Monday, June 29, 2015

Tackity Tack

Firstly, congrats to Karley at All In for hitting 700 posts! Check out her blog for a celebratory contest.

Next thanks to Stephanie at Hand Gallop for our latest Blog Hop:

Share your every day tack setup


Saddle - Stubben Roxane
Leathers - From an Amish store when a buddy lived in PA
Irons - Regular fillis stainless steel
Saddlepad - Back On Track AP pad
Girth - Lettia cool-max click buckle girth
Boots - Splint boots front and behind (black - hard to see), bell boots on fronts.
Bridle - Not sure what it is precisely, it came with Hannah. But its a very nice standard hunter bridle that matches my saddle nicely.


Literally the exact same setup as jumping except for:
Saddle - Bates Isabel
Girth - Wintec Pro Chafeless girth

I'm sure our dressage setup will change before we hit the show ring so we can be more matchy-matchy. And I think we're going to start experimenting with different bits in general. But for now, this is what we are using.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Handy Hannah & Our First Ribbons

Our first show is in the books! Last weekend we competed at a local hunter show and had lots of fun together.

We competed in the Green Rider division (2'3"). We did 3 jump and 2 flat classes, and did pretty well for our first outing in a popular division (10 riders). We placed in the handy hunters, the hunters under saddle, and the equitation flat (3rd, 3rd, 6th, respectively). The hunters over fences and the equitation over fences were not bad but not great. Overall I was very proud of Hannah's performance, and think I did okay but I wasn't as present as I need to be.

Our handy hunter round:

Our equitation over fences round:

Hannah's former owner was there. Her darling 7-year-old daughter was competing in the walk-trot division, which was just so adorable. She stayed to watch my division and was incredibly supportive. She even wiped my boots and polished Hannah's hooves. I felt the love for sure.

S and her daughter. Such a sweet moment.

How adorable is this bow?!
Kinda wish I was a little kid in the pony division.

Hannah was a rockstar the whole day. She handled the hurry up and wait great, and was relaxed the entire time. 

Pretty girl is pretty.

Hannah and Laurie get along famously.

Overall it was a really fabulous outing. We had lots of fun, and I'm excited for the next one!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

She's MINE!!

Hannah Banana aka Famous Shoes is officially mine! 

I am so happy and feel very blessed. Can't wait to fall deeper in love with this snuggle bug!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Whispers of Plans

This entire post is written in a hushed voice. Hannah is not technically mine yet, and given all that's happened to me this year, I'm writing all plans in pencil only.

Hannah and I are headed to a local hunter show the weekend after next. We'll do the 2' division - maybe 2'3".  My gut says that she'll be perfect, but *I* need to get back to showing to get my confidence up that I can ride when its crunch time.

Then we plan to do an XC schooling (hopefully at a local venue) in July because...

I've picked out our first HT: Shepherd Ranch (Santa Ynez) in August. Intro division.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Clinic Lesson with SM

Over the weekend my trainer was away at a show with another client, so I took the opportunity to clinic with local hunter/jumper trainer SM on her excellent schoolmaster Malibu at our old barn. It was nice to visit with former barnmates and enjoy the lovely weather and great facilities.

Malibu is possibly the tallest horse I've ever ridden. I don't know his exact height, but over 17 hands for sure. He's sweet, safe, and dependable. But he does require his rider to ask correctly before he responds. An excellent quality for a lesson horse. 

The flat exercises were basic but effective multi-part exercises to get better engagement and connection: trot circle followed by a few steps of walk followed by trot on the straight, leg yield in followed by leg yield out followed by canter depart. 

SM had me working on lifting my hands up - at bellybutton or higher! - basically at all times, to help get Malibu's shoulder up. She especially had me use lifting hands for down transitions (moving my hands up and not just back), as we traveled downhill toward jumps to help prevent us getting on the forehand and strung out, and also as we approached fences. I'm used to planting my hands in the neck on the approach but she had me keep my hands up off the neck throughout jumping. It made a huge difference in how Malibu carried himself.

SM also had me maintain a half-seat throughout jumping instead of full seat on the approach to a jump. A light seat helped Malibu keep a bouncy canter and stay off the forehand especially when heading downhill. 

She used the concept of "holding leg versus driving leg", especially when going downhill or heading to a jump. Just enough leg to keep the gait going nicely, but not too much such that it drives the horse onto the forehand or accelerates them or get strung-out to a jump. This was new to me: using just enough leg.

She also had me wiggle "left finger, right finger, left finger, right finger" to ask for more connection and roundness without changing pressure on the bit, and it worked nicely. Overall Malibu takes a heavier contact to the bridle - not so heavy that I was sore or anything, just more than I'm used to. 

She also focused on my position after the jump (whereas I'm probably too concerned with my position over the jump). Specifically for me to focus on heels down, and eyes up, and long torso with long neck. It made me wonder if I hunch at jumps and don't realize it.  

