The move has been weighing on me for over a month now. I've been running my budget over and over again, making cuts and then adding in miscellaneous expenses when I think I've cut too much. I've been talking to every facility about boarding, various apartment complexes about living there, and have started researching new crossfit boxes.
Every weekend pretty much, I've driven down to the area to see places to live, visit barns, and even visited my coworkers and boss (two separate visits) at one point. It's been a LOT of work to try to find affordable (but safe) housing in the area and to pick between the barns. But I think I'm close to solidifying those plans. Will talk more about that when I actually move!
Much closer to the best lawn mower in the world
Generally I'm really excited, but I've mostly been feeling stressed about the whole thing. I keep having to remind myself of the positives though, I think it will be a good move for me though, for a variety of reasons:
- I can stay in my industry that I love so much (the industry is so small that it was going to be at least a year before I could find another place to work up here that would work for me)
- I get to leave this horrible job
- I feel like its a 99% guarantee that I'm going to enjoy my life 40 hours a week since I loved that job so much
- I get to get away from my terrible boss
- TC will get to be back at the barn where we were doing so well at (eventually) where he can be in a giant paddock and always have good footing under him
- I don't have to worry about someone crying, gossiping, having a tantrum, being really inappropriate, or sabotaging my career anymore
Much closer to this place so I can take pretty pictures of it
- I still get to ride with my trainer
- I don't have to drive 2+ hours each way to most of my clients anymore
- I will be lined up perfectly for a promotion in the next two years
- I get to be closer to my family, including my sister-in-law and brother who will be having kids soon!
- Have I mentioned how much I hate this job I'm currently working?
- I get to live near the beach and super close to some amazing hiking trails!
- I get to present at a ton of conferences
- My friend from grad school is also moving to the bay area so I get to see her a lot too!
- I don't have to be at this job anymore.
So much closer to this little dog too
There are negatives, obviously. I will miss everyone up here so much, I will miss not depending on my teaching income to survive, I will miss my crossfit box, I will miss seeing my trainer as often, I will miss my coaches.
But I think this is as close to an ideal situation as I can get. I just need to hustle with my business but still remember to enjoy living by the coast!
So Friday's lesson was amazing. I haven't had that much cognitive restructuring since 2013 when I first rode with Tracey and she tore everything I knew about dressage off of me and then started putting the layers back on. It hurt a lot.
This hurt differently, since I feel like the mental framework has been laid before, but my level of physical understanding was maybe lacking I guess... I always think that I know what, say, forward is until I unlock another layer of it and then I look back and go "I can't believe I thought horse X was in front of my leg, he clearly was not"
I feel like my dressage education will forever be like this. I feel like everyone's dressage education will be like this. And if yours isn't... either I want some lessons with you or I want to get all cultish about biomechanics on you.
Foggy morning on Monday
I rode TC Friday morning finally and we had a good ride, I focused on some of the things I knew would come up in my lesson but mostly just made him do endless shoulder-fore, which is what I will be doing until it's easy.
Sunday though, I had the lesson under my belt, as well as another (client) horse I had ridden and 48 hours to think about the lesson.
On TC, I think I had different takeaways. I'll again do my best to explain them.
He wants to go out there instead
First, the main takeaway was how much I had already done with TC along these lines. He is so good in the bridle, so committed to being over his back, so happy living in front of my leg. All of the pieces are there, it's time for me to snap them into place as we move up the levels.
Another big one was how much better he went when my concentration was as intense. I didn't play music or talk to anyone while riding, I just rode. I focused everything on him. And you know what, there were no shenanigans (okay I totally longed him first too AND he's out of shape but you know). He also felt like he was way more focused on me too, as I wasn't randomly dropping my focus here and there.
I'm a big believer in baseline gaits and don't want to *have* to ride him in such a cerebral way, my goal is not to have him be too much of a professional's ride to ever sell to his future amateur. BUT I do really appreciate that he matches my intensity. If I get serious, he gets serious.
So good to be behind these ears again
My straightness microscope totally got an upgrade that I didn't realize. And I figured out how to fix the corkscrew that TC has to the right too! I think this will be a major focus point for us this winter as we're just playing around. But we've been riding endless shoulder-fore and first position and I can already feel that my right leg is way more effective.
