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Inspiration

November 24, 2009

I have had a thoroughly non-horsey week since I’ve been studying for finals (which are finally over as of 9:30 this morning!) but I did manage to watch some videos to motivate myself to give Lily a wonderful ride tomorrow.

I thought I’d share with you this video of Steffan Peters which I enjoy watching for a few different reasons:

1) It’s a warm-up as I believe warm-ups should be (but too often aren’t): he’s loosening Ravel up, getting in tune with him, and preparing him mentally for the ride ahead.

2)  It’s an example of a wonderful dressage rider posting, which we really don’t get to see that often. I’ve found that in my own riding, posting to the trot is the one thing that I continually let myself get sloppy with (good old hunter posting, anyone?) and since there is so much emphasis on the sitting trot in dressage, it’s easy to watch dozens of videos and not even see a posting trot.

3) Simply put, I think Steffan Peters is one of the few U.S. dressage riders who doesn’t over-ride, and who truly has a partnership with his horse.

Aaand We Have A Winner!

November 14, 2009

I was able to escape today to try out the saddle that was sent on trial. It fits Lily wonderfully, although I know she will keep growing and changing I decided to keep it and evaluate the fit often. It’s a wonderful saddle and I hope we’ll have many wonderful rides in it. I snapped a quick cell phone picture, excuse the light – I miss being able to ride outside! Notice that I have the “flap strap” buckled over the saddle because it was annoying me – it seems so pointless, I think I’m going to have it taken off.

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Our apartment situation is finally under control. We fought with management for two days, and they finally decided to give us new carpeting. Yay! The maintenance man also noticed the kitchen counters were compromised and buckling from the leakage, so they’re replacing those as well.

Eau de Sewage

November 9, 2009

Friday night, our apartment flooded with sewage water that came up from the kitchen sink and made its way into both of the bedrooms and part of the living room before anyone came home to discover the mess. But discover it we did, and it was nasty. Maintenance came and sucked up the water and tinkered with the pipes, and then left, saying that someone would be in touch Monday.

So we cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned some more. We used bleach and commercial grade kitchen cleaner. But the kitchen still turned up black residue and the carpets still squished. We called management and they told us that cleaners would be up right away.

Half an hour later, they left proclaiming it “done.” Um, hello? Clearly the pads beneath the carpet were saturated, how does vacuuming the top sanitize that? They hadn’t even moved the furniture that the sewage got under. On top of that, clothes and shoes on the floor of our closets had gotten soaked through, and are beyond saving. One of my textbooks was also seriously lost in the tirade of water – conveniently, I have an 8 page paper for said class due tomorrow, as well as a test in another class.

I managed to convince the powers that be that yes, we really need new carpet. Unfortunately that means we had to evacuate immediately to a hospitality suite which (gasp!) has no internet. I’m currently using their free wi-fi in the lounge area, but that closes and I will certainly need the internet later than that as my paper relies on interviewing individuals who have yet to send me their answers to a set of questions. What’s more, my only link to the lectures and articles I am using as sources is the internet.

Who’s good at piggybacking on closed Wi Fi networks? Anyone? Theoretically, if I bring my wi-fi router down five floors, will it still work?

A few minutes ago, we frantically packed up everything we’d need and moved to this charming suite. That involved smuggling our two kitties (our roommates are getting a separate suite as the suites are one bedroom only) in duffel bags down the service elevators. They weren’t happy about it, but we’re only allowed to have two cats, and have only paid for one, but between the four roommates, we have four cats! It has been a scramble to keep them from finding out.

It has been a nightmare of a weekend! Unfortunately we didn’t have renter’s insurance, so most of what we lost won’t even be paid for. In spite of it all, I’m just glad to be out of a room that wreaked of sewage. I can’t believe that I had to strong arm them into replacing the carpet, that seems like a giant duh!

Mexican (er, Spanish?) Jumping Bean!

October 24, 2009

Two posts in a matter of days, oh my! Don’t get spoiled, I’m just making up for the recent lack of posts. 😉

Lily and I had a ground lesson today to incorporate new things into our routine. Corey watched me lunge her and told me that he thinks we’re not challenging her enough. So we added some ground poles on both sides of the arena, and I free lunged her over them. I’ve done this with her before, and she’s done it herself when I’ve let her romp around, so she didn’t think twice.

So we switched the poles to one mini half X on each side by angling them down from a barrel on it’s side like this:

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Disclaimer: this picture is not from today, because it was nowhere near this nice outside today. In fact, the only time we were outside is when I slogged through the mud to get Lily from the pasture. She was waiting by the gate – it was the first time she neighed excitedly when she saw me coming. She only loves me when I take her somewhere warm and towel her off, apparently.

Anyway, she trotted over the half X’s without a thought, so we made  one of them a little vertical to see what she thought of it. She trotted up to it with momentum, raised her leg, and knocked the pole forward. She then took one step forward so that her forelegs had cleared the pole but her hind legs were still on the other side, and then turned her head towards us as if to say, “was that what you wanted?”

We tried a couple more times with lots of praise for each attempt. The funny thing is that she has a lovely bascule, but each time she literally stopped jumping halfway through and looked in at us. I’m not planning to jump her under saddle anytime, but it was fun to see how she reacted and introduce the concept to her. Corey’s notes to me from this lesson:

-Lily is an athletic horse, but she sometimes wants to be lazy. You can tell she thinks work is fun for the first twenty minutes, and then gets bored. We want her to do what we ask not only because she wants to, but because we asked.

