Ouch.

I’m not sure which is more badly bruised- my hip or my ego. Based on the way it’s throbbing right now, I’m going to go with my hip.

Yep, I fell off. Technically I got bucked off, but the result is the same. My backside made contact with the hard ground. I actually landed like a slab of beef on my left side. My hip hit first, and then my shoulders, and then my head kind of bounced. Good thing I ALWAYS wear a helmet.

I rode today in a new pasture for the first time. There are three pastures at my new barn; this was the last one left to try out and it also happens to be where I plan to do most of my riding because it’s big and flat and has room to set up jumps.  Riding in this pasture required that B and I leave Lyric behind. Lyric is the elderly Morgan mare. 

Sidenote- I never got a chance to post about my first ride at the new barn. Long story short- Baron was totally flipping out, bucking, trying to canter, throwing his head dangerously in the air and generally being a butthead. I rode through the bucks that time and thanked God that he isn’t normally like that. I gave him the benefit of the doubt- things were new, we were much closer to the road and cars, etc… I figured out that if I gave him a loose rein and rode with a deep seat, it helped to calm him more than keeping him on a tight rein and trying to hold him back that way. I actually think I rode really well that day. I didn’t lose my cool and I was able to contain him and calm him down until eventually he was walking politely.

I kind of expected some shenanigans today because it was our first time in the new pasture, but I hoped to ride through it again. He was actually doing very well, a little jumpy but under control. Things deteriorated quickly though. He refused to walk, kept trying to canter and eventually started bucking. These weren’t huge, “I want you off my back” bucks. More like “I am nervous and excited and don’t know what to do with my energy since you won’t let me canter” bucks. Unfortunately I lost one stirrup and then the other stirrup and with no stirrups I was off after a few canter/buck/canter strides.

So I fell off. And you know what I did next? I walked right back over to him and got right back on. I actually hand walked him for a couple minutes til my legs stopped shaking, but then I got right back on. I firmly believe that you have to get back on ASAP after a fall (as long as you’re not hurt and the horse is under control). The horse shouldn’t be rewarded for bucking. He should be put right back to work. Psychologically, I feel it’s essential to get back on because you don’t give yourself time to be afraid. You just try again instead of standing around thinking about what went wrong or how bad it hurt or how you’re a moron for a buying an ex-racehorse.

Once I re-mounted he was still a little jumpy so I put him to work. We rode serpentines and figure 8’s and small circles until he started listening to me and quit worrying about the cars and birds and phantom horse eating monsters. After I felt like he had given me an honest day’s work, I hopped off and we headed back to the barn.

Pride really does come before a fall. I felt so good about my last ride, like we were making progress and I was figuring out on my own how to make changes in my horse. Oh well, there are peaks and valleys with everything. Today I fell off and landed in the valley. Time to go ice my hip…

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Better, right?

I did my best to follow the advice in the comments on my last picture post. I dropped my stirrups one hole and I could tell an immediate difference in being able to get my leg underneath me. One commenter (Green Slobber) advised me to forget about his head being up in the air and to instead concentrate on relaxing and having a proper position. She said the head would take care of itself eventually. She is exactly right. Everything I’ve read about dressage (and there’s been quite a bit recently) says the same thing- ride your horse from back to front! Don’t worry about forcing his head down; just ride balanced and relaxed and as you relax, your horse will loosen up and drop his head.

I think sometimes I make riding harder than it is. I fell into the trap of thinking that I could find some secret formula for a round horse and a pretty headset. I thought if I could just afford the “right” trainer, an indoor arena, or a fancy German saddle, then my horse and my riding would improve. The truth is, good riding comes from a lot of hard work. All those extras are helpful, but at the end of the day all of that is superfluous to the harsh reality that my riding will improve with lots of practice. And more practice. And then a little more practice. There are no shortcuts. It’s a good thing I’m a firm believer in good old fashioned hard work! 

