Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Human Nutrition

My 21 day elimination challenge concluded this past weekend. Theoretically I'm to start adding back some of the eliminated foods to see how my body responds, but I'm putting that on hold for now pending further conversations with my health coach.

I came to realize that the diet has been causing me to have "brain-fog" -- word-fumbly, disorganized, forgetful, and a little lost. I'm doing some research and will be playing with increased carbs (fruits & high-carb veggies) and/or increased fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts) to see if that helps. 

As to weight loss (my goal) the scale is moving downwards but not as fast as either my health coach or I thought it would. So I'm meditating on that, balancing patience (eww) against increasing exercise (eww).

The most challenging part of the challenge is cooking. All of my go-to recipes were thrown out, and with them went my pitiful amount of kitchen confidence. I've been trying lots of new things, but to be honest they haven't been working out great. Several flops, zero slam dunks. Just gotta keep on trying though. 

Time out for a mini rant.
I've decided that the 3 most frustrating words are: don't get frustrated. People tend to say this to you when you are already frustrated, and in that moment it feels patronizing and unhelpful. Instead of saying what I shouldn't feel, tell me what I should focus on to move forward in a more positive direction. Something like: focus on your strengths, or, plan your next move. Something constructive.
End of mini rant.

On a more positive note, we signed up for the Abundant Harvest weekly delivery of organic, local fruits and vegetables. I' am enjoying it much more than I thought I would. We're getting great value considering quality and quantity of produce. Plus, the home delivery cuts down on grocery store shopping, so I'm saving time too!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fashion advice needed!

To sparkle, or not to sparkle, that is the question.

These are our 2 browband options for our dressage bridle for our upcoming horse trials. Thoughts?

Option 1 - Silver Bead & Sparkly Browband

Option 2 - Our Normal Browband

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More jump video

A huge thank you to Karen from Bakersfield Dressage for the video!

This is from a casual practice ride while Karen was visiting for the Dr. Christian Schacht clinic late June.

Videos are so good because they really do show us what we need to work on. Note to self: get a handle on the lower leg situation! And stop holding him back so much, sheesh!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Training update

In the last few days I've been feeling a little mentally out of it. Lost and confused. Disorganized. At work, at home, at the barn. Hopefully I'll snap out of it soon because...

our entry has been mailed in for the Shepherd Ranch August 23-25 Horse Trials in Santa Ynez!!!

This will be our first real horse trial competition. We've signed up for Intro even though I think we could handle Beginner Novice, because I'd rather just feel more confident.

My goal for the event is simply for Hemie and I to have fun.

Deep in my heart, though, my wish is to complete the HT with a score (ie, don't get eliminated in any phase). My big Es while riding Spirit are still haunting me. However, I'm not gonna focus on that. My focus is fun. And if we get eliminated, we will keep on practicing and then try again in the future. After all, we have our whole lives ahead of us to reach that goal (and hopefully some more exciting ones too lol).

Anyway, it's been a while since I've thought about where we are in our training. It's important for me to reflect and ruminate - it really does help me to be a better rider.

We had a few weeks off from dressage lessons due to the puncture wound. When I could finally ride him again I felt safer in my jump saddle (air vest hookup, smaller knee rolls, easier to find seat if he gets spooktastic). But now we are back in the regular scheduled riding program (1 dressage lesson during weekday evening, 1 jump lesson on weekend) and we've got our eye set on BN Test A for the show.

Generally Hemie has a very workmanlike attitude. He likes figuring out the little puzzles we give him - he's quick to try and slow to get flustered.

But sometimes he gets a little silly and A.D.D., looking around with big eyes for things to spook at. The liverpool that he walks over regularly will magically be cause for a bulge and a hop, especially if it's on his left side and he can dodge right. Of course, if it's on his right side it won't be an issue and he'll continue straight ahead.

On good days our warm up is very straightfoward: asking for forward motion and maybe some stretching. On the silly/ADD days he gets put to work right away with a quick-changing set of tasks. Bend then straight then bend then leg yield then shoulder in then haunches in then small circle then make it bigger then smaller again, and on and on, until he gives up the silly face and gets back to a normal workmanlike attitude.

