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Conclusion: Because

I recently came to an important conclusion about my riding. I am sure you are waiting with baited breath to hear what it was. But to I think I should give you a little background first.

It started when I finished a few knitting projects I had planned on for quite some time. I had, in rapid succession, quite a few knitting projects I had planned to give away as gifts. I, of course, have many more I wanted to do, but I didn’t really want to start on them yet and none of the gift deadlines were particularly looming. So I felt a little depressed. There are so many beautiful projects in the world to be knit, how could I knit them all, and if I couldn’t knit them all, why should I bother knitting anything? Thus went my completely ridiculous line of reasoning. So I listlessly flipped through my knitting books and magazines thinking how fabulous it would be to knit this sweater, or that hat, but I just didn’t have the right yarn. Then I started going through my yarn stash and feeling the beautiful yarns and thinking of how I would love to knit with this yarn or that yarn, but darn it, I just didn’t have the right pattern. And then it hit me. I madly grabbed the two skeins of homespun yarn my mother had sent me ages ago that had been sitting in my stash begging for the perfect project and then lunged for the issue of Piecework that I knew had a pattern I had been longing to knit if only I had the perfect yarn. I knit a test swatch (but only a very small one because I generally don’t believe in them and because it is a shawl pattern for heaven’s sake) and then I paused…I realized I had no real reason to knit this beautiful shawl pattern from 1930, that perhaps Miss Marple would have knit. I had no one in mind that I would give it to, and I had no real use for it myself, though I suppose I could use it at work. Why would I knit this project? That was when it hit me- why not! I would knit it, as huge and ridiculous as it may be, because I could and it was there and I wanted to do it. I would enjoy it, the yarn was just right for the pattern and vice versa, it would be beautiful and special. Of course it will take ages and I am praying I have enough of the unique yarn that I cannot get any more of, but I am doing it because it will be knitting for the sake of knitting. What does that have to do with my great conclusion about my riding?

Well, of course, though I qualified for our state’s dressage championships at training and first level I decided that I wouldn’t go. It would be fiscally unwise for me, I haven’t been able to take as many lessons as I would like, and aside from the shows at which I qualified I haven’t shown Strider at all. And did I mention those shows were at the barn where I board? He usually travels well and winning certainly isn’t everything, but I want our first trip to championships to be over the moon wonderful. I don’t want to be worried that I am not prepared and that I can’t really afford it. But I still have been riding like a crazy person. At least 4 days a week, no matter what, I am at the barn riding. There was a brief time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Was I trying to prove something? Was I determined to get to second level by next year? No and no. Well, kind of no. Mostly no. I realized that right now I am riding religiously for the sake of riding. Because I love riding and my horse and the barn where I board and the experience of it- and I didn’t really need another reason. So my great realization is that goals are wonderful. Having a reason to do something can often be very important. But sometimes it is just as important to do something for no reason at all.

So, I hope you do something you love not because you have a goal to accomplish, but just because. And until next time, RAWR!!!!



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Look Behind You

I have a picture on my desk at work of when I first started riding Strider. It was taken at a schooling show literally about a month after I started riding him. I remember I knew it was nuts to take him to one so soon since I could barely even get on him I was in such bad shape from RA and he hadn’t been ridden for a long time. The riding he had before that hadn’t sat well with him (that is a good part of the story of how he came to be given to me- yes I said given…though at this point in the story I was leasing him) and before that he had been on the track. Basically it was silly to do, but I wanted to try. He is the shaggiest I think he has ever gotten, his feet were a mess; the best description I can give of him then is of a rather refined looking mule with ears that didn’t want it enough. Brown horses that haven’t had fabulous grooming and care just don’t look good- and I am referring to the true brown horses that everyone calls dark bay with bleach spots. There is so much wrong in the picture: girth cover because the only girth I had was ancient and had no elastic, Strider isn’t tracking up, mismatched neoprene splint boots I borrowed, my position is atrocious, and I was considerably heavier than I am now. But I love that picture. Strider still wasn’t convinced about me yet, but I was thrilled and it shows. The joy in being able to ride again, even if it was terrible, was obvious.

