Saturday, January 21, 2012

Starting Season 2012 Off Right

Today was our first outing of the year, at a local schooling combined test. We usually start our year out with this show as it is laid-back, cheap and close to home. We took 6 horses total, and despite the wind and threatening to rain all day, I have to say all the boys were pretty darn wonderful. This is going to be a very fun season!
Pop and I were doing our second Training together, and over the past week C has been working really hard with us on our warmup for dressage and stadium, something we've struggled with before. This time I tried to time our warmup to the second, and WOULD have been perfect if the rings had been running on time. So we had an extra 5 minutes to wait and that was just enough time to lose our swing. Nevertheless, I felt I rode a better test than I have in the past, and even though our score was our highest yet, I know we made progress in areas we had been working on. He did go into the ring and get heavy in my hands, and we missed our first canter transition because I didn't prepare him well enough. It was like we had done maybe, two too many canters before we came in and lost the beautiful trot we'd had in warmup. It's disappointing, but I feel like each time I'm getting closer to the optimum warmup. We'll just have to keep working hard and I have to keep getting better.
Our stadium round, in contrast, was (I think) the BEST one we've had. I was tired of feeling like a big pansy and tired of going into the ring and not giving him a positive ride. So we went in, and we meant business! He was so game and so much fun. We had a great round and I couldn't stop smiling! What a good boy!
The other ponies were also wonderful...Guppy had the winning dressage score in the Training and then dropped a rail to finish 3rd....Val won the Training (his FIRST Training EVER!)...Ardy had one of his best tests to date and jumped a gorgeous round, actually looking very rideable today in the Prelim...Benny scored a 30 and jumped quite well...and Monkee scored a 29 (yay Monkee!) and had one rail. Good start to the year! And I just finished cleaning a monstrous pile of tack...turn your heads sideways!
So the horses are bathed, wrapped, and snuggled into their beds for the night, and I'm overwhelmingly tired and still have to do my Sunday School lesson for tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm hoping to come out after church and help H finish cleaning out the trailer and doing lots of laundry, and getting Scotty cleaned up (Scott is here for a little bit for training...he is an 8 y/o TB gelding that I actually found and sold from Kentucky to a lady here a few years ago. So good to have him in the barn!!!)).
God Bless! Anyone else had their first outing of the year yet?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mental Game

In the past 48 hours, I have ridden a total of 9 different horses. 4 of those horses I have ridden twice in that time period. And EVERY.SINGLE.RIDE has been amazing. Now how on Earth can that be? I've found the past two times C has been away and I've tried to ride his horses on my own, I've found nothing but frustration with my inability and lack of knowledge and have ended up either fighting with the horse or just giving up and feeling like crap for the rest of the day. So why is this time so incredibly different?

Could my riding REALLY be that MENTAL?

I took a trip to my old home, Louisville, KY, last weekend and spent a good deal of time soul-searching, as well as lots of time just observing some of my dear friends with their much loved horses. And something struck me then, that all the little quirks and goofy things and even the naughty things my barnful of horses at home do are the reasons I love them so much. And that these animals, above all else, were given to us to love and have fun with. For whatever reason, that observation/thinking changed my whole mindset. This job is a privilege beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. I've always loved my job but now I'm in an even higher level of appreciation and enjoyment. For the past few days, riding has put the biggest smile on my face. I've been able to be PATIENT, kind, and get good moments out of each horse I've ridden. No, my position has not been perfect, there have been plenty of mistakes made, and I have no doubt my sister (who is an amazing rider) could ride them all infinitely better than me. But I have done my best, I've ridden through any issues with a positive mindset, and each horse has finished up their work calm, happy, and relaxed. This, to me, is the most important thing.

My goals have changed a bit. Yes, I still want to event Pop at Training level this spring. But on top of that, I have a goal (that will perhaps be a permanent goal) to approach each ride with a positive, patient mindset and ride each and every horse I swing a leg over with tact and respect. And with confidence. Even when some of our greenbeans are being spooky or acting out, I want to remain calm and give them a chance to redeem themselves. I was riding a horse I'd never been on before yesterday, who seemed quite "up" and nervous. He spun violently at a flapping tarp and I lost my balance and my stirrup, and was pretty much convinced we should just turn around and go home. But I fought that feeling, shoved my heels down, gave him a pat and put my leg on. Lo and behold, he didn't act out (as he might have if I had punished him) but walked (albeit, briskly) right past Mr. Tarp and let out a huge breath afterwards as if to say "Thanks, stranger, for telling me it was okay."

I am well aware that not all rides make you want to post singsongy statuses on Facebook. But, I think with this attitude and just appreciation for having the opportunity to ride these amazing animals, each ride will be a positive one. Whether just managing to walk calmly past a downed standard in the ring or performing perfect flying changes, I vow to dismount and pat my horse for doing his/her best on that given day, and then feel joy in my heart just for being blessed enough to have been a small part of it.

:) Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First post of 2012!

Yay, my 50th blog post! I know I've been terrible about updating but life has been hectic to say the least. Pop is doing great, however, and we had a really good jumping lesson today. It was his first time jumping in several weeks and he was quite excited about it. I felt like all the flat work we've been doing has really paid off over fences. He was jumping really well and I was giving him a good positive ride until we had to do a one-stride. Naturally I let him drift left, took my leg off and dropped his mouth. I get SO nervous for some reason and I just freeze. He also backed off just a little from it around the turn so I never had a good canter to begin with. Tried it again with the same result...but the next time was much better with the aid of a pole on the left side of the first fence to discourage drifting. He literally jumps the heck out of everything. It was fun, and C said it was a good first jump school of the year for us.

Next weekend is our first outing, a schooling combined test (at Training level) at the Horse Park. C will be in Ireland for several days so I will have a lot to work on by myself. I really want to fix how tense I get in the canter. It's so frustrating and just makes Pop tight in his back and stiff in his jaw.

BooBoo continues to recover well from tie-back surgery and is still handwalking each day. He is incredibly fresh and even though I try to get him out twice a day, it doesn't always happen. He is as handsome as ever though and can start back into work in a few weeks.

Bonita has been super, super good. I rode her last Tuesday and she was so nice and forward and quiet. I could move her off my leg and we even jumped a little bit, and she was very steady to the base of the fence and good on the landing. She is getting some time off because I was out of town all last week and this week is proving to be rainy and miserable so far, but hopefully tomorrow I can get out there and flat her a little bit.

That's basically it from this blogger. :) Hope you all had a Happy New Year's!