Finally this weekend was sunny and I got to get TC back in the trailer and over to the ranch again on Saturday.
I found out on Sunday night that TC has been being given 3 flakes of alfalfa every day instead of the ONE flake he's supposed to be getting. So that may explain why he's been off his rocker recently. I feel bad because it really puts into perspective why Saturday was tough, so I'm keeping that in mind writing this.
Hanging in the round pen on Sunday after our ride
TC is getting a bit more chill about the ranch, so unloading him was a non-issue and he stood relatively quietly while I tacked him up and set up the soloshot. In the arena, TC was amped and ready to go.
Unfortunately lately, with the additional power, we've lost brakes. It was very apparent on Saturday when TC was completely dislodging himself from my seat and running into the bridle, shortening his neck, and then just leaning against me. TC doesn't... lean... on the bridle, so this was surprising.
I was kind of just lost at what to do. TC has been really great in the bridle in the past, and I feel like it's been disintegrating for a few months. He's had his teeth done, we've tried a different bit, he's got his saddle fit...
So I just threw in a ton of downward transitions and slowly was able to get his neck out in front of me.
Palm trees in the background, the weather has been pretty good for the last week! But now we're getting more rain...
Everything else felt fine, though I ended up hitting a wall and had to just get off the horse. If there's one thing that can push me over the edge, it's feeling like I'm having to hold a horse up/back in the bridle. I don't know if it's just annoying or just takes me back to feeling helpless with Rico leaning on me in the double bridle.
I had a moment when I had gotten off and TC was screaming for no one where I just felt like selling him and getting an easier horse, a horse better built for this sport I insist on doing. I decided in the moment that I was too stubborn to do that. It would annoy me more than his sudden leaning problem if someone else were to take him up the levels. I've gone through almost all the shit years! And looking back, way way too much alfalfa explains why he's been feeling like crap - he could be low key tying up.
So I decided in that moment to splurge on some lessons. I'm hoping to grab a weekly lesson starting next weekend for maybe three to four weeks. Then I'll back off and be an adult and stick to my budget. I figure it's the equivalent of a horse show or two, and work is picking up so I may even be able to recover from it and still show this summer.
Being sassed by a goat on Sunday
Sunday I took TC out at home and he was way better, although a bit underpowered and on the forehand, at least not running through me. I put him in the round pen after riding him to roll and just hung out with him.
I was still feeling kind of bummed about how things have been for the last few weeks, but TC stuck his head in my arms and played with my helmet and was just generally being really cute, so that was a big pick me up. I do really like him, he's an absolute goofball. My main goal is dressage but I think once again I've gotten too caught up in that and have forgotten why I still own this horse. Because he's the coolest, even if we're going through a rough spot training-wise.
I went through hard YEARS with Rico, where every ride was awful and such a fight. Regular lessons was what fixed that for us. I think TC and I have been on our own far too much, I just want to have someone else make some of these training decisions for me!
My quest to ride TC in the same tone day in and day out was tested on Thursday morning. TC got Wednesday morning off so he came out predictably buzzy on Thursday. He settled with two walks around the ranch while we waited for the arena to get dragged (love that they watered and dragged, just the timing was tricky for me).
TC loves Flounder, Flounder is concerned by TC's love but still appreciates it
He started out in trot fairly high tone and I could really feel him losing his hind legs out behind him and getting a bit crammed in front. Feeling is the first step, so I started to implement walk trot transitions to get him to stay back on his hind legs. The moment I got him back on his hind legs, I'd lose the power, which makes sense because jump squats are harder than regular squats.
The canter felt really questionable at first. He was super buzzy and kind of on the forehand. I played a bit with what Tanya wanted me to do - getting him more laterally supple by asking him to go haunches-in - and he suddenly dumped into my hand and got super heavy. This horse is absolutely anything but heavy so I was wondering what was happening... once again another hole had sprung when I added power to the canter.
I also discovered that my bear down was way weaker in canter than in trot and that I was losing my seat bones a bit, which has been a new annoying thing that my body wants to do in the bigger canter. My next horse is going to have smaller gaits...
