Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Video: awesome learning tool

So here it is: a YouTube Video of the schooling from May 1st schooling at Shepherd Ranch in Santa Ynez. My close friend Jess and her horse Storm are first - Spirit and I come in about halfway. I've watched this about 4 or 5 times so far and I'm still cringing. I can see the refusals a mile away. How could I not have felt them? Was I too nervous to sit up and ride? Well, I'll get a second chance this coming Saturday - we'll be schooling again at Shepherd and I plan on being SUPPORTIVE! I love my horse, and she is so game, but that doesn't mean I can just sit back and let her do all the work. For the first year or so she was like Storm - green but excited and willing to jump over anything just because. But now she is older and wiser and ain't gonna do it unless I do my part too.

Condolences to True Prospect Farm

It is such a sad morning to hear of the fire at True Prospect Farm - home of Boyd Martin's training program and many amazing horses and riders. Six horses lost and four injured. Horrible. My warm wishes and prayers go out to everyone connected to this tragedy: trainers, assistant trainers, riders, owners, grooms, vets, techs. And for those who lost their four-legged friends, remember that they're waiting for you across the Rainbow Bridge.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Close Encounters of the Goat Kind

These two goats are just the sweetest ever. But for some reason, that didn't stop Spirit from being a spook-a-holic around them. So, just like anytime she's being a big baby, I hammer on the desensitization until its not a big deal anymore. Looks like its working great so far. ;)  Thanks, goats, for taking a break from dinner to make a new friend.

That Darn Virus...

So, out here on the lovely west coast, there's a scare going on regarding EHV-1, the equine herpes virus that has resulted in horses getting put down. I've been checking California Horsetrader's News page regularly. Spirit and I were going to attend a trail ride to benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital, but it cancelled due to the outbreak. To boot, the derby we signed up for was cancelled, but due to the organizers. I seriously, seriously hope that the Shepherd Ranch Horse Trials stay up and open and all of that.

On a more positive note, Spirit turned 6 years old on May 15th! Here's a picture of her birthday treat:
Bran, salt, cinnamon, treats, and carrots. =) I don't quite think it measures up to last years' apple-molasses cake with carrot candles, but luckily she's a horse and I know she doesn't hold it against me!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Balance, balance, balance

Since getting home from our Shepherd schooling two weeks ago, time has flown by like a G6! I've had some major projects at work reach their climax points, last weekend was my best friend's wedding (I was the proud Maid of Honor), plus a few other things too: Mothers' day, other best friends' birthday, mine and my fiancĂ©es 7 year anniversary, and brother's birthday, just to name a few! When life gets this hectic, I just have to keep reminding myself to balance. I need to balance all of the external stimulation with some internal peace, balance my work with my personal life, balance my relationships with my self-time, balance all my stuff outside the house with some peace and quiet at home, balance the "Go-Go-Go!" with some slow, slow, slow.

Ironically, my last few rides have been all about balance too. Specifically: maintaining balance while moving into a faster canter and gallop. As a rather cerebral, analysis-driven person, I read articles and books and feel like I intellectually comprehend the major components and buzz-words of our sport. But, alas, whereas I *thought* I knew what balance at the canter was, now I really know what it is because I know what it feels like. Before when I pushed for a gallop , I let both of our forms come apart - all I cared about was gaining speed. At that time I thought balance really just meant that I was balanced over her body and that she was fairly straight. But now I know that the balance and stability at the gallop should be the same as the canter, just faster. It's about her hind end being under her rather than behind her, about feeling uphill even if going downhill, and about being able to change speed and gaits at any moment due to our constant connection. I don't need to hunch down like a jockey and throw my arms forward with flopping reins - I need to be able to feel like we could take a jump at any moment. =] That was my "aha!" moment this week.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Shepherd Schooling

After the most delicious beer I've had in a long time and many hours of sleep, I am ready to report back about our cross country schooling at Shepherd Ranch yesterday. In a nutshell: freaking awesome!

Spirit and Storm loaded in the trailer like champs at about 8:30 AM. They knew it was time to go have fun. The ride up was comfortable and gorgeous - no traffic and perfect weather. We started off at Shepherd over some stadium just to warm up and make sure we were all in sync. It wasn't too long before we moved out into the cross country area. We did a few intro level jumps, but the vast majority were Beginner Novice or Novice level jumps. We did water twice - the first time next to super scary sprinkler of doom! And we did three different down banks (mine and Spirit's bogey) where we are making good headway on stepping down rather than launching off. Spirit and I had a few stops, though none were dramatic, and we never had more than one at any single jump. I need to work on keeping her up in front of my leg and to do my prep work well ahead of the jump. Storm was a super trooper. It was his first time to a cross country schooling, and he didn't have one refusal! He added a good 6 to 12" over the jumps, just making absolutely certain he was well over them, the way that green jumpers do! =) Looked exciting to ride.

I am so proud of both horses and both riders. Our friend and barn-mate Ashley (Storm's owner) came with us and took some video, as well as took her horse over a few of the jumps. Our trainer was fantastic as always - saying what she needs to say in just the right tone of voice that is so effective. Completely constructive, but also imbibing confidence when needed. The way she teaches makes me feel perpetually challenged, but always making sure I'm moving forward and getting better. :)  Hope to have some pictures and videos up soon!