TC is still quite out of shape, but I did do some sitting trot and HOLY SHIT. I've really figured this out suddenly. I was able to feel that whirl under my seat and felt like I could lift him up or push him over the ground without really using much leg or hand. Just by... riding him more over the ground or more lifted.
Because of this, the downward transitions that we've struggled with for so long finally clicked into place. Tanya had been on my case about having to use too much rein in them and now that I could keep the energy whirling under me using just my seat, I could bring him to walk without him losing energy.
On Monday all he wanted to do was trail ride, then Tuesday I trail rode him and he was amped
I have another lesson today with Alexis, hopefully I'll be able to ride GP horse again and really solidify that feeling. Peony is coming with me so I'll be able to get video (and she also will get a lesson!). I'll need to ask whether I can share screenshots, gifs, or the video itself, but even if not (he's her horse, she gets to decide of course), I'm sure I'll have more cool stuff to write about.
I also have to say it felt so so so good to ride TC again. I've been feeling so blah about us recently and it's so nice to be back on him. I freaking love that horse.
Yesterday I gave two (well, three) weeks notice at my horrible job.
In early January, I will be reinstated at my former workplace, though in a different (better) position.
The last month and a half has been kind of insane going through the motions of doing this. Sorry about how long and uninteresting this post is. Tomorrow I'll talk about applying what I learned from Alexis with TC, so hold on!
I'll miss walking along here, but at least I will have beaches
When I took this job, I thought it was the best of all worlds. I was still in the field I loved, but being paid more and being able to live in a lower cost of living area. Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly.
The first week on the job was good. I was given some good training on the databases, given some easy reports to fill out, and promised that the work would pick up and that I'd have so many opportunities and be involved in a lot of really cool things at a higher level than I'd ever been at before. My boss took me out to lunch and we chatted merrily, turns out that her daughters and I have similar tastes in music. It wasn't my old job, which I loved, but it seemed like it'd be doable. You don't have to be completely in LOVE with your job, right?
Little things happened that week, like I noticed the lack of meetings in my calendar, the way my boss told me that everyone was "so nice" but then gave me these weird just between us looks after saying it, and the way my coworkers seemed to interact with each other. Things seemed... off. But I wrote it off as me being a little sensitive to change, me being homesick (not even homesick since I loved and still love where I live, but work-sick).
TC has come so far being up here
The second week got kind of weird. We were scheduled to go to a conference where I was presenting with my former coworkers. This was something everyone knew about. But my boss got... jealous? She loudly complained in her office to my other coworker that I wouldn't want to hang out with them. I went through the conference schedule and told her what I wanted to go to since that's polite, you know. I was going to be in charge of some federal reporting and there was a session on that. I was told not to go because we were "boycotting" that presentation. The person presenting on it had apparently not asked my boss to help her with it... uh okay.
During that second week, the tantrums started. She slammed on her keyboard/mouse and swore loudly whenever something didn't go her way. One of these things that didn't go her way was updating from Windows 8 to Windows 10 and the colors changed in one of her word documents. She cried in her office for a couple of hours one day for some unknown reason. My calendar was bare as ever, I don't think I said two words to anyone that entire week outside of my boss.
Things were so bad at the conference. I am not the most social person, but I do know the power of networking and I was chatting to someone after their presentation when my boss was waiting for me in a corner. She then rolled her eyes at me and left, complaining loudly to my other coworker when we sat down at lunch that "Megan doesn't want to hang out with us, she is only here because she feels obligated to sit with us as lunch." It was probably then that I realized I'd entered an office run by a thirteen year old. Actually scratch that, as I think that a lot of Kate's young students could do a better job running this office.
This path is so nice to walk along
The insecurity and paranoia didn't get better over the last nine months. I am not allowed to write emails to anyone outside of our office without having my boss proofread (and even then, I can count on one hand the number of emails I was allowed to send). There was an entire month this summer where I had no work to do because my boss said it was easier for her to just do it. Her interactions with my coworkers started to affect me. I heard her yelling at one of them, but she weirdly gets walked all over by the other coworker. He refused to do something she asked him to do during a meeting, instead rudely thrusting it upon me saying that I knew how to do it. She came to me and apologized for his behavior but asked me to do the work anyway.
The emotional manipulation is insane. One day she locked herself in her office and cried all day because someone sent her an email asking her to clarify some methodology we used. She often gets a pretty offensive, making fun of another coworker who she thinks is gay, making hand gestures to mime slitting her wrists when she gets an email she doesn't like, telling people she should kill herself because everyone hates her. It all seems to be in a joking tone... but it's really kind of upsetting to hear on a regular basis.
