Category Archives: goals

Plan #15

It’s been a whirlwind week. I flew to Florida for a conference, spent 4 days there, flew back for one night, and then flew to Seattle for a U2/Mumford and Sons concert. (With guest appearance by Eddie Vedder!!) So, I’ve been travelling a BIT.

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Drinking my favorite drink (or two of them) with my cousin while in Florida.

Somehow in between traveling I’ve managed to get some rides in on Macy. And, they’ve been pretty horrible. What I realized is, that after she spooks or is crazy once, the ride is over for me. I worry about her bolting so I tense up, shorten her and then neither of us can recover. I don’t want to get into every crazy moment she has had, or what she did, but do want to mention that I get why people keep horses that aren’t appropriate for them. I’m struggling with the idea of giving up on Macy and she isn’t even my horse. I didn’t buy her, invest a lot of time or money into her, and even having her doesn’t make me exempt from having to buy a horse in the future. So, really, I have it super easy with her and I am still struggling with giving up riding her. I can’t even imagine what it is like for people who bought a horse and are having this struggle. I get it.

In the past weeks I have realized Macy isn’t the horse for me and lately I feel more unsafe and frustrated than I have since the beginning. I let Sarah know and she totally understood. But then I kinda back tracked and was like ” Well, maybe we can see if I can make it work.” Because I just couldn’t give up, even though I wasn’t really enjoy riding her. It’s so messed up!

Yesterday I brought her in for my lesson and she was cuckoo bananas. She was tied in a different spot than usual and was so distracted and antsy. I was worried she would pull back, or trample me, and so I was tiptoeing around her. Sarah came over and let me know I can’t do that. Got her to pay attention and Macy didn’t like it, pulled back, broke her halter and galloped around the arena.

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How she reacts to me reprimanding her

I want to take a moment and mention something that happened while Macy was being a wild mustang. There were two other horses present. Both OTTBs and both, ironically, from the same breeder. One was getting acupuncture and one was being ridden in a lesson. When Macy had her meltdown, neither of them flinched. As she galloped around the arena, they stood still and waited for us to catch her. When Macy was caught they went back to what they were doing as if nothing happened.

So, props to those two OTTBs. And seriously, I am looking into who the breeder is and if he has any horses off the track for sale….

Ok, so Macy. Sarah hopped on her to show me a couple things to work on and then I got on. We ended up having a lovely lesson. Mainly because Sarah was there to guide me. I learned the following things:

  1. I need to keep Macy’s brain engaged every single step of the lesson.
  2. I need to be active every step of the lesson. If she gets the frame and bend I want, I need to keep working in order to maintain it.
  3.  If she spooks once, or even worse, if I THINK she is going to spook, I can’t get tight and lose the elastic connection. Because when I do that, it makes things worse.
  4. If she wants to spook, or does, get right back to work. Stop it before it escalates (if possible) but don’t get her short and tight. Get her back into that deep frame. (And when I say spook, this mare rarely just spooks, the spook leads into a bolt, head tossing bonanza)
  5.  I don’t trust Macy. I wouldn’t let go of the reins to even pat her when she was good.
  6.  I should not be riding this horse by myself. I haven’t ever been in a full lesson program, where all I do is take lessons and never ride on my own, nor do I want to be. But with Macy, I am doing neither of us any favors by riding alone without Sarah guiding me on staying relaxed and getting us through the tough spots.

 

So. By the end of the lesson I realized what I wanted to do. Showing is off the table completely. (Despite getting into an over subscribed recognized show, I scratched.) I won’t be riding Macy unless in a lesson. I’ll be doing that twice a week. I will continue to ride her with supervision because the lesson was actually really fun and I learned a ton. Once I learn how to ride her reactivity, I think I can ride her alone again. But that might be months from now. And that’s ok. Some of you mentioned that you worried a horse like Macy would make me lose my confidence. And I think that’s an incredibly valid point. I think that if I continue to ride her the way I was, when I free rode, that could definitely happen. With showing off the table I have no goals I have to meet in order to feel prepared to run her at Training. I can just learn and enjoy. I also realize Macy isn’t my long term horse. But my long term horse is going to be a young, green, unbroke horse, so I better get used to a little crazy in my life.

