Who is FRED?

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Last Sunday my barn hosted an awesome non-riding clinic named FRED. Fun Rider Education Day. There was a mental skills portion and “From the Judges View” feature, which just happened to coincide with a (quarterly?) visit from an awesome dressage coach. I’d missed the chance to have a lesson from her the past few times she’d visited, so I added a dressage lesson to my educational itinerary for the day!

Dressage Lesson

The lesson began with introduction where the trainer asked about what we’re currently working, what level we compete at, etc.
I told her we usually do 2’6 hunters at local schooling shows and are currently working on, besides everything, is preventing Leo from anticipating. Leo is smart, and clearly knows his job, so he knows that after we’ve walked and trotted and then walked again, we canter. He then anticipates the transition, and as soon as I pick up the reins he’s balky and jumpy, with a hollow back and head up and it’s just ugly.
The dressage instructor had us working on the same ol’ inside leg to outside rein concepts, but micro-managing our every move in the best way! She even went as far as to walk along side us holding my hands exactly where they should be in each part of a circle, give and take on the inside rein and holding the outside. When she could see that Leo was getting less and less responsive in the trot she had us canter a lap each way to wake him up, which worked well but also brought out the anticipatory monster in him after we went back to working at the trot. She immediately identified my problem: I’m telling him what NOT to do instead of what I want him to do. He goes to canter as soon as I pick up the reins, so I tell him whoa and clamp the reins and take my leg off - it was that visible. This unengages his hind end and creates even more frustration. She told me I need to give him something to work on and stop saying “no, no, no”.
It worked instantly. He gets balky? Leg on. She identified another one of my problems: abandoning him. Just because he knows his job doesn’t mean he’s going to magically collect himself and get the perfect pace and distance - he’s just not that horse. I’ve added that to my growing list of Things to Improve, as well.
Needless to say, my anticipated discipline transfer to dressage would not be very successful, despite my love for matching saddle pads and polos.

Mental Skills

The Mental Skills clinic was taught by the amazing, Tonya Johnston. I won’t give away all of her secrets, because she has many resources available to riders struggling with their mental fitness or nervousness associated with riding. I would say that the overall theme of her talk was on being cognizant or aware of, well, everything involving your riding. It’s important to notice what is working for your riding [not just what doesn’t]. To put it simply, one must be mindful, set goals and reflect on your time in the saddle. Journaling your lessons to create a personal riding “textbook” (like an outline you’d make before a final exam) was personally my favorite exercise discussed. I would highly recommend attending one of her mental skills clinics, purchasing her book or even visiting her website to set up a phone conversation to speak with her for personal coaching.

Equitation, Hunter and
Derby Judging

The USEF R Judge who presented was also super informative! She began her discussion on equitation, while the front page of the Equitation section of the USEF rulebook was passed out. The first sentence reads, “Rider should have a workmanlike appearance, seat and hands light and supple, conveying the impression of complete control should any emergency arise.” She emphasized that many equitation riders can be faulted for looking like they are placed into position nicely on a horse, while stiff and unable to follow the motion of the horse. You’re not to sit and look pretty. Function is emphasized.

  • When you enter the ring for an equitation round, unless your sitting trot is 110%, posting is fine - unless the sitting trot is explicitly called for (in a work-off or flat phase/class). Same goes for exiting an eq class. I also got the okay to walk in and go straight to the canter, so goodbye ugly, choppy anticipatory trot in!

  • Walk through the in-gate! Always!

  • Also don’t take a tour around the entire arena with your “entrance circle” - use it to make a good first impression.

  • Be timely at the gate - the judge and the announcer has been sitting around all day, don’t make them wait any longer, especially not noticeably rehearsing your course (by waving your whip around in a figure 8). The courses are posted in the morning. Learn them.

  • For Hunters: unless you have a young horse that needs extra balancing (or a horse with a tough lead), you walk in the ring, pick up your trot and then go straight to your canter. Not: walk > trot > walk > canter. Equitation it’s okaaay, but only if necessary because you can’t pick up the wrong lead otherwise. Huge points off for the wrong lead in an eq class.

