Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ground work Lessons 1&2

As I mentioned yesterday, I am learning to improve the rider I am now. That rider is not all that right now unfortunately. I am wanting to ask more of Corrie and yet at the same time still not really confident enough if push comes to shove.

So I got a shove, from Sensei, to do more ground work. I have been avoiding ground work because, well, I finally got back in the saddle. I want to ride. Unfortunately I still have issues in the saddle. So while I want to do more, it is really hard. Not that I am not riding, I am. It is just that I tend to find myself nagging. I am not confident enough to get to "command," if "suggest" and "ask" don't work. That is a huge issue. This is where a trainer comes in handy. I could very easily make Corrie even more dull, so Sensei really wants me to do a lot of work on the ground.

Suggest, ask, command: this is a common Ray Huntism. First you "suggest" what you would like a horse do to do, for example move their front over to the left. The "suggest" is just what ever cue you give to that behavior. I raise my energy and left hand. If the horse doesn't respond to a "suggest" we move the "ask." I raise my right hand, which hold the other end of the rope. "Ask" is sort of like telling the horse, if you don't follow the "suggest," I am going to have to "command" you. If the horse still does not heed your warning, you have to "command." In my example that is twirl the rope a few time and finally smack in the butt. The horse should have no choice at that point. The idea is that we always return to a "suggest." We want horses to move off the suggestion. Ever watch Ray Hunt, he is the most harmonious horse person I have ever seen. The alternative is to nag. Right now, in the saddle I nag, and I hate that and don't think it is very kind.

"If you can't do it on the ground, you shouldn't be asking for it in the saddle." Sensei has a point, not just in general but also specifically for me. I am as more assertive on the ground, not as assertive as he would like me to be, but I am much more able to get to "command" than in the saddle. Especially with a mare like Corrie. As much as I adore her, she will do as little as possible and try to push (or pull) her weight around, typical mare attitude.

My other issue is not taking my time. I like to just do it. I want to move. Sensei asks me to have Corrie side pass. So I jump into it. He puts the brakes on; tells me to stop, regroup, and think about what I want. Make sure I am ready to ask, finally ask. I am learning to just chill. It is SO hard. Sensei is so zen sometimes that it drive me crazy. I do tend to want to do, he tends to wait and then do. Although he is all about setting the horse and I up to succeed so really it is all for the good.

So that is a basic summary of the past two lesson. I am hoping that next week we can drive again. I have to practice ground work, of course, but I think I have enough to practice now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Be the Rider You Can be Today

Kate at A Year With Horses has a great post yesterday: Ride the Horse You Have Today.

It made me think about where I was at today. I went out to ride Corrie. Sensei was letting the other horses out, which ran beside the indoor. I knew he was doing this and was prepared . The horses ran and we heard them. Corrie was on high alert, but I was able to keep her under control. I admit I was a bit rattled, but I did NOT get off.

As I read Kate's post I thought about that moment. Not only did I have to ride the horse I had, but I had to be the rider I was in that moment. In the past I may have reacted differently. Working Corrie more assertively and although been aware of what was going on, kept Corrie on track. Yesterday, I couldn't do that as well. I modified our work to where I felt I could comfortably keep Corrie under control. I did. We rode on the side of the arena away from the window so we would not see the horses, I keep her focus on me as much as I could. I did not handle it perfectly, I did not handle it as well as I did in my youth, but I handled it.

Years ago I had better balance and more control of myself. I am not that rider anymore. Some rides I honestly get very frustrated that my body does not do what I asked it to do. At those times I have to remember to be the rider I now. Accepting where I am now and moving forward from there. Comparing myself to what I was does not help me to be a better rider now. Being happy with the accomplishments I am making and having my sights set on new goals does help me.

Just like Kate says in her post, although you should go in with a plan, be prepared to alter than plan. Even if your horse is having a really good day we need to take into account our own emotional state. Yesterday I was very stressed, I wanted to just bum around on Corrie. Corrie made it knows that she has other plans and we adjusted, worked through that and then just bummed a bit. Sometimes getting out to the barn I myself feeling very confident. After checking in with my horse to see where she is, I might choose that day to challenge myself.

In a partnership we need to look at the needs of both partners. In some partnerships the the rider is strong enough to just look at the needs of the horse. Other relationships, the rider's need have a lot of focus too. Normally this is a beginner/ rerider, someone like myself that has issues to work through, or someone that has physical limitations. In these cases you need a special horse to pick up the slack. No matter though, we need to be the rider can can be for the horse we are riding today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Same ol, Same ol

I really don't know what to blog about. Life, in it's normal cyclical way, seems to be getting more complex. So much of it is personal crap that you really wouldn't care that much about, personal insecurities that pop up from time to time.

We reap what we sow. I hope that I am sowing beautiful wild flowers, but sometimes those flowers turn out to be weeds. Although sometimes it is just about how you look at it. I am hoping for the best.

Corrie is making progress, but she would make more progress if I were a better rider. I admit that it is frustrating sometimes to sit up there and wonder why legs and arms won't work the way they should. Then a few moments later I look down and Corrie is doing exactly what I what, a beautiful little bend around a circle, nicely moving away from my leg. Sometimes wonder if she is just throwing me a bone, 'cause then she is back to trying her best to be a peanut rolling western pleasure horse.

We started doing ground work, it really is a great non threating way to establish a bond with a horse. She learns my body language and I learn hers. Done well, good ground work almost looks like a dance. Right now Corrie and I look like we are at middle school dance just trying to not step on each others toes. Time and patience and soon we will be ready for Dancing with the Stars!