That picture is also a reminder of how far we have come. I don’t have many pictures of Strider and me, but I know how he looks when he walks up to me in the pasture. I know he trusts me now and even usually will leave his food and his “hole” (that’s what we call his shed ha-ha) when he hears me call him. He is sleek and shiny now; his feet are in great shape (for a TB type horse- no cracks and good wall. His angles are much better and his front feet are up a shoe size.); he is incredibly muscled; his personality is really showing and I think every time I see him I am in awe that I  get to ride him.

So what’s my point aside from that I like looking at a terrible picture and I adore my horse? Well, I think sometimes on the middle of struggling and pushing so hard to move forward and prevail over hard things sometimes we forget to remember from where we came. Whether in dressage, hunter jumpers, or fighting RA sometimes it helps to remember how far you really have come. It may seem at times like we only move backwards, especially when treating RA, I know, because I remember what it was like to be on a treatment that worked. But sometimes we have to remember what it was like to before we were diagnosed, or when we were diagnosed in order to see that, though it may feel like I have no options, at least I have a great rheumatologist on my side now. Or in dressage, sometimes we get hard on ourselves (ha! Sometimes? Maybe always?) and our horses because we can’t seem to perfect a certain movement, reach a goal, or we let our minds get the better of us, but where were we and our horses 6 months, a year, or 2 years ago?  If we look back maybe we can find the hope and faith to keep moving forward; it isn’t a new thought at all, but I know I needed the reminder. Just don’t get stuck looking behind you- you never know when you might run into a wall or a tree or a manure pit or something- trust me on that one.

Until next time- RAWR!!!!!!

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Core Workout 101

I feel like I was punched in the stomach. I know….great way to start a blog, a week, anything right? But here is the worst part: I wasn’t punched in the stomach and I did it to myself.

So here is how it happened:

I haven’t been very good about getting to the gym since my RA treatments have been less than wonderfully successful lately. Of course I have been my usual type A perfectionist self though working as hard as I can possibly make myself to do the homework my trainer gives me with my horse and keep up with four or five rides a week at least. I really hope I can work out my budget to do some shows this season and shows or no shows I want to be the best I can be. I am just ridiculous about riding in that respect. I still can’t quite figure out why, but I want to do it the best I can. I can’t imagine a world in which I do not ride. And I want to be amazing at it and I am not there yet. So I work at it as hard as I can.

Recently my horse has been doing really well in training. Don’t get me wrong, we may still be in Training Level for all eternity, but I am ok with that, and if we are in Training level eternally we will look amazing and be happy doing it! But, this has led to my working more on my riding as we get better. I learn new techniques and refinements and practice those as we work on things with my horse. In my most recent lesson, my trainer indicated that my sitting trot was much improved so I should do it more.

So we did. And holy buckets was it hard. My horse, though I love him dearly, doesn’t have the easiest trot to ride even though it is a far sight better than it used to be. He has an extremely short back so even when he is supple, his trot can feel like riding a pogo stick on a trampoline. My core muscles were screaming at me and I was breathing as hard as I do when I run after about ten minutes. I felt like an idiot. I practice sitting trot so why was doing it for ten minutes straight so hard?

As a result, my homework this week was to do sitting trot, especially on ten meter circles interspersed at nice intervals, for longer periods, take a short break and then do it again. Of course I still need to work on getting half halts, getting canter lengthening and then transitions back, shortening/collecting the canter strides, getting him more round, and a variety of other elements we have been working on as well.

I did my homework a couple times now. My abs and core muscles hate me. I can’t believe how out of shape I am. It certainly makes me fill a little silly since I had thought I was working pretty hard and keeping up with where I needed to be. So…I will keep working at it. I will get past this and actually be able to sit the trot with decency one of these days! RAWR!!!!!!

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Grooming and RA

This weekend I got to do one of my favorite things- I groomed at a horse show. I absolutely love being involved in horse shows and helping people, being around the horses and seeing them perform, all without the mental stress of my actually being in the show. I still love showing, but grooming gives me a different kind of joy and thrill; one that I don’t want to give up. But I am paying for my weekend in the currency of pain today; I always do, but it is so incredibly worth it!

