Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And she rode.

Birthday week wound up with a surprise birthday gift from H...after arriving at her house with flip flops, shorts, 2 cake pans, riding boots, breeches, jeans, rubber boots, sneakers...she had me wearing my hay throwing clothes and we drove the truck over to the hay shed. "We're loading hay" she said.

Moonpie. : )

I thought she was joking.

But she wasn't.

Then it was a slow drive to...

COACH W's!! : D

That's right! She got us lessons together with Coach W for our birthday's (her's is mid-April). Yippee!

I was thrilled.

And guess who I got to ride in these lessons???


Yup. That big black sexy-pants.

Brought him in all on my own, groomed and tacked and then H and I were in that sweet indoor arena I had been missing so much. H rode Royal, a very sweet chestnut gelding who Coach W loves dearly.

She started us at a walk...and then had us trotting. Then serpentining. Then leg yielding.

Josh is a super sweet horse. I really like him. He's a lot bigger than Moon, but a lot more reactive to my body and my cues. Training I suppose.

He has a lot more go however. So I often found myself frustrated in trying to half halt him and get him back to slow and steady. Ger.

I can promise you, that I'm the kind of rider that as I grow frustrated with my own inability to have a horse perform a certain way, I become locked-up and tight. And it all falls apart even more.

What I love about Coach W, is she's excellent at walking me right through those lock-ups.

I wasn't leaping up and down about our ride by the time Coach W moved us over to the last activity. Sitting trot.

You'd think a winter bareback riding would help, but not really. You get grippy. You develop bad habits. We'll admit to it.

We headed off on our 20 m circle to the left...

And it wasn't so bad. W had me work to not twist my body so much (I turn inwards like I'm trying to make a tiny circle with my body) and to stay loose. But she was pretty happy overall.

Then we swapped sides...

And it went in the tankard. Suddenly I was bouncing and messy and Josh was rushing and falling in and I felt like a disaster.


Coach W could see my troubles.

My right leg comes up and grips. Which going left, is on the outside and isn't so noticeable. But going right, suddenly I'm bounced right out of the saddle. I need to learn to keep my hips open and my legs loose.

So Coach W told me to pull my legs away from Josh's sides, then let them gently come back against him. And do that over and over. Then she had me do the same thing while sitting the trot...


And I mean, the difference was so huge she was almost smirking.

Josh suddenly went about that circle with his head long and low, nice contact on the reins, beautiful speed, I was smoother in my sitting trot and we weren't falling in all over the place...

For about four strides until I locked up and it fell apart.

She made us do it again. Sitting trot, pull those legs out again and again, but then when I'd start to lock-up she'd yell "wiggle your toes!" "wiggle your ankles!" "Legs out!" And each time we did, he'd go back to long and low and slow and smooth.


Honest to gawd, I am my horse. Moonpie is the most locked-up little horse, and I am him. No wonder we're a disaster together and perfect together. Two of the same problems. : P

But Josh, wow did his behavior and movement change when I was able to loosen up. I've never seen such a dramatic change. Loved it. Horrified by how locked up I must be on that side that it made such a huge difference, but comforted that I can get there.

And then the lesson was over.

Josh, named for the "Joshua Tree" on his forehead.

What can I honestly tell you I truly learned in that lesson??

1) When I over think, I lock-up and become a mess. I think I remember W telling me the same thing with Moon last summer. She told me to feel the ride and stop trying to think it. For me, it goes off and instead of feeling out the right solution, I panic and start trying to manhandle my way back, become embarrassed, stiff, and it just gets worse and worse. I need to focus on developing a *feel* for what Josh needs and when he needs it. Or what I need and when I need it.

2) Loosen up. I need to focus on unlocking myself through the hips, keeping my check open, not coming forward, and loose legs. Oh so hard.

3) Calm down. Stop panicking because it's not perfect. No one is looking for perfection. W isn't going to kick you out because you're not perfect. Accept it, move on, work on it.

4) I'm not as terrible of a rider as I'm convinced I am.
I can *honestly* (and embarrassingly) tell you that there were 100 moments during that lesson when I thought W would change her mind about letting me ride Josh. Like asking a squirrel to drive a car, it's just a *bad* idea that'll lead to disaster.

