous because of parking on one side of it (which didn’t affect the show arena) and I didn’t end up warming her up adequately. I opted to keep her calm and not upset by not working beside the horse eating monsters. The other option would have been to try to work her through it and that is perhaps the option I should have taken.

Or not. It is hard to tell. But I was disappointed in my ride. She was sticky with no impulsion and she was inconsistent as h*ll. The two go together in that when she moves off forward, she is more consistent.

OTOH, we got a 64.5 which ain’t bad, and placed third in our group. Seeing the video, it wasn’t so bad. Well, except for her head bobbing and her not tracking up which was exactly what the judge said. The best part of the score was that I got a 7 on rider position/effectiveness which I would always always aspire to that. And she was absolutely beautiful. And the braid was finally nice.

And everything everything about getting ready was fun. The weeks long prep, the prep this week, the working yesterday, getting there early today, shopping the used tack sale, seeing all my friends.

My children tell me that there is an entire box of ribbons in the building from the old days. And a framed thing of my blue ribbons from Meredith Manor when I won Reserve Showmaster Champion. But I won that on the strength of a choose your line jumping class where it is going for it that matters -- where I actually took my calm horse and hyped him up before going into that ring.

Sigh. Truth is, I love it. I love all of it. I love seeing people I know and have fun with do well as much as I love doing well myself.

Thank you Epona for all the blessings you have visited upon me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

not the usual

Today was the rare day of being at home and being at the barn -- perfectly domestic and perfectly equestrian. I didn’t work but went in to practice braiding and to ride. The braid is getting better and Lisa showed me her technique, different than the two others I’ve tried so far (and I’ve only ever done it three times total), that will undoubtedly work even better. And the ride was good -- muddy but good. We worked most on trying to trot a straight line, halt, and get back to a trot still straight. She wants to wiggle mostly on the upward transition. We worked on relaxing while maintaining impulsion. She stretched and walked pretty nicely today. We did canter but that was not so good but that is ok -- it certainly convinced me that we were right to not to training level quite yet.

But what was soooo great about today, at the barn, was this: I got given a very hard time! Which means, to me, that I am loved and respected. I don’t need a bunch of this froufrou “oh you are so good” “oh you just rock” crap. I have my insecurities and people are welcome to tell me they are silly but I really find that cheerful “supportive” crap to be like cool whip -- fake and bad for you, not to mention insubstantial. You can’t depend on it or on the people who engage in it.

Today the farrier came by and said he’d come just to see if I could really ride. And in response Lisa said that her horse would make anybody look good. I loved it! And later, when she was inspecting my braid, she said, “It is good from here to here,” which was about the middle third and she was right but that was quite the taskmaster of her and I loved that too. I’m very pleased with where my braiding is at this point but it isn’t all the way there yet and I do want to get it there. Seeing that yes, it is good from here to here helps get me there. “Oh, that is wonderful,” won’t get me there.

The show is Saturday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ride, ride and ride again

Sunday was four blessed hours in the saddle on Shay . . . and in the woods right behind my house! Totally cool. I've alwaysalways wanted to explore that whole place, have a map of it in my head. So now I have a bit more of it. I am very Laissez faire when it comes to trail riding . . . and my FHF who takes me trail riding is a bit more task oriented. So I told her to just brief me before rides or whatever, what are the goals, and really, I'll be glad to do it but left to my own devices I'm perfectly happy to just be in the saddle, be in the woods, be with a friend, be.

I worked for the regular Saturday person on Saturday (she was at adult dressage camp! -- doesn't that sound cool!) and so I rode. I didn't ride as hard or as disciplined as I had planned honestly. I was helping the ladies with their patterns and a few pointers and since I am riding the same test as one of them and had hoped to ride the same test as the other, they asked me to get on while they were there. They also knew I'd begun cantering Rolinette and wanted to see what it looked like. So I got her out and only did a fairly quick warm-up. She's not the most relaxed horse in the world anyway, and particularly not at the "scary end" of the arena, but what the heck, we went for it. First I rode Intro B and while there are things to work on, it wasn't bad. Straightness on entry. Need to work on that transition from halt to trot without getting crooked or tense. Bend. Bend. Bend. Good impulsion at the walk. Some relaxation at the trot (while still having that engine hopefully, and not being behind the bit). Anyway.

So on a lark I said, heck, I'm going to get her to pick up canter once in each direction and then we'll ride T2! We did and we did. And it was fun. Maybe not pretty but fun. It'll be there in the spring.

Monday we worked much more regularly and harder and also did both tests and had fun. I'll hope to get two more rides in before the show on Saturday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ride and ride

I'm behind. In more ways than one.

So, I missed a week of work and riding with the flu. I needed the rest honestly. I went back Monday and was ready. I'd missed the barn. Wednesday we had an interesting case of colic -- a cribber mare who got a new and effective stop-cribbing collar and she colicked from the frustration of not being able to crib. At least that's the theory. That's my gut on it. She'd get over it, given time. Like a smoker. Like an alcoholic in DTs. If she didn't die first of of course. That was after a day of both the farrier and the vet at the barn, and getting sawdust after being out which meant I bedded almost every single stall. So it was a long day. But fun.

So I didn't ride on Wednesday, which I knew I wouldn't before it even started. I did ride, just a tad, on Monday. Almost only enough to introduce Rolinette back to the saddle, and me back to the saddle. Tuesday I rode with a bit more gusto. Lisa was still at the barn and came out because she wanted to be there the first time we cantered. We also discussed which test I would ride in next week's schooling show, deciding to do Intro B instead of Training 2. It's the canter thing. I've no doubt that Rolinette and I could DO T2 but also no doubt that we could not do it well. We're still working on just getting her consistent in the bridle and moving forward with relaxation so . . . Intro B is entirely appropriate. We'll set our sights on doing Training by spring.

So Tuesday we did our usual walk, contract, stretch warm up, and trotted a bit. Then I rode Intro B with Lisa watching and she gave me pointers. Like prepare for that turn down center line! Not that I don't know to do that but even knowing sometimes it just doesn't happen! Like acknowledging that I'm either going to get knocked for not enough impulsion at the free walk or not enough relaxation and stretch so go for the impulsion. Sit back sit backsitback!

Then we cantered! LOL! She was very good responding to the cue. Me, unpracticed. She likes right, she hates left, so we did right first and she did great. It felt somewhat jerky but not too bad and I didn't feel too bad to me (gawd knows what I looked like). Then we went left and it took us three tries to get the correct lead and it was much, much rougher. But it was like that on the lunge line too. I don't think this horse canters ever on her own because two circles in each direction and she was huffing and puffing. Of course, so was I.

Ah, but she is so beautiful and I'm having so much fun with her!

ok, so work on transitions, work on relaxation and forwardness, work on accuracy of the test. And sit back.