I also usually end up answering questions from people who don’t know me as well- things like: “Are you ok? You are walking funny,” or “What do you mean you have arthritis? You are too young for that.” In short, not only do I get reminded that I have RA but other people often can tell too and they ask questions. That can be a good thing but I know I fall short in answering people sometimes. I often minimize my symptoms or disease because I don’t want people to think I can’t do things or that I need help. I also see the attitudes of others who do know me towards my disease. Some horse people I am around want to treat me differently and help me out, tell me what I should and shouldn’t do, what might help, in short they go into what I think of as the bubble mode. Some people want to keep me from experiencing my disease by trying to cure me and prevent me from doing things. Others minimize the disease saying I can do anything, I don’t look sick, it is all in my head, if I would just change my attitude, be more positive, etc. everything would be fine. I think of this attitude as the minimization mode; these people want to prevent me from experiencing the disease by trying to make it disappear. I honestly find both sets of attitudes frustrating even though I know they both come from people who just don’t know what to do with chronic disease and want to help. And really I will admit I don’t know what to do with the reality of disease any better than they do, but I feel that by being matter of fact about the reality of it I am at least not fooling myself. It isn’t negative attitude, it is simply truth. But what I don’t know how to do is help others see that, help others to be matter of fact about it, and help others to allow me to feel things out. I don’t want to hide that I have a disease, and let’s face it, I couldn’t if I wanted to- my bag with a dozen or so prescriptions in it (I leave a couple at home ha-ha) and my morning stiffness would be a dead giveaway to anyone with ears and eyes. So, I guess all of that is to say- I hope all the horsey people bear with me on this- I will me patient too, and hopefully someday I can explain things so we can all understand. Until then though, if you know someone with a chronic disease or disability, my best thought on how to react to it is this: the person isn’t the disease so you can talk to them about it openly- really. And when it is uncomfortable because the person admits they have pain or embarrassing difficulties it is ok to just admit you don’t know what to say or do. Honesty is always good. I am sure there are thousands of opinions on this, but….my .02.

One thing I did find very inspiring this weekend though was watching a para-equestrian compete! She was a grade II and an absolutely beautiful rider. Talk about humbling and inspiring to see her lifted onto her horse and then go out there and ride movements I can only dream of with my horse! She really is amazing and it was a privilege to get to see her ride.

Next Saturday I have another schooling show. Strider has had a lot of time off lately (for him… for some horses it wouldn’t be considered much time off but he normally gets no more than two consecutive days off…) but I am hoping it will be good for him. It will be our last schooling show before we submit scores for CSDA year end awards and before Strider and I get a bunch of lessons with an amazing trainer. I can hardly wait for the lessons as I am dreaming of someday doing 1st level with Strider and really doing well at it. This year we have done all training level and I am not sure who is more desperate to move on- Strider or me! But neither of us is ready, so we keep working at it….someday….and before that someday hits I have to find reins that I can consistently hold. That has been my struggle this whole year; right now I have electrical tape blobs on my reins but that probably won’t be allowed at any USEF recognized shows without a dispensation so I need to figure something else out. Not to mention that the blobs are NOT at all unobtrusive. So….things to work on over the winter.

Matt gets home from training tomorrow. I can’t wait! Not sure how long he will be home but I will enjoy it while I can. Hopefully that will give me more time to blog again even! So, until next time- RAWR!!!

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In retrospect, there is a reason for everything. The in retrospect part of that sentence is very important though as in the middle of most difficult situations, they are far too painful, stressful, or busy to realize the “why” behind them. A post by another blogger (Kelly- Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior) got me thinking about this and I want to share my story of RA at this point, or at least, what it is until now and as best as I can tell it.

My diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis was a long time coming. I started having symptoms, if you really look closely, back in high school. But I started really having problems right after I got married, in the summer of 2006. When you are a newlywed people expect it to be one of the happiest times of your life, but for me it was a more of a steady deceleration. I had been vibrant, busy, active, fun-loving, and the image of energy. Before I got married I was in college (taking 20+ credits at a time in order to graduate in three years), working two jobs, dancing in a church dance ministry that performed for thousands of people, and running. I should mention, one of my jobs was taking care of two kids part time and the other one was horse related- I was an assistant barn manager and I also gave riding lessons, trained horses, and rode my own horse. My life was the epitome of the active lifestyle. In all this, while taking my finals and writing my senior thesis for my English minor and my comprehensive exam for Economics I was also planning a wedding and arranging for a place to live after Matt and I got married. I thrived on being busy. I had some issues. I seemed to have some tendonitis in several locations as well as asthma. The tendonitis was never fixed with physical therapy, and only got worse, but I took lots of nsaids and kept going. That was how I was. Matt and I got married and I started looking for a job in my field but continued to work at the barn. I started to experience more fatigue and pain, but wrote it off to stress. After all, between having one apartment fall through, I had moved four times in 2 months, dealt with a wedding with a highly dysfunctional family, graduated, was trying to make ends meet, and was job hunting, I had plenty of stress.