One of my biggest failings as a rider, is I have no faith in my ability to ride. It's the reason when things aren't perfect I freak and make them worse. Because I don't trust myself to be able to make them right.

But if this lesson taught me anything, it's that with a little confidence and a little relaxation, I'm actually a decent little rider. And W isn't just humoring me asking me to ride Josh, she legitimately believes that I won't destroy us both. Time I give her reason to have such faith. I can ride him, I can do a good job of it, and we can do some nice work. I look forward to proving that to myself.


So post lesson I was aching. Walked Josh back to his paddock and when I went to lock the gate, I touched the electric fence. The snap of the shock sent Josh running across the pasture away from me, and made me yelp aloud. Bleh. At least it wasn't as bad as that cattle fence I once sat on... : o

H and I drove home and I knew I would be non-functioning very shortly. By the time I got my car to a grocery store in the city just a 1/2 hour away, I felt like I was nearly 80 years of age. I staggered through the store and bought a frozen pizza, 100 box of Extra Strength Tylenol and a 2 litre of Juice. Paid, climbed into car and consumed 2 Tylenol right there in the parking lot. Spent 5 minutes willing myself to drive to the bank. Where it took me two trips to the teller to remember why I was there. By the time I was climbing the stairs to my apartment, I was wiped.

28 is a wonderful age, but dear gawd, I'm getting old!

Other news?

Birthday Week was *amazing*.

It started on a Saturday evening, with Famous Dave's for dinner. No reservations allowed and when my friend showed up a 1/2 hour early to snag us a table, there was a 2 hour wait. : o When I showed 30 minutes later the place was still packed. And we discovered we were 12 people not 8 like we'd asked for. Crap.

Turned out it worked to our advantage and a table for 12 just opened. Snagged it, and everyone ate exactly on time. Delicious.

Then we all headed across town to a country bar with a mechanical bull. My bucket list. Never doing it again, thank gawd I did it now!

The first time, the bar manager was running it and having a bad day. He whipped me off in 10 seconds. My girlfriend in 5. Unimpressed. A couple hours later (after consuming more alcohol) the regular operator was back, and I climbed back on. Lasted almost a full minute and did a fine job. NOTHING like I imagine riding a real bull is like. This thing had a saddle of slick polished leather...

Oh, and I ripped the bull's horn right off on my dismount. Boo-ya.

Sunday my family went for Chinese and had some cake. I got a complete set of agility equipment for Halo, including weave poles, tunnel, crawl-under, ramp...so excited for the snow to melt. Also enough $$ to buy my archery target. Double sweet.

Monday after work I met up with my man at his place, and he headed off to a midnight launch. I dragged his coffee table into the corner of the room, and covered it in beer and balloons. And four blankets to hide the whole thing.

He got home, wouldn't let me open my gifts, we fell asleep.

The next morning, I got to open my presents...a miniature shovel he crafted for me with an engraved plate that read "The House My Dreams Built 2013". Painted my favorite color of blue. I cried. He laughed.

Salsbury house for breakfast and then off to H's for a horseback ride.

Moon in tack for the first time since October... : o
In the barn, we were surprised by H with a homemade cake, and she got G a tool belt and hammer to help me out with my building. He was flattered.

I tacked up The Black for him, gave him a 30 second lesson in stopping and turning, and discovered he has a MASSIVE head. I mean, a men's large helmet would only perch atop his head. And barely would buckle up. *sigh* I broke my own rule and after 10 minutes of him telling me it was giving him an awful headache, allowed him to unbuckle it.

G, riding away ahead of me. The man also needs *much* longer stirrup leathers...6'4" just isn't favorable to woman's riding gear...

Thankfully, Moon and The Black were dreams. I honest to gawd, took my 100% green man on a three mile ROAD ride with cars passing, dogs barking, and we had no trouble. The Black is a dream. We had one funny moment when the Black turned down the driveway of his "girlfriend" and wanted to go visit. And G wasn't sure how to get him to go the other way. Hehe.

After 3 miles of riding (such a trooper...said he wanted to ride on the trails!) we made it safely back home. Groomed the horses and sent them on their way.

