My Partner is Delight

My Partner is Delight
Heading into the great unknown

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Catching Up - Part Three

I also need to share a bit of a speed bump that I had last week.

I was trying for my second canter last week on Tacki and I fell off.

It was the first time for a "real" fall for me in 5 years or so. (I have fallen off bareback a couple of times just fooling around). I was stiff for a couple of days, but I survived.

As I was cantering Tacki she ducked her shoulder to the inside. I over compensated and it just got worse from there. I finally decided to bail off but by then it was too late, I already was "falling with style" as Woody said to Buzz Lightyear.

It was NOT Tacki's fault. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body and didn't buck, I just lost control of her shoulder wasn't able to think fast enough to fix it. I hate it so much that I "grab" when I get scared... it is just the opposite of what I need to do.

What's ironic is that my last fall 5 years ago was nearly the exact same event. Delight ducked her shoulder ( out that time) and I fell off hard like a sack of potatoes. Delight was definitely being dishonest. I was really lucky. I wasn't wearing a helmet and I did hit my head. I also hurt my back badly that time.

The difference this time is that I knew what was happening even as it was happening, I just couldn't get my body to work right fast enough. The first time I fell it took me YEARS before I understood what happened.

So I guess I need to work some more on shoulder control, eh?

I did get back on and cantered both directions. Tacki is a very forgiving mare. She really is a wonderful horse.

One of the best things that came out of this is that my AOF did not kick in this time. I think I must really be making some progress against that Monster!

AOF - Nada. Me - Three Million!


Catching Up - Part Two

Not of me, but of how I feel!

I went to the second jumping show yesterday. I was worried again, but this time for different reasons; "What if my wins last month were a fluke? What if I fall off? My goodness, I haven't ridden Delight in the English saddle in a month!" Worrying is my specialty it seems.

In the weeks before the show I had been teasing Sandra, who planned to ride Sam, about riding against "The Champion of the World," and that she needed to "Be Very Afraid." I didn't really expect to duplicate my wins of last month so I talked a lot of friendly "smack" with her. Sandra is my endurance riding buddy. In the summer we spend a lot of saddle time together and I enjoy riding with her very much. This winter we haven't been able to ride together much and so I was looking forward to spending the day with her almost as much as I was the show itself.

My husband Tom came along with us, so I had several of my best friends there: Lyn, Nancy, Pat and Sandra. I am so grateful and blessed with my circle of friends.

This time the jumps had numbers on them so learning the course was much easier! I didn't need the help of my little bitty pony girl to figure it out. I saw her pony there but he had a different rider on his back. Maybe she was her big sister.

I was a little later getting into the arena this time for warm ups. There were also nearly twice as many entries into this show so warm ups were quite chaotic. It was hard to get Tacki to settle in and drop her head. One of the areas Tacki is the greenest is in playing off of the emotions of the other horses. It's one of the biggest reasons I wanted to take her to these shows. She is a forward little horse and if another horse is cantering she thinks that the race is on! I am sure my hands were too high and my seat too forward, but I tried to work on them.

I worked Tacki for 1/2 hour and then I rode Delight into the arena. She was buddy sour, screaming and nearly bucking. Between hoping I could sit the English saddle that I was riding in and trying to keep her from darting out the gate every time we passed it, I was smiling at my little red dragon. Delight also picks up on the energy of the horses around and she thought she should gallop around like they were. I know my hands were high and I was quick to grab her, but again I concentrated hard to get us both settled.

Delight and I were first up. I could never get her into a nice even working trot in my training round nor my actual round. I knew we were too fast so I actually brought her down to a walk over the last "fence" both times. The first round we were 6 seconds off the pace and the second time we were only 3 seconds off.

Tacki had settled down quite a bit before my rounds on her. She always does better out there alone. There is something about this little mare that I love - actually there are many things I love about her- she really tunes in to her rider and tries very hard to trust when she is afraid. When we are both focused it is a wonderful feeling. On our training round she nearly refused one "jump" but I think it was my fault. We were coming around a tight circle and I didn't get her straight and focused on time. We were 4 seconds off the pace. The second time was very nice and we were only ONE second off of the pace!

Then Sandra rode Sam for his two rounds. During the warm up time Sam had been a little bit of a handful. Sandra is a great rider and she handled him beautifully. Sam's tail was flying. He was so lovely! Their training round was only off by 6 seconds. Their second round was better and only off of the optimum time by ONE second!

