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Monday, 30 November 2015

Promised Land

Mystic and I had solo ride #2 last night!  

<3




I convinced my husband to join me.  I was a bit nervous to be riding a green horse alone....and I also wanted pictures.  Considering that we had to get up really early on Sunday to take our family Christmas photos (in the freezing cold on the snowy barn lawn) he’s pretty much a saint.


Mystic was ready to go to work the moment I put her saddle on.  I can tell that she’s really enjoying having a job.  I lunged her for a few minutes and then hopped on.  She stands like a rock and is very patient waiting for her cue to move out.  


I forgot my half chaps so I had to ride in my stable boots.  I ride in them a fair bit but in this particular saddle my legs were getting pinched at the trot.  I did a few laps of trot in both directions but mostly walked.  I did lots of big circles and figure 8s.  I rode her with the halter underneath the bridle (like last time) and I am not so great at managing reins/leadropes in my hands at the same time but I muddled through!  


Much muddling


I am still on cloud 9 with Mystic!  For such a green horse she is such a good girl.  She willingly moves into a trot and stays there, but doesn’t get racy.  She also is happy to transition back down to a walk.  She isn’t a complete plug, she tried to drift towards the exit and away from my jump equipment a few times but was easy to correct. 
 
I actually have to keep reminding myself that she’s a green horse.  I stupidly dropped the reins and took off my vest last night while we were stopped last night (wtf is wrong with me? Not good green horse etiquette!).  She stood like a rock.  I feel so safe on her.  When Apollo had thirty days under saddle I did not have to remind myself that he was a green horse!  He bolted quite a bit and was always looking for things to spook at.   



The trainer took Mystic on her first trail ride last Thursday and said she was quite good.  A little nervous at first but she settled after a few minutes. 

Going forward in January/February Mystic will have three trainer rides a week and two rides with me.  That feels very manageable at this point.  I’m waiting to hear back from the trainer about booking lessons and what Mystic’s ride schedule with her will look like.  


Tomorrow I will be rolling out my Spirit of the Season blog giveaway...! :)
 
 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Slipstream

I rode Mystic last Friday morning.  (spoiler alert: it was amazing)





Before I get into the details I just want to touch on how strange this whole “sending a horse for training” thing has been for me.  I was really hoping to be more involved in the process.  The trainer works with young horses during the day (when the arena is quiet – fair enough!) but I wasn’t able to get any time off work.  

I’ve been in charge of everything in Mystic’s world since she was 6months old (3 years!) and now for the past three weeks someone else has been handling her and teaching her new things.  This just feels weird to me.  I knew I didn’t have the skills to continue her training and I’m not able to be there for her training – so I had to trust the trainer.  

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Mystic in the evenings still.  Mostly just grooming and feeding her.  She seems happy and she’s lost a few pounds (which she needed to do).

I was invited to watch the trainer work with her on November 11 as I wasn't working for the holiday.  I didn’t fully know where she was at with her training when I planned that visit.  I was really nervous driving out to the barn that day.   

These were the kind of things rolling around in my mind:

“Did I do enough to prepare her for her training?”

“What if she’s really bad/scary/dangerous under saddle?”

“Am I going to be riding her today?”

“Squeeeeee!  I’m so excited!!! :D”

Mystic had her first ride off the lunge line that day and she was very well-behaved.  I had nothing to worry about after all!   Everything was going so well with Mystic :)


Quick video of the trainer riding Mystic...with my terrible filming skills.




Everything has not being going that well for me otherwise.  I've been really struggling to balance things in my life lately.   I had a rubble-ish lesson with coach D again last Wednesday and came home in tears.  And I wasn't really upset about the lesson.

I'm exhausted from working 50-60 hours a week, managing the care of all my animals, trying to be a decent wife/daughter/friend, working on improving myself as a rider and trying to get into better shape.  Trying to do everything I want to do is really hard.  Maybe impossible.  I had pictured Mystic's training and my life in general looking a bit more like the montage in Dirty Dancing where baby learns to dance.  But sadly no...

After my rough night on Wednesday...I got a text on Thursday morning from Mystic's trainer telling me how well she was doing.  And she asked if I wanted to ride her on Friday morning.

Well.... Ok let's go for it.


So on Friday morning I hit the road with my husband at 6am so I could ride Mystic before I went to work.

Ready to go! 


The trainer rode first and then I hopped on.  It was a pretty surreal moment.  Even though she felt different than any other horse I've ridden I didn't feel nervous or unbalanced on her.  I kind of felt like I'd been riding her forever.  I expected to be riding a baby noodle horse.  She was much smoother and more forward than I anticipated.  I don't think I could have asked for a better first ride.  I'm also happy to report that I didn't look too tall for her!

