Like most adult ammies I go to a day job to support the cushy lifestyles of my horses. When work and life get crazy that can sometimes carry over to my barn life. Recently this has led to some pretty meh rides and me lacking some confidence in the saddle. As much as I would like to I can’t just play with ponies all day so it is time to get my butt back in gear.
Yesterday I finally got to haul over to my local trainers. I was originally supposed to have a lesson. However, after a less than awesome ride on Saturday I asked if he would mind putting a ride on the ginger dragon. As I eluded to earlier Annie and I have been a bit at odds lately. I was hoping that a training ride might help me get a better feel for what I need to be doing to accomplish more with our rides and I was not disappointed.
Having a ridiculously athletic and smart mare is a blessing and a curse. She can legitimately jump the moon and actually moves pretty well when she wants to. Key words being when she wants to. The minute that she decides something is tough she looks for a way out. She has in effect trained me to back down when she has a tantrum and thus I am most of the problem. No surprise there since its usually problem humans not horses.
I have let myself get talked out of pushing her towards correct work. I will ask for something and she will giraffe and throw herself around in a way to avoid it and then I will get nervous and back off. This used to be limited to the sandbox but lately when she doesn’t get what she wants over fences she has started flailing around as well. I don’t really blame her. I set the bar low and let her totally trample my expectations by constantly backing down.
Thankfully my trainer is a no nonsense kind of guy. He got on Annie and while there was some conversation (read: theatrics from Annie) he finally got the point across to her that no matter what she needed to participate. It didn’t need to be perfect and it didn’t have to be constant but she had to try. He reiterated that I need to stop making excuses for her. No more letting her get her way. I definitely need to figure this out with Annie because I am relatively certain that Luna is going to be a whole different kind of difficult under saddle.
Annie doesn’t like a noseband? Too bad – just put a normal bridle on and let her figure it out.
Annie doesn’t like a bit? Well – I have done everything in my power to try to find one she deems acceptable. It is clear it is not a bit problem but rather an attitude.
Before you all ask – yes she has seen the vet, chiropractor, and massage therapist etc etc. Bottom line is that I need to set boundaries and stick to them. There is nothing cruel or harsh about it. Just saying nope this is where you need to be. Try again if she doesn’t get it, reward if she does. Such is life with green horses. Just when you think you have something figured out they are like nope. Not today! When I am at my best I can ride her through most of this stuff. Six + months without regular lessons and bad habits were bound to form.
Lastly do not sit in trainers saddle because it will probably make you wish you had one. Which is literally the last thing you need right now! Thanks Amanda…
Going into Sunday I was trying to channel all of the things we worked on the day before. I didn’t want to be the useless shamateur that couldn’t apply concepts 2 days in a row. I wanted to be a good student and to give my red dragon the great riding she deserves. This both did and didn’t happen.
You might be asking how it could be both good and bad… The most simple way to explain is that we had moments of brilliance sprinkled across a bunch of weak riding on my part. Annie tried her little heart out for me (with some sass – because ginger). Given my fitness level and weakness I was so slow to recover after fences that we ended up with some yard sail moments. The course should have ridden: grid – left turn vertical – bending line Swedish oxer – right turn bending line gate – roll back left to a triple bar – bending line to a triple line – right turn to the liver pool – bending line to the outside oxer line. We built it up through the session. Just when I would get one part right the wheels would fall off approaching the next. That is after all the way things go. One step forward two steps back.
I even ended up with an unplanned dismount after I got way too far forward and essentially leaned my way into a run out at the end of the triple. Annie is a game little beast but I need to help her out so that she can do her part.
In summary we learned so so much. When we had those moments of brilliance it was unlike any other feeling. If you want to be humbled ride like a drunk monkey in front of a 4* eventer… You have to feel the lowest of lows to fully embrace the highest of highs. I don’t want to get too sappy but I have found the horse of a lifetime in this little mare. She has helped me in 2 short years realize that I can get back in the arena and feel confident. It definitely isn’t always easy but the best things in life usually aren’t.
This weekend was interesting to say the least. I went into the weekend very nervous. I haven’t had consistent lessons in months. My confidence has been a bit out of whack and the only spot in the clinic available was in the training group. Cue panic mode! The host trainer and Lainey discussed based on what I shared about what we do at home and the fact that we only ran our first novice in October. Luckily the exercises could be adjusted for her level of training and so it was game on!
