Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lesson #43: That'll Put Hair on Your Chest!

This week was one of those regular weeks that felt fast yet you knew full well that it took forever for Friday to come. But that didn't matter because I was on my way out to Greyden! I'm excited to get out and just experience the nice weather and do something I enjoy doing immensely. As we drive through the driveway, I see a brown coloured horse jog up to the top of paddock 7.... and I see Aspen! Since the traffic was so obliging, I decided that I would go and visit Aspen since we have free time. This also meant that I probably wasn't scheduled to ride him. :(

I'm riding Trinket again. No biggies; I'm starting to get more brazen with this mare because frankly, I was nervous riding her initially. Around the barn, the talk about Trinket is that she's got some difficulties for a green rider to contend with. But the way I looked at it is that I would be fine as long as I knew what I'm getting into and that I do what I am able to do and just keep calm and ride on ;)

Afterall, as Gillian pointed out before, "Every bad lesson is a step closer to being an even better rider!". Well put, my friend! Like many things in our lives, anything worth doing requires hard work, determination and perseverance. Nothing worthy comes for free. So, I've committed to taking things that come my way as they are and using it to my advantage and take each instance as an opportunity to learn--something that I've been working on with with my perspective about work.

When we arrive, we check out the lesson previous and see that the students are working on the cross country course making the jumps and cantering around on the grass! It looks so neat! That is what I ultimately want to get into when I can graduate to owning my own horse and being able to do these simple rustic jumps. It really makes me excited when I see this because I imagine the end goal I am working towards (that and being able to ride into battle with a sword should the need arise).

Anyways! We get moving today with a short trot exercise: both posting and seated. My seated trot is still not enjoyable but I'm able to endure it much longer than when I first started. It appears that we're all moving well today so Sheri quickly moves us to the canter and jumping. Jumping.... my hands get sweaty just at the thought of cantering with this mare... and now we're going to try jumping during a canter? Ugh. It's nothing complex and just a low X jump but I haven't even gotten a proper canter on this mare. Our canter exercises didn't go so badly and I managed to get her into the canter several times but they were short stints because she has a tendency to move into a heavy forehand which means she basically gets heavy on the front and she also gradually lowers her head more and more until you're having difficulty staying upright. A few times I lose my stirrup and had to recollect; which only exacerbates the difficulties getting into canter! She does a bunch of pony trot before getting into the canter and often times when she took off, I wasn't ready for her and sometimes I pulled on her mouth. But I persisted because I resolved to conquer this gait on this mare.

When we were ready to move to the jump, we line-up and ride towards the jump with the intent to canter into it and out. Going from walk to canter is a lot of fun (some of these horses can go stop to canter) because it's like skipping second gear :D But with so much pony trot transition to canter, it's difficult to be ready for the jump in a canter! I push her hard a few times and of the 8 or so attempts, I got at least 2 successful canter and jumps; that's a good success rate for me! And one of those times I was on the incorrect canter lead :| but because I am still pretty green, I didn't feel the difference and didn't have the nerve to look down. Sheri reminds me to keep my eyes up because the minute my eyes drift down, this mare decides to do the same herself.

A few things I've noticed this lesson is that I've had more success with keeping my weight in my heels and my legs where they should be. It's far from perfect but it's a big move forward! I am consistently working on my inner thigh muscles and my balance has improved. Now it's a matter of continuing to refine my balance in transitions and sitting tall during these transitions too--especially at a pony trot. But, I feel pretty good about this lesson and actually look forward to riding her again!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Light Your Way Out of Disaster!

Disaster preparedness is something that has been on my mind for some time now. Toronto is one of the most stable areas of the world to live in, but hey… you never know! For those of you who remember, there was the Great Blackout of 2003 when most of the North Eastern North American continent was without power for a few days. And just recently, Toronto had a freak rainstorm that resulted in some severe flooding and no power for several days in some parts of the city.