 Prepare for a media explosion!  Thank goodness my husband was there to cheer me on and take pics/videos. :)
















All the hard work I've been doing felt completely worth it once I got to ride my sweet pony. :)  I am so happy with the wonderful job the trainer has done with her.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Brick by Brick

Last weekend Apollo and I had a lesson with coach D!  The idea to lesson with Apollo and D popped into my head as I was re-grouping from my ultimate rubble lesson.  I ride Apollo the most - I thought that making sure I was practicing properly in my time away from lessons would be a a good idea.

I haven't had very positive lessons on Apollo in my life.  A lot of instructors have said some pretty harsh things about us, particularly him.  And not constructive criticism either.  Hearing that your horse is stupid, ugly or useless has yet to improve anything in my experience.  Those kind of comments shut my brain off to learning pretty quickly.

I actually had made up mind not too long ago that I wouldn't lesson on him again.  We have so much fun now (on the trails and in the arena) that I didn't want to ruin it by having someone come in and sh*t all over it.  But I decided to give it another try.


And it was freakin awesome.  All the photos in this post came from D on her phone :)







Apollo's been a bit spicy lately and I've been feeling very crooked/clunky in correcting him.  I explained this to Coach D and she adjusted my stirrups to a better length.  And voila - much better!  Not perfect but a huge improvement.  He seemed to relax more to because I wasn't so tense holding my body where I thought it should be.

She absolutely loved him.   Took lots of pictures of him to show her friends how cute he is and gave him lots of pets (which he loved).  She rode him for a while too and had a lot fun with him.


My face here...wtf...



She said 16 is still young and there's a lot that he and I can get out and do together.  She saw potential for dressage or eventing.  She loved his quiet temperament and willing attitude.





She gave us lots of good things to work on:

1) Practice walking and trotting through a "fan" of three poles on the ground.

2) Set a line of poles down the center of the arena with spaces in between.  Leg yield through the spaces or do a mini serpentine through the center of the poles.

3) Ride with contact (I ride with super loose reins a lot....which doesn't help anyone).

4) Think about inside leg to outside rein more, especially in moments where he feels crooked. 




Post-lesson sweaty pony!

  

 After years of being "torn down" in lessons I am so grateful to have D.  I learn so much but I also have a lot of fun.  I wish I had found her sooner!  I need to figure out how to fit more lessons with her into my meager budget. :)  


   


Friday, 6 November 2015

Ultimate Rubble Lesson

Before you go any further… You need to go back and read the title of this post in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice (I will explain why later).


When I was a teenager I took weekly dressage lessons from a woman named Val.  I learned a lot from her, but she was super tough.   More than once I was in tears afterwards.  

I had an older friend named Thomas who rode with her as well.  He is amazing horseman.  His timing was impeccable and he rode with such grace and kindness.  He had recently moved to Canada from Switzerland when he started riding at the barn.  Thomas told me once (after a tough lesson) that some lessons are smooth like sand.  But sometimes lessons are rockier like pebbles.  Really difficult lessons are like rubble.  When you work at pebbles/rubble you wear them down into sand.  I needed to keep at it and do the work to have lessons that were like “sand”.  This sounds especially deep when it’s said with Swiss-German accent (which sounds similar to Arnie’s Austrian accent).

The following week I had an even more challenging lesson.  I trotted around for 90 minutes trying to correct my leg position.  It was a struggle.  I dismounted covered in sweat and tears.  Thomas looked at me with wide eyes and said:

“That was an ultimate rubble lesson.” (this statement sounded exactly like Arnie!)




I haven’t thought about the ultimate rubble lesson for years.  Until last night.  When I had another one.


Gotta tell your mom when you have a crappy lesson.




I’ve been riding a lovely warmblood mare named Mighty in my lessons with Coach D.  

I rode her in my very first lesson with Coach D.  And I really didn’t enjoy riding her.  We didn’t “click” and we weren’t in sync at all.  I couldn’t figure her out.  

I rode Betty (Draft cross! My people!) in the following lessons and had so much fun.  I felt like we clicked and I really trusted her.  She is a very similar ride to Apollo.  When Coach D suggested I ride Mighty on my birthday lesson… I wasn’t super thrilled, but I did.  I had probably the best lesson of my life on my birthday with Mighty.  I felt like we figured each other out and we were having fun together.


Mighty is highly trained in dressage and is a very sensitive horse.  She requires a lot more correctness and precision from her rider.  And I really struggle to ride her well.  



Birthday lesson on Mighty 

 

I had a lesson with Mighty last night and I felt like my timing was terrible.  I felt very clunky and disorganized.  I couldn’t seem to get the feel back that I had on my birthday lesson.  I got very frustrated with myself.  My brain knew what to do but I couldn’t seem to get my body to cooperate.  So I focused really hard.  And stopped breathing.  And got tense and my brain stopped working.  It was a mess.  