I got a terrific entry level job in my field rather quickly and though it wasn’t my dream job it seemed a far sight better than cleaning stalls for my whole life (in hindsight, I enjoy cleaning stalls far more but my current job does have better health insurance) and I was quickly on the path to management. But a shadow was coming over me in the sense that my life had rather quickly turned into work, and sleep. I had no more energy for anything else. In the course of two months I went from vibrant to flat. I kept up appearances at work, but unfortunately as soon as I got home I had nothing left. I started having stabbing pain in my hands and elbows as well as nausea and cramping; after a few weeks of this with copious amounts of various forms of pain relievers having no effect, I called my general practitioner.

They drew blood, they poked they prodded, and gave me medications. They did test after test. First it was tendonitis, and the nausea was because I was celiac. So I went on a gluten free/wheat free diet. I learned to bake without wheat flour and found a place where I could buy xantham gum, since baking was one of the few hobbies I had left. I made my own blend of gluten free baking flour that didn’t taste like garbanzo beans, which was actually quite a feat. The one thing I did not do was get better. I continued to see my doctor. He would send me to one specialist after another, and do more tests; it seemed like all of them came back normal. I was starting to feel like it all had to be in my head; I must be crazy, lazy, or some combination of the two. I was gaining weight in all of this as well, going from a very fit size 6 and 145 pounds at 5’8” to, eventually a size 10 and 185 pounds. It broke my heart as I tried to make myself exercise, eat less, do anything to lose the weight, but I was exhausted and I hurt everywhere. The pain was now in my feet, knees, hips, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and ankles. I tried swimming, but even that was too much. I could barely bring myself to get on my old horse and walk around. Trotting felt like a herculean task. Even a little cross rail felt huge.

I received a referral to a rheumatologist. I was somewhat more hopeful that he might shed some light on my pain, since I figured I had to be running out of options. He reviewed my files and spoke with me for a few minutes. He didn’t have x-rays, or even do a thorough physical exam. He pronounced that I had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and that I should just live with my symptoms as there was nothing he could do. I felt insane. I read the literature he gave me, but the description of the syndrome I had sounded nothing like my symptoms. I was disheartened and wasn’t sure where to go. I called my general practitioner and he suggested we focus on the GI symptoms for a while and see what happened with the pain; until then he would try various pain medications to try to reduce the pain.

We found out the source of some of the GI problems almost six months later. While doing a test for something else entirely they found gall stones. They also realized that the test that showed I was celiac had been misread; I could eat wheat and gluten after all. I had my gall bladder out and hoped that things would get better. A few things did, but not very much. This time, my doctor referred me to yet another doctor, this time, a rheumatologist in Denver. I asked what good he thought it would do, his only response was that he was completely stumped. After nearly three years he was admitting defeat.

Without much hope, I called the rheumatologist in Denver and set an appointment. I gathered the records they wanted, got x-rays as they asked, and waited. I don’t think I will ever feel such a strange combination of emotions as I felt after that appointment. The doctor reviewed all of my records, all the way back as far as he could. He did a physical exam, took some additional x-rays, and took the time to really talk to me. After all this, he delivered his verdict. He basically said he was surprised the other rheumatologist had said what he did as my symptoms showed, “classic” rheumatoid arthritis. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy that I wasn’t crazy or heartbroken that I had RA. I was numb and hurting and glad all at the same time. He started me on a fairly conservative course of treatment, but one that would take out as much of the inflammation as quickly as possible.

The treatment helped. For the first time in three years I started to feel like me. Not 100% but 25%. With a few more appointments we were able to figure out which drugs worked and which didn’t; this is a continuing process that we still don’t have perfected. But, I lost 50 pounds this year, I started running again, I started riding seriously again, and I feel like I can be there for my friends and family when they need me. It almost felt like coming out of a tunnel where you held your breath the whole time, it was dark, and you got lost several times. Coming out into the light of day and taking a few deep breaths suddenly feels like heaven on earth.

