How to fall in love again (the not really guide)

I’m back.  Mostly because I think I need to document my equestrian life somehow.  And blogging is the easiest way.  Its quick and doesn’t require too much work (given that my posts are left unpolished).

In my last post, I wrote how my life felt surprisingly normal for a month despite not having ridden, and this was coming from a girl who used to feel like a week without riding was life threatening.  And surprisingly, this feeling of complacency without riding lasted for five months.    The general gist of why I stopped riding was a mix of multiple reasons, one that was riding related (I felt I was not going anywhere, if anywhere I was going backwards), but I think it was mostly that my life began shifting in a different direction, one away from horses.

And for 5 months, I felt that was the right direction to go.  I became increasingly interested in in expanding a different side of me, one that had been in the back burner while horses were a prominent feature of my life.  I remember 6 years ago, horses were all I thought about.  And as the years passed, it became less and less so.  Often times now, there are people who are surprised to hear that I ride horses, even after having known them for a while.  This used to never be the case because horses used to be all I talked about.

This 5 month break, I realized was not really for the sake of allowing myself to reset to become a better rider, as I had initially felt it was for. (I wrote a post about riding and how taking a break can be beneficial).  This long break was more of a matter that I needed to realize how overlooked this portion of my life has been for the past year or so.  It had become a weekend hobby (which is true in some parts) in which I rode on the weekends and promptly returned to a “normal” life once the weekdays started.  I was no longer really an equestrian or living the lifestyle.  I started to take the involvement of horses in my life for granted.  It’s sad that something I used to dedicate my life to has been put off to the side for so long.

While my break has not reset any of my riding skills at all (in fact I still retain all of my bad habits), it has really reset my perspective on horses and their role in my life.  Now that my perspective has shifted, I can realize to the full extent to which horses and riding were apart of my life.  I realize how much I took each ride for granted.  It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago did I finally feel that direness to ride a horse again the same way I felt before I even sat on a horse for the first time.  If anything can teach you to fall in love again, it really is absence.  Then you can truly understand how you’ve taken something for granted.

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changes.

I really don’t know how to start this post or what to say really.   Or why I’m writing it in the first place.  Here’s a general gist of what has happened in the past 2 months without posting:  My riding has gotten really inconsistent and I’m not confident at all in my riding.  In my last lesson I actually got nervous and worked up during the ride, and that is extremely uncharacteristic of my riding and I ended up taking a break from riding.

I think this is the first time I’ve taken a break from riding very willingly (past times were all due to other reasons such as vacations etc.  This break was taken due to my general dissatisfaction towards my riding.  I felt that I wasn’t enjoying riding as much as I used to nor did I want to try as hard.  I guess this is almost a deja vu of the “ride for her” post but this time it is so much more extreme.

It’s been a month since I stopped riding and to be completely and a hundred percent honest, I don’t feel like any part of me is missing.  I had always thought that if I had stopped riding I’d feel like a piece of me was missing.  I had believed that for as long as I have been riding.  But that suddenly isn’t the case anymore.

I think this is linked to something more personal and unrelated to riding.  I know that change is something constant in life but I’m entering a period of more drastic and rapid changes and not riding was one of them.  There are a couple hopes I have for this period of change.  And that is that a) riding somehow will fit into, and for the rest of my life and b) I am moving in the right direction with both my changes, and my decision to take a break from riding.

I’m thinking about moving barns as I think I need something different for my riding.  The trouble is that I want to find a barn where the riding is less serious, yet I want to be able to move up and those two don’t go together.  Plus hunter jumper barns tend to be not very casual in general.

Lastly, I’m wondering if I’ll ever post again on this blog, especially with this break and all (even without the break I wasn’t posting at all).  In some sense, this can almost be seen as a goodbye post, but this blog was always and will be something to keep record of my riding and I think this is important for me to have.

So it’s been a while… (summer synopsis)

So I’ve disappeared this summer.  I’m going to be real here, riding wasn’t a very big concern this summer and I’ve been pretty occupied by other things.  So my riding has been pretty inconsistent with my lessons being moved around or being cancelled all together.  Without further ado here’s some sort of a summer summary:

Horse Show

DSC_0202My summer started off with a show!  I rode Bubba in the .60s jumpers (which I did for the first time :P).  There were two classes – optimum and speed and we jumped both clear.  Bubba took perfect care of me, but let’s be real, I’m more of a hunter-type rider.  He totally thought we were going way too slow.