I have other things that are stressing me out, don't we all. So many things seem up in the air at the moment. I have a feeling that tomorrow will looks a whole lot better.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Stills~ History

Sunday Stills this week is to take a walk into the past, at least 60 years past. A month or so ago I went to a trail drive. You may remember that. On my way how home I stopped and took some pictures of a historical marker. You can read about it here, I am not sure if the sign is 60 years old or not, but the stone one below is. If you click on the sign you will get a bigger picture, easier to read.Here is another marker of the event. A sad moment in history for Wisconsin.
I love these brown signs. They are all over Wisconsin marking historical happening. When ever we see one we stop and read them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

One important step: Find a trainer

*WARNING* This is a long post.
In Jillian Micheal's book on weight loss she says that you need a support base of: a partner in crime, a mentor, and a fan. Same can apply to any behavioral change your trying to make. This post is about the mentor. It has been something I have wanted to blog about for awhile. I think that getting a trainer is the second most important thing I did to start the journey of getting over fear, yet it took me forever to do it. The first was to change my mindset to be more positive. After that I think finding a trainer I could work with has been priceless. It may be costing me a pretty penny, but I am riding again.

Sensei was not the first trainer I tried though.

I did find one great trainer a few years ago, but she had some issues of her own to deal with. So while it was great in lessons the rest of the time it was like dealing with a time bomb. She did teach me so much about getting a better seat. She also gave me lot of back handed complements. Like telling me that while other people would say I was too heavy to ride, she would work with me because she though I rode well. Or that I shouldn't worry about my large calves because that was the way I was and even though most people want thin calves, I would never have them but that was okay. Well I never was upset about the size of my calves until after that conversation. I stayed with her for as long as I could because she knew her stuff about biomechanics and was helping in that area so much. Finally it was too much though.

I left her just after I bought Abby. I actually would have never bought Abby if I had known I would lose my trainer. At that point though, I sort of thought I was well on my way and could handle Abby on my own. Besides she had ingrained it in my head that I was so heavy no other trainer would work with me. I was terrified of looking for another one. FYI I am what they call painfully shy.

So with the idea that nobody would work with me on their horse and having no way get my horse to someone or a place to have someone work with me at my place I was stalled for a few years.

During that time I was searching for someone to teach me to drive. I could not find anyone. I would ask around, talk to people who did drive, and nobody in my area taught driving. Or at least that is what I thought. Now just before I bought Kinsey I had gone to look at a very short and ornery Haflinger. I also did a little research about the breed. Wading through the mire of information on the net, I found Sensei. I did not call him then. *kicks self in butt*

Getting the boat load of trouble called Kinsey, I had about given up the idea of riding all together. Horses will be part of my life though, and I wanted to give driving another chance. So finally I did something smart. I called Sensei. Shyness almost won over and if I were not so desperate it really may have won, but I picked up the phone and called.

For driving lesson mind you, nothing else. I was NOT going to take riding lesson from a western guy even if he would let me ride his little horses, something that I highly doubted anyway. Well you know the rest of the story from there. I started driving and then starting sitting on a horse. Finally riding, now I have Corrie. Just goes to show that you can definitely get help from outside your chosen discipline.

If it were not for Sensei I would not be so happy riding again. I would be sitting with two horses I could not do anything with and missing out on riding for yet another summer. Getting a trainer was pivotal.

For the past three years I have been wanting to ride. I have been making little attempts at riding. I have been working, sort of, with my horses. Nothing came to pass because I needed that outside pair of eyes to help me get to my goal. Okay another true confession, I have ADD.

Look a pretty little pony:


I get distracted by this idea and the next. I forget where I am going and end up at the start again. I have done this over and over again. That is one HUGE help that Sensei has given me. When I go out to the barn with some crazy idea, he takes me by the shoulders and turns me back to the goal.

Oh yeah a big pretty pony that I can ride and drive. I remember where I am going now.

That is something that a good trainer should be able to do. Help you find your goals and then stick to the path that takes you there. Weekly I would hear questions about getting my shafts for my cart, ground driving Ike, selling Abby and Kinsey, and other things I had to do to get on the right path for me.

Some of those decisions were really hard to make, like selling Kinsey and Abby. It about tore my heart. I really needed that objective person to help me move on from that point where I had horses that I could not use and were not suited for me at all to finding them good homes so that I could move on to a horse that is much more suited for me. It really has been very liberating.

Not any trainer could have or would helped me through all that. Not every trainer is suited to every student. I told you about one nightmare trainer that was actually good at training, but not as general person. Several years before her I hired a British guy who scammed me out of a lot of money. He seemed knowledgeable about horses in the beginning, but later said some odd things. I would blame odd information on that the fact that he was British. He is actually partly to blame for my fear. Those are the only two trainers I tried to have help me but they really put a bad taste in my mouth about getting help. That doesn't mean though that their aren't great trainers out that that still would not have been right for me. Keep looking until you do find one that you can work with.

So I understand how hard it is to find a good trainer. It isn't easy. I was so gun shy before Sensei. I did not even trust Sensei for a few months. Driving he was knowledge about, but I was not so sure about the riding part. Turns out that he is incredibly knowledge about about horse and people. My first few ground driving lessons were pretty easy stuff. Once we got out in the cart, I think he knew that I just needed to be working with the horse to work through my fear. We did a lot of talking, joking, and teasing. Probably because I was so tense. It was over time that I started to trust him and the horse. So give yourself a few lesson to get to know each other.

It is vitally important to trust your trainer. If you don't feel you can trust him, find one that you can. Especially if you are overcoming fear. You are hiring this person to help you work though some truly scary emotions. A lesson for a person overcoming a fear is very different than a learning to ride/drive lesson. Sensei did not push anything on me, unlike a normal lesson where a good trainer should be pushing you. Or maybe I should say that he was much more subtle about it. He is always waiting for me to make the first move, yet at the same time introducing me to new situations. I was nervous at times but trusted he wouldn't put me in a situation I couldn't handle.