So, once again I took first AND second place! And, Sandra shared first place with me! I could not have dreamed up a better outcome! Congratulations Sandra, "Wee Ha!"

There were 16 rounds, twice as many as the last show.

Maybe I am learning to ride these horses after all? What a nice boost to my confidence. This is the second time in my adult life that I have won a ribbon riding horses. It has been beyond my biggest hopes and dreams.

The best part?

AOF - Zip. Me - Two Million!


Some Catching Up to Do - Part One

No, it's not me. Just a lovely picture. In fact, I don't jump. My classes at the jumping show are over ground poles in between the standards.

I have a few things that I want to share, things I should have blogged here about as they were happening, but life got in the way.

I went to the Jumping show on the 18th, and won first AND second place! I took First on Tacki and Second on Delight.

I have never tried anything like this. I went because the series is a fundraiser for Nancy Roche and her horse Breezer so that they can go to some big horse shows this year. I took Tacki* because she is my green endurance prospect and I wanted to expose her to other horses, scary jumps etc. I took Delight because she is mine and I love her. ♥

My goals were to remember the course, and to not have any refusals. Oh, and staying on the horse was a goal too! The first time they blew the start whistle it spooked Tacki and she almost fell down right underneath me. Everyone laughed, including me.

One thing I loved was that while I was having to remember all that stuff the Fear Monster was pushed right out of my brain. In fact, trying to remember everything turned out to be an unexpected bonus. "Which is the next jump? Stay straight, keep the horse soft, keep the working trot pace, and oh yeah, 'Which one is the next jump?' " I was focusing so hard there was no room left over for fear in my brain. I felt like I was riding like I did as a kid. It was a wonderful, powerful feeling.

There was a little bitty girl on a little bitty grey pony who helped me learn the course. She was the cutest thing. Her mom was trying to explain to me the mysterious symbols on the jump map and she suggested that her daughter lead me through the course. She was so proud to be helping a grownup! I gave her my second place prize, which was a bag of yummy candy! She was in another class, so I didn't see how she did.

So, I was not expecting to place, let alone win! I was one second off of the optimal time with Tacki and 4 second off with Delight. There were eight rides in the competition.

AOF - Zero, Me - One Million!

*Tacki (and Sam) belong to Lyn Kinney of Blue Note Arabians. Sandra and I are conditioning them for Endurance this summer.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Breakthrough!

On Friday I had a wonderful breakthrough!

I cantered Tacki both directions in the indoor arena. I was a little scared, but not uncontrollably so. I know I will be able to canter her whenever I want to now. I can't wait to canter her again! What a wonderful feeling to have after suffering years of fear.

Most of Tacki's training has been at the walk and trot. I have cantered her up hills, and a teeny bit out on the trail. He original trainer has started her in a canter, but Tacki is still green and unbalanced.

Since Tacki has had only a little bit of canter work my ride was all head up and hollow back, me with elbows flying at first. I was worried that I was getting in her way up front so I pretty much dropped the reins and tried to steer with my legs a la Clinton Anderson's passenger lesson. I wanted to make sure I didn't get in the way of her "forward". It was really hard to trust her, as she is so green. But we did it!

AOF, Take that!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Saddle

I am in the process of buying a new saddle. It's my first English saddle ever. When I was a kid I rode English quite a bit, but never owned my own saddle.

It's a brown Wintec 500 All Purpose.

I am hoping it will serve two purposes. Number one I want to continue learning to ride dressage. I have been learning that dressage is a wonderful cross training for endurance.

Number two, if I can get confident enough riding in it I would like for it to be a future endurance saddle. It fits all of the horses I ride without having to add padding. I love the cordura Western saddle I have been riding in, it is as comfortable as they come, but I have to heavily pad it in the front. This adds weight and also adds heat to the horse's back.

I'll share some observations about it as I go along. So far so good. I have ridden Tacki and Delight in it at a walk and a trot, and it is the saddle I was riding Delight in at the jumping clinic. I still need to canter in it. That darn canter! Actually I just haven't had a good opportunity yet. Soon. I promise myself!

