Monday, November 6, 2017

Lessons & Rides in Review: November 4th 2017

I really miss using my riding journal and I thought maybe I should bring it into the 21st century and make it digital.  So I will add a little bit about each of my rides in order to keep myself accountable and keep track on my progress.

I will start with my clinic that was two weeks ago.  I want to keep myself completely anonymous so I won't mention who I did the clinic with, just that he is a Grand Prix Dressage Rider/Trainer.  So the first day of the two day clinic started out a bit rough.  I think I spent too much time in the warm up.  It was third time doing a clinic with this trainer and the times ended up running late so my warm up was much longer than necessary.  My mare was agitated and energetic.  My favorite thing about this trainer's methods is having us all warm up the same way: haunches in at the walk in both directions and then over bending and countering bending to get loose.

My horse has a trot that according to my trainer is a 10 (gotta add that in there ;)) but she was feeling pretty good so she was very forward and not picking her knees up enough for the clinician's liking.  So we slowed it down and got some better knee action.  When it came time to canter though this slower trot kind of pissed off the mare.  So she threw a massive buck and the sass just continued on.  The second day though we shortened the warm up to almost nothing and we literally just walked.  She was much more level headed and impressed the trainer.

On Monday I went to the barn for my usual lesson and found out my horse somehow managed to nick/scrape her leg.  It wasn't swollen when the barn worker found it and cleaned it but it proceeded to swell between then and when I got to the barn.  I was convinced she was lame as soon as I took her out of the stall but my trainer had me hop on anyway to see and to make sure she kept moving so the swelling would go down and she wouldn't get sore from not moving.  We kept it to walk/trot and worked on transitions.

I went to the barn on Tuesday to make sure she got worked a little.  The swelling was almost completely gone but I still kept it to walk/trot.  My trainer normally rides her on Wednesdays.  It was a weird day so she just checked on her and let her stay outside.  I went back on Thursday and did more light work with her.  So the entire week she had almost no work and our rides were a third of what they normally are and we did no cantering.  When I hopped on for my lesson on Saturday she was feeling like a ball of energy.  We had some of our best transitions ever and we got some really encouraging and helpful remarks from my trainer.

So Sunday starts the official start of the week and where this blog post was really supposed to start.  Sunday we had a horrible ride.  I got one and one of the young girls who was working grabbed the blower and started blowing one of the aisles that does not normally get blown.  Not only did it cause a sudden loud noise from an unexpected place the girl kept turning it on and off and then from half powered to full powered.  My horse was a nervous wreck.  She literally dodged the door to that aisle and she hasn't done something like that in forever.  It was a pretty powerful dodge too.

I was looking forward to Monday because it meant another lesson with my fabulous trainer.  I got on and there were less people in our little group lesson than normal and then one person hopped off early.  It was down to just me and two other girls.  Little Tangent: I've always been a DQ at heart.  I love jumping and eventing but dressage is really where my heart lies.  I love that in eventing I get to do both.  So my obsession with dressage means that when I ride my horse while I am not jumping we are always round unless taking a long reined walk.  When I was about four months into owning my horse we were having some issues and one of the trainers I was working with who was filling in for just a few months had a background in dressage.  She had hopped on my horse when she was being spooky and I was being a nervous wreck.  As soon as she got on my horse was round and I was like I don't care about cantering I just want to learn how to do that.  So we made it a goal for me to learn how to get her round and for my green bean horse to start learning how to use herself.  That was two years ago and we've been getting better and better ever since.  Not everyone at my barn has the same enthusiasm for dressage and riding their horse round.  So my entire lesson on Monday was about being round.  So while the other girls worked on that I really focused on my position and my god awful puppy dog hands.  We never got to cantering in that lesson.

So on Wednesday my trainer rode her and she was great.  A bit spooky but there was a lot going on at the barn so it was nothing out of the ordinary.

On Thursday we had one of the best rides ever in some aspects.  She was still a little ball of energy when it came to cantering but I think our warm up made it a super successful ride.  So I was riding around a lesson going on.  I hopped on as the lessons were changing over.  We had to walk for a while since there were so many horses in the ring so we started doing haunches in while we walked around.  Then we attempted to do a shoulder in but that is not really my strong suit.  After that we started leg yielding off and then back on to the rail. During the ride we dropped our stirrups for a while, did some leg yielding at the trot, and then we went to canter.  When I say I've never felt a more amazing canter, I mean it.  It was so uphill, smooth, rhythmical, light, and controlled I was in shock.  Our cantering has just been getting better and better.  I mean when I bought her she had no idea how to canter or what it meant when you asked for the canter.  The trainer who was teaching the lesson actually commented on how much the quality of the canter has improved and how well I am doing with my trainer.

