Tag Archives: training level

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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Finally! (and some drama)

I did it! Part of the reason for my long silence, though not all of it, was that I kept trying to take Strider in a dressage show. The first one I had to scratch due to a death in the family, the second one I entered and the whole show was canceled because of the EHV-1 outbreak. I was starting to sense a trend. I decided to risk it and try entering a third show though. It was last weekend and there was no apocalypse, a lot of drama though.

First, Strider’s saddle fit became a really big issue. It had been a small issue and had seemed correctable with shims and pads- and then more pads, and more pads. We were at four pads and my calling him, “princess and the pea horse” was a little too apropos for comfort. He was starting to get back sore as well. I was not ok with that and it did nothing good for our suppleness or transitions to say the least. He is already conformationally challenged so I didn’t want any other issues. I also go into the horse version of panicked parent mode when I know my horse is uncomfortable.

As soon as I could I started saddle shopping. Thankfully one of the mobile tack stores has a large used selection and was going to be close by; I was able to try six saddles in one weekend! Even better one of them actually seemed to be a great fit for Strider. The only downside was that it was a bit of a gamble because my trainer couldn’t check it for me. Based on my own knowledge and how my horse felt in it I decided to go with it (trainer is still out of the country- I will let you know if that was a good gamble when she gets back!). Worst case it has improved his royal highness’ back, doesn’t require four pads, and is, in my opinion, and based on some quick digging on the internet, a better value than what I had before. Now I can just hope my old saddle sells quickly so I can replenish my somewhat drained savings.

The new saddle came just in time. In fact, I got it exactly a week before the show. Less than ideal timing, but at least I got it before the show, since my old saddle was definitely not helping us out. I was worried I would be riding my dressage tests in my jumping saddle. But thankfully that didn’t end up happening.

 More surprises were in order though as the Thursday before the show I had to leave work early and go see my doctor because I was having intense stomach pain. There were no clear answers, as usual, but we treated the pain and set an appointment for a ct scan. Not eating in preparation for the ct scan calmed things down a little and though I didn’t get the results of the scan before the show I was able to make it through thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.

 I will spare you the rest of the drama involving warm up arena melt downs (Strider: “ZOMGWTFBBQ there are more than three horses in the arena), boot disasters (one fit and not the other- no kidding), and missing tractor parts.

 I will be honest: my first ride was terrible and it was all my fault. Poor Strider tolerated my show nerves fabulously though and between his generally being good and a somewhat nice judge we managed to eke out a 64% on t-3. It got better as the test went on, but I am pretty sure a drunken sailor on a unicycle could have done a better center line and halt, salute.

 Somewhat miraculously (it’s me we’re talking about here- historically I haven’t shown very well. Even when I have scored well I am usually an absolute basketcase), I gathered my wits, drank some sports drink and actually breathed a little before my next test. I admit I was worried since it was First level, but I figured I may as well relax and enjoy rather than freak out if the results would be the same. My old trainer used to hate it when I would say, “I have to stop caring,” because she didn’t understand what I meant. I am realizing that in order to show well I have to be able to let go of the outcome. I ride far better when I don’t care. It’s not bad in my case, because then I actually ride. Not caring for me doesn’t mean I stop trying; it enables me to try. We went in and though I rode conservatively, we ended up with a 67%. I really couldn’t have been more pleased.

 The next day we had a different judge and the scores, on average, were lower. We managed a 68% on T-3 (and it felt amazing!!) and a 61% on First 1. Both rides felt incredibly steady though and I was absolutely thrilled.

Vanya has not been sitting around all this time either. He has been doing western. I jokingly say that he “has a 4-Her.” I think in theory the 4-Her has him but if you ask him I am sure it is the other way around. He has done well at remembering what little western he knew and improving on it and has even become vaguely decent as a showmanship horse. He still needs work but western is good for him in his old age. I am sure he will be excited when fair is over and we can start focusing more on getting him and his 4-Her ready for barrels and poles though. He also is going to get his own little kid after fair and I cannot wait for him to get some lead line action.

 My RA has been pretty bad which is really why I haven’t been posting much. I am determined to push through it to the extent that I can, but often I have the energy to work, ride, etc. and then posting falls by the wayside. I will do my best to update more frequently whenever I can. I am trying acupuncture to help with some of the side issues that have been nagging at me so we’ll see if that helps. Even my knitting has been slower than usual. Oh well….always have to keep pushing on!! 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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