I’ll admit that I also have a bit of a fascination with post-apocalyptic settings and there is some influence there… Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared! There may come a day when you’re clamouring to join me for a meal of freeze dried mac and cheese. Then we’ll see who’s laughing!…

Anyways, so I have decided to prepare for an emergency disaster and will document the progress of what I will be calling “Operation: Armageddon Outta Here”.  Hopefully there will be regular updates, because that means the next time disaster strikes, I’ll be ready.

First order of business is light. For that, I am prepared with an arsenal of flashlights and batteries.

As you can see, not only do I have several flashlights available, I also have several types of flashlights. From left to right:

- LED headlamp with red light. This is very handy for when you need both hands. Also, the red light feature is nice because it lights up the area in front of you enough for you to see, but it won’t blind you and reduce your night vision too much

- This neat flashlight was gifted to me by Deb. Why is it neat you ask? Because it doesn’t need batteries! You just shake it and it’s good to go. Very handy for longer blackout periods as the batteries run out

- The mag lights. Big one to light up the way and smash things if necessary. Small ones are just convenient and easy to carry.

I have these stored away in two separate locations that I can reach easily so that if the power does go out, I don’t have to go look for them.

It’s not like I’m afraid of the dark, but I’m sure everyone has been in a blackout before and it really sucks to stub your toe and bang your knee on things you can’t see – basically it’s hard to do anything without light. So go get a flashlight or three if you don’t have them already and make sure you have spare batteries for them or, better yet, get a flashlight that doesn’t need batteries!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lesson #42: Dr. Smedley says...

"The greater the obstacle, the greater glory we have in overcoming it."
This was such an apt quote I found in my Toastmasters Magazine today. I've been doing Toastmasters for a long while now and I know that whatever you do, you can translate those soft skills onto other things in your life. I am by no means a glowing speaker but I continue to work on improving my skills; much like riding.

Sunday is my biweekly lesson and I was paired with Trinket again. The weather is nice so I figured I'd go in a tank top over my breeches. This was a big mistake, I realize that evening, after taking a shower... but let's get back to the topic at hand.

This is a large class today... with 6 students for Lenka to instruct. And she did great. We had some beginners, a newbie and some more advanced riders so it was a smorgasbord of levels. I do enjoy riding earlier in the morning but since HH and his buddy prefer to make it there a bit later, we've switched to 11am. Trinket is raring to go it seems to I quickly get her put together to get tacked and helped HH's friend Ty bring in Nikki.

I kind of like full classes because the barn (technically stable) is buzzing with people and everything is busy. When we get out there, we start with posting trot and keep going and going and switch things up with seated trot and changed directions. I try to keep Trinket entertained with random circles in the ring so we both work on turning and such. I notice she much prefers foot aids as opposed to rein aids so I remember to use my feet before getting into my hands.

Since Sheri last described the very complicated leg position, I have been consistently working hard to be conscious of what I'm going with my legs while in the saddle. It is hard work and I still can't seem to get it right because I move one section and the other opens up and if I close that section, the other flaps open. It's incredibly frustrating!

We add in some stride exercises over ground poles and work on position through 2-point and seated trot. Not exactly my idea of fun but a useful exercise nonetheless.
I relate to Lenka about my concerns with Trinket and the latest experience I've had on her. Even Lenka mentions that Trinket's canter is a challenge to ride because of her floppy, the higher bounce and the heavy forehand. I tell her that I'll try it anyways since I seemed successful on Friday and that as long as it was in short bursts. Let me tell you, it was a messy section of the lesson. She got into her fast pony trot and went the whole perimeter for several tries. It didn't matter what I did but the pony trot disassembled my seat time and again and I was pitching forward and jossling around and even getting tired enough to want to grab the saddle. It was NOT pretty. Though, Lenka mentioned that it's likely even she'd have difficulty looking graceful on Trinket and that Trinket's normal rider works hard to keep it together.

