Conquering “Those” Fears…

I’d be lying if I said that when Miss H said that we’ll start riding again very soon (“F” has to get back to work first) that I wasn’t a little bit nervous. I’ve been off riding for so long you can’t blame me, right? So with getting closer and closer to riding again, there are the thoughts of “Oh my gosh, I’ll be riding a living, breathing creature again. How’s my first lesson back going to be like? Is it going to bebad”?” (No ride is bad; they all have lessons in them, but that’s a struggling point of mine to really accept as a new rider)
Thinking to myself after I was told that really made me. . . almost worry. Annnnd here comes another issue. Worry. That’s another to add to the list, lol! I worried about the things that could happen, mainly the “bad” and didn’t focus on the good and incredible things that could happen instead.
Something I decided to do is write down a list of goals that I want to accomplish this year, only a “Riding Fear Goal List”. I challenge you to write down the things that you may “fear” and at the end of it put “Conquer It!”
For example (these are a couple fears of mine):

1. Falling off-CONQUER IT!

2. Going Fast-CONQUER IT!

Falling off and going fast are just all a part of being a horseback rider, but they’re still in the back of your mind when it’s never actually happened yet. I’ve haven’t fallen off yet and the fastest I’ve ever gone is a trot so thinking about the possibility of anything faster then a trot is kind of terrifying to me and plummeting to the ground is equally, if not MORE, lol!
I challenge you to make a list of the things that you fear in the saddle that you want to conquer and CONQUER IT! I will be doing the same as more surface in each lesson (which they will, lol!).
Happy trails and happy riding!

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Embrace Failure

A little belated, but happy new year! I can’t believe it’s 2018! 2017 really went by too fast, but also for different reasons too slow. I can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for not only my riding journey but also for life in general.
I am officially 19. Bring on the new lessons of a new age! Lol! For a gift, Anna and my Mom surprised me with a very special thing that I now hanging on my wall by my bed.

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Harley, and yep; that’s Chance as well.

They printed the three pictures of Harley and left the fourth empty for me to fill. I immediately knew I wanted to put a picture of Chance I had in the last place. Looking at it by myself I got emotional because my two most favorite and beloved friends were there together and will remain there together. It’s the most thoughtful gift ever and I will always love it because it’s Chance and Harley♥
Still have not ridden. It seems that the days we plan to ride get squashed like a bug and then we have to re-plan everything in order for it work, then it gets squashed and we start all over again. I’ve learned since riding that:

1. Bad weather sucks, especially if you haven’t ridden in two months and all you can think about is riding.

2. When you finally have that lesson planned out, life throws a curveball and you can’t ride that day so planning really does nothing in the midst of that.

3. Sometimes you just won’t be able to ride.

And it’s been very hard. In my head, I can only think “if only I had a horse of my own” and all the “if’s” that you can possibly imagine. It’s not easy at all not having a horse but in the end, all the waiting and patience will make horse ownership totally-worth-it in the future.
And while Anna and I wait to ride I’ve been thinking about different things I’ve learned in my lessons since riding and one of the most important is excepting and embracing that I make mistakes. I don’t even know if I’ve already done a post about this yet, but why not do another if I have? Lol!
Even though I have many, one of the biggest things I struggle with when I ride is to make mistakes. In my head when I’m told to do something in the saddle I will get it right the first time or else I get extremely hard on myself and everything just turns to… Yeah. Not good, I know. It’s not that I’m afraid that Miss H will be upset with me if I don’t get it right; I just have to convince myself that it’s okay to make mistakes. Miss H has told me countless times that if I make a mistake she couldn’t care less; it’s part of learning and you can’t and won’t learn unless you make mistakes. It’s part of life.
So while I wait to get back in the saddle I’ve been trying my hardest to accept the fact that there will be mistakes when I ride again and sometimes they won’t be the most convenient, at least to me. But there’s a lesson in every. single. mistake. I. make. And I say “I” only because “F” is such a great horse and never gets a step wrong; it’s all just me learning, lol!
So that is one of the many things I am working on in the year of 2018: Embracing each failure that I have in the saddle and out.
What’s something that you are working on to accomplish in your riding for 2018, both in the saddle and out?
I guess that’s it for today. I’ll “see” y’all when I see you next. Keep up the awesome work, even though I can’t see you, all I can do is read the progress through your blog posts, lol!
I wish you all an awesome rest of the week!
Happy trails!

