Monday, June 30, 2014

Lesson #109 & #110: The Downsides of Summer

Another double blog instalment! Last Thursday, I didn't have a formal lesson and instead, went out on a hack with J and G. It's fly season in Ontario, everybody. I didn't realize that or at least didn't realize how bad it could be. My past experiences with the bush and flies was fairly limited to a small facility and we never went out on hacks. The horses there were typical schoolies and were used in many lessons a week so someone else was usually first at getting them fly sprayed etc. Since moving to Gosling Stables, that has changed and there are so many more opportunities to learn about caring for the horse and what exactly is involved from a rider. The facility (in terms of number of students/boarders going through) is much smaller and more of a family atmosphere so riders have many more opportunities to "get your hands dirty" and do it all.

Getting back to the ride... I didn't realize what a challenge it might be, with a sensitive bossy-pants like Ariel sans fly spray (newbie mistake!). I didn't realize it right away but as soon as we entered the bush, Ariel lost her sh*t. She was bunny hopping and stomping her feet, shaking her head and telling me she wanted to just go home (sounds a little like what I'd do...). It made for a frustrating, nerve-wrecking first part of the ride and I was really not having a good time because it's impossible to out-muscle a +900lbs animal that had her thoughts centered on NOT being itchy. Challenge accepted, Ariel. I was determined to get through this hack without losing my cool or tumbling off, again. I had to be reminded to keep my heels down when Ariel was yanking her head down and trying to scratch against anything she could. Eventually, we came to a semi-mutual understanding where I compromised and let her walk through the tall grasses when we could, but did remind her that we're going my way whether she likes it or not. It was a challenging hack because I had more focus on trying to maintain my butt in the saddle and also keeping Miss Ariel's mind off being so darned itchy. To try and alleviate the itching for her, whenever I saw a bug land on her neck, shoulders or rump, I was killing these critters. When we did emerge from the bush, both Ariel and I were covered in spots of blood where I killed the bugs and both itching like we took a liberal tumble through a patch of poison ivy.

I have not since stopped itching and there are red welts and my knees look chewed up. By Sunday, I was determined to get fly spray and not head back on a hack until we were both generously coated with fly spray. But, bugs weren't the problem, come Sunday... the heat and humidity was thick and I was sticking to EVERYTHING I had on, and Ariel was taking a nap in the cross-ties during tack-up. When K, +ADW and I entered the ring (thank heavens we weren't riding outside...), the three of us were just standing there with our horses looking like the lesson had just ended. LOL. Not only were the horses ready to call it a day, but we were already drenched in our own sweat!

Getting started was tough for everyone... the horses weren't the only ones who didn't feel like working. The warm-up was practically not necessary with the heat lingering in the air which was actually a good thing because we quickly moved into the canter. Ariel is falling in on the right rein even though I was using as much inside leg as humanly possible! I think I'll try a "pulsing action" with my leg instead so that she doesn't have the opportunity to lean on my leg while I'm trying to get her to straighten up, and even MORE prep time before getting into corners. This was a rather fruitful lesson because next, I'm told to canter into the vertical jump and just ride it through again and again... it was the perfect height of low intimidation so I wasn't cursing while riding into the fence. I managed two very successful rides over the jump even with a crappy turn in and a shorting of the end of the line. I was very pleased with myself and realized that at a canter, everything comes sooner! You have little time to think about what's coming up next and just have to react. It was exactly as I needed. Next, we get into the simple changes again... and let me tell you, it was a miserable mess for all three of us. The horses were taking short corners and the nice plump 8 turned into a very skinny linear looking 8. So, gears down and we trotted the pattern instead. Hopefully by next lesson, that figure will look as intended and at the canter.

I finally made the effort to download a photo (not mine) of Ariel for those who are curious about this sassy little mare that has been teaching me so much about patience, listening, communicating clearly and just learning about horses and riding.

