Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pre-Clinic Cleaning

So I am riding in the clinic after all.  Both days.  Friday in the early afternoon and Saturday at 8am.  Which means a 6:15 am wake up call.  Ugh.  I actually volunteered for that slot though because then I won't have time to be nervous.  Genius!

I spent today cleaning my tack and I will try to get pictures of us all cleaned up tomorrow.  Licorice even got his mane pulled and I'm hoping to get out to the barn early enough to give him a decent clip job tomorrow.

Note to self:  clean your damn tack more often.  It was a three hour job to take apart and scrub all my tack.  It was four different bowls of water and a scrub brush for my stirrup irons.  Everything is sitting in my living room with a good coating of Passier Lederbasalm on it for the night.  Tomorrow I will degrease and put everything back together.

Now, I'm off to wash breeches so I have a clean pair to wear.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Lesson in Contact

I had my first lesson in three weeks last night and it was good.  We worked on how to get Licorice stretching down through his back right away.  I have a tendency to go from swinging free walk to pulling Licorice into contact.  He gets choppy and tense and behind the bit and I nag and pull.  We're a hot mess.

First, L had me bend him with just one rein.  I kept my reins long and used the inside rein, keeping my elbow close to my side and gently bending him.  As soon as he 'gave' to the contact by lowering and stretching his head, I straightened him.  This isn't dramatic bending with his head to his hip, but more of a gentle tipping of the nose.  If he didn't respond to that, I moved his head.  It never needed to get farther than that.  Once was giving on the inside, I made sure he was giving on the outside rein.  Then I shortened the reins and repeated the process.  I did this until we were walking on a nice contact with the proper rein length.

Then we moved to doing it in trot.  It's funny how you can feel like you've got something and then you add in trotting (or cantering if you've got it down trotting) and the whole thing falls apart.  Our main problem was that once we got in to the trot, someone pulled in a horse trailer and went about unloading their horse.

Our arena is open on both sides, so you can see the parking lot, grazing area and back turnouts.  I ride at dusk, so it was full on dark outside when the trailer arrived.  Licorice couldn't seem to focus and kept popping his head up, which then resulted in me falling back on pulling on my inside rein without any results.

Once we got past that bit of nonsense though, we had a great ride with lots of good consistent contact.

We did have a funny moment where we were joined by S and her bay mare.  Every time they trotted towards us and got close, Licorice pinned his ears and tensed his body up.  S doesn't keep her horse on the property, so I'm not sure what Licorice's deal was.  He didn't do it to the other horse in the arena, it was only when S rode her horse close to us.  He did NOT like that mare!

Also, on a chickenshit note, my trainer has me doing my warm up on a completely loose rein with a forward, marching walk.  My warm up is the scariest part of the ride for me.  It made me laugh that such a simple thing incites such anxiety!  It's the long rein, forward walk thing.  I feel like I have no control.  It's been good for me to get that out of the way in the beginning of our ride.

Since I don't have a recent picture of Licorice, here's a picture of a toy I found at Target.  Seriously?  Poopsy Pets?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Weency Bit Behind

Sorry I've been MIA the last few weeks.  I got hit with the flu.  And then I recovered for one day, only to be walloped by the stomach flu.  So, I have been in pajamas and in bed for about the last three weeks.

On a good note, all of the holiday weight I wanted to lose is now gone.  My only job now is to keep it off.

I finally did get to go ride my sweet boy yesterday and today.  And I love him.

Also, I'm riding in my first clinic with a local instructor next weekend.  I'm kind of nervous to be riding in a clinic after having three weeks off (and of course I'm out of town this weekend as well), but I'm also excited to have a horse that I feel comfortable enough to do that with.

We tried taking selfies today.  Licorice kept putting his big nose on the camera so they didn't really work out, but they're kinda cute anyway.

Hopefully this week will be full of catching up on the blogosphere and getting back in tune with my fabulous pony.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ready to Learn

First, sorry about the spotty blogging.  I just haven't had the same amount of free time that I've had in the past and between the holidays, the winter colds and flu and just too much to do I haven't been riding super regularly.  Licorice continues to be a good boy.

It's finally officially official.  Tessa has a new owner.  She and her boy will be competing in their first pony club show on the 18th.  I'm so excited for both of them and so relieved that I was able to find her such a great home.

So, my trainer posted this article on her Facebook page  This paragraph jumped out at me.

First and foremost you must come to the lesson ready to learn. You must listen with both ears and leave your ego on the mounting block. You will be surprised to find it is sometimes difficult to do. Coming to a lesson with a mind that is ready to learn, without preconceived notions of what should and should not happen, is essential to learning. 

I don't disagree with this at all.  In fact, what I want to talk about today is how I am TOO much this kind of student.  I have a negative ego when it comes to horses.  I have confidence that dips below the radar.  I have a hard time developing my 'feel' because I know that I don't know anything.  Beginner's mind is good for a lot of things, but beginner's mind mixed with fear makes for an owner who will un-train her horse.

Licorice came with bad ground manners.  I've been trying to work on them, but I flounder, not knowing if I want him to stop *here* or *there*.  I use 5lbs of force when I should use 15 and then none.  Or I use 15lbs of force and swim in my guilt of wondering if I even gave him a clear signal.

I took Licorice for a trail walk the other day.  I was too chicken to ride out by myself, so I led him.  Not my best plan.  By the time we were down the driveway, my heart was thumping out of my chest.  Licorice picked up on this and started getting tense and nervous.  Which meant his head went up to 19 hands and he froze.  Then he spun.  We managed to make it a little ways down the road anyway and then we started back.

I had to stop and circle him to keep him from barging over me with his shoulder.  He wasn't paying attention to me at all and I was doing a poor job of being a leader.  I get so concerned about being overly harsh with him that I allow behavior that is shit.  Which is funny because I don't do that with my own kid.  Yes, sometimes I look back and realize I could have been kinder and gentler with my child, but for the most part she respects me because she has VERY clear limits.  I KNOW I need to do this with my horse.

BUT I go back to being an empty vessel.  Which means that I am often AMAZING in a lesson.  You tell me to lift my wrist 1/2 inch and tilt my pelvis and pull my shoulders down and I will.  More trot?  Ok.  Half halt?  On it.  But left to my own devices, I'm like a robot waiting for instructions.

Most of this is just food for thought for me.  I need to find the balance between open mind and empty mind.  Sounds easy enough, but I need to practice this.  My goal for 2014 is to allow myself to make mistakes.  Even BIG MISTAKES with my horse.  I need to experience failure in order to build our success.

Also, I think my horse is cute.  Not related, but it's nice to be in love with my horse without any 'buts'.
My pony loves the goat.