Once we get down to work we've been focusing on lateral suppleing - bending left and right while on a straight line or a circle, to overcome any stiffness or resistance and encourage roundness. Hemie is doing great with accepting contact throughout the ride and I need to be better about keeping it - of the two of us, I'm the one to drop it. His balance and impulsion are improving by leaps and bounds: he is really figuring out how to reach those hind legs forward and lift his back.

My goals for dressage in the coming weeks is to:

  • memorize the test.
  • work on our worst element: the free walk (it's the first to go out the window when Hemie's tense).
  • work on our best element: the working trot. Make sure it's as good as we can get it - roundness, lifted back, and good energy.

Jumping update I'll save for another day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

XC Schooling (with video!!)

Last weekend we went up to the beautiful Shepherd Ranch in Santa Ynez for our first cross country schooling at a horse trials facility (up to this point we've only schooled at the local, smaller courses). Hubby very kindly came along and videod our adventures.

Funny how when you're riding cross country you feel like a badass pro going mach-9. The rush of the wind, the squeak of the safety vests.

Then you watch the video and it's more like a hunter round. Doing-de-doing-de-doing. Haha.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Famous Ears

Pretty nifty when you're browsing through good ol' Horse Nation and go "hey...I recognize those ears...and those ones too!"

Carly and Bobby

Aimee and Cuna

I have to say, my favorite ear photo from the post is this cute one of "Remi" submitted by Rachel:
What a cutie!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Hack around the property.

Playing hide-and-seek. He found me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tangent: Nutrition (Human)

Completely non-horsey post topic, only related to riding in the most tangent of connections.


A few weeks ago I signed up with a health coach. My goal is to lose weight and improve my physique. I've been working on this my whole life, with some successes and setbacks, but I've been at a real plateau for over 6 months so it was time to try something new.

My new dairy-free, soy-free creamer
And that something new turns out to be a 21 day elimination challenge. For 3 weeks, starting this past Sunday, I'm eating a diet free from:
  • gluten (wheat & soy)
  • dairy
  • corn
  • peanuts
  • sugar & artificial sweeteners
  • manufactured oils 
The above list is practically a "paleo" diet, with the exception that paleo also omits beans and legumes.

The idea is that (a) many people have sensitivities to these items and don't even know it, and (b) these foods can hinder weight loss due to their interference/reaction in metabolic processes. Getting rid of these leaves room for more nutritious foods such as additional vegetables and fruits, and lets your body work more effectively at losing weight.

Once the challenge is over, you add the "whole foods" version of some of these back. For example, instead of margarine or an oil/margarine combination spread or spray, you add back whole-fat butter from grass-fed cows. Theoretically this leaves you much more satisfied than their low-sugar, low-fat, low-carb, low-whatever counterparts.

So far it actually hasn't been super hard. The health coach's main approach seems to revolve around the idea of whole foods, meaning nutritious wholesome produce and products, with minimal "processing". Organic, grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free, local, etc, etc.  And for items that do come in jars or boxes, instead of looking at carbs and saturated fat on the nutrition labels, I'm looking at the ingredients. I better know what all of them are and they better be free of additives and sweeteners.

A Whole Foods just opened one exit from me. Dangerous place. Picture source here.

This is a very intriguing approach to nutrition that I haven't tried before, so I'm interested to see how it goes. I'd love to know if anyone else has or is doing a paleo or whole foods or similar type nutritional lifestyle. If so, please tell me your secrets to success!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Post 4th Explosions

What's as explosive as 4th of July fireworks?

A horse that hasn't been ridden in 12 days due to a puncture wound.

And what piece of riding apparel is also explosive?

Yep, an air vest.

I had my first fall off Hemie whilst wearing the air vest this weekend. It worked exactly as advertised - completely inflated before I even hit the ground.

Yeah, apparently it only took 12 days for me to forget how to ride.
Derp meme
Anyways, Hemie was actually pretty darn good for our first ride back. Even after an extra-long longing he was super hot. Nothing I couldn't know, if I remembered to actually put my heels down, tighten my lower leg, and keep a contact. Apparently I just sat there like a bum on a log while asking Hemie to trot over some ground poles. He decided to jump them in a playful manner and I just rolled right off.