Ariel sussing you out.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lesson #107 & #108: PPE-R with Miss Bossy-Pants

I really enjoy having two lessons a week (and I'd like even more, to be able to ride more frequently *hint hint*) but how could I possibly keep up with all the blogging? This post alone is detailing the accounts of two lessons because I forgot about posting Thursday's lesson. Getting right into it...

Thursday's lesson was focused on jumping. I tend to do a lot of jumping when G rides. It makes sense since she's been riding for well over 5 years and that's her main focus. So, today's eventual aim was a small course of X's at a controlled pace. G's horse, Molson, (the same one that +ADW rides too) likes to rush his fences and Ariel speeds up and just "wants me to shut up, sit there and let her do her thing". We started in pieces with a single jump first at the trot, then cantering out and coming back. Then we proceeded to add one jump after another where we would canter out and trot in until we finally have 4 jumps set-up throughout the arena.

The rides in and out continue to be issues for me to get Ariel listening to what I want and once, she almost threw me because I wasn't looking where I wanted to go and she insisted on going the other way and I wasn't prepared. I was fortunate that I didn't land on my butt. My 2-point was also lacking some where I would occasionally jump before Ariel or got left behind. It's as if I have to stop anticipating the jump and just let things happen... it's what Sheri said to us before... "...a jump is just another stride. Don't think about it as anything else." When I don't, I over-think and the anticipation interferes with my position. I need to work on my ride out to ensure that Ariel listens to me and doesn't get any of her bossy-pants ideas about what SHOULD be done. I'm reminded that I should be the boss and whatever I want, I get. A tough lesson to think about because she's mostly good but there are occasions where I let her do the thinking and that's exactly when we get into trouble. It's kind of like when you and your partner both are doing something and say nothing about the next steps but expect the other to know and when it doesn't go as you (and they) anticipated, then things get messy because you're trying to fix the incorrect outcome.

That was just Thursday's lesson and now we talk about today's lesson... I went in reminding myself that I am boss and what I want, I get Ariel to do for us. So, while she was falling in on some corners, I take the next return round to ask her to do exactly as I wanted. I went into this lesson thinking, every movement is an opportunity to reinforce what I want her to do. Plan, prepare, execute and sometimes reinforce (PPE-R). I notice that the lesson started out a bit messy but each time I took to PPE-R with Ariel meant more success the next turn and she was indeed, listening to me. We still disagreed some--especially at the more complicated exercise but she was doing as I asked and control was regained on my part.

The exercise we did today was a continuation of the simple changes we were doing last week and the objective was to have them do a couple trot steps over the trot poles places on the diagonal and the simple change would be executed. My transitions were pretty good today because I managed to set Ariel up for the canter transition up and the only problem was that she was getting snarky about falling in or cutting corners so I had to remember to remind her to do the correct action (e.g. staying straight instead of falling in). It was certainly a tough lesson but I realized one thing: I have to employ my process of PPE-R at all times and anticipate when Ariel might try and do something tricksy so I could appropriately act with "R" before she got her way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lesson #106: Horse on Top

This post is a bit late so I'm not sure what exactly I recall from the lesson. What I remember is that we have to get to the stable earlier still. We rode in the outdoor arena our goal for the lesson was simple changes on the diagonal this time. Last time we were doing them on a figure 8 so there was a corner to use to get out. That helps the horse to pick up the correct diagonal because they are already bending the direction they need to be. But, with a diagonal, it's a straight away because the objective is to take 2-3 strides in the middle and then re-initiate the canter as you are coming into the corner. I had trouble last time so it wasn't encouraging that I'd be able to do what's necessary this time either.

And surprise! (not really) I had difficulty getting this exercise done as outlined. Ariel was being her usual "know it all" self and was doing auto lead changes instead of slowing to a trot over the arena diagonal... *siiigh* It got to the point where we had to walk across the diagonal and then pick up the canter coming out of the corner. Ugh, I was so frustrated though... because not only was I struggling with the exercise, but initiating the canter with her on the right rein was not going well at all! I was apparently not giving the appropriate aids and we were falling all over the place. I'm not surprised because she was really screwing around with me up there!!! She actually made it difficult for me to get set-up properly!

