Saturday 30 September 2017

Bit of an Update

I've had some good rides this week, and that's made a big difference in my motivation levels. For the past month or so, and honestly a good part of the summer, I've been kind of doing the fake it til you make it thing. I still enjoyed barn time, but it felt like one more thing on the to do list, if that makes sense.

It's such a head game with me, because now that show season is pretty much over and my coach is off travelling and enjoying some well deserved R&R,  I don't feel like I 'have to' ride on such a strict schedule. So,  of course, now riding is all I want to do!
Bridget: "C'mon, lazy human, get up here and let's go!"

The other thing that cheered me up a bit was that the girl who rides Bridget when I am away recently had similar comments with how she's been going with her and my coach (I'm never there to watch). And, they are both amazing riders, so maybe I don't need to blame all of the bad days on my riding, more on my busy schedule and less than effective communication skills (why did I assume I was the only one having not so stellar rides, when I actually haven't taken the time to talk to the other two, pretty much at all, lol?)
An accurate portrayal of my responses to their texts lately. Why type when one emoji is all you need? I fail at adult communication   lol
So, as mentioned, I have had a few good rides. I had a good lesson on Monday, and then a nice hack and a couple of decent flat rides. I havent jumped since forever, so i need to put that on the to do list. I have also started testing out bit suggestion #1. My coach has a wall of bits we're free to use, so I'm going to use that option before I start ordering things to try. Luckily,  she's got several of the bits you so helpfully suggested on my last post!. Wish me luck! I hope everyone's having a fantastic weekend!

Heading out to the trails on best pony.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Talk to Me of Bits

Thanks for the welcome back and the good wishes!

I've made you a thank you gift. Free word vomit for everyone!!! (You're welcome, aren't I the best?)

For the tl;dr crowd (or anyone halfway sane): 

I want to try a new bit on my pony. It needs to be dressage legal. The problem is an aversion to/hiding behind the contact. Not stopping power, we have tons of that. We can nix plain eggbutt snaffles and loose ring french links. Anything else is fair game. I'd love to hear suggestions or comments on what is working for you.

bonus gift of pony mare side eye

 For the more...detail oriented...:

Regarding the riding recap, a  few of you mentioned trying out a new bit might not be such a bad idea. Honestly, I sort of put that thought on hold a while ago because I tried a new bit and my coach (who rides B now and then) immediately commented she really liked her in it. It's a loose ring french link I put on her dressage bridle (and meant to remove, lol). Obviously, that wasn't the feedback I was expecting, because I actually didn't find her better at all in it. I actually still find her slightly easier in the eggbutt snaffle I have on my jump bridle.

II'm trying to turn over a new leaf and have more media for this blog. This is what happens when you expect barn cats to pose for last minute cute pics. More practice is required  - my iPhone is for photos, not a target for attack.

Better. Good kitty.
I thought on that and chalked it up to me needing to ride suspicion being my hands are not as steady as my coach's and with the loose ring that translated to being noisier than B would prefer. I do have a solid position and seat, so my hands are independent and actually fairly good, but I do not have the finesse EC has. I feel like this new added focus on keeping my hands very still is having the undesired side effect of making me a bit tight in my shoulders. Not good, either, because we've gone from maybe being slightly 'noisy' to not giving enough. We're talking really minor changes here, but it's B. Despite her laziness, she's very sensitive and fussy. I'm sure partly that's just how she is, but partly it's probably I am her main rider so we've had plenty of time to annoy each other. Like in any long term relationship, seemingly minor issues in communication can have quite dramatic results if given enough time to fester :)
A quiet forest scene to make up for the communication breakdown drama. breathe in....breathe out.
Actually, I was out walking last weekend and a bear ran across my path in this very spot.  I took this pic as kind of a CSI hint should they find my phone and not my body. But don't let that bother you. And, relaaaaxxx....
Long story slightly shorter, my coach is away for a month, so my schedule is temporarily more flexible and I have time to try out some new bits without worrying about paying for a non productive lesson due to bit change shenanigans. It's all well and fine for me to learn to ride better, (and spending time and focus on that is never something I'll regret doing) but maybe I am looking at this wrong and there is a bit that works for both of us, as we are now. Maybe it is simply an issue we need to work through and it's not about the bit so much as the riding and training. This evading contact thing has been an ongoing since I bought her (Seriously, when I bought her they told me she didn't go in a bridle...and yet, she had driving experience. Also, zero issues with the actual bridling and wearing of, tons of issues with any rein contact. I suspect there's a story there) So, although the improvement in general has been  huge, we've hit a wall the past few months and it can't hurt to try new things.