So, this is plan #15 I believe, and I am excited to give it a go. Plus, I’m going up to see Junebug Tuesday so I have something to look forward to 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fancy Dressaging

So, while Val wouldn’t be considered a fancy dressage horse for most DQs, he’s the nicest mover I’ve ridden in recent memory. (And by recent memory, I mean my entire memory, as it’s pretty forgetful these days). My lesson on him was really fun, and Sarah helped me work on his canter and keeping him consistent to the contact. And keeping his haunches from flying inward, while his shoulders go outwards.

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Cute pony!

The first thing she said to me was “Yup. This is how you used to ride Kilkee in this saddle.” My Clyde x and I did a lot of learning together. And since I had yet to experience the seat of a dressage saddle at the time, I did what I could in my trusty AP. So, we worked on my leg position and some other things and then got to work on Val and I.

He’s a bit tricky to ride, he’s not a pimped out, broke dressage horse. Which, for me, makes it fun! And difficult. But, I’m not going to learn anything on a push button horse. His trot is great, it’s got some suspension and some front end movement that when I look in the mirror I think looks super fancy.

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Wheeeeeee!

The best part? He has a lengthen!! I giggled like a 10 year old when Sarah had me lengthen across the arena.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video:

You can hear Sarah tell me to ask for more at the end, and it does make a difference. This was the end of the ride and he was a bit pooped, but he happily was like “Ok, I’ll be fancier.”

His canter takes some work. Especially going left. This may be a Nadia problem, but I was not getting into the rhythm going left. Hello, homework! He’s happy to be a bit strung out, and a bit crooked, but when I ask him to go correctly, he has a really nice gait!

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Please notice the VERY unhappy grey mare in the background. She was not happy that Val would get near her. #mareproblems

I’ve committed myself to riding him 3 days a week. I’m really lucky to have him- as if I didn’t I know I would be fretting about Georgie WAY more. We DID have our vet appointment yesterday, and I will leave the details for another post, but let’s just say we are headed in the right direction with her…

So, here’s to being a bit of a DQ for the next little bit and enjoying my fuzzy, fancy, Shetland pony looking Val!

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2017 Goals

Hoping everyone had a very happy holiday season! If nothing else, the holidays are a great time to reconnect with family and friends and it marks the end of one year and sets in the hope and excitement of what’s to come.

So, here we go. Looking forward to a new year, new season and new habit of setting goals. Lets see how well I am able to stick to them and get them accomplished!

I’ve separated my goals into three categories. Personal, Riding and Competing. Day to day riding is very different to me than competing is, and I don’t want to lose focus of that by just setting goals that are competition based.

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I want to enjoy these views more

Personal Goals:

  1. I decided on this one while on my run this morning… Do a 10k. At first I was like “sign up and finish a 10k race” but to be honest, I’m not sure I want to enter a race and spend the money. So, my goal has been revised to just getting a 10k done. By July.
  2. Remain fit and continue to make fitness and health a priority. I’m 10 pounds into a 20 pound weight loss, but I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of staying fit. Being active makes me happy.
  3. Balance your personal life with your equestrian life. I want to hike more. I want to say yes to more things that aren’t horse related. While still being a dedicated equestrian. Let me know if this is unrealistic… 😉

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Riding Goals:

  1. Be able to do trot sets for 15 minutes in jumping position by the end of the winter. I think I can do this one. It’s just a matter of getting out there and getting it done. I can be pretty lazy about trot sets.
  2. When I ride, remember to ask more of Georgie in each ride. I need to stop being complacent as to where we are at in our training. She’s at the point where I can ask and expect more of her. And I should.
  3. Sometimes, just enjoy the ride. Go for a hack. Explore a new trail. Don’t make it all about training all the time.
  4. Get the most out of each ride. If I’m going to work on jumping, how about I work on multiple things, rather than just one thing. If I am going to ride for 30 minutes, how about I spend those entire 30 minutes working….
  5. Enjoy stadium jumping. Figuring out a way to keep my brain from spinning out of control would be awesome.

