Saturday, January 2, 2021

Here’s Looking at You 2021

Totally irrelevant picture, but this is everything I am striving for in 2021.  Effortless harmony, lightness, and ease.  All off the seat.  No problem, right?

Anyway, looking over my resolutions and goals for 2020 and taking into consideration the whole pandemic thing, we did ok.  I didn’t have hard targets just a global goal of small changes that make a big difference.  I blogged yesterday about my online riding diary which was a big hit and had a few other non-horsie successes like walking more with my husband, doing more fun things together(challenging in a pandemic), cooking a Sunday dinner that is something new to us every week, and things like that.  On the horse front we did not make it to any shows like I was targeting but made a HUGE leap in our correct working and collected gaits(thank you Pivo!).  I bought my next horse, a purpose bred dressage horse, which was a big leap for me as I am a tightwad.  I rode, I Pivoed, I cried, and I did it again until I figured out how to sit up.  I learned how to half-halt and get a stretch within the working gaits.  And everything good learning wise came from that sequence.  Actually, looking back, not showing was probably really beneficial because I was not thinking about polishing for shows, just about fixing our posture.

So, a weird year, but for me riding wise and personally, making the most of what was available.  For 2021 I think I am going to keep my small changes that make a big difference mantra.  Some of my small changes include cutting out snacks(the horror!) by not buying them, adding new prompts to my online riding diary, watching a horse training video every day(adding back in the TRT Method as they have a starting a young horse module now), and continuing on with some of the good habits I have picked up with these New Year’s resolutions.  Things like doing yoga and either riding or working out EVERY DAMN DAY, volunteering when I can do so, and seeking out opportunities that challenge me a little(here’s looking at you Cruiser).  I’d like to show Jet this summer, but again his soundness and the pandemic will have a big say.  I would also like to get the Cruiser really going under saddle, get him off the property a few times, and start the process of turning him into reliable transportation.

So that’s me.  What about you?  Are you making resolutions or is the uncertainty of the pandemic making it too difficult?  I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Riding Diary 2020

I didn’t have specific New Year’s goals or resolutions for 2020, just a global commitment to make small changes that might make a big difference in my life.  After my first ride of the year I decided to keep an online riding diary in Apple notes as one of my small changes. Very simple, date, what we did, the good and the bad, usually less than 5-6 lines.  And I did it all year long.  I found myself starting looking at the previous 1-2 entries before every ride and found it to be super useful for reminders of DO THIS and DON’T DO THAT.  Yesterday, I went a step further and read through the diary from January through December.  I saw some real patterns that I wasn’t consciously aware of like finding a good exercise or position reminder and then having it waft off into the distance because I forgot it.  Pole work, I am looking at you.

It was interesting to see my progression from collectibility inside, to pole work outside, to struggling to put it all together in the dressage court.  Then buying a a Pivo and having a few come to Jesus moments about sitting up, getting the poll high, then rediscovering Centered Riding, half-halts, and that working gaits need stretch within them, alignment leads to the easy stretch, which leads to better swingy working gaits, which leads to better collectibility.  Got that? 

I definitely found a riding diary to be super helpful and will continue the habit with a few changes.  First of all I will keep looking back a couple of rides before every new ride but I will also look back a couple of months every now and again to see the bigger arc and also for things that slipped the net.  I’m going to change the format slightly as well.  Still keeping it online and short but using some of the prompts in Dressage Naturally’s Happy Athlete Progress Journal (Christmas gift)that were interesting (listen to a podcast about goal setting and some of the prompts in the journal HERE).

Do you keep a riding diary?  What format and what have you found to be most helpful?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Best Description Ever of a Lifted Back

I ran across this gem on the Dressage Today FB page.  I think this is the best description/illustration using a balloon to explain  having a horse work with a lifted back.  That feeling of the broadness, lift in the gaits, lightness, and ease of movement.  The whole enchilada.

After I saw this I started wondering.  Does the rider need to have a filled balloon as well, to help the horse’s balloon inflate?  I think my balloon is longer and narrow and might need to be wider side to side.  Something to play with on our working gaits ride this afternoon.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Cruiser Update

I’ve had the Cruiser for a little over 4 months and as you can see from the above photo, he continues to be uber friendly and your basic pocket pony.  He has adjusted to life in the Midwest nicely, though he would like a refund for the weather as he did not sign up for sub freezing temperatures and OMG the white stuff falling from the sky.  Even though he has a very nice Horseware winter rug it is definitely an adjustment coming from sunny California.

He has learned a host of baby horse things in our four months together including TRT Method ground work, voice commands on the lunge, how to stand still for grooming, baths, and the vacuum, and quiet field walks all over our property.  He also bridles himself(he is a tart for a sugar cube!)by my holding out the bridle and stands quietly to be saddled.  We got to about 9-10 of walking under saddle with my husband leading and me in the saddle.  He is super chill for on and off, stop, and a bit of a pony kick walk on.  I would have liked to have gotten further but the cold weather came and since he’s definitely more reactive in the cold(see above about the weather adjustment) I think it is smarter to wait for spring to continue with under saddle work.

In the meantime he needs some work on his balance and transitions on the lunge line, we have started basic ground driving and will continue with that, and he just needs to mature physically, I think.  He has gained about 150 lbs. and a ton of muscle and coordination but I think he still has a lot more to come. 

Anyway, reading this, I realize that the boy has come along nicely in just four months.  Looking at where other people are with their 3 year olds I feel a little behind, but I have to remind myself that he is a late 3 year old(birthday in August), very leggy and immature looking, and that while we are going slowly we are building a nice working partnership.  Mostly to his credit, as he has the most friendly and lovely temperament.

Looking forward to what 2021 brings with the Cruiser and turning him into reliable transportation before we start to think about Dressage and showing in 2022.