In retrospect though, I see that I learned to face problems head on, at least when I really need to, I learned patience and perseverance, I learned to stand up for myself and trust my instincts, and I learned that I am stronger than I knew I was and weaker than I knew I was simultaneously. I learned that asking for help is not failure and many other things as well; I would prefer that I learned these things a different way. But, even now that I am back to not being able to run because I don’t quite have it in me, I look back on what I have learned and I try to look forward with hope. Because I know that eventually, in retrospect, I will see why I needed the challenges of today to prepare me for tomorrow’s challenges.

I may only be at 50% of where I want to be, but I am working towards getting closer to myself. I don’t believe everything will be ok in this life, but it doesn’t need to be.  So, until next time, RAWR!!

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My focus this week has been on getting ready for the dressage show at my barn this weekend. It should be pretty fun and a little different than the average show as not only is it a costume show but also all the boys are doing it too! My husband Matt, my brother Cyrus, and Tom (my sister Aubrey’s BF) will all be riding in Intro test B. It should be pretty fun to watch.

 Thankfully Strider seems to be feeling fine now- I think his problem last week was a sore muscle as he recovered in a few days with no ill effects. Luckily I was able to get his feet trimmed on Saturday since that usually makes him a little sore for a day or two as well (not my farrier’s fault I promise- he has done wonders for Strider’s feet and his being a little sore after trims has been improving over time.) and he was initially scheduled for Thursday evening which would have made him sore right on the day of the show probably. I rode him last night and he was amazing! He was still a little tender in his feet (I could tell if we hit a thin spot in the footing) but he was really wonderful considering that he hadn’t been ridden in four days and he normally has no more than two consecutive days off (he doesn’t do well with lot’s of days off in a row).

 I also experimented with a different saddle last night. I have been riding in a borrowed Prestige Top Dressage and it fits Strider beautifully and is amazingly comfortable. However, I have been struggling a lot with my leg position lately and that is somewhat atypical of me. I am not saying my position is flawless; not by a long shot, but putting my leg forward is not a common issue. Looking down or tipping forward are very normal for me, putting my lower leg too far forward is not. I noticed that I had less of a problem keeping my leg in the correct position when I rode my friend’s horse in her Frank Baines saddle with a much flatter knee block, so I obtained a Wintec Isabel to try on Strider. I tried it with some trepidation as I hate CAIR due to it completely not working when I tried a Bates jumping saddle. It was so frustrating. But, I figured it was worth a shot. Miraculously, not only did the saddle seem to fit Strider really well, but I was also quite comfortable and was able to keep my leg in the correct alignment very easily. It was wonderful. It was easier to sit back and feel my center and keep my shoulders back. I really noticed the difference when I tried a leg yield in the trot- I felt the alignment and Strider’s movement more and even on the first try he really didn’t fuss at all. Amazing what happens when I ride correctly. He still had some moments. We are still really struggling with our stretchy chewies, but we did finally get a really good one at the end of our workout last night. Overall, it was a relief Strider was feeling better and trying the different saddle, though it complicates my decision on buying a new saddle, gave me good information.

 Jennifer did well riding Vanya last night as well. After her recent breakthrough on Dundee she has realized the importance of gripping the reins but being loose in her elbows and it has helped to quiet her hands and improve her ability to get contact and communicate with more subtlety. She is doing very well at getting him to engage his body more and bend in the walk and trot. The canter is still a work in progress, but she did realize how to get him more forward so she can start asking for the bend and get him a bit more balanced as well. He is a very steady horse in many ways, but also can be very challenging as not all of his past training has been correct (raises hand- that would be my fault. I plead innocence based on mental incompetence as I was only a child). Jennifer is really doing well with him considering that he really isn’t actually trained for dressage at all. I also noticed a huge improvement in her level of patience with herself. If she didn’t get something right first try, she simply quietly kept at it. She didn’t get annoyed or uptight and she was even relaxed in her body, so it wasn’t just an external lack of frustration; she is actually internalizing what she is learning about riding each moment and not holding on to past mistakes. It is so wonderful to see her happier and les frustrated when she rides. I am hoping she gets some better scores at this show that can represent all this work and progress she has made.

 I am not telling what my super cool costume will be for the show; I will post pictures afterwards. I will leave you in suspense until then. I have a lesson with Jo tonight and am super excited for that. My husband and Jennifer are still on the lookout for good ideas though (that are easy and affordable) so please feel free to comment if you have any ideas (or comments, thoughts, snide remarks etc.). Until next time…RAWR!