As I was riding around I decided that I needed to sell my young horses because I am the worst rider ever.  I was drafting an e-mail to the natural horsemanship trainer who offered to buy Henry to pick him up ASAP.  I was drafting an e-mail to Mystic’s trainer to post her for sale.  Because I felt so horrible about my riding that I knew I would ruin my young horses.  Apparently Apollo was safe from the fire sale because I didn’t decide to randomly sell him in my overly dramatic sucky-rider state.

Didn't think I got any media of my lesson...oh wait, here it is. 
 

 

Coach D was super supportive and positive.  She tried to focus on the things that I was doing right.  And tried to get me from over-thinking and being so hard on myself.  We did a few simpler exercises to end on a good note.  

My first instinct when things get hard is to quit.  I am a great quitter.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.  When you hate your job, you should leave.  When people treat you like crap, you shouldn’t hang around them anymore.  But I love riding and I want to be the best rider I can be.  So I’m not going to let an ultimate rubble lesson stop me. :)  I’m just going to work on grinding the rubble down into pebbles…and maybe one day even some sand. 

A good reminder :)

 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Eventful

October was my last month as a 29 year old.  On October 29th I turned 30!  I spent two weekends celebrating.  One with friends and family and one with just me my husband.  I’m not really one to make a big fuss on my birthdays but I felt like the big 3-0 warranted a celebration. 

I have so many updates; I don’t even know where to start.  I have never been so busy/happy in my whole life.  I fall into bed at 9:30 every night (or earlier) and I don’t seem to have a lot of brain energy left over to write anything.   So although I hope to expand on all these updates in further posts... just in case I don’t I will do a quick summary of the “Good” and “Not-so-Good” updates from October.

The Good:

Mystic moved to her new barn for training.  She was very good about trailering and seems to be settling in nicely.



I was able to make enough money to pay for Mystic’s training (which is a small miracle).

The DK saddle that was custom made for Apollo & I was able to be tweaked to fit Mystic.   Mystic wore a bit and bridle for the first time and was a rockstar.  (phone died that day, so sadly no pics)


                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Mystic had a massage from Vitality Equine (thanks to Louisa of With a Western Twist for the recommendation).   I wanted to get a baseline for her so that we could monitor any issues that pop up in future.  Mystic was kind of fidgety at first but eventually realized that getting a massage is a good thing.  Brigitte was wonderful and very patient with the wiggly noodle mare.

One of my friends made Mystic this twinkly bonnet!  

Blurry photo does not do justice to the twinkle!




I’ve been enjoying my weekly lessons with eventing coach, D, and dressage coach, B.  D and I have been hacking out sometimes before our lessons.  We went for a little canter in an open field which was quite fun.  

Me on my Mighty mare!  



I found a new farrier (recommended by previous farrier) to trim Apollo and Henry on the weekends.  Rushing to and from work to catch/hold/put away horses just wasn’t working.  My current farrier will continue to trim Mystic as she lives very close to Mystic’s new home.     

My two-pointober goal was a success!  I started at 3:31 and ended at 11:33 - I'm pretty happy with that. :)  (thanks Red Bull)
 



I ran a 5k Halloween race!  It was actually 6.7kms as per the phone measurement... and very cold.  I dressed as a blind mouse with my two girlfriends (three blind mice....see how they run...!) I had a great time with my fellow blind mice despite the chilly weather.




My husband and I have been hitting the gym together quite a bit.  I’m sure I’ve lost a few pounds but I haven’t remembered to weight myself recently. 


The Not-so-Good:

I haven’t had very much time for Henry and Apollo.  I’ve snuck a few rides in but with extra shifts at work, riding in lessons and the shorter days (it’s pitchblack at 6pm now, thanks daylight savings time) I didn’t get as much done as I wanted. 

Henry was a royal turd for the new farrier, so we'll be having further conversations about that.

I also didn’t do as much work with Mystic as I wanted before she went for training.  I didn’t sit on her or have an “adult pony ride”.  I felt like towards the end of the month I was trying to cram everything in, and that’s not really how I want to approach her training.  She’s super quiet and I probably could have sat on her but I decided to leave it up to the trainer.

On one of my pre-lessson hacks with coach D, her horse’s leg fell into a culvert (covered in grass).  He was sliced up pretty badly.  She quickly used her shirt as a bandage and then organized transport back to the farm (just quietly...this woman is my freakin hero, she was so calm and organized).  Luckily her trusty steed is going to be just fine.  


Trail ears on my Mighty mare before the accident happened. 
 
 


I will hopefully have some photos/updates on Mystic’s training soon.  She started school yesterday!  I hope she is a good girl.  I’m trying really hard not to call the trainer every hour and ask for updates... :)