All in all, I managed to get the diagonal part right but the rest of it was a mess. I have to take even more control of Ariel because she keeps taking control of the situation and insisting on her way.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lesson #105: Bareback Double Time

I took a half day Thursday to get some bridal related things done and to vote for the new provincial leader of Ontario. It was really productive and I got to the stable early too.

When I got in, Sheri said "guess what you'll be doing today!.... Riding bareback!" haha I wasn't sure if that was going to be a good thing or not b/c the last times I've ridden bareback, I remember being rather uncomfortable in terms of the withers being um... in the way. But, lucky for me that Ariel doesn't really have much withers so it's a little easier to ride. That said though, I saw the student who part-boards Ariel and she was cantering circles and jumping cavalettis on bareback like it wasn't a problem at all. I really wasn't sure that I would be able to accomplish much of anything close to that.

Sheri points out that this should help with my crazy right side that falls in and does all sorts of uneven things because let's face it, Ariel hates my crazy right side. When we got on, I found my seat and Sheri pointed out that all her Trillium competing students are required to jump an entire course bareback before she would allow them to compete at that level. Needless to say, I'm way far from it and I doubt I'll be even remotely close to getting there. It's okay though, we start at the beginning and take the baby steps and see what I am able to do.

I'm asked to just walk around and loosen my hips to the motion of Ariel's back. At first, Sheri says she sees no movement at all in my hips or lower back; she tells me to loosen up and just breathe and relax. I feel my hips tip side to side and I feel like I need to push my heels down but Sheri tells me just to sit deep and let my legs dangle. She says that while my hips are tipping side to side, it isn't the action I'm looking for: my hips actually should travel like walking feet. Each hip should "take a step" forward with Ariel. Sheri tells me to swing my legs in tandem with Ariel's front legs as if I'm walking the same pace as Ariel. I feel a little silly, I admit but continue to do as she asks (all at the walk still). Next, she tells me that my hips should eventually flow in that manner because that's what Ariel's body is doing. In essence, the objective is to ultimately have your seat mould to the horse's back and motions.

I struggle a good portion of the start of class just at the walk, to get what she's taking about. I don't know how she might have seen it but at one point, she asks me to move into the sitting trot while letting my legs swing back and forth with my hips 'taking those steps'. I seriously am starting to wonder if my body is even capable of doing that.

I'm reminded to grab Ariel's mane if I feel unbalanced or nervous so that I don't tumble off. The first little while, I have no idea what is expected of me (still) and we do short bursts of the sitting trot and I just bounce up and down and when I lose balance, I clamp down with my knees--not what we want. She continues to remind me to let my hips loose and to sit tall and let me legs dangle downwards while just going with it.

During one of the bursts, my body manages to let go (somehow!) and my legs are doing exactly what Sheri was telling me to do! Literally, my mind is going "okay, breathe, relax and sit up tall... okay... wait! I think it's happening!!" When I stop, I see Sheri smiling and she says "you got it!!" I was so stoaked when I realized that I was capable of doing this task! Now, on the right side too... this became more challenging at the get go because both Ariel and myself have trouble on the right side. For me, I know it's because my right seat bone doesn't drop enough so I have to make an extra effort to drop that right bone even more than usual. It definitely feels weird but eventually, it too comes together and I manage to get the right motion with my hips! :)

This is certainly a challenging endeavour but the best part is that I think my right hip actually stretched open enough and dropped a bit because the tightness I've been feeling lately has eased up considerably and I don't feel that tightness in my side, front and back! What an awesome thing to do... take a lesson and a massage simultaneously :P

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

REPOST: Contest: Two Horse Tack bridle giveaway

Hello readers! A fellow blogger has a contest running on her blog, for a Two Horse Tack Bridle!! I've never used their stuff but it sure sounds like it's durable and long lasting. Plus, I <3 +Laura because I feel like we're learning together, even though we're on opposite ends of our vast country :)

How do you enter?
You just need to leave a comment and enter through the widget.