  • Stirrup irons - make sure they are at least ‘metal’ color. The judge presenting likes just the standard stainless stirrups, but would not penalize a different type of iron except for a black color. Competitors cannot be eliminated for stirrup type. I’m going to be keeping my Lorenzinis until my trainers tell me otherwise…

  • Judges are not hoping for you to make a mistake! They want all the riders to do well.

  • The Hunter Derby: regular hunters on steroids. There are 2 rounds, a separate panel of judges, more natural jumps [haybales, walls, etc.]. The courses are built for more pace and animation. Successful derby horses do not have to be the typical, daisy-cutter hunter movers. Good jumpers are rewarded more than good movers. The order reverses for the handy round.

For the scorecard [looks like this], where judges document each round, each fence is judged and documented and the overall impression in noted in the comments. From there, the total score is determined and written in the scores section, where the judge can look at previous round to determine the round’s placement. So it’s not like dressage where your trot in is scored at x / 10, and your canter in the corner from 5 to 6 is scored at y / 10… actually I’m not even sure how dressage is scored. But Equitation and Hunter judging is about each fence’s score and then overall impression.

After our discussion, we all went outside to observe two trainers from my barn attempt a hunter, equitation and work off round. Hearing live feedback from a judge was sooo interesting! Mostly because the trainers she judged are, I would say objectively, amazing riders. They would trot in for their pretend class and the judge was like, “They’re okay, leg seems okay and position is alright” which is probably the understatement of the year. And she would go on critiquing their rounds, sometimes very bluntly, but they’d finish and she’d give a awesome [well-deserved] score like an 83. The whole thing just made me excited to have my riding picked apart so honestly, so time to get excited for my next show!

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10/10 would do FRED again!

Reflections on Last Weekend's Schooling Show

Top 4 U/S were all ladies from my barn. We got 4th and Leo could not look more proud to pose for a picture. Other horses? Not so much.

Top 4 U/S were all ladies from my barn. We got 4th and Leo could not look more proud to pose for a picture. Other horses? Not so much.

Last weekend I had my first “schooling” show of the year with Leo. My barn hosts local association shows a few times a year and I’m always happy to have a low pressure and low cost opportunity to show. It was both Saturday and Sunday, and I wish I could bottle the feeling of pure bliss getting off work that Friday with the sun still shining, heading to the barn for a final lesson and school a bit in the hedge ring. Leo absolutely knew exactly what this meant.

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We had an awesome and unusually energetic warm-up. Things that happened during our school: jumped things way bigger than the level we showed at, an exuberant Leo bucking and playing after said big but fun jumps, doing five strides in a long six, my crop broke because it went into my boot upon one wonky landing, a refusal to another big oxer because a bug flew in my eye and Leo knew something was up (good call bud, my eyes were closed). We basically raced around the course like we were planning on winning a jumper class. I would say it was a train-wreck but I was laughing the entire time and Leo felt so good, so how could I not enjoy it? I felt like we got a great school in, but heading home I started to have doubts. What if I can’t hold him together in the ring and he goes around happily bucking and playing? What if I pull him to another refusal like last show?? I put it out of my mind. A glass of wine helped.

My goal for the weekend was to get around the courses without worrying about winning and to have FUN. Needless to say, GOALS MET. Looking back on the weekend, I may have embarrassed myself a bit. Don’t mind the girl at the [schooling] show overdressed with a braided horse happily chipping and laughing about it, with unasked for upward transitions and definitely not using my corners. That’s fine though, Leo was a v. good boy and looked genuinely happy in all the videos and got absolutely showered with treats for being so wonderful. I can’t get over his swivel ears, jump hunting and constantly checking in with, “Okay, where we headed next?” I even heard someone sitting near my husband on one of our videos say, “He just look so happy to do his job!” as we entered the ring. Gonna need a parent signature slip for that feel trip.

Some thoughts about my rounds:

Saturday

U/S. I sincerely hope the judge Saturday shared my sense of humor. We had two accidental upward transitions and each time I was definitely making eye contact with her. When our trot was finally getting to floaty-status: Surprise Canter. How we didn’t come in last, I’m not sure. And damn, was Leo annoyed that we couldn’t just gallop around. I was laughing around the entire ring.