Standing up to her is hard because she cries so often. I have tried, though. She came into work sick several times, getting me sick each time. Since I do crossfit, ride, and teach in addition to working 40 hours a week, I just can't afford to be sick all the time. I finally addressed it one day in early November after she came in sick and had put her hands on my shoulder... I sent her an email saying that since she was sick I was going to stay home. I did not put in for a sick day. I am not using my sick leave to get away from her. She was super insulted and she did not talk to me for a full week after that but instead gave me dirty looks and stormed past my cube regularly.
What a pony
It's not even just that my workday is unpleasant (I mean, it is). I can deal with difficult people. What I can't deal with is how it's going to affect my career. First, no one really respects her. I regularly hear "oh... are you doing okay?" when I tell people I work for her. I don't like to be associated with her and definitely feel distance where there was none with coworkers from other departments.
Second, she seems to deliberately keep me in the dark about what work our office is doing and the industry in general. I'm still somewhat new to the industry and have previously relied on my supervisors and senior staff to be kind of mentors for me. She will have webinars, be on listservs, and receive information about our industry that she will not share. I've also been at several regional meetings (since I do not go to meetings at my workplace but I have remained on the list for these regional meetings) where she has revealed things that "our office is working on" that I had no idea we were doing.
Third, I am not getting the opportunities she promised. She hates conferences so she didn't let me go to the ones that I had clarified I'd be able to go to in the interview. She tells me "we don't do that here" when I talked to her about publishing or presenting findings from a study she then wouldn't let me do. The work has not picked up (legit haven't had anything to do in months) and I still don't know anyone here.
Really going to miss this barn
It's because of this that I feel like I took a MAJOR step back in my career coming up here. I started looking for a job outside this field, but the idea of leaving it is really awful, I really love it. I don't work just to get money to spend on horses (that's only 90% of the reason I work), I work because I fucking LOVE my job. Or I did.
I looked into other colleges in the area and in other areas. There are some, but they either pay too little or will take me too far away from where I want to be. And honestly, the idea of risking going to another toxic work environment was kind of terrifying.
My previous boss has been amazing this whole time. I texted him immediately when I knew it wasn't working and he sent me a ton of jobs, allowed me to pull him aside at that first conference to bitch to, sent me information about webinars he thought I should listen to, kind of kept me in the loop as far as the industry goes because he knows my boss won't. He's checked in on me regularly and genuinely cares that I am not in a good situation.
And my house
When he posted the three jobs that have come available in my previous office (one my old one, one another coworker had left, and a new grant funded one), I had to hold back tears. My boss immediately ran out of her office to gossip about how my previous boss was not going to be able to find anyone to work in those positions because of the pay scale. I mean sure, the cost of living over there is insane and there really isn't any way to save for a(n extravagantly priced) house in the bay area when more than half your income is going to rent.
I messaged him and told him that I volunteered to do two of the jobs for double the pay. I still couldn't make rent and have my horse over there on that salary alone. I acknowledge that without the horse, I would be able to do it... but what is life without riding? Surely riding is more important than this job.
Such an amazing place
Meanwhile in the background, my business is actually happening. I'm not in high demand or anything, but I have several very regular clients and every month I seem to have a few more than the previous month. My clients have said several times that they wished I lived closer, they want weekly lessons, they want me to do training rides.
One day I got 3 hours of sleep and woke up doing the math. I need 20 lessons a month to be equivalent to how I'm living now (taking into account the increase in rent and slight decrease in pay) and only 10 to "survive" (aka no debt). I talked to my clients and they gave me 18 immediately. Two of them promised to spread the word. Kate was really amazing in this and offered me a clinic at her barn whenever I was short.
I talked to my previous boss. Should I come back? Uh, yeah. Can I come back at a higher pay scale? Yes. Can I work from home sometimes? Yes. Does he have any overtime for me? Yes. Can he help me find contract work? Yes. Can I go to the April conference and present in November? I've already signed you up to present in April, you have to automate all of these reports first though, no one has been able to do it. YES this is exactly what I want.
In addition, a salary study is going on now so the pay should go up. And he will be getting a director under him and that position is as good as mine, though obviously no promises can be made.
