Monday, March 31, 2014

In with the new!

It has been  a little over a year since I lost The Old Man.
AKA - The Pie
AKA - Boo
AKA - Opie
HL Open Throttle

I have finally update my blogger profile picture to reflect my partnership with The Fancy Pony!
It really took that long.  But I am healing.  In more ways than one!
She soothes me.  If you look closely, you'll see her wings...

...because she looks so angelic here, right?  ;)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Moving Forward

One more round of injections coming.  Not for the horse.  For my spine.  This year, each set of injections has addressed part of the issues, and it sounds like we have narrowed down the last bit of inconvenience...

We will hit the nerve somewhere near my hip...  I'm hoping this work!

I've improved enough, that I am once again capable of doing this:
Who wants to join me!
The better I feel, the braver I feel, and the bolder my horse is!  Just IMAGINE what we can do!!

In another direction, our trot is getting more elastic all the time, but the canter just isn't keeping up (unless there are jumps involved).  Since we are so comfortable in the trot, I'm going to start cantering wherever I need to go!  We will make it our go-to gait for everything we need to do!  How fun is this going to be?

If you're not moving, you're stagnating - so get moving!
And like I tell the Fancy Pony: Forward is always the right answer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Because if there aren't pictures...

More XC pictures for no reason!
love this trot into the water!

Coach rode her up this big bank to take her to the roll-top... It was big, and she was getting tired, so she needed real precision in the riding here.

Does it get much better than this?

It certainly doesn't get any better than this!

Coops are cake, she says!

Ditches are fun!

Down-banks ain't nothin'...

Look!  I'm a princess on a unicorn! (it feels like it, anyway!)

I call this transition "plop to halt"

finding our hunting canter


Holy cow, is she all over the houses!

Did I mention she fell into this one the first time?

Logs are great!


Logs are still grand!
Into the combination...

Out of the combination!

I slipped my reins over so many fences...

getting better...

Dramatic angles!

The tiger trap rode so easy!

Up the little bank like a pro
I love how quietly commited she was to dropping off of this bank into the water!  This last time we came to it, she cantered up to it.  It was her idea.  I was just going to trot again so as not to overface her.  Instead, she said, "Oh, no.  We CANTER to these!"

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Confession Time!

So, my coach reads my blog.  The first time she told me that she read my blog, I figured it was just that she happened to read that particular entry that I shared on Facebook…
It turns out that she actually reads my blog regularly!
I find this exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time…

One the one hand, she gets to hear every snarky comment I make about our rides together…

On the other hand, she can glean some real insight into where I’m struggling, where I want to go, what I have a handle on, and what I may have misunderstood!

courtesy of a creative fiend friend...
PS - take a look at the improving topline!

coming along!

Monday, March 24, 2014

XC schooling for Beginner-Novice

There were highs!
this is my new favorite photo!
And there were lows...
first time through a ditch...
Lets talk about what happened after we warmed up!

warming up... logs are easy...
We warmed up over some super easy-peasy logs, and she was fresh and ready to go.  We took turns playing in the starting box before heading to what would be our first fence if we were running the BN course...
Fancy Pony stood in the start box like no big deal.  She could have gone to sleep.  Then Coach starts the countdown...
"10... 9... 8..."
Pony gets "up"!
Pretend to start my watch, and now she is definitely ready to GO!
We've been on exactly ONE xc course. And she already knows....
"2...  1...  Have a nice ride!"
Away we went to the inviting log over a box!  We had canter, then right before the fence, I felt her suck back... She had peeked at it... and decided it needed a closer look... which point she FELL INTO the first jump.
Seriously.  Legs went into the box.  Chest hit the log.  Head and neck went OVER the log.  And I prayed I didn't go between her ears...  I stayed aboard!
She scraped her knee.
After a few more attempts, I insisted coach get her over it.
When I got back on, she was back in the game and literally DRAGGED me to the jump!

Look, Mom!  I know what to do with it now!!
Coops are great!  Benches need a little more practice...
Logs are cake!  More logs are great!  Houses are fun!
Tiger trap!  HUH??
Oh, yeah, Tiger Trap is easy, too!