I got a few canter strides in every now and again and there was one final successful loop when something just clicked and we got together and were able to go the lap. The only thing is that I still tense up and things get a little messy and I'm just not in my seat anymore. I've got a trick to work on that but I'm going to try it out several weeks before I post about it--if it's successful. Hopefully my consistent hard work will pay off... but like many things: persistence, consistency & discipline, determination and reflection are necessary for me to taste my grand glory.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I'm Allergic to... Nature?

I was working out in the garden this weekend. Mostly propping up my very fertile bean plants and trimming back my perilla leaf plants. It's been quite warm and I've started working in the mid-mornings to stay cool. As it was coming to 11am, I decided to head in since the heat was starting to become bothersome enough.

When I got inside, I was scratching and itching on my forearms. I noticed that the same thing happened last year when I was working with the tomato plants. I think the tomato plants gave me a far worse rash but this one from beans was pretty bad too. I was curious if there was something that caused the rash because I'm generally not allergic to much of anything. However, I have a history of skin sensitivities to wool and now, I know, to certain garden plants!

I found this article which explains plainly, what happened to me: allergic contact dermatitis. It's good to know that I probably won't die from this but that I might need to get me a pair of sleeves to work in the garden with or just suck it up and tolerate it seeing as it doesn't last too long and I'm good as new in a few hours.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lesson 41: Level Up a la Super Mario

The heat wave finally broke on Friday. But it didn't go without a good fight. If you were in the city or in the surrounding areas of Southern Ontario, you'll have endured tornado watches/warnings and severe thunderstorms. This thorough process of putting out warnings and being more conservative with the information was likely in response to the last flash flooding we got from an unexpected amount of rain. Last time, I was left in the dark for a few days and many others experienced flooding damage in their homes.

This time, as we were on our way out (without knowing if we were okay to go for certain), the sky over the city was changing from blue to grey. It was only 6pm but the sun had already been blocked out by the clouds and it looked more like 9pm. I get an email from my mom titled "hail... has arrived". We head out quickly so that we don't get caught in anything like golf ball sized hail. Strangely, the more west we went, the less armageddon cloud cover there was. Eventually, the skies cleared up enough that we felt like we started in one far away place and ended up in another. It was surreal.

It's a semi-private lesson because NR and Kent are away so the lesson was shorter. I was assigned Trinket and ADW was assigned Rock. Trinket is a pony sized Bay Thoroughbred with a sweet demeanor and Rock is (as the name suggests) a heavy half draft horse cross who's as big as he sounds; not so much tall as fat :)

Trinket is notorious for having a heavy forehand when she canters and I've seen her take a little girl for a wild ride around the ring when she's cantering and racing around. It can be pretty scary because if you let her, she'll pull you right forward and down. I don't know why that is the case but I was prepared because Sheri had told me already. This lesson turned out to be a "fun lesson" as for both of us, these were horses that were very new to us and Trinket is considered a more advanced horse to ride. So, we worked on just getting used to things and doing circles and loops and the different gaits. This was not one of my more graceful lessons and my positions were really all over the place; but the point was to get familiar with these horses and the way they move and are.

When we arrived at the moment that the canter was a possibility, I took the opportunity to do it and just go. I figured that since she's a Thoroughbred, she should be pretty zippy and eager to get into a higher gait. I was half wrong. We did the fast pony trot for half the ring before getting into the canter. And, this includes me falling all over the place when asking for the canter and just being a general mess atop the saddle.

A few times, the pony trot made me tired and I actually realized I wanted to grab the saddle because I was tired of trying to balance and stay strong. My legs were all over the place too and I even lost my stirrup during one attempt. In addition to that, my hands were god knows where (not in that context! :P) and my eyes were down. This didn't help.

Despite all this, I persisted as did she and we got into a few short burst canters around and that was good enough for me! I was getting a better feel for her movements and the balance required to stay with her. I hope to ride her again and work on my seat with her because she is challenging me in other ways.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Review: The Big Short

I finally committed to picking-up a book I had started over a year ago... and actually finish reading it. And let me tell you, I was totally missing out by putting it off for so long! I'm going to follow Amber on her path with book reviews and put out my personal review of The Big Short, by Michael Lewis.