As I get more confident he pushes more, but again that is how it should be. He puts little challenges out there for me. Both to work through on my own with Corrie and in lessons. He still realizes I have issues though. Now that I am feeling more confident, it does not mean that I don't still have fear. I think he realizes that more than I do, he has worked with a lot of people with fear issues. I sometimes think I can go out and do try something new and he will tell me to wait a bit more. Or more often shake his head when I tell him what I did and then tell me to wait a bit.

Trainers are there to be objective and sometime give you a reality check. You need to trust this person. And they need to be knowledgeable enough to be worthy of that trust, again, especially if you have fear issues.

Oh but don't think that I am saying you shouldn't question this person. I think Sensei would be very disappointed in me if I didn't question him to some extent. I want to know why. I don't just assume that he knows what he is talking about, likewise he asks me to explain why I do what I do. I think it is a huge red flag when a trainer doesn't like to be questioned or can't tell you why they are doing something. I am getting better about asking question if I don't understand.

And this maybe one reason that I really like Sensei. He does question me about what I do. Everything I do and rarely excepts an answer of "I don't know." At least not without a follow up lecture as to why it should or should not be done. If I can justify myself, even if it is different than how he does it, it's all good. I am sure that there are some that that would drive them batty.

Which is why you need to find a trainer that works for you. One that you can get along with. Your trainer maybe completely different than mine, but as long as she is knowledgeable, trustworthy, objective, and someone you can work with to meet your goals your on the right path. Just try to find someone and don't give up if the first one doesn't work.

I really wanted to share this because in my journey finding the right trainer has been vital to my success and will continue to be. I did not realize how important that one choice was going to be. Sensei is still going to be there through a whole lot more with me. Getting so I can drive Corrie on my own, bringing her home and driving her around here, going for a trail ride, cantering, and building a good solid relationship with Corrie so that I am not fearful to do all the above things. I know that my journey is far from over but I have a mentor for this journey.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Opps a little too much

I ride just about every day now. It is so wonderful! I love it.

For the last few days I have been going when it was really hot though, just how my schedule worked out. I went out on Wednesday and I was in shorts and thought, I'll just hop on bareback.

Okay on March 11 was my first ride. I rode twice that month. April I rode twice and twice in May. That is a total of 6 times before June. On June 3 I had my 7th lesson and was the first time I rode Corrie. Total I have has have 8 riding lesson. It has only been for the past three weeks that I have been able to just go out and ride. And only the last two weeks that I have been riding almost everyday. Why I am I repeating all this? Because I have not had that many ride yet, maybe 23 or 24 total ride in the past 3 years. Most in the last month.

So back to my story. I took Corrie out, groomed her up. Lined her up next to the fence and slipped on. We walked to the middle of the arena and I could just feel it. If she spooked even a little I was going to come off. Where has my balance gone? I slipped off before something bad happened and saddled up.

Oh I am so happy that I got on her, but I honestly could not have ridden her bareback yet. She was very "up" for her. We had two minor spooks and both time I though, well that would have gone badly if I didn't have this saddle. Such a disappointment but having really thought about how long it really has been, I guess I am not doing too bad.

* * *

I found a bitless bridle I can borrow. It is a Dr. Cook's knock off. I have thought about trying it out on Corrie but just have not worked up the nerve to try it. I don't know why, I don't use a lot of rein anyway. Maybe sometime this weekend I will put it on her and see what happens.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Weight Loss Wednesday: Support for the Girls

Yup another post that is about support. When overcoming any obstacle we need support, sometimes lots of it. Like many women I have a particular need for support when exercising or trotting. Yup ladies, my girls and I need support.

For some a good bra is anything you can grab. I happen to not be one of those women. I am rather endowed, as they say. That won't change that much as I lose weight, I just happen to be larger in the boobs department. How I hate women telling me I am lucky, really there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So keeping the girls in control during trotting or exercising is of the up most importance.

Unfortunately it is hard to find a good sports bra for, shall we say, a shapely lady such as myself. I guess bra makers figure we aren't going to exercise. Maybe a good bet, but when we do decide to get in shape we have difficulties getting the support we need. Help often comes from the most unlikely places doesn't it?

At the Columbus Carriage Classic was a vendor from Essential Bodywear. Inc. As I was walking around looking at hats, harnesses, and what nots, a woman called out to me. "Can I support you today?" Well, although I was a little embarrassed, I was even more embarrassed the last time I was riding and my boobs were bouncing all over the place. So I let her show me the heaviest duty sports bra I have ever seen. According to the sales rep a lot of the woman on The Biggest Loser wear these bras.

This this has it all! Wide straps over the shoulders, so it doesn't dig into my shoulders or fall off. The back has complete support, it rises high on the back and has criss crossing fabric to give plenty of strength. This is not a shaping bra, you do end up with a uniboob, but everything is so well held together it makes it totally worth it. It was incredibly comfortable considering its function and it has the added bonus of helping you have good posture!

Getting into it was one thing, but once I was all snapped in I tried the bounce test. Awesome! No bounce and I have to sit up straight too! I bought one on the spot and came home and played Wii Active.

Wii Active is a much better workout than Wii fit. In Wii Active there is more jumping and running in place. Just moving in general. It is hard to do with your girls leaping out of their hammock. Because I get a much better workout with Wii Active, I would prefer to do that. Well the Ultimate Sports Bra passed the Wii Active test. I could run in place with no escapes!

The big test of course was riding. I rode Corrie on Sunday outside in the round pen. It was our first time outside. I was nervous and she was a little too. After walking around and around like a pony ride at a carnival, I finally settled us both down. So I asked for a trot. Wow! I felt like I could sit up and put my shoulders back. Something that is hard with extra jiggalage. This bra totally passed the trotting test.

