Hour 31

To be perfectly honest: since the fall, I haven’t really been on good terms with my horse.IMG_8208

Of course I love her to pieces! She’s the most beautiful and adorable horse I have ever seen.

but sometimes she annoys me so much she makes my blood boil.IMG_7531

It’s the little things, like how she just won’t stand still in the wash stall. Or when I am riding her and she just can’t get her little butt moving (Ironic for an ottb, right?) or when she won’t turn, if she nips at the horse beside her, if she walks away while I am trying to undo her blanket so she can attack the horse standing next to her.

In fact, I think the whole reason the fall and everything else happened was because of the anger that exists between us. I get mad at her because of something she’s doing, and in turn she gets mad at me and pins her ears,img_8013

and it all goes downhill from there. I guess one of my instincts is when I get nervous, my nerves translate into anger, which carries into my horse. It can be scary riding a green horse and knowing that you are in the driver’s seat.

I am trying to learn to work with Indy in a constructive way so we can get along and get things done without a fight. Sometimes it’s hard to be assertive and even aggressive to get what you want but be completely calm about it at the same time. I have been refusing to accept that nerves exist, when in reality they have been hiding in plain sight.

long story short: we are like sisters.We are both moody, occasionally cranky. We annoy each other and are arch rivals but at the same time there are times when we can’t be separated.

today, mama and I worked Indy on the ground. I am nervous and clumsy with the rope and I don’t know what I am doing. I understand how important groundwork is, but doing it makes me feel angry and powerless.IMG_3346.JPGone thing is for sure: I am not getting back on Indy until I can come to terms with her. I need to establish boundaries but at the same time prevent unnecessary anger and overcome nerves. My trainer recently attended a Natural Horsemanship clinic in Texas, so she’s got some things to teach me in the next lesson. It’s into the round pen with me!IMG_3347.JPGlike my new coat?

Hours 22-23

Hour 22

Hour 22 was my first lesson back on Indy since my fall. Because of this, we didn’t do anything crazy. The goal was just to get my confidence up a little, and to touch-face with Indy. For a horse like her who would rather stop than take off, keeping her moving is important. I concentrated on keeping my hands level and my senses tuned to her.IMG_8156.jpg

The aim of the lessson was to give Indy the mentality that moving around or slowing down without me asking is completely unacceptable and if she does I am not afraid to deliver an extreme and harsh aid. But if she does what I ask, I will leave her alone. I also focused on delivering aids and commands in a subtle way at first instead of instantly resorting to hard kicking. This lets her know that she doesn’t have to subject herself to the harsher commands if she simply does what I ask and keeps in line.

I also tried out my new galaxy polo wraps today…what fun! I got these from Snowy Mountain Horse Shop on Etsy, and i absolutely LOVE them. IMG_8153.JPGJazzy foots!

This was a fairly simple lesson, but a good way to get back in the saddle and reconnect with my beloved Indy. Every ride counts!

Hour 23

Hour 23 was a nice, relaxing free ride that was (gasp) not with Indy. Today I rode a Pintabian named Tia. Tia is an experienced lesson horse that still has plenty of sass. She is like sort of an older version of Indy, so the ride was a review of what I did in the lesson, except less stressful.IMG_8182.JPG

After some trotting and cantering, we walked around outside the barn for a few minutes. Tia is such a sweetheart and I love her adorable face. She is a special girl that has been with my trainer and her mom for the majority of her life, they bought her when she was weaned. It turns out Tia is 99 percent Arabian and 1 percent pinto. She’s a really pretty and unique horse, and it is always a pleasure to ride her!

Bonus Picture! here is me and the pony, Huckleberry! I was taking him out to the pasture in the morning before I rode Tia. He’s just so gosh darn cute with his little blanket!IMG_8181.JPG

A Break

As of right now, I haven’t ridden since the Saturday before last. AKA, the day that Indy threw me. img_8013As one may imagine, the fall has not made me inclined to ride. That’s why I haven’t posted in the last week, because I literally have nothing to say about what I am doing.