I had wanted to read The Big Short for several reasons. It is touted as being a relatively thorough look at the financial crisis that transpired in 2008 and I have a penchant for non-fiction social & cultural study genre books. It helps that I am within this large and complex realm of finance so none of it was too far a stretch of what I've experienced myself.

Lewis pieces together the story of the financial crash through the key characters who had a hand in creating the big opaque machine of credit default swaps (CDS) and collateralized debit obligations (CDO). He gets into the moving parts of the "machine" that created the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and writes about the major financial institutions that were involved and the actual people behind the creation and exploitation. He takes these bigger than life characters of this financial system and basically removes the often intimidating exterior of these people and makes them relatable and... human. The reader really gets into their heads through context to their (often) hilarious personalities and backgrounds, thereby getting a better picture of the reasons why they did what they did.

Lewis excels at humourously portraying not only incidents and characters but is able to look critically and plainly at a situation and stating it without pretension. And you'll know this is true when you find yourself chuckling in public at the paragraph you just read. You're drawn into the world while he does this and the read goes by quickly even if you don't understand every single word he's said. He formulates the book in a manner that is relatively easy for the average reader to follow; seeing as even the financial institutions and rating agencies (like Moody's), who should have known about what was going on, didn't. Lewis has quite the way of aptly describing the core of what the subprime mortgages are and the intricate system that was woven by those players.

He is able to keep the interest of a reader like myself through all the jargon, numbers and complexity by turning the real life men (and women) into caricatures--often emphasizing the quarks and nuances of these people and piecing together the various events which led to the collapse of the subprime mortgage-backed CDOs.

The Big Short isn't a story of good guys or bad guys but about the inherent greed and immorality that the financial system allowed and evolved into during the 1980s boom to bring about the situation that came to a cumulative peak in September 2008. It's essentially a story about people and the tragic consequences of their actions.

NOTE: highly recommend also reading Liar's Poker.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Earthy Updates

I haven't written about my little wormy friends in a while now. Seems appropriate time for a quick update! I've moved the worm bucket outdoors at Captain Obvious' suggestion (worms creep her right out) and I've moved them to a shaded area in the car port away from sun. I have to admit, with my summer schedule in full swing, I have less and less time to regularly monitor the bin. So, I end up periodically going in there. They're not thriving, let me tell you. But, they're not dead either. Some baby worms are being born but I'm not "swimming" in the wormies.

I have been loosely monitoring what I put in there and seeing what's eaten quickly and what sticks around for a while. Here are some things I've noticed about my worm bin:
  1. Peels are eaten at a much slower rate. And it makes sense since skins are meant to protect the fruit/plant from the outside
  2. Root vegetables are not the favourite food of worms
  3. Worms love leafy vegetables
  4. There is no such thing as having too much newspaper bedding because they'll happily go through it quickly for you
  5. If it's too damp, add dry shredded news paper and close the top--the moisture is absorbed by the dry paper
  6. Regular feeding is preferred but you can easily overdo it if you're not careful
  7. Daily feeding isn' really necessary and if you have a pile every few days, that's really ok
  8. Chop up what you have--especially if it's fibrey. The worms seem to have a better time when things are in smaller pieces
Possibly things people already know but I'm still learning about what's acceptable to put in there and what isn't so it's all still new to me! At least I didn't kill them this time so I'm in good shape. I'll need to check in about egg shells because I was putting them in whole but I read that worms need some "grit" to help them digest their food and that egg shells are really only good if they are added in a fine powder. Who has the time for that?! I've done it before but it's rather time consuming.

My next major goal with this project is to increase the population of worms so that I can dig my hands in and pull out actual worm castings and worms. Right now, I'm still getting recognizable pieces.