 

Staying Positive…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” And that means taking down magnolia leaves from under your boss’s house, throwing them in the river and having to lean over the boat you’re on with an oar to push them into the current over an alligator-infested river. Okay, maybe not “infested”; let’s go with “home to” many alligators that are vicious. Yep. My sister and I had to do that with super thick fog over the water so we couldn’t really see around us very well. But alas, we made it with no alligator sightings. . .this time! Lol.
Christmas is only a few days away. Not to mention a certain . . . ahem . . . birthday on Saturday. Yeah. My birthday is two days before Christmas. 19, here I come!
Random fact: Out of my nine siblings only two of us were born on our due-dates. My brother Andrew and I. And no, we’re not twins. We’re years apart, but all of us are so close that we could be twins, lol!
It doesn’t feel like it should be Christmas yet. Do y’all feel the same way?
Anna and I have not ridden in a while. I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s been hard that we haven’t, but life just has a way of changing on everyone, no matter how good of a planner you are of your day(s). So I have been trying to stay encouraged and optimistic leading up to when we do get to ride again. Maybe it’ll be this week, maybe it won’t be. Just have to have patience and prepare, as in getting back into Yoga because you’ve been off for about a month because going up to Michigan last and getting sick twice in under a month as well. Add to that, two of my sisters have Laryngitis, Sinusitis AND Strep Throat and Anna just has Strep. But guess what Sarah told me the other day? Only 12% of the population get Sinusitis a year. You learn something new every single day, whether it be that Hand, Foot and Mouth actually ISN’T related to leprosy (my entire family got from my niece last year. I wouldn’t wish that sickness upon ANYONE! It was absolutely horrible and so painful!) or simply that your sister sits in the category of rare people that get a really bad sinus issue. Whatever it is, you still learn it and you still remember it.
So due to not having ridden for a while, there are so many things that are a struggle in themselves. I am so grateful that I get to work at the barn while I wait to ride because if I couldn’t I would literally go crazy.
But there are things you can do (that I do) that help me stay positive and upbeat for when the next ride comes, however far away that might be.
1. Get (Back) Into Shape: Do your usual yoga routine, go to the gym, out for a run, whatever you do to stay fit for riding. In my case, it’s yoga because T-25 and other intense workouts don’t really help me in my lessons.
2. Stay “Inspired”: Stacy Westfall wrote a blog post a while ago that really challenged me in the place of inspiration VS taking action. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s important to stay inspired and watch inspiring videos on that one gorgeous horse doing an absolutely amazing Dressage test, but what are you going to do with that inspiration you get from it? I’ll leave the post below and I highly encourage you to read it. I ended up loving it so much that I printed it off and taped it to my wall so I could read it whenever I felt like I needed to, besides my very encouraging Bible verses and Dressage Pyramid, lol.

 

http://westfallhorsemanship.com/which-comes-first-inspiration-or-action/

 
3. Have Faith That It’ll Happen When It’s Supposed To: The rain (quite literally, because it’s raining all week this week) will stop eventually and it’ll be the perfect to ride soon. You just have to keep your head up and stay positive!
4. Practice Your Postive VS Negative Theories: Practicing keeping your positive energy/thoughts in charge of your negative energy/thoughts. Even when you’re out of the saddle you can still practice on a stool like you’re on a horse.

 

I know there are more to practicing out of the saddle, but these are just a few that I like to do during long stretches of no riding.
What do you do to keep you “up-to-date” when you don’t ride for a long period of time?
Have a great week, everyone!
Happy trails!