Going to be way closer to this place now though
And so, yesterday I gave my two (three-and-a-half due to the holidays) weeks notice. My last day is January 4th. I start at my new job on January 7th. She immediately retaliated by shit talking me in her office so loudly that I could hear. I have nothing to lose so I went to HR today.
I already have a ton to do at my new job. I have a presentation to prepare for, I have to update all the reports that no one updated since I left, I have several meetings to go to, I have to automate several reports... and that is day one. Day two involves an insane plan to undercut a company that charges a half million dollars to do what I think I can do with R. It's a lot, but I am so so excited to be back.
It initially felt like retreating or taking a step back to come home to my former place of work. But really, it was a step back to come here. I'm excited for my career again and excited that I don't have to deal with such dysfunction anymore.
Hoping to take this guy on some trail rides this year without having to drive as far!
Now to get everything organized! I will post about the move soon :)
On Friday, I finally got to ride TC (we were both really happy about that!), then I hopped in my car and drove an hour and a half to ride something significantly better trained and less ridiculous.
I've ridden with Alexis only once but have audited her a lot and adore her as a trainer, as a rider, and as a human being. She and I met at the Mary Wanless clinic about a year ago and I'm sad that I've only ridden with her the one time. Unfortunately she's a bit far from me and only comes out once a quarter, I'm hoping to see her more though!
Had the BEST ride on this guy on Sunday
I was absolutely flabbergasted (and then very very flattered) when she told me that she was putting me on her own Grand Prix horse, a very very tricky PRE stallion. She doesn't normally teach lessons on him. She said that he's very sensitive to the rider's tone and is an interesting case biomechanics-wise, so she thought I'd enjoy him.
Now, I consider TC to be a fairly cerebral ride. He is not one you can let go of mentally or everything falls apart and you're way more likely to experience shenanigans. As opposed to Rico, who was more of a physical ride. You could be riding Rico in extended canter and accidentally let go of an aid for a split second and he'd just keep going or, more likely, slow down. On TC, dropping an aid could lead to launching through the air, bolting, slowing down, going really sideways, getting crooked, or dropping his back. TC is way more likely to get blocked through his body than Rico, like, Rico could do dressage despite his rider while TC can only do dressage if his rider is really on top of it.
However, this horse really makes TC feel way easier, and not because he isn't trained (he obviously is, he's showing Grand Prix and scoring quite well). I have ridden more than my fair share of Grand Prix horses, even more FEI horses and this is by far by FAR the most complicated, cerebral, sensitive, hot horse I have ever sat on. But he is also the most trained, fanciest, and downright coolest fucking horse I've ever ridden. I'm still walking on air over riding him.
My entire lesson was just walking, trotting, and cantering. No movements or any of the "fun" stuff, though the lesson was like, some of the most fun riding I've done. I learned more about what it takes to do Grand Prix than I learned... actually taking my horse to Grand Prix. This sounds like hyperbole but IT IS NOT. Maybe a little, but I can't say enough about how life changing this was.
The main challenge with this horse was that he could get very strong in the bridle. He wasn't ever bad or anything, just strong. But no amount of pulling on the reins did anything but caused him to get stronger and more over the ground. I mean, even TC will respond to pulling on the reins, he slows down and retracts his neck, which is not optimal and riding him correctly makes him go way way better, but he does respond to pulling on the reins. This horse does not, he just locks against you. I've had horses lock against me that I can sit on their asses or hold up for a period of time... not this one, he just got stronger, faster, and longer the more you tried.
I obviously tried though, just once or twice. My stupid brain was like "pull on the face! just try it! it might work even though she told you not to! what does she know? I mean other than everything"
It took me a little while. You have to ride completely against your instincts and it's hard. But when I did finally get it right, he'd soften immediately and become incredibly rideable. But when I got it, it was amazing. At one point I felt like I needed to tell Alexis that this was the coolest thing I'd ever experienced, as I finally got everything all lined up underneath me, but I literally had no more brain cells to say anything. At another point, I told her I could walk this horse on the aids for an hour and have a TON of stuff to bring back to TC. I'll do my best to go over the takeaways.
Seeing his friends leave
For me as a rider, we immediately found that my right hand wants to come across the neck, something I've known... Alexis had me focus on my right thumb staying up vs anything else. Focusing on my thumb meant that I figured out the rest of my arm too. I like being able to think about one tiny thing.
