November 27, 2011

Slow Motion

Nothing bothers me more than slow motion in a video of a horse that is for sale.  I want to see how a horse really moves please!

I know I'm 6-9 months away from when I really will start looking for my horse but I can't help but check out horses online and mark ads that interest me.  Here are four videos of horses I have dog earred in case they are still on the market when I start horse shopping.  The first one is a bit fishy, read below.  The first two show the types of videos that pretty much annoy me when trying to judge whether I have an interest in the horse.

This one below just drives me crazy!  Can't even watch the whole thing!  Plus he has a stripe and the picture of the horse in the ad doesn't...has the same sock pattern though.....that's a little fishy!

This one at least has the horse at regular speed so I can see how fast his trot and canter are.  The slow-mo is for artistic videos not a sales video, especially when showing a horse under saddle

I think this next video is pretty good.  The  camera quality  could be improved to get a better image but you can see the horse at all gaits, both ways and he fills most of the frame.  Isn't he to die for gorgeous!  Morgans are one the breeds I would certainly consider!

Promising young mare...
What are your thoughts on sales videos?  What do you like to see?  What do you not like to see?  Does it matter the purpose of the horse as to what type of video you'd like to see? Under saddle?  At liberty?

November 14, 2011

Courage and the Fear of Canter

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." ~Ambrose Redmoon

I think the hardest thing about fear is facing the fact that you indeed do have fear. I don’t want to be fearful and I don’t like the sense of being out of control, especially being a 30 something adult. I’ve cantered many times on Willy but have had a pretty big spill on him when his canter evolved into a fast gallop. The one time I tried to canter on Millie she did a swift right turn that I wasn’t expecting and then decided I would stay at other gaits with her and forego cantering for a while. Of course I never did end up cantering her!

Even though I had a spill on Willy I still did canters afterwards but stayed within the property boundaries where fences would stop him from the all out gallop. Thinking about it though, did I feel more secure in the canter because we were going up a hill usually rather than being on a flat surface? I know that trotting down a hill makes me a bit nervous, so cantering would as well. Going up a hill is perhaps easier to balance since I don’t feel the pull of gravity so much? Why is that?

I’ve made the thoughts up in my mind that when I cantered on Divine in the ring that one time that I was unseated because of cantering in a circle rather than in a straight line. Now I realize, especially after all this trot work, my seat gets tense in scary situations and that’s why I lose my balance. It had nothing to do with the situation. Even though I’ve had some nice canters on Willy that I enjoyed, there is still that fear deep in my subconscious that I need to bring forward and confront. I need to truly relax while riding and be able to ride up hills, in circles, on turns, straight-aways and yes maybe even down hills (though I wonder about speed and down hills on the poor horses joints!).

So today after I tacked up Divine, with more bridling issues (totally another blog post all together), I got ready to go into the arena with Laurie who had the lungeline out. She mentioned cantering a bit today and I felt my stomach jump at the thought.

We started to warm up with sitting trot and then posting trot. My legs still wiggled a bit during posting trot and Laurie had me work on that a bit. Then it was time to get in a few strides of canter. Laurie told me to hold onto the saddle if I wanted, which of course I did. With an English saddle it’s hard to hold onto it with my short arms, they are fully extended reaching the saddle and I wonder if it makes me tense up but I’m not going without holding on right now that’s for sure! The first couple times were pretty scary; one time around I freaked out and grabbed on really tight with both hands. I also lost my stirrups several times as my legs crept up from tension. Oh if I’d had a blood pressure cuff on!!

I was so scared and frustrated that the tears flowed; I felt so silly being an adult and crying like a baby from fear of a canter. Laurie understood and let us walk a little so I could calm down as she discussed that several bad falls can cause that fear and it’s natural. She related the scary fall Uschi had where she cracked her helmet when she fell. I luckily haven’t had that bad an accident but the fear is still there and is still very real. I doubt anyone who hasn’t had a fall can truly understand this concept.

As an adult I don’t have the “nothing can hurt me” mentality I did as a child. If I think back on my riding from childhood I don’t know if I ever had someone work with me on the painstaking task of seat and legs. I rode the canter and had fun but did have a few falls when things got a little scary. Perhaps I could never truly let go and relax back away from the scariness; grab a hold of my fear and settle back into the gait. That type of reaction is not “natural” so having someone work on me doing transitions, getting to the scary part and working through to a settled and “non-falling off” end is really important at this stage in my riding. I feel ridiculous crying about this fear and the frustration that “I can’t do this, it’s not difficult, what’s wrong with me” kind of thoughts.
I just have to realize that whether I like it or not, believe it or not my past falls from childhood and recent falls have stuck with me. It’s time I face up to those fears and take it from step one. Laurie is the best person to be able to help me through this. Look how far I have come with trotting, and sitting trot! I can’t fully xplain the feeling I have at the trot now compared to before. I feel very secure, sure there is room for improvement but I don’t feel a need to grab for the saddle, even when I can on the lungeline and completely hands free. My seat moves with the horse comfortably. I’m not quite as comfortable as I am at the walk, and who knows I may never be, since as gaits get faster there is always that “chance something could happen” in the back of my mind that I doubt will ever fully leave.