Equestrians Are Awesome

Today is the type of day that I ABSOLUTELY L.O.V.E! It is so cold and rainy and I’ve been able to see my breath all day for the past two days! Can I get a WOOT, WOOT for winter?
What’s your favorite season and why?
My favorite season is winter, and no; it’s not because Christmas is in the winter or my favorite holiday. My favorite holiday happens to be Thanksgiving.
I love the winter because it’s super blustery cold and you get to stay bundled up all day and sip your piping hot chai tea (which I’m slightly addicted to at the moment, lol!). The days that you can see your breath and want to be outside 24/7. At least that’s what I love.
Something I also fall head-over-heels for are days in the frigid cold at the barn. The smell of horses, hay, and grain all pile into one magnificent package of amazing-ness. And what’s best is that the horses are so warm which gives you an excuse to cuddle into their neck and stick your freezing cold and numb hands in their blankets for defrosting. Add to that their fluffy coats that make them look extra warm.
Ah! I love these days.
And while I so wish that the South got snow, I shall have to be content with the fact that we may only get snow clouds in the area for probably two seconds, lol. I also wish that I could get to feel what it’s like to ride in the snow. To hear the “crunch”, “crunch” of my horse’s hooves in the snow and feel the freezing cold breeze on my face that turns my cheeks red and makes my nose go numb. To see each breath from my horse come out of his/her nostrils in puffs of white air. To have an adventure as if I were in Narnia during the long winter with my horse. Call me a dream/adventure weirdo. I’ll take it as a compliment, lol!
I would love to experience a snowy winter with my horse (when I buy it in the future!) someday. It would be so magical and I would never want to forget it.
And I know that with winter comes difficult challenges: waterers freezing, ice, sleet on the roads, etc. It’s still a goal of mine to experience it all someday.

WINTER riding

I wish winter down South were like this but sadly are more like…

Summer riding

this. Still very magical in its own way, but just not the same without the bare trees and snow.

And with that, I must go. Something I wanted to say before heading off was: You know you have awesome equestrian friends when you walk into the barn and your friend is using a turkey baster to flush out her horse’s eyes. Yeah. I learned to keep one of those in the horse-first-aid kit, lol!
Happy trails and happy horses!

 

The Greatest Adventure I Ever Had…

As I sit here at the computer listening to the Narnia soundtrack, I saw a picture of my dog, Harley, which made me very sad and very happy at the same time.
We had to put Harley down in May of this year. She was seventeen years old and I had grown up with her since I was a year old. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t remember Harley being in my life. She was there every single day until the day she wasn’t. If that makes sense.
You probably understand when I say that I would just sit and talk to Harley on a day to day basis, whether that be when I brushed her every day, fed her, walked her and sat in the orchard with her, etc.
One thing I remember very clearly is telling her that we would go to Narnia together. There we’d actually be able to talk to each other in English VS talking in human-dog language.

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If there was one thing Harley couldn’t live without, it was peanut butter. Watch out everyone who had some because she’d plow you over to get to it!

Yeah, there were really hard days with Harley, especially as she got older. Her hips were specifically troublesome. There would be days that she couldn’t even get up on her own; we had to literally lift her up on her feet and she would hobble along her way.

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Harley was a Newfoundland/Chow/Labrador/Irish Setter mix. You can see the Newfoundland in her face, the Irish setter in her coat, the Lab in her personality and the Chow in her protectiveness!

For seventeen years old she was pretty feisty. She bit my brother and sister-in-law’s dog more than ten times!
Although she might not have had the best leash manners, or didn’t come when you called her, she was incredible with babies (towards the end of her life she did really well with my nieces) and she kept us all safe.
I had many adventures with Harley and she was my walk buddy. As she got older and her pace slowed down I took it as an opportunity to really enjoy my time with her and talk to her about things. I knew when it was her cue to stop and take a breath and she knew when I needed time to “vent” and listen to my endless chatter about who-knows-what.
I watched over her as much as she watched over my family in her faithful years with us. She was faithful to the end, and even on the day she was put down, she went to sleep at my feet like the faithful dog that she was. I’m still healing over Harley and I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to write this right now. Like, seriously, I’m a mess right now. If you could only see how bad, lol.
I will never forget Harley and all the things I learned from her and the memories I have with her. My next dog has some incredibly large shoes to fill.
They say that you are only called to Narnia when Narnia is in trouble. Harley and I were going to go to Narnia together, but I guess she was called to go alone for a special reason.
I will forever love and miss you, Harley. Life isn’t the same without a faithful friend like you.

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Harley Davidson R. 2000-2017, aged 17 years old. You will always be in my heart

You gave me an amazing seventeen years of an unbreakable bond, lessons to last me forever and a heart filled with much love for you. You will be missed, Harley, but never forgotten.