Lesson #40: Inner Thighs Burning

Friday's lesson started out as most do: with some trot warm-ups. I had my new crop in hand from Greenhawk and was ready to really get things going. Last time I rode Aspen, we seemed to connect well and when I asked him to do something, he got right along. Last time, I remembered to bring a crop with me right away and was firm with what I wanted and if leg aids didn't work, it was straight to the crop. I do tend to be less forceful and perhaps consistent with what I want but I was determined that this time, I would go full out and be firm with him because the previous Sunday's lesson was me on Nikki and we were going pretty well because I decided to be firm with her and use the crop right from the instance I felt she wasn't listening to me.

So, Aspen was speeding around and I was in good condition too! And today was one of those evenings where I didn't pay enough attention to the posting diagonals and Sheri caught me time and again--DRAT! It's not that I don't know what a diagonal is... but that I wasn't paying enough attention to check to be sure I was doing it right everytime.

When my mom rode during the Mother's Day ride, she told me that she wasn't used to the "rocking side to side" that the horse's body did when they walked. And when we cool down with bareback, we get a feeling for the way their bodies move underneath us. When I was on the incorrect diagonal, I took notice of how I was feeling... and it felt like I was being bounced off the saddle each time I sat in the seat and like I was being bounced right out when I was rising. However, when I switched to the correct diagonal, this feeling went away. Now, it's the first time I've noticed this so perhaps it's just me but I'm going to check it out during our next trot to see if this is that "feeling" that Sheri was saying that you can learn to develop eventually.

Sheri gives each of us some individual attention to help us further refine our leg position. She shows us the proper leg position while riding to give us an idea of what we should be aiming for. She tells us that there is good firm contact of inner thigh to the flap of the saddle and firm contact with our half chaps against their bodies with ankles relaxed yet strong (?) and so the weight can be dropped down through there. None of this "grip" should be death grip and it is a nice firm placement on these areas mentioned--like enough to hold a bill in place and not suffocate our equine friend. It is possibly the most unusual position I have ever felt. When we walk, stand or even sit, we never get into this position; it just doesn't happen. So, to work on this position while developing the proper inner thigh muscles (and others), it's and incredible amount of hard work! If anyone tells me that riding a horse is easy, I would laugh at them and tell them to get on a horse and show me what they got.

In addition to this, the few lessons with Lenka have been helping me improve my seat and thus work on improving my classical seat. Sheri has commented that my heels look better and thus my weight distribution is getting better and balance is a touch easier. The funny thing is that it feels like I'm actually leaning forward when I get myself better into this position. But I'm told that I don't appear to be in a bizarre alignment so I'll take that!

We finish up the last part of the lesson working on canter and cavaletti jumps. It's great that the sand is dry so I don't feel like the horse is sliding around. Aspen and I are also able to get into the canter from walk now so it only takes a couple strides before he's in full canter and we can dash around the arena. In this case, taking the jump on the proper angle is important. It's kind of like turning a car in that if you turn too early, you might end up on the curb and if you turn too late, you've missed your lane entirely! And, Aspen is sensitive to the amount of pressure I put on his mouth to turn so it doesn't take much and I have to remember to look when I want to turn so he's prepared for it too.

I'd say that the area I'm going to focus on is proper leg position since it's just so unusual but so key to being properly seated on the horse.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wearing My Flood Pants

It's been an interesting two days. We had a black swan event with the crazy downpour on Monday evening and my area still doesn't have power. The food in the fridge is likely on the verge of being a bio-hazard and I complete this post through my blackberry.

To keep things upbeat, positive and somehow fitting to the theme of being under water (though Torontonians generally had a walk in the park compared with their Calgarian counterparts): I present my first on-screen debut as an audience member of the Marilyn Denis Show: and search for the July 8th episode (doing this on my Blackberry has serious limitations)

Have fun and stay dry!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lesson #39: Alignment and Balance

The weather's been all over the map lately and today's no different. The weather network told me that it's supposed to thunder shower all over the place but that didn't happen. ADW and I get to Greyden to ride today--me for my biweekly and ADW to make up his Friday lesson. I'm scheduled to ride Nikki and I have the usual reservations because the last few times I rode Nikki, I was quite frustrated; she would do a pony trot when getting into canter and also had this intense desire disregard my commands. I am determined to overcome the dread that I get when I ride this little pony that innocently destroys my confidence. I told myself, today is going to be different because I'm going to go in there with the right attitude and be firm with her.