The first course was fine, but we were so slow that we trotted a jump since I didn’t have enough pace going into a turn.  The second course my trainer told me to try and get it more.  I tried to keep the turns a little tighter and have a more forward pace and it was better but Bubba tried to take more control so our turns still weren’t as tight as they could’ve been.  We didn’t win anything, but I’m totally okay with that since we rode two decent courses.

Bubba swept the ring with his 2′ hunters/eq rider and his walk hunters/eq with champion in both rings.

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I also went to Dover for their tent sale.  To be honest, it was alright.  There were a lot of barn supplies which I honestly don’t need and not a lot of clothing options and if there were clothing options they weren’t very classy looking or weren’t discounted very much.  I ended up buying a boot bag and boot trees because I needed them to store my tall boots (those stupid cardboard boot trees were working but really annoying).

Lessons

As stated above, I haven’t ridden very consistently this summer.

I got to ride the new lesson horse, Noah, a couple of times.  He’s a IMG_6035pretty cool horse, though I still have a lot of getting used to him as he’s not a very “typical” ride (but are any horses typical to ride?).  He’s a bay Swedish warmblood.  I’m not 100% sure how tall he is but he’s about 16hh.

He’s super cute and sweet and dries so fast.  Once I rinsed him off after a hot day and when I walked him back from the wash rack to his stall (which isn’t that far) his whole right barrel was already nearly dry.

I’ve mostly had mediocre rides, where they were decent but they weren’t good.  I had a couple of rides on Bubba and a few on Pepperoni.  I’m going to be honest and say that my riding style doesn’t suit Bubba that well.  I used to have the worst equitation on him, and tall boots seemed to fix that for the most part, but now I still feel a little awkward on him and my feet totally go numb while I’m riding him for some reason.

My most recent lesson was (in a sense) a show prep lesson as we have another show next week.  I have to say its probably one of the best rides I’ve had in a long time.  I rode Pepperoni and we rode a course 10 jumps.

course

I was too lazy to add arrows, but the jump numbers are on the take-off side.  Line 3a-b rode as a 6 stride and line 4a-b and 5a-b rode about 8 strides.  The first time we only jumped through jump 4b, and he was good but rode alright.  The second time was a lot better because I got him to open up his stride more (after 3b because I felt that he was way too sticky jumping into the line).

With Pepperoni especially, I struggle with the awkward back-turn from 5b to 6 since I’ll turn too late and he’ll bulge out.  We did the second half of the course one more time (mostly to try to fix the bulging but I still couldn’t figure out how to go out more to get a better approach).

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Pepperoni is literally the cutest thing ever

I don’t think I’ve posted a video in forever but here is one:

I guess that is somewhat a summary of how this summer has been.  Sorry if this post is a mishmash of bad writing.

Recently…and some Realizations

I’ve been having pretty okay rides lately (still a little iffy though), last ride I was even able to get enough pace out of Pepperoni (who is a large pony) to get the horse strides in a line.  I recently rode Rudy again for the first time in over a year, and I’m remembering why I loved riding Rudy so much.  Sure my equitation was not that great, and I didn’t ride as well as I could have, but when I got off, I just felt confident and happy about my ride.  And those are everyone’s favorite rides.

I think this was the ride I needed.

We warmed up over some poles and did stride counting in between and I was able to consistently get 11 strides (though one time I didn’t get him to properly step over the first pole) and his pace was at a even consistency.  He was kind of sticky at times, but at least I was able to get him to keep a fairly even pace and not rush at the jumps.

We did a course two times, and the third time we did the course backwards.  Rudy was super good, we chipped several times (probably could’ve gotten the just slightly gappier distances if I had more leg) but that was all me, holding him till the base of the jump.