Jan 4, 2011

I had a great ride today. I lent Delight to one of the boarders so that she could take her granddaughter on a trail ride. The granddaughter was riding her (the boarder's) horse named Cody. I planned to ride Tacki.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances I had to stay back and do a few things at the barn and they took off without me. I rode out on Tacki alone, riding in my new English saddle. I have only ridden her out alone one or two other times, and I can count on one hand the times I have ridden I have ridden in this saddle. English saddles are scary doncha know!

I headed down the road that I thought my friends had gone down and as soon as we were almost off the property Tacki started getting sticky feet. Instead of fighting with her I abandoned the idea catching up with my friends and turned around back to the farm. I didn't force the issue as I really wanted this to be a relaxing adventure for both of us. And, I knew my friends were at least a mile down the trail ahead of us. I didn't feel like hurrying to catch up with them.

Tacki on a ride this summer

Tacki and I went all over the property (It's 100 acres or so), but not up and down the hills as the ground is too hard and uneven. I love riding this little mare. Sometimes she was very worried but with the slightest encouragement from my legs or hands she gave it her best try. She's not 100% trusting of me yet and she scooted a couple of times. But I am so pleased with her try that instead of becoming uneasy it made me look forward to seeing how she does after a whole summer of riding her out. We will be going out lots more times as we get ready for the endurance season.

In the end, I am glad I rode out alone today because I have some wonderful quiet time to think about things other than my troubles. Sounds corny but the horses really are a balm for my soul. After Delight, Tacki is my favorite horse to ride right now. I am really looking forward to our summer of riding together.

Oh and I did just fine in the scary saddle. Maybe I will get my love of riding English back after all....


Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Bucket List

I posted this challenge on my Facebook page today. I have edited it to add a few more of my "horsey" dreams here for my equine minded readers. My challenge is the same here, make a list and I will send it back to you in 6 months.

I want to challenge you, my friends and family, to make a few sort of New Year's un- resolutions.

This morning I was writing in my oft neglected gratitude journal. After writing my few things I am thankful for my mind turned to the second half of the page where I record random dreams for the future. Things I have written in that section over the months have included such grandiose things as buying a house to incidental things like having a baby goat named Lovely. I believe that giving myself permission to sit and dream for a few minutes each day and then reading back over the months of the things my childlike heart has dreamed about has been the most a healing and freeing practice that I have endeavored to do in 2010. My only regret is that I did not sit down more often and record these dreams more often than I did.

Ahh, but had I practiced more "discipline" then perhaps I would have lost some of the freedom of that exercise, thereby defeating it's purpose!

Anyway, back to this morning. Although I would love to share with you the journey of a Gratitude/Dream journal and to encourage you to embark on it with me, my challenge for you is much simpler.

It occurred to me this morning to make a list of dreams and desires for this year, a sort of Mini Bucket List. Some of the things on my list included:

1) Ride Star in her first endurance ride (25-30 miles)

2) Try a 50 miler on Delight

3) Try a Dressage test, maybe on Sam?

4) Become a member of AERC, PNER, AHA, and MHA and start collecting points for my endurance rides

5) More LD's on Takima

6) Canter at will on Sam, Tacki, Star and Shuga

7) Learn to make goat milk soap

8) Begin trying out a new recipes once a month or so.

I am challenging you all to make a short list like mine. If you make a list and send it back to me I will send it back to you in 6 months or so and you can be inspired by the things you have checked off, and/or be inspired to try for some more things on your list. Your list can be as long or as short as you like. I will put it on my calendar so I can remember to send them all back.

The things on this list are NOT resolutions nor are they self-improvement goals. They are NOT rules to live by in 2011 nor even positive changes we want to make. Resolutions and goals and changes are all good, even if they difficult to keep through a whole year. What I am asking for ARE dreams and endeavors that unless life makes a dramatic change (as it is wont to do!), that can be at least "tried on for size". Think, "Something new."

" I want to lose 20 lbs" does not fit in this list. "I would like to try out an aerobics class." or "I want to check out the Wii fit program on my son's Wii." do fit... kinda. However, I challenge you to think bigger than this. Do you have anything you would like to learn to do, but have never made the time; a new recipe, a craft, an adventure? What about trying a different variety of flower in your garden or learning a new sport? What about a drive to visit a place you have always wanted to go to but just haven't ever made time to do it. Think outside your box, I dare you!

Remember, no resolutions allowed, those are for another list.

Take a few minutes to dream. It's good for you!

Looking forward to a dream filled 2011,