 

A Mess Of A Week…

Hello everyone and happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope you all enjoyed it and have memories to last forever!
I know that in my last post I said that I was going to have a new post about this time of this week and I do now!
Last week my whole family (all fifteen of us, including two nieces under the age of three!) traveled all the way up to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding. It was really nice being able to see two new States (Indiana and Michigan) and for those of you who live in those states, you live in a beautiful place!
The weather was absolutely gorgeous! Some people might think that a Southerner like me won’t like the cold, but I did! Bring that weather down South some more! I was born in New Hampshire and moved down South when I was only a few months old, so the cold mentality of New Hampshire is still in me, even though I don’t remember it because I was so little. All I needed in Michigan was a long sleeved shirt and my riding vest and I good! (P.S. And I know that the weather in Michigan is not in full swing in November, but it was pretty darn cold!)
We left on a Thursday to Michigan and headed back home on Sunday after a big breakfast with my family, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends that are basically family but are only missing the DNA, lol! It was the best time I have had in a long time and it was nice to see all family for a happy occasion vs a sad one like in August. It was a much-needed refresher for everyone.
My cousin’s wedding was gorgeous! Everyone looked beautiful and after I hugged my cousin and his new wife I told that how absolutely gorgeous everything was.
My sister and I had strict instructors from Miss H (lol!) that since there would be dancing she wanted to dance to help keep us loose for when we ride again. Let me tell you something: I realized that I don’t like dancing in front of people, lol! My sister-in-law was trying to get me to move, but it just wasn’t working, lol! But get this; as soon as we got back to our hotel room that night I was doing my own little jig. Go figures, ha, ha!
It was nice to take it easy with family on Saturday and visit and my sister Sarah and I decided to go swimming (it was an indoor pool, don’t worry, lol!). Then when our nieces came in the water we helped them with learning out to swim, to which my oldest niece replied while hugging my neck to swim on my back, “You’re like a moose!” *crickets* Ooookay. Don’t know where that one came from, but I took it as a compliment anyway, ha, ha. Then my youngest niece came in the water and did a fantastic job too! Instead of doing the regular swim-kick she was frog-kicking! They’ll be pros in no time!
It was bittersweet when we had to leave Sunday, but we got smiles when we were surprised with snow that morning, all the way until that afternoon! It’s been years since we’ve seen snow, so it was so nice to see it again. It wasn’t enough for a snowman, though *sad face* lol!
And now here I am, sitting at the computer, cozily at home barely able to breathe out of my nose, so I’m sitting here practically panting like a dog, lol!
Yesterday morning I woke up and was #1, covered in hives from a fever that night that I barely knew I had and #2, feeling like I was hit by a dump truck. So I had to text Miss H and tell that I couldn’t make it to work and neither could Anna because she minorly relapsed from being sick over the weekend of the wedding.
I felt so bad because I hate leaving things to the last second, but my family is so blessed with friends who take care of our ducks because you don’t want a feral cat to eat them (thanks again, Miss J and Mr. M!) and riding instructors and bosses who completely understand when you feel sick.
Add to my hives and cold, my wrist-weather-meter (I must sprained it really badly a while ago) is hurting so I could barely twist a doorknob this week. Yeah. It’s been a mess of a week.
And for those of you wondering how “F” is, when I worked on Wednesday before I started feeling sick I asked Miss H and she said he’s doing really well and we did a good job on his foot. Yay!
So that is it for today. I look forward to my family feeling better from this horrible cold and being able to ride again!
Did y’all have a good Thanksgiving? What are some traditions that you do? And what is your favorite Holiday?
Happy Trails!