I haven’t shared a video of me riding in FOREVER, but here we go:

Some realizations that were made:

  • My right and left side ride very differently.  My right side has pretty nice equitation (for me at least) but my left side is basically a potato sack.  And this makes me a much less quiet rider than I’d like to be.
  • I hold my crop kind of strangely.  I hold the bottom of the handle so it looks like I’m holding the middle of the crop

Improvements (that have been happening over time of course):

  • My leg is much more solid!  I’m extremely happy about this
  • I don’t ride with completely stick straight arms anymore

Things that still need to be fixed (over time of course):

  • Shoulders back
  • Stop breaking left wrist
  • Stop dropping inside hand/shoulder when turning (esp around tighter turns)
  • Keep fingers closed around reins
  • Quiet hands (and equitation in general)
  • Become more supportive with leg
  • Increase heel depth (and change how I use my leg)

I meant to post a haul post earlier but here is the biggest (and most exciting) purchase: I got tall boots!  You might have been able to tell in the video.

Ride for Her (pt. 2)

About 5 months ago, I wrote a blog post about my halting discovery that I didn’t really love riding/horses as much as I used to.  And it scared me to think that.  I’ve spent the last few years with one intention: that I would study art in college and and find something related as an occupation as I continued to attempt to ride.  At least that was the plan.

The other day I had a conversation with my parents where my mom pointed something out that I (honestly) am running away from.  That I’m not passionate about art at all.  That I don’t continually work at my art even without inspiration.  That I’m not spending time to improve.  That when I have free time, I don’t try to draw or paint even though all my materials are here and in reach.

I guess that it really put into perspective how much I do enjoy horses and riding.  I’ve never felt the explicit need to openly express my frustrations with my riding (other than my blog to vent out everything).  I’ve never verbally complained about riding or horses at all.  The other week I was at the barn and Atlanta was out in the turnout, and there was nothing to do so I was just hanging out with her, feeding her bits of hay, and I just felt so happy.  The show I was supposed to be riding in this weekend was unfortunately cancelled due to poor weather, but I still hung out there from 6 to nearly noon and I told my trainer that I just really enjoy being in that sort of atmosphere, just to be at the barn, be around horses whether I was riding them or not.

But that also leads to me unfortunate reality #2, that riding and horses isn’t as accessible as drawing and art.  And 3: with my current situation and personally, who I am, riding is just not a very viable choice of career.  Really if you were to ask me if I’d rather never be able to be around horses or never be able to create art for the rest of my life I’d 1000% choose to never be able to create art for the rest of my life, it almost seems like it isn’t a question.

The point of this post (and the reason why it’s a continuation of my Ride for Her post, is I guess that I’m falling back in love with this sport and all the reasons why I started it in the first place.  Because it’s so simple to be at the barn, be near the horses and just feel so much at peace.  In the end, I came to the realization of how much I loved horses when I found how upset I was at the fact that riding (in of itself) wouldn’t be a viable career choice.

5 months ago, I wondered if I really loved horses as much as I claimed, and (actually) considered if I should continue or not.  Now here I am with the answer: that I do love horses as much as I claim to, and riding perhaps is the one thing that I am truly passionate about. Now, I want to work harder, ride better than I ever have before.  And where that’ll take me, we’ll just have to see.

As for my career choice and personal life and such, I think that’ll just take a step back to access my possibilities and perhaps connect art and horses, or something like that.  (try to refrain from comments about my future career and personal life…that’s something I’d like to keep private)

I am going to ride for that girl who fell in love with horses.


A/N: please keep an extremely open mind about this, this was an extremely personal post to write and publish onto the internet…so, try to respect that this is my personal life (yes I understand it’s quite paradoxical to post something as personal as this on the internet where practically the whole world can see, but it is what it is).

Some Show Stuff

Honestly, I don’t know what to call this post (a way for me to procrastinate from studying for tests I should probably be studying for would probably be a better fitting title) but basically this post will cover: some goals for my upcoming show, some show essentials (perhaps a separate post?), and my 2016 show playlist so far.