Big shout out to the host of this clinic Shady Oak Farm for the lovely facility and Lainey for her time!
Going into the ring I wasn’t sure what to expect. Lainey knew the others in my group so she spent a few extra minutes talking with me about Annie and then it was go time. Right of the get go we went into a grid that made me want to throw up. This was truly a mental thing for me though and was a non issue mentally after attempt 1.
I really got a lot out of it and was able to focus on keeping balanced upwards so that we could go through the poles with a nice jump out over the oxer. Lainey made a point to emphasize that if you go to a jump in a heap you will most certainly land in one as well so she spent most of her time coaching me to correct my position so that I could stay out of Annie’s way and not work against myself. I think that the video of highlights captures it best since you can kind of see how the session progressed and the pieces that were put together. Essentially the full session strung the grid (vertical to an oxer with 4 approx. 9′ cavaletti canter poles between) – left turn around the arena – to the half circle of death – to the triple oxer line – roll back to go off the right through the angled jumps AKA MY DEATH. The vertical to the Liverpool/ water tray to the chevron skinny was in there as well but in different positions depending on horse and rider.
I think it is funny how going into it I was sure that we wouldn’t be able to complete the exercises. I was so sure it would lead to imminent death. Spoiler alert: I am a drama llama and we did fine. I won’t say that it was all butterflies and unicorns but I have a seriously talented little horse that really wants to do the right thing. It is a lot of pressure for a baby horse to carry a fraidy cat like me around. She could also use some confidence for new exercises so I need to step up!I need to focus on a being correct and upright (#sitbackordie) with my seat and shoulders. If I do this I can maintain a steady position and recover more quickly after fences. When I did this Annie got to shine. When I didn’t the wheels kind of fell off the bus. Note to self – flinging ones body over jumps in a free willy-esque level of grace is probably not the answer if the idea is to avoid a belly flop. If I can tackle my position problems I know that the sky is the limit for this little mare.
This clinic was incredibly difficult but so worth the sweat and tears. I loved Laine’s teaching style. She knew just when to push to get us to be our best but also understood the fragile ammie brain. Right when I was about to break she knew just what to say to get my nerve back and recover. Lainey didn’t belittle us when we struggled with concepts or fear but it wasn’t a walk in the park. And honestly it shouldn’t be! If I am paying $$$ for this time I want to get the most I can out of it. Day 2/course work and it did not disappoint! Stay tuned!
P.S. Having awesome blogger friends to meet up with at super cool events like clinics and horse shows rocks! Lauren from Gray Horse Problems and her awesome husband are super fun. I am so grateful for all of the media made possible by Eric! Thank you guys for being great friends and support for my GA adventures thus far! 🙂
Coming into day two Elisa had a better feel of all of us and we were able to jump right into the fun stuff!Now here is a big mind boggling bit of information… I was still leaning… and tipping… and overall struggling with the same shit I always do. Yeah one ride with a 4* rider doesn’t make the adult ammy ride like a 4* rider… EW was seriously patient and then she realized I needed the tough love teaching.
The exercise was pretty much a building lesson. We started with a small set of stairs, moved onto adding a small vertical, and from there it went all the way to a small course including a coupe and a 2 stride.
I started out okay but as I went along I would start tipping more and more. Then I was told “don’t be shit” and you know what… I rode better! New motto!
In addition to getting to ride with a really incredible 4* rider I also finally got to meet Lauren from Dandyism! Not only is she just as sweet as you would expect her fiance is also the bomb. He took all of the awesome photos in this post! Lauren and Eric let me stay with them over night which was incredible. I love my truck tent but GA heat is oppressive. Props to you Amanda and Bobby for camping in TX but you are better people. This also meant that all of the dogs could meet so their back yard was like a dog park for awhile! Even more fun added to the last day is that the facility that we rode at had a old race track. What started as a casual hack around the track turned into a quick impromptu race. Let me just tell you that Gus is a competitive dude with a BIG stride. We came around the final turn (and only turn since we started towards the end) and Gus turned into a beast. I was honestly pretty convinced that Gus was going to go tearing around the track again and again and again. Luckily he came back to planet earth pretty quickly though. The horse wont have issues making time! That’s for sure!