Here are the pictures of our last ride with my stirrups dropped one hole. I concentrated on my leg position and posting lightly to make sure I wasn’t flopping down on his back. I also rode on a loose rein to make sure I wasn’t balancing against his mouth. I think we had a waaaaaay better ride. I got some beautiful pictures and, even though my position wasn’t perfect,  he was definitely more relaxed and it shows in the photos.

Quick note about the video. There’s one part where I stand up in the stirrups to try and find my balance point. It was harder than I expected. I used to surf so I was used to standing up and balancing on a moving object. I was surprised I had so much trouble standing in the stirrups.

My favorite picture- he looks like a show horse!

 

Correct diagonal!

And the video, if you’re bored…

I GOT AN AWARD!!!!!

Much to my surprise and delight, Marissa over at Tucker the Wunderkind gave me and B the Stylish Blogger award!!! This is our first award since we began our blogging adventure 2 years ago. I must say I am thrilled that people actually read my blog. I started it as a way to chronicle training a green horse which, by the way, I thought would be a much easier and faster process. Sometimes it seems like all I write about is struggles and setbacks, so it’s nice to have some online horsey folks along for the journey. At least I have some great company for this arduous process!
The rules for the award are as follows:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
  2.  Share 7 things about yourself
  3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
  4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!
7  Things About Myself: 
  1. I don’t like babies. There, I said it. I really don’t enjoy being around babies, even my own. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but I like them a lot better once they hit 1 year and start talking. 
  2. I have a very expensive Master’s degree in Theology from Duke which I don’t use. It is absolutely useless besides making me interesting at dinner parties.
  3. I’m definitely a Type A personality which makes riding very difficult because perfection is virtually impossible to attain.
  4. I was born in the wrong century. I should have been born in the late 1800’s to a family of landed English gentry where my feminist-before-it-was-trendy father would insist I learn 6 languages and study Ancient Near Eastern history. I would train English thoroughbreds and fox hunt in my free time. Even though I wouldn’t have to work because my family would be fabulously wealthy, I would be an antiquities dealer which would require frequent trips to Egypt. I would never marry but instead have loads of lovers and one love child. See, wrong century.
  5. I love trashy reality TV, especially the Real Housewives. I love seeing how the “beautiful people” live. The whole time I watch I’m thinking what a swanky barn I would board at if I had that much money. They just waste it on shoes.
  6. I’ve always been fascinated by the Holocaust even though I’m not Jewish. I can’t for the life of me understand HOW it happened. How did people stand by and allow their neighbors to be rounded up and murdered? How did people usher children into a gas chamber? It’s unimaginable and unthinkable and the more survivors’ stories I read, the less I understand how it was perpetrated.
  7. Tori Amos is my most favorite artist/ musician. I name all my pets after her song lyrics or titles. Baron comes from “Barons of Suburbia.” Baron is also Paris Hilton’s little brother’s name, just FYI. People used to tell me I looked like Paris Hilton. That was before I had kids. I guess that’s 8 things.
Now, on to the best part… recognizing some recently discovered blogs and passing the award along:
And one non-horse related blog…
The Half Hippie Mom raising toddlers, saving the planet, and swigging the occasional glass of vino
And finally, in honor of my Stylish Blogger award, I shall post a picture of the stylish outfit I can often be seen in at the barn…
Jammie pants, my Colorado t-shirt, and knock-off Ugg boots

Let’s dissect my position…

I have some still pictures from my second ride at my new barn. I have a post planned about my first ride, but wanted to get these up and hopefully get some feedback. Riding instructors, trainers, people who ride better than me… please tell me what I’m doing right and what I can do to improve!

Picture # 1

Picture # 1 – This is probably the best one. My heel is down, my elbows are bent, my back is straight and I’m looking ahead. I’m also on the correct diagonal. But look at Baron’s head! He is doing his giraffe impression! To be fair, he was riding in new surroundings and was very “looky,” but still, I would like to ride well enough to get him to round up under me and drop his head. HOW DO I DO THAT????? Feel free to give me some pointers! Everything I’ve read about dressage says that correct riding produces a round, relaxed horse. Is this something that will come with time and practice, or is there some secret formula I’m missing that would help him drop his head?