Good luck!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lesson #104: Take the Horse by the Reins

We worked on flat work exercises that were TOUGH. After our usual warm-up, we get right into cantering large and on both leads.

Our first exercise is trot poles down the middle of the arena, long-wise. They start out all the same distance and our objectives remain: straight down the middle, one step per spacing and even pacing all the way around. So far, things are much more composed than they have been lately. The trot is flowing, Ariel is relaxed and our corners are good and deep. She's even bending ever so slightly and listening to what is being asked of her.

Next, the poles become gradually further apart so we start collected and gradually extend the trot stride as we move forward. Still pretty good... I'm starting to feel good about things and perhaps, loosening my "iron first" of being really specific about my directions. She's getting it, for the most part but I can feel that she's intermittently inserting her opinion when we do things.

Our next and final exercise of the lesson... a type of figure 8 where we work up to the simple change in canter. The trot poles at the center tell us we have to trot the middle so that the simple change is done. Simple change? It's basically a lead change of the leading foot of a canter. We trot into the middle and exit with a canter at the moment we turn and canter around and back towards the center again to drop into the trot over the poles and again, exit the opposite turn with a canter. Ariel doesn't like letting me look good... we're a mess getting started and she rushes the poles and the canter transition is NOT smooth. She even tries to canter over the poles in the middle a couple times. I know, major face palm!! I just work on gaining control of what I want from her and we aim not to rush the poles even if that means I'm pulling on her face to slow down, and the canter depart is a bit better a few times.

It's nice that we get to go for a cool out around the field and back so that we can clear our heads a bit before returning to the stable to un-tack and head out for lunch. It's probably what I needed since it gave me the opportunity to lead our ride (though only at the walk) and I felt Ariel seemed more comfortable with a rider who has direction and purpose.

As an analysis of what's been happening lately and this specific lesson, I'd say that since that fall, things haven't been quite right. Some of it is attributed to the injuries that have started to invade into my physicality of riding (I'm seeing the sports med doc again on Friday for a follow up to determine the next course of action) and the rest (majority) are on the fact that I can't seem to mentally get myself pulled together enough with Ariel. I have to plan all the steps better, and continually tell her what we are doing next. It isn't that she's trying to be unruly, but without specific direction from her rider, she doesn't know what is desired of her and she starts doing things that she wants to do. Then that leads to my own frustration because "I don't know what she is doing" and she starts ignoring me and we both become frustrated. It means more concentration and focus from me, on all my lessons and planning during the lesson and outside.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Review: 5 Love Languages

Here's another book that I didn't pick up intentionally by my own accord. This book was most recently recommended me by a friend when I was frustrated when communicating with my dad. My friend recommended me that I take a gander at 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman to better understand what "love" needs people have on an emotional level. He's not the first one to recommend this book... a university room-mate made the same recommendation and I dismissed it as being some hippie-dippy stuff that is probably a waste of money and time. But, I've become a lot less picky about this sort of thing and hence, more open-minded (but the scientist in me hasn't disappeared and I still go in with a critical eye--and my own preconceived notions about "love").

First, when I went to look for it at the library, I had to wait several months until a copy was available for me. Here's the stats about how popular it is... there are 18 copies in the Toronto Public Library (TPL) system and there are well over 100 holds currently and borrowing a book is generally done in 3 week blocks. I was surprised, but I could wait since it wasn't a read that I was super excited about.

When I finally received the email that it had come in, I was a bit reluctant to go and pick it up. Then, when I got it, I was surprised about how small the book actually is. It's under 200 pages and a chunk of those are the quizzes to help readers assess their own primary "love language". I finished the book in 3 days.

