25 December 2008

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to everyone! Especially to my horse, whom I haven't seen in over a week and won't see now until next year as I'm going on vacation. At least, we're supposed to go on vacation. It will depend a great deal upon whether our nice neighbors with four wheel drive and chains will drive us to the airport shuttle pickup. Otherwise we may not be going anywhere!

22 December 2008

Why so quiet?

Snow of course! We have between eight and ten inches on the ground here and I'm stuck at home. I have been most of the week. My trainer has made it out to the barn and handwalked everyone (she'll be doing the same today, or working my mare if the footing has thawed) so Wanda's not too stir-crazy. Every year my husband and I talk about getting snow chains and every year we decide the two or three days we'd use them don't really justify getting a pair. But on those two or three days (or week in this case) they sure would be handy!

16 December 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's still icy and cold here. I didn't get out yesterday and I didn't realize until today that the footing is so icy that horses aren't getting turned out so Wanda hasn't been out of her stall since Sunday. Whoops! Needless to say I had one very high horse on my hands this afternoon when I got to the barn. The footing is frozen and while it's not terrible, it's really not good either. So I just longed her in a halter and let her work the kinks and crazies out. Tomorrow we're supposed to get more snow and ice so I'll try to get to the barn before that kicks in as I can't get down the hill where I live and up the hill Wanda lives on in the ice. If I can get out tomorrow I'm going to longe her in side reins and make her work a little. I doubt I'll ride though if the footing is still questionable. We only get a couple of weeks of ice and snow here in a winter customarily so I don't feel like I need to push myself to ride if I don't feel 100% safe doing so. I'm a little upset that no one told me that the horses weren't getting turned out though. Seems like maybe a bulletin could have gone out over email or something so we'd know...Ah well, no harm, no foul.

14 December 2008

Here comes the snow

Well, we had our first snowfall here this week and it has been COLD. Well, cold for here at any rate. My trainer called and gave me a heads up that the cold was coming in which I'm so grateful for! Up until now Wanda has been wearing her waterproof sheet and she would be a sad, sad pony if I hadn't put a stable blanket on underneath it. I have a medium/heavy weight waterproof blanket coming in the mail so she won't have to wear two every day. Which she'll be grateful for. She hates blankets. And the fact that I put one on and *then* put another one on was not a popular idea. Clearly it was an excellent torture device. Silly girl! I didn't ride yesterday as I had a meet during the day and a party in the evening so I knew that I would need to brave the ice to see her today. (more than one day off = CRAZY horse). And I was pleasantly surprised that the roads, which are twisty and up and down steep hills all the way to the barn, were not too bad. I did slide all the way down a hill and around a corner coming home but the drive there was fine. I have seldom been so glad that I learned to drive in the snow and ice though. I can tell that there will be days this winter that I simply will not be able to get to barn due to icy roads so I'm really thankful that we've got a most awesome barn manager who lives onsite. I was going to ride tonight but being nobody's fool I decided to longe her first. And that was an excellent decision as my beautiful girl was puffed up. She had gorgeous trot extensions and some really lovely passage on the end of the line. By the time she wore herself out enough that I thought about getting on her she was tripping a lot so I didn't get on. I decided it wasn't worth the risk. The footing was great, she just wore herself out and wasn't paying attention to her feet. My trainer is riding her tomorrow and I feel bad that I haven't ridden since Wednesday but I'm feeling good about my decision re: my safety. There was a time when I would have ridden anyway and not listened to my instincts. And perhaps nothing would have happened. But I'm home again, warm and safe, and loving that I'm learning from Lisa to trust my own judgement.

11 December 2008

my timing, who has it?

Do you have my timing? Cause I sure don't! Now to be fair to msyelf, it *is* getting better. I am improving. I had a great ride on Wednesday. I would not have recognized Wanda. She felt so different under me (my trainer has been riding her while I was sick). She was light and balanced and I was able to feel the canter that my trainer has been trying to get us into. I've been really struggling with getting her to slow down but to keep going forward. I was also able to move her haunches over for a few steps, straighten her out, and then move her shoulders over, etc. She was like driving a slinky. It was awesome! So stretchy and fun. Basically, Wanda did great! Lisa and I worked a lot on my timing. I'm trying to get the feel of doing a half halt followed quickly-like in the same breath-by a transition. It already feels to me as if I'm doing them simultaneously but Lisa tells me there's a large gap. It'll get better the more I do it. However, in the meantime, if you happen to see my timing will you please fax it over?

