I've stopped sending "occasion" cards for the most part -- why feed the Hallmark Beast when you can support artists, rescues, and non-profits? My husband contributes to many nature/rescue/diabetes non-profits and often they send lovely cards to us. We can personalize them for any occasion in our own hand.
I occasionally get cards from a local horse rescue. There are times, though, I like to pull out all the stops and send a "wow" artsy card that is blank inside.
Artistic find! Caroline Towning I found one recently that is so beautiful and haunting I read about the artist Caroline Towning. She is based in the U.K. I liked it enough to order it from London. Do you see what I see? How ethereal, like a ghost horse.
Towning works in pencil and watercolor, and oil. Her attention to detail is both realistic and expressive -- the animals appear present and alive. I had a chance to engage with Caroline a little when I wrote to her about the card. I learned she worked in animation and design and as a curator before she decided to devote her life to painting horses. Now based in London, Caroline specializes in equine portraiture in horse racing, polo, show jumping and dressage. She can be found at competition trade fairs in the UK, and I hope one day to see her at the Land Rover 3-day.
The giveaway! I have a beautiful "gray horse" card to give away -- if you ordered these in the U.S. the shipping costs would be prohibitive, so it's special. To enter the contest, just leave a comment with the name you would give to this gray horse. My choice:
Love the Beatles. Make sure you leave your contact info in the comment so I can reach you!
Note that I'm using Correct Connect reins, which I think has really helped my contact and hand position as I'm riding -- I start with the reins too short, clearly, but I like the way it goes after that.
I don't know why, but for some reason I have trouble keeping my grip on reins. My reins always seem to be too long, they slip through my hands and I'm constantly adjusting them -- and the instability interferes with communication. It doesn't matter what horse I'm on. It's me. And it's a longstanding problem. Remember, Charlotte Dujardin says "short reins win medals"!
Last week, I tried the Correct Connect rein training system, which was developed by Olympic eventer Jill Hennenberg. I was searching Google for reins to improve grip, trying words like grippy, grip, rubber, stops, and finally, in desperation, I typed "velcro reins." And there it was, the web site for Correct Connect.
Correct Connect is a rein/glove system that offers the ultimate in grip -- the reins and gloves connect with a type of hook and loop system (aka Velcro). I thought it was genius, and the endorsements on the site had some big name trainers. The reins, and the gloves, are about $100. I messaged the site to find out the length of the reins, and they responded on a Sunday night in about 5 minutes -- 114." I ordered them on the spot.
I rode in them for the first time on Sunday. I decided not to try them in a lesson, but I wish I had. You know when you're having one of those feel-good rides, you wish your trainer was there? I loved looking in the mirror and seeing a rider that wasn't BUSY, adjusting the reins constantly. Riley was happier in the bridle, my hands were quiet and steady, and suddenly I was focusing on other things -- like my position, my seat, and my upper body's connection to my hands.
The hook and loop attachment is not like your standard industrial Velcro -- it's a much lighter "stick," secure but easy to adjust. The few adjustments I needed to make (walk breaks, stretchy trot) were easy and natural. Other things I noticed:
I didn't take as many walk breaks. I could ride longer with Riley in a better balance.
Our transitions were better.
I had a better connection to the outside rein.
I had a better sense of communicating with Riley, and could use my hands in a more nuanced way. I noted that when my hands are a little wider, Riley seems to respond better in every way.
My reins don't have the white stops -- there are several options.
Now this is only one ride in. I know that sometimes you try a gadget and have a honeymoon period. But many, many other times I've been disappointed from the start with a much anticipated miracle gadget. So this was a very pleasant surprise.
I read on the site that the reins are a little stiff at first -- something I did not really experience or notice. The gloves felt great, and I'm picky about gloves.
There are a number of options with Correct Connect reins/gloves, and I'll talk more about this in my next blog post...
This year I made a big boo-boo and purchased tickets for the Saturday Grand Prix NOT the Sunday show jumping. In a panic I bought tix from a scalper who, as it turned out, had done the same thing. I bought the wrong tickets twice! Fortunately I caught up with her, she was as shocked as I was, and refunded my $$ promptly. I bought from the guy standing next to her and we loved the seats...
Hi All, it's been awhile! Thought I'd touch base for those of you who might still be following BTB. Ri is doing great, we've come a long way as far as working together. The enemy is stiffness (mine) and my new goal is a commitment to doing less. But that's not why I'm posting.
I downloaded a new app, Equilab, that is free and I think has a great starter feature set. It's easy to use, just install, get on your horse, open, click START, and ride.
Right now the main info seems to be how much time you spend in what gait, total ride time, some stride length info and distance covered. It's probably much more useful when you're outside because it provides a map of what you covered.
As I use it more I'll write more but I should also mention it has kind of a diary feature and lets you rate your own performance and your horse's. Thumbs up so far!