When we arrive, I find Nikki in one of the paddocks with the other small pony, Honey (she's so cute! and sounds like a sheep) and I wade through the muck to get to her while she just chews. No, not come over to me... not at all... standing there and watching me while eating. LOL. Go figure with these animals ;)

In addition to ADW and I, my buddy Han came out to ride today as his first lesson to learn to ride. He just had a major dragon boat regatta yesterday and is probably feeling pretty tired today. He's riding Aspen.

Nikki is mucky and dirty so after sponging the muck off, I continue to squeegee the excess water off and prepare for tack up. Since the weather is kind of unpredictable, we plan to ride indoors. The indoor ring is substantially smaller than the outdoor one but at least it's dry. Lenka has us warm up with the usual trot... posting to start and moving to seated trot. Today's seated trot is a little more comfortable than usual. I focus on deepening the seat and maintaining the weight in the heels. I recall some of the things that we did last time and I remind myself about my heel alignment and overall "classical seat".

To work on balance and proper seat position, we are given a simple exercise (during trot) of rising 2 beats and sitting 2 beats. Let me tell you... it's tough! The pivotal balance points are so fine that if you literally are out of alignment for just a bit, nothing works! I try to remember to look up and forward as well as putting the weight into my heels. One of the bigger challenges for me, in the indoor ring is keeping my eyes up and forward because there is really nothing to look at except the wall.

To continue on proper alignment and thus balance, the next exercise we get into is one where we combine the half seat position and 2-point while riding over trot poles. This is tough to do too! A half seat is new to me but it is essentially when your back bum bones are out of the saddle with light contact of the pelvis (need further clarity about this since I think I might have missed a nuance or two). 2-point is all about balance so it's tough to do for a long while especially if you don't get the alignment just right.

We work into the canter next and I do have some reservations about the fast pony trot that I've experienced in the past. We go from walk to trot to canter. I wonder if Nikki is capable of skipping trot because I think Indy and a few of the other horses might be able to do so. Anyways, today's canter is going really well!! I have to say, the several times we had the opportunity to take off into the canter, Nikki's been quick and I don't have to kick (and scream inside) and add enthusiastic use of the crop. In fact, I didn't use a lot of crop today at all. Even to get her started, I just lightly nudge her through my lower leg and add some verbal encouragement and off she goes. I'm very pleased with her today.

The last exercise we do is canter half the ring and then trot for one letter and come to a full halt. The slowing down transition is tough because it requires me to sit back and I have a tendency to pitch forward--thereby pushing her to continue to move forward. I try to remember to sit back and tall because it also means there's less of "potato sack Deb" up there.

The major "issue" I encountered with Nikki today was in canter when we were making a specific turn where she was cutting the corner. Lenka pointed out that I tend to drop my shoulder which then gets Nikki off balance and she drops her shoulder and then we end up cutting a corner and leave Deb a hot mess (literally). We try several times to correct this and during one turn, she does a deek and I almost fall off. Big exasperated and embarrassed -_______-' . We try for another correction and go back around and she reminds me to sit up straight with chest open shoulders back with a reminder for her to keep left of the pylons.

Success :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lesson #38: Envision It

Finally. It's the weekend. We made it!

I thought it was going to rain during lesson but the weather was wonderful--despite being a little humid for my liking. I'm happy to see I'm riding my unicorn friend, Aspen! WOOPIE!! He's inside today so I go and find him. When I see him, I call for him and he looks up; but doesn't budge from his stance--as if to say "aw man... crud". The tack-up goes well and we get ready to head out in a good easy pace. Did I mention I'm super excited to be riding Aspen? This horse is truly the bee's knees and cat's pajamas.