08 December 2008

previous journalings

I've decided to publish my journalings from the first day I tried out Wanda. I've been keeping them in a notebook and am now using this blog. I can't figure out how to go back and date them so i'll be posting them in a long post separated by spaces. My apologies to those savvy folks that this will drive crazy but I hope you'll enjoy reading my musings. One of the things I'm grateful for is having these to look back on and remember so vividly where we were so that I can better appreciate where we are now. I can so easily get caught up in the now and my frustration with not making the progress I expect of myself (ironically, it seldom really frustrates me that my mare is not terribly coordinated-it's *my* lack of coordination that aggravates me) that this has been and continues to be a really good exercise for me. Anyway....

Sometime in May, 2007

First impressions of Wanda from the ground: kind eye, good bone, nice movement, beautiful round body, (she had a balanced body even in photographs of her at two), calm, interested, she's so cute!!

First impressions of Wanda under saddle: wonderful springyness, TRY-she meets you halfway, already moments of balance and greatness, she remembers and improves.

I'm more than a little concerned about my ability to bring along a green horse. P. broke her briefly at 2 1/2 as she does all her horses but she's been a broodmare for the last three years. She slipped a foal this winter and P. found other broodmares she likes better so she's bringing Wanda along under saddle to sell her. Wanda's only been under saddle now about two or three weeks as an adult. P. says she'll help me and we can do this, but a green rider on a green horse? Still, she's so pretty and so sweet.

Also May, 2007

Yesterday I had a great lesson on Willa (Wanda's full sister who I leased for six months before purchasing Wanda) I was SO confident and assertive. P. and I talked about using that same assertiveness with Wanda and she would improve very quickly. P. assured me that schooling halt then go wouldn't ruin her mouth. I worry about messing it up. P. assures me I won't. I must remember that there is nothing I can do that we cannot undo! I can't wait to ride her again this weekend.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rode Wanda again today. 2nd time since she got her teeth floated and her wolf teeth pulled. Much less fussy with her head. Did some lovely work on the bit after our canter. Gorgeous frame! Trot/halt transitions are getting better. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

She was willing but fussy and frustrated. Really was pissy. P. put draw reins on and worked with us on turning the neck and leg yielding on a circle. I'm exhausted and sore. I got frustrated with myself. P. said I'm giving at all the wrong times. I'm having difficulty figuring it out. But we persevered and finally it went well both ways. Phew. Sort of anxious about tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Was very sore and stiff today. Wanda was a little resistant. P. rode her for ~20 minutes. She's so cute! She pitched some fits and I was glad I wasn't on her because I probably would have gotten timid and backed off.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

She was great today! So much lighter. Stood still for grooming pretty well. Rt. front foot is still the hard one to get her to lift. P. was out with the weed whacker adn she only spooked a little one time. Gave me one big buck and took the wrong lead to the left. But got better the second time.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Didn't ride today. Gave us the day off! I chased Wanda around the indoor and tried to do a join-up. Not much success but it worked a little. Then I lunged and led her over 3 ground poles. By the end she was able to over both directions without tripping. She really worked hard trying to get her feet coordinated. I plan to continue working on it! Then I pulled her mane, trimmed her whiskers, bridle path and tail.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hadn't been out this weekend. Wanda was wonderful! Really starting to get the idea of carrying herself. Did walk, trot, canter work. 3 loop serpentines at trot went ok. She really loses her balance changing the bend.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Got a saddle in the mail today. Didn't fit us. Wanda was good. Only roder for a little cause we were uncomfortable. She's catching herself behind so getting her ankle boots tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today was hard. Wanda was soooo lazy. I got worn out the first few minutes of my lesson. The P. got on. Wanda wouldn't move off leg or anything other than a HUGE smack of the whip. P. finally got her moving but it took a lot. Lots to work on this week. I hauled off and smacked her and she took off cantering. I was scared for a moment but then P. reminded me that I know how to ride the canter. Duh. But it was really helpful. Feeling so tired and discouraged tonight. Tomorrow will be better. Must lunge in draw reins now.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

