Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lesson #18: Will the Weather Ever Make-up Its Mind?

Tonight was a make up lesson from 2 weeks ago when we had snowmaggedon. But, as luck would have it, we expected another snow storm for this season. As if it didn't snow enough for Christmas, now it's making-up for it all. *sigh*

I got out there a-ok since the weather was just starting to get treacherous. I arrived late and Jessica, the stable-girl tonight, helped me tack-up Indy. I got another private tonight since the Tuesday bunch decided to cancel. That's ok, shortened lesson but the opportunity to focus on some of the things that I've been having trouble with--namely, the canter.

In addition to the usual active physical learning, Sheri took this opportunity to teach me about horse behaviour and listening to your horse "talk". I mount Indy and Sheri asks me, "what do you think about Indy's mood today?" The only thing I notice about Indy is his general reluctance to be in the ring. There wasn't one specific action or gesture that tipped me off otherwise but I noticed that he was not at ease. Sheri tells me to listen and look: there is a lot of wind blowing around outside and Indy's ears are roving around, listening towards the sounds around him.

Sheri says that for a horse that is attentive like this, I need to keep him busy and focused on anything but everything else. He's what Pat and Linday Parelli consider one of the right brain personalities (thanks Present Tense!) tonight. I didn't think he was particularly one, over the other but in general, right brained--this confirmed which personality Indy generally is labelled, too. Sheri was stressing that thinking ahead of what's happening around you; in combination with what a rider knows about both instinctive horse behaviour plus the individual horsey characteristics; is what will help you be safe and communicate effectively with your equine friend. It's something that takes time, and patience. In a day and age where everything was demanded yesterday, this exercise has some meditative qualities to it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

What's black, white and blue all over?


I wasn't sexually harassed but something worse happened: I found out that Bonnie has been sold! I was planning on inquiring if I could part-board her for this spring, too. There's a barn-full of horses who are available and happy to move... but I assure you that each and every horse is an individual with their own quirks and personalities and there won't be another quite like her. Despite all this, I know that she helped me progress and that she'll now be helping someone else get the confidence they need, to ride.

And a smile just cracked across my face because my mom (aka Captain Obvious) is listening to Eye of the Tiger...? :| Somehow seems a fitting way to end this post...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Introduction

A lot of my posts include reference to ADW. He's pretty much the Bonnie to my Clyde, Scully to my Mulder. The best way to describe our relationship is represented through the South Park episode where Eric Cartman disguises himself as a futuristic robot named A.W.E.S.O.M.-O and befriends the sweet and gullible Leopold Stotch (Butters) in the episode; also named AWESOM-O. Cartman plays a prank of Butters by disguising himself as a futuristic robot from Japan to discover his secrets so that he can embarrass Butters at school. The only problem is that the entire joke backfires on AWESOM-O and he ends up doing some particularly embarrassing things since he discovers that Butters actually knows one of his deep dark secrets...

Poor Cartman is panicked when he discovers this and tries everything to keep up the ruse so that he can counter this discovery! The mess that ensues is hilarious and highly entertaining to watch.

Although there was no mean prank to initiate ADW and my relationship, I feel our thoughts compliment one another so I asked him to contribute on my blog when I've run out of things to write about. I'm not sure where he's going to start or where he'll even go with his posts but I know that he'll keep things interesting. I mean who knows! We might discover one of his deep dark secrets!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

I like to check out Youtube videos to see how to do things better, after lessons; like improving the canter seat. I had a rough bit with Indy since he was more lively than I was ready for so I wanted to understand what exactly I wasn't doing right. Aspen's been amazing with canters and I haven't felt out of control with him. But, as most viewers of Youtube go, you end up watching a whole bunch of things.

Tonight I found the video that is a series of clips put together which show the training that the Budweiser Clydesdale do, to become as wonder as they are. What an inspiring clip this is.