1. Heading into the ring with our nice trot, the surprise canter transition strikes again. I think this threw me off enough to think that we were really forward, a common fault of mine. Well, we weren’t. I pulled to a trot for our first fence. We did not place. Added in the first line. I still had it in my head that we were GALLOPING. We were not. Pulled to a bad trot/chip stride for the long approach oxer. Chipped into the last line.

2. Enter attempting to keep the trot to the end of the rail, so our trot looks sad and ugly and I still didn’t keep the gait. Still crawling at the canter, chip our first jump. Did NOT get the change, even trying to trot it and picking up the wrong lead again! Obviously did not do well in this class either. We are able to gallop down the lines regardless of what madness I try to pull. Nail the long approach! He’s perfect.

3. The Mini Medal! Super late change after fence 1, and then an awwwful chip, but then our rollback is beautiful. He really gets so powerful and lovely and turn-y with the outside rein and leg combo buttons. Our halts could use some work. Should I have patted him at the halt? Probably not. We also argued about doing a canter step before the trot jump so he takes off from like 10 feet away (Can I stop thrusting my hips forward with the trot jumps? Yuck.).

 

Sunday

4. Here’s another huge upward transition mistake! We were supposed to make a trot loop around the arena, like a backwards ‘c’, and then pick up our right lead. We head in across the diagonal and Leo’s like WEEEEE LEFT LEAD. I’m thinking: that gives me two very ugly options, lead change or simple trot change. I went with a very poorly executed lead change. In retrospect, I could have just brought him back to the trot… but at least we had a good pace after our ugly change. Going into the diagonal line you can clearly see that my reins have become a problem (a common fault of mine). He jumps the white and red line suuuper cute, but I need to focus on not letting him get so close to the out jumps of the lines! For some reason I become a coward to the long-approach oxer, which is actually not usually my problem. See a spooky thing outside the arena coming to the last line and then we’re on a roll and take a distance I did not expect… this happens to me occasionally (see: all the time) and my trainer always tells me to “just go with him” and I’m like I would but my brain doesn’t compute. Anyway, it looked like we were out fox hunting or something, so give me a grab strap and some extra points for that lively jump! It is called hunters, right?

5. Me: attempts to keep his trot under control. Leo: no canter? Well, you’re definitely not going to get a nice trot out of me.
First fence was okay! Butchered the long approach again. No spookies at the outside line! Very cute diagonal. I attempt to use my corner, reins get long again. I thought that round went pretty well!

6. Same ugly entrance, good first fence! The bending line was a solid 6.5 strides, and I planned for a slight bulge out for a 7. We still could have stepped up a bit but it rode well. After the bending I completely forgot my course! I was just like, uhhhh well it makes sense for us to end up over here so maybe do this line? And then remembered the trot jump at the last second. It made for a seamless transition, though! I was so impressed that I remembered the trot jump that I wasn’t focusing on the line and turned a bit too soon and without being organized. Chip = rail = points off. Good halt and made easy work of the last line. Almost trotted out of the ring, but even with all the mistakes, still ended up with a second!

All in all, especially after watching the videos and knowing that the mistakes I made are not only common for me, but ones that I have made and also corrected in the past, I feel confident that we can go into our next show and make definite improvements. I’m hoping we’ll be able to focus more on the medals and equitation classes, too!

 
 

How I Got My Groove Back: Lesson Update - March 2019

Last November I had two somewhat iffy falls (which I obviously did not dwell on) which seemed planted amid a series of unfortunate events. Fires in Northern California and a few storms kept me from diving right back into jumping the way I thought would be ideal for getting rid of my new-found fears. I think my step back helped me regain my confidence more efficiently in the end. My trainers were also amazing at structuring a series of confidence building lessons. I was able to return to “jumping” with exercises like a simple 5-stride line of cavalettis and as well as small grids to incorporate larger jumps.

In early January there was a storm so extreme that the middle section of our indoor was blown off, essentially splitting our indoor into 2 one-third sections on each end. This meant that our entire barn had a new [mandatory] focus on flat work and smaller jumps. Again, back to basics for the winter was not the worst news to me and it was a great exercise in taking it slow and confidence building. When I say ‘confidence building’ I don’t necessarily mean that I was scared to jump anymore after my initial reintroduction, but there are always holes in your education where just doing one thing repetitively at a very low level can give you the chance to make mistakes, identify, and then correct them without the worry about jump height or ‘can the horse make it from this ridiculous distance I just set up?’.