After hiding for 2 days finally got brave and went riding. Required Wanda to move with urgency. Worked well. Lunged in side reins and worked on stop and go. Had lovely trot adn some nice canter. She really pulls on me at the canter. Not sure how to work on that. She was listening better than Wednesday. Glad P. is going to train her this month.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Had a great lesson today! Rode a little walk/trot on Monday-told Margaret (a junior who is an excellent rider who rode wanda several days a week for me to help me train her-instead of P. Margaret got a free lesson for helping me and P. didn't have to ride a horse she didn't like riding) to let me know if that causes a setback. (P. didn't want me riding her other than in my lesson but I wanted another ride during the week so I worked it out with Margaret) It was 102 degrees today so we took lots of breaks. She was lovely. So relaxed and moving through her back. Started getting notes on my position! Had a great uphill canter. It felt like FLYING. Can't wait until next week. She's learned so much in just a week. Monday I even got several steps of laterwork both ways! So much better than last week. Felt like both of us were more confident!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rode just walk/trot outside today. Not as nicely pushing through from behind but we finally got some good work with some 20m circles and bend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

P. rode and I watched. Wanda is in heat adn her brain was everywhere but on working. I groomed her but P. took over. She said Wanda was walking all over me. Told me to use the "bat" on her whenever she moved or flipped her head. I did after she got off and it was much better. She really respected my space which she had begun to ignore. P. put on spurs and once she poked her in the same place that place was tender and she moved over easily. I could see the moment she engaged behind and began to move through to the bit. Her back came up to meet P. and she stepped under herself. Her energy flowed from behind up to her head. P. said later that a lot of it went "out the front door" and I didn't see it bounce back to her hind end like it does with P.'s stallion. P. did say there was a lot of improvement since she'd ridden her last. She also told me to have Margaret always ride in spurs. I'll tell Margaret on Monday when she gets back from camp. Wanda picked up the wrong canter lead both directions so at least P. knows it's not just me. Think I'll continue only cantering w/P. watching for another week or two.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Still feeling nervous about today's lesson. I will have to get myself centered before then. I love myself and I believe in my riding abilities.

Friday, July 21, 2007

Didn't ride Wednesday because the man with the backhoe was widening the outdoor arena. Wanda was wonderful today! Tried a new saddle that was pretty good in the walk and trot but lousy in the canter. But Val's saddle (one I was borrowing from a fellow boarder) felt a lot better after that one! Wanda was really moving forward off my leg and we did some leg yielding on the circle that was quite good. She was so light after that. Good canter both ways. Picked up the wrong lead once to the left.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

She was wonderful! We took off the draw reins and P. said she thought we could do without the for awhile. She's so lovely and forward. P. and I worked on corners. As you go up levels you go that round in the corner. You want to keep the same balance and impulsion and rhythm that you have on the straight sides. If you lose that then you're probably too deep in the corner. We should be on a 20m circle bend. Her canter was divine.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Had a lousy ride last Friday. Steering was lousy. Better in lesson on Wednesday. P. fixed steering with a very steady outside rein. Today was OK. Better than last Friday. Had a rodeo regarding dark spots and shadows and the fact that we can travel on them. I like my new saddle. I feel very secure even when she's being a widget. I'm really worried about what will happen when Margaret goes back to school and doesn't have time to ride her anymore. Feeling out of my depth but I still love owning a horse.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Rode M, T, W, F and Su this week. Wanda is much better. She's using herself more and less heavy on the forehand. She was really leaning today though and I had a difficult time getting her to move forward and carry herself. Wed. I worked on leg yields in my lesson. P. suggests turning down center line, establishing center for 1-2 steps adn then using the outward force of the turn to help me move the horse over. Wanda has been better about moving away from my leg. I'm using spurs now which help. I'm really starting to be able to correct a stride on a curve or straight line when she starts to get crooked! I'm still having trouble with when to to use a steady pull til she yields and when to give and release. E-mailed P. to ask her to tell me in my lesson on Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

didn't ride today but reread to see how far we've come. My seat is much more secure and I'm starting to feel more confident when she acts up. I have more tools in my kit to handle what comes up. We've really come far. She's beginning to be more balanced and has a much better overall attitude.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Good ride today. Worked with P. on my give. I got several that were reallywell-timed! We worked a ton on canter today and she did really nicely. P. said its the best canter work she's seen her do :) My outside rein gets too loose. It needs to tighten at the canter. We worked on increasing my outside rein pull gradually while using more inside leg to get her rounder. She took the wrong lead 3 or 4 times to the left. P. says her rt. hind needs to get stronger.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New browband was too big. Need one about an inch smaller. Her warm up walk was really good today. We worked on give in the trot. Did aides and corners. wroked on getting her to round up into the bit. Cantered a lot both directions. Shortening the outside rein really helped. It was a lovely canter on both leads. Then we did sitting trot. She was really collecting herself and on the bit. Did a little leg yield from the 1/4 line to the rail both directions. She did OK. Not great but she really tried for me!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Just lunged in a halter today. Rocket was killed last night. I was so upset that I didn't want to ride. I didn't want to share that energy. I've come home to grieve and I'll try to ride tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