Back in trot, I did a few more transitions and managed to find a way better powerful trot. He felt less flingy and more connected and I could add power here and there without feeling like it affected the balance as much. Once again, the gait felt hard to sit just because of the volume of it. The bigger the gaits, the more strength it requires of my core to stabilize myself and the more flexibility it requires of my joints to absorb the forces I need to absorb and then to influence those forces. That's hard work.
Okay everyone and their mother has shared this but I still love it
If I could pick a theme for this ride it'd be this: the more power I add, the more holes I find. He's held together by scotch tape right now and when I add more power, the tape pops off and I've got nothing. I either need to remove power... or get some duct tape. I plan on getting duct tape!
One of the big things that I took away from the Mary clinic was a passing comment from the clinic organizer that she felt like she couldn't get her right edge on her horse's right edge. It was mind blowing to me.
Much like when you buy a car and then you see the car everywhere you go, when Alexis was teaching this weekend and talking about finding the horse's edge, it felt so salient to me. I'm sure that other trainers have spoken about this before, but it took those passing words to get them to be tattooed on the inside of my eyelids I guess.
When you spook at the jacket, you wear the jacket
The analogy I've used to think about it for myself is to imagine that I am riding a cardboard box. There are cardboard boxes whose contents are firmly contained, where you can push on one side of the box with your leg and feel the other edge under your other leg. You can rock the whole box back and feel the front edge come up and back toward you without losing feeling of the back edge. You can push the back edge of the box further under you and feel the firmness up front.
Then there are boxes that are wet or old, kind of soggy. Maybe one side of the box feels firm but the other is soggy and its contents are pushing the edge into a less organized shape. Maybe all the contents actually break through the edge and then you're grabbing them, trying to deal with it on that side and accidentally fling your box around, threatening the organization and firmness of the other edges. Maybe the whole box is soggy and you're just sitting on a pile of wet cardboard.
Soggy right edge will not be contained
TC has a soggy right edge. I can't often even find it. I spend a lot of time agonizing over it, yanking it around, to the detriment of the other edges. When I put my left side on him at all, the contents of the box get flung out the soggy right side of the box. My right side has nothing to make contact on because of how soggy it is, if I put my right leg on, it's like the contents of the box gloop around it.
If I'm turning left, the centrifugal force yanks all the contents outward on the circle, to the point where I then expect this, and before turning left, I shove all the contents back into the box and then lose control over the size and shape of the figure I am on because you can't put a soggy edge on a line. When turning right, the soggy edge is affected by gravity as well, drooping off to the right side. Sometimes I go after it and shove it over into the firmer left edge, that then starts to move away. At our worst, this left edge starts to rotate up and over, creating the corkscrew I have been talking about.
Last week in the rain for sure lol
Yesterday when I rode TC, I thought a lot about the edges of him. Can I feel him under my left edge? Yes, I'm actually sitting in the middle of that edge. I moved over toward the right. How far do I have to sit to the right to find the right edge, however soggy it feels? Hrm, a lot. I moved further until I could find it. Instead of focusing on the right edge so much, I tried to draw the contents of him to the left, really firm up the left edge now that I could feel the right.
As the right edge firmed up, the left edge got soggier, which I didn't expect so much. I increased my bear down and focused on creating an A-frame with my thighs, draw the edges pointier and better defined under me. Both edges got better defined, and then the front edge fell out and he dumped into his shoulder and I had no brakes.
I then stopped him and felt the back edge come up under me, croup high. I backed him up until I felt that edge go down a bit more, but then trotting forward I felt the front edge get soggy again. I tried to firm that one up while then losing the left edge, which remained firm but not under my influence.
Soggy right edges mean jumping out of the dressage court
It's going to be a long process I think, but the moments where I have all the edges of my cardboard box under me feel really great! I feel like I can put the box anywhere and it's just a matter of making the edges pointier rather than gathering the contents around me. But then someone sprays the box with a hose and I'm back to having soggy edges again. Damnit. Dressage is hard. And pretty weird.
This last weekend I spent a lot of time in the car. Okay I spend a lot of time in the car generally. But this weekend was 8.5 hours of driving. Why? Biomechanics!