Roll-top combinations?  She just needs me to tell her where to go!
Where are her legs?
Flamingo Pony!
See, FP has so many meanings...

Ever onward, we expolred some ditches for the first time!  These took a little getting used to...
walk with the front end... JUMP with the back end!

I get it!
Yup, that's me holding my pommel and giving her all the rein she could possibly need...  I use this technique on banks, too!  I will have no shame in using this technique in competition, either, until she has figured out exactly how she will jump them!
Speaking of banks, we did those, too!  She loves them! (I think...)
We arrived at the water complex after we thought we were pretty much done for the day.  I had decided no more fences...

See?  No fences!

Banks aren't fences, right?
She went into the water willingly...  And slowly!
Why are her eyes closed??

Yes, she WALKED off the bank! it's no big deal...
Then you know what we did?
Oh, the fun we had in the water complex!!
I asked her to trot down the bank, and she obliged.  But one of my friends missed getting pictures and wanted to see her do it.  So, I asked her to trot to the bank...

The Fancy Pony said, "We don't trot to down banks into water...  We CANTER to them!!"
...and we gleefully cantered off the edge of the world!
Not bad for a Beginner Novice pony, huh?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Remember? Yes!


So, I was AFK for a few days.  You may not have noticed…  But I sure did!
I was farm-sitting for a friend of mine, and this time I had an added responsibility…  In addition to the normal chores involved with cats, chickens, and horses, her main mare has been recovering from a suspensory injury.  She’s now rehabbing, which means daily trot work!  This mare is a fancy warmblood, and I got to ride her EVERY DAY while I was there!
My darling husband was nice enough to take about 10 seconds of video as I trotted her up the driveway, but it is forever locked in the recesses of his phone until he actually sends that to me…


what farm sitting looks like...

I had a darling girl ride the Fancy Pony for me while I was away, and I know FP had a great time being doted on.

FP and I have been rather dressage focused after my last round of spine injections, hence the sudden discovery that she had outgrown my dressage saddle.  Last night we returned to the jumps with a more elastic canter and balanced transitions.  We reacquainted ourselves with the bounce, worked through the one-stride, and worked once again over the baby-corner.
You may recall our work over the corner once before, when she saw it for the first time.  Coach gave me the option to trot it first, or to canter it.  I opted to see where we were and canter it out of the previous course work.

She remembered the corner! She rocked it!

just like I rocked my purple potatoes!
 The one-stride has certainly been under-utelized in our training, so far, and I just know Coach is going to rememdy that!
The first time through, I could feel myself ducking my shoulders in the middle.  Why in the middle?  I haven't figured that out yet.
I was feeling pretty comfortable with the chip coming out of the one-stride, but Coach wanted me to fix it.  To be honest, I wasn't even feeling it...  So, I fixed it!
...and ducked more than I wanted on the way out...

Coach said, "You're naturally going to close more over the bigger fences!  It's no big deal.  You didn't collapse on her."
Oh, OK!

We did it the last time as part of the entire course to end with the corner, and we even got the lead change!  AND a straight exit!

My pony is awesome!  I even told her so!
She knows she is a rock star.

I'm feeling very confident about CROSS COUNTRY SCHOOLING!

Hopefully there will be photographic evidence.  You guys need to see this girl in action!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We have a more muscular topline!

...and as a result, my dressage saddle no longer fits... AGAIN!
Didn't we just do this???

We are back to a saddle that slides up her shoulders.  *sigh*

I'm dealing with a forward girth groove, a short back, and slight downhill conformation.  It only comes forward in the canter.  Thank you, Short Back...

Any suggestions?

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Another Giveaway!

I really love these things! Check out A Gift Horse and her Birthday Giveaway! 
Who doesn't want beautiful, personalized signs! 
What lovely work! 