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Once the footing was dry enough to lesson outside, we were able to apply a lot of what we’d been working on inside which could basically be boiled down to: is the horse listening? We jumped the wall! Insert sassy girl emoji. I’d been warned previously about Leo’s “tendencies”, can’t do this, won’t jump that. Well, you expect more, you get more. I was riding with a newer trainer at my barn for this lesson who did not share the previous knowledge of him not doing x or y because z. She told me to go get it, and at my first turn towards the jump Leo was super offended. But she had me come around again, trot right up to it, slow to a walk, let him investigate and canter away, circling so that we didn’t pass the jump. We came to it confidently and supportive and he just did it. NBD. We also ended up doing the black plank jump in a course that day, which I don’t think we’ve done since last November - the planks were the original culprit in my falling-off legacy. Did I mention to my trainer that either of those things could cause issues? Nah. The more you focus on it, the more it’s likely to happen. Stop. Dwelling. Also, I can’t say enough about working with more than one trainer. Each one has different insights, different ways to explain things and can pick up different difficulties you and your horse are having.


Side Note: I watched the first episode of The Saddle Club recently after discussing the show with a friend since she absolutely needs to start watching it with her daughter. No joke, in the first episode one of the kids (Carol, duh) is afraid of jumping the wall and I was just like, wow is my life really a children’s horse show right now? Should I really be this proud about jumping a “scary” jump? Oh, and here’s the link because I know you want to watch.


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So anyway, the lesson!

What can I even say about it? It was so good! It’s been rainy the past few weeks/months/all of winter, and so we’ve been stuck inside relegated to either side of the covered arena. I won’t say it’s been awful though, it’s clearly made a huge difference in my riding, the need to ride in a collected manner helped me learn to sit the canter and control my body a bit more over the jumps if I’m not allowing him to immediately extend after even a small jump - there’s no room to let him go anywhere. Proper turns that use every available inch of a corner (opening outside rein!) also really aided me both indoors and in this lesson. And finally, all this rain and riding inside has made me appreciate being outside and having a proper jump lesson.

I can remember last summer and fall not looking forward to my jumping lessons because I found them daunting, stressful and probably too frequent. Jumping, though I feel it probably shouldn’t, takes considerably more mental effort than flatwork. If you have a goal in mind for your flatwork, e.g. practicing a halt by a certain place in the arena, and it doesn’t work out you can simply try again, noting what went wrong the first time. If you’re jumping and misjudge a distance or don’t get your proper, energetic canter, things can turn south quickly.

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I don’t know what it was about this day, but every single distance came up perfectly, Leo was totally excited and willing. Well, I probably know why we did so well. The day before we worked on a set of poles and eventually cavalettis on the ground set at 3 strides and worked on collecting enough to get 4 in, and switching back and forth for my pace perception and his adjustability. The concept just carried over to this day.

Our only ‘miss’ was when he spooked at the liverpool that we’d already passed ten times, but that’s horses, and it wasn’t awwwful. My only critique would be that my right heel is now able to flex much further down [and is overall stronger] than my left, so that’s next on my To Work On list. It’s also ridiculously hard to rein in Leo’s stride down the 4 to 4, but but hopefully can work on that with my seat and position. We did just switch to a D-ring Happy Mouth, so we’re still learning how to effectively use it. He’s excited, he’s happy and he’s got a monster stride. It was great practice for next weekend though, since he loves to gallop down the lines (and so do I tbh).

Should out to my barnmate’s friend for taking video for me! I owe you Shelby!

Lesson Update - January 2019

My husband was generous enough to come out and video another lesson (in a short span of two weeks?) and so here we are. The weather was gorgeous that day and I even rode in just my base layer. I also didn’t fiddle with the camera setting and as always am super pleased with my talented videographer hubby.

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Exercises

Starting in our Thursday night flat lesson we worked on a curved pole exercise: normal five strides, wide track to 6, straight track for 4. You can see in the video I go out around the white jump for the 4 stride, straight approach, and stayed inside for a more curved approach to a 5. Lately we’ve been mostly working on track change and how it affects distances.