We also found that in the sitting trot, my elbows lock, which caused the horse to lock against me and want to get strong again. This is definitely an issue I've noticed myself too, though with TC he just sucks back and gets too light in the sitting trot.
Alexis also noted my issue with my right leg again, as it wants to draw itself up over the block and not actually stay down around the horse. Curiously enough, I've been shifting my hips in my back squat laterally to the left as the weight gets heavier, clearly I am very comfortable standing on my left leg and drawing my right knee up in everything I do. I'm doing some good work to fix this at home with bands.
Wants to go on a trail ride but it's still too gushy out there
As far as riding the horse, the biggest take away was the way I was using my seat and thigh. With TC, I do have to pull his energy backward away from his chest, and GP horse was no different. But my mechanic to do it was not very effective on him. Alexis wanted me to use my thigh in a different way. The lower part of my thigh as well as my calf was to lift the energy while the upper part of my thigh and my "underneath" aka the lowest part of my bear down aka my crotch was to hold the energy.
I've always imagined the topline as a hose and the hind legs as a pump. It's a good analogy for a lot of things. Wiggly, lazy horse? Not enough water through the hose, the hose can get floppy and the water pools in random places, put your leg on to pump more water through the horse. Too much horse in the bridle? Too much water through the hose, get your thigh on to hold some of that water back.
But where does that excess water go? Using this new thigh aid, I can whirl it backward under my seat and up, maintaining the energy in a different direction. I imagined using my calf and lower thigh to hurl the water up and then using my upper thigh and bear down to swirl the water under me rather than let it get stagnant.
Monday morning ride
Another big takeaway just in my training of TC is how responsive (but not reactive) this horse was. I mean, he's a GP horse right? So of course he is. But it made me realize how much more sensitive those buttons can get even beyond the sensitivity of TC's buttons, which I thought were very well tuned. Riding this one made TC feel like riding a sack of potatoes (not really, I have had amazing rides on TC since, stay tuned). In addition, a lot of the time the more responsive you get TC, the more explosive he gets. In fact, I have said numerous times that if I'm not afraid of TC's gaits, they're not big enough.
Some of this is because TC is way more warmbloody than this guy (who is all PRE), so TC is way more of a back mover just by the breed. Some of this is that TC is still learning about collection, so his power is less contain-able just because of his strength.
I think this year will be the year of quiet responsiveness for TC. I really want him to disconnect his mind and his body so that he can learn to be this ON without being on the edge of explosions. I know this is just a maturity thing and over time he will get better, but I want to focus on it this year for sure.
The lighting was really cool
Overall even though I tried, I feel like I can't tell you how amazing this experience was. I took a lot of what I learned and applied it to a client's horse on Saturday and it was a life changing ride on her. I can't wait to see what it does for my training over time.
I think it's really important for me to try to get out to ride horses like this. As I told Alexis, I know I can train TC to Grand Prix (or whatever level he tops out at) in the same way I trained Rico, but I want to do it better, and that means cognitive restructuring, it means learning new things and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I think I've done a good job doing that so far and have been rewarded pretty well with a super rideable and fun horse who is scoring really well and getting a lot of "good basics" comments.
But I know there's so much more to do, and riding this horse really made the fog clear in terms of what I actually want TC to be like when he's at Grand Prix. While I've ridden a lot of FEI+ horses, most of them have been schoolmaster types who have been chilled out for their amateur owners. This is the first professional's ride at the Grand Prix level I've ever ridden and I'm fucking hooked (and I didn't do anything more than wtc on a circle hahaha what kind of madness is this?). Let's do this shit, TC.
Like I said, not much is going on with the riding front so it's been hard to keep this blog going. I'm also probably suffering a little from SAD or just generally being really dehydrated all the time (I can't seem to fix this ugh) and not seeing enough sunlight because I'm a lizard, so I haven't had the motivation to come up with anything to post. I can't believe I kept posting so much when TC was injured and I also had nothing to ride!
He is so bored :(
I woke up Thursday morning feeling kind of blah. I was sick of not being motivated to do anything but go to work (because I have to) and go to the gym (because I know I'd really fall off the deep end mentally if I didn't go).