At $66 it is expensive, but on of those expenses that was well worth it. Especially if most sports bras you are able to find are a joke. I got mine in a the next side smaller than the vendor had first suggested, but I think that with weight loss on my mind it was the best plan, I want to be able to wear this bra for awhile.

Speaking of Wii Active. I started the 30 challenge on Sunday. I have never made it to the end of a challenge yet. This time I will! I mean, I WILL. Or or. . . I don't don't know, I am not posting pictures of myself in a swimsuit though. I like you guys to much to do that to you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The perfect horse . . .

. . . for me.

At the Carriage Classic this weekend I saw lots of beautiful horses. A hackney horse that just took my breath away. Such beautiful movement! I read my dressage magazines and blogs and look at the big bold warmbloods with huge movement and I drool. Then the exotic breeds always catch my eye: Fjord, Marwari, Andalusians, Gypsy, and Frisian. All these breeds have some draw for me. Even the colorful buckskins and paints make me look twice. Looking for a new horse opens up all the different possibilities of what to own.

Watching the beautiful hackney this weekend I had an epiphany. That horse was so hot and sensitive, he was beautiful to watch. I don't want a horse like that. Other horses were so large and powerful looking, why I thought I needed a big horse I don't know. Still others are still so rare that the price tag on them is beyond my budget. Someone very wise told me that those horses are beautiful to watch and that is just what I should do, watch them, not own them. At the end of the day the horse that really made me look twice was the little haffie that took his driver around the ring and won the class: calmly, sanely, and safely.

Ya' all are smart. Ya know where this is going! Ya know that my heart is being taken by Corrie, a lil Thelwell pony. I gave Sensei a check, so she will be mine at the end of the month. Why wait, I mean I don't think I could find a more perfect horse for me. For every behavior that drives Sensei nuts, I find it totally endearing. She has a normal marish attitude and will do what you want, but holds out just a tiny bit. Cracks. me. up! Nor do I think that I could find a horse that I have as much confidence in, yet still offers me a bit of a challenge.

Here is my first mention of her, and it sums her up so well:
"I drove Corrie. She is a nice mare, but not the most cooperative. She has a bit of a stubborn streak. If you ask her to move up she will take one step with her front feet, but refuse to move her back. She really cracks me up! I actually like her."

I thought about checking out horses on the internet and traveling around to look at them in the surrounding states but all I could hope to get from that would be a snap shot in time. I would not be able to see the horse in different situations and try the horse out over several weeks or months. Horses can differ from day to day, in rain, heat, wind, etc. Since I really wanted a very specific kind of horse, I didn't think that that method of finding a horse was going to work for me. Plus I really didn't have the confidence to try out all those horses. It has only been eight months since I broke my wrist and about six months since I started working with Sensei, four since I started riding.

It is only with Corrie's help that I actually have started making a lot of progress. I need a horse like her to go out and fool around with. To just ride. Oh sure, she is not perfect. She loves food more than life itself. She can be a little lookie when driving and riding. She can be a bit of a plug if you let her. Then she spooks at who knows what. When she gets frustrated or tired her head becomes a 2 tons weight and she can't hold it up. None of it really scares me though.

On the plus side, I have worked with Corrie for at least 3 months. I have been driving her in lessons and for the past month, as you know, riding her. She has all the basics for riding and driving. Some of the parts need to be put together but the foundation is awesome. I have seen her in wind, cold, wet, and heat. I have ridden her inside and outside. I have driven her down the road and around traffic. Another huge plus is that someone who has seen me riding recently and understands what some of my strengths and weaknesses are and knows Corrie and what her strengths and weaknesses are thinks that we would be well matched.

So she is mine. Not going to be a dressage star, but going to be a good minded mount to ride and drive around the neighborhood. Any horse can do lower level dressage as long as they are sound, and she is sound. Not any horse could make me feel safe and she does.

What about Abby? Well Abby is going to be traded to Sensei so he can train her and find a good home for her. He does a good job of matching up people and horses. I think that this is the best thing for her, I can't do what he can. I can't pay him for all the training he is going to give her. I think this is the best shot she has at a good future. In exchange he is giving me a great deal on a wagon and harness. I just have to say that Sensei is the bomb and I really owe him a lot. He really has helped me get my life with horses back.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Columbus Carriage Classic

The Columbus Carriage Classic is held every Father's Day weekend. It is a formal event. Classical music plays during the classes. As the classes are going on the announcer tells neat little facts about the horse, driver, and their vehicles. The Columbus Carriage Classic is an ADS sanctioned show.
The horses, drivers, and carriages are all beautiful. A lot of driving in a show is about turn out. From little miniature horses pulling medowbrook carts to percheron horses pulling antique carriages, everything is polished and shining. They are all just stunning and oh so interesting. Some are vintage, others are reproduction. One beautiful carriage was pulled out of a bog earlier this year. Another was found in the back of a barn. Yet another was a reproduction made from detailed pictures of the original. Every thing from governess carts to surries. So many different styles it is hard no to find a few that one would love to own. The range of breeds vary just as much. Unusual breeds like the hackney horse to your more common quarter horses are all groomed with great care. Being Wisconsin, Haflingers and Fjords are a popular choice too. VSE (very small equines) ponies, and horses: the differences in sizes in even one class can place a shire next to a miniature. The fashion, oh I am not much in to fashion, but the hats on the ladies and gents transport you back in time to when it was an everyday event to see a haflinger, like this little stallion, taking his mistress to town.

