Sunday, 28 December 2014

Holiday Hangover

I meant to post this cute graphic before Christmas....not 3 days afterwards.  But it's the thought that counts...right? I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a happy New Year.  :)

My holidays are technically over as I'm back to work.  I'm lucky because I had two lovely Christmases (my family and my husband's family).  I was spoiled thoroughly by both families!  Now after drinking mimosas for 5 days straight it's time to dry up and be a grown up again.  Boo. 

I've been thinking a lot about my plans and goals for 2015, it's going to be an exciting year for sure!

Here are a few cute photos from my holidays this year:

 Mystic on Christmas Eve morning:

Molly, the Christmas dog:

My sweet equestrian-themed bag from my sister-in-law (it's okay to be jealous):

Molly's new dog bed from Santa:

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Things I Have Realized After Riding Non-Apollo Horses

I have been riding Apollo almost exclusively for the last seven years until the last few months.  Now I have a month worth of lessons on two different horses.

These are some of my notes after riding non-Apollo horses:

1)      Apollo is not the only horse that is crooked.  I thought the crookedness was all my fault (because I am crooked!).  All of horses I’ve ridden have also had some degree of crookedness.  And that actually makes me feel better.  Although there is certainly room for improvement on my part and Apollo’s part.

2)      My young horses are not babies anymore.  Apollo is around 16.2½hh and is an absolute tank.  It might be hard to see that from pictures because I’m 6 feet tall so he doesn’t seem so big.  But he HUGE.  The lesson horse I ride in my dressage lessons is about 15.1hh-15.2hh-ish and the horse I rode at my barn this week is about the same size, maybe a bit smaller.  Up until quite recently my young horses have still seemed like babies to me because they are so much littler than Apollo.  But they are the same size as my lesson horses!  Neither of them will be as big as Apollo but they are actually horse-sized *mind blown*. 

3)      I love riding Apollo.  I love his walk.  I love his cheeky-ness.  It’s been a little hard on my heart to be riding other horses and I didn’t really expect that.  I really miss riding him (the sound/well-behaved version of him).  He’s been having some time off lately.  The arena has been very busy when I've been out lately and after his bucking episode I'd prefer to lunge him first. I'll be out later in the evening this week so I should be able to get a lunge/ride in soon.

I hope to have a ride on Apollo this Tuesday this week and his “light work” ends on January 7th. Fingers are crossed! 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wednesday Lesson Recap

I rode a horse named Slater for my Wednesday lesson.  He`s not as tall as Apollo but he`s quite a stocky guy so my saddle actually fits him and my bridle does too (with a bit of adjustment).  I`m a little sore this today - but not as bad as I expected! 

Slater was kind of a funny ride.  His walk and trot were so slow and I had a hard time keeping him moving forward.  But then when the lesson was about 75% done he woke up and it was challenging to slow him down!  He is a very sweet boy and was quite patient as I muddled around up there. 

Here are some of my bad habits that I need to work on:

1) At the canter transition I lean back in a strange and exaggerated way.  I don`t know why.  I actually don`t feel like I`m doing it so I`ve had to think about tilting forward (even though I`m not tilting forward, I`m just straight.)

2) I keep throwing my outside rein away.  I think this is due to some crookedness on my part but it was VERY hard for me to correct.

3) My hands aren`t always closed on the reins.  This is so bush league!  This has been an issue for me since I started riding.  I feel like I start the lesson with normal person hands but as I start focusing on other things they slowly open.

One exercise we worked on quite a bit was doing a 10 meter circle and leg yielding out to a larger circle.  I had a really had time with this.  I started in the walk but did most of it in the trot.  It was pretty challenging (especially with my rein-related issues listed above) to move Slater out in a proper leg yield rather than drifting out and leading with his shoulder.  This kind of mirrors what I worked on in my dressage lesson last Friday.  I also did quite a lot of transitions.

I don`t know if I`m the only person who struggles with this but I cannot brain very well when I`m riding.  I get frazzled and confused really easy.  I don`t feel like I am like this when I am not on a horse but man....I feel like such a dolt when I`m riding.  My instructor had to explain the circle exercise like 4 times before I understood it. 