 In other news, I'm stuck in the land of "not quite broken." 
I rode my friend's Large Fancy Warmblood Mare over the weekend. She is rehabbing from a suspensory injury. She is up to 10 minutes of trot work. 
OMG is she fancy! 
OMG did she make me feel fancy!! 
OMG did she explode on the windy day!

I thought she felt a little off for a few strides after that, but when my friend watched her going, she thought she looked fine. Of course, I couldn't quite feel it as much once she started watching. Well, it turns out that she's still lame!! Grrrrrr! 
And she isn't even my horse! *sigh* 

Fancy Pony got Psycho in the windy, pre-atorm conditions, too... Can't wait for real Spring!!

I apologize for any lack of formatting. I don't know what is going on with my editor, but it isn't working properly. Enjoy the cute kitty curled up in my locker. He told me in no uncertain terms that he was sleeping and refused to move. Ever.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Viva Carlos' Magical Blog Hop: What's In Your Name?

What's in a name?

I’ve been riding for as long as I can remember.  I was taking riding lessons in elementary school.  Always, I was in a western saddle and the focus was: go, steer, stop.  But, I wanted to jump! (Is this story sounding familiar, yet?)
My mom made arrangements for both of us to start lessons at a facility where my Aunt was riding – it was to be a family affair!!
I had my first English riding lesson, which just happened to be recorded!  Parts of it, anyway.  I will never forget watching it later…  As the camera follows my attempts to learn the posting trot, I finally start falling into a rhythm.  Just about the time my rhythm is turning hypnotic, you can hear my mom’s voice from off-camera say, “Look at her.  She looks like an equestrian snob!”
Well, after that, when my mom would introduce me to anyone new, it was something like, “And this is my daughter, the equine snob…”  It was really this grand joke, because no matter how snobby I might look in the saddle (my husband seems to think I have a penchant for archaic and presumptuous art forms), we all know that I’m really not any sort of snob.  Not even close.
The nickname hung around for a while, and I got my first e-mail address…  There was a 10-character limit, and variations of my name were already taken… Then, it hit me!  I officially became “equinesnob”.  When I set up my blog, that version had already been taken, so I went with the original “equestrian snob”, but I didn’t want to use that as a title.  It didn’t really fit what I wanted to share.  I had already been riding for years and years, but I had just embarked on yet another journey of learning.  You see, I have many of those journeys.  Some last longer than others, and at least one will last a lifetime.  My journey with horses really is an odyssey.  No clear destination – many side adventures – countless highs and lows…  I knew that what I started blogging about would not always be what I blogged about, so I didn’t want to have to change it later.

I used to tell certain stories about The Old Man (you know, before he grew up) over and over again.  I had always wished I had written them down, because they would have made a great book!  Well, this time, they are getting written down!
Not every ride is notable enough to have a story.  Although, I was having quite the entertaining couple of weeks recently!!  Sometimes my blog goes dark for a couple of days…  or a couple of weeks…  Sometimes between riding and work, I just can’t find time to write about the random silliness that I happen to be pondering… But the odyssey continues, and I always return with another story.
I am always honored that you come to read and share my humble journey.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

It is really all about me...