Being around TC just makes things worse, since he is so visibly upset about not being ridden. He is destroying his paddock and tormenting everyone who handles him because of it. I feel terrible but the footing has been so questionable, I still can't bring myself to work him in there and risk him going lame (and then needing more time off). Selfishly, it makes me sad to be around him and watch his topline diminish and dodge him trying to bite me out of boredom. I have been doing stuff with him, please don't think he's being neglected, every day I'm out there playing with him for an hour (brushing, walking, ground work, in hand work, longeing, whatever I can do), but it's not the fun stress reliever that it once was.
Me these days, mostly
My mental health is generally pretty good, but I do have an anxiety disorder that rears its ugly head sometimes. And there it was again on Thursday morning giving me shit. The thing about my anxiety or maybe just myself though, is that I tend to want to fix things RIGHT NOW. And that has been something I've had to resist against a lot when I get anxious because I start thinking that it's caused by an external factor that I must fix in order to not feel anxious anymore. As Bo Burnham said in one of his shows: if life gives you lemons... you probably just found lemons.
For me that's been huge in reminding myself that when the anxiety takes hold of me and my instinct is to figure out why I'm feeling bad and fix it... sometimes there is no solution but to wait it out. I don't have to evaluate WHY I'm anxious and try to fix it, because it's not being caused by anything more than my brain chemistry. So I probably just found lemons on Thursday.
This is something I think about a lot
As I walked TC that morning I told myself (out loud no less because when your brain is being stupid sometimes it's better to hear things out loud) that the anxiety was all in my head, nothing was really *causing* it, so there's nothing to fix. BUT that if I could come up with something to do on Friday (today) other than going into the office that would make things BETTER and not just worse/the same (like sitting around at home is way worse for me, so is running a bunch of errands, really just being alone), I could take a mental health day and do that thing. Give me something to look forward to and something to do that would help bring me out of this anxiety-ridden state. And honestly, something to blog about for once!
So I texted Alexis and asked to come bother her. I mean I asked for a lesson and will be paying her for it. She said yes and offered me two of her Grand Prix horses to pick from. I told her I'd ride one of her pigs, I was so desperate to ride something. And to work on myself, no less! My core has for sure suffered in the last six weeks.
TC with six weeks less topline is still pretty good looking
Today I'm going to try to ride TC in the outdoor this morning (or just take him on another long walk if the footing is bad), then I'm going to hop in the car, drive out to her barn, and ride whatever she's got for me.
I think that's a pretty good mental health day. It will hopefully give me a boost to sit in the sun all day, MAKE SURE I drink enough water because what the hell, and hang out with some of my favorite people. This weekend is more of the same, auditing a couple of clinics, hanging out with some awesome people, and again sitting in the sun like a lizard. I think that will help me out a lot!
Life is super boring here without riding. Our arena's footing is just way way way too deep and I'm not risking him. I mean, we are moving barns soon anyway, it's not worth it. TC is really frustrated though and it make me sad to see him upset. Just be patient, TC!
I'm struggling to keep this blog afloat with nothing to really talk about. I figured I'd just show some pictures and tell a short story about Rico.
He was so excited
Back in the winter of 2012, I was finishing up my undergraduate and kind of bringing Rico back. We had showed Fourth again in fall 2012 but hadn't started working with Tracey (March 2013 was our first lesson with her).
He was at my parents' ranch and so we had no covered arena. When it was raining, I would mostly ride him down the road and back, but one day I decided to haul out.
Rico had not been on a trail ride since before his surgery (July-ish 2010) and so that winter he did his first one! The facility has a little path that is mostly flat that goes around a large cow pasture. Rico didn't care that it was super boring, he was all about it!
Fields, just starting to get a bit of green in them
A random lone tree
Actually the ugliest horse
Not my favorite tree but close
I promise we put a topline on him later lol
Looking at the cows
This is the same facility that has my favorite tree. I hope this summer, TC and I can go visit every weekend we have free.
Last year, TC and I won USDF All Breeds for Training Level Friesian Sporthorse. This year, my goal was to once again qualify and see if we could do it again, this time at First Level...
They even sent me a tote bag, cool!
And we did!!
I'm so excited for this result. His breed is obviously not super competitive, but it is cool to say that he's the top Friesian Sporthorse in the country at First level. I love doing the All Breeds thing. With no more medals to gather and not enough money to do regionals each year, it's been really fun to have something to try to qualify for each year.
All Breeds requires four shows, four judges, and eight scores, so I kind of structure our show season around it. TC almost ruined it last year by being a dingbat at our second to last show, forcing me to do an extra show, but for the most part, I can really figure out what the show budget is going to be. I... have a spreadsheet with all of the shows within a reasonable distance, how much each cost, and how much gas it takes to get there.
