First Jumping Lesson

I went to my first jumping lesson last Wednesday night. No pics,  sorry.  I went by myself. 

I was so nervous before it started! Really nervous! Sweaty palms,  heat racing, type nervous. 

They brought up 2 horses, and a pony. Guess who got the pony? 😂 

Actually,  it was a super cute pony who was about the size of Joy. 

There were three other ladies close to my age in the class.  All at about my level of riding (bit more experienced in jumping).  I was worried about riding in front of them at first,  and making a fool out of myself,  but they were so incredibly nice.   

I haven’t 2 pointed in 30 odd years. I couldn’t seem to get the mechanics of it down.  It seems so simple,  and yet I was either tipping forward or falling back.  I couldn’t stop posting in 2 point.  What’s up with that?!? 

Instructor had us go over a line of poles on the ground first.  The lesson pony,  Willow, handled them with ease. I just clung on and focused on my body position while Willow did all the work.  

When the instructor was satisfied with our pole work she let us jump a single cross rail.  

I had mixed emotions about going over the first jump.  Excited, with an undercurrent of feeling nauseous.  Part of me wanted to quit,  but the other ladies there weren’t scared.  They weren’t even phased.  It made me feel like I could do it too.  

The first lady rode over the cross rail easily and then it was my turn.  Those jumps seem so big when I’m on the back of a horse.  They also seem to get massively larger the closer I get to it.  What was a 6 inch jump, started looking like a 4 foot oxer in my mind by the time we got to it.  

I closed my eyes. 

Willow jumped over it easily and with a nice fluid effort.  Easy to ride it.  I got scolded for ducking my upper body down (oops),  and i made a mental note to fix it next jump. 

Second jump was easier.  Jump seemed a lot smaller this time.  I kept my upper body as still as possible.  I had issues holding 2 point though and wobbled backward a bit. I wasn’t quite in balance. 

Then the instructor changed things up and had us jump the first cross rail the opposite way, and continue down the line to the 2nd cross rail.    
I tried to watch the other ladies as they did their jumps.  They made it seem easy. 

Then my turn…  The first cross rail went well,  but as soon as the pony landed she started cantering.  I’ve never cantered over a jump before and the second jump was coming up very fast!  I was freaking out.  I was mid-debate with myself about pulling the pony back to a trot or not when suddenly we were at the next cross rail.  It seemed so massive.  At least a 6 foot wall.  I grabbed mane.  Pony soared over it and landed gracefully on the other side.  My heart was thudding in my chest.  I almost wanted to quit at that point.  And yet..  OMG it was fun.  Scary,  but fun! 

Instructor had us come around and try it again.  This time it didn’t seem quite as big of a jump,  nor as terrifying when the pony cantered up to it.  Not quite the smoothest approach to the fence,  but I felt like we stayed in sync a bit better the second time. 

We did that line a couple more times and by the end I felt a lot braver about jumping.  

I’m still not really confident in my 2 point position.  And I had issues with keeping my upper body up when I closed the angle of my hips.  I think it’s lack of strong back muscles.  I was really feeling every back muscle after I got off the pony.  Those were the only muscles that felt sore afterward.

I go back for my second lesson on the 11th. I’m really excited about it.  Really fun group of ladies and I get to challenge my fears and learn new things.  I can’t wait! 

Oh,  I was really pleased that the instructor praised me for staying balanced when the pony jumped the second line of cross rails. She said the strides were off,  or something,  and so pony had to jump from a bad spot.  Instructor said I did a good job of staying out of the way and not messing up the pony’s balance.  I was thinking..   “My motto in life: stay out of the way and keep the peace” 😂 

All in all,  a fantastic group of ladies to ride with,  a safe and well trained pony to learn on, and a knowledgeable instructor who pushed me just outside my comfort zone but not beyond. It waa an exhilarating experience.  Scary, but exhilarating. 

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Catch Ride

A friend of mine contacted me a few days ago about riding her horse once or twice a week.  

I love riding other people’s horse. Plus,  there’s always a bit of an adrenaline rush when being asked to sit on someone else’s beloved horse.  😁 
Since I’ve been super depressed about how far away from my goals I’ve gotten,  and how I really miss interacting with other horse people,  I thought this might be a good way to feel helpful and satisfy my social interaction a bit.  

I especially wanted an opportunity to ride a horse  like my friend’s horse.  A 16.3h Oldenburg cross with movement to die for, and a temperment to match. It’s been ages since I’ve been on a horse this nice. 