Now, for some explanation... I am getting married this September and before everyone gets images of green meadows, rainbows and bunny rabbits, I'd like to clarify that I'm the furthest from being "lovey dovey". I just want to get this party over with so I can get on with my life. I dove into the book and Mr. Chapman starts going on about married couples and all that marriage counselling stuff; I was really put off. I thought, "ugh, is this going to be bunch of emotionally driven jargon that is going to tell me to talk about my feelings and turn me into a blubbering (I apologize in advance...) lady mess?" Because I really needed that. But, cynicism aside, I found the book insightful and powerful.

Getting past the fluffy marriage stuff and "in-love" thing, I was able to distil the central message of the book: there are 5 primary love languages (with different dialects) and each individual (and perhaps animals?), adult or child, has a basic emotional need to feel loved, wanted and appreciated. These principals are not only applicable for the married couple alone, but for all people. You learn that the information he's presenting is applicable for everyone for all relationships. Chapman also has written variations of what this book talks about... there is even a "men's edition" for those finicky husbands who think that this "hippie-dippy" stuff is below them. I haven't read it so I'm not sure how different it is but I do know that the typical man thinks and perceives things differently. In addition, there are variations of this concept but properly accommodated for the different relationships that exist... like parent-child, single person, employee-employer.

In terms of execution of the book... I love that it's short and concise. It's also simply written with examples of people and at the end of each chapter, an activity for the reader to reflect and think. In addition, there are directions about activities one can try, based on that chapter. It's like a workbook too. You're probably also wondering... how do I assess my own love language? There's two profiles in the back of the book (one for wives and another for husbands) and you can go online to do the profiling test and get sent an email about your results.

While this book is light reading in some regards because I'm coming from the perspective of being someone who doesn't have major relationship issues, I have a different perspective about it. I do like that Chapman actually has a chapter about "what if our relationship is too far gone? Can I love someone whom I hate?" I won't tell you what he says but he really rounds out the book well in terms of starting with "what is this fluttery 'in love' feeling?" to "the 5 love languages and their dialects" to "how do I love someone unlovable?". As I've said before, it's a good opportunity to learn, if nothing else.

There are no claims that you or your other half will be perfectly speaking the other's 'love language' 24/7, once you've read the book... as we know: we all make plenty of mistakes regularly, and love is a choice... but we'll be better prepared to understand that other person on what drives them to do what they do. And perhaps, you might just have an improved relationship in general.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lesson #103: Single Jump Process Analysis

I don't know what it is about work... but I almost always get to the stable in a tense state. This in turn affects my riding because I can't seem to concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing, and I'm not limber enough to do things. Today's lesson is shorter than normal. We start with a brief trot and already, I am having trouble with Ariel because she's fussing. She's falling in at corners and cutting them too. I am sure it is because I am not paying enough attention to my flawed areas (i.e. loopy right side and wacky left arm) and it's just plain throwing her off. Clearly, honesty is not always the best policy? It doesn't help she's in heat and being a clear bossy-pants.

Anyways, we get into trot and then move quickly into canter. There are all sorts of problems today and I can't seem to get things just right. Add to the fact that I have never really enjoyed riding in outdoor arenas and you've got yourself a bit of a mess. After the canter, we work on a jump exercise in the middle of the ring. It's set up with all sorts of aids like ground poles and other standards guiding us in. We are asked to ride in (trot) and then turn right... then come back up and turn left--in short, a figure 8 with the jump as the cross point of that 8. I am struggling!!! The ride in is iffy, the ride out is iffy, I'm falling on her neck, not sitting up and Ariel speeds up just before the jump. I AM SO FRUSTRATED at this point that I want to scream!