Super excited to try to qualify at Second Level next year! And maybe regionals is in the books for us this year too if I find like five thousand dollars in the dryer. One day we'll make it! But for now, we have All Breeds and pretty championship ribbons (hopefully).
Because of the smoke this month, it was kind of a bad month for CrossFit. We had two weeks where we were stuck in the gym (we normally work out outside, which can be cold but is generally amazing), trying to fit our work outs in between everyone else. And then after the smoke cleared... I mean my lungs are still not feeling great. So knowing this, I made sure to basically take it easy this month.
These haven't changed
Neither have these, really
I had also been a little tiny bit discouraged that everyone seemed to be hitting these big PRs, but I had a talk with myself about it and I feel better. First, I am way lanky and not at all purpose bred for weight lifting. Second, my nutrition does need work and it's something I struggle with due to my past, it's really hard for me to hit my macros and to even get enough calories every day. The last half of this month it's been ROUGH.
Third, this is not my main sport and so I can't take risks in the same way I could if it didn't matter if I got hurt, I know I could probably get a heavier deadlift but I don't want to risk my back and I know I could probably clean more but I don't want to risk my back. Fourth, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, I can out-plank everyone at the gym and find rope climbs and hand stands really easy and usually don't fatigue as quickly during workouts. Fifth, I want this to be a lifelong sport, so I can't just go every single day really hard and either destroy my body or destroy my motivation, so it's not a bad thing if I just hang out for a month or two without going for any maxes.
That being said, I did still hit some PRs at the beginning of the month.
Achievements in November 11/2/2018 - PR: 125lb Box Squat (needed the tiniest bit of help getting out of the hole) 11/5/2018 - PR: 60lb Power Snatch 11/6/2018 - PR: 65lb Bench Press (3 reps) 11/6/2018 - PR: 155lb Deadlift
In addition, I'm very comfortable now getting to the very top of the rope. I am figuring out double unders, and though I haven't been able to get more than my previous max (I think 5 or 6), I have been able to get that number way more consistently.
This month (December) is sadly my last month at this Crossfit, I'll be posting something really sappy in my next post I'm sure. But I'm prepared to operate at about 80% at my new place for a month or two, so these posts may get boring. I'm looking forward to seeing what my new coaches can help me with, and I will definitely be heading up here frequently to see my amazing coach up here. I will really miss these wonderful people.
Christine Traurig came to give lessons at a barn nearby a couple weeks ago and so Peony and I jumped at the chance to audit her. After finding out that the Laura Graves clinic cost $100/day to audit, we were happy to pay the $28 for two days.
I'm just going to put all this in bullet form since there was just SO MUCH information. She's very much the German school of thought, which is not always something that works with TC, but she had some really good points and really good exercises. I would totally audit again, but I think there are other clinicians better suited for the type of horse I have.
I took a bunch of ranch pictures this last weekend
- The horse must stay linearly in a unit, supple of course, but in a unit
- Any canter departure should be able to be done in shoulder-fore, if not, do the transition in shoulder-in
- When one component (aid) becomes dominant, the horse must remain submissive in others (so like when you go to bend the horse, they should not stiffen the neck against you or put their haunches in or what not)
- Don't ride a stiff horse fast, ride a moving horse into the contact
- Do not kick a young horse, do not punish them when they are not educated (this was incredibly well put IMO, she wasn't even kicking him, but Christine was SUPER adamant that you not punish the horses)
- Feel the suspension in the half halt
- An engaged hind leg is committed to carrying and pushing, and you have to have total control over the ratio. (I fucking LOVE this, I LOVE IT. I think this is a huge thing for TC and I moving forward)
On the Connection
- When the horse feels the contact, it needs to not feel like he needs to compress (this was affecting the canter mechanic and making the horse lateral, hey maybe that's why TC's canter used to be so lateral)
- If you don't have an elastic back, don't even try to compress them
- The rider's hands should be partners, not disharmonious. Don't bring one or the other back or out to straighten the horse.
- An uptake in contact should not back the horse off, tighten the horse, or make him less elastic in the back.
