Monday, 27 October 2014

Hear comes honey bee bee

This weekend I attended Diversity Horsemanship's Halloween Fun Show. It was a perfect way to wrap up an incredible year of hard work, successes, fails and progress. I came away from this show with a better idea of where Miss Tea and I are at, and I feel I can move forward with a more clear plan of what I would like to work on for the future.

I started the day off with Hunter Line class (for those of you who say what the heck is that like I did, it is a hunter course with rails on the ground to show how good your lines are and horse's way of going, etc.)

Boom! First class, first place...can you say "sqeeeee"!
Then Hunter Cross off course. Boo.

Jumper Cross Rails was hot mess because cantering a course is still new to us, but oh so fun! That was followed by Hunter 2' and Jumper 2' where we both improved and managed to squeeze in an 8th placing and a 4th.
Super gorgeous pony being very brave for me over the "severed hands" Halloween jump 
We then had the Hunter Flat class that was huge! I think there were around 16 or 17 horses in it! And I got 2nd!!!!! VERY PROUD OF MY PONY!!!

So then I got to relax and start breathing by around lunch time for the Costume Class. So much fun! There were a lot of really creative costumes to look at. My favorite was the horse dressed as a Pinata that kind of reminded me of a giant snuffaluffagus. :)

 I finished my day with an attempt at barrel racing...more like barrel trotting with a leisurely canter at the end.

This show had such a positive vibe and I was so happy to be a part of it. It was especially fun to watch good friends doing an amazing job with their horses. I'm so proud of them!

I left the day exhausted, so happy with my horse, and pretty sure I have some work to do with canter. Canter departs, lead changes, extended canter, oh ya...and my hands! Still need to work on my release.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

stomach flips

I'm not going to lie, these past 6 years have been filled with a whole lot of fear and hard work trying to get rid of it.

Some days, just the thought of riding fills me with dread and I wonder what the heck I am even doing with a horse. Horse agility saved me from giving up. I spent a year and a half building a solid relationship with my girl, working together to build trust and courage and the both of us growing more confident together. It also allowed me to get her out and about, fix the trailering issue with lots of play days, seeing new places and having fun without the stress of "riding".

Just when I thought we were both in a good place, learning to jump fences brought us both back to insecurity, doubt and wondering why to bother.

The most important lesson I have learned through this journey is to trust myself and do what I feel is right for me and my horse. I may not be a great trainer or even a good rider, but I do know my horse and how to get the best from her. She's an incredible girl and will try so hard for me, as long as I am there for her in a strong, confident yet compassionate way and give her time to think things through.

I just finished up a ride this afternoon that made my heart sing. It was just a light warm up, a little soft long and low, easy canters and without any stomach flipping or debate, aimed her at the jumps and cantered around like air time ain't no thing! She even through in attempts at flying lead changes, bless her heart!

There is a fun show this weekend at the barn I take lessons at and I am feeling optimistic. A little scared, but more excited. It feels like a great way to measure how far we have come this year and also a chance to just have some fun and enjoy horse time (of course I am entering the costume class, and yes I am doing barrel racing in an English saddle!). Wish me luck :P

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tuesday Lesson

I have always been leery of addictions. Besides its obvious negative associations I have always simply been too stubborn to allow myself to be seen as controlled or driven by something outside myself.

Horses brake that rule for me. Namely jumping! This addiction is so strong, it outweighs my intense fear of things going wrong and getting hurt.

Last night I felt the high I remembered from years gone by and it happened over a 1-foot cross rail jumping course!

Our lesson began with a course set up, but with all rails on the ground to get situated, work on our lines to and from the jumps, using our space and being good little hunter riders. Then the cross rails went up and we road it at trot, hunter style. My girl did a great job and it was a lovely little stress-free jaunt.

We all were practicing for the upcoming fun show at the barn, and most of us were planning to enter the jumper class as well, so next coach talked to us about the difference between hunter and jumper rounds and how to change our ride.

My first time out was so timid and I missed all the tight turns I was supposed to attempt. On my second try at it something came over me. I small glimmer of the fearless competitive gymkhana girl showed up and off I went! Coach said "ride her like you stole her!" and I certainly tried. :) There might have been some extended canter here and there.

That. Felt. Good.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Poker Derby

Who doesn't love a crisp fall day ride mixed in with a little gambling?

I learned:
 Traffic, tractors, wagons are not a problem for my girl
 Quads, a bit scary.
 Potluck trail rides = mucho food! :)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Letting go

I had such a great lesson last night and experienced a whole new feeling of riding towards and after a jump. It was one of those after lesson feelings of "YES!!" I can do this people!

First of all, I have to say this fab lesson was on the heels of a not so stellar ride last week where I jumped Miss Tea the first time since her back problems started. She was wonderful and didn't show me any signs of refusal or discomfort, nada. But me...I was so afraid on that first approach that I pulled her from canter to a trot and was actively looking for escape routes! My poor girl jumped it anyways, all on her own with no backup from her terrified rider. All jumps thereafter were me holding her too hard and coach telling me to RELEASE.

So, approaching this lesson, I was determined to redeem myself and do right by my horse. I did a full hang-on-to-mane release three strides before jump and worked very hard at picking up contact softly not before at least three strides out. All I can say is WOW!!!! Giving my girl her head and letting her think her way towards and over the jump was terrifying (I like to micromanage like no other) but so freeing at the same time.

I am so proud of my mare.

Cheers to everyone out there trying to be a better rider for their horse. The road training yourself and your horse may be long, but what a beautiful ride!