I got a lot of video but the videos are all over 2 mins.  I was able to get a video still using a screenshot but it`s quite blurry.  I`m going to fiddle with the videos and try to edit them down a bit.

Here`s Mr. Slater

My solitary screenshot:

Spirit of the Season - Congratulations to T! :)

Congratulations to T from Oh Gingersnap for winning a sweet sparkly halter!  Please drop me an e-mail at dreaming900(at) hotmail.com and I will get your halter in the mail right away.  Thank you for your participation and support!  Check out T`s blog here.

I did a little video of me drawing a name.  Forgot my santa hat and had to be silent (so I am like a weird mime in this video) because some other boarders were having a serious sounding conversation on the other side of the barn.  I`m having some trouble getting the video to upload onto youtube but once I get that figured out I will add a link here.

Thank you to all who participated :) 

Sorry I`m a little slow posting the results.  I had some administrative stuff to take care of (finishing the rest of my wedding thank you cards...bad bride!  At least they are finally finished).

I took a lesson last night and had my instructor take some video....so soon there will actually be photos and videos of me riding!  Once youtube cooperates with me :)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blood, Sweat and... Dressage

I had another lesson at the dressage barn on Friday.  It was tough!   I stubbed/broke at least one toe when I was walking out the door so the evening didn't have a great start. 

During my first lesson I got a sense of sizing for 10 meter, 15 meter and 20 meter circles.  I do a lot of 20 meter-ish circles with Apollo but I was quite rusty on the sizing/feel of the 10 and 15.  On Friday we started working on the circles being more precise and having correct bend.  HAH!  My body was not cooperating with me at all.  Eventually we muddled through it and things improved, but it was hard work! 

It is so strange riding a non-Apollo horse.  My lesson horse, Jazzy, is an Arab X.  The departure from a Clyde X to and Arab X is obviously huge!  Apollo has a lovely marching walk.  Jazzy's walk is much smaller and slower so it always feels like she isn't really moving forward enough (but she is, thank goodness for eyes on the ground).  Their trots are more similar and thank goodness Jazzy is almost as easy to sit as Apollo. 

I have no photos/videos (again) because my instructor was mounted for most of the lesson and I put my phone near her chair (and promptly forgot about it). 

But I do have this adorable dressagey cartoon:

Although my last lesson was definitely more challenging I did get a nice compliment from my instructor, B.  She said that my sitting trot is lovely and told me that I have a great natural seat.

 I am hoping to have some good news to report on Apollo soon, but for the moment things are still up in the air.

Tomorrow is the last day for my Spirit of the Season Blog Giveaway. Enter here ! :)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

TBT: First Helmet

Here is me (on the left) when I was 7 years old.  My friend and I just got our first helmets! 

I was so excited about my new helmet that I parked my desk chair across from my bed and put my helmet on it - so it was the first thing I saw when I woke up :)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Dressage Lesson & Two Weeks Post-Injections

I had my first lesson at the dressage barn on a school horse (who was very kind and patient with me) last night.  The coach, B, is absolutely wonderful.  I will be taking lessons at 6pm on Fridays for the rest of December and I am really looking forward to it.

 My lesson horse after our ride, very sweet :)

Yesterday marked the two week mark since Apollo's fetlock injections.  The vet told me if things hadn't improved in two weeks then we needed to re-evaluate because they didn't work.  If they did work I was to continue riding him lightly for a month.

I headed over to ride my pony after my dressage lesson.  I have been doing a lot of handwalking and riding bareback at the walk but I decided I needed to put his saddle on and ask him to move around more so I could properly evaluate his current state of soundness.

After lots of handwalking followed by riding at a walk I asked for a trot.  He BUCKED three times and then bolted off into a canter.  I was riding him in the sidepull because he's been so quiet lately...that was a mistake!  He continued to be a nut for most of the ride and threw at least five more bucks into random places.  Eventually we were able to do some walk and trot transitions without Apollo being a maniac.  He felt sound....but he felt very crooked.  I'm not sure that my "light work" schedule for him has been enough.  Maybe I should have done more or less.... I'm not really sure.  It's hard to know if he was feeling really good so he was naughty or if he was feeling pain somewhere so he was naughty.

