Monday, 8 January 2018

Accepting the Challenge

Last year around this time I heard of a challenge being held by Northwood Farms and tucked away the idea of signing up for it the following year. I then completely forgot about it until I saw the facebook signup reminder.

Look at that sweet fuzzy kissable nose :)
The challenge consists of completing 40 horsemanship hours (of anything you consider valuable time spent with your horse such as ground work) and 30 rides within the designated 12 weeks. Sounds easy right? They opened up registration for just two days and those that made the deadline are locked in to share the next 12 weeks with other participants from around the world in this journey.

I considered signing up for a few reasons; one, riding at home in winter basically sucks and motivation of any kind would be appreciated. I also liked that the group, even though more of a natural horsemanship crowd, was open to any type of riding, any type of horse, and no teaching/critiques/opinions are allowed. You simply record your horse time and share what you wish with the group, get to read a lot of great personal stories and offer/receive support to stay motivated.

So I am in.   What can I say, I'm a joiner.

On days like this, we both are going to need some motivation. Lucky carrots are all the motivation fur baby needs.
Of course, it is still the honeymoon stage but I think this may be the gentle push I need to get in extra riding time on those winter days I would rather just not be out in the cold. I had my first ride of the challenge on Sunday. I felt a bit of real progress with Shiraz on the home riding issues that I wrote about in my last post. After lunging I took her out in the hay field where the snow is much less deep and started working on riding a square in each direction.

She began as her usual jiggy self but I focused on staying soft and as correct as I could be in my aids and she settled a bit. I focused more on my own body position in the corners and kept things very slow and precise, with half halts before the corner to prepare and not over-using inside rein. I then expanded the square into a figure eight but still square shaped and added halts to the pattern. After half an hour of squares, Shiraz was soft, blowing out and making her weird moaning sounds that she does when she is relaxed (she is a strangely vocal horse).

We have been very lucky to get a break in the weather this week. It kind of has me thinking about taking Shiraz for a walk in the park. Hopefully I can find time while the weather is cooperating in the next few days. Otherwise, my next off-property trip is my lesson this Thursday which I am really looking forward to as it means more learning to jump practise!

13 comments:

  1. Winter is so tough when it comes to riding, I kinda long for the days when everyone just kinda agreed to let their horses R&R (or at least when I read books about the BNR and BNT that's what they all seemed to do)

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    1. Yes, I feel I'm half way there; Savvy is broke enough that I feel okay letting her have the winter off (or more acurately, I know I can handle her feral side 'cause it never goes away). Hopefully Shiraz will be far enough along next winter that she can handle a large amount of time off too.

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  2. ooooh what a great idea!!! i love the concept, but i also esp love it that you're using it as a carrot on that old motivation stick. good luck keeping it up - i'm excited to see much Shiraz develops over the next couple months!

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    1. I'm pretty driven to get Shiraz trained enough to enter the eventing derbies with her this year, but its so hard to stay committed when the weather is crap. I'll take all the help I can get to keep at.

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  3. Good idea on signing up!! This time of year really sucks the motivation out of me!

    Sidenote - Annie did the same thing with the jigging. She eventually settled into work, much like Shiraz.

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    1. It's kind of hard to trust her with that much energy in her but she feels so great once she settles. Hopefully with more rides the jigging won't be such an issue.

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  4. That is a very fuzzy and kissable face! So cute.

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    1. :D and she's such a sweet, cuddly girl too.

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  5. This is a great idea. Good for you for signing up!

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    1. I am loving getting to read about so many different people and their horses--from the mom with kids trying to squeeze in some horse time in the dark on her driveway, to a super fancy Friesian dressage beast working in an arena in Florida.

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  6. What a fun challenge. I've never heard of it but it sounds very enjoyable and motivating.

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    1. The variety of riders is cool to see. I was happy to find lots of english riders, and a few that are involved in jumping and eventing as well.

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  7. This will be great for y'all! Everyone needs help with a little bit of motivation and accountability, esp in winter.

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