On Saturday, I rode TC, who was bad, and then drove up to Alexis' barn to help her out. She's seriously understaffed right now (anyone want to make a crazy life decision and go be her working student? I kind of want to but my retirement accounts are like "nah") so I offered to help her for a few hours and in exchange, I would thrust videos of TC at her and be like "WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH THIS," it was a solid deal.
She had some really great helpful things to say about TC that I want to dissect.
He's kind of figuring some things out!
1) TC's changes are coming along okay but they're quite croup high and I should remedy this now. TC knows what the change aid means, so now is the time to really make sure a good change goes on (not just clean but good, ugh so picky). She gave me an exercise I know and one that makes me bang my head against the wall: renvers in counter canter to change. Who is kind of the worst at moving his haunches (especially in) at the canter? This guy. Probably the reason why his changes are a bit croup high. Will implement.
2) I need to think about taking a development year and putting my show budget into lessons rather than showing. Alexis asked me whether showing was that important to me. I... I couldn't really answer and I still feel iffy. On the one hand, if I could guarantee that taking a development year would easily put us ready for Third and maybe Fourth by 2020 and then PSG for 2021, I'd of course do it.
But I always think that I need to savor the horse I have now, who may not be as strong as the hypothetical horse I could have, but who is here now. We've won all breeds two years in a row and we'd have a good year at Second. I'm torn between wanting to show the horse I have now because he's here and he's sound and he's ready... and getting us closer to the FEI levels, where I actually want to be. Here's hoping my business picks up a bit with the rain stopping soon (PLEASE) so that I can do both a ton of lessons and a few shows.
3) Speaking of, I asked Alexis about TC's potential. TC has all the raw materials to be an FEI horse, which is really just four legs and three clean gaits. He's not a super quality or anything, but he does have potential. She said that he'd be worth quite a lot of money with a clean change right now. And I was like oh... cool. The downside about this horse in the FEI levels is that he's tricky, both conformation-wise and with his constant tonal changes, which brings me to point number 4.
My goal this year: sit this trot way better
4) I showed Alexis videos of a couple of TC's shows last year, which is good and bad. It's good because she sees how he is in the show ring, which is ultimately what matters. But I don't usually post videos of him being his buzzy little self on my youtube, so it only gave her the impression that he's totally chill and low key behind my leg.
Talking with her about how he needs way more oompf in his gaits and for me to really get his hind leg more active and tucked under him made me then bring up his buzzy side, since the last thing I wanted to hear just hours after not being able to put my leg on the horse was that I need to kick him. TC comes out each day in one of two states (usually): chill, low tone plug or hot zippy mess. When he is a tense mess of a horse, my main goal is always relaxation, so the work I do is to either a) calm him down or b) survive and get him tired enough so I have a good day the next day.
Alexis said, in a much nicer way than this, that I need to grow a large pair of testicles and ride him the same way no matter what. When he's high tone, put him to work in between him being a spooky, tense ass who zips away with me whenever anyone comes out of the bathroom. When he's low tone, pump him back up and RIDE him rather than just being like "whew, glad I'm not painfully aware of everyone's bathroom habits."
That's better sitting than before at least!
Sunday afternoon, I got on TC with a plan: to ride him, no matter how he comes out, in the planned amount of tone rather than savoring a relaxed horse or putting up with a tense one. Luckily for me, he came out pretty chill. After our iffy ride on Saturday, he was ready to be a good boy.
My main goal was to pump him up a little more, to ride him further along the pendulum and to use my biomechanics and organization to improve his gaits, which I feel like I've been just riding recently.
And we had a great ride! I'll share some video when I get time to make gifs (thanks to Kate's students for being such good minions), though you can find them on instagram (@alchemydressage). I was super happy with his rideability and how he took the pressure!
Half steps from far away
Overall, I'm grateful for Alexis' wisdom when it comes to bringing along tricky horses, and her willingness to sit with me for a couple of hours while I talk her ear off about my horse and ask her a thousand questions. I think I have a good idea of what I want to do with TC until I can grab a lesson, which could be as soon as two weeks from now!