Classes range from basic reinmanship (something akin to an equitation class) and pleasure driving to cones. Cones obstacle classes are kind of like a trail obstacle class. Horses have to follow numbers to various obstacle and complete it with out knocking tennis balls off of cones. It is rather fun to watch.
Another fun class was the carriage dog. Judging was mostly on the behavior of the dog, who must not be attached to the vehicle and is disqualified if she jumps out. First place was this boxer and second was a mini aussie in the cart behind the boxer. All the dogs were so well behaved and is another reason why I love driving, I can share it with my canine friends too.It was a beautiful day. The weather was perfect, I found some great buys. I'll tell you about that later this week. Meet some very nice people and beautiful horses. I need to get driving!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Stills~ Looking Up

This Sunday Stills challenge was to take pictures from low place looking up.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Riding Lesson # 8: MUCH better day!

Thanks so much for the encouragement. I am all about being positive, but sometimes we all get a reality check right? I guess mine just bounced yesterday. It happens to all of us doesn't it?
Today was a better day. I went out and asked Sensei for another lesson this week, not something I can really afford to do very often but I needed a boost and I wanted to know we were moving in the right direction.
I wanted to have him help with some issues with Corrie, he has never seen me ride Corrie. She, of course, was on her best behavior. I was almost begging her to do some of the behaviors that we have been struggling with, not that we were perfect and Sensei found some key points we need to work on, well I have to work on. Which I honestly think is a positive reflection on the bond we are forming and improvements we are making. Both of us are getting in better shape. I still feel a bit uncoordinated and so does Corrie at times.

I mean looks at her, she is a bit of a hippo right now. lol

I really have a lot of you to thank. Your blogs have encouraged me and opened my mind to new ideas. You guys have shown me all the fun riding is which was really motivation to get back at it, I have lived vicariously though so many of your blogs. Not to mention all the positive and encouraging comments. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Driving Lesson #11: Uggg

Well that was a big ol' sucked!

I am not remembering the way I should.

I feel frustrated that my skills are not where they should be, but it has been years since I seriously rode. And although I am new to driving I shouldn't be sucking this bad.

But really I had a hard time driving Corrie at a walk up a hill and in a straight line. What the hell is wrong with me?

This is not one of my positive days, obviously.

I am just feeling lonely, depressed, and clueless.

Sorry this is a sucky post.

* * * *
Edited after Breathe's comment:

I am sorry for the negative post.

It was really frustrating to walk up the hill over and over and Corrie would veer to the barn as soon as I lost my focus for a moment. She would start to trot and I guess my left hand is stronger than my right so I would inadvertently pull with that hand too hard, which was bad because she wanted to go to the left ( toward the barn) anyway. Well we would go up the hill, half way would be great, I had my focus on where we were going. Then the wind would blow my hair in my face. I'd focus on that for just a second and Corrie would veer to the left. Then I would focus so hard on her not trotting that she would veer again, then as I corrected her she's trot. Arg. Or a dog would trot by and she would want to trot. Or she I'm sure you get the idea.

It ended up being one of those things that I became hyper focused on and would try to micromanage and well that never works, then she looked drunk.

Well with personal issues and what not, I just felt overwhelmed and stressed. But tomorrow after work I am going to go out and ride again and have a great deal of success on this matter, only I will be riding.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Exercise or OMG I hurt!

I am not a person who really loves to exercise. Am like that last cartoon, it takes me forever to get up and do it. When I logged on to my Wii Fit Plus a few days it go, it said: It has been 105 days since your last visit. Oops.

I find motivation but often it is fleeting. Whoop there it goes.
I like to feel the breeze as it flies by.

Yet, I really love the feeling I get after I exercise, such a high. Although while I am exercises I am counting the minutes until I am done, sometimes yelling and swearing too. Above the tv, where I do the Wii for exercise I have 3 mantras:
Exercise gives me more energy and less fat.
My metabolism is red hot and increases with each minute of exercise.
I am a healthy, fit, and energetic woman!

Corny, but they help. I can not pick up a book lately that does not suggest having positive self talk. These corny mantras give me that little boost to keep going.

Wii Fit Plus is a favorite right now. I like the boxing, step, and rhythm games the best. As I am doing the step for 20 min to a tv show and I really want to quit I repeat my mantras. Wii is really helpful for this exercise. It counts down the time while I watch Monk or Bones.

Yet between the Wii and riding everyday I discovered that today, I am really REALLY sore! I know I shouldn't over do it even though I am having so much fun but, it sort of crept up on me. I was not even planning on riding today because I thought Corrie would be soaked (it rained), but I went out to ground drive Abby, to my surprise Corrie was in. So I ground drove Abby for about 40 min. I thought, well as long as Corrie is in and I'll just be driving tomorrow, I'll ride her now.

Well we had a hell of a ride. She was being a right cow, and I know that I am not helping her to get it. I am starting to get the to the point that my body is remembering how to do things too, so I am trying use myself more correctly as I teach her. She even tried to take off. Okay she trotted off when another horses was being lead out, but hell the last time a horse (Abby) tried to trot off with me I fell off and broke my wrist so this was a big improvement! But still the ride in general sucked. Although as we all know a bad day in the saddle is better than a great day any where else so I am not complaining.

So Sensei (formally known as R, trust me Sensei really fits him) asks me how the ride went and I told him. His suggestion, "Oh we'll work on that tomorrow in your lesson ." I have taken enough lessons over the years to know that any lesson following the phrase" "We'll work on that," is not going to be an easy one. So if you don't hear from me in a few days it is only because I can't use my arms or legs!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: Of ME!

I just can not believe that I can just ride a horse with no fear, well, only a little fear. I mean it is in an arena and I still have issues but it is a long way from sitting in front of the tv playing a game video about riding. I think back to months ago: the fall, the recovery, getting back on a horse, taking lessons, driving, riding, it seems like such a long way. I never really thought I would actually be comfortable on a horse again. So now that it is June, it just seems like a good time to look back and see how my goals for this year are going.

