Apologies for being gone so long. Lessons are still amazing, but having to wait an entire week between each lesson is absolute torture. I wish my instructor would just go ahead and adopt me!
I’ve had some interesting new developments in my horsey life while I was away. This post is kind of everywhere, but I promise after I catch up I’ll make more regular focused posts.
- I finally got Cooper to lay down…somewhat on command. No ropes or irritating lengthy bowing stretching sessions necessary! My inspiration came from this awesome youtube video tutorial. Basically, I just tweaked Cooper’s natural after-workout rolling habit and worked a little each day until he understood the concept. It took about three weeks, in contrast to the Youtuber’s sensational 10-minute demo, but hey–it’s the little things, right? Clicker training for the win!
Also, we are buckling down on canter work. I’ve found that my problem is bend. If he’s over-bent, he’ll run through with his outside shoulder and pick up the wrong lead. If he’s not bent at all, he’ll pick up the wrong lead period. If I try to bend him, he braces and falls inside the circle. It’s a vicious cycle, but we are learning together, and I’m trying to be very forgiving by yielding my half halts on the inside rein when he bends. It’s a weird hod-podge of split second BEND-YIELD-NO, BEND!-TINY YIELD-BEND-WHY ARE WE DOING A BAD CANTER PIROUETTE? (Let’s just establish that all internal dialogue is in caps when cantering.)
Of course we still have our moments.
In my lessons, my trainer always tells me to “turn my boobs” and physically establish the bend that I want by turning my torso. It feels so wrong, since my last trainer always told me to stop turning my body, and now I feel like I forced my body to stay locked up. That’s one of the most ground-breaking things that I’ve learned so far from my new trainer:
For heaven’s sake, it’s OKAY to MOVE in the saddle when you ride!
Dressage is a sport of proprioception, learning to control your body in the spaces it moves through, without letting anyone know that you are actually working up there. In other equestrian sports, you are allowed (and expected) to move with your horse. Think stadium jumping, cross country, reining, and vaulting. As I’ve gone down the dressage path, I’ve become more and more self-conscious about trying not to ride too aggressively, and it’s created a stiff, tense, and ineffective position in the saddle. Luckily I’m finding more confidence to ride boldly, even if I have to bust some undressagey moves. That was a rabbit trail, but’s interesting to think about position stigmas in various equestrian sports.
2. Let me introduce you to my new best friend, the Kobratech Triflex Mini.
It’s amazing because the flexible arms can grab on to almost anything, or you can set it up like a normal tripod. It took some time for me to plot out what the field of vision was so I could video myself without disappearing out of view for half the video. And the best part? It goes everywhere with you. This camera man doesn’t complain when he steps in poop. He doesn’t exaggerate a yawn and ask how much longer you’ll be. He needs no bribing or payment for his work. All you need to do is set him up and turn your camera (or phone, in my case) on, and go. It also has a blue tooth shutter, but it only has a ten-meter range so it’s only good for staged shots. This tripod is very cheap on Amazon and it’s well worth the investment.
3. I got to meet this cutie. She belongs to a family that used to let me board on their property. They were concerned she wasn’t nursing. Luckily, she was standing with her mum having a snack as I drove up, so I think she’s going to be fine. There’s just something about baby horses that makes me feel hopeful.
4. Horse shopping deliberation.
Now that I’ve started to enjoy riding Beaux (mastodon-like school horse), my focus on getting a small horse is quite a bit more negotiable. Also, as I’ve begun to take more lessons, I’m a little more confident in my skills. I still have a fairly limited budget, which leaves me in the middle range of horses, the ones that aren’t fancy but have a basic training foundation. My head is telling me to keep waiting, growing my horse fund, and learning to be the best rider I can be. But my heart is telling me to GO FOR IT. A horse, any personal horse, would be better than this constant borrowing. Of course, that’s not true. I would hate to get myself in a position where I am stuck with a perpetually lame or particularly sour dressage-hating horse.
I keep fantasizing about having my own horse again. Whenever I hear about a new type of snazzy supplement or awesome piece of horse clothing, I file it away and think to myself that I will be able to give that to my own horse one day. I feel the pony fever seeping back in around the edges of the sense of saneness I’ve steadily tried to build since selling Shiloh.
I should be glad that I don’t have a horse to spend money on, but I miss it so much! I loved scheduling farrier appointments, clinics, and trail rides. I loved the responsibility.
So when my trainer mentioned she had a quarter horse that she was looking to rehome, I felt my heart rattle against my ribs. She’s a three and a half-year-old unregistered quarter horse mare, a surprise baby that stowed away in her rescue horse mother long enough to be born in her new home. My trainer only mentioned it as an off-hand comment, because the mare had become a notorious escape artist and kept slipping out from her paddock.
She’s a cute strawberry roan, but she’s tiny and has that gangly baby look that young horses have. I can’t tell if she is going to be down-hill or will grow out of it.
That swirl on her face is adorable, and she seems decently built. I think she has the temperament to be easy to work with. Though I probably couldn’t make her the dressage star I’m looking for, I think at the very least I could “flip” her into a nice kids pony or trail horse. I haven’t said anything about her yet to my trainer.
Like the pony-crazed fool that I am, as soon as I got home from my lesson I went on Smartpak and created a wishlist of everything I would get for her, all in flattering colors and petite sizes. On the one hand, it’s a healthy, sane, and free horse (why not jump on this opportunity?). On the other hand, it’s a tiny, completely untrained baby that I could possibly ruin with my bad riding and have my heart broken all over again (this horse is literally everything you swore to avoid when getting a new horse.).
I’m fairly sure I’m going to steel myself and turn down the offer. I should stick to my principles. Or should I?