When doing roll-backs, it’s easier to find a distance if you turn sooner so if you see you’re getting to the jump too quickly or slowly, you can shift out or in on the turn to adjust for a better stride (track change), whereas if you approach straight from farther away, your only options are to move up or slow down (speed change).

Also got a quick refresher on inside leg to outside rein for collection, but adding outside leg back for a slight whole body bend makes for even easier collection (honestly, I totally forgot that trick).

The Good

Leo is perfectly capable of doing the wave planks! We had been avoiding that jump because it can be a bit spooky for them, but he was unfazed, even knocking one the first time over (which is why I look so pleased after the rail, totally thought he would over-jump it!).

I got almost all of my distances, and even the “bad” ones weren’t ridiculous.

Last Sunday the storm was so bad that it ripped off the mid-section of the arena cover (I am seriously devastated for the barn owners) and Leo has been completely composed thus far.

Pretty much last weekend’s storm @ Leo

Pretty much last weekend’s storm @ Leo

Leo’s new very reasonably priced breastplate has worked perfectly so far with no saddle slippage to report!

The Bad

My hands have not improved since my last video and if anything, have gotten worse. My trainer pointed out that I was leading a lot with my right hand and I think my excuse coming towards some of the jumps was to indicate to Leo that he should be landing the right lead – it worked once – but I think there are more correct ways to hold the lead… and my right hand was forward the entire lesson, not just before the jumps so just a bad excuse.

Also, my hands didn’t really follow during at all during my courses - so, I’ve regressed. Even over the jumps, I’m still sitting up like half a second too early.

I’m THIS close to ordering some resistance bands to train myself to follow properly again. My wrists are also excessively in the hanging position, which I think will be most difficult habit to correct. I sleep with my wrists bent like that, they’re in that position all day when I’m typing at work.

Leo was also a bit grumpy and possibly sore from vaccines the weekend before. Luckily there’s a probably reason for his sour mood. Where are his perked ears over the jumps?

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NorCal Hunter/Jumper Association Clinic Auditing

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This past weekend I was lucky enough to audit the NorCal Clinic, taught this year by Mandy Porter. Mandy is one of my riding heroes, who I first noticed when I attended the SIHS Grand Prix and again when I found out that she competes many of Wild Turkey Farms' young horses (seriously, #horsegoals). As an instructor, I found her to be sympathetic, engaged, knowledgeable and super kind. I actually applied to ride in the clinic but count myself lucky that I didn’t get in since it’s been a rough few riding weeks (smoke, falls, rain, etc.). Had the clinic been in August or September, I would be crushed that I didn’t get in, but was happy to audit this time around!

There were two two-day session of the clinic. I missed the first day, gymnastics, but saw all of Day 2, coursework, and then some of Days 3 and 4.


A lot of the concepts covered were ideas I’d previously been introduced to in lessons. A lot of supple-ing exercises, figure eights, serpentines were used at the beginning of the sessions. The hardest exercise, in my opinion, was the canter to trot to canter transitions on a circle, so I think this will be the first one I attempt when I ride next. I also noted that when doing circles, serpentines or figure eights, don’t pull your inside rein down (many rider’s hands were too low) and your outside rein and outside leg should create a ‘wall’ so that your horse’s hind end doesn’t swing or fishtail out.

Main Emphasized Concepts

  • a good balanced, quality canter matters much more than distances, rhythm is more important than your distance

  • if you have an iffy distance, don’t let your horse know that it wasn’t exactly what you wanted - no last minute rein grabbing or pony kicking (bumping is fine)

  • when you start your course, get your horse in front of your leg (wish I could inset a clapping emoji here). get them moving off your leg and then collect! check that you have all your buttons that you’ll utilize during your course

  • track is also super important, don’t motorcycle turn, don’t cut corners!

What I liked most about her teaching was that she was really empathetic to everyone’s struggles. At one point, a rider was approaching the first fence and found it on the half stride, got a refusal. Found the same distance a second time, refusal. They lowered the fence slightly and she got over it and then got a refusal on the second fence, not because the distance but because the rider and the horse were both now questioning each other. Mandy wasn’t frustrated or angry, but was firm that they now absolutely had to get through the course. Both for the rider’s and the horse’s confidence. Through every portion of the course, Mandy could identify where one of the two felt like hesitating, told the rider “bump him with your leg, bump here" and they got successfully got through the course. She explained that the rider was stronger for having had a few refusals and then being brave enough to overcome. “You have to want to get to the other side of the jump."

