Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A little Update

Hey ya'll!
Long time, no post. Apologies. You know how life continues to get in the way...

So I talked to ya'll last week after my last lesson. I haven't had another one yet. BUT I did have another ride.
I rode on Saturday morning with Eva. We both has pretty decent rides (after a bout of unpleasant ones). My trot transition was back to where it had once been. The key is to be VERY light and just barely bump him and think 'trot'. Then like magic, he does it! We didn't try the canter (at this point-- I want Becky by my side when we venture into major meltdown territory), but we had a very forward trot with which I was pleased.
I got some nice collection at the walk and had a generally cooperative Granite.

I am hoping to schedule a lesson on Wednesday (my only night off this week) and then have Becky do 1-2 training rides later in the week/ during the weekend. I am going HOME on Thursday right after work and won't be back in town until Sunday night. I would like Granite to get the exercise and I would also like Becky to have th opportunity to work with Granite and see where some of his resistance issues are coming from. I think she will be a bit better equipped to know where I am going wrong in riding him if she can feel him. So that will be a good thing.

I got to spend some time with Eva this weekend. We rode and ran on Saturday then did some shopping (in prep for her new KITTEN!) and then went to see Tim McGraw. On Sunday we drove out to check out a couple farms for her upcoming move of Reno from Becky's to somewhere closer to her house. We didn't find any legitimate possibilities, but we discovered some new places. Then we came back and it was well over 100 degrees, so she helped me feed the horses (bc Becky was out of Town) and we spent a little bit of time with our guys. She cut Reno's mane (it needs some serious refinement) and its SO cute! I hate long mane. Granite's new heavy duty fly mask came in (as did the rest of our HorseLoverZ order). I hope he will keep it on his face for me. He also got a new fly bonnet. His ears are so so large-- he looks so silly. See for yourself:

Sportin' the new gear!

Supreme Fly Mask!!

Best Friend and I pre-gaming Tim McGraw

I am taking TK home with me on Thursday. He will get to meet the PARENTS, aunt/uncle, grandmother, and a handful of High School Friends. Quite possibly Eva's family as well. Its a lot, but all of those people are super laid back and non-judgmental. TK treats me like gold and everyone loves him just because they see how happy he has made me. All that to say, it won't be a big deal. It will be F-U-N. We have a day of 4-wheel driving on the beach (in Corolla-- lets hope for wild pony sightings!) planned for Friday. A back-deck Margarita get-together with some old HS friends planned for Friday night. Saturday out on the family boat planned (hopefully Eva will attend this with us). Perhaps going to see Eva's baby sister in the Play "Wizard of Oz" (shes Mayor of Munchkin Land!) at the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island on Saturday Night. Then Sunday, we may hit the beach again before driving home and stopping off to meet Eva's new kitten (yay for another nephew!) Gryffindor on the way home. I am beyond excited to see my family and spend some time at home. Also, very excited to get to spend an uninterrupted weekend with the BF (we are both SO busy that a full day together rarely occurs, let alone a WHOLE WEEKEND). And lastly, can't wait to share my amazing guy with the people who mean the most to me!!!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Steps

Just a quick post to tell you that I had a lesson yesterday. It was thunderstorming when I got to the barn, but the rain passed in just the perfect time for me to hop on (I rode in my less expensive saddle, juuust in case).

We saw minor improvements in our trot transitions as the lesson progressed. I really have to actively think about asking gently and "bumping" his sides softly instead of one quick heel pressured squeeze as I am primarily accustomed to. I collected him for 3-5 walk strides at the time then rewarded by letting him walk on the buckle. We even got a canter take off in one direction (it was windy and he was feeling good). I felt him really slow down about 30 minutes in, so we ended on that note. He isn't back to where I got him, but he isn't worse. So I will accept it.

I work tonight, tomorrow night AND friday night and then I head down to Eva's for a Lady Antebellum Concert (YAY). I need some best friend time. I'm having a mid-twenties crisis. Granite is having his issues and I'm starting to feel really torn about my career choices and geographic location. Eva is always my voice of reason. Sometimes the reason is to be irrational though, and she knows when its time for me to stop being SO rational and to follow my heart. I am So So grateful and blessed to have her (although I say that often-- I really mean it).