Horses Keep Us On Our Toes

Isn’t it funny how horses are so experienced in keeping us on our toes? Just when you think things will go as smooth as butter they throw you a curveball.
That was our day at the barn. Anna and I were finishing up with cleaning the stalls and had a few other things to do before heading home when “F” came in the barn from the pasture. Don’t ask me how I saw it, but I noticed on his hoof that there was what looked like a white hole. Oh no, I thought. I traveled up from the white “hole” to his fetlock to see that there was redness and what looked like liquid dripping down his hoof. I called Anna over to hold him while I checked it out. Sure enough when I ran my finger over it that white pus and a tinge of blood came away. Miss H was not home so I called her. I told her it looked like a really bad bug bite (which “F” is prone to getting) and that it was red and leaking white pus and some blood. After I sent her a picture of the hair out of the way of the bite she called and said that it definitely was not from a deer fly, horsefly, etc, but something else we still don’t know what. She was not home at the time and she couldn’t just come to the barn. So she had to walk Anna and me through what to do.
First, we had to get “F” out of his stall and clip the hair over the bite. “F” stood as still as a statue for us while we clipped the hair, despite it having been our first time ever clipping a horse, let alone take care of something like this. Out of precaution we kept our heads out of the way of his knee in case it was painful and he tried to move away so we wouldn’t get kicked in the head. Thankfully it wasn’t painful and that didn’t happen!
Next, we had to apply a disinfectant to it. The problem was I couldn’t find it. So I spent the next few minutes looking for it while “F” stood patiently in the aisle like, “Can we just get on with it so I can go graze?” lol! I can’t remember the name but it was that specific disinfectant or Betadine. I ended up finding the first, thankfully! So we put on a pair of gloves (washing my hands over and over would have gotten irritating for me, lol!), got a clean sponge and wiped the newly shaven bite clean, applied the disinfectant and wiped the bite with that and then dabbed it with sterile water and dabbed it dry.
Lastly, we had to find triple antibiotic ointment to put on it to keep it protected from dirt and dust until someone experienced could come and take a look at it and wrap it if necessary. Couldn’t find that, so we spent several minutes looking for it until I found it in Miss H’s emergency kit  (where all the other cut stuff is, duh! lol! Earth to Elizabeth! lolol!). I put a glob on my finger and smeared it on “F’s” bite and viola! it was taken care of.
I won’t lie when I say that I got a little nervous when Miss H said she was going to walk us through what to do, especially since “F” is not used to us (Anna and I) taking care of stuff like that, but once we got started I gained confidence and soon felt like a veterinarian, lol! She mentioned the area being a little difficult to keep a bandage on, so I’m not sure if she was going to have us wrap it or not. We ended up not wrapping it and it turned out fine.
Miss H asked over the phone after we cleaned the bite up and were getting ready to put “F” back in his stall if he behaved himself. I told her that he was a perfect gentleman with a laugh. She replied laughing, “Then maybe it’s just me that he doesn’t behave himself with”, lol! I laughed and told her that I absolutely doubted it, lol!
During the whole process of taking care of “F’s” bite Anna and I periodically gave him a carrot piece, only because he’s not used to us taking care of a cut of his; he’s only used to his owner (Miss H) doing that. But he was perfect. Never pinned his ears at us from any hidden ticklish spots on his legs (which he does to me from time to time when I groom him), didn’t show any signs of being in pain from his bite and didn’t think twice when we got the clippers out to shave the hair off over the bite. I was so proud of him and I can’t tell you how many times I told him he did such a good job!
So that was our day at the barn. Anna and I both talked about it over the drive home and we both said that we are happy that we got the chance to learn how to care for something like that (not that “F” got hurt, of course! but the opportunity to learn how to stay calm and get the job done and how to get it done).
Horses definitely make sure we are keeping an eye on things and they keep testing whether or not you are up to date on your skills (medical, etc, lol).
I’m proud of Anna and myself that we were able to follow the direction given to us in a calm way until we got it right.
Even though this wasn’t a life-threatening thing, I learned that staying calm, even if you’ve never taken care of a bad bite on a horse before, is so, so important because the horse can sense that you are calm, so, therefore, they are calm. I also learned that wearing gloves and applying disinfectant to a bite is actually fun and I think the “fun-ness” part of it transmitted to “F” so he could sense that there was nothing to be nervous about. If anything, “F” was probably thinking, “Why do I get the sensation that she’s enjoying this VS being nervous? It worries me she’s not nervous!” lol! We out a glimpse of what a day in the life of a vet is like, lol. Well, on a really good day!
“F” was so good and my parents were very happy to hear how we handled it when we got home.
Just because you don’t ride doesn’t mean you don’t learn from horses. Every day you’re around them you learn something new and that day we just so happened to learn how to take care of a bad bite.
What was the first cut/bite you had to take care of by yourself on your horse like? I’d love to hear!
Happy Wednsday, everybody! I’ll have an exciting post in a little while, probably not until late next week!
So, in case I don’t see you: “Good afternoon. Good evening and good night!” And Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy trails!
Trail ride

