Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Horsey update, yet more changes!

Barn-hunting must be like one of those speed-dating events, I think. Not like I would know, though.

Rode at Barn #3 for a month or so, and while it was fun I didn't really feel a benefit for the price. In a half-hour, without proper warm-up time, I wasn't riding well and it wasn't worth the trip.

Tried Barn #4 once, and it was okay but an hour away with questionable transportation. Rode a cute paint mustang, though!

And due to life changes, I'm actually moving back to where I was living until last year in November.  Had a great lunge lesson with my same trainer when I was there last week. Rode a little pony named Harris, who has amazing gaits but doesn't want to be a school pony. Luckily, lunging isn't as offensive!

Worked a lot on getting myself on my seat bones (but in the right way), and getting myself on my right seat bone that likes to pop up. I just love the language of the method she teaches and how much it clicks with how my brain works.

I'm excited for the new (and old) horses I will soon get to ride and the new lessons and concepts I will learn and apply!

Alas, no pictures of cute pony as my phone decided to die on me completely.

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Horse Adventures

Moving across the country is great for many reasons (2 hours and $20 to get to NYC, for one!), bad for the horsey life.  Or at least bad for the horse life when one lives in the middle of a huge city.  But I've finally found a situation that works for now... after a bit of trial and error.

Barn #1:
Way too far away and was kind of falling down.
Wasn't worth the trip (and their pricier lessons) for the instruction I saw.

Barn #2:
Took a month of lessons at a barn that also does a great program for inner-city kids.
Lessons were... interesting?  Basically dodging horses/riders and trying not to inadvertently jump something!
Rode a cute horse named Gato, who really needed to be clipped, made me kind of sad:
Fun to ride, but after 2 lessons on him (and 2 on Jordan, a speedy little thing who I spent the first lesson trying to discern the difference between his trot and canter aids! Thankfully he had a cute little canter, but still kind of a pain) I knew that wasn't the place for me.  I value horsekeeping a bit too much, I've been spoiled!

Barn #3:
This is feeling a bit Cinderella and the glass slipper (or Goldilocks and the Three Bears...).
I was reluctant to try barn #3, because it's theoretically a "therapeutic" barn.  Which I don't really need, as long as I have an understanding instructor and good horses... but since I can't find that in a reasonable distance from where I live... And I like their horse care, horses get corrective pads and are nicely groomed, tack doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart in your hands, all good things!

I've had 4 rides so far on a great former eventer named Mason.  Not quite sure WHAT he is, some kind of drafty Appy thing? But he's fun!  He reminds me of riding Indy in the way he moves, maybe just because he's taller than Radar/etc?  His trot is great to post, and actually not as disastrous as I thought it might be to attempt sit.  He's fun like Indy in that he's physically forward but not "up" mentally - the perfect combination for me!

Not that happy with the fact that my lessons are only 1/2 hour, but that seems to be par for the course for all lesson programs around here.  Much better than nothing!  Yesterday we did some pole work and I learned that it's incredibly difficult to convince a former jumper to stop with front legs on one side of the pole and hind legs on the other!  We figured out our seat aids and got on the same page.  Excited to see what else he's capable of with his background!  Might attempt a dressage show this fall if I'm here!
(not my picture, and not that flattering of the poor, sort of homely but cute guy...)

 So that's my long-overdue horsey update.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter riding

So I've ridden all of 4 times since September, most of them over Christmas on these guys.  Moving is hard horse-wise, I love my trainer at home and don't know if I'll ever be able to find a situation like that again... or at least not for a while.

But I have a few potential barns where I've moved that look like good possibilities, so we shall see!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Clinic and Riding Outside the Arena

Last week I audited a groundwork clinic by Charles Wilhelm at Xenophon, where I volunteer.  It was free and what I found most useful about it was actually just that it reinforced a lot of what Mia has been teaching me - horses respecting your personal space, demanding obedience but not in an overbearing way, the idea of moving away from pressure as a good thing.  He got even the obnoxious Haflinger to ground tie! That was impressive, even coming from him.  He advocated bridling the over-the-head way that I've started doing, and reminded us to be careful unbridling - I really have to remember that! Embarrassingly enough, I don't know if I have ever really considered it.