Every time I go a long time without lessons, I get what I like to call a lesson hangover. Basically an overwhelming feeling that I can't fucking do this.
When I bought TC, he didn't show as much potential as he does now, and with every year I work with him, more and more comes out that shows me that he has a lot more talent than I thought. It makes me simultaneously so excited about his future and so frustrated that I don't have the resources to properly develop him.
His canter still needs so much work but it's become so fun!
I used to take weekly lessons... five years ago. Since then, other than a brief stint having BRH trainer helping me, I have taken at most two lessons in a month. This does not work for me, but unfortunately it is the reality of my situation. I don't know whether it's that I work in academia so my lesson budget (and all my other budgets) is kind of small or whether the trainers I want to ride with charge an arm and a leg. Probably a bit of both. With lessons being $110-160 per lesson, I just can't take one every week unless I commit to the ramen lifestyle and probably stop paying my car insurance.
So the more talent he shows, the more nervous and stressed I get about developing him to his full potential, which is so ridiculous. TC doesn't care if he's developed to his full potential. But at the same time, I feel like developing him to be something really fabulous is just out of reach (I just need more lessons!), and it's frustrating me.
Playing with the bigger trot
It's almost like the more I hear how great TC is, the harder it gets for me mentally, I feel like I'm not doing him justice. Tanya told everyone at the clinic how cool he was and I just felt a bit down. I thought that buying something not particularly well bred for cheap out of a muddy field with no shelter would save me from feeling like this!
The best thing I can do is just do my best. Let myself learn from him. Let myself have fun with him. And this post comes across so negative but I'm honestly so proud of him and of myself. He's come so far and is so fun. He's been a very difficult horse for me and I think we're kind of on the other side of it. Before I worked with him, I wasn't confident in my ability to ride just about anything, now I'm way more confident.
I'm hoping that my business will pick up a bit (the rain is cramping my style) so that I can invest in more lessons with him, I honestly think that's the answer to all of this!
On Friday, I had a lesson on TC for the first time since September!
After my really questionable ride on Thursday, I started feeling really iffy about this lesson. Tanya is more expensive down here and only comes down once a month. The idea of having an entire lesson where all I get told is to sit back and turn him in a circle when he got away from me... ugh.
I know a lot of people appreciate seeing their trainer when their horse is being bad, but when he's bad, I want to see a young horse trainer, not a dressage trainer. I'm also fully capable of handling TC when he's bad so don't need help with that, but there's only so much you can reassure your trainer that "I'm fine, just teach me the dressage and ignore how he's leaping and bucking"
I've never ever ever in my life used a calming paste. I very much value teaching TC to handle his shit in new places without anything helping him out. But I had gotten desperate and grabbed one from the store after TC had been such a dingbat at the ranch with the gunfire. I saw it in my trunk after my ride on Thursday and realized that this was an ideal circumstance to try it out.
I wasn't sure how TC would take it, so I followed directions and gave him the tube two hours before my lesson was to begin. I figured that if it didn't work, no harm done. If it worked too well, I'd just suffer through a lesson where I actually have to use my leg.
Saw us in the mirror for the first time in SO LONG
I arrived at the facility and left TC in the trailer for a bit, and he just stood there chilling out. He didn't even have hay. Then I took him out and he was the epitome of chillaxed. There was no spooking, no screaming... he was kind of stoned. I could see him standing there staring around at everything like "cool, cool, is there food here?" when a lot of the time he comes out of the trailer like he's on fire and trying to put it out.
The same thing happened when I got on him to warm up. He was responsive to me, it wasn't like he was tranquilized or anything, but instead of wanting to attack a bird in the arena, he just stared at it like "huh" and I could feel him give it finger guns like "yeahhh sup bird." So needless to say, if I opt to do this again (thinking of it for our first trail ride), I'll use half a tube.
He was so sweet when we were sitting and watching a bit of the lessons, he kept like... hugging me
Don't get me wrong, he wasn't super different, he was just TC without the buzziness, it was summer TC. He felt truly relaxed since moving. His trot was loose and relaxed, his canter was big and rolling when this whole last week, it's been basically on the spot and tense.