W/T/C work. Sitting trot lateral toward and away from the rail. Nice canter. Good trot. Had a hard time submitting to get on the bit.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rode today. Very warm and Wanda got a little overheated. She started to feel really sluggish but she kept trying for me. Didn't know she was so hot til I got off. Really slow but upright and straight canter. Some nice bending at trot. Had a terrible time getting her on the bit and stay on...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sick all week. P.'s been turning her out. Appt w/saddle fitter Friday at one for saddle fitting.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Too sick to ride. Guy said Val's saddle fits fine and to ride in a regular saddle pad.

Monday, September 17, 2007

1st time I've worked her in a week. Turned her out and then lunged her before I got on. She was lovely! So responsive and really tried hard. Did lots of good canter. Worked on moving laterally off my leg by leg yielding on a circle. She was really trying.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Had a great lesson last week and a good one this week. P. is very complimentary about how she's coming along-building muscle, losing fat, better attitude, etc. Rode MTWRFSu last week and MW this week. Wasn't feeling well this week-bad cramps. And Nathan was visiting. at lesson this week worked again on flexing neck a lot inside while on a circle. Rt. is very hard for her. P. said the thing to remember is to keep moving forward even if it's only on a small circle and that as long as you're going forward I'm keeping ahead of her. Took a TON of inside leg. Finally figured out about using lt rein to keep circle big. Use it almost like a slow see saw. 1st ask head to rt then flex lt rein followed by rt again. P. helped me w/my billets to help keep the saddle from sliding forward. We also worked on my position. P. said for now to really focus on keeping my lt shoulder further back than my rt. almost turning my chest. it felt so strange but wanda did stay out on the circle more easily so it seemed to be working.

...A long pause in my writing during which things went up and down but mostly down as I struggled to rationalize my trainer's perspective with my own...

February 28, 2008

Had a horrible lesson last week. I'm still not convinced whether Wanda was resistant or I wasn't asking correctly. But then she tried to bit P. and so the lesson devolved. P. hit her and rode her and then had me get on and hit her. I wasn't happy. The horse did end up going well but I've decided I'm not going to beat her and neither is anyone else. I don't want to make that kind of progress. I've begun to investigate other barns and trainers. I talked to J. at LBTRC and she thought that moving is the right thing to do. I'd like to learn ways of reaching my horse that don't involve hitting and fear. I'm OK with getting after her a little but never again like last week. Thankfully this week was much better. We used more gentle tools and worked hard at getting her to stretch over her back and seek a stead contact with my hand. Got the most steady contact I've ever had. She was actively seeking that soft outside hand. It was a delightful feeling. I got her a 75 blanket which did not fit so I'll sell it. Didn't ride last 2 days. Looking forward to doing so tomorrow. P. is gone next week so I'll be able to work MY way with Wanda. I'm currently working on moving off a soft leg and coming back to a soft hand. She's keeping a fairly steady rhytm now and seems to be learning quickly if I don't beat her into it.

July 1, 2008

We've been riding with Lisa for about a month now. Going pretty well. We're working on straightness and balance. We're also shopping for yet another saddle. sigh. Tried a feel-it, dominus, and one other I can't remember. Had a nice ride yesterday and am worming her today.

August 27, 2008

Rode her today after having her hocks injected monday. Boy, it made a huge difference.

October 5, 2008

Haven't ridden in 3 weeks. Fell off during a spook. I've ridden twice since then but now I'm beggining to be afraid. I hurt my thumb more than I realized and it's scary. She continues to get better I hear from Lisa. She's riding her 4x a week. And Jon and I are lungeing her on teh weekends. She's starting to move differently, even on the lunge line. I can see her starting to rock back and carry herself differently. She's tucking her hips under herself. I'm going this week to watch Lisa ride.