Goals for 2010:
1) Start riding my own horse.
*well if Corrie is to by my horse then I can check this one off, but maybe I should wait until she is actually mine.
2) Ride my own horse walk/ trot/ canter.
*walk and trot are solid and I think I am going to wait for winter for the canter. I really am trying to get outside.
3) Start working with Kinsey on Training level dressage work.
*sadly this one will never be met, but if exchange Corrie for Kinsey, I am on my way.
4) Take a few lessons from a dressage trainer.
*gee when I wrote this I don't think that I even was thinking about taking driving lessons. I would still like to have a dressage trainer out sometime before the end of the year but I am really learning a lot from R. I am even thinking of putting "dressage" on hold and think more about "just" riding.
5) Lose at least 4 lbs. a month. That is really low. I am actually hoping for 8lbs. 4 lbs a month and I will be half way through my weight loss by the end of the year, 8lbs and I will be done.
*I have really sucked on this one, sucked big time actually but that is why I am going back and looking at my goals, to remind myself of what I wanted to do this year.

I am adding a #6. I really want to go on at least one trail ride this year. At the time I said that I really had no idea how that was going to come about, but now I think it is actually possible. Woo Hoo.

As I read these goals they seem so simple yet I remember writing them and thinking that no way was I really going to be able to meet them. Now it actually does seem possible.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Stills~ Eye

Eyes~ the windows to the soul.


See more beautiful souls at Sunday Stills

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Inavertant Learning

Whenever you are with your horse you are training. Oh yeah, how many times have we read or been told that. It makes sense, I am sure that we all agree with that statement.

But what are we training our horses to do?

Well I realized the other day that I have taught my horses something I never intended to.

Okay let me explain. I have a dry lot that my horses are in for the night and at least half the day, none of them needs that much grass. Then I open the gate and they run off to the pasture to gorge themselves on grass, roll and run. In the evening I take a little stroll out to the pasture and herd them back up. Often they see me coming and just run off to the dry lot. They know the drill. I don't normally turn them out until I have worked them or I work them after they have had fun in the sun. I'm too lazy I guess.

Abby is at R's where he has a very similar, although much nicer, set up. So I went out to get her the other day. She would not be caught but instead allowed herself to be herded up to the dry lot area and I caught her with ease. I thought it was a bit odd. I had not made the connection yet, but the next day when we went through the same routine it dawned on me. Oh My Gosh, I just taught my horse not to be caught in the pasture.

It is just a matter of routine, I never gave it much thought. Arg.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Driving Lesson #10: WHY??

Wow back behind the horse again and was she gassy! Now that I can ride as much as I want, I am doing driving lessons again. After all I can't drive without my trainer, I have nothing to drive except for the horse. Well sort of, I think we have worked out a plan, but she will won't be mine until the end of the month if I can scrounge up the money and she isn't sold as part of a team.

So I got out there early and started grooming Corrie. I love this part of getting to know a horse. She has dapples. Her blaze as two little points on either side. She needs a good bath to see what her legs really looks like, socks or just lighter. All the little swirls and cow licks on her face. Those are the little things that when I notice I think, I wonder who else knows that Corrie has a long cow lick in the middle of her face? I just feel that much closer to her.

I had her all groomed and harnessed up. R rush in through after another lesson. As I was getting her into the shafts, with a bit of difficulties, he ran out again. He was in and out but felt that as I had every thing under control, this was just something that Corrie and I had to work out for ourselves. We did. When he came back she was standing calmly in the shafts, nice and centered.

It was a beautiful day to drive! Sun shined down on us without excess heat. Very little wind. Just a nice day to drive down the road, discussing the ins and outs of driving, riding, and life in general. I guess that is one reason that I like to drive. Instead of needing a horse for every person, one horse can be shared by many. Like sitting at booth in a restaurant, chit chatting about life while sipping on coffee, driving has the same relaxed feeling.

Well it can be relaxing unless you have someone next to you asking you why you do everything you do. EVERYTHING, "Why did you do that?" "What was that supposed to accomplish?" I love that question when what I meant to accomplish really didn't work. Oh that was sarcasm if it didn't come through clearly enough. And I pay for this! This is all meant a bit tongue in cheek. I really do learn a lot about why I do what I do and why I should not do some of the things I do. I leave and think. I tend to get wrapped up in thoughts anyway, so these questions make me ponder the ins and outs of riding/driving.

Today I was feeling a bit frustrated. First of all Corrie was being a bit sluggish. Not uncommon for her but we are working through that. But R was making me think a bit outside the box to get her moving, as well as wondering why I wanted her to move out a bit more. Not that he didn't think she should be a bit more forward, but I have to think about why.

At the same time, since we are not always on the road, I have to think about keeping her at a gait I choose, not letting her trot just because the terrain got uneven or she sees a lawn mower over at the church. Not to mention keeping the reins even over uneven terrain. So she accidentally slips up into the trot, grrr. Response, "you knew at least three stride before hand that she was going to trot." Well yes I did, but. . . What this really tells me is that R holds me to a high standard, and that is good. But grr anyway, because I get frustrated with myself when I am not doing as well as I think I should.

Now to be fair, I did a lot of things right, we got Corrie better at stepping out and worked on transitions. She seems to have an odd lawn mower fetish, she is not scared of them, but really interested in them. I think she is jealous that they are eating grass when she has to work. Looking all around her is another thing I am trying to correct and as smart as Corrie is, she is a mare. I love that about her. She is not hot, but she is not simple.

So the lesson was good. Reminded me that as simple as driving seems some days, it is that complex on others. But life is good. I am working with a horse again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Weight Loss Wednesday: Riding as a work out

Rollie Pollie, oh I mean, Corrie and I worked together this week.

With the help of this site: Calorie Counter I can calculate how many calories I burn while engaging in horsey activities.

For me:
I burn 105 calories for 10 minutes of grooming. To make it an even work out, I will groom the left side of the horse with my left hand the the right with my right.

I burn 89 calories for 2o minutes of walking.