 

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Competition Goals:

  1. Go Prelim at a recognized event. I have to make this a goal since it’s on the table now.
  2. Let Georgie jump the tables. I need to just let her jump out of stride at a gallop. Even if at first it feels uncomfortable and makes me wince a little.
  3. In each element of the competition, give Georgie a thoughtful ride. In dressage, think about your next movement, on xc, think about the next fence and how to approach it, and in stadium jumping, just think. I think that if I can do this, we are going to be a really successful pair.
  4. Have fun at the competitions. This hasn’t ever been a problem, but if it becomes one, I think it is time for me to hang up my hat.
  5. Do not care about where you placed. Look back at the competition and think about how your rides made you feel as a rider. You are only competing with yourself. Sometimes a high or low score can dictate how I feel about a ride. And it really shouldn’t. I have no idea where those other riders are in their training, or what their expectations are for themselves. I can and should only concentrate on my ride with my horse.

So there we go. While I’ll admit my goals aren’t as specific as they might be for some people, I think they give me something to work on and something to achieve.

So, HAPPY NEW YEAR and let’s go have fun with our ponies!

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Year in Review

I have a habit of not setting solid goals for myself as a rider for the coming year. I feel like horses and riding are so unpredictable. Georgie could be lame tomorrow and there go all our goals for the spring. Or, I could break my elbow. Again. Or, everything could go exactly as planned. And wouldn’t that be nice. And unusual.

But, I’ve decided to set goals for the coming year. They will be put into the universe in a later post, as this one will be to review how shit went down in 2016.

Things started ok. It was a lot of indoor work due to an Idaho winter, but we worked on thinking quickly while jumping. Something I struggle with.

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This instilled some serious fear in me

Off to Utah in March for some xc schooling and my spirits brightened. Georgie felt like the horse I never thought I’d have. Adjustable, uphill and forward. It was a blast. Plus, Training felt easy. That was a nice change.

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Jumping over the rock

June was the start of our official season with our show at Inavale. Once we were able to get there- after my truck died and a kind friend let us borrow theirs. Dressage in my mind was AMAZING but the judge had a different view and gave us our worst score to date. Just made me determined to show her this wasn’t a dressage show, stupid judge.

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Amazing. Duh

Georgie ate up the xc course at Inavale. So much so that I thought I had speed faults. I didn’t. We were perfectly within optimum time. It was a great course and gave me the confidence I needed to know we could tackle the 3Day in a month. Plus, we had an awesome show jump round. Only one rail down, which is below average for us. And it was the final rail because I rode to it stupidly. So good news was if I ride well we can do well. We finished in third place, and I had a lot of fun, so really it was a great weekend.

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Does not care about 3rd place. Cares that there is a stupid ribbon on her and her tack has yet to be removed.

The following month was the Training 3 Day at Rebecca. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you have the chance to do a long format, do it. Dressage in the big arena sitting the trot and doing some movements we will be doing at Prelim. Again, judges and I disagreed. This time they thought my test was nicer than I did and gave us our best score to date. That’s cool.

Endurance day. Pretty sure I smiled the entire time. Steeplechase was SO MUCH FUN.

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Love her ears

The xc course was easy peasy and it was the first time I felt like I just let Georgie gallop and didn’t interfere three strides out. (My favorite thing to do.) Stadium was good. Two rails. But they weren’t for obvious reasons and I was pleased with our ride. Sadly we dropped from 2nd place to 6th because of the rails. Which was annoying, because there were cash prizes for riders up to 3rd place. But it is what it is.

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One of my fave pics ever.

Probably the best part was that when the 3Day was done and over with, trainer Sarah brought up the P word. As in, it was something we could start thinking about. I NEVER thought it was an option. But Georgie is such a different horse than she was 6-8 months ago, and I like to think I’m a different rider, but maybe not to such a dramatic degree. And because it would be the first time for both of us going Prelim, I decided to have Sarah take her to her first recognized event at the level.