Wheww, hopefully I didn't scare you all away. Overthink it much? LOL

This barn kitty is actually young and friendly, but his grumpy old man face is on point, and seems an appropriate reaction to my epic wordiness on bits.


Tuesday 26 September 2017

Ridin' The Struggle Bus

Whew, it's been just about a month since my last post. When we left off, I was feel burnt out and heading off for some annual vacation time. The good news was, my vacation was wonderful. The bad news...coming back to real life was/is HARD. I spent a week or two thinking my struggles were just normal post vacation blues, but yep. there is more going on than that. It's no secret that fitting a busy barn schedule in with a full time work schedule is tough. Adding in a long distance relationship and the desire to travel home at least every second weekend and it's all maybe a little much for me at this point in time.
Some lake time was had...

B had a little vacay too...look at that face, dinner time is her happy time lol!

So, that's why I haven't been too keen to blog. Although the blogging community and horses are two of my more favorite things in life, I've started more than one post lately that sounds way too negative/defeated/sad and I'm like "Who is this Debbie Downer person writing on my blog?" I guess it's time to admit that she seems to be me, right now. But, the good news is, I don't like her, so she isn't welcome to stay long term :)

I've been riding and working as normal the past few weeks. I've had some good rides, and some really no so good ones. B had her teeth done, which had the result of making her extra tough and fussy in the contact for a good two weeks. This happened last year too, so definitely something to think about and schedule for. Her mouth/teeth are normal, so it's not like there are any big changes being done, just routine maintenance....still, something must happen that she doesn't agree with!
Happy trail outing ears

Bored arena ears

 I've been struggling too, with finding the magical place where she's in front of my leg and pushing through and steady in my hand. Unfortunately, I've developed a bit of a habit of kicking her forward every time she's crooked, above the bit, or just generally 'flat' which I'm now learning is just making her rush and evade more. I'm running her off her feet, and there is nothing in my hand, no power coming over her back. So tricky, and of course I feel bad for it - making her job harder isn't really one of my riding goals. I feel like the base problem is that she isn't trustworthy to carry herself or go at a consistent tempo in any gait. I need to do some reading, because quite honestly, I thought all this time the answer was to let her be, until she started evading or slowing, then correct it, usually by asking her to move up and give me more power from behind. Currently, that results in giraffe racing in the trot (walk and canter are better) She really, really, does not want me in contact with her mouth. At a walk it looks OK, but really she's wanting to be a bit behind the contact and I am needing to ask her to move up every few strides. At the trot, it's messy unless I really add some bend to help get those hind legs under. At a canter, she's less balanced so we run into problems with bracing and leaning because it's still a bit 'all or nothing' power wise. I'm unsure about just what I should be doing to fix things and not at all sure what I'm doing with my body isn't the problem. Previous feedback was that I'm fine, pony just thinks work is hard and forward is the answer to all the things, but I think I'm just not understanding my coach because that seems to not be the case now.

Gorgeous trails calling our names! I hiked this loop with G and it's pretty much all easy like this...but it's a really long distance and  took us about 3.5 hours. Next time a bike or a horse is going to have to be the mode of transport.

I didn't end up doing any showing this past month because I'm trying to cut back on the insanity that is my schedule, not to mention the above back-to-basics struggles making me feel the timing wasn't right.

In related time-out-to-think-it-through news, wish me luck...I have a request in for a short term leave of absence from work in order to recharge and spend some time at home with G (Bridget will of course come home too for a trail riding time out). I like my job and the barn I'm at,  so I'm a little worried my work will say no and I might be forced to make some bigger life decisions. Fingers crossed they accept my proposal, but I'll look at it as an opportunity, either way :)

In the meantime, I can't wait to catch up on everyone's blogs. It looks like September has held a lot of well deserved successes for many of you!