Then it was off to my property! G's never been before and he loved it. We made a fire in the mud puddle it is right now (I cleared all the snow to get it to melt fast, but since the ground is frozen, the water just puddles and makes mud : P ), and roasted hotdogs. Yummy!

Hot dog roast!
Next came driving the tractor around, which every guy loves. After that, it was back home, where my man whipped up a yummy chicken bacon ranch pizza from scratch. Honestly, I'm never letting him go because I never want to have to cook again in my life. And the man rode a horse WILLINGLY!

Wednesday morning we headed out to his folk's place in a rural Manitoba town. Nice long drive out in the sunshine, lunch with his dad at the local watering hole, and then a lazy afternoon of cuddling cats and watching lame television. Love afternoons like that. Then his mom got home, we had a nice family dinner, and him and I wound up posting a picture of a ring on facebook...

G's cat "Dash"
Which led to the masses thinking we'd gotten engaged! : o Yeah. We're terrible people. Really, it was the ring on his finger, and the ring was one he found when he was 5. His mom figured it was time he did something with it, so she returned it to him to pawn or whatever. But we had a good time watching our friends jump to conclusions, because we're evil that way ; )

The next morning he made me breakfast (you'll notice a trend) and we headed back home. On the way there, threw a rock through his muffler, so while I jazzed myself up for the next adventure, he fixed the exhaust...and ended up breaking all the spindles that hold the tire on.

On a Thursday before a long weekend when nothing's open.

Off we headed in my car to his best friend's house. The boys whipped up amazing charcoal smoked steaks and potatoes (trend), and then after supper it was 5 hours of them jamming...I mean, G played guitar, his buddy sang and did the hand-drum, and at some point I found myself working the little shaker thingy. Yeah.

They played any song I demanded, even learning it if they didn't know it already. My own personal concert lasted until 3 am, and I was beat. Wow.

Which meant after fixing G's exhaust Friday morning, I spent Friday afternoon fast asleep. I crawled into bed at 2 pm and awoke at 9 pm. Said "I'm hungry" and 30 minutes later there was Chicken Parmesan and herbed rice waiting for me (trend).

And I was fast asleep by 11.

Halo out at the property Saturday afternoon in the sunshine.
Saturday I headed to my land to do some work with my parents ("You look tired. You're not eating enough." Gawd, parents!). Afterwards, I gussied up and headed to G's work for his staff's birthday celebratory bowling party. Which rocked. And I ended up with the mid-pack score every time. Even when bowling upside down : P

That led to a karaoke party at one of the fellow's homes. I call it the introvert's hell. We were there until 2 am, and at the end of it, I was *certain* I'm not just introverted, I'm a HSP (highly sensitive person...google it). It was terrifying. Thankfully when I fell apart when we got home, G assured me that my little introverted self was a-okay. Phew. (And there was a lengthy post on HSPs for here, but I wussied out and you don't get to read it).

By Sunday my evil Honda Accord was back to misbehaving. Squealing every time your turned the wheel or hit a bump. My dad had a look and after taking the tire off and messing around, we discovered a destroyed ball joint. Sweet. More money out the window on that bloody car.

Sunday night, Easter dinner with the family. And Monday, it was lessons with H.

Wow. THAT is a birthday week if I ever knew one.


More news?

There's a new horse at the barn. So now the Black and Moon have "Stormy" in their mix. His real name is "Cloudy" and he's a draft quarter horse cross. Well, draft paint I suppose. Black and white. Needs a bit of weight loss, which is why he's come to the right place.

Moon looking trim last week....short necked and sway backed, but trim!

Our boys are looking fabulous. Moon is *finally* at a nice healthy weight that doesn't have a giant hay-belly and chunkiness. It accentuates how short is neck actually is, but it's nice to see a healthy slim body on my boy. So much better than chunky.

And that's that. Tonight I'm out to feed them, have dinner with H and Coach W, and then pack my stuff and fly out to Toronto tomorrow for a couple days for the ol'job. Fun-fun.

That's my life. Hopefully next week is back to normal and boring. I love how incredible my 28th was, but I wouldn't mind a little boring.

And a little warmer weather would be nice. : P We're still well below freezing and it's April! : P

Love this horse.

1 comment:

  1. Riding is never perfect, always a work in progress! Sounds like you got some great takeaways from the lesson, and happy birthday week! :)