With each lesson these last couple of weeks, I desperately try to remember every word that my trainer utters and to memorize how each exercise is supposed to be executed, how my body is supposed to work, and how Universo feels when he is moving correctly.Read More
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 exercisesRead More
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.
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!
. . . 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.Read More
. . . 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.
. . .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.Read More
. . . 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! . . .Read More
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 . . .Read More
. . . 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 . . .Read More
. . . 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.Read More
The day before my last show this season I am relaxed and happy. That sounds almost too simple, but the most important aspect of incorporating competition into my riding has been to achieve these two goals.Read More
. . . Today, I learned the lesson and share the lesson with you, that it does not take a curb bit or rowel spurs to mistreat your horse. Sometimes it is just your determination as a rider to succeed at the cost of your horse’s physical and mental development.Read More
Today my mental epiphanies began to translate into physical epiphanies.
This morning I drove to the barn determined to ride with a positive attitude and an open mind. I wanted my open mind to examine my body and my horse’s responses when riding; I decided to listen to myself and my horse.Read More
My instructor says that I should be able to ride a flying change whenever and wherever I want to in the arena . . However, Universo takes over and changes whenever and wherever he wants to in the arena.Read More
...what did I expect, after all these years (I am now 50 years old) of riding in a dressage saddle, when my instructor told me I should ride my horse bareback to give both him and me a break? It would be relaxing. Ha. Relaxing! Perhaps she would be relaxed, but I had visions of me clinging and bouncing on my 4th level dressage horse. I figured it would not be pretty, but I was game to try anyway.Read More
Then there was that one magical moment in my lesson: My stomach muscles held and my seat deepened as my legs continued to drive into my resisting rein aid, the minute I felt the hesitation of my horse, I released my holding seat, and used a driving leg into a yielding rein - and, the result was incredible! I felt my whole horse’s body change as the hindquarters lowered creating more engagement and lighter steps.Read More
First Year Student
Stiff Body. Stiff legs and arms. BOUNCE! BOUNCE! I’m hopeless! My arms can relax and follow most of the time. But my legs absolutely refuse to cooperate. This is really depressing. I have 2 different instructors trying to figure out what part of my body (or parts of my body) is at fault. So far we have investigated and make changes in my upper body, the angle of my seat, whether or not I am sitting on my pockets, my thighs, knees, ankles, and…Maybe it’s my brain! I could always try riding on my head. I would probably have better luck upside-down in the saddle waving my legs around in the air! At least they would be moving.