Picture # 2

 

Picture # 2- I think my position here is decent, but I’m on the wrong diagonal! Aaaaaaargh! I do have the straight line from elbow to bit; I concentrated on keeping my elbows bent during this ride. But look at my saddle… I think it’s too small. When I post, my backside is hitting the cantle quite uncomfortably. It’s a 16 inch saddle and I think I need a 17 or 17.5 inch. Or maybe there’s nothing wrong with my saddle and the problem is my position? What do you think???

Picture # 3

Picture #3- In this one Baron has started to relax. He’s stretching down and rounding up under me. My arms are straight, but I’m pretty sure I was consciously letting him have extra rein to stretch down. But, I’m on the wrong diagonal again. Ugh.

Picture # 4

This picture is clearly not Baron, but this is what we’re aiming for! Look at that gorgeous topline!

Here’s the video that these pictures were taken from.

Again, feel free to give me some tips to improve my riding. I appreciate having online horse friends to help me out!

Snowstorm

my new barn in the snow

I got Baron moved into his new home just in time. A snowstorm hit on Sunday and the whole city of Atlanta virtually shut down. I braved the icy roads to go feed Baron on Monday morning and, even though it was waaaaaay colder than we are used to here in the South, I have to say the snow was beautiful. The horses hadn’t been out yet, so the snow in the pasture was perfect and untouched. It was eerily quiet, no cars on the road, no people around, just a few birds chirping. I stood in the snow for a moment and thought for the millionth time how happy I am to have a horse and a little bit of quiet country life in the midst of suburbia. 

Baron checks out the snow.

Baron seems to be settling in to his new home just fine. He and Lyric (the 27 year old Morgan) are getting along really well. Baron follows her around like a puppy dog and she pins her ears at him if he gets too close. I felt a little guilty for moving Baron because I feel like he was very happy at the old barn. As a racehorse he was moved around to at least three tracks in three different states- Florida, California and New York. I feel like he was one of those military kids who moves around a lot and just wants a home, so I felt bad moving him again. On his first day he was very jittery and wouldn’t calm down enough to eat his dinner. But by his third day he seemed right at home.

I could not be happier with the new barn. It is 100 times cleaner and better maintained than the old one. Baron’s stall is bigger and it has Dutch doors, which I’ve always liked. I think we’re going to be very happy here!

A horse to ride and a place to ride him!

A horse to ride and a place to ride him- that is, in essence, all I want. I’ve had the horse for two years, and finally as of today, I have a place to ride him. I have decided to move Baron to a new barn. It’s an 8 minute drive from my house and it’s the cutest little barn in the whole wide world. It looks like something off a Christmas card or a country life calendar- an old wooden barn with a fresh coat of red paint situated in a green pasture complete with a duck pond! I’ll post pictures soon, I promise!

The cost for board is $15 LESS than I pay now for the same amount of work. I will have to go to the barn to feed and do chores almost every day, but I go anyway whether I have to or not. Chores are not a problem for me; I love working at the barn. On top of having an affordable price tag and an idyllic setting, this barn has TWO, count them, TWO places suitable for me to ride. The first is a long, flat stretch of pasture between the pond and the woods. It’s big enough to canter and big enough to set  a course of jumps. The second is a separate pasture with a smaller flat area, and the owner said I’m welcome to set up a dressage arena if I’d like.  I will be able to take lessons at my own barn. No trailers! No hassle! Yippee!

There will only be two horses, Baron and a 27 year old Morgan who is retired. I’ll be the only one riding and I’ll have the whole place virtually to myself! I’m hoping to get Baron moved this weekend and set up in his new home.

Oh bliss! Finally I’ll have the facilities I need to progress with my riding! Oh happy day! If I could do a backflip, I would!