I burn 230 calories for 20 minutes of trotting.

Those are not huge numbers but they are numbers that add up.

My actual work out was more walking and less trotting but that is just an example. Corrie and I are both out of shape. Trotting on Corrie is really hard if I want to post because she has the rolliest trot I have ever ridden. It is really quite comfortable to sit, but doesn't help me burn more calories to sit. I probably burn more at the walk because I use quite a bit more leg than a normal walk should entail.

All that being said her walk and trot are getting better. Now we just need to get from the trot to the walk with out making a layover at the halt.

Alas it has been hard this week. My brother and his family are here this week. That means extra treats because we all get together and eat. I have had cake, Culver's Custard, and various other bad crap.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Please don't stop the music

Yesterday I found my long (4 years) lost i Pod. As it was charging I hung out on iTunes and Equimusic finding music for the walk and trot. Armed with a walking and trotting playlist I decided I wanted to ride. Today I was so excited to try it out with Corrie. I decided that I wanted to ride and just went out and rode Corrie. Man I love being able to do that!

I went out to the barn. While I groomed Corrie, Cadillac Ranch pumped into my ears. When Redneck Woman came on, I was slipping my dressage saddle on her back. Just as I slipped her bridle on, my trainer came out to the barn. Corrie stood, ground tied, while we talked about this and that. Such a good girl. I didn't have a hand on her, who wouldn't want a horse like that?

I have been wanting to ride to music for years! I mean that literally. A song comes on and I wonder if it would be good for walk or trot. I think about how the horse would feel as we move together in time with the music. Today I finally got to do that.

By the way if you have a favorite song with the help of this beats per minute counter you can then compare that to your horses own gaits. Here is more information for how to do that. Right now I am just using generic w/t songs as I am trying to find Corrie's rhythm.

Besides the totally cool feeling of riding to music, it helps with rhythm. One of the suggestions in A Gymnastic Riding System is to do just that. I wanted to use the music to help me keep a rhythm with Corrie. Not only was it helpful, it was fun. Not that I was totally successful at keeping the rhythm, but we got closer!

And again it was fun! I had fun riding! Slipping my leg over a horse and being just alone has been something that I have sorely missed. She spooked a little here and was too interested in what was going on outside, but all that just showed me that she is a horse. She is not dead to the world. A little more savings, selling Abby and I think that I will buy Corrie. Hopefully before someone else tries to buy her first.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another first

My mini herd is just so cute out there on their pasture. They have more eats that is safe for them to even eat. I send them out for only half the day and then back to dry lot to digest. Even with only that Madison is getting fat. I think she needs a grazing muzzle. I have to admit that I do like my mini herd. Small, don't break fences, and the amount of hay in the barn right now should last most of the rest of the year! I keep saying I want to sell a mini, but I honestly love all these guys so much. I do want to geld Rocky. The problems this past spring have shown me that he is always at risk being a stallion. Even now he is not normally with the rest of the herd, in the same field but stand on his own. Poor lil guy. I won't geld him before fall at this point though. Not will all the flies.

I had another first today, two actually. I rode all on my own and in my own saddle. It was so nice. Corrie passed the saddle test, it fits her. I worked with her on going forward, going around on the rail, backing, giving to pressure, and just generally got to know her better. Steering is not a big thing right now. You wanna talk plow rein, not pretty at all. What I really want is forward and at a constant rhythm. I am thinking of taking her into the round pen next, which is outside. I want to not have to think about steering. We spend a great deal of effort on staying on the rail. Apparently there is a black hole in the middle of the arena that sucks horses in. At least that is what Corrie tells me. It apparently makes it very hard to keep going, so maybe it is very sticky in the middle of the arena too. All in all though we had great improvements. Actually got a rising trot out of her.

I will say that she was much more forward that the first time. I have a hard time using the whip just yet. I did have it. I rode with it, but the lurch forward is something I am still not ready for and the last thing I want to do is urge her forward and then snatch her mouth. I also still feel uncoordinated. Every once in awhile I feel like I am every where at once. I have to stop and regroup.

As you can see Corrie is a draft type Haffie. She is really broad in the chest and broad in the back end. Lil' darlin' wore Abby's girth! Seriously! But even though I thought I had it on good and tight, when I got off the whole saddle slipped. I am so happy that I have relatively good balance and was able to keep the saddle on the correct side of the horse as we rode. I think Abby's girth may have been a bit big, but Hope's (my former 15.3hh qh) was too small. I think that she is more drafty makes me like her more. I mean look at that sweet face! She has a personality to match.

R doesn't know if she had been ridden prior to coming to him. He has not done too much with her under saddle. Which is fine. When I talked to him about training, his response really made me respect him even more. He said he didn't think he was the right trainer for her, if I wanted to ride her, because he knows that I ride differently than him. He said I would just have to retrain her anyway. I really have to respect a trainer that can respect what I want to do with my horse. Oh by the way, she is not my horse yet. It was just an "what if" We were talking about. I am sure you can tell I am a bit smitten though.

After the ride I was untacking her. She knows how to stand. She didn't even have a halter on. I gave her a few cookies for being a good girl and then brushed her tail a bit. She knew where the cookies where. You could see in internal struggle, looking at the cookies but knowing she was supposed to stand. It was hard, but I am proud to say that she was strong! She got a few extra cookies for that!

Corrie wants to know if this saddle makes her butt look big. Personally I think it is really flattering! Maybe a different saddle pad. Oh and I need a bridle. I don't have a horse size black English bridle, so this is one of R's western ones, but still just a snaffle.

Friday, June 4, 2010

This and That

I want to thank everyone for their comments. Ya all really mean so much to me and I love hearing your feedback! I really am treading carefully with this purchase. I don't want another disaster, like Kinsey, or even just an inappropriate horse for me, like Abby. I want to think and digest. That is one of the draws of Corrie. I can get used to her and see if she will really start to come along or it will be a dead end.