This is one of the first tastes of humidity and riding... I hate humidity. I think I was sweating through my breeches. Gross. ADW is sick today so it's just 3 of us and we make our way over to the ring to get our lesson started.

Sheri gets us warmed up through the usual trot. I find that this is most helpful not just for the horse who might be just coming back from doing nothing but for a rider like me: who doesn't ride often and this time is generally used to loosen things up and get into the right rhythm. Tonight even Denise is out to hang out with us and I think it's nice to have company/an audience. The sand is wet so I'm not exactly keen on the idea of running around on a horse but heck, if they say it's ok, I'm going to just go with it. Afterall, it's time to make the most of my lesson.

Posting trot and lots tonnes (not tons) of seated trot. I still loathe seated trot. It's one of those moments when I go
Did you say... seated trot? -___-'

But, that's okay because developing a good seat is fundamental to pretty much everything else. So, I persist! And since it's on Aspen, things are generally more comfortable. We do a lot of this funfun seated trot and move into some canter too. I love cantering on Aspen. Sheri has us do some walk to canter and back to walk transitions. I am falling all over the place during transitions. I bet if I had to do equitation, I would fail miserably. I do notice though, that when I sit straight and chest up and out as well as shoulders back, things aren't as "messy". It's a matter of endurance and training those muscles to persist the position.

My position is pretty poor and I notice that when my position starts to suffer, everything else kind of cumulatively goes with it. So, things to keep in mind when I'm riding, in terms of position: arms at my sides with the hands approximately 6 inches apart, heels DOWN, sit up straight with chest open and shoulders back and down, hips loose, "tripod" seat position, eyes where you're going. All of this while maintaining a relaxed body. Sheri points out that at the level we are getting at, we should be using our lower leg to encourage the horse to move instead of our heels--this makes total sense!!! When I was giving canter aids before, one of my feet always lifted up out of the stirrup until I wasn't in anymore! It was so frustrating. Then again, I've learned to take back my stirrups while cantering or adjusting the stirrup during a fast gait--mainly because I'm forced to do so...

K, so I find that when I ride Aspen a few of the above items come together a bit better than the others but to get them to all simultaneously come together? That comes and goes. I'm aiming to have it all together... I've developed a few mantras I use when I ride and mumble them to myself when I'm losing focus. It's something I used to do when I dragon boated so I could prep before a major race. Actually, maybe I should try that during lessons... to focus on what needs to be done and envision what I should be doing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Iceland Video Recap 1

If you've followed my journey to Iceland, you've read that I was planning to create a video to help everyone get a better understanding of what ADW and I did and how Iceland is actually like. I suppose you could say it puts context to the hundreds of photos and videos taken. I've been busy but I finally found the time to learn some basics of Apple's iMovie application.

So, without further ado, I present my first attempt at creating a non-fiction cinematic short:

Music: Of Monsters and Men, Mountain Sound


EDIT: this is the first of a series I will be creating! This is actually a lot of fun and the first time, I spent several hours on it when I should have been sleeping...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Long Weekend Show


Who else is as unfocused as I was this morning? Heck, forget morning; try all day long. This is so typical of a long weekend, eh? I was so “relaxed” that I forgot that I meant to post about my trip out to Teen Ranch with ADW and his young cousins. One of the cousins is a young girl who is very much into horses and I’ve hoped I would get the opportunity to take her to visit a horse show and that’s what we did this Sunday morning.

We got out to Caledon to see the Teen Ranch show and it was such a neat sight! We arrived onto this huge complex with a hockey arena and horse rings. There were horses of all colours and sizes all over the place. Definitely different than when I checked out the in-house show and the Caledon Equestrian Park.

Since I'm still in mega lazy mode, I"ll post a photo instead ;)

Rock & Catherine