Sunday, November 29, 2009

Never give up! Never give up! Never, never, never

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would throw enormous amounts of time and money into achieving your goal, even though it is something you are likely never going to accomplish? I had an awesome ride yesterday. The resident trainer at my barn had a clinic and a bunch of us spent Saturday grooming our horses, riding in the clinic, and visiting with one another. I always feel exhilarated after one of these riding sessions. Largely because I learn so much and somewhat because I SURVIVED.

I have only recently gotten back into lessons. As some of you know I was injured pretty badly a few years ago. I needed two surgeries and had a drastic loss of confidence. I have found that I have developed some bad habits while out riding on my own. Those bad habits felt comfortable to me and they still do. It's sitting correctly that feels uncomfortable...but I cannot deny that when I make the adjustments the trainers ask me to make my horse seems much more forward and willing. The trouble is, at my age, weight, and physical condition I am having a hard time maintaining those adjustments. A lot of times the entire ride is more about getting my body to do what I ask it to rather than getting Boo to do what I ask him to.

I struggle with feeling stiff . Sometimes I work out of that and sometimes I don't. I have a tiny bit of arthritis in my neck, hands, and feet. My right side feels shorter than my left. I get tight in my shoulders and lower back. I have short legs and a lot of trouble holding on to my stirrups...or it can be the opposite and my feet slide to far into my stirrups. Of course my toes are pointed down way more often than I realized. Often times after a ride I will have sore shoulders and neck and even a headache. Blogger friends...I freakin creak and pop!!!! This is not even taking into account the fear issues. All of this can add up to some pretty discouraging rides.

So what am I going to do about it? Well, I'm dang sure NOT going to quit. I have accepted that I will never be the rider that I have dreamed of being, but I am still going to work towards being the best rider that I CAN BE. That will only come with time and dedication. I'll need to lose some weight (probably the hardest part for me) and get more exercise to strengthen and increase my flexibility. Will I ever get those hips open...I don't's been a lot of years with them tighter than a drum, but I am going to give it all I've got. I'll need to ride more often and continue to take lessons and clinic. I am setting a goal for myself to spend this next year doing what I can to improve my riding skills. We never know how much time we have left with our horses. I intend to make the most of mine. I came to riding late in life and discovered I have a passion for it. I am basically a "fraidy cat" and still through all of this past 8 years I've persevered. I may not be the youngest woman out there trying to perfect her skills, but I know I'm not the oldest either, and I have a lot of respect for all of us "vintage" riders out there trying to meet the physical challenges thrown at us by bodies that are aging. Who knew it would take me almost 57 years to find out I can be as brave as I need to be.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Come and get me...I dare ya!

I have been having some wonderful rides lately. They are work...but they have gone well. Today I went out to ride for the 5th time in the past week and lo and behold... all the things we had been working on all week long had paid off big time. Boo was forward, Boo was soft and chewing the bit in just a matter of a few minutes rather than 10 or 15 minutes. All week long we had fleeting "good moments" and today we had "fleeting rough moments". Needless to say I was one happy camper. I am not naive enough to thing the bad days are gone for good...but we are beginning to communicate again. It's not just me getting on and him ignoring me while I get more and more frustrated.

I've been forcing myself to work on my rising trot each time I ride too. That is also getting better. Probably because I am getting stronger. I am so looking forward to riding now. Never underestimate the value of eyes on the ground. Between Tracey and Bernadine I have begun to really enjoy being in the saddle again. I feel like they will help me to be a better rider and that is really all I want. To be the best rider I can be.

Mick took Bay out to a cow sorting clinic on Saturday. I tried to take pics, but for some reason I didn't really get many good ones of him. I did, however, get some good ones of strangers. Go figure. I'm going to burn them to a DVD and send them off to the barn owner. She can do with them what she pleases.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The signs of fall

This was the sight at the barn on Thursday...luckily I had my camera close at hand. Very pretty. Hard to capture in a photo.

I bathed Boo last Wednesday. I was sure it would be one of the last good days for bathing for the rest of the year, and so far it looks like I was right. On Thursday I went out to hold both horses for the farrier. We had their shoes removed for the winter. Afterwards, I clipped Boo's belly, chest, and the underside of his neck. I guess you'd call it a pony clip. Trainer Tracey called it a vent clip. So far it seems to be doing the trick. I had to blanket him and put on a neck cover. I'm pretty sure it's to warm, since the weather hasn't cooled down all that much yet this year, but it's all I've got for now. I am ordering a lightweight waterproof turnout and will put a microfiber sheet underneath that until the weather gets cooler. It should take about 5 days to get here. Why is it that I am never on top of these things????

I've been riding a bit more now that things have settled back down into a routine. I went out to ride Saturday, but to windy and rainy. To much of a reason for Boo to play spooky horse with me. I have to admit there were times when the noises were even freaking me out. We opted to longe instead. He was a very good boy for that right up until the end when he got a bit snorty and blowey. I went back Sunday and rode. We practiced riding squares and getting his inside hind leg to move under him. We practiced spiraling circles too. All that was homework from the Bernadine clinic. I am bound and determined to be much better at that by the next clinic.

I gave him Monday off. Today was a lesson day with Trainer Tracey. We practiced more squares, leg yielding and softening and suppling. We worked on bringing Boo onto the bit and keeping him there even through the transitions. I have to tell ya I've got plenty to work on for the next couple of weeks. It feels good though. So good that I plan to head back out tomorrow for more work.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I need some advice

Today was such a beautiful day, and I knew it would most likely be the last one for quite some time, so I took advantage of 60+ degrees and sunshine to go bathe my horse. Hubby went along and Bay ended up getting his last bath of the year too. I had a reason for wanting to bath Boo. His winter coat is so long it is almost impossible to ride him without causing him to sweat up. I figured I needed to bathe him today and clip him tomorrow. I've had him clipped the past two years. The first time it was a full body clip. He lived in a stall at the time so it worked out alright. Then we changed barns and Boo got turnout all day long, so last year I had him pony clipped. That seemed to work too, but a good part of last winter I couldn't ride because of my surgery on my clavicle so he wasn't being worked to hard. This year I intend to ride a lot more...I'm wondering which clip he needs. Another pony clip? A low trace clip? Right now I am leaning towards a low trace clip. Anyone out there with any experience with clipping horses that are pastured during the day? I am open for suggestions.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Great show yesterday. So glad I got to go and watch Sarah and Bay do their thing. They did a beautiful job and I am proud of them both! They bettered their score from yesterday in Training level test 3 to a 70.8 %, and although they scored a little lower in Training level test 4 than they had the day before, they still managed to tie for first place. I'm not quite sure what the tie-breaker was but they ended up with second. So, with 4 rides Sarah ended up with 1 blue and 3 red ribbons. The best thing though was bettering her score. You always want to better your score. Does anyone know what they use to break ties in a dressage show?

I mostly sat in a folding chair and watched everyone ride. I tried to take a few pictures but the environment was not cooperating. It is so hard to get good pictures inside a riding arena. Even outside it's not easy. It was sunny and I'm not complaining, but the glare was a bit of a problem. The glare and the shadows.

One things for sure....I was relieved not to be riding. I have the worst show nerves! I've been told by more than one person that the way to fix that is to get out there over and over again, but I'm just not ready yet. I don't think my riding is up to the task. Working on it though. Definitely working towards it. I'll be riding the lower levels in the vintage classes but I'm working at it ;)