Scratch getting the whole thing right... so I work on getting a good turn in and straight into the jump with Ariel going at a good pace without doing anything nuts just before the jump. I realized during one of the rounds, that she needed more guidance with my legs about bending and turning and support to keep her to the rails/corners. Almost as if literally, every step needed an aid. Once I got that turn in, I focused on keeping her at a steady pace getting into the fence... whoa whoa whoa... look forward and... towards the turn you want to make?? Really, I was reminded that I needed to start telling Ariel where we were to end up, before the fence. Otherwise she'd run straight or do something else. To accomplish that, I needed to be looking where I'd turn, as I was coming at the jump, not think as I'm getting over the jump b/c if I think, I get caught up with what's happening, then I need to sit up as she lands and is starting to take the first stride... while turning my body the direction I was looking and giving the leg aids and the appropriate bend.

Seem like a lot? I was overwhelmed.

Ariel was also taking advantage of the situation and being really unruly! To the point where Sheri told me, take the reins in one hand, and with the other hand, SMACK her! I've never had to be that insistent with this mare but it seems like she has been losing respect for me and I need to remind her who's boss.

I'm glad that after a few more attempts, we ended the lesson. I was going to head home but was asked if I minded giving her a good bathing because she needed to look white/silver for her event today at Joker's Hill. It's the first time I've bathed a horse before! I'm glad she's easy going about going into the wash stall and standing there while I scrub her down. It's like taking our own shower... with a bucket and hose! So now I know how to bathe her... and it isn't complex... kind of like washing a car! :) (plus the sweat scraper, show sheen and cooler sheet)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Review: Looptail

I always believed our company culture could change the world. That freedom and happiness would transcend what we do and create a company capable of extraordinary things. 
-- Bruce Poon-Tip

The first time I saw this book, I saw (what seemed like) an employee of G-Adventures reading it during his morning commute into (as Bruce refers to it) Base Camp in Toronto. Although he seemed thoroughly engrossed in his read, my first thought was "oh great... another fat-cat who thinks that he did the world a favour by telling us his story". Naturally, I didn't bother to look it up. But, I've travelled through G-Adventures before... They took +ADW and I to visit (for the complete series of posts) Peru to experience Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail, the Amazon and the Nazca Lines. As much as I enjoy nature and outdoor activities... I have absolutely no interest in camping; it is so low on my list of happy activities that I swore it off permanently. But, climbing the Inca Trail required me to adjust for 4 days, to sleeping on the ground and using nature's outhouse. It was possibly the most inspiring 4 days of my life and I would climb into the Andes again, in a heartbeat.

As I said, I didn't have interest to pick up the book but I love what G-Adventures stands for. I've always identified with what they do as an organization through their core principles as their guiding light to whatever they do. It's revolutionary, to say the least. However, I received the book as part of a talk Bruce did in Toronto last year on the Future of Tourism. I missed his 2012 talk because I had a night class but I was determined not to miss the 2013 one. In short, at the end of the touching and inspiring lecture, he gifted everyone in the audience a copy of the book and I went home with it and put it on my shelf with the determination that I'd read it... eventually.

I'm so glad that I decided to pick it up for 2014 because his concepts and ideas wholly resonate with me. I have the highest levels of admiration for what he does, as an entrepreneur; he didn't just come up with an idea and then worked for a decade or so... he created something, built it from the ground up, dove fully into his concept, made enemies (and won them over or totally blew them away with his innovation) and even recreated himself and the company several times! Through his journey, he rarely took the "easy" route out and continued to forge ahead with his directive to make the world a better place, through travel and tourism. Overall, I found the read incredibly spiritual and inspiring. I'm not a religious person by nature but I do have a good deal of what some consider "spirituality" and reading about his journey and thoughts really spoke to me as a person/at my core; my biggest inspirations from his book is to "pay it forward" and "Do the right thing". It's hard to express my personal feelings and experiences from reading Looptail but I am energized and inspired to do better than I've been doing so far.