My lesson on Saturday went as well as it could have.  We walked in both directions before picking up the trot and half way down the dressage ring she got crooked and was clearly ready to spook.  It took half of the lesson to coax her into that shadowy corner.  She was tense the entire lesson and started to curl up during the trot.  She felt like she was a ticking time bomb and was just anticipating everything.  We finally cantered and she was honestly way better than I expected.  We had some better downward transitions which is a huge issue for us so that was very satisfying.

Friday, November 3, 2017

My Workouts for November

Let's be honest, November is kind of a hard month to start a workout routine.  I mean we just had Halloween (hello, five pounds of Reese's), there is three weeks until Thanksgiving, and then it's Christmas before you know it.  The days are shorter, there are a million things to do before the holidays "officially" begin, and with the colder weather, all I really want is comfort food.  How am I, a person who has never really stuck to a real workout routine before, going to stick with it now?  I'm going to make it (somewhat) easy.

So I based my entire workout schedule around the days that I ride and that fact that I work full time and absolutely hate having to shower in the morning.  Right now I am riding four days a week and my horse is in partial training.  So I ride every Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday.  Working out on the weekends just works out time wise and allows me to not have to shower at the crack of dawn, and then doing it on Tuesdays and Wednesdays means I get a couple of days of recovery before my lesson on Saturday mornings.

I lesson on Mondays and Saturdays so obviously I having leg day before either of those days is going to suck.  So Sunday and Wednesday are going to be arms & abs while Tuesdays and Saturdays (after my lesson) will be leg day.

Arms & Abs Day

  • 10 Minute Warm Up
  • 30 Sec Plank x 3
  • 3 Sets of 15 Crunches
  • 3 Sets of 15 Oblique Crunches Each Side
  • 3 Sets of 15 Overhead Press with Dumbbells 
  • 3 Sets of 15 Overhead Tricep Press
  • 3 Sets of 15 Push Ups
  • 10 Minutes of Stretching
Leg Day
  • 10 Minute Warm Up
  • 3 Sets of 10 Squats
  • 3 Sets of 10 Plie Squats
  • 3 Sets of 15 Donkey Kicks Each Side
  • 3 Sets of 15 Side Kicks Each Side
  • 3 Sets of 15 Side Lying Lifts Each Side
  • 10 Minutes of Stretching

Who knows if this will be too much for me but I guess when I try it out I will see!  My goal is to complete these workouts (warm up and stretching included) in 40 minutes or less.  I have always been obsessed with people in great shape and loved reading about celeb workouts in magazines which has then progressed to following a ton of fitness people on social media.  All of these exercises come from people like Cassey Ho (Blogilates), Kayla Itsines (Bikini Body Guide), Karena & Katrina (Tone It Up), and Katy Hearn (Katy Hearn Fit).

I made a little calendar for me to check off things as I go this month.  I am going to hang it on my wall in my room so I can constantly remind myself of my goals and how well I am doing because I am going to be positive and optimistic through this journey.  Who knows maybe I will even take before and after pictures.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November Goals

October was a hard month.  I was planning on doing an October Goals blog with frequent check ins but it just didn't happen.  I don't like my job anymore and I can't decide if I should stick it out or just find something new.  It got worse when my boss was let go and I was left with all of her work and my own work but not any additional compensation or even a change in title.  That followed by my uncle passing away, the pony getting a minor injury which caused lameness (the only time she has ever been lame while I've owned her), and just a lack of motivation.

So I am going to go full steam ahead for November.  These are the goals I want to accomplish:

1.) Figure out walk to canter transitions.  We do awesome trot to canter and halt to canter but walk to canter just never seems to go right.

2.) Do 10-15 minutes of no stirrups during every ride.  I do a little bit of no stirrups almost every ride but I will do it every ride this month in honor of No Stirrups November.  I will also push myself to do it at the canter which I tend to skip because I don't particularly like it but oh well.

3.) Lose 8+ pounds.  I was doing awesome with meal prepping and then we lost power for an entire day and all of my food that was in the fridge went bad.  Now I feel gross and I can't wait to start meal prepping again.  Losing 8 pounds will be a breeze once I am back on track with eating my meal prepped foods.

4.) Work out four times a week.  Based on my riding schedule it would be best to workout on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  I missed the November 1st because I'm obviously a day late to the game but I am going to crush it this month!

So I won't add anymore goals because I think four are plenty.  I think I will blog every Tuesday and Friday with updates on my goals.  I think I am going to make myself a calendar to keep track of everything.