After the lesson I gave Laurie a big hug, still crying a little as I recovered being back on the safe ground again. I’ll get there, I will. Starting riding again in my 30’s is hard. I have the memories of the ease and fun of riding from childhood but I now realize that my technique was not sufficient back then and I was probably just blessed with the luck (or stupidity) of youth to not realize it! Now as a grounded adult taking some time to work hard at getting a solid seat and facing head on with my fears, will help me regain some of that ease and fun of riding I remember so fondly from childhood. Hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher


It was a chilly day when I arrived to ride Divine. I had not been out in a while so I wasn’t sure what type of lesson to expect. Divine was a lot more fuzzy, I think horses look so cute when they get their winter woolies. I was running late for my lesson but a young girl, I honestly don’t remember her name, had her lesson before me but was still there with Divine.

Stay pony!
Since Divine had just been groomed I did a slow light grooming, flicking out dirt and loose hairs. Hoof picking is a little challenge with her front legs, she always tries to pull out of my hand so it takes twice as long to do a hoof! She was also watching as I started to bridle Divine since she was waiting for her father to get a jump for his car. I have a hard enough time figuring out how to get Divine compliant without having an audience but I knew she wasn’t hanging around for any reason other than to be around a horse. Eventually Divine was bridled and Laurie showed up so we headed to the arena.
Getting ready to bridle....uge

I was off the lungeline, which was fine. I enjoy those lessons a lot and feel that I’ve become steadier at the trot. I used to have my hand on the saddle for sitting trot on the lungeline and now I don’t think I do that barely at all! Today we worked on a serpentine so it was a constant change of direction at the trot. The goal was to keep Divine’s impulsion, collection and make the turns smoothly. I had a few issues with Divine trying to go left when I wanted her to go right. I need to become more aware of my weight distribution. I think I was leaning left those times and needed to give a clear leg and rein cue.

It was a tough lesson that wore me out. I went home to nap the rest of the afternoon! LOL.

November 13, 2011

Dover Saddlery in Parker Colorado!!!

Steve and I headed up one day to the Denver area to run some errands, get some beer brewing supplies that he was out of and then on the way back we swung by Dover Saddlery in Parker, CO!  I'm so excited to have a Dover Saddlery local to us since some of the items they sell I have not seen locally.  There is a lot more western style riding gear in Colorado Springs so I'm psyched to see Dover here.  This Christmas, anyone who asks what I want for Christmas the only thing I'm going to say is a Dover Saddlery Gift card.  Who knows, if everyone listens I could end up having a new saddle paid for before I even get my horse!  Of course I'm not buying the actual saddle until I have the horse since I want to fit it to him or her.

So we headed into Dover, I glanced at the shirts and jackets.  I so want one of those nice quilted looking jackets.  Some have a diamond pattern while one I saw had little horseshoes on it.  I thought it was very cute.  Steve commented about how there is not much clothing for men.  That's an interesting thought, where are we going to find riding gear for Steve?  There was a whole rack of helmets.  I eventually want to get another helmet at some point, one that is casual and more low profile, something that would work for trail riding.  I like the brown leather look Troxel helmet.  I love the one I have but I like variety too! 

The first saddle I get for my future horse will be a dressage saddle since I know I'll be doing a lot of arena work and I can still use the saddle for trail rides.  Eventually though I want to buy an Australian Stockman's Saddle from Down Under Saddlery, a local shop in the Denver area.  I just want to be cautious since a lot of times the Australian saddles throw your leg forward because of how you need to sit in them and I don't want that ruining the seat I'm working hard to obtain for dressage. 

Anyhow, Steve and I looked at all the racks of tack.  We pulled down a several saddles to try out.  I was interested in seeing the Wintec saddles in person.  I like the idea of a low maintenance saddle (no leather!) and the two Wintecs I've ridden in have been pretty comfortable to me.  I grabbed the dressage saddle I was liking from online, the Wintec Dressage 500.  It's made of Equileather, so it has a nice smooth surface instead of the mock suede that I've read tends to pill after use.  The twist was narrow and made me feel very secure and comfortable.  I liked it a lot.  I'm not sure if I would get a 17.5 or 18 inch size, I think the people at the store could help me determine the proper size.  The saddle is equipped with Cair which is supposed to be an equally distributing base so that there are fewer hotspots than with a normal stuffed/flocked saddle panel.  I also tried out a couple of the other Wintec saddles, the more expensive models and found them to be wider than I felt happy with. 

Steve also tried out some of the saddles and he seemed to like the general purpose 500 of Wintec best.  If he rides my horse he'll just have to deal with my saddle until he either gets his own saddle or own saddle/horse combo! 