I was grinning when we started the lesson, I freaking LOVE this horse, and having him be relaxed and not freaking out about being in a new place or seeing a bird (ducks were coming in and out of the arena) was just great. No regrets, judge me if you want to, but having him feel relaxed and happy off the property for the first time in a LONG TIME was absolutely worth all the "why don't you just train your horse" bullshit I was convinced I might get by writing about this.
TC was like, where did the ducks go?
Alright, so the lesson. I told Tanya that showing was in the air right now but that I've been playing with the half passes and changes and things are going fine. He has been feeling a little... precarious... in the connection lately, but he's also been so freaking tense.
We started with the connection in sitting trot. I hadn't even gotten to do much sitting trot he's been so tense lately, so it was nice to work on it, even if my abs immediately started hurting.
TC was being so good that I kind of let him get away with staring at this big heron in the field every time we went down to one side of the arena. Tanya had a good point in that, if TC was really connected in the way he should, he wouldn't be able to get to the point of looking at it. Again, I was just so impressed he wasn't leaping over to it to attack it or spooking at it that I just kind of... ignored him.
So Tanya talked me through one of her ways of getting a horse quickly back to you, which is to take the inside hand and bring it into a slight indirect rein. It worked quite well and soon TC was with me.
Next, we worked on getting TC a little more over his topline near his poll. TC stays over his back pretty well, but if there's part of him that isn't always on board with that, it's near his poll. It goes back to the precarious connection I've been feeling - he'll stay on the bit, but when I go to change something, he can easily get a little tight near his poll or look at a bird.
Still love this rig!
From the trot, we went into canter and looked at the quality of it. I think it felt amazing and had so much fun pushing it bigger and feeling the relaxation in his back. Tanya said to not let him get so giant. But... but it's so fun! We worked on the collected canter though, which is good. To the right, things went pretty well and he was able to sit down a bit more. To the left, he was way overstuffed on the right side of his body. Tanya had me ride TC quite straight in the neck and we did a lot of square turns off my right leg (this is a theme for the whole lesson - TC needs to be lighter off my right leg).
After that, we did some of the lateral work. TC's trot work felt great! In the shoulder-in and haunches-in, it's just about getting a bit more cadence, but he's solid in the work. For the half pass right, Tanya wanted to address my habit of grabbing at the right rein and driving his haunches over too much. She had me turn from the corner letter to A or C, ride shoulder-in on that line, then keep the shoulders on the line they are on and sweep the haunches over. It... kind of felt like crap but it looked good. I hate half pass for this reason. I also need mirrors for this reason.
I had mentioned to Tanya that while I hate trot half pass, I actually don't hate the canter half pass. I did not mean it on TC though. She took it to mean that and we schooled the canter half pass, which is predictably bad because he's done it once.
The big takeaway there is that TC is green to this movement (I mean again yeah I've schooled it once) and feels especially uncomfortable moving his haunches to the left off of my right leg. Definitely going to work on it, but I think I have a lot of work to do in other departments before really schooling the canter half pass.
Random gap in the mirrors, he kept seeing ducks over here
Overall, it was a tough but good lesson. I hate not taking regular lessons because I get really bad lesson hangovers and this one sucks. TC feels so far away from our goals, despite us working pretty much exclusively on Third level stuff in our lesson. I know I can fix it though, so not a big deal. I also think I can swing another lesson this month, but certainly can take two in April (when TC moves to a cheaper and larger paddock).
After the lesson, I stuck around watching for a bit and a saddle fitter came up to me to give me his card. I'd heard of him before and absolutely pounced on him. I had him look at my saddle and he told me it wasn't bad, but it was tight on TC's shoulders. I brandished a check at him and I suppose looked desperate enough for him to fit it on the spot! So now TC's saddle is fit to him and gives him more room in his shoulder, phew, knock that off my to do list.
I'm excited to keep playing with these concepts and to feel how TC goes in his newly fit saddle!
