April Showers

We had a couple weeks of beautiful weather with sun and temps in the 70’s. Now it’s gone back to dreary rain with the sun rarely making an appearance. Pastures are muddy, arenas are soggy and shows are being rescheduled for sunnier times. I haven’t ridden in over a week and Baron is enjoying some time off. Ha ha, it’s not even like he works very hard!

I sold my old saddle on Ebay and now I’m excited to ride in my new Collegiate. I’m hoping to do a show on April 23rd. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can start getting some practice in.

I’ve decided I’m going to do the first show of the season and if I do well, I’ll go back for more. By “do well” I don’t mean get a ribbon. I just don’t want to finish dead last!

Hope everyone is enjoying great rides and better weather than here in Georgia!

Advertisements

No more mediocrity.

I want to talk about mediocrity and how tired I am of sucking at the one thing I love. Horses and riding- that is what I’m passionate about. That is what gets me out of bed before the sun comes up, consumes most of my free time, and energizes me enough to keep up with the hamster wheel that is my life with two little kids and a job. I am flat out tired of taking little baby steps toward my goal of being a “good” rider. I want to see some progress, like getting the correct diagonal consistently, having a nice canter seat, riding a dressage test from start to finish without totally losing it in the middle, going to a show and not feeling completely inadequate. I’m not discounting the progress we have made, because I think it’s pretty darn impressive considering I don’t have a trainer. What I’m saying is that I’m ready to amp it up and take my riding to the next level.

We all know that riding is about fitness. Riders are athletes just like lacrosse players, tennis players, boxers, triathletes, you name it. We get to sit on another athlete while we do our sport, but anyone who thinks they can perch happily on the back of their well-muscled steed and let him do all the work has got a rude awakening coming their way. The more fit we are, the better we will ride. With this in mind, I have decided to get in shape. Really in shape, like selling-tickets-to-the-gun-show in shape. I’m not going to beef up like a body builder but I’m going to get the body I’ve always wanted (lean, toned and taut).

I decided to do P90x to whip my butt into shape. It’s 90 days of working out 6 days a week. The program is three weeks of working hard, then one recovery week with less strenuous workouts. The cycle is repeated three times. It’s about an hour a day of working out, and it’s intense. But at the end you’ll either be a beefcake or a Barbie doll, depending on whether you’re a boy or a girl.

I am one month into the program, just did my first workout of the second phase yesterday. I have already seen crazy results. The glob of fat around my bellybutton left over from having babies is virtually gone. I am almost back to my pre-pregnancy stomach. My arms and legs are more toned and I am so much stronger. I can do pull-ups! I could NEVER do a pull-up. I was that kid in elementary school hanging desperately from the pull-up bar waiting for the stupid fitness test to be over. Now I can bust out 4 or 5 pull-ups! That’s huge for me! I can also do regular push-ups, no more girly knee push ups. I will spare you the before and after bikini pics- ha ha ha!

I’m hoping that the confidence of meeting my fitness goals will translate into new confidence in my riding. I CAN get into shape, so I CAN ride well. My strength and balance are improving and I’m sure my riding, especially the canter, will improve as well. I’ll keep you posted!

Pictures

It was a goooooorgeous weekend and I got a quick ride in on Sunday. I got some video, but I have to say it isn’t our best work. We warmed up for about 5 minutes and then I turned on the video camera. We only walked and trotted in the warm-up so the canter work you see was the first we did that day. The transitions are very sloppy; I’m still getting the feel of it. Half the time I ride in two point and half the time I try to sit the canter. The switch from sitting to two point is ugly and unbalanced. I will say that I looked a little more secure in the canter than I felt. I feel like I’m bouncing around more than I look like I’m bouncing around.

Cantering!
Trotting- my heel is down!
Looking very dressage-ey!
Cantering
Cantering again!

And finally, the video…

I’m a lucky girl!

This will be me and B someday...

This week was my kids’ first week at the new babysitter. At the old babysitter, I would pick my daughter up on my lunch break and spend my two hour lunch break with her and my son. The new babysitter is too far away for this to be possible, so now I have a two hour lunch break all to myself with no babies to tend to! I feel very lucky to have this block of time all to myself!

So guess what I did on my lunch break today? Why yes, I rode my fabulous horse! I got a quick 20 minute ride, just worked on walk/trot/canter. Baron was great; he’s starting to get the cantering thing. For so long I was afraid to let him canter for fear that I wouldn’t be able to bring him back down. I’m proud to say that he very, very rarely tried to canter. I believe he sensed my trepidation and was respectful of my desire to take it slow.

I’m able to get a trot to canter transition without a lot of fuss now. I get up in two point,  give him a squeeze and off he goes. He’s been great about keeping it slow and not jetting off across the pasture. Sometimes when I squeeze he gives a little buck, almost like a bunny hop. I’m not sure what to do about this. Is it irritation about being asked to work harder? Is it excess energy? Perhaps I am giving him confusing aids?

On a different topic, I’m reading a book of short stories about the horse/human connection, communication with animals and the esoteric/spiritual side of our relationships with horses. A lot of the authors talk about the deep bond they have with their horses; some of the authors claim to be able to communicate telepathically with their horses. I honestly believe that’s possible, but can’t say I’ve ever experienced it. It did get me thinking about the relationship I have with Baron.

I wonder if Baron loves me. I know he is fond of me because I represent good things like a bucket full of grain, a clean water bucket, cookies and butt scratches. But if I sold him and all of a sudden he had a new girl to love him, would he remember me and miss me or would he forget all about me? Horses very often show signs of depression when separated from their horse friends. I wonder if Baron feels that same sort of affection for me?

I do believe that Baron remembers his life as a racehorse and much prefers his new life. I have no concrete evidence of this; it’s just a feeling I have. I suppose I base it on Baron’s happy-go-lucky attitude. He has positive, upbeat energy and he tries hard to please me. I believe he understands that his new job is to be my horse. I ask him to walk, trot and canter around an arena and in return he gets free food, rent and treats. Not a bad deal if you ask me!

Change is good. Sometimes.

Recently I’ve become convinced that my saddle is too small for me and doesn’t fit Baron properly. He was getting way too many white hairs in the saddle area. I decided I needed to start searching for a new saddle. My local tack shop consigns saddles and they let you try them out for a week before making a decision, which I think is very cool. They had some very nice, make you drool sort of saddles, like a beautiful brown Stubben dressage saddle. It was only a 15 inch though and out of my price range. I did find a lovely older Collegiate 17 inch for a great price. I took it for a week, got to ride in it 3 times and I loved it! I’m no saddle fitting expert, but it seems to fit him much better. I also feel much better in it, much more secure, like I’m able to get my leg underneath me and feel like I’m sitting in the correct part of the seat. Here she is…

Notice the leathers that don’t match? Those came off my old saddle and I’m too strapped for cash to buy new ones. That brings me to the next change in my life…

Starting next week, both my kids will be at a babysitter while I’m at work. So that doubles my babysitting cost each month. I shudder to tell you what it costs. Let’s just say it’s equivalent to some people’s mortgage. Folks, for the next year, until my daughter starts free Georgia preschool (thank you Georgia lottery), I am going to be slightly poor. Not can’t buy groceries poor, but can’t buy fun extra horse things poor. My saddle will probably be the last horse related item I buy for a while.

No big deal though. I have a horse and that’s enough. 🙂