Moving away from how the book made me feel, I would discuss opinions about the actual execution of his writing and the book content. The first thing is that I felt the first chapter or so was forced and didn't flow like the rest of the book. I wonder if I had to adjust to his style because he writes the way he speaks. When you read Looptail, it's like you're in a hall listening to Bruce speak about his beliefs and experiences. He doesn't use particularly eloquent prose--he writes succinctly and simply and, as if he's speaking to you directly; it's a very personal approach. He went a step further and built a web page that compliments the book by adding an audio-visual aspect that is otherwise missing from a book. When he talks about a project that Planeterra launched or the lip-dubs that his company makes, globally, he makes reference to a link on that web page. It's definitely a great way to enhance the written word and provide ever changing content to readers turned fans/believers.

I love even more, that through all his actions, experiences and thoughts, you see the quintessential struggles of an immigrant growing up in Canada and then succeeding and excelling through entrepreneurship, by not only harnessing the wanderlust of Canadians, but all the global citizens through a common purpose of learning about other cultures while having an adventure in the most sustainable and responsible way possible. As Bruce mentions, travelling, learning and experiencing other cultures helps us develop as compassionate and learned individuals who will be able to see the world for its diversity and similarity simultaneously. Further, it helps us become better individuals in whatever it is we do on a daily basis because we experience outside of our little bubble. We become driven to do better for not just what we see, but everyone (and everything) around us; it's what he calls the 'Looptail'.

As I've said, it's tough to put into words, one's spiritual experiences and I think there are moments where if you're a non-believer, this book can be a hard sell. To fully embrace the Looptail is not something everyone will take away from this book... but it certainly is a good start for anyone who just wants to expose themselves to something unconventional that is wildly successful... or just for someone who needs a fresh perspective on the world as it is today.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lesson #102: Sit Up!

I had my make up lesson last night with one of the other girls in the class +ADW and I usually have Sunday lessons with, and although she's a relatively new rider, she's picked it up pretty fast. Anyway, I went out to find my pony and she barely looked at me when I came over and sort of just glanced up briefly and put her head back down into the hay. I want to do more ground work with this mare b/c sometimes she just doesn't respect me. She'd never do anything mean but she's just kinda moody sometimes... wow, sounds like err.. me. HAHAHA

I told Sheri about the clinic I've registered for, that's being held later this month at a facility that I stayed a weekend at last year. The proprietress is a lovely lady who evented in her younger days and has since started promoting Le TREC in Ontario. This sport is very accommodating for all levels of equestrianism and if you like adventure or are preparing for a zombie apocalypse, this is the sport for you. There is a little bit of everything and goes beyond riding a horse over fences or getting them to dance for you because it employs other types of skills: like orienteering. I've only orienteered once when I participated in the Don't Get Lost Snowshoe Raid several years ago (my cardio never quite made the cut... LOL). One of my goals is to get fit enough to do it again in the near future.

Getting back to the lesson, I was determined to keep in mind the things that tend to get forgotten when I ride. Things like closing my armpits and keeping my heels down and forward. I was a bit curious about why Ariel seemed so sleepy... usually she's nosey and active but it was as if she stayed up all night and partied hearty. The canter wasn't too bad and I ride it better now and can maintain the balance that I need up there but I have to remember to keep her from falling into her corners or cutting them all together. We move to jumping next. Sheri's moved the jumps high and straight now (thankfully not 2'9) and I have to remember: stop thinking, as I'm approaching that jump. It's difficult for me because I'm not that kind of person in other areas of my life... I think and think and over think things while preparing for something. In this case, I just have to breathe and go. We still trot in (though Ariel on occasion, breaks into a canter before the jump) and canter out but I have been falling all over her neck. The minute she lands, I need to work on bringing myself back up in the seat. I'm also reminded that riding into the jump, I seem to get lower and lower too... LOL so when Sheri bellowed "sit up sit up!" as I was riding into the jump, I felt oddly tall. And then I hear "ok good, keep sitting tall". So feeling tall is what I need to do.

We try several times more and it just isn't working (again) today. I will need to work on my core more and also remember to do the exercises that are needed to loosen my hips--she said they were tight today and that means Ariel was all pokey too.

For now, I've hit a plateau with the jumping and I know that to overcome it, I need to figure out that upper body upon landing the jump.