Goals:

Let’s be real here, every time I hear the word “goals” I kind of want to punch someone just because I always hear it as “omg ur such goals”or “squad goals *insert ten emojis*,” in that sort of tone of voice…but that’s not really related or relevant whatsoever.  Here are some goals for this show (and riding in general):

  • Secure leg position.  I’m not looking for my leg to be motionless or Lillie Keenan level, but I want it engaged.
  • Bend elbows.  I have such a bad habit of riding with stick arms now, and it’s causing a bunch of other problems, such as reliance on hands to steer, strange wrist twisting and awkward hand opening etc…
  • Don’t freak out on the approach to the jump.  Last show, like three strides out from each jump I’d just think: crap this isn’t going to work, leg leg leg leg AHHHHH.  
  • Have fun.  Yeah, cliché but why not?
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From my last lesson before the show!  Was a little sassy with his leads, but mostly worked it out.  Didn’t expect him to take such a long spot to this jump!  I love this pony so much ❤

speaking of goals, I haven’t done a proper goals post in ages… oops.

Horse Show Essentials… besides your horse.

Here are some misc. horse show essentials

  • Sunglasses/sunscreen/hat are a given.  Don’t die at shows.
  • Water is also a must (like lots of it)
  • Painkillers – you don’t know what will happen, but either way, you came to show.  And you will.
  • Extra everything.  Bring extra socks, an extra shirt, extra hairbands (a lot of extra hairbands), extra gloves, heck, bring an extra horse.  I think this is a sign of my overcompensation and preparation
  • Facial wipes and hand sanitizer to keep clean.  If you’re brave, try some lip balm.  But try not to get dirt on your lips.
  • Pens – good for filling out forms and stabbing competitors with to win that first place (don’t do that last option.  You will get in trouble.  A lot of trouble.)
  • Food (both for rider and equine) eating is always great, I’m sure your horse will agree.  Bring some treats for the pony as well, even if he bucked you off in front of the judges.

2016 Horse Show Playlist (work in progress)

of course you can have your classic The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes, Marchin On by One Republic and so on, but here’s just a few songs I put together so far:

2016 Horse Show Playlist – Higher and higherScreen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.04.31 AM

  • Come Together – Echosmith
  • The Sound – The 1975
  • King and Lionheart – Of Monsters and Men
  • Little Secrets – Passion Pit
  • Next Year – Two Door Cinema Club (too melancholy, but reminds me of last show season since I was listening to it a lot at that time)
  • Hometown – Twenty One Pilots

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from last year’s show

Haha sorry about this post, I’m not really all that sarcastic (but really, I don’t show it in my posts much…because I totally post enough for people to tell).  Another note: i need to get tall boots.  Like now (too late for this show now oops).

Anyways, thanks for reading, hope my bad jokes weren’t too painful to read 🙂

 

Equestrian Wishlist (#2)

Here we go again…  In order with the things I “need” on top.  (Really, I don’t need any of this).  I’ve linked everything (mostly to SmartPak because free shipping, you know?), so you can check them out if you want to 🙂

byemoney

bye money

Tall boots

I’ve probably talked about this a billion times… but I really need want tall boots for showing purposes.  I’m looking at the Ariat Heritage contour zip field boot…since it’s cheaper.  I talked about this in my last post, but I’m just not into Tredsteps.

A barn bag

I’ve been using a cheap, flimsy bag for who knows how many years and the bottom line is – it doesn’t get the job done.  It fits…well, some things that I need, but it’s width hardly accommodates for my poor helmet.  Let’s not mention that my chaps stick out of the top (or hardly even go in if everything isn’t arranged perfectly).  And I fit my spurs and gloves into the little nooks and crannies.  Let’s just say a new bag is well needed for the barn.

I would love to own one of those cool riding backpacks, but the thing is, they’re pretty expensive and I don’t really have the money to dole out just for a riding backpack.

Speaking of backpacks tailored for equestrians… Genny over on A Gift Horse, is giving away a Noble Outfitters Ringside backpack!  Check it out here!

More sun shirts!!! 

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really bad quality, but here’s my Ariat sunstopper in action 😛

Sun shirts are probably the greatest introduction to the equestrian industry since the addition of zippers to tall boots.  I live in California and the difference between the sun hitting your skin and not hitting your skin makes all much difference.  And sun shirts do just that without the extra bulk (plus underarm mesh is absolutely great).