I have known for a while that how I use my body directly impacts how my horse uses her own body. If in turn my shoulders, she can more easily turn her shoulders. If I swing my hips, she swings her hips...
But the tiniest things are surfacing...
After my hysterectomy, I clearly noticed 'protective postures'. I would hold my body in a way to protect myself from the inevitable pain of certain movements. This year, I'm learning that these protective postures aren't only a reaction to pain...
I spent all day sitting at a desk. Despite sitting on my awesome, saddle-shaped stool, it wasn't the best day. I was uncomfortable. The ache was radiating from my hip into my thigh. I was debating whether or not to ride. I finally drug myself to the barn and prepared the pony. Unfortunately, she warms up faster than I do, and her trot work started with her feeling like play-doh. But I couldn't keep her soft and malleable.
There is a huge amount of stiffness in my lumbar spine. Part of that stiffness a result of protective posturing. My range of motion has been limited by anticipation of pain. As a result, my stiff back transfers to my horse.
At first, I think: How frustrating! She started out so lovely and now we have regressed into this place of inconsistency!
But when you really think about it, it is such a liberating realization!
How beautifully simple that every aspect of my body influences my horse! When my range of motion returns, when I feel once again like a graceful ballet dancer, we will improve and progress once more!
Less profound is the benefit of walking.
When I woke up, I could almost put my socks on like normal.
After work, there was no way. My feet were out of reach.
At the barn, picking the pony's feet was only accomplished because she picks them up so willingly (with my hands at the level of her knees).
But once in the saddle, we walked and walked. We walked some more. When I felt stiff, we dropped back to that walk. Over and over again. I focused on "plugging in" to my horse. I focused on marching with energy. I followed with my hands as she marched right up into the bridle.
Without even realizing it, I was loosening my back.
When I got off of my horse, I could touch my toes!!
The neatest realization of all!
I've been sitting in the funny stool at work. I don't sit still. I try, but I get uncomfortable. I'm sure it would help if my stool were taller. I find myself stretching my hip flexors in a modified lunge that makes space in my spine. It isn't something you would think much about unless you are the one sitting there in pain. *shrug*
I've been spending a lot of time in my jumping saddle, where my stirrups have shortened quite a bit. When I swung up into my dressage saddle, I realized, "These stirrups need to be lengthened!"
All I can contribute it to is the new arrangement at work that allows me to open the entire front of my body!
I also spent some time during the walk refining my inner feel. I want to find that true neutral position. So, in closed my eyes. When I closed my eyes, I immediately pulled my upper body back!
Now, I want to know: what do you fix when you close your eyes?
I focused of that feeling. Each time I felt that tendency to lean forward, I either closed my eyes again or I returned to the feeling. And wouldn't you know? We even had moments of expressive sitting trot!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Are you thirsty? -or- Calendar Inspiration

For some reason, I think 'margaritas'...
I can apply this to my life in so many ways…  But, when you boil it all the way down, I read it like this.
You can be reactive, or proactive. 
And I really hate it when I find myself in the reactive camp.  I’m struggling with it now…  I have an old injury, and now it is becoming troublesome on a somewhat regular and predictable basis.  Everything I was doing to stay in shape and as preventative maintenance is currently for naught.  I’m reacting to pain.
We have adjusted my Gabapentin to 300 mg – 3 times a day.  Man, does that mid-day dose make me sleepy!
We have scheduled a second round of injections.  Based on my symptoms, we’re injecting the left side only of L4-L5 and L5-S1.  Previously, we were focused solely on the L5-S1 because issues from the higher (older) disc injury were not present.
I hope I’m not boring you too much with the gory particulars.  I figure I can always look back in here for the details should I ever need them in the future!
I’m trying to be proactive by staying focused on core strength and correct basics, but some days, my basic exercises make me feel worse.  Some days, the cold limits my range of motion and nullifies my functionality outside the house.  I could write reams about the ways I feel trapped.  Weather... body...  pain... blah...  blah...  blah...
So, anyway, I can think of a whole lot more reasons to drink!

Monday, March 3, 2014

I owe it to my horse...

I saw a post on Facebook by Tamarack Hill Farm. Denny Emerson was talking about the biggest thing to build confidence and remain gutsy is to "ride a go-er, not a no-er".
There was no doubt she would jump it...
"Success builds confidence. Therefore, it is the trainer's job to ensure success."
We have spent a lot of time jumping little jumps. We have jumped so many, there ius never a question about if she will go... Hence my panic when we recently arrived at a jump in the WRONG canter. I knew she would jump it. I knew it would be ugly. You may remember the video. I believe there were expletives as we jumped...
I have trained the Fancy Pony to be a tremendously honest jumper.
Now, the jumps are getting a little higher. The questions are getting a bit harder. And I have a much bigger responsibility.

I need to make sure I get her to the jump in the correct canter so that she can take off from the best spot.

If I don't do this, my honest pony may not remain honest. And even if she were to remain honest, it wouldn't be fair to her.

I owe it to my horse...


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