I made the executive decision to get back on with just my regular vest rather than fiddle with a new canister. We proceeded to have a nice lesson, working a little bit on a number of things (moving foward, coming back but with impulsion, bending, position, etc). Laurie commented that after I got back on she had never seen my lower leg that still and tight before. =P

Hope everyone else had a much less explosive holiday weekend than I did!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Clinic with Debbie Rosen

Even though Hemie wasn't ready for an outing this weekend due to his puncture wound recovery, I decided to still go and audit the Debbie Rosen clinic we had signed up for on Saturday afternoon.

Deborah Rosen of "Wild Ride Eventers" is a horse trainer, coach, and upper level event rider. She is based out of the lovely El Sueno Equestrian Center in Somis, CA. My trainer, Laurie Canty, was Deb's assistant trainer before going out on her own, and they maintain a close relationship.

Turns out that several others had to cancel as well, so it ended up being myself auditing and one rider. The rider's name is Cherie, on her gelding named Rocky who was very willing and quite handsome. This was his first jumping lesson in who-knows-how-long, and they went from ground poles to BN sized logs, ditches, and water throughout the course of the clinic.

Deb giving Rocky a lead over the baby log.
It was nice to watch them go. Basically their story is that Cherie is an accomplished dressage competitor, but her horse is lame and so she has commandeered her husband's trail horse to have fun trying eventing. She was clearly a very skilled and confident rider. Rocky was, understandably, a little tentative to some of the jumps. But overall he was game, and surprisingly straight - no bulging or swinging of any kind.

Debbie's manner was positive and encouraging, without being overly chatty. She gave concise instructions and succinct comments, keeping it simple and straightforward for both horse and rider. Every exercise was designed and expanded upon to build confidence. Debbie's training approach is very similar to Laurie's, but it was good to hear things being phrased in new ways.

Debbie had a few gems that rang in my ears:
"More leg than rein."
"Don't shove him with your shoulders."

Especially useful when you feel your horse question the jump. How many times have I been reminded to sit back and wait, and keep leg on? But still, sometimes its hearing the old thing in a new way to make it stick. Debbie's words kept popping up in my head on Sunday's ride (I needed them!).

Water complex. There was a horse-eating egret bird there.
Close up of egret.
Overall I had a great time. Debbie was not only a good instructor but a warm and welcoming person. She is very humble and gracious. The derby competitions held at El Sueno will now have a dressage component, so I certainly plan on going back for their August 3rd show and hope to ride with Debbie at her next clinic.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th

  Happy 4th of July!

A blue leg bandage means we're patriotic. I'm pretty sure that's how it works. 
Also blue font.

Seriously though I appreciate living in the US - the land of opportunity where you can work hard and spend all your money on horses. I've had the privilege to travel around the world and there are lots of people out there who do not have it nearly so well as we do. 

Wishing you and your ponies a happy and safe holiday weekend. I'm wishing that for Hemie and myself too! If all heals well we have a clinic with Debbie Rosen on Saturday and a derby on Sunday. 
But we'll just have to see.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bloody Mess

Last Wednesday was a bad day. I was emotionally sensitive from it being that time of the month. Work was going especially stressfully. And then I got the call. The one from the barn owner saying my horse was hurt and I needed to get out there ASAP, he might need stitches.

I left the office and drove the painfully long 40 minutes to the barn while trying to stay calm. Hemie somehow punctured himself while in turnout, and it was definitely a bleeder. On the fore right pastern exterior. Blood was pouring and caked all over his hoof, with white mucus draped on the dried blood (platelets? ooze?). Eeek.

Cold hosing didn't seem to help. I tried to clean the area but it bubbled over and bleed even more ferociously. We wrapped it up in a huge chunk of cotton and bandage for an hour and that did the trick. It stopped bleeding. I could then clean around the area to see the actual puncture. Not a large or deep cut, luckily, and probably not a candidate for stitches. I cleaned all around it then it started bleeding again so we wrapped again. Ugh.

Poor pony has been on stall rest. He was getting hand walked, then we tried a little longe on Sunday. Unfortunately that caused bleeding again so we're back to stall rest. Poor guy is feeling spunky but he's a lovely, sweet patient. It doesn't seem to bother him and he's not lame.

In the meantime I'm working on his mane and keeping him groomed to a T.

Oh horses.