They run quite expensive though… (in my opinion), especially since I love the look of Kastel Denmarks’ sunshirts (they make ones with plaid trim and it’s the cutest thing ever).  But I think I may be able to get away with buying Ariat’s children’s sizes…

Equivisor

Welcome to California, where it already feels like summer (it’s already starting to reach the high 70s?!).  Jumping ahead of the gun a bit, but I want to get an Equivisor, I wanted one last summer, but ended up never getting one.  My whole body tans for the most part, except for my face, my face just burns.  When I ride during the summer, it just feels like my face is on fire, sorry Charles Owen, but your visors don’t really do much.


 

That’s it for now!  I have a lot of things I would love to buy, these were just the ones that I am more likely to actually buy.  If you liked this, check out my last wishlist post, which also includes some stuff that are out of my price range, but I’d still love to own (maybe I should add a horse…)

 

Updates: Riding, Dover Adventure, and Tall Boots…?

So it has been a while.  I’ve been meaning to write more posts (and have written a couple…that have failed).   And it’s been a start to 2016.  Key words here: a start…well, to be completely honest it’s been a pretty crappy start.  To sum it up, things haven’t been great and I haven’t been feeling like myself lately.  But that’s all relative.

Riding Updates:

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It’s always great when you and your pony match 🙂

We spent the winter flatting, and not riding because it’s been too wet (apparently it only rains Friday nights before I ride).  And I think I’m getting stronger…can’t really be sure though.  We’re back jumping now and it’s been pretty good, though my last lesson I rode Atlanta and I pretty much chipped to every jump.  She was really hot and forward so I just held back and hoped she wouldn’t try to superman the jumps.  But she was absolutely amazing though.

Some goals I had in mind for 2016:

  • Lift my hands (and bend my elbows in the process)
  • Straighten my left wrist
  • Use my outside rein

They’re pretty small and hopefully short term.  They are some bad habits I’ve been struggling with for a while now.

But honestly, lately I’ve been feeling nervous occasionally during my rides.  Like not horribly nervous where I feel like everything is going to go wrong, its just the kind of nerves that aren’t bad, but are in your way just enough to make you not perform at your best.  I know (and I have for a while know) that if I just have that extra bit of confidence while I ride, I’ll probably ride a lot better.  But the thing is, I don’t.  It’s just not that simple anymore and I could write a whole lot about it (and I have written another post about the more psychological side to riding, just haven’t posted it yet.)

Enough about my riding.

Some other updates, I went to Dover finally! (the blogger in me failed because I didn’t get any pictures)  I spent way too much time in there and I ended up walking out with an Ariat jacket (super cute) and some breeches  (I got them in the sidezip because they fit better and had sock bottoms).  While I was there I got a little caught up in wanting tall boots.

I’ve been wanting tall boots for a while now.  The thing is I’ve done fine without them up until now, so is it really necessary to get them?  Or is there some sort of need for satisfaction that I need to feed?  Anyways, I didn’t try any on while I was at Dover because I wasn’t in my riding clothes.

I’m mainly considering Ariat boots because I’ve worn their boots and they’re great.  I’m thinking of the Heritage and Challenge lines.  I like the Challenge because the leather is a bit nicer (as far as I saw in the store) and it has the cover at the bottom to protect the zipper but it’s gotten a bad rap for its poor fitting ankles.  I’m also looking at the Tuff Rider Regal field boot.

Treadsteps are out of the picture because I’ve ridden in them and they gave me bad rubs.  I’m tentative about buying them because they’re a pretty big investment.  And I have weird legs.  They’re pretty short and I have wide feet, which affects the fit of my shoe size (I’m 6.5 in terms of length but sometimes 7 if the footbed is narrow).  My best bet to get nice fitting boots would be to visit a tack store, but it also means spending extra money if I could find something online.  Really, I’m just wondering if it really is worth the money to buy some tall boots when I’ve done fine in paddock boots and half chaps.

I think that’s all I really have to say for now, maybe I’ll post a little more often now.  The tl;dr is that I haven’t been feeling great lately, my riding has been good, but not great, I went to Dover and wanted to spend copious amounts of money, and I want tall boots.

