When I Ride My Horse vs. When My Instructor Rides My Horse

When I Ride My Horse vs. When My Instructor Rides My Horse

On the way into the arena, my horse manages to grab a nibble of the rose bush, almost every single time.  My trainer marches my horse right past the rose bush. . . . While I am still meandering around the arena in a stretching trot frame, my trainer is doing leg yields, serpentines, spiral circles, shoulder-in’s, and other bending exercises

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I Am Enough

It is a gray rainy spring day.  I sit at my desk determined to work on my blog.  So far, I have made 2 cups of tea, browsed Facebook, munched on some almonds, sorted through a stack of mail, ordered some glass paint markers from Amazon, responded to some text messages, and changed the cover photo on my Facebook page.  It is not that I don’t have anything to write about; it is more about actually getting started – AGAIN.

Because that is what riding is . . . getting started again and again.  I read my 2015 January post and realized that I still haven’t started exercising with weights, I never finish reading “Dressage Today” every month, I still have not mastered riding changes every 3 and 4 strides consistently, I don’t think I ever attended one clinic as an auditor, I did not volunteer at any shows, I still don’t drink enough water, and I for certain, have not yet shown Prix St. Georges.  Then I realized that I was reading my post from the perspective of what I had not accomplished vs. trying to figure out what I had accomplished that was both written down and not written down.

I am riding more consistently often 6 days/week, I am riding in clinics with Verne Batchelder and having my rides video-taped, I drink water, I have become more conscious of the connection between my emotional and physical health, I try to meditate when I walk the dogs letting raindrops clinging tenaciously to the edges of leaves and the chatter of squirrels hiding behind tree trunks fill my brain vs. the constant streaming of thoughts.  I make a conscious effort to reach out to friends and make connections beyond my Facebook Home Page.  I am trying to become more involved in my community and the world beyond my corner.  I am constantly balancing my roles as full-time mom to a house full of teenage girls, part-time secretary, writer, and rider – with the majority of my time appropriated for the role of “Mom”. 

This year I am going to start it out with the phrase . . . I am enough.

May we each find the balance of being enough this year. 

Priorities

We drag ourselves to the barn first thing in the morning.  We run there in between appointments.  We arrive in the evening when the outdoor arena lights come on.  We juggle weekend errands with time at the barn.  We dash in to quickly groom.  Hand walk.  Hold for the farrier and the vet.  Change leg bandages and medicate.  Clip bodies and braid manes.  Meet with the grain representative.  Clean tack.  And finally, we try to fit in our ride time.  Work, appointments, weather, kids, health, and family interrupts, demands, and hijacks our horse time.

If you feel like you are always rushing, frustrated, or stressed about riding time, try this exercise.  The first step is a simple assessment.  Make a chart with the following headings:  Activities, Importance, Time Engaged.  In the Activities column make a list of activities that you do and the activities that you want to do every day, week, and/or month.  Assign each one a rating of importance; for example, 4 stars is most important and 1 star is least important.  If you already know the time you spend on each activity fill that column in as well:  Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Frequently, Sometimes, or Never.  If you don’t know, keep a record for a week.  You can keep it simple (a tally when you did the activity) or detailed (record the amount of time). 

Now – look at your chart.  I found out that I LOVE to read, but I hardly ever read anymore.  Clearly, one of my most valued activities was one I spent the least amount of time doing.   Next step, figure out how to make a change.  I joined a Book Club.  This helped me with the final stage, which is to implement the changes.  Joining the Book Club helped me because I was assigned a book to read, I had a due date, and the reward at the end was a fun evening drinking wine and eating snacks with a group of women who didn’t take “book club” too seriously, which was perfectly fine with me.

There are always going to be events that hijack your riding time.  During these times, find ways to maximize bits of time with your horse.  Make your horse a yummy mash for a treat.  Sit in the sunshine and meditate for 15 minutes while your horse grazes.  On a rainy day have a quiet grooming session and do those stretches that are good for both you and your horse.  Bring your tack home and give it a good cleaning.  Play a game with your horse or try teaching your horse some tricks.  Drive by the barn for a quick horse kiss and photo selfies! 

When you just don’t have time in your scheduleto spend with your horse, don’t berate yourself, accept the blip and move on to the next day, week, or month. 

May you carve out time for you and your horse as much as possible this year!

 

You Are Enough

It is a gray winter day.  I sit at my desk determined to work on my blog.  So far, I have made 2 cups of tea, browsed Facebook, munched on some almonds, sorted through a stack of mail, ordered some glass paint markers from Amazon, responded to some text messages, and changed the cover photo on my Facebook page. 

I read my 2016 January post and realized that I still haven’t started exercising with weights, I never finish reading my current issue of “Dressage Today”, I still have not mastered riding changes every 3 and 4 strides consistently, I don’t think I ever attended one clinic as an auditor, I did not volunteer at any shows, I still don’t drink enough water, and I have not yet shown Prix St. Georges. 

Then I realized I was reading my post from the perspective of what I had not accomplished vs. what I had accomplished.