Mandy never acted like these were struggles she doesn’t worry about or that she’s never had. I know I’ve had lessons like that where I think so myself, okay, if I can’t correct this I’m both ruining my own confidence and my horse’s, there’s no choice - I have to get over this fence.

The majority of the clinic progressed just like, very encouraging, and I think all the riders left feeling accomplished and got to do some complicated and challenging courses successfully. I definitely walked away feeling more excited to get back to jumping!

Equestrian Gift Guide 2018

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The Best Time of Year always comes with one of my favorite activities – gift giving! Why? I like the challenge. How? I’m not sure – most of the time I just give people things that I would probably want to receive myself, things that are useful but not so necessary that someone would purchase it themselves. Basic criteria. Obviously I can’t share my gift list for all my loved ones, that would spoil the surprise, but I can provide some ideas for the equestrian in your life.

So, let’s get to it! This guide is perfect for “naive” (meaning they haven’t already received your own Wish List) horse husbands or SOs, parents of horse crazy girls, adult amateurs looking for gifts for their fellow riders or trainer or for your very own steed.

  1. Tucker Tweed James River Carryall

    When girls become horse girls, suddenly their entire shopping fund is refocused towards horses. Treat her to something that she can use to pull together an everyday outfit that still has a subtle nod to their equine obsession. TT bags are high quality and timeless, which is great because she won’t have any funds to allocate to a purse budget for at least another year.

  2. ColorTack Black Roller Ball Spurs

    Another super useful gift that may be slightly more expensive than one would prefer to purchase for themselves. Got a hunter gift recipient? Grab those in black or a neutral bronze or slate color. Jumper or eventer? Snatch up a pair in their matching competition color!

  3. The Skydio R1

    Obviously this is not in everyone’s price range, but how cool is this thing!? How much do you think your barnmates would love to share a selfie drone?? Forget asking anyone to video your lesson ever again! Alternatives: the Soloshot for the ground view or a GoPro for a first person point of view. If you’re still hopeful for the drone, just remember that six years ago a 4K TV was $20,000, and now you can pick one up for around $650. There’s hope! #mooreslaworsomething

  4. Quarter Sheet

    Back on Track has a whole range of therapeutic warming products for you and your horse. The quarter sheet would make an awesome gift for your horse because it’s just a little extra, and probably wouldn’t be a normal purchase. And if your climate is anything like Northern California’s, Real Winter has only just begun, so you’ve got a few more even colder months to get through and why not help your horse get through them in comfort?

  5. Roeckl Madrid Glove

    These gloves are so gorgeous! Roeckl, always with a quality product, offers this sportier design with a bunch of super cool color combinations. My personal favorite is the black and gold, but there are plenty of options for everyone’s style and riding wardrobe color palette (that’s a thing, right?).

  6. Hunt Club Show Shirt

    Hunt Club is one of my favorite equestrian brands and their entrance to the show apparel is very exciting! These shirts are beautifully designed, and, if they’re the same quality as their other riding clothing, will a great addition to anyone’s show wardrobe. Plus, show clothes, while not utilized right away, are always greatly appreciated as they prevent the recipient from scrambling to order a few show shirts days before a summer show!

  7. Tiger Tongue

    The tiger tongue is a grooming tool/sponge that’s taking the equestrian world by storm, or something. Use wet or dry, on sensitive areas or to remove dust and dirt from a thick coat. Seems like a cool idea, has mostly rave reviews and a great price point as a stocking stuffer.

  8. Uniqlo Down Jacket, Vest or Parka

    My current favorite brand for cold weather barn wear isn’t Asmar, it isn’t Patagonia, not even Ariat or Joulles. It’s all about Uniqlo. Their down jackets are warm, but also cheap enough that I don’t freak over horse snot and slobber or treat crumbs. They wash up easily and retain their warmth and down, and also come in so many more neutral colors than any other down-wear I can think of!