October 14, 2008

Watching Lisa ride Wanda is so cool! She's looking more and more like a dressage horse. I think what I've seen in her is finally coming to the fore. Having people around who like her is making all the difference. I've been doing a lot of negative self-talk about though. I fell into the habit at P's where I was the only one who liked her. I need to work on that. Now I'm the one talking about what a bitch she is and how incapable she is and I don't believe that! I think she's a ver kind horse who is trying really hard to understand what is being asked of her. she's so proud of herself when she gets it right-really funny! I'm a little angry that she dumped me but I keep reminding myself that she was not trying to hurt me, she was trying to get out of working.. As important a distinction as the difference between being afraid of an object and being afraid fo the horse's potential reaction to said object. I'm riding again on Friday. Lisa is going to warm her up for me. I'm a bit nervous but I can't tell if it's about being on Wanda or that my hand might hurt. Lisa says she's very light in the hand now so I'm hoping it won't hurt and I'll be able to ride regularly again. It's been almost five weeks since my fall and I get more and more nervous about getting back on. I wasn't until a few weeks ago. But I've fallen before and gotten back on again and I will this time too.

October 23, 2007

Rode her all by myself today. We do really well not leaning against my hands until I tense my forearms in an attempt to keep my hands still. I think I might feel more secure in the saddle with a trot strap. I'll have to look into finding one. The ride went well-minimal no's on her part.

October 28, 2008

Warmed her up with a little WTC and counter canter. She was tired and sluggish but better than monday about bending and being light. I still struggle with coordinating my aids but I think that will be a recurring them as we progress! At the moment I'm really focusing on:
1.correcting her as soon as she starts to lean or bear down against the bit
2.long, relaxed legs(me)
3.controlling all of the sections of the horse-head/neck, shoulders, ribs and hindquarters
4.staying relaxed and having fun!
I'm still coping with some residual fear from my fall. But I really love riding and more, I really love riding Wanda. She's getting so strong and fit. We did a 40 minute longe lesson on her and she handled it like a champ. I learned that I've been using a relaxation of the seat and aids as a halt cue instead of a reward immediately following any cue. I need to clarify with Lisa what the halt aids are. I was all over the place at first but then I began to find my center of balance. I need to tip my pelvis a bit more forward when riding so that I'm balancing with my pubic bone and not just my tailbones. Once I managed that I was able to relax and allow my hip flexors to open and soften which lengthened my leg and helped pull me into a more balanced seat. I had lots of small wriggles and deviations but I was able to get recentered every time! Often witout having to use my hands on the saddle. Lisa rides wanda on friday for me. A practice I hope to continue for the next few months. Then I'm going to try and ride Sa and Su. That way I'll have a better lesson on Monday.

October 30, 2008
On Monday we achieved one of our goals! We rode all the way down the drive to the street!!! It felt fabulous. Next goal: ride to the end of the road. Also told Lisa I wanted to ride a really good 20m circle consistently anywhere in the arena and I'm doing that now!

November 12, 2008
I'm on the cusp of attaining a new level of understanding. Which is frustrating. I can almost see the pieces coming together. They just don't quite mesh. Lisa and I have had a couple of interesting conversations recently. She tells me that I take her instructions too literally and I need to exercise more independent thinking. This is harder for me as I'm used to following exact instructions. Lisa said she makes assumptions when she tells me things. Like when she tells me to put on my left leg she's assuming I'm already catching that with my right leg and hand. Also, when she tells me to prepare to do something she assumes I'm going to do the action once I've prepared (I've been waiting for her to tell me to go ahead). She reiterated to me that she thinks I'm a fine rider. She asked me if I'm feeling less afraid. I am, although I still wish I were a bit more secure in my seat. I told her this and she asked me what I meant by that. She said she thinks I have a good seat. I said I don't feel like I'm moving with the horse through my lower back. I feel like I pogo stick along at the trot. Lisa says I don't. That I sit just fine. Today we worked a lot on not gripping with my thighs. I tend to clamp down when I go to use my legs. I also usually pull my lower leg back whenever I am trying to push harder. I need to work on keeping my lower leg foward by the girth most of the time. For a shoulder in I should use my inside leg to flex the ribs around it and back that up with a steady outside rein and an energizing outside leg. Lisa reiterated that I am a good rider and I'm ready to take this to the next level. I' ready for a more sophisticated and nuanced ride. She said I have all the tools. Legs and hands. For Thursday I'm to get her in front of my leg and then work on bend. Work on a slower canter without constant driving aids and no breaking.

Equine Withdrawal

I've been sick for the last seven days in a row. Too sick to leave the house to get the mail-much less drive the twenty minutes to see my big bay girl. And...