I had decided that the two week anniversary date of the injections would be my "decision day" for what our plan was.  I figured if he was sound then we'd continue working him towards my eventing goal.  If he wasn't sound he needed to come back to his old barn where he is closer (so feeding him his Recovery EQ is more convenient).

Now I'm not feeling like it's a very straightforward decision at all!  My plan now is to get the chiro/bodyworker back out to see if she can figure out his crookedness.  I'll keep riding him too (lightly) and if between some body work and increased activity we can't get him 100% then we will give our notice at the barn.

This crazy nut tried to kill me!

I rode him today around the hay field at a walk for about 30 minutes.  Oh yeah - and I put a bit in his mouth!  Crazy ponies need brakes!  He was awesome.  His walk felt lovely.  He seemed somewhat tired at the end, I think walking through some of the deeper snow was pretty hard work for him.  I think if he continues to feel sound this is a good thing to keep in our repertoire (weather permitting).  I had a lot of fun with my big pony.

I hope to have the chiro/bodyworker out very soon and will have a more definitive plan at that point! :)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Physiotherapy Clinic Recap & Blog Giveaway Reminder

I am so slow to write about the physio clinic that happened on November 14/15!  It was really fun and my brain was stuffed full of helpful information.  I was a little disappointed I couldn’t bring my own horse but I still got a lot out of it.  The clinic took place at the dressage barn I work at. 
On Friday evening we watched Sandra’s (physio lady) presentation about various types of rider ailments caused by being crooked or using your body incorrectly.  She also talked quite a bit about how bad sitting all day is for the human body and how that affects riding.  She had a lot of slow motion video so you could see how various riders’ bodies were absorbing the motion of the trot.  Sandra also made us all think about bending from the hips (and sitting our butts out) rather than our backs when we bent over to pick something up – like a hoof!

I asked her about what activities were the best cross-training for riding.  She suggested cycling was probably the best.  But fencing and golf are also good. 

On Saturday I got up early to muck stalls and helped with chores before the clinic started.  So I was sufficiently warmed up for our stretching/exercise session.  It was incredibly hard!  I’m not very flexible and the stretching part was probably the most difficult for me.  She has a series of exercises for riders to do before riding.  I hope to incorporate a few into my riding routine.

Here are the exercises I plan to do before each ride:
1)      Plank for 2 minutes
2)      Side planks for 1 minute on each side
3)      Circling arms in opposite directions
4)      Sitting against a wall with legs at a 90 degree angle and engaging lower abs

The riding portion was Saturday afternoon.  One of the very kind boarders allowed me to share her horse.  I was pretty nervous about riding.  I have worked there for 4 years and no one has ever seen me ride.  I wish I had someone take a video for me because I think that would have been helpful for future reference.  It felt so weird to be riding another horse!  She was quite lovely and patient with me while I tried out a variety of strange exercises on her back.  

I thought my scoliosis would be a huge problem but Sandra actually said I was fairy straight (what?!).  She mentioned that I need keep my stirrups the same length and switch them monthly (so one doesn’t stretch out).  That’s actually contrary to what I’ve been told before, I was told to have one stirrup longer if that was more comfortable.  I was riding in stirrups that were the same length in the clinic and I actually did feel fairly straight, I guess I haven’t been doing myself any favors but having different lengths.  We did lots of little things but the two big things for me were pretty simple (thank goodness):

1)      BREATHE.  I need to not hold my breath!  I didn’t even realize that I did this but I totally do.  When I’m focusing on something I totally stop breathing.  Apparently this is a big reason that jumpers go off course, when you stop breathing your brain doesn’t work as well (obviously...).  So now I have been practicing the breathing exercise that Sandra gave me.  When I start riding I count the beats (of a walk or trot) that it takes me to inhale and exhale.  Then I increase them.  I started at the trot with two steps for my inhale and one step for my exhale and increased it to 5 and 6 respectively.  Kind of neat!  I felt WAY more relaxed after I got my breathing sorted.

2)      CROOKEDNESS CURE.  When I feel crooked she recommend posting the trot to the left, in the center and then to the right.  It felt weird at first but I did find my center in the saddle. I will definitely be doing this in future.