He explained everything in such great terms that I was really kind of inspired to take up more serious ground work sometime... I don't know when, though, since Radar isn't exactly the easiest horse to do ground work with since he is so dull!  Had a nice little walk around on the roads on Friday, although I didn't put spurs on and paid for it! Thankfully Mia made me go back and grab a whip.  I love all the people complaining about how fresh their horses are on the trail and I still have to wake mine up!  Which is good because I'm a chicken outside of the arena, it's pathetic.  But because he's so darn slow I actually trotted up the road on him and felt confident... haven't done that in forever.

There are three possible horses coming into the barn that I would possibly be riding.  Kind of exciting, but between my general life craziness (was supposed to be in NYC today, cancelled because of the hurricane, etc. etc.) I can't really get that worked up about them.  It would be sad to be all happy and end up leaving after all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So what discipline do I do, again?

Friday I rode in a western saddle for the first time in forever.  Today I rode in the jumping saddle and popped over a few x's (my first attempt at "jumping" in 5 years!)... all this a) on a Fjord and b) at a "dressage" barn!  I think the fact that I had so much fun doing both of these things really reaffirms to me that my main goal riding will always be to have fun doing whatever the heck I'm doing at that specific time.  No need to pigeonhole myself into one discipline or another.

Ended up riding Radar in the western saddle last week basically because I was curious.  The saddle's owner had finally punched another hole into the stirrups so it was more feasible to ride in, still a bit too long but manageable.  Had a lot of fun just playing around with applying all the Mary Wanless techniques to a saddle that at first feels very different (where are my seat bones here?)  Radar doesn't care what kind of saddle you're in, so we were all good.

Today we worked on getting him nice and in front of my leg... which honestly on him feels a little racy just because he's so naturally not forward and has an insanely short stride!  Mia decided to put up a tiny cross rail and we popped over it a few times, forgot how much fun jumping a bit is!  I have no desire to jump large fences but tiny stuff is fun.  It's hilarious on him with his short neck, you release and you're nearly at his ears! And I'm short - I can only imagine how much more awkward it would feel if you were taller.  But he was perfect and seemed rather happy with the turn the lesson took (anthropomorphizing, but I think I can tell when he's content). 

I'm glad he's in a good place physically and mentally right now, loosing Indy has been a lot easier because he's so much fun right now.

Friday, July 29, 2011

"barrel racing" with a Fjord

Well, it was actually cone racing because we don't have any barrels and our arena is too small for them anyway... but it was fun! Partly to get my mind off of Indy being gone and partly just to have fun, had a group lesson working on getting our turning aids fine tuned through the cloverleaf barrel pattern.

I think Radar has done this in his prior life - Mia thinks he did play days and games at the barn he came from - he definitely perked up. And for him, that's a good thing!  We ended up cantering the outside of the pattern to get him warmed up, trotting the first two cones of the cloverleaf and cantering the last cone to the end.  I was actually really impressed with how responsive he was to cantering not on a circle and at odd places!  I tend to forget that he's in a much better place physically and mentally than he was last year and I can expect more from him.  Fun overall, but I still miss Indy's personality.  Radar's sweet and cute, but I don't think he really cares about us as much as Indy did.  I know, total anthropomorphizing... but I don't care.

On the new horse front, potential barn horse #1 didn't pass the vet, #2 is temporarily lame but hopefully will still work out for a lease, and there's a #3 Appaloosa that will be tried soon.  I'm not even the one doing the looking and it's stressful!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"horses come and go": saying goodbye to Indy

I had my last ride on Indy yesterday, he's going back to his owner to be a trail horse now that his lease is over.  Completely understand why he didn't totally work in the lesson program, but am still sad.

Had a nice relaxing ride with a lot of thinking interspersed. Mia made me articulate every thing I've learned from Indy in the last year... here's what I can remember:
  • Don't judge a horse by their physical conformation. Who would've thought that I'd love a huge-strided horse who is about a hand and a half taller than ideal?
  • The mind is the most important thing for me.
  • I like a forward horse with a great mind. I like Indy's "Go" but with his slower mental energy it evens out and is comfortable.
  • Rhythm is important. I like horses with a sense of rhythm about them.
  • I can learn to ride a big-strided canter if I have the motivation.
  • Just because a horse is thin-skinned and pissy about being groomed doesn't mean they're not happy to be with you in their own way (totally anthropormorphizing, but whatever).
  • It's interesting to get to know a rather subdued horse and recognize what he wants after riding more effusive horses. His personality is not that obvious but worth recognizing and becoming familiar with.
I'll miss him.  Two potential horses coming into the barn for other clients, plus Radar and maybe V., so I'll have a few horses to lesson on.  It just won't be the same for awhile.