So we met up yesterday for a test run. 

After climbing a full set of stairs,  I was able to mount the beast.  Unfortunately,  no one owns stirrups for midgets anymore.  If I pointed my toes down I could almost keep the irons from rattling around below me as I rode,  but not much use to me.  

Big trot on this guy.  Lot of upward movement.  Smoother than Ava,  but more powerful.  Unfortunately,  he was lame… 

A lot of nervous,  yet lazy,  energy.  The kind of horse that is normally safe,  but can be frustrating because their feet are sticky while their brains are going a million miles an hour.  

i.e. The typical TB brain,  but stuck in a warmbloods body.  😂 

Anyway,  I think I could do the horse a lot of good.  His issues right now are all issues I’ve dealt with before with Ava and Joy.  Forward off a light aid,  keeping the forward energy without being nagged,  straightness,  etc. The normal,  basic stuff. 

What really got me last night was how incredibly insecure I felt about riding my friend’s horse in front of her.  

I felt like I wasn’t going to measure up.  I was afraid to address any issues,  for fear of being judged as incompetent.  I was afraid that she would realize I suck and never ask me to come back again. 

Talk about insecure!  Gesh! 

Don’t think this was any reflection on my friend.  She’s one of the nicest people I know.  This was entirely my own insecurities giving me a good shake up last night.  

The plan,  as we left it,  is to meet up next week for another try,  I’ll bring my midget stirrup leathers this time,  and hopefully the horse will be sound.  I’ll have to figure out how to bash down my own insecurities so I can do this horse justice and not just be a passenger.  

Also,  I found out this barn the horse is at has several clinics a year.   Now that i know where it’s at,  I’ll have to audit a couple.  

I’ll keep you posted on what happens next.  Fingers crossed I get asked back.  Second fingers crossed that I overcome my horrendous insecurity issues before then.  😀

VIP at a Grand Prix show

Visited my parents last week and my father surprised us with VIP tickets at the Fox Lea Farm “Under the Stars” $25,000 Grand Prix jumping show. Talk about fun!!

They let us walk the course (the jumps were huge). I’ve never been this close to jumps at this level. I can’t even imagine riding a horse over this. This jump is taller than both of my horses.

me

Our table was right of the middle in this covered area, and we had a great view of the entire course (picture taken from backside).

viptent

We got complimentary drinks and food for being VIP. Pictured below is just a very, very small sample of the goodies we were given. We also had fresh shrimp, a plethora of yummy appetizers to choose from, cookies and chocolate treats. You could also choose different types of beer or wine.

Needless to say, we were stuffed and drunk by the time the show ended.

loot

The riding was fantastic! I have nothing but blurry photos this time, but the horses were gorgeous and the riders were great.

jump

They gave us a score card so we could follow along with times and scoring.

We had dragged a couple of non-horsey friends with us and they had a blast too.

This was such an awesome experience. With five of us at the VIP table (which holds 6) the price was quite reasonable for what they gave us (free access to more food than you can possibly eat, more alcohol than you can drink, some of the best deserts I’ve had in a long time, and a great view of the action).

It was  a blast!!

This venue also hosts some high end dressage shows, but my visits never seem to coincide with those. Maybe next year I can get over to see the upper level dressage riders perform. 🙂

Super Awesome Day

Yesterday my work day was going terrible.  Nothing worked.  My computer was slogging away at simple tasks,  people were yelling wanting me to work faster,  I couldn’t get anything to work.. It was terrible.  A thoroughly wretched Monday. 

I get home and hubby is sitting in the garage with the dogs waiting for me (which always brightens up my day).  I give him a peck on the cheek and run inside to change into riding pants,  then outside to the barn.  I figured I’d ride Ava while I had some daylight left,  then clean stalls (since the barn has lights). 

But when I got into the barn. . . . 

ALL OF THE STALLS ARE CLEAN!!! 

Hubby cleaned the stalls,  turned Ava out into the big pasture,  swept the barn,  and dumped the poop! 

I have the most amazing hubby ever!! 

Not one to pass up a gift,  I grabbed Ava,  tacked up,  and we headed off to the fields behind us.  

I had a blast! 

We trotted through the twisty,  winding trails in the pine trees.  We watched two deer run beside us.  We galloped through the field and raced up the hills.  

It was AWESOME!! 

Ava seemed to enjoy it also.  Her normal “I don’t wanna go above a walk” sulky behavior dissappeared and was replaced with a high energy,  raring to go mare! She was responsive,  light,  and full of pep! 