The Clydesdales are such majestic creatures. They're both imposing in size and presence. Watching them work when they're galloping full speed or jumping a fence just makes me smile and appreciate the amount of hard work that is needed to make these horses incredible performers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lesson #17: Energizer Bunny

February 15, 2013

Finally, we make it out to Greyden for a lesson. I can't complain much though... the weather hasn't been that unreasonable this winter. There was a major accident on the 401 and some blockage on the QEW so we took a different approach and enjoyed the change of scenery.

Tonight I'm riding Indy and ADW is on Aspen. I didn't have to tack up today so I spent the time helping ADW with Aspen and got a good review and challenge: Aspen wasn't easy with getting the bridle on tonight! He raised his head high and refused to open his mouth. I should have taken this as a sign that he'd be livelier today.

When we got to the arena, Jason handed me Indy. J said that Indy's being his saucy self today so that I would need to watch him more. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I've only ridden him once before and he was a wonderful experience: agreeable, enthusiastic and sweet. Today, I spent most of the lesson trying to keep him in order. He was more eager than I had anticipated and tried to get into the canter in a few corners.

We continued to work on the rising trot a balance exercise where we'd raise up 2 beats and down 1, which proved to be far more difficult than I had anticipated. I ended up giggling everytime I tried to do the 1 down because it became a double bounce no matter how hard I tried. But, I can feel the balance coming together much better than it has been in the past.

The last section of the class was getting 3 of 4 of us into short canters to get used to the motion. Indy was clearly much happier once he was allowed to get going. So much so that I had difficulty trying to slow him down. It's like what NR said about Indy... that a rider needs to spend more time slowing him down than needing to speed him up. He's clearly the opposite of the other schoolies that we've ridden in that he is all go and no stop!

Friday, February 15, 2013

New Family Additions

I love playing in the dirt.

Last year, I started a raised garden with my brother; we have 4 boxes situated on our south side of the property. While it's not a lot for a hard core gardener, it was a good start for us when we decided to undertake the task of growing some of our own food.

I've had gardens in the past. My parents supported our first garden attempt in a corner where the morning sun was warm and wonderful. We grew beans, peas, eggplant, tomatoes and a futile attempt at lettuce. It was an enjoyable project when I was younger but as life goes, things come up and that went on hold.

When my brother and I decided to undertake the garden, we visited the Home Show and met some garden guys who specialized in a) duck poop tri-mix and b) a new discovery: worm castings. I always knew that worms are good for your garden since they aerate and eat the dead stuff but I didn't realize that their poop is even better. In fact, people do a special kind of composting called vermicomposting. This got me thinking that I could do this at home; afterall, worm food is practically free. So, I bought a pound of red worms to help me with the home composting since we have a lot of kitchen scraps.

My mom wasn't too keen on the idea at first so I was surprised when she told me she added stuff this evening. I've had some trouble keeping pets that are not of a mammalian background so this will prove to be an interesting and challenging endeavour.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I've been channelling Tardar Sauce since snowmaggedon when I missed my riding lesson.

Un-Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Whole Lot of Heart, in "Bell Bottoms"

Some of you might have spent your lunch hour today, talking with your buddies about the Super Bowl and how the game went (I don't know how it went since I don't follow!) or you watched the half-time show anticipating a wardrobe malfunction or even sat through every single commercial because let's face it, this is the one time that people will plan to be seated the entire game--even through the commercials.

Many large companies invest a lot of money and efforts to create the perfect 60 or so seconds for possibly the biggest audience during the year. My pop culture maven, Amber, was naturally watching or at least catching up on some of the highlights of the evening and sent me the commercial for Buddweiser this year. I found the extended version and cried my eyes out some more.

I've always had an affection for these gentle giants who look like they're wearing retro bell bottoms. I immediately thought of Bonnie and all the antics she's pulled on me in the last little while. Riding her has been challenging but it's probably some of the most fun I have during lessons since she's got such a sassy streak in her!

I checked out Twitter responses about the commercial and while I was touched at comments like, "I was drinking Buddweiser and then I see that... how does a man not get humid in the eyes??? Only natural", I am now intrigued with helping name the new little guy! Actually... they didn't mention if the foal was male or female. You can betcha I'll be thinking about names too!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Which Simpsons Character Are You?