I don’t share a lot of Annie’s derp under saddle because I often don’t have great pictures to capture it… This means that a lot of the time I’m pretty sure people don’t understand just how difficult of a time I have on her sometimes. Green horses aren’t easy and while Annie is seriously a super star she is still an opinionated little ginger. Being an amateur I have plenty of flaws and one of the biggest issues that I have is that I don’t use enough leg to back up any consistent contact. This leads to a very confused baby horse that gets frustrated with me and I don’t blame her!
Day one with Elisa Wallace was flat work with poles. I didn’t anticipate how complicated it would end up being but it quickly called out all of our various weaknesses. For me this was the above leg to hand ratio and leaning… Always leaning. Eventually Annie and I were clearly not going to break the cycle on our own so Elisa hopped on. Yep that’s right – a 4* Olympic alternate rode my horse!
It was really educational for me to watch what she was doing and the change was amazing. Obviously a rider of that caliper is going to make my horse look good but I really didn’t anticipate it to go the way it did. When I got back on Annie seemed to have a much better understanding of what I was hoping to accomplish.
The exercises we worked on on Saturday definitely gave us all a lot of tools to work on at home! Next week I will share some diagrams.
After all of the clinic fun I was able to catch up with K who took the awesome pics of Saturday’s session. Later on I went to an awesome dinner with Lauren and her fiancé. Having blog friends across the country makes for really fun adventures!
I have had lovely rides with Annie this week and my lesson was no exception. While warming up trainer helped me with remembering that my position is key to getting her to relax and respond. I also need to learn how to sit the canter again because peeps the struggle is so real. I am not nearly as strong as I used to be and I have been practicing the hover game too much lately. This also ends up with me leaning soooo much to the inside.
I don’t want to teach her to respond to the wrong things and I need to ride her the way I want her to like being ridden. This means that I need to know when to half halt and let go, how to stay balanced, and not let go. I sometimes get caught kind of barely pulling and barely releasing which ends up just being a lot of nagging. This definitely came into play over fences too.We worked on the fences in the first picture and Annie was awesome! I however need to step up my game. I felt like I was alright for most of the mini course we worked up to but for some reason heading into the white vertical on the diagonal I kept turning way too early both before and after the fence. Almost dive bombing it! NT got my number though and ended up setting focal points for me. What do you know when I listened to him the before, jump, and after rode better. Imagine that! I need to get better at not giving up. When I want to hold to the base I need to do that instead of just kinda saying nah thats okay baby horse… You decide.
Today is the waiting game to see if the weather throws a wrench in our show plans this weekend! If all goes well I will get to try out my new Winston Equestrian Paris show shirt that I won from the contest that Luxe Eq and Winston Equestrian hosted.
Anyone have any magic tricks for sitting the canter? 😉
This weekend wasn’t really anything to write home about. On Friday Annie got her annual vaccinations, teeth done, and had her coggins pulled. We are prepared for a great 2016 show season now! Annie seemed fine after seeing the vet and was bright eyed and happy but I decided to give her the day off anyways as that is what I have always done with my horses when they get teeth/vaccines done.
Friday was also the day of fun deliveries! Above are hugenormous containers of essential oils for my new concoction. Once I figure out an exact recipe, a bottle supplier, and a logo (maybe a contest?) I will be selecting a few bloggers to give me some honest feedback 🙂
I might have also indulged in some fun Riding Warehouse shopping thanks to their Instagram sale… One of the smaller items that I decided to indulge in was a Wine Down Hoof Pick. I had been meaning to buy a wine opener for the barn anyways so I got to kill 2 birds with one stone. I also picked up a Rambo Mesh Cooler at a great price during the sale too. Back to mare face. On Saturday I had a lesson and Annie was really good. My favorite part of the lesson was working on getting the 7 in a bending line from a cross rail to a plank jump. I could really feel how my position impacted our in between and it was really helpful. Annie is a very quick study which is good and bad. Every ride on any horse you are either training or untraining something… That definitely applies to my green bean too and is something I need to always keep in mind.