I did talk to R, who owns Corrie, and I am able to ride her if I just let him know. So this might work out for awhile. She is not really being use for much right now. Pretty easy horse to drive and not a horse to really give lesson on for riding because she is so green. Ironic isn't it that a green horse gives me confidence? I think Golden Pony Girl really hit the nail on the head. She is not perfect, but I feel perfectly safe on her. I look forward to riding her next. I already have plans in my head, which is a wonderful feeling. I know what I want to work on, keeping rhythm at the walk. It is nice to get on a horse and think, "I can handle this problem" AND having a safe place to do it. When I first got Abby I could handle her, but I did not have a safe place to work with her.
As for Abby, she is doing rather nicely with the trainers. I watched her being worked on the ground and under saddle. Abby gave them a little attitude and I thought, yup, don't want to fight with a 2000 lb horse that has even little temper tantrums, especially under saddle. She is too big to have little fits, I don't think I am physically strong enough to deal with that. Which is unfortunate because I would really love to keep her.

As has happened in the past when I tried to sell her, everyone is in love with her looks and calls about her, but nobody really wants a horse that big in the end. She is beautiful to look at, actually has nice gaits for a draft horse, but is big. Otherwise they want me to give her to them for free. Which I don't understand at all.

So I am going to be able to ride more than once a week, but I am not sure what I am doing over all. Abby either needs to stay at R's which is what I have been planning on doing or coming home. I feel like I'm in a much better place than even a month ago though. I have options.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Riding Lesson # 7 : Could this be the one?

Today I rode Corrie. She is the haflinger I normally drive. She is not much of a riding horse, but I figured that if I was going to start looking for a new horse I should be riding more than just Drew. Not that I am looking yet, not seriously (okay ya all are all going to call me a liar in a few lines but honestly I am not seriously looking, sometimes things just happen). I still get nervous getting on a new horse and Abby is still not sold (but lots of inquires). Anyway Corrie is also for sale, just as an aside.

Corrie is a, umm, heavy set lady like myself. To say she is an easy keeper is beyond an understatement. I think if I didn't feed her for the next year she would still be fat. She was used as a brood mare for several years and has the shape of one. Her last foal, he is 4 I think, is at the barn and is her team mate. So Corrie can be driven single or double. I actually enjoy driving her. She is a bit of a lookie lou, but honestly she has helped me get over a lot of things already.

I was nervous getting on a new horse, but with each new thing that makes me nervous, I am a little less nervous and it goes away more quickly. Actually I want to brag that I have been on 4 horses since my fall. Anyway Corrie started walking, s . . . l . . . o . . . w . . . l . . . y, I mean this girl made the walk into an eight beat gait. lol. Corrie's default is as little work as possible. I used to buy into this until we were driving one day and heading back to the barn. When properly motivated she can move her little buns. Today, not so motivated.

Yet, when I finally got a half way decent, okay maybe more of a 1/4 way decent, walk out of her, we had some fun. Steers like a cow, but has a really nice trot, once we get into it. Talk about the bottom tier of the training pyramid. She needs to work on rhythm. She does kind of know how to move away from pressure. Sort of gives her head, a little, if you really mean it. lol

So why do I say this could be the one? As I am getting her to trot, and she has this wonderfully rolly trot, I was laughing. I mean she needs so much work, but she is not taking off with me. I mean I have to MAKE her go faster. I think I could feel comfortable going outside on a trail ride with her. She just isn't going to say, "screw you I'm bolting." Her attitude is more like, "Really, it means this much to you? I guess, I could try, a little. Or not" Now she has spooked in harness, but really was easy to bring back. I just thought riding her, although hard work, was fun. And not scary at all. She is only going to get better.

Plus I can work with her for awhile. I have already driven several times, but I don't have to make my decision any time soon. I'd only be worried if someone came out to look at her. I honestly don't want to go looking for horses, only to find out that I saw them on a good day. Or that they are not the same when in a new place. I can work with Corrie at that barn for as long as I like if I buy her. And I would board her out there for a few months, taking driving lessons, and working on her issues. Once I get her home, we will already have a bond established.

I say I want a forward dressage type horse, but what I really want is a dependable, easy going, level headed horse. I know she can move forward, I just might have to ride with a whip. I know that she can learn, she is 12, but she can still learn. This the horse I can ride now. Is she the one, I can't say for sure yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weight Loss Wednesday: ticker

Look way down at the bottom of my blog. . . I kind of tried to hide it. . . and you will see a ticker. It doesn't tell how much I weigh, but how much I have to lose. So far I have lost 18 lbs. I have 87 more to go. That it a lot of weight.

I am struggling. I have hit a wall, I have a hard time getting below this block and into the next set of 10's. I really want to get below this mark. I have been thinking about why it is so hard for me and right now I am not exactly sure but I think I have some ideas.

So I have done a few things.

1) 1 diet Coke a day. I used to drink 5 or 6. I kid you not. We would go through Diet Coke like nobody's business. One day, it just didn't taste right to me. So I went out and got a bunch of carbonated canned water, Diet 7-up, and Diet Squirt. Well I have managed to not start drinking the Diet Coke again. I have maybe one Diet 7 up or Diet Squirt the rest is water. Eventually I want to switch to plain water, but one step at a time.

2) Eat healthier snacks. I am SO in love with frozen grapes. They are so great! I love them. They are a cool and refreshing snack.

3) Ground drive Ike and/ or Abby every day. I did Abby today, that was work out! I have been doing Ike most night but I did a little ground work with Sophie instead. I really felt good about Sophie and Abby.

I know that doing little things like this will help so much. Next week I will make a few more little changes. So hopefully on every Wednesday you will see that little ticker go down.