Learning To Let Go

The thought is a lot easier said than done. “Just let go,” I tell myself every time I stiffen up. But then my negative thoughts and negative tension fight against that, which results in a battle against myself which makes things a lot worse than they really are.
I rode on Friday and I fought against both the negative tension and negative thoughts. Why does it feel like “F’s” cantering?! *gets tense, resulting in posting going down-hill* (when he’s really trotting at a nice pace). Why can’t I keep my heels in the direct line from my ears, shoulders, hips? Why are my hands constantly opening?
Whether it be letting go of fear (me), stress (me), or tension (did I mention me?) it’s always a lot easier said than done. I’ve been thinking about what Miss H said on Friday when she had me halt after I got tense during the trot-“Let go of the fear that’s holding you back.” I can’t tell you how many times I have sat and thought over that since Friday.
Just let go. It’s quite literally that simple and yet so, so hard for a beginner like me.
Friday held many good things in my ride, while it held a few difficult ones to counteract that goodness, lol.
Miss H had me do a bunch of stretches to help loosen up and deepen my seat in the saddle-bicycles, pin-wheel, ankle circles, climbing up and down the rope, scissors, taking a deep breath in as my arms went over my head to expand my lungs and then letting my arms go down with the big exhale (that was because I was holding my breath and Miss H wanted to see my lungs expand). “F” saw my shadow moving in a different way and I could see him thinking, “What the heck is she doing up there?” Lol! She also had me do zombie and airplane, this time not allowing my elbows to bend to go into either one. It was a little more difficult doing them that way because she would call me out when I would bend my elbows only the tiniest bit. I am so thankful for eyes on the ground, lol!  I seriously don’t know what I would do without them! Also, instead of doing the traditional scissors, I was told to lift my thigh from the hip off the saddle straight out. Miss H laughed and said that until the muscles and tendons in my hip-flexors are fully used to getting stretched and loose that it’s going to be painful. Surprisingly I was only a few stretches away before my hips started to cramp, which didn’t actually happen! Woohoo for hip-opener yoga classes!
When we trotted for a bit (no pun intended, lol) Miss H said to me: “When you come to a walk we’re going to try something a little different and a bit more difficult at the trot.” Out loud with a laugh, while “F” was slowing to a walk I said “Oh boy”, lol.
What she had me do was this: In the trot she wanted me to post for two trots, then go into two-point position for two trots, leaning on “F’s” shoulders for support and allowing him to give me the motion and my job being to take up the shock in my joints, keeping them loose. Simple enough, right? Well, it was difficult for me the first few times. But I was finally able to get it a couple times. All I had to do was bent at the hips forward and lean on his shoulder and lean backward to get to posting again.
A couple things I noticed are faults of mine are:

• In two-point I try to force my heels down, resulting in a stiff and tense leg that doesn’t allow me to absorb the shock in my joints and allow especially my ankles to be hinges (the only way I can describe it) at the trot. Also, it pushes my legs out in front, messing up not only my balance but also makes it harder to ask for a specific aide.
• I try to go into two-point and balance myself VS trusting “F” to balance me for me. Does that make sense?

I felt proud of “F” and I when I got it a couple times. After all, I was only able to do it because “F” allowed me to!
Then before we were working off the lunge line in halting and steering (I still struggle with those) “F” picked up a trot and I didn’t hold the strap again! Woot! I gave him a semi-long rein and he trotted along for half a circle! Woot! I won’t lie when I say that I felt like a rider who actually knew what she was doing, lol!
I know I’ve said it before, but the patience that “F” has to simply allow me to learn to ride on him is incredible. He tolerates me accidentally bumping him in the mouth, moving around a ton on his back and lets me get on him in general. Even after a hard ride when I dismount tense and disappointed in myself he always lets me get on the next lesson without so much as a complaint or “Please don’t make me do this! You remember what happened last time.” And I want that quality in my first horse. It’s worth its price in gold.
My main lesson in my ride is learning to let go of whatever my “problem” is in the saddle (tense legs for example). I have been working on letting go ever since I started riding and I have come so far since then and I can’t tell you how happy I am that even though it’s so little of an improvement it’s still an improvement and a step forward to my goal(s) for the rest of this year and next year.
What are some goals for the rest of this year and the next you want to accomplish with your horse?
My quote of the week is-“Let go of the fear that’s holding you back”
Happy trails!