I will be back on Granite on Sunday. I am also feeding for Becky. We have an ancient pony at the farm (aptly named "Pony") however and Becky warned me that she has been having a hard time getting up. I am really nervous about this. And Becky won't have cell phone reception where she is camping! Ahhhh. Cross fingers that I don't have to try to get this pony up (especially before work Monday Morning).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him. ~Lord Chesterfield

Yes my friends, I am in a hurry. always. But to hurry with a very large three year old? Is silly.

I think our issues are stemming from my personality and ultimately my drive to accomplish (and accomplish quickly). I have always ridden fairly aggressively through my seat and legs. I push horses up and forward. I tend to "pester" to get more energetic gaits as well (and seeing that my pony is a dead head-- I've felt the need to do a lot of this). When he gets something right, I don't let him take a beak, I ask for the next thing in the sequence. I push myself to my limits with regularity and I've pushed my horse PAST his.

I was given a supple and willing 3 year old (after 2 months with Becky) and in less than 2 weeks-- he has turned into a resistant, protesting and unhappy individual. It breaks my heart to know that it was all my fault.

But I received some inspiration in various forms in the past week. I took the week off from the barn. I had a lesson with Becky on Tuesday of last week so that she could see what was happening and begin to help me address the issues. Then, I stayed gone. I needed to clear my head and get a grip on how the situation was making me feel and to regroup and examine how I was going to progress. Solitare Mare over at A Good Horse Blog lost her partner this week. And she found the courage to get on and ride again. And look forward to new horses and new journeys in life. If she can deal with that and move on, I can reexamine what I am doing wrong with my horse, enlist the help of his trainer and begin again.

So this afternoon I headed to the barn after work with 2 boots (both left.... so I wore rain boots-- that was pleasant... NOT) and a new attitude (and bit of apprehension). I took lots of deep breaths and reminded myself to be light, soft, gentle, forgiving and every other pleasant adjective I could conjure up.

The ride wasn't great. But it wasn't worse. We had a nice forward, free feeling trot. We did some collection at the walk and lots of walk on the buckle. We did transitions and serpentines and took some rest breaks. It was OK. And I can handle OK. We have a lesson tomorrow, so lets hope for some improvement.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Highland Games...

I forgot to share with you all the pictures of my weekend adventure. TK took great care of me and despite the lack of running water, I survived. I even had fun. It was a VERY interesting experience to say the least.

The Mountain and MaCrea Meadows where the games are held

TK's family Clan

Caber Toss (my back says OUCH)

Little Bit O Kilted Tug O War action: My man's team took Gold.

Me and the Kilted bf (hehe, bf!!!, yay)

The entire camping crew (Clan MacRowdy?)

My Souvenir thanks to TK's sister and Mom.

You can see 3 states from this point!

In depressing news. Granite is not doing well. I don't think I'm really ready to blog about it, but I will say that in the two weeks that I have taken over riding him I have seen a sharp decline in responsiveness. He is showing extreme resistance (see my Meltdown post) and it is getting worse not better. I had a lesson with Becky last night and she says this is not good and shes very glad I called her. It appears to be my fault for a multitude of reasons (I'll share them with you when I've had a chance to process them myself). I cried leaving the barn yesterday of sadness and disappointment. I chased the tears with some Whiskey on the Rocks; and I've yet to really let myself think about the situation. I'm going to try to ride tonight after my work meeting. I'm not excited about it. I have another lesson scheduled for next week. I will try to blog about it in the next few days when I've had a chance to decompress. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Curse You Horseloverz.com

for your $5 sale....

Round 1:
Horseloverz: 1  Rachel's Credit Card: 0


TuffRider Grippy Grain Half Chaps: $31.95
Because my current 1/2 chaps go all the way down to the heel and I end up having to ride in my tall boots because I need to wear little nubby spurs.

Centaur Crochet Ear Nets in Fashion Colors: $5.00
Bc Mr. Sensitive shakes his wittle head whenever there are flys buzzing around.

