The Twists Keep Coming

It’s T minus 1 day ’til show day.

We’ve just received word of a Judge change for my classes.

The new judge is the old trainer I had a seriously bad falling out with….

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu *k!

The show Saturday, the one where everything rides on me scoring well, just got harder.

As someone who already turns into a ball of nerves wrapped in anxiety on show days, this new development adds an extra special sauce of EEEK to the experience.

Will I be able to hold it together well enough to pull out a passable rendition of First Level, WHILE being judged by the old trainer I pissed off?!?

Will I forget my all of my tests and be DQ’d for off course, sending myself into a humiliation spiral for our final show?!?

Will the judge spit on us as we turn at C?!?

Stay tuned for more of “Avandarre Really Knows How to Burn a Bridge”.

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I’m eagerly awaiting how all this plays out on Saturday! 😂

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Unexpected Noises

My embarrassing confession…

Last night I was riding Ava. I find she works best if I keep my upper body absolutely still and balanced over top of her. Which means, I really have to work hard at keeping my core engaged and strong while she launches me through the roof at the trot.

I’m trotting around, really focused on keeping my ab’s and core as tight and stable as possible, my arms loose, my knees off, my aids clear and concise.

I’m focused on keeping those ab’s tight!

Ava’s feeling wonderful with her big, bouncy trot and she’s staying straight and pushing through.

When suddenly…

I farted!

Loudly!

Which scared Ava, who jumped and shot off like a bomb had gone off on her back.

I was laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath.

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All that ab tension just shot the gas right out of me!

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Sometimes it’s good to ride alone. 🙂

 

 

 

Horses at home

My little princess, Ava, doesn’t enjoy summer. She is happiest squirreled into her stall with a hay net and fan.

I threw Ava outside after her dinner so she’d go be a horse for a few hours. 

She kept an ear cocked,  listening for me to come out and “save”  her. Obviously her human had made some kind of mistake and would rectify it immediately. 

I forgot my phone on the back deck.  I had to crawl across the deck on my hands and knee’s to retrieve the phone, because if Ava see’s me she runs to her paddock gate,  refuses to leave it,  and will whinny until I let her in.

Ava heard me open the back door.  She ran to her paddock gate, whinnied,  then stood there seeming confused when she couldn’t see me.

I crawled back inside…

At 9pm I snuck out to the pasture without being seen. I hollered out ‘Ava!! You can come back in now!”

Ava whips her head up, and lets out a continual bellowing whinny as she galloped up to the paddock gate. 

Today, the little monster (Ava still) decided she needed more hay, and began her systematic kicking of the stall wall to voice her displeasure.

Bam

Bam

Bam

Bam

“It’s second lunchies,  bitch” BAM!! 

.. 

I snuck out to the barn hoping to catch her in the act, but right before I get to the barn Joy lets out a big “Hey, what’cha doing?!” whinny.

D’oh. Caught.

I hid behind the wall of the barn hoping they’d both think they were mistaken and go back to what they were doing.

 They both pressed their heads hard against the bars, trying to eye ball me as