- The horse should draw to the bit which is a feeling through the back and the topline (not just perpetual stretch circle)
- "As a clinician, I feel like this horse has to do a lot of this [trotting in circles stretching to the bit], but I also feel like this lesson is so monotonous, but this is necessary" <---- story of my life as a clinician! Ask my students how many times they've had an entire lesson on a circle perfecting transitions or throughness. Sorry guys, one day you WILL leg yield.
- In canter, the elbows must not be fixed or the horse will not move through the topline
- Relaxation is not only calmness, it's suppleness and elasticity. The horse is physically and mentally at ease.
Flying Changes and Tempis
- Before doing a change, think counter-shoulder-fore and establish throughness within this movement first
- In the flying changes, the rib cage has to feel supple and the hind legs narrow in a shoulder-fore
- With one horse who liked to unload her hind legs in the one tempis, Christine had the rider ride tempo (not tempi) changes (aka forward and back) on the long side and said "the horse should not unbend the hing legs in the push off" into the longer step.
- The new inside leg in the counter shoulder-fore in the changes help keeps the horse from jumping sideways in the change
- Do changes straight at the mirror to understand how effective your new inside leg is at keeping the horse straight
- When you need to solve a problem in the flying changes, do them on quarter line
- The horse must be straight enough to allow your leg to swing in the changes. If the horse doesn't stay straight on their own, you can't move your leg.
- Christine said she had a friesian who was a "spaghetti salad" in the two tempis because he anticipated so badly, she never attempted the ones on him.
Bridge to the pump house and the arena
On Lateral Work
- In the corners, think cadence coming into the lateral work, it is hard to develop it within the movement so start with what you want
- Inside leg at the girth in the shoulder-in so you don't ride the inside hind leg too sideways
- In the half pass, you should have the same feeling in the outside rein as you get in the shoulder-in
- In the half pass, don't let the haunches get anywhere near to leading or the horse will go downhill, you must find the shoulder-in within the half pass
- Christine was big on shoulder-fore. She said the shoulder-fore should not have any neck bend but should have suppleness in the rib cage. She had everyone ride it constantly.
- Ride shoulder-fore until you own the canter (see? lol)
- You should be able to position the horse left without the shoulders going right
- As you enter the half pass, ride shoulder-fore so that you don't let the horse get wide behind
- The steepness in the half pass comes from the mobility of the front end, not how fast you can get the horse over (which just pushes the horse wide behind in the half pass and unloads the hind legs)
- When schooling travers in canter, do not lose control over the inside hind leg
This thing is so cute
Passage, Piaffe, and Pirouettes
- In the passage, more engagement and "more short coupled" feeling to make better transitions into piaffe. You should always be able to shorten the passage, it's not a static movement. Developing a "working" passage, which will then be the transition steps into piaffe.
- The passage should not get slow, ride quick transitions back and forth to trot to keep the horse active and quick in the passage.
- The canter pirouette should turn around the inside hind leg rather than getting wide behind (this is a common result of training pirouettes incorrectly - from the haunches-in), the shoulder-in should be the starting alignment for the pirouettes.
- Do not over-flex the horse or push the haunches around.
Random stuff around the ranch
There was a moment with one young horse that kind of hit me pretty hard in a hilarious way. The rider said that she had wanted to ride with Christine before but that the horse was an idiot. Christine said "did you just call him an idiot?"
She watched him go and he was probably right around where TC was last year. She asks how old he is, the rider says five, she asks how long he's been undersaddle and she said two years. Then Christine said "it's time for a dose of reality" and they got down to work. She at one point asked "is he coming five or coming six?" and the rider said coming six and she said "oh Jesus" into the mic.
First, there is no timeline for horses. Like, TC is coming eight and getting ready to hopefully do Second and end the year at Third next year. He will be going Prix St George (hopefully!) when most horses are doing their first Grand Prix tests.
Second, it did make me realize that TC still had some obnoxious behavior to squash out. And I don't just mean his enthusiasm undersaddle when it gets windy. I mean standing quietly at the trailer, standing quietly on the trailer, standing quietly in the cross ties, not climbing in my pocket when I'm holding him and talking to someone... most of it is just patience. I realized that I should probably address these minor things now before I try to sell a feral horse and have the new trainer say "oh Jesus" when they realize I'm selling an FEI dressage horse who rears himself quiet at the trailer.
So since TC is off because of the smoke, we are doing a lot of things, and some of it is a dose of reality for TC. I'm really excited to see how he develops on this over the winter!