-Work for longer amounts of time, even if it’s just increasing sessions by ten minutes every couple of weeks.

-Keep your energy up, it will keep hers up.

-Remember, ground work is the basis for your bond to carry over to riding. If she will do anything for you on the ground, she is more likely to turn to you first under saddle.

At the end of the lesson Lily was chilling by the end of the indoor arena, where there’s a window overlooking an overgrown paddock that no horses are kept in. Since the property is double-fenced, however, we have some horses that roam – usually the older horses who need the grass but get beat up in the main herd – and two of them made their way over to the tall grass. When their heads popped by the window, poor Lily freaked out and cantered to the gate by where we were. She was literally trembling at the sight of them. Once she had calmed down a little, I walked her over to where they were (she was still snorting and wide-eyed, so we did a big circles gradually getting closer) and let her see there was nothing to worry about. It made me think that I want to teach her to spook in place, though. I saw that spook, and I don’t imagine I would have stayed on! She went sideways FAST and ducked her shoulder at the same time, and then shot forward. Those are the worst spooks! Does anyone have any suggestions about how to teach her before we have one of those big spooks under saddle?

Trials and Tribulations

October 22, 2009

I am currently waiting for this wonderfully gorgeous saddle to come in the mail:

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For those of you who followed my last saddle trial (from http://www.usedsaddles.com) I loved this saddle, which is made with shorter flaps than the average dressage saddle – perfect for my oh so short legs – and a softer leather seat, perfect for my once-broken and still-sore tailbone. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit Lily and was obvious enough that I didn’t want to test it out and cause her discomfort.

I was overjoyed when I found the same saddle in a wide tree width on http://www.trumbullmtn.com, which also allows you to try out any of their saddles, used or new, for a week before deciding if you’d like to purchase it. Plus, this saddle was $95 less than the same model in a medium width.

I called them up only to find out that they had shipped it out to a customer that morning – seriously? The wonderful woman I spoke to told me it had been sitting in the shop for months with no inquiries. Are you starting to see what kind of luck I have? I left my phone number and a plea to call whenever she heard back from the customer either way. I continued my saddle search and came up with nothing. I wanted to find another used Passier, mainly because I loved the craftsmanship and I didn’t want to start over with the fight on fit. My Collegiate that I first rode Lily in was also a medium tree, and is too wide but okay with a ThinLine pad. If there was that much of a difference between Collegiate’s tree, and Passier’s, I was scared to try a third brand. I would have no idea what to order.

Yesterday I finally received the call that the saddle did not work for the customer, and that it would be shipped to me as soon as they received it back. At last! Now what are the odds that it will actually fit Lily with a little room to spare? I’m holding my breath.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to take a break from saddles. I’ve spent the past three weeks riding bareback and loving every minute of it. There is something about a chilly day and a warm horse that go very well together. And, alas, I’ve realized that yes, I still cheat and lean forward when I don’t realize it (spooking, anyone?) but that doesn’t work bareback, and my seat is feeling more secure than it has in a long time. After awhile, I stopped noticing the saddle was missing.

Do you take voluntary breaks from your saddle, too?

Missing My Girl

October 1, 2009

You wouldn’t think that being away from Lily for an extra day or two a week would make much of a difference, but lately I found myself wishing that Hilary and Corey wouldn’t mind me coming out for a midnight ride (and that I wouldn’t have to wake up at 6:30 the next morning…) On average, I see Lily about two or three days a week right now, and it’s harder than I expected. She doesn’t mind one bit – she has her pasture buddies to play with and as much grass as she could ask for, plus hay and feed twice a day and the attention of whoever is going to get a horse from the pasture (what can I say? My horse is a flirt.)

But I find myself making mental lists of what I want to do and work on, and then I am horribly disappointed when things don’t go as planned – if it rains so we can’t take a ride around the perimeter of the property (our “trail” work) or if I just run out of time. I’m daydreaming more and more of eventually having a property with Lily and a few others in a pasture in my backyard.

At least she is surprisingly laid-back for a young horse – there’s no difference between getting on her after she’s had four days off, and getting on her after consistent work. I’m guessing the 24/7 turnout helps, but part of it is just her personality.

How could I not miss this face?

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Lily: 1, Horse-Eating Chainsaw of Doom: 0

September 23, 2009

I believe I have mentioned the neighbors bordering both the indoor and outdoor arenas who have taken it upon themselves to really make sure our horses are used to loud noises – not only did they build a massive treehouse this summer from scratch, they regularly use a massively loud chainsaw for God knows what. There is nothing more annoying than having a perfect ride until, right as you round the corner at the far end of the arena, the horse-eating Chainsaw of Doom revs up (and it literally sounds like it is right next to the arena wall). H.E.C.O.D (what a wonderful acronym) has successfully reduced our been-there-done-that school horse, Chip, to a shivering mass of horsemeat before – and I can’t say I blame him.

Of course, Lily and I were riding down at that end of the indoor today (rain once again flooded our outdoor) when the H.E.C.O.D started up in all its glory. It startled her, but all she did was give the tiniest dainty jump in place and crane her head to look at the noise. That’s what I call a brave horse! She didn’t bat an eyelash at it for the rest of our ride, no matter how many times it started and stopped.

She was, however, bested by a flake of hay that crumbled to the ground down the aisle from her while she was in the cross-ties. She jumped so high that she unsnapped the quick-release cross-ties (BEST invention ever, by the way.) in her efforts to get a look at the offending flake.

All in all, a successful outing.

PS: New blog layout, I wanted to get one with an actual picture of Lily, what do you all think?