Best day in a long time! 
All thanks to my wonderful husband! 

I swear,  there’s no amount of stress a good gallop can’t get rid of. 

An old video

I was looking at some old video’s I had, and thought I’d share this one (for those who haven’t seen it).

I have a headache that won’t go away. I have an impending milestone birthday tomorrow, and also have to work all day. My horse is lame so I can’t ride.  I’m about to throw one hell of a pity party, and you’re all invited!

In the meantime, watch the video and have fun.

 

Weird Behavior

My horse is being weird lately. I know part of it is inactivity. I haven’t been riding her lately. The main reason is that her teeth need to be done… badly.  The dentist keeps cancelling our appointments though.  I can’t ride Ava until her teeth are done. When I do, she immediately starts sucking on the bit in a weird way, and if I touch the rein she will fling her head into the air and shake it vigorously.

Obviously it hurts her, and I don’t want to cause her pain, so I haven’t been riding. And I hate lunging. She’s obnoxious on the lunge line, and it bores me to tears to lunge.

I know… I know.. I should work on her lunging behavior.  I should.  😦

It seems like Ava’s been in heat for three months straight. She’s giving the barn owner fits with haltering (it may be teeth related) and leading her in and out. I don’t have a problem with haltering and leading her.  Apparently Ava is a snot when the barn owner attempts to halter her, and is being very naughty when being led in from the pasture. Like rearing kind of naughty.  She’s a saint for me.  She might give me a little attitude, but if I even look at her in a stern way she toes the line. However, regardless of who leads her around I expect my horse to act appropriately! None of this rearing and being snotty with ANYONE. But how do I fix that?? I have worked for 3 years on her leading behavior so that she’d be the easiest horse to lead in.  She is better trained in leading than any other horse at the facility, by a mile, yet she’s bad enough for the owner that it’s becoming a real issue. And it’s partly because Ava can make herself appear to be 17 hands tall when she raises her head up to full Friesian height. She’s can be intimidating when she wants to be.

Ugh. I’m frustrated by this. Not that I ever want to sell Ava, but if for some unforeseen reason I needed to sell her, then I want her to go to the best home possible. Which means she HAS to be a well behaved equine citizen for anyone to handle. I’m not sure how to fix this problem other than working Ava more, and spending more time working her where she gives the owner the most problems (by the other horses).

<edit to add: I re-read my post and I see the problem now. hahaha>

Ava and me

15.2h horse really shows you how short I am.

On a funnier note… I’m at the barn last night playing with Ava (who hasn’t been getting the exercise she needs), and Ava is squealing every time I hold my hand up toward her face. Squealing and snorting like some kind of crazed beast. So I popped her lightly with the lead rope on the shoulder every time she did it (if you don’t it escalates). She’d stop for a second, look at me, then rear and bolt sideways while bucking, until she hit the end of the lead rope (about 10 feet). Then she’d stop and stand there staring at me. I’d pull her back, hold out my hand, she’d squeal, I’d tap her with the rope and say no… rinse and repeat. I put her on the end of the rope and asked her to walk around me, and she flings herself around like she’s violently opposed to the lead rope. She did this for a couple of seconds at the most, and then when I said trot she’d calmly trot around me. I’d say whoa and she’d stop on a dime. I’d ask her to walk off again, and she’d launch herself into the air bucking and squealing and rearing.  **roll eyes**

After all the histrionics with the lead rope, she’s standing at the end of the lead looking at me. So I pretended to run the other direction. I see her out of the corner of my eye bolt after me. After a few feet I slammed on the breaks and Ava slams to a halt next to me. I swear, the look in her eye was hilarious. I laughed for like ten minutes. Well, maybe you had to be there.  It reminded me of Fellah and that devious “I wanna play” look he’d get sometimes. My parents should get the reference (game of chase with the dog).  🙂

Afterward, I put her back in the grooming area and draped the rope over her back (not tied up). I asked her to stay and walked off to go get treats. She stood there watching me. Didn’t move a foot. I bring her the treat and say “OK” (code word for your free), and then she’s bouncing around like a kid at a candy store. Haha  Then she had to play with the ropes in the cross tie area (they weren’t attached to her, just hanging on the wall). And she’s swinging them back and forth by popping them with her nose.

I hated putting her back in her boring old stall after that, but it was getting late and my toes were numb.

I’m just saying… my mare is weird. I love her to death, but she’s weird.