Trail ride

P.S: This sadly isn’t me on my lesson horse, lol!

 

 

Lessons From A Spooky Horse – Part 1

From the title, you’re probably thinking this post is about a lesson that I had where my lesson horse totally spooked. While those things do happen and it has happened to me recently (during the trot!), it did not happen again. Instead, while Anna and I worked yesterday we had an interesting time while trying to get a blanket off of “Chee” (not his actual name, but I don’t want his full name on here). Let me tell about him first: Chee hasn’t even been at the barn for a year. He came over the summer and we (Anna and I) found out immediately that he is spooky. Each time we were in the stall with him he would have to watch you in case something was “scary” (i.e. sudden movements from us, Pitchfork, wheelbarrow half-in/half-out of the stall, etc). As he got used to his surroundings and the people that clean out his stall and paddock, he grew to like us and we grew to like him as well. He grew to be a big teddy bear and I have really grown to love Chee. He has a blaze on his forehead in the shape of a dolphin jumping out of the water, which I noticed the first day he got to the barn. The only thing about him is he’s spooky, like, it was a struggle to get a fly mask on him.
So since Chee has been at the barn, he has been very sweet. He’s let us catch him and clean around him in the stall. He’s acted very, very respectfully. Until yesterday…
Miss H texted and asked for Anna and me to start pulling everyone’s blankets off since it was getting warmer out. We started on the side of the barn with the youngest horses. Three horse’s blankets’ were taken off and the last was Chee, so I made my way over to him. I brought his halter so Anna or I could hold him and the other would take his blanket off so he wouldn’t spook from it. Good plan, right?
Chee was already acting weird around me yesterday; it was probably because I was wearing a hat vs no hat and he’s never seen me wear one before. When he saw me walking out to him as I called him, he stood there like a good boy. Then when I got close enough to almost put the lead rope around his neck he took off away from me. I tried again, this time walking more slowly toward him. I was able to touch the blanket at his shoulder when he spooked and took off a second time. He did it literally five more time, each time turning his butt toward me, which I know is a sign of disrespect. I called out to Anna to the barn and asked if she could bring over a couple carrot pieces so I could maybe encourage him to come to me vs me go to him. While I waited for Anna I tried “paying attention to something else” while I slowly inched my way to him, only to have him run off again. At that moment I never took him for the difficult to catch type of horse, but alas, the ones that look like easy ones are quite the opposite, lol.
Anna got there with the carrot pieces and I slowly walked toward Chee with one in my hand. When he was standing still I would tell him “Stand” and then “Good boy” when he was still to kind of help him learn that “Stand” means to not run off but to wait for me to get him. He ran off again. We did a several more times.
At this point the blanket had to get off of him or he would start to sweat and I didn’t want that to happen, so I stood completely still and held my hand out so he could see the carrot in my palm. He was pacing back and forth several feet in front of me, almost studying me, toying with the fact that I hadn’t had success in catching him. Aside from saying “Good boy” when he took half a step towards me and “Look what I have in my hand” I was silent. He took several steps towards me and I didn’t move except to bring my hand closer to myself so he would have to get closer to get the carrot. He walked the last few feet to me and I stayed firm before I even thought about touching him to get the halter on him. When his nose touched my hand I praised with “Good boy” like you would not believe! And while he happily munched on the carrot I was able to slip the halter on and we got the blanket off.
The lesson I learned in catching a somewhat difficult horse is that you can’t force anything. The horse literally is the one that decides whether or not he wants to come to you and you just have to be patient with him in that. I learned that patience is everything and you can’t get frustrated at a horse for something that he just needs more encouragement in. And if he senses that you’re worried he might spook and take off, then he will.
I will forever remember my lesson from Chee, and the lessons I will continue to learn from him are endless.
What is something that you have learned when trying to catch a difficult horse?
Happy trails!