Other than busy work for school (finding horses wherever I can),

keeping up with my hobby,IMG_1984.JPG

and general re-cooperating.

Cleaning tack has been one of the things.

and I have also done some crafts.

Part of me feels guilty about putting off riding and nervous to get back on, but another part feels like the break helped me a little.

It’s been nice, but i’m ready to get back to business this Friday when I have my lesson. I don’t know who I will be riding or what I’ll do, but I know I’m not letting one fall get to me. And besides, show season is coming up fast…img_8010(plus, Indy and I can finally jump! *inner squee*)

Hours 20 & 21: a Thrill, and a Spill

The past two hours have been VERY eventful, both in a good way and a bad way. Probably my two most eventful hours yet. Long story short, they were both with Indy. One ride involves our first verticals, …and the next involves our first bucking session, that, spoiler, ends with me on the ground.

Hour 20 (Friday, Jan. 11th)IMG_8010.jpg

Today, I had an amazing lesson with Indy: we jumped verticals together for the first time! (it makes me smile to look at her tucking her feet all nice like a hunter! Squee!)

The majority of the lesson was spent with a whole lot of kicking. We are trying to teach her to respect my leg through anything that we do, and we are making some progress…except that part of the reason we were doing that was because I let her get away with being slow over my two weeks of free rides with her.

eventually, we moved on to a line of poles. img_8013

which, before I could blink, turned into a small vertical.IMG_8012.jpg

and, believe it or not, we did it! a few good times too.IMG_8009.jpgThis is where Indy says “oof”.

The aim of the lesson was to get Indy to respect my leg and be more careful about where she puts her feet, and I think we made some headway on accomplishing just that. Today’s lesson was definitely a big adrenaline rush, but it means we are slowly turning a corner and that’s exciting! See you at the next hour!

Hour 21 (Saturday, Jan 12th)

I’m not going to lie. Hour 21 went fairly well, and then it plunged. Like, literally.

I fell off Indy for the the first time.

I don’t have any pictures, because it was a free ride and my mom wasn’t watching when it happened. What we were basically doing was repeating a smaller-scale version of what we did in Hour 20. Just kicking repeatedly, telling her that we mean business. The only difference was that she was more distracted. A gelding was in the arena and a friend was finishing her lesson with Indy’s pasture-mate and arch-rival, Tia. Other than that and the fact that I had to kick, all was well.

Where it started to go downward was when we went back to the line of poles that we did during our lesson. No jumps, just poles. Believe it or not, it took me several infuriating tries just to get Indy over the poles at the trot. I was starting to get mad. After we managed to do it a couple times, I decided to do it the other direction, and then be done. Going the other direction is logical, just to turn things around and make sure you and your horse are good with the exercise at every angle.

Of course, going over the poles in the other direction involves going into “the corner.” It doesn’t bother me, but for whatever reason, she just doesn’t like that corner. In the last post where i talked about feeling a little baby hop that terrified me, it took place in that corner. But what was about to happen was more than a little baby hop.

It was hailing lightly outside, I was a little bit angry with how stubborn she was, and I had to keep kicking. We entered the corner after circling a few times. I didn’t even get her to go over the poles once before she absolutely lost it and bursted into a canter.

I was probably on Indy for over thirty seconds of frantic cantering, hopping and bucking in big bursts. Just when it seemed she was going to quiet down, she bursted out again. Even though I was screaming whoa at the top of my lungs and crying like an idiot, I used all the things I have learned. I sat back in the seat. I jerked the reins. The closest I got to stopping her was when I remembered to do a one-rein stop. I grabbed the left rein with my right hand and cranked my left hand as close to the bit as possible, and then I jerked the rein as close to my hip as possible, and Indy began to circle. it’s what to do to slow down a bolting horse. Sadly for me, the rein just wasn’t short enough and Indy burst out of the tight circle.