I obviously started overthinking this blog hop the moment that L posted it. There are so many things I want to do! They don't all fit in one day.
I love doing my job and the structure it provides in my life, so I don't dream of quitting it, but I do have a few ideas for days that could maybe be combined into being my ideal week?
I love riding and I obviously want to do it every day. My ideal day would probably have 3 hours to spend at the barn so that I can take my time to really brush TC, wander around on him a lot, work on the dressage, then put him away without being in a rush. I also want to be able to ride Rico too, but Rico in 2014 when he was fit and strong. I'd love to ride a line of one tempis or play with the canter pirouettes again, neither of which he will ever do again (but he has given me single changes and pi/pa since being ridden again so I'm not complaining).
Pictures: some pretty ideal days in the last few years, like kayaking on lake superior, something I get to do again this summer!
I love being outside and trying new things, so I'd like to do some kind of adventure/outdoor activity. Ideas include snowboarding, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, camping, kayaking, swimming. Basically anything that doesn't involve running. No thanks. I also like going new places, so an ideal week would involve some traveling or even just going on a day trip around here.
I do love the gym, so I'd for sure go to it on my ideal day. I think that I'd go to my previous gym so I could hang out with my friends there. The workout would be this strength one that we did months ago with banded deadlifts and box squats. I still remember that as being one of my favorite workouts.
Riding Rico on the beach
I love spending time with my friends and family, so an ideal day/week has those things in them. I joked with L that I would want to visit her on my ideal day, but I think to fit everything else in there, I'd need to be able to teleport, so consider teleporting to San Diego part of my ideal day. And seeing all of my other friends. Actually seeing them all together like at the Mary Clinic would be really fun, so in my ideal day, everyone has to come visit, sorry guys, get on a plane.
My family is super fun, I'd love to either be on a camping trip with them or just hanging out at the ranch. Today is my mom's birthday actually! Happy birthday mom! She doesn't read my blog, I've showed it to her but I think she thinks it's too boring. Sorry mom!
When I think about what I'd want to eat, it's from all over. Tacos from San Diego, poke from my favorite poke place in San Jose, boba from my favorite place in Davis, maybe trying something new too. Oh and dessert, just all of it. I say these things as if I could eat that much food. I could not. But on my ideal day I could. Certainly in an ideal week.
When it gets dark and I can't be outside anymore, being inside is fine. I'd definitely make some time to play board games and video games. Maybe watch a movie too.
Hanging out with the best people
I think if I didn't have my job, I'd have a really hard time not having my entire day being me full of anxiety. That's not to say that the 40 hour work week is what I desire. I think if I were to design my ideal work week, it'd be 4 days long at 6 hours a day. Three day weekends every weekend and an extra couple of hours a day to not be gone from the house for quite so long when I want to both ride and hit the gym in the same day.
Rough schedule (though I think I'd like to live/board closer to work if we're talking ideals lol):
8:00 - get to the barn 10:00 - leave the barn 11:00 - at work 5:00 - change clothes, head out to the gym 5:30 - gym 6:30 - drive home 7:15 - home
Too bad my job doesn't want to pay me my full salary plus benefits for like... half the work. For now, I'm happy and find plenty of time for the above.
So February was a freaking bust in terms of working out. The month started out with the Mary clinic, then I was sick, then I put things off for a while when all the barn drama happened.
I went to that strength gym at the end of January and loved it... the first time I went there. It was everything I wanted, but when it came down to it, what I need and what I want are not the same. I make so many decisions every day for work, my horse's training plan, my client's training plans, scheduling... the only decision I want to make about the gym is whether I'm going or not. So when I got in there and had to pick a workout, design my own warm up, pick weights, deliberately go talk to the coach vs having them follow me around... it was just stressful.
I only have so much mental capacity, so I turned my focus back to finding a crossfit gym where things were way more structured.
On another note, can't wait to hike here
Unfortunately I got sick and then busy, so it was nearing the end of the month when I got a message from my previous coach saying something like "girl, have you found a gym yet?" and I had to admit that no, I hadn't. And he said to just get to one. Now. Today.