Got Flies Super Duty Mask: $27.00
BC those MFers are horrible in the pasture and they eat my baby alive-- Momma is bringing out the BIG GUNS-- now what flies? Now what?

TuffRider Basic All Purpose Pad: $15.95
We have one ancient pad that is falling apart and one pretty monogrammed white one-- it was time for something in the middle.

Roma Nylon Saddle Cover: $7.20
Two saddles, one cover. 'nuff said.

Centaur Helmet Bag: $13.50
I love my fairly inexpensive IRH, and I would like to keep it around for a while-- probably not going to happen with it shoved in MY tack box.

FREE SOCKS with Qualifying Boot or Breeches - Assorted - Adult
gee thanks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Melt Down

The pony was a punk last night. In addition to literally melting due to 100+ degree temps, the kid had a mental breakdown in the arena last night. I changed around my normal after-work routine and went running (3.1 miles-- yep thats 11.7 so far this week!) and then to get the dog right after work. I was hoping that by the time I got out to the barn and tacked up the boy that the high temps would have broken. I was right-- for the most part. It was still hot around 6:45 when I got on Granite, but not blistering-- and there was finally a breeze.

Eva, her mom, and her baby sister had come out to visit Reno and I met them at the barn. This is the first time that her family has met our boys since the live on the coast (and lets be real-- who comes HERE to visit when they live THERE?). I'm pretty sure they were impressed by my lovely boy (who wouldn't be?). I digress slightly to say that the farrier came out on Wednesday and said our hooves are looking good and he noted how much wider G-man has gotten through the ribs.

Any-whoo, I got on with the intention of only quickly putting him through his paces, since it was still very hot. I didn't bother with my half chaps and just rode in jeans and paddock boots (I once had a trainer who wouldn't let me ride in anything else-- said it would teach me to keep my leg from moving... and it worked). Granite felt surprisingly energetic and forward at the trot. I was really pleased with the way he was giving to the bit. After a few laps around of trot and some nicely executed walk to trot transitions, I asked for the canter. We are still at the point of literally running into a canter, but I'm ok with it considering we have only had a canter for a few weeks. But yesterday, it wasn't happening. We FINALLY got into a canter and then we passed the gate. And we slammed. on. breaks. ARGH! Not OK Granite. So, we tried again. And again. Then-- we went into meltdown mode. He coiled up (its my best description-- everything gets really tight and compressed and I can't get him to unwind and move forward) and didn't even want to give me a decent trot. Then he didn't want to walk. His head would go one way, his butt the other and when I corrected, it would switch. It was bad. So, I regrouped and decided the canter was NOT going to happen, but we would end on a positive note. So, we backed up. And we halted. And we finally walked forward. Then we backed up again... and so on and so forth. I had to go from nice springy forward trot at the beginning of our session to glacial speed walk... but he answered my 'question' correctly and thats what I needed out of him before I got off. I figured that it was hot and when he wasn't getting that canter and I kept asking, that he really just got too frustrated to comprehend what I wanted and broke down. I am really proud of the way I handled it. As type A as I am, I normally would have really turned it into a huge issue and spent the next 1.5 hours pushing it. But,when I realized it was a lost cause, I let it go and started asking something he could answer to build some confidence before calling it a night.

On a more positive note: You know I found my camera. Well, I'm going to mail it to my mom so she can have a digital of her own. I needed to clear off the pics I had before I mailed it, so I downloaded them this morning. They are the photos from my very first ride on Granite! I'm in Becky's western saddle and you can totally see A) me leaning back to push for a walk with every stride and B) my perpetually loosey goosey 'grip' on the reins. BUT-- it was a momentous moment and I'm so glad that I found the documentation... so, here they are:

(note me leaning back and PUSHING him forward)
Note my hands (its ALWAYS been my worst flaw-- even before I started showing QH circuit)