Another thing that she mentioned is that I use my hands a little bit to balance myself.  I’m not pulling but it’s not really correct either.  

It was a great experience.  There is a really nice group of people at the dressage barn that made it fun :)

Now for a quick reminder about the blog giveaway.  I haven't had any entries yet into my blog giveaway.  I would really like to find this halter a new home:

To enter to check out this entry here:

General Horse Plan + November Goal Recap & December Goals

I get asked a lot when I’m starting my young horses (in real life and online!). I have a general idea of the timeline and I thought I would share.

This is what I have in mind:

Summer 2015 
- Apollo competes in starter level horse trial
- Kate takes driving lessons
- Mystic practices obstacle training and halter routine

 Fall 2015 
- Apollo retires to a non-jumping life (but still does trail rides, dressage and other fun things)
- Mystic learns to ground drive and other pre-saddle training work

Winter 2015/2016 
- Henry learns to ground drive and other pre-saddle training work
- Mystic learns to pull a cart of some sort

Spring 2016 
- Mystic (now 4 years old) is started under saddle

Summer 2016
 - Henry (now 4 years old) is started under saddle

After M&H are both going under saddle I will make a plan from there as to what discipline we want to focus on. I don’t plan to jump either of them until their 5th year. Perhaps one or both of them will be up to a starter level event by late summer or fall of 2017.

In the grand scheme of things:

I hope Mystic will be up for lower level eventing, dressage, cowboy challenge/obstacle work, and driving.

I hope Henry will be up for eventing, dressage, distance trail rides, and maybe some hunter and/or jumper shows.

I’m really up for trying anything and hopefully the horses feel the same way.... :) In 2016/2017 my blog should be really interesting! I’m waiting to start the youngsters under saddle until age 4 for various reasons. One of the big reasons is limited resources (time and money). Right now I am focusing my resources on Apollo because we are *fingers crossed* going to try a few events this year. I also want to give the young horses time to grow up. Mystic was orphaned at a month old and Henry had a rough start too. I’m not in any kind of a rush so I figure letting them develop as much as possible before starting them isn’t a bad thing. I don’t judge anyone who chooses to start their horses earlier or take a different path. This is what I feel is best for my herd and who knows, my plan might change drastically!

I really hope I am able to balance being a good horse mom to three horses.  If I can't I am open to leasing/selling down the road.

Here’s my little goal recap for November and December plan:
1) Find a job for Mystic. I have decided Mystic and I will work towards competing in a local show in halter and in-hand trail. I added our July show date to the sidebar. :) I’m also seeking a driving coach. First to teach me and then to start her under harness in late summer. 

2) Figure out a herd routine. Actually probably just a general routine for my life would be good. I still suck at this. Being a grown up is no fun. Balancing work/horse/dog/husband/friends/cleaning seems to be an insurmountable task at this point.

3) Book dressage lessons at the dressage barn. I did do this! Because of Apollo’s soundness issues I will be riding on a lesson horse instead. I will be riding at 6pm on Fridays for December (except on Boxing Day). Perhaps in January my pony will be my ride instead. I’m also still taking Apollo’s lesson at my barn timeslot for two lessons in December on a lesson horse.

4) Start saving for Back on Track stuff. Well...I started doing this. And then I had to pay for a lameness exam and injections. I’m hoping to place my order on my next payday which is December 10th. With Christmas coming up I don’t think I’ll be able to get everything I want but if I could get the royal blue fleece cooler with neck I would be a happy camper. I’ve been doing a lot of hand-walking, either pre-ride or just to get him moving around and then we do stretches. A spiffy BOT cooler would be a big help for him on days where other people are riding so we can’t hand-walk first. By this Friday I should have an idea of if the injections were a success or not (leaning towards yes). If no they were not a success we will have to make a new plan.

December Goals 
1) Slowly increase Recovery EQ to full dosage by December 15th. 
2) Mystic needs to go to groundwork bootcamp. Sassy pony is sassy. 
3) Henry dewormed with QuestPlus then followed by a probiotic. 
4) Hand-walk and/or ride Apollo every day to keep him moving in this chilly weather (pending success of injections).