We checked out some of the other gear they had such as blankets, saddle pads and bridles.  I'm pretty set on the Wintec Dressage 500 now, so glad I saw it in person.  I asked one of the show room people about fitting it to a horse and they have a trial option where you can buy the saddle and "try" it out.  It has to not show wear and tear or anything like that if you return it so I guess a very clean horse and limited riding to check the fit is all you can do.  The other good thing about the Wintec is the adjustable gullet.  You can fit the horse with the perfect fit over the withers and then as they build muscle or change as they age you can always adjust the saddle.  I'm pretty happy!  Can't wait to go shopping for my future horse!

Quintessential Arabians Client Appreciation Day

Wish I'd had my SLR camera to take nice silouhette
pictures of the mares in the paddock

Laurie had a get together for her clients and students in late September. It was a movie night and a tour of her new facility with a little show by each of the gorgeous stallions. It was neat to meet the other riders and see more of the facility than I have at just my lessons. Plus being able to get up close and personal with each stallion is fun since I tend to keep my distance, more so with Legs since he's very excitable. I’m usually the only one at the stable when I go out for a lesson at Laurie’s, well besides Laurie of course. When I could ride on Friday mornings I often rode before or after Uschi. It was nice to have that camaraderie, and watch another lesson since I learned a lot just from observing.

Ponies milling around

 Meeting the rest of the riding lesson gang was neat. Laurie often talks about her other students during lessons, what worked , what didn’t, and relating the same pitfalls we’ve all experienced so we know we are not alone in our challenges and fears. I felt like I already knew everyone in a sense! We walked around the property and viewed the future paddock for Gadiel. The property is fenced but some of it is unsafe fencing or fencing that is not proper for a stallion. Laurie and Dan have been working on getting the electrobraid up for the paddocks, it's certainly a huge task!

Pstar bing her sweet and beautiful self
The mares are in a smaller 3-5 acre paddock, it may be bigger I'm just guessing, that is adjacent to a larger paddock. They spend most of their time eating hay in the smaller paddock and are released into the larger one after their dinner is done. This prevents the larger paddock from getting over grazed or over run. The smaller paddock is what Laurie calls her “sacrifice” paddock. You can tell there has been a lot of hooves in this area as a lot of the grass right near the bottom of the field is pretty beat up; it’s best not to have the whole property get over run. I think Laurie has plans to rotate the paddocks to give each field relief from constant grazing and foot traffic. I would love to have that option when I buy some land!

I think this is Sala with Divine in the background

After the outdoor tour and playing with the mares in the paddock we headed to the barn for some stallion loving…um that sounds bad but I mean to say we got to cuddle the pretty boys. Then Laurie brought out Legs to play in the arena and later Gadiel, I think that was the order of stallion play. Gadiel is trained to rear on a cue, I seriously think he would be a great horse for a movie set! He was gorgeous! I couldn't help but verbalize my awe with a loud "Ooooh!"

Legs getting some petting from everyone
Next we headed into the house to watch a video about the history of the Polish Arabian horse. It was pretty interesting to see how many times the breed strain was threatened with "extinction". We learned about a lot of famous studs and mares that contributed to the Polish strain. The concept of the best representation of the Arabian breed was throughout the movie, it's not so important the strain. Breeders should strive for the best Arabian they can breed whether it's Polish, Russian, Crabbet, Egyptian or a cross of the strains. It's still very good to know the history. Steve and I had to leave early since he was traveling to Mississippi the next day and we needed to get sleep. I hope Laurie has these more regularly since I had a blast and would love to get to know everyone a little better!
Gadiel in the spotlight

November 07, 2011

Time goes by and lessons continue seat grows steadier

My riding lessons have progressed quite nicely. Laurie is keeping me on the lungeline and I'm quite happy with that for now. It's really helping me isolate my seat in my thoughts so I've been able to really sink down, work harder at following the saddle and keeping my legs long.

The last couple of rides have been very satisfying. I do get frustrated at myself easily so it's great when I can relax and let myself revel in the simple accomplishments. Eventually I'll go off the lungeline again and incorporate the hands etc., the the point of lungelining is to get the muscle memory so when a new element is added my seat doesn't suddenly fall apart.

With all my falls and mishaps I am very happy to take a step back and work on this. I know I'll take a step back in a sense when I get my new horse since there will be holes in training that need to be worked on. How will I work that and keep up with my training? Perhaps one Divine lesson and one trailer in lesson? We'll cross that bridge!

I am so looking forward to having my own horse. I've perused the rescues lately and have seen several potential canidates. I've also looked at craigslist and some of the "down on their luck" people trying to just find a good home for their horse. I even inquired about a nice ranch horse but he wasa 14 years old and I really want to stay fairly young so I have plenty years of hard trail riding/endurance to share with my first horse.

I have several more posts in the que so to speak, time has just flown by and I haven't stopped to write on my blog.  It's like my life and all is going light speed and I cannot slow it down.  The sand in the timer is nearing it's end and I feel panicky almost!  I need a good long trail ride!  I'll post more soon

Coming up: Client Appreciation Day at Quintessential Arabians, Dover Saddlery!!!, Divine and Serpentines!!!

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