I hope you all have a happy weekend. I have to wait tables tonight (grrr-- and we have a staff meeting which I am sure will be jammed pack with yelling and degrading-- what FUN times!), but after I ride and run tomorrow, I am heading up to the mountains to meet TK and his family/friends for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. I am camping saturday night! I DONT camp... ever. And men in kilts?? Notsomuch.... But alas, I really really like TK and these shenanigans are important to him and his family and after MUCH coercing from everyone involved, I agreed to go up for one night. I figure I can handle being un-showered for 36 hours. The event is 4 days long, I guess I can hack a day and a half. So, wish me luck. If you are lucky, I may provide photographic evidence of prissy rachel not only camping, but gallivanting with kilted men and people eating turkey legs (god help me-- I am NOT ready for this).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Independence Weekend

Independent in so many senses of the word.
Independent from work in that I really have only been working Friday and Monday nights!

Saturday was perfect. I went out and rode Granite, then went for a little run with Daphne, then spent the rest of the day by the pool with a cooler of beer, my Practical Horseman and TK! We stayed there til dinner time then went and got Mexican food (my most favorite) then came home and watched Pulp Fiction (I had never seen it, this was apparently unacceptable).

Sunday was lovely as well. I rode my horse and then bathed him and the dog. Then I went over to D's and cleaned THREE saddles, TWO bridles and various other pieces of leather. She sent me home with her Otto Schumaker dressage saddle to try on Granite. Shes currently not utilizing it and thought that maybe I could if it fit (its a wide tree and I'm currently riding him in a medium-wide which fits great).
Then I went to TK's family's house for a 4th celebration. We grilled out and I met 50 of his closest relatives (um, nervous much?). Then we watched fireworks over the lake! Sounds like I got the family stamp of approval because..... (drum roll please).... I am now the official GF :)

After that fabulous day, I woke up early on Monday to go on a 5.5+ mile run with Eva at my favorite City Park Greenway (its off and on road... really pretty and shaded for the most part). Then we went to go riding and celebrate Reno's 4th birthday (with watermelon). Eva got some pictures of Granite and I. He is coming along nicely although, my equitation is getting worse and worse! yuck!

Getting ready to go. I love this profile of him.

Yuck Rachel hands! Pretty Granite Pony.

Canter! (chicken elbows!)

Huge stride! Not the pretty hunter one I had hoped for--more ground covering (klobering)...


Monday, July 5, 2010

In my boot, of all places...

I located my red camera yesterday... in my riding boot...
I apparently shoved it in there in my hurry to get all my crap up 3 flights of stairs, and forgot about it for an entire month... oh, sigh.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world." ~George Washington

What a wonderful vacation! I had a freaking blast in Manhattan!

I went with my friend from Grad school, Jordan. We went to stay with her college roommate, Kayleigh, who lives on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. The three of us stayed in her studio apartment. I was there for 5 days. I really got a local feel for the place-- and got to see the touristy stuff too!

It took 1 hour to drive 1 mile over the George Washington Bridge. 

After 3 hours of sleep and 12 in the car-- we went out in downtown Manhattan. 

Day 2: Brunch. $25 Prix Fixe -- UNLIMITED Bloody Mary & Bellinis :)
11am-4:30pm.... hahaha!

And if that wasn't enough... we went out downtown again on Night 2

Day 3: Not feeling too fab, but doing the Touristy thing regardless!
First subway ride!

Little Italy and Chinatown...
The little China woman scared me with her haggling! Ahhh! I don't haggle!

Day 4: Rachel Meets H&M!!!

And various other important touristy venues! 

Day 5: Brooklyn! 

And the Natural History Museum (to get TK some gifties)

Day 6: Jersey (they don't let you pump your own gas!!!) and HOME!!!

But let me tell you, Greensboro has never felt more like home than it did last night when we got back. I had the most fabulous experience in NYC, but I wouldn't trade anything for the south :)

I saw Granite tonight. He was so wonderful. He was funny and playful and knew how much I missed him. His training bill however... was more than I had anticipated. But its taken care of and now his progressive training is in my hands. I am so excited to see what the future holds. So far the restaurant is keeping its word and I have the weekend off to catch up on house hold chores and to ride and run and clean tack and give Granite and Daphne spa days! Let freedom ring!