  9. Sport Horse Essentials Gift Pack

    SHE is an awesome up and coming all natural brand that manufactures grooming sprays and salves, and gifts often end up being a great way to try out a new brand. It’s both useful and something you wouldn’t normally purchase yourself since you’re stuck in a brand-loyalty rut.

  10. Custom Horse Ornament

    While brainstorming ideas for my 2018 Gift Guide, I knew I wanted something strictly for Christmas-use and ornaments are always a great gift to give, at least in my opinion. I went searching for a custom horse ornament and stumbled upon Hamer & Clay and Kelsey’s adorable designs! Her Etsy shop has since been shut down, so you can’t order from her but they were too cute to not include in my list. I even tried to message her on Instagram to no avail.

  11. Wine Down Hoof Pick

    This is actually an item I already own, but I could totally see working out as a prize at a barn party, white elephant or secret Santa. Pair it with a cute nameplate and you’ve got a super cute and thoughtful gift that will last for years.

  12. Saratoga Bandages

    Okay, so I definitely already have a set of these polos, but I’m SO obsessed!! They are super easy to wrap, never slip, look super classy in every color and with SmartPak’s embroidery options, you can customize them with your loved one’s name or monogram. Just be sure to order early if you do get them embroidered!

Lesson Update - October 2018

So I was all excited to show off my mad skills, jumping full 3’ courses, kickin’ ass and taking names for this lesson update. But then I got sick and went on vacation, lost absolutely all of my bravery and conditioning and so here’s just another normal video update! (not to say it’s all about height AT ALL, it’s just another measure of our exciting progress)

We struggled especially hard with left to right transitions that day, a bit of a regression because I thought we were past that part of our lives. If I’m making excuses for him it’s because we had a very taxing flat lesson the night before and he might’ve been just a little sore. Plus, we had an actual flat warm-up before we started jumping in this lesson, which is not usually the case.

We started out jumping a little vertical left to right, not my favorite exercise, but usually not that much of a problem. Usually, the trick to Leo’s lead changes are asking with the inside leg, and since his lead preference is the left, that is my also weak side since I never have to ask hard for that lead. So when I go to ask for the right lead change my trainer had try something different than the usual ask-with-the-new-inside-leg, it ended up being more difficult than it should’ve been. Something to work on for sure!

Course 1

Same direction over the vertical we had just practiced over, so I had to tell him we weren’t circling again. Simple change, my God, but had a great jump 2, still didn’t get the left to right change in time for the bending line. For some amateur reason I circle… after fence 3 my trainer tells me to just walk which is always a great sign. She explained to me that my distances and jumps weren’t terrible and there’s no reason for him to not be getting the change. Further explained, his hind end was drifting way left making it hard for him to get the change in the back - make him curl around my right leg by moving my left back to get the change. She also had me switch my crop to my left hand so if I use it behind my leg he feels it on his left hind to start the canter stride.

Honestly, I was surprised but it worked! For Take II, I had a little more horse under me but we got around the course getting all our lead changes in a somewhat reasonable amount of time, still circled, but no one’s perfect. Except us over that last jump, right??

Course 2

Started with the fence 2 to 3 then to fence 1 of the first course, and then back around to the series of bendy yellow fences, the opposite way. He was so good and forgave me for pulling to the red fence when I wasn’t paying attention At All, but the last three fences were perfection. And he’s really just such a good boy, always forgives, always looks to the next fence and is just so willing and once he realized I was switching it up and applying pressure on his left side he was so good about the lead changes. If you can see, watch his ears swivel around listening for further instruction after every jump, probably hoping for a “good booyyyyyy” which means his course is over, but then you point him to a fence and his ears perk and lock on… he’s just too cute!

Positive Notes:

  • I’ve gotten better at following with my hand/staying over. (at least if I find a good distance)

  • My half seat looks and feels pretty solid.

  • A good 8/10 distances were spot on!

  • I used to have an issue with curling into a ball on the approach to a jump and I’ve finally got into the habit of supporting to the base. #posturematters

  • I didn’t get mad or frustrated about the lead change issue - I know it’s just a temporary problem, we all have off days, even horses!

  • Looking at the progress I’ve made from last October is also somewhat gratifying. In the video below it looks like Leo is struggling to put up with my riding, and I’m struggling to do anything at all.