Monday, October 2, 2017

My Riding Story

This December will be the third anniversary of my grandmother's death.  I still have a hard time dealing with it because she was such a big part of my life and I spent just about everyday during my grandmother's last year with her, first for six month before she was sick and then taking care of her when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  My life changed the day we found out about the cancer.  My family had been incredibly lucky up until that point when it came to our health and well being and it felt like the floor was pulled out from under us.

When my grandmother was sick I needed something that was my own.  I didn't have anything in my life that was "mine" and that I could get lost in for just a little bit of time.  I needed an outlet or I thought I was going to go insane.  I had ridden for a very brief period of time when I was younger but due to poor instruction and the closing of the barn I gave it up.  I always wanted to go back and 15 years later I was able to.  It started with one group lesson a week at a carefully picked out barn who had a good reputation.

That one group lesson had me hooked.  I forgot what it had felt like to ride.  I was horrible at it and I was weak but it gave me something to work toward and and that lesson was something I could look forward to each week.  My third lesson in I fell.  I was on a horse who was really not suited for a a beginner like me.  I got back on and kept going.  I decided that I needed private lessons to supplement my group lessons.  Those two hours every week made me happy.  I didn't care that I fell off twice in the first two months.  I did care about how for two hours every week I could forget about what was happening.  

When my grandmother got worse and we started talking about hospice care I took a break from riding for a little over a month.  I promised my grandmother I wouldn't give it up.  She said I never looked happier than when I was telling her about my lesson.  She always wanted to come visit the barn because she loved horses "especially the white ones."  She was never well enough to visit and passed away before we could bring her.  I went a little over a month without riding and I was nervous to start again.  I was so depressed that I just couldn't find it in me to schedule my next lesson.  I didn't have to.  My mom scheduled it for me because she knew I needed to be back on a horse.

I started riding again and I was changing horses every week.  I liked being able to hop on all of the schoolies and try them out.  I was back to doing private lessons as well.  Once again I was able to forget about the world and just enjoy myself.  All of a sudden three months had gone by since my grandmother had died and my birthday was here.  My mom surprised me with a one month half lease of my favorite schoolie.  I was riding half the week now and completely addicted.  I literally had nothing else going on in my life that made me happy except for horses.  This little gelding gave me so much confidence and joy in my life that I decided to start looking into buying a horse.

I hadn't even been riding a year and I was pretty serious about buying a horse.  Looking back now it feels a little insane but honestly it saved my life.  I went to go look at a little bay gelding that was being sold nearby only to have the worst experience ever with the woman selling him.  She was a nutjob.  So I went to my barn owner and asked her to help me.  She told me she would ask around and let me know when she found a horse for me.  Two weeks later I had an email waiting for me full of videos and pictures of the cutest grey mare.  My mom and I looked at her and our first thought was that it was a "white" horse and that she was obviously sent to us by my grandmother.  She was under muscled, a little straggly, and needed some TLC but she had the kindest eyes.  She stole my heart from the moment I saw those pictures.

I went to go visit her and try her out the next day.  The barn owner had her brought to the barn for me to try out and take on trial.  When I got to the barn the barn owner brought me over to one of the schoolie stalls and this little sunburned nose peaked her head out at me and my heart grew three sizes.  We took her out of her stall and brought her out.  We walked to the front of the barn and the barn owner started pointing things out about her.  I found out her approximate age, where she came from, and what they thought her history was.  There was a possibility she came from the Amish and they really only had the past couple of months of her history.  We brought her over to graze and she was as happy as could be.  Nothing was phasing her.  I got on her in the indoor and she was obviously very green but so willing and calm.  She wasn't spooking at anything and she was very responsive and easy to work with.  

My barn owner told me to take at least two weeks and do the PPE before I made any decisions but my heart was sold on her.  Luckily she passed her PPE with flying colors and our trial went on fabulously.  She was a challenge for me and I spent a lot of time in lessons and she had a couple of training rides each week.  I have learned so much on this horse.  I've put my blood, sweat, and tears into this horse.  She needed me as much as I needed her.  The longer we were together the more obvious it was that at some point she was abused.  She had some physical scarring and didn't have much training at all.  She new how to walk and trot and that was it.  Her canter was a mess and she didn't even know what the canter cue was.

I've had this mare for almost two and a half years now.  We've made incredible progress in this journey.  We've been incredibly lucky to be able to train with some amazing trainers and be at a barn who truly loves the horses there.  I'm also incredibly lucky to have my barn family behind me and to have helped me through all of this and to encourage me and inspire me through this journey.

Lessons & Rides in Review: November 4th 2017

I really miss using my riding journal and I thought maybe I should bring it into the 21st century and make it digital.  So I will add a litt...