Overall the lesson was very nice. It was completely relaxed and pleasurable. It highlighted some small but important differences in jumping style between hunters and eventing (as I've been taught, at least). I have lots of takeaways to try with Hannah. I think that riding "like a hunter" will help me deal with my over-defensive habits including ones I may have but wasn't aware of (driving seat? hunching torso? hands too low?).  Clinic lessons with other trainers on occasion is super helpful and I would love to ride again with SM sometime, maybe on Hannah.

Friday, June 5, 2015

FOO Blog Hop: 5 Health Things

Tracy at Fly On Over has been doing a Weigh-In Wednesday series and this week's 5 Favorite Things post is especially helpful! So I'm joining in. I've detailed my weight loss strategies before, but still haven't reached all my goals so I continue to work on it.

1. Weight Loss Journaling/Blogging

Inspired by a special side blog of a well-known equestrian blogger, I started blogging about weight loss on My Fitness Pal. However, its completely private - only I can see it. So its more like a journal where I brain-dump about challenges, motivation, and track weekly weight progress. It has been a surprisingly helpful way for me to vent frustrations, talk myself through challenges, and get back on track.

2. Amy's Organics Frozen Meals

I get mine at Albertsons but there's more variety at health food stores. They range in calories from 250 to 420, and many are gluten free, dairy free, GMO free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.  I've come to accept that I simply don't enjoy cooking daily, and having some healthier convenience food options always in the freezer helps prevent me from hitting the drive-through on the way home from the barn. I normally add a small side dish of veggies, and the meals are satisfying.

3. The Beck Diet Solution Blog

The Beck Diet Solution is a set of numerous cognitive therapies to help you be successful on whatever diet and exercise regimen you select. The Beck Diet Solution Blog goes over real-life examples of strategies being brainstormed and put into action. You get a glimpse into private sessions where people are confronting their dieting struggles, and I've found many posts helpful.

4. Active Fun

Besides riding, my physical activity is normally limited to working out and walking the dogs. But my husband and I are trying to have more active dates, where we go hiking, kayaking, or swimming instead of going to dinner and the movies. Extra calories burned, and more fun!

5. Cultivating an Athlete Mind Set

I'm working on viewing riding as a sport and not just a hobby, and that I'm an athlete and not just someone who rides. This helps be think about exercise and eating in terms of fitness and not just on losing weight.  Improving my riding is not just about learning more skills, but about developing my overall fitness. This mindset has helped me stick with meal planning and working out.

Join the link-up here!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

North Carolina Ponies

I went to North Carolina last week for a wedding and to visit friends, and had a fun blogger meet up with Britt of House on a Hill! She is just as sweet and smart in person as she is on her blog, and Foster was an absolute delight and snugglebug. 

Britt, Foster, and Me

Myself, friend A, and Britt out for drinks and a bite

Another night I went to a rodeo just outside of Raleigh, with crazy fast barrel racers and death-defying bronc riders. I especially liked the colorful presentation of the colors.  

There were also some horses right next to our hotel, out grazing in a field. I love seeing horses everywhere we go.

It was a fabulous trip but I'm glad to be home and back in the saddle!

Monday, June 1, 2015

XC Recap: She's a Keeper

Sorry for the delay but finally here's the XC schooling recap! Overall it was GREAT!!

Quick summary:
  • Warm up stadium fences were awesome.
  • Hannah was totally game for XC.
  • For the most part I kept my cool.
  • I did lose my nerve at several fences, and Hannah completely took care of us! 
  • We got through ditches, banks, water, and terrain all without issue. 

We started off with a quick longe in the ranch's jump arena. Hannah was calm and gave the facility a good look, especially at the loose horses in the field.  I mounted up and we had a great warm up on the flat and then hopped a few stadium jumps. She was completely businesslike and I felt comfortable and secure.

Then we headed into the cross country field. I could tell she had no clue that we were jumping, and I found myself saying "we're jumping, girl! we're jumping!" as we approached the first fence.  Luckily it was small raised log and she popped right over it. It took another time or 2 before it really clicked for her what was up. 

And she was game. But perfectly mannered. We went on to do several Intro and BN sized jumps without any issues. Surprisingly my nerves didn't get too out of hand, although I did opt to do Intro jumps before their BN counterparts whenever possible.

We moved on to an area of the field where several loose horses were hanging out, and both Hannah and I got a little nervous. She got a tad tense in her body and gave the horses the big eyeball. We had one refusal but it was NBD. Then I got anxious and lost all sense of proper speed and basically had us crawling to and over jumps. There were times when I just stopped riding several strides before the jump, and Hannah took care of me and jumped them anyway! Good girl.

At one point we were jumping a log on an uphill incline, and I got very fearful and anxious. Sweet Hannah surely knew I wasn't okay, but she jumped it anyway, and patiently waited for me to get my act together and actually ride. She graciously tolerated my defensiveness and awkwardness. What a good girl.

Overall I'm proud of myself for getting back out there and overcoming my nerves. I'm so impressed with Hannah and how she took care of us. Several times she could have easily just refused or dodged out, but she didn't. I could tell she appreciated it when I rode properly, but she didn't get upset when I was tense and riding poorly. She was a fantastic partner. And at her first XC outing!  She's a keeper, that's for sure.