Then I lost my stirrup on the right side. I knew I was on my way out, and I stayed on for five or so more seconds before falling into the very depth of the corner. Of course I was crying like an idiot, but I knew that I was not hurt and I was grateful. Indy slowed down immediately and stood still before Bethany grabbed her and got right on. Terrified, I watched as Bethany taught Indy a lesson. Indy repeatedly tripped over her own feet in the chaos and it looked as if she would fall, bringing Bethany with her. But Bethany knew what she was doing, and eventually she brought Indy to a relaxed trot and a flowing, perfect canter in the same corner where she dumped me. Trembling, I got back on Indy and trotted for half the arena. Then I got off and put her away without another word.

 

Now it is Sunday and I am at home cleaning my saddle and bridle. It’s relaxing and satisfying and it allows me to think a little bit about yesterday’s ride. It might be hard to believe, but despite the obvious flaw, the ride wasn’t total crap. When put into the situation, I did all I could and everyone was beyond proud and supportive of my efforts, even though they didn’t turn in my favor. In fact, we even laugh about it a little. I crack up thinking about my dirt angel in the corner near the jump standards where no horse walks.

I’ll also point out that of all the time I have been riding and learning at Feather Run Farm, that was the first time I ever fell off in that arena, where I have ridden hundreds of times. The first time that I get off a horse that isn’t standing still and about to fall asleep. It’s my seventh fall.

Indy, of course, is still Indy. Our next ride won’t be fun, that’s for sure. I haven’t ridden since. But sometimes a fall can teach you so much, and it’s all part of the way it works with a horse like Indy. Working through and embracing everything Indy has to offer has shaped my riding more than any other horse has, and it’s been an exciting journey. She’s a forgiving horse, and will be ready whenever I get on next.

 

in the end, I still love my baby girl, and we’ve got more things to do! See you then!IMG_4838

Hours 18 and 19

I’ve had some very productive and fun riding lately. Here are my most recent two hours!

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Hour 18

on Saturday, I figured I would have one last hurrah of Christmas break before I had to go back to school. So, I phoned my friend, Elizabeth, and we had a nice sleepover. She has been one of my best friends ever, and is an amazingly talented rider with Grand Prix aspirations.IMG_3145.jpgElizabeth and her newest horse, Jet, (AKA F-16) at a show this past September.

IMG_8503Elizabeth and I (she’s on the bay), a couple years ago when we were in middle school.

One of the best things about Elizabeth’s house is that she has horses. Three of them, to be exact.

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On Saturday we tacked up the horses and got on for a pleasure ride. Elizabeth was going to ride her new horse, Jet, but he threw a shoe. So she rode her bay Appendix mare, Ice.img_3092

I rode her adorable and very spotty Appaloosa gelding, Jeffrey.IMG_3091.JPG

I used to ride Jeffrey a couple years ago and actually did a few shows with him!

It’s been forever since I have gotten to ride him, and it was a pleasure.IMG_3086.JPG

we rode around in the ring, and in the front pasture looking for Jet’s thrown shoe.. and back up the driveway towards the barn. Jeffrey had not been ridden in a while, so he was a bit energetic.
what a sweet sleepy boy.

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Elizabeth and her mom were so sweet to invite me over, and we had such a good time! It’s when you have loyal friends like her in the horse world that make it all worthwhile.IMG_3088.JPG

Hour 19

Hour 19 was a happy free ride with Indy. Normally I would have been annoyed at all the people that were there, but today everyone was so cheerful and I was too. One friend was riding her brand new horse, another was having a lesson. Mary Hampton, one of my younger friends that lives in our neighborhood, had a lesson too and we took her home afterwards. It was a lively, cheerful place and our ride was no less.img_7992

Today was also a special ride because none other than our very own Clemson Tigers took the national championship just the day before so I went all out orange. As I was riding and the sun was setting I noticed that the sky and trees were turned the perfect shade of orange and purple.

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Indy was her usual self, with her wiggling and flirting with the geldings. Our ride was productive, and we tried a little canter when Bethany took a break from her lesson. She said we didn’t look all that bad, and that’s good enough for me! What fun!

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Thanks for reading everyone! Show season is coming up soon, so i’m going to be practicing as much as I can and getting more hours out to you guys! See you then!

Hours 8-9

I promise I have still been riding. In fact, I have gotten four more hours since I last posted. I have just been a bit lazy when it comes to posting. But hey, here I am! Here’s a recap on hours 8 and 9.