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While schooling next door to Rebecca, in 2015 I had been too scared to do this ditch wall. This year we conquered it easily. Amazing the difference a year makes.

August was stupid. I tripped and fell (totally sober) and broke my elbow. So… Sarah took over riding Georgie after her post Rebecca break and got her ready for Prelim.

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The improvements with Sarah riding Georgie were pretty obvious early on…

September Sarah took Georgie to a schooling Jumper Show and they rocked. ZERO rails. Made everything I had said about her unable to not hit rails complete hogwash. This put me in a weird headspace. Mainly just not riding my horse, but also missing her and having someone else take over the ride for the first time in my life of horses was weird. But I knew it was for the best, and I am still enjoying all the improvements Sarah worked on. Hello responding to my leg!

And then her debut at Prelim with Sarah. Ok, let’s just skip too much writing about that. The fates just weren’t with us that day. But, you better believe this venue will also be the first Prelim I take her to in the spring. I don’t even care if I fall off (ok, I do) that course is not getting the better of that mare, or me. Stupid book jump.

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Being #13 DID NOT HELP

And then… Ireland. Trip of a lifetime. OMG. Foxhunting with the Irish. Riding Irish horses. I still have no idea why I came home.

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And then, in November, the final xc school of the season. Sarah took Georgie back down to Skyline and rocked the course with her. Had a blast. Georgie proved that she is a Prelim ready horse. Sure, the book jump was in hiding and not available to school, but that’s ok. We’ll get ‘er in the spring. Stupid book jump.

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Why hello, huge table

December has been work work work. Jump and dressage lessons. Raising expectations of what this horse is capable of.

She’s still the best damn horse I’ve ever known. I’ll never stop loving her and I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings.

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Adventures in Irish Riding

I’m still planning on coming home Monday, but it’s going to be tough to do.

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Jacqueline. I rode her on day 1 and 3 and she is a fun horse to jump!

Sarah and I began the riding portion of our trip Monday and it certainly hasn’t been a disappointment. We have had to get used to the Irish way of doing things, and Irish time. Apparently 10am means 10:20, and no one is really in a rush to get much done. The riding stable is as authentically Irish as they come. The horses are amazing, all large Irish drafts or Irish Sport Horses and they know their jobs so incredibly well.
Willie Leahy, the gentleman that runs the facility is probably in his 80s and has been around horses his entire life. A nicer man cannot be found. He has a great laugh, and he takes us out riding and when we do something right he yells out “I love ya for it!”
He basically plops us on one of his horses and tells us to go jump something. You don’t say no. He trusts us more and more and gives us nicer but younger horses each day. It’s been amazing. I hope to write about each of the horses when I have a bit more time and am not so exhausted from riding all day.
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Surprisingly my favorite horse thus far. While I LOVED my hunting horse, Alex, Buttons is a really fun, keen youngster. He jumped anything and was super duper comfy. I jumped some really fun stuff with him and trusted him wholeheartedly.

On Tuesday we foxhunted. It was absolute insanity. Essentially we were thrown into the pack and had to keep up. We jumped 20 stone walls in an hour. Probably 40 in the course of 4 hours. The gal that was with our barn, visiting from NY, fell off at the first jump and broke her ankle. Because she was in the middle of nowhere, she had to ride with a broken ankle for about 2 hours. It’s essentially survival of the fittest. AND I LOVED IT!!!!! You gallop and stop. Gallop and jump crazy ass jumps. Gallop and then listen to the bugle of the hunstman calling his hounds. It’s incredible.
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One gal was riding side saddle. Foxhunting, side saddle. At one point we got separated from the pack and were in a field with Maria, the side saddle rider, and some young kids. Maria took us galloping through fields, and over stone walls until we caught up with the hunt again. She did it all side saddle. On a horse that had hunted twice. And we were flying along, not stopping, no looking back.
I told her she was my hero. Because she is.
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So calm and relaxed. SIDE SADDLE. 