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The Beautiful and the…

So last night was a mix of the beautiful and the frustrating.

I went out to the barn thinking life was good, all was right with the world, I had a lesson scheduled with an amazing trainer for today, had everything arranged and was going to be organized and ready. I also had found out that Jennifer would be able to take Vanya, my older gelding, in a pair pace coming up. Everything was just wonderful. I did some planning with some people at the barn for the pair pace and the upcoming show, and went and caught my horse. I admit it stresses me a bit when I have more than one person who wants to ride Vanya in a night, and that was the case again, but I determined a course of action that made pretty much everyone happy (Nicole can ride him bareback while Jennifer works her other horse and then Jennifer can ride him).

I caught Strider and got him tacked up. He was being super affectionate and sweet and as I looked over him when I groomed him everything was great. I took him in to start lungeing him though and as soon as he started to trot I noticed he was a little off. I though he might warm up out of it since he has shown stiffness before, so I did some stretches with him, gave him some more walk time, and then tried again. He seemed a little better, so I asked for a canter. He seemed alright, then he came back down to a trot and it was back. He was off again. I stretched him a bit more and then walked him around mostly on a loose rein since he was very comfortable with that and it seemed to make him happy. I then put liniment on his legs and put his standing wraps on and let him hang out in a stall with his hay bag while I went to help Jennifer.

While I was worried about Strider, Jennifer was having a horrible time with her horse, Dundee. I had suggested she try a flash on him, since I had seen that he liked to gape to avoid the bit. I helped her put it on and made sure it was still pretty loose. His bridle is actually too big for him I noticed so both his nosebands were actually pretty loose, so he wasn’t being overly restricted by adding the flash. However, Dundee definitely wasn’t too excited about this. He was walking and trotting around looking more like a giraffe than I had ever seen a horse look. I could tell Jennifer was trying as hard as she could and doing her best and as I lunged Strider I was trying to giver her help on what to do to help him listen and relax. It was all to no avail. By the time I was done with Strider Jennifer was incredibly frustrated; with good reason. I got on Dundee and got him walking forward on a 20m circle and asked him to relax and bend to the inside and accept contact. It took him a few circles, but he finally did. I had him maintain the contact for a time or two around the circle and then changed direction through the circle and did the same thing going the other way. I really applied what I had learned from my lesson with Jo and focused on staying centered, relaxed, and breathing. Once I felt he was listening, I had Jennifer get on again.

At first she still struggled. I coached her to what Jo had explained to me. Focus on center. Relax the shoulder but sit tall. Follow with the hips. Still Dundee ignored her requests to bend and give and accept the contact. She kept at it and I reminded her to consistently focus on just what she could directly control and each individual moment and to breathe and be patient with Dundee; trust that he would eventually listen to her. I explained that she couldn’t impose her timeframe on the horse: she wants him to accept contact now but he will do it when he is ready. Finally she understood. She was still frustrated and was on the point of giving up. Suddenly, Dundee relaxed and accepted the contact and softened and bent. It didn’t last long, but Jennifer was puzzled. She said she wasn’t doing anything at all. She asked him to do what she wanted again. More resistance. When she relaxed and just followed his motion but maintained contact and stopped asking, he accepted the contact and softened and bent. She was baffled. She wasn’t doing anything she repeated. Of course not. Sometimes, when we need to get the most done with our horses, we struggle, we ask, but we have to quiet ourselves and let them be and just ride them as best we can. We may feel like we are doing nothing, just following them, but that may be all we need to do.

It was an important realization for me and for Jennifer. Sometimes, you may not feel like you are doing anything or getting anywhere, but if you are centered, balanced, and following the correct lead, you will achieve what you need. An interesting thought.

I admit I am still really frustrated about having to cancel my lesson for Strider being off, but I don’t want to push it. After had the wraps and liniment on for a bit he was improved but I m worried about him. He has had off days before; it is probably because he is about due for his next trimming as I cannot locate any heat, tenderness, or swelling anywhere, but it still worries me. We’ll see. Since Jennifer had to go, I hopped on Vanya bareback and just enjoyed being with him. He is such a joy and he teaches me still every time I ride him. So, even though last night was frustrating, it was beautiful in many ways- I learned a lot.

Hopefully tonight will be a night I can apply what I learned without the frustration. We’ll see. Until next time…RAWR!


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