Ride for her

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted and I’ve wondered what I should post.  I thought about this post several times and wrote a version before this one that I meant to post a few weeks ago.  I ended up not posting that and began wondering if I was really being honest with myself.  This post is extremely personal and pretty much just spills out my honest thoughts…so without further ado….

I’ve recently discovered how much I really am struggling with my riding.  There’s nothing that’s obviously getting worse, in fact, my lower leg has gotten much better in these past few months.  And at some point, I was getting better.  However, at the same time I’ve never felt more unconfident in my own riding.  And there’s something significantly missing in my riding.  Then I realized that I’ve completely lost the feel.

I’m starting to become a very “flat” rider, if you will.  I no longer use my aids in unison to create a balance.  Instead I’m really reliant on my hands to get what I want.  I’m no longer using my core or my seat to balance and steer anymore.  My legs aren’t as strong or used as much to laterally control the horse.  I’m not feeling what the horse needs.

I’ve become much more of a passenger rather than a rider.  I’m becoming more and more passive when it comes to my riding.  I suddenly came to a revelation to my lesson last week on Alex when he wasn’t listening to my legs anymore (my fault for not using stronger/clearer aids).  I remembered something really important: you have to ride like you want it.  More than anything else in the world.

But then I realized that somewhere along the lines, I began losing my passion for horses and riding (somebody stab me).  I distinctly remember when I first started riding, and more than anything else in the world, I wanted to become better and better, to the point where riding was the only thing I could think of.  It drove everyone around me nuts but it was what pushed my riding forward at rates that everyone around me thought was impossible.  I want to return to that.

I recently read a diary entry I wrote ages ago, when I was really getting into riding and looking for a lease horse.  There was a trainer (a great one at that) at my old barn for some reason I managed to meet and spent my time with.  He taught me a lot about horses and even wanted to let me ride one of the horses he was training at that time.  Unfortunately, my extremely introverted and shy nature drove me to not take up on the offer (now that I’m thinking back on it, why would I ever say no?).  But one of the things that hit me the most was one of the things he said to me – that he didn’t know another girl who loved horses as much as I did.

It breaks my heart to know that I’m subconsciously pushing away something that has defined me for so many years.  And because of this, I suddenly realize how amazing my whole experience has been up until now, and how lucky I am to be able to ride, no matter how shitty the ride has been.

This plateau of the learning curve I’m on right now shouldn’t be the thing that discourages my riding, rather than encourage me to push further and become a better rider than I am now, a better rider than I was before.  Instead I’m using excuses to explain why I’m not getting any better, when it’s just my own fault.

That was me, being completely honest and vulnerable.  If you’ve read this far, thank you for listening.  Hopefully someone is able to empathize and understand these feelings as well, but if not, that’s okay because this really is for myself.  I was going to have this post include updates on my riding lately, but I’ll leave that for another post and leave you guys with one of my favorite equestrian quotes ever:

Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become,

the coaches who pushed you,

the people who believed in you,

the long hours of schooling,

The dirt beneath your nails,

the falls you’ve taken,

the ribbons you didn’t win,

the tears you’ve cried,

and the horses you’ve given your heart to,

is the little girl who fell in love with horses and never looked back.

Ride for her.

Really starting to like this horse…

Gunner was so freaking fantastic this Saturday!  I honestly don’t even know what I should write in this post because I’m so happy.  (well, not exactly 100% happy with my eq but that’s a different story).  It was really strangely cold today.  It’s been in the triple digits throughout this week and I’ve been dying in the heat and it was really nice and cool.

He’s been so so so good and I’m really starting to like this horse.  I used to ride really conservatively on him but now I feel a lot more comfortable on him (especially now how my legs are getting a little stronger).

We warmed up on our own and did a course.  There was a really fun one stride line 🙂

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Again I have the same issues as always: I really need to fix my posture.  I tend to turtle over jumps.  I also need to remember to use my outside aids.  For some reason while I’m riding, my leg position gets better during the second course and it just flops everywhere in the first course.

Here is the raws video…the second course starts around 2 minutes.  And excuse the lack of lead changes…I was a more concerned about his pace (since he tends to rush jumps) than his leads…maybe something to work at next time.

Sorry for the really badly written post, I’m not really sure what to write.