Which is completely reasonable, if not expected, until you realize that just a few short weeks ago I was dealing with the aftermath of a bad fall and completely dreaded going to the barn. I didn't miss my horse that much at all. I wasn't going crazy thinking about her during the day and wondering what she was doing. Or shopping tattered equine catalogs. Or reading books and magazine articles for the fourth and fifth times. I've been missing my horse and I couldn't be prouder of myself.

Oh, and the UPS guy just came and dropped off a box for me! It has my new helmet (I splurged and bought a mid-grade velveteen one-haven't had one of these since I was fifteen), and an extra halter crownpiece, and very stylish dark blue bell boots-*the* latest fashion in rear foot apparel :) I also bought new Prince of Wales spurs and rubber spur grips just before I got sick last week. (My trainer told me it was time to graduate to "big girl spurs".) [a brief history of my mare and spurs-when i first bought her my previous trainer had me riding her in dime rowels. Which I was really uncomfortable with as I didn't ever really feel that my legs were steady enough to wear them. So when I switched trainers the first thing L. did was to have me buy the tinniest, nubbiest spurs I could find. Getting to buy a real spur was a major comment on how far my riding has come in just a few months-or at least, that's the way I'm viewing it!] Bottom line, I cannot wait for my lesson on Wednesday to try out all my new loot and see my girl! But especially, the loot ;)

my Big, Important theory

and here it is: Dressage is all about circles, and using circles to make straight lines.

That's it, that's my big idea of the day. Let me know what you think!

When do we get THERE?

I should preface this installment by explaining that I am a reader. And by this I mean that I have read, with great enthusiasm, any and all texts pertaining to dressage and/or the training of a young horse that I can get my grubby hands on. I've read about other disciplines in my attempt to better understand how to help my mare move more effeciently and with greater balance. I understand what to do with it once we get there, at least in theory. But how, someone tell me, do we get THERE? I worry that I'm pushing too hard or making her work too difficult because she just doesn't seem as enthused about spending time working together as she used to. Or is that me? Am I projecting this on her? I'm having to work harder to get the same level of response that I used to. I used to feel her trying so hard and now that feeling is slipping away. But the only thing I really know how to do is keep asking and keep working until it gets easier again. My apologies if this is veering off course, stay with me, it's all part of the same thing. Plus it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep so I tend to get a bit "rambly". We recently upped the ante with our trainer and it's been kicking my butt. I wasn't having any fun at all the last few weeks, which is one of the reasons that I haven't written. I have been so frustrated by the feeling that I was on the verge of reaching the next level of understanding. I could see it, smell it, and taste it. I knew what it would be like once I got there. I just couldn't make THERE be here. It was agonzing. And I'm sure it was not so much fun for the folks around me either! My trainer is a saint for helping me get through it. And, of course, I did get THERE. It just took me some time. I believe that Wanda will get THERE too. We're now up to about 18 minutes of really quality trot work a day. I have to admit that I spend a lot of time just riding that beautiful, wonderful, springy feeling and I let all thoughts of training fly out the window more often than I'd like to admit. I store that feeling up inside my body, trying to soak as much as possible into my muscle fibers. And sometimes, I even remember to try to channel this into 18 minutes of really GOOD work. I feel guilty for just enjoying that feeling sometimes and not working so hard during that time, but that's the entire reason I get on my horse-that feeling. That wonderful feeling, when you and your horse are balanced and focused and could do anything together. When you don't have to think about goals or position, when you can just ride. I love that feeling. That feeling is what makes all the anxiety and frustration and tears worth it. In that moment, I am a great rider. In that moment I am the very best me. And then she gets tired and falls on her forehand again and we start working again. I watched a clinic recently where the clinician was talking about playing your horse's back like an instrument. It was amazing to watch as riders let go and allowed the horse to really swing evenly through the back. Or stretch the horse that extra quarter of an inch farther than he thought his body could go and find true release in that frame. But how do you get there? How do you get to a place where trying that doesn't leave you on the forehand? Cause that's a place I'd really like to get to. It seems wonderful to be able to tune in that much and let go of the rest. Problem is, when I let go, we just fall on our face. Is it even really possible to teach a horse that thinks 4 inch cavalletti were invented by humans just to torture horses to rock back and pick up her feet? I really hope so. And in truth, I believe it is possible. But I often feel like the kid in the backseat who just keeps asking "are we THERE yet?"

ya'll come back now, ya hear?