I am riding more consistently and mindfully, I ride in clinics with Verne Batchelder and get video-taped, and I drink water.  I have become more conscious of the connection between my emotional and physical health; I try to meditate when I walk the dogs and let the colors of the sky and the chatter of squirrels hiding behind tree trunks fill my brain vs. the constant streaming of thoughts.  I make a conscious effort to reach out to friends and make connections beyond my Facebook Home Page.  I am trying to become more involved in my community and the world beyond my corner.  I am constantly balancing my roles as full-time mom to a house full of teenage girls, part-time secretary, writer, and rider – with the majority of my time appropriated for the role of “Mom”. 

This year I am going to start it out with the phrase . . . I am enough.

May we each find the balance of being enough this year. 

Photo by Azaliya/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Azaliya/iStock / Getty Images

Ride A Circle Part II

Ride A Circle Part II

. . . Usually, my physical body has to play catch up with my mental acquisition.  The ironic part of my circle frustration was that until my body proved it could be done, my brain refused to accept the concept that I could keep my horse on the circle through using my outside leg and rein aids. . . .

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Ride A Circle Part I

Ride A Circle Part I

. . . I yelled back at my instructor, “What in the hell is a hole in my corridor of aids?  Stop speaking in metaphors and just tell me what to do.”  I then found myself, at age 28, sitting on my horse in the middle of the arena in “time out” until, I, “could get my attitude realigned”.  I sat on my horse silently fuming for the rest of the lesson. 

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Breathe out the Tension

Breathe out the Tension

. . . But today, I figured something out . . . the constant stress had translated into physical tension and was making my riding deteriorate.  . . . I had always assumed riding helped me release tension; it was humbling to realize and understand that instead of expecting my horse to absorb my stress, I have a responsibility as a rider to come to the barn without dragging the stress of my life with me in a tension-locked body.

 

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Monday Morning Ride & Friday Reflection

Monday Morning Ride & Friday Reflection

. . . I decided to be like a frog; I literally took my outside thigh away from the saddle in a highly exaggerated release of leg, and at the same time, I pressed my lower leg firmly against my horse’s side and – WOW!  . . . I practically fell off my horse as I hugged him from the saddle, laughing and crying at the same time.   

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The ABC's of Steering

The ABC's of Steering

Quick quiz:  You put your friend, your husband, your daughter, your niece, anyone on a horse for the first time.  What is the first thing you teach them?  You give them the reins and say:  Kick to start.  Pull left to go left and pull right to go right.  Pull both to stop.  Right?  Of course that is what you do, no matter what you know. . . .I was never taught that there might be another method in which to communicate with my horse. . . .

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Changes: Flying and Growth

Changes:  Flying and Growth

. . .The feeling of an effortless flying change is one of those almost indescribable moments in time. . . .Today, I gave my horse a liniment bath and walked him back out to his pasture, quietly savoring one more step on my journey.  I now know that today is still a beginning.  I have more flying changes to ride tomorrow.

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Are there any more Christmas cookies?

Are there any more Christmas cookies?

. . . Dressage is actually about finding and keeping your center with all of the input from your horse and your surroundings and the ability to provide direction and feedback to your horse with clarity and simplicity.

If I apply this to my daily life, that simply means:  I need to breathe deeply and exhale slowly when stressors start to pile up.  I need to substitute positive thoughts when negativity blocks my path.  I need to center myself in the middle of the chaos. 

And take it simply, one bite at a time . . . hey, are you sure there aren’t any more cookies?  Anywhere?  Houston, we have a problem!  I NEED COOKIES! . . .

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Lessons Learned Outside the Arena

When the rains stops Universo and I will head out the arena gate . . .  Inevitably, we encounter deer and wild turkeys taking advantage of this small oasis in the middle of neighborhood construction.  Once we stopped and shared stares with a hawk sitting on a fence post.  Another time, a fox ran across the driveway.  An occasional turtle sunbathes on a log and frogs jump into pond scum just in front of Universo’s hooves . . .

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Riding Between the Raindrops

. . . Riding in the covered arena with the gray sheets of rain creating false walls, I was filled with peace as I retreated into my own world with just me and my horse cocooned in the sound and sight of the rain . . . After my ride, I spent a few minutes chatting with a fellow boarder who was debating whether or not she was going to ride, expressing her unease with the sound of the rain on the arena roof.  She mentioned feeling fear . . .

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Memorize Your Test and Know Your Square

. . . Knowing the dressage square is essential for memorizing your test . . .  I am not sure where I got the mnemonic device for the letters, but here is the one I used to memorize the outside letters:  All King Victor Edward’s Show Horses Can Make Really Big Pretty Fences.  And for the letters down center line:  C Green Idiots Laugh at Dressage . . .

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Set Goals for Showing

. . . I share this with you as an example of how goals and putting concrete actions into place can have a positive effect on your show experience.  One of my favorite moments prior to going in the show ring came about accidentally.  It was early morning, and I stood on the mounting block braiding my horse’s mane in the sunlight shafts through the pines, my partner quietly held and scratched my horse’s head, and I realized that deep inside me, the world felt in balance – and I was happy. 

May you find the balance that brings you happiness as you compete with your horse.

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