Hour 8

a week and a half ago (Dec.  5th) I got hour 8 in, I practiced with Indy. I was still getting over being sick over thanksgiving (ugh!) so the ride was short and sweet. It was hard for us to get in the rhythm because I was feeling wobbly and there was a lesson going on. The girl who was riding was a bit of a wild card, and I was a bit paranoid about clashing with the lesson and disturbing my horse. It wasn’t the best ride of my life but it was still nice to get out there.IMG_7594.jpg

Hour 9 

On the contrary to hour 8, Hour 9 was hardcore. I had a very productive lesson with Bethany and (wild guess) the Indy! It was wildly different and mind-broadening than any lessons I have had in a while. Unlike our past couple lessons where we worked on gaining contact through a short, tidy rein, Bethany instructed me to literally hold my reins on the buckle and flop around the ring. Not worrying about equitation or fiddly steering. Like I was on a trail ride. We trotted. Then she asked me to canter. It took a while to get the canter smooth and relaxed (which was mostly my problem) but I was amazed at how easy it was to just ask for the canter if there was no anticipation or tensing, even with a young, green thoroughbred mare on the end of your reins.IMG_7603

Next we moved on to a pole exercise where we simply went around in a circle, on an average length rein. We cantered a little bit, our main focus being to become quiet and responsive and then slow to the trot. It sounded easy, and for the most part it was, until the poles were raised and Indy began to speed up (at the trot), simply because I was getting tense. IMG_7602

The lesson was about trust. Not only were we teaching Indy to trust in me, but teaching me to trust in Indy. We had a bit of rusty spots since the creeping crud caught up to me and I haven’t had a lot of motivation to ride (or blog), which only added to the confusion. Lesson one: I need to ride more. a lot. Lesson two: just because Indy is..well Indy, doesn’t mean that I should anticipate. More on that later!

Thanks for reading everyone! More hours coming soon! sneak peek… *whisper* free jumping.

Hour 7

Hour 7 of the 100 hours took place on Sunday, I just haven’t gotten around to posting it since school hit me on Monday. Sunday’s hour was made of two thirty-minute practices. The first thirty minutes was groundwork with Indy.IMG_7548.jpg

Groundwork is one of the things USEF allows to count towards your hours, and I think it does count even though what I did is not a typical form of groundwork. It is also known as playing with Indy! It starts with a quick groom, then I go in the ring (making sure the gates are closed) and take her halter off. It is so much fun to walk (or trot) around the arena with your horse following you. I even set up a teeny tiny cross rail and she followed me over it! What fun!

 

I wasn’t intending to get another thirty minutes that day, but Mama decided to get Indy out again for a quick ride in her lovely western saddle. I honestly didn’t feel like getting on, but it quickly turned into a “what the heck, why not” moment, so I got on for a few minutes. It is very enjoyable and awkward at the same time for me to ride in the western saddle, and Indy was a very good girl. IMG_7564IMG_7587

After our short ride we put back the deserving and tired Indy into her paddock with her sheet on and took off to finish up the day.

Sunday was a very chill barn day. I am happy to have these experiences as much as I can, it is so much fun sometimes just to try something new: take off your halter and play with your horse, or try a ride in a different kind of saddle. It’s all part of the experience.IMG_7551.jpg

Hour 6

For my sixth hour, I had a short-and-sweet ride with Indy (AKA goofball) to recap from what we did yesterday.

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Today, the weather was really gross. Mama took our dog to the vet and Daddy dropped me off to do chores and ride. Indy was a good girl despite her usual wiggling.

I used my favorite sea-foam colored saddle pad that I got from the Dover store at Tryon. Here’s a close-up view of my new saddle in case you all were curious, if you guys are interested I will probably write a tack collection post later!IMG_3031.jpg

Just like yesterday we mostly did stretching and transitions, and using both long and short reins. It was mostly a relaxing ride, and it was really nice to get Indy out after doing chores all morning and ride. She was a good girl!IMG_3023.jpgIMG_3026.jpg

*peeks back and looks at me*  me: o helo dere

got any post ideas, questions about anything or ideas for exercises I should try in the saddle? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

 

Hour 5

Today’s hour was spent doing some much-needed flatwork in a lesson with Bethany and Indy. It was so nice to walk straight out of school and then go to the barn for a lesson on a Friday.