Wedding, Lesson, & 5K

Happy Monday, fellow bloggers! I hope you have enjoyed your week. As you can tell from my last post, my week was pretty crummy, add to that extremely busy, what with watching my niece for the week, getting things done before the weekend, working down at the river for another wedding and. . . having another lesson. I’ll write about that last.
But first, the wedding. As soon as I was done working on Friday I was dropped off at Miss K’s to help prepare for the wedding at 5:00 that evening.
We got everything done and the wedding ended up being beautiful! Everyone was so nice and respectful. And let’s just say that when it came time to go home at 10:30 I had already worked 14 straight hours that day, sitting down only a handful of times because my lower back was killing me from all the bending down, lifting up and standing for so long. My sisters and I were literally zombies, we were so tired. My brother not so much. He can handle being up a lot better then we can, lol!
As for our surviving three ducks after the guinea massacre (that I am going to call it), they are doing just fine. I let them out this morning and they all started talking to protest that they need their pool cleaned, which I cleaned afterward.
Then early Saturday my Mom, sister Emily and niece and I left the house to watch my sisters run in a 5K at a camp they used to work at. They did really well, and afterward, they were super muddy from the obstacles they had to go through/over, etc. They both did a great job and Anna even rode a 250-foot zip line after that’s 47 feet up in the air! She rode it twice!
As for my lesson on Friday…It was really good. After my lesson the week before in feeling discouraged and beaten, this lesson I came away feeling much better about where I’m at. At one point Miss H had me drop my stirrups and stretch my legs out and had me do bicycles, scissors, figure-8’s with my ankles. Then she had me lift my legs to sit in Jockey position to really be able to feel my seat bones and let “F” do his job in really taking up all the space in his walk. Miss H said that in Jockey position I couldn’t interfere with his movement, and, boy was she right! Lol!
At one point when my feet were out of the stirrups “F” started to trot and I sat it!!! I leaned forward because it caught me off guard, but towards the end (he literally took like ten trotting steps) I leaned back and sat it pretty “nicely”, lol! I have never trotted without stirrups before and I am very proud of myself to say that it wasn’t all that scary!
All that went through my mind after “F” slowed to a walk was the quote from Black Beauty from Merrylegs- “When they seem frightened or a little unsteady on my back, I go as smooth and as quiet as old pussy when she is after a bird; and when they are all right, I go on faster, you see, just to use them to it…I am the best friend, and the best riding master those children have.” I have a feeling that “F” was thinking that exact same thing and that I needed to get used to trotting without stirrups so that’s why he took off in a trot; to get me used to it because he knows me in the saddle better then I know myself! If only Merrylegs knew that my lesson horse is just that quoted above, I think he would be very proud of “F” and “G”♥
When I picked up my stirrups we trotted for a bit and Miss H had me look over my left and right shoulder. Let me tell you something: doing that on a circle in the middle of trotting really tests your balance! I thought I was going to fall a couple times, but when I found my balance I did okay, lol.
For the last ten minutes of my lesson, I worked on steering in a circle through multiple cones, which I was able to keep a bend in “F” a couple of times. Not as much as I would have wanted, but you get there slowly but surely. And then I was taken off the lunge line and cooled him down by walking around the arena a couple times.
I dismounted and for some reason, “F” felt shorter than usual, lol! Is that normal? Let me know in the comments, lol!
“F” was really good throughout it all, despite my many mistakes but if I could have the patience that he does I would be a completely different person, in a very, very good way. He’s a totally amazing horse, and Miss H is a totally amazing instructor!

Went Horse riding

This is what I felt like when I trotted with no stirrups, lol! 

Merrylegs

“When they seem frightened or a little unsteady on my back, I go as smooth and as quiet as old pussy when she is after a bird; and when they are all right, I go on faster, you see, just to use them to it…I am the best friend, and the best riding master those children have”- Wise Merrylegs in Black Beauty

I walked out of the arena feeling good about my ride and actually excited. I think, though, what my problem is is that I try too hard to be look “still” like all the Olympic riders out there and you fellow bloggers who have been riding a long time that I completely freeze myself up in an attempt to be something that I need a lot of time to be. And I need to learn to be loose VS frozen in place. A lot easier said than done, but I am determined to get to that point; it will just take a lot of practice.
I hope you enjoy your week. Don’t forget to thank your horse after every ride, no matter how “disastrous” it might have looked to you, because why do we ride horses? Because they let us.

Thank your horse

Thank your horse for a job well done!

Happy trails!