At the end of the day people were buying us pints at the pub. And then Willie picked us up in his lorry  and drove us home and we raved about his horses and told him all our stories. He ate it all up as he was once the field master, and is still very connected to the hunt.
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Sarah with Chester and me with Alex. Such great horses. Worth their weight in gold. And yes, Chester lost a couple shoes over the course of the day…

We are hunting again tomorrow. Willie had us jumping some crazy stuff today that I hope to share video of.  At some point. Right now I am just excited to still be awake past 9pm…
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When We Dressage

My last two lessons I’ve hopped on Georgie and asked to work on me. My position mainly. We’ve worked on Georgie a bit, getting her to stretch to the bit, using her neck. Georgie wouldn’t be described as a tense horse at all. But when she is confused, or isn’t enjoying what is going on with her rider, you can see all the muscles in her neck tense and her jaw seizes. Ok, maybe not, but that’s how I picture it. All fluidity flies out the window. Getting her to stretch to the bit and relax her neck muscles seems to relax her entire body, and I am committed to working her in this frame once a week.

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Uphill frame, my more comfortable place.

My struggle for the first lesson, besides not pulling on the right rein, was sitting back while letting her head and neck stretch forward and somewhat downward. I just wanted to clamp my shoulders and tilt forward. So, that was a week of homework right there.

The second lesson I worked Georgie in a more uphill frame and worked on transitions. I like to do nothing in a transition. That one step between canter to trot, I just clamp my thighs and brace. Which is super helpful all around. And weirdly, I can feel Georgie tense up.

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So, we worked on these repeatedly. And I had a major aha moment. When I go from canter to trot, I tend to throw my shoulders around. We’ve been working on creating less shoulder movement. But what I realized was, the shoulders are a result of the hips. If I square my hips in that last canter stride, and keep them from continuing to move back and forth as if I am still cantering, the rest of my body does the same. Kinda amazing, I know.

I love these little “aha” moments that sometimes are huge “aha” moments. I have them occasionally and they save me from more months of working on the same things over and over.

So, tell me, what was your most recent “aha” moment?

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It’s Just Weird

I’m in a weird space mentally. As someone who rides her horse regularly, and has put a ton of work into getting her to this point, it’s really really strange to have someone else take over the ride and get her ready for the next level.

I want to clarify a couple of things. First and foremost, I think Sarah riding Georgie at her first Prelim is absolutely the right decision. It is the safest thing for Georgie and will also help us be successful in the future together. Secondly, I am incredibly thankful to Sarah for riding my horse and putting so much work into her. This post is not about Sarah. It’s about me.

That said, it’s still weird. As it stands Sarah rides Georgie twice a week, I get a lesson on her once a week, and then I free ride once or twice a week. I just feel like I’m losing my bond with Georgie. And yes, I’m still riding 2-3x a week. But it’s kinda not the same. One of those rides is a lesson, one is a conditioning ride, and the other is a “remember what you did in your lesson and don’t mess up all of Sarah’s hard work” ride. So, basically, I’m keeping Georgie ready for Sarah. Rather than working things out with her, or just having fun, or doing dressage movements I need work with. Does that make sense? The purpose of our rides is completely different.

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Ahh, puppy antics

I realize I can’t have it both ways. I can’t do what is right, and still ride my horse 5-6x a week. And if anyone is going to ride my horse, I want it to be Sarah. And I am so thankful that she is going to come out of this a stronger, better horse. But it’s still weird. And slightly hard. I never knew I would miss riding her this much!

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It’s super ugly at sunset…

She still walks over to me when I come to her gate, and she still knows me as the person who feeds her, so I think she is probably happier than she has ever been. She has a rider who gives her a good ride, and a person who still loves on her without yanking on her mouth. I know after her go at Prelim, and after she gets some time off, I’ll get to ride her as much as I want again. And, as a bonus, I’ll now be riding her at her absolute best! So, for now, I’ll appreciate the situation and know Georgie and I will have lots of time together in the future.

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