So I looked up the one I liked the most of the few I had tried and decided to just go there in the last week of February (this was Tuesday night this week btw). I got there and said hi to the coach and saw that the workout was more of a strength workout- a long warm up and then a 5x4 back squat at around 80%. Phew, because my cardio is shot right now.
The coach was great, any time I moved he was watching me, helping me with my form and giving me things to think about. I kept it light because I'm really shifting my focus in terms of weightlifting (not over training anymore, retraining faulty movement patterns at lighter weight for a while, not going hard hard hard every day) and it was super fun. It's not a party like my last gym... I didn't stay after and chit chat with everyone, there's no group chat or anything. But what really matters is that the coaching was great and I finally got to get under the bar again.
Love the open space so close to me
I went again last night and met the new head coach. She's young and inexperienced, but she had good feedback for what we were doing (though it was more cardio/recovery in preparation for the open workout today that I'm not doing because of ponies) and has a lot of good education behind her. I think she's bound to be a pretty great coach one day, I have to remember that it's not about finding the equivalent coach to my riding instructors (since I have big aspirations for dressage but not for lifting), it's about finding someone good for my level who is going to keep me safe.
This gym has a lower cost membership for 3x/week and I'm thinking about doing that. There is one near my house that I want to drop into on occasional weekend or work from home days in addition. I can pretty much guarantee I go on Tuesdays for the more experienced coach and that's when I'll lift heavier. If it doesn't work out, that's okay, I just kind of want somewhere to go and get back to it where I feel comfortable and don't have to shift my schedule too much (the class times and location are pretty ideal). Looking forward to getting back to it!
This week was kind of a bust when it came to riding except for today (Thursday). We had a great ride last Friday with some flying changes. Then Saturday I rode late so he was kind of questionable, just a bit too zippy to get good work out of him. He had Sunday off and then Monday morning I got to the barn and his right leg looked weird to me. Instead of getting on him, I just long lined him, where he looked sound but it wasn't a ton of work for him. By the end of the session, the leg looked normal, so I chocked it up to me being overly protective of that leg.
My plan was to do a good rides Tuesday through Thursday because of my Friday lesson. Tuesday went well but then that night I stayed up way too late so Wednesday he had a hand walk. By this morning he was NUTS after 3/4 of the last days being really light. He quietly walked around the ranch, quietly worked for a little bit, then suddenly got something up his ass and had to be cantered around and around and around. The good news is that he kept doing changes, I guess. The bad news was everything was horrible. It legitimately felt like someone put the world's worst training ride on him.
He just got super buzzy and disconnected. I could see his knees coming up to his eyeballs as he trotted around like a cart horse, randomly leaping into canter and trying to take off/change leads. It's so miserable and as much as I appreciate him not being as bucky at this facility due to the low rafters, at least he's more rideable when he's bucky. A bronc session and he's got it out of his system and gets his ass in gear. When he get buzzy, he's not rideable until he's exhausted.
I can't blame him, he is NOT a horse who does well in a stall and paddock (he has a 12x36 space right now, which is super nice, but not big enough for him, he'll move outside in April) nor is he a horse who does well with time off. I know these things about him, so I'm never mad at him when he's like this, more just mad at myself for not just setting my alarm to 6am and forcing myself out to the barn early enough to ride before the drag so I'm not squeezing in a 30 minute ride after the drag.
Tomorrow I do have a lesson and I'm fairly determined to go, even if it is kind of a shit show. We haven't had as much rain as the atmospheric river promised, and it isn't supposed to rain tomorrow, so I think that we have a lot of stuff on our side.
Even if he doesn't let us do anything more than canter around like maniacs, I want to talk to Tanya about the changes and this year's show season and I want to get him to another property so that hopefully the next time he's there he's better. It will be a good experience, even though it will probably annoy Tanya and be one of the more expensive "sit back, turn him in a circle" lessons I've ever had.
I do really want to crack down on my riding, it was way easier at my previous job when I a) lived at the barn, b) never had meetings, and c) didn't care enough about when I got in to give a fuck when riding ran late. The last couple of weeks have been crazy at work and a bit in my personal life, so riding has taken a backseat, which really sucks. But it's winter and as long as we just keep plugging away when we can, spring will be here and things will settle down on all fronts, hopefully.