Instead of starting out on a long rein and working into a shorter one, we mixed it up and started the opposite. We were working on getting her to give in to the contact and stay straight with the use of my hands and legs. My seat and legs are getting better, even though we still have some things to work on as a pair.IMG_7540.jpg

We did a lot of trotting: lengthening and shortening reins and bringing the trot up and down, stretching her into a nice relaxed frame while moving in a nice working trot to build her topline. We also did some poles, through most of which we felt pretty confident. The key is to stay straight and stay quiet and to make a good turn to set yourself up for success. i have learned that in riding this applies to pretty much everything!IMG_7539IMG_7538

Then we did some canter; I find myself rolling with it a lot better, I just need to work on staying straight in the saddle and not leaning as we turn.IMG_7541IMG_7542

After my choppy ride on Thasia, riding Indy felt like a smooth breeze. Her movement is so free and flowing, even with stiffness in her hind. Indy was sharp and confident, even at the canter, and I was very pleased with her. This is progress toward eventual jumping (which I know she can do, because she is brave, we just need to work out the kinks). We are going to do great things! IMG_7543

Tomorrow, Mama is going to drop me off at the barn to do some chores and hopefully ride. It’s going to be rainy, but there are benefits to having an indoor arena; I will just have to see how it goes. This weekend is going to be a fun one, I’ll fill you in as it goes down! Thanks for reading!

Hour 3

Since I had a weeklong case of the stomach flu over thanksgiving, I haven’t been riding in a week and a half and it’s been killing me. Luckily, I felt a lot better today so Mama took me out to the barn for a simple trot work ride with Indy to get us both back in tune.           According to Mama’s news, Indy had been giving her the “many faces of mare” look for the past two days, since she tends to be mad and grumpy when we leave her.manyfacesofmare.jpgThis perfectly defines Indy in the past few days. I am sure a lot of you can relate!

However, today when I went to get her and groom her and throughout the course of our time together, she snapped straight out of it and returned to her normal self, which is a little bit more like this.manyfacesofindy.jpeg

I literally didn’t realize how true this was until I pasted it into the post. Me and my mom literally died laughing, because I can see her making all of these faces on a regular basis (LOL)

In our ride, we struggled a little bit with wiggling and steering (since we were both a little foggy after the time off, and there was a lesson going on) but I was happy with how calm and collected she was.  One of the vices that we are working through in Indy’s training is the use of her hind legs and hips.                                                                                              Before I got on I did some groundwork to have her step to the side and cross her hind legs together. I usually do this before mounting. A lot of thoroughbreds have this problem, due to the ways they are ridden in racing. Picture a horse being led into the starting gate, how they practically walk sideways, tossing their head and stiffly shuffling their hind along.

We were able to accomplish some of that under saddle too, although I am still training myself to sense and ask for that. Here, I have asked her to go closer to the rail and her right hind is slid beautifully under her left. For most people it may be confusing or even humorous, but for me it is something to feel good about even if the ride was not our finest hour. Wow, I just realized but no pun intended.IMG_7531.jpg

As I untacked her and mama snapped a picture Indy looked like her normal self again. I am happy to have my girl back. Mama works at the barn, she goes every day to help out while I am at school. Not only does it pay off some of Indy’s board but it has allowed me to have endless opportunities to go and ride myself. Mama is part of Indy’s everyday life, so props to her!

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We put her in her liner sheet and her new Shires blanket. As I type this, she’s hopefully snuggled warm in her stall. I smile thinking about it.

Despite it’s flaws, today’s ride was good both for me and Indy. We are staying home for Christmas this year, so I am going to practice my tail off anytime I can. I’m getting ready for the upcoming show season! I plan to have    at least half my hours in before I start showing in 2019. Thanks for reading, plenty more excitement to come!