At my workplace, there are employee affinity networks--similar to the clubs you had in high school. These groups have a common theme that unite them and members get together to throw events, work on career development or just provide informational workshops. While each network is open to all employees, they typically target specific groups. I took advantage of a network's recent career development workshop about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

The MBTI testing is essentially a questionnaire, used to determine basic personality types based on psychological studies done by psychologist Carl Jung; further extrapolated by a mother-daughter team: Myers-Briggs. The full assessment can take a full day to complete, if you're having it done by an accredited consultant but we got the condensed version.

There are 4 quadrants which are reviewed by participants:
1. energy
2. attention
3. decision making
4. lifestyle

Each quadrant has 2 choices which you tick and bop the descriptions closest to what you'd likely respond. From there, you will end up with 4 different letters--one from each quadrant.

My outcome is revealed as an Introvert-iNtuiting-Thinking-Judger. This doesn't mean a lot for most people who might think, "judger???" Well, to put things into context, someone has managed to MBTI various Simpsons characters. Guess who's the identified INTJ?

The Simpsons Myers-Briggs Test from Lina Trullinger

If you're interested to take a super condensed version of the MBTI to determine your Simpsons' character, check out this link. Remember to go with your first instinct.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lesson #16: Progress

The weather held out beautifully tonight. It was a wonderful evening that was cold, but not snowy blizzardy or rainy! We arrived early and settled ourselves in. I'm riding Bonnie tonight and because we're early, she's waiting to be tacked up. While she's waiting, she's constantly looking for a snack from me and she's nosey-ing around my jacket and trying to nuzzle into my pockets. What a pig!

I tacked up Bonnie (yippie!) and notice that she's much more restless and lively than I've seen her in the past. I feel this might be a challenge tonight... after all, remember she has a tendency to do her own things when she feels like it; and unless you're firm with her, she'll take over.

She's a no muss no fuss kind of gal and I like that about her. Sassy and full of spirit. Even if that means more work for me, I'm ready for the challenge. Starting the lesson right was important; so that I would immediately have control with Bonnie and there would be less disagreements. I put on my leader hat and told myself that I would be the driver today. I've had enough crap to deal with at work and now it's time to practice getting my assertive face on. NO more Nice-Deb!

Warming up with the posting trot is a good way to get the blood really flowing and your cardiovascular system kick started. Sheri has us posting over the ground poles on the long side of the arena while post trotting. Thanks to Kim's lesson, I understand that there should not be a "double step" between poles and the horse should be trotting fast enough that there is a single foot landing within each space. Of course, Bonnie has this way of speeding up as she goes over them and also veering off to the left. I'm told to employ half halts with the outside rein to slow her down, as she steps over each pole; and we successfully slow down the pace but she's practically at the outside of the arena at the end of the poles set. Looks like it's a matter of outside foot aid + half halt; that should do the trick.

We move onto the Cavaletti jump with 2-point position. Bonnie's not too bad with jumping and I am looking forward to having her successfully make it over the Cavaletti while actually jumping, and not trotting over it. She's lively today--which I am super happy about since I don't need a crop with her. We work on things together but Sheri points out that I'm anticipating the jump and so I tend to lean forward on Bonnie's front-end so it is in fact more difficult for her to lift her front-end. This error in positioning also leaves me vulnerable to jump refusal; which Bonnie does just fine and I find myself face-planting onto her crest. No, not breast, you sick people! Anyways, I almost flip off her as my right foot is out of the stirrup and I'm clutching to her neck trying to pull myself back up. Phew. Crisis averted. So, we try again and she refuses AGAIN! The next time is going to be my last chance and I have to make it count... so I push her forward and hurrah! we make it over. Not that it was particularly graceful but heck, at least it wasn't as messy as it was before!

Though the lesson has been a good deal of physical work for me (which I thoroughly enjoyed!), it has also been an eye-opener to realize that, my riding has progressed since I last rode her, I am able to handle Bonnie more confidently than before, and I have physically and psychologically progressed so that I'm able to handle things that she throws at me.