Yesterday I was able to do a nice school again and Annie once again proved how smart she is. I love this mare more and more each day and I can’t wait to see where we can go together. 🙂
6 days until the horse show! I need to get my show gear clean and organized as I think I am going to haul over with my BO and another boarder instead of us all driving 3 separate rigs. Lets all do an anti rain dance so the showgrounds doesn’t become a swamp.
This week was pretty uneventful from the ride perspective (in that it was non existent between rain and work) but I still opted to have a lesson on Friday afternoon. Given said 6 day hiatus from the saddle the ginger was understandably up.
Our lesson became was pretty much a lesson in riding the horse I am given… But it felt a lot like this was my theme song – I may or may not have busted out in song while being taken off with… Except all parts were saying no. Mind and body. Thanks R. Kelly ( normally not a fan) for summing it up so perfectly.
Essentially NT wants me to sit down on Annie when we canter instead of this hover thing that I have developed a bad habit of doing. I felt like Annie was going to lose her mind evetyime that I sat on her and NT kept reiterating the same concepts over and over… It was definitely ammy hour at the farm.
Eventually it became clear that things were about as productive as they were going to be given that I had not worked her all week and we called it quits. I did take away some great points about my position and the feel I should be trying to get.
My notes were:
Give with elbows as I post for a softer and quieter hand
Do NOT use an indirect rein in all situations
Use my seat more – sit down and ride instead of treating Annie like glass
On Saturday I busted out the clippers and was yet again so pleased with how well behaved Annie was about the process. I have some lines but I figure by next week things will look perfect again.
Yesterday was the real party. I tacked Nanners up and had a great school on the flat. I was able to spiral in and out on circles and even got 2 controlled lead changes out of her – each on the first try! Love this little mare more and more each day.
Annie was so good for our flat that I ended up taking her out around the farm. She was foot perfect and didn’t care about anything. I am hoping to get her off farm for a trail ride soon.
I failed at attempting to get a conformation picture of her this weekend because she kept wanting to look at the camera. She’s so cute I can’t complain though. I am in Louisville for work today but hopefully the weather will be nice for a ride tomorrow. 🙂
This weekends theme for lessons was soft following hands. I have the tendency to get stiff when I get nervous or to drop my hands. I need to learn how to ride with a higher hand and a shorter rein.Annie came out a little high but she was trying very hard to be good. Our flat work went pretty well with most of the work being on me – she was an angel and I ride like a monkey?
Kyle came out to the barn with me so I finally have some more video of the little ginger.
Next up was a lesson on C. I worked on very similar things and had a break through over fences. I tend to want to look down and try to find my distances but if I get the right canter they tend to come to me if I can keep C packaged. He is a big horse and if I get him strung out I end up only riding the front end and not his motor so to speak. It really sank in for me when my trainer said to ride him “uphill” and get him balanced – it is really funny how just a change in phrase can make all of the difference in a lesson!
I had some great rides between both ponies and I am feeling excited about Wilmington in 2 weeks!
As is my new standard for the weekend today was a day full of lessons. The morning started off with NT coming to the farm to teach me and another boarder.
My lessons on Annie still had the main goal of quiet. She seems to want to be a quiet ride but she also is still getting used to accepting a consistent contact. I struggled with the same things I always do which is keeping my upper body up as well as riding deeper in my seat. Leg leg leg is what I need to use but my instinct is to take it off and drop my hands. Low hands are not soft hands nor is lowering my hands a half halt. At one point my trainer said I needed to stop hovered and start riding. I can’t just give up or stop riding – surprisingly the creature goes better when I actually ride it… Baby steps towards getting my sea legs back I guess. Even more exciting is that I got to jump around on my favorite one of NT’s sales horses. If I had a money tree he would be mine mine mine. I love riding him because I can really focus on myself. I started off on fire. I nailed my distances and was so comfortable. Then we stopped for a second and it was like my brain tuned off and anxiety turned on. I got incredibly hurried and flustered. I was missing my distances and squeezing C off the ground from the big gap and overall a disaster. Thankfully he is a saint so while he wasn’t happy he didn’t do anything bad and let me figure it out. I felt really badly because I wasn’t doing C justice. Luckily trainer had me break down the exercise again and when I kept my shoulders back and “ears over my hips” things went much better!
Exciting news coming up! And I should have more Annie spam as Kyle is going to come out to the barn with me tomorrow!