Other than my lesson tomorrow, I'm hoping that the rain will hold off enough so I can comfortably audit the clinic on Saturday and teach/ride a bit this weekend. Rico hasn't been out in a week, but luckily he doesn't mind time off! He's way more fun than TC when he's had time off!
I spent all of Saturday afternoon moving TC to a new stall (same barn) and putting up his fence. I didn't get to ride him until 6:30pm and he was a bit zippy but generally behaved.
Sunday I stopped by the barn less than 12 hours later to say hi to TC before heading up to Sacramento! I taught a lesson, we grabbed brunch, and then headed up to Equus Fest. The draw to Equus Fest was trainer friend Alexis, who was doing a biomechanics demo there.
Equus Fest was all about showcasing local horse people, so it was predictably more western-oriented, but it was still a really good time. We saw a lot of cool artwork (Peony even bought a painting of a polo pony that looked JUST like her own polo pony), watched some of the other demos, pet a lot of dogs, and wandered around the grounds looking at the booths. We found Alexis and chatted with her for a while before helping her set up for her demo.
In other news, my noseband broke and TC's giant face was too thick for my double noseband so we're sporting the western dressage look until I can get it repaired.
She did an amazing job! As someone coming from a very dressage-oriented place, I was really impressed with how she broadened her talk about biomechanics to make sure that it was applicable to anyone who rides. After the demo, we helped her clean up her booth and put everything in her car and then talked before we all took off.
Alexis and I chatted about my flying change vs counter canter debate and she recommended skipping Second level and putting on the flying change, then going Third when he was ready. Her reasoning was that from Third and on, you want the horse changing in the show ring, so why spend a whole year telling TC not to change in the show ring and then suddenly be like "just kidding, now you have to and it better be clean" and then not revisit the counter canter until 4-3, when he should have a very confirmed change and I can put the counter canter on then.
Why? He was tearing off the fence with his teeth
She said that Second level is a necessity for riders, but not for horses. Of course the increased collection and all the lateral work and the walk pirouettes and the simple changes are VERY important to train. The horse should be able to do all of that while moving from First to Third, she wasn't telling me to slap a change on my First level horse and go do Third for funzies. She was telling me to train all the Second level work at home except the counter canter (sub the flying change for that). It makes some sense. I feel like the Third level tests are becoming exceptionally rideable aside from the extended trot. But that's a Megan's Abs problem and not a TC problem.
I think I do want to do a few shows at Second just so his record doesn't look like I quickly dumped him to Third without training him (since he will be ideally going to an ammy one day) But I am also choosing to school the changes right now. TC gave me equally good (or bad, however you look at them) changes in each direction on the aids and mostly straight with no kicking or bucking or playing the other day. They were both consistently late in front, which I'm SO happy about, that is incredibly fixable.
I'm not sure what will happen this year, I'd like to show both Second and Third but everything is up in the air. I do know that unless I can sit that extended trot, I am not showing Third level, so it's probably best to use this whole year to train the changes, then do Second in the later summer, then immediately go Third in the fall and next winter before tackling Fourth next year. I would like for my first lead change in the show ring to be in a schooling show though, I've seen enough shit to know that this will be our plan!
Fixed fence (and new paddock that is slightly bigger
She also told me to come up to take another lesson from her and be eyes on the ground for her as well. I gave her my most skeptical look and then realized in the car that she meant to help her with some of the movements in a more second-toolkit way vs helping her with her biomechanics. So yes, we'll be arranging that soon.
I'm looking forward to pinning her down and making her watch a video of TC so she can chat with me about him too. I'd like to get her or Tanya on him at some point this year to get an educated butt on him as well.
It was SUCH a fun day with some of my favorite people. We headed home and I drove back to the bay that night wishing that I lived up there and not just because of the long drive. But Monday at work reminded me why I came back. I feel very split between the two areas in a way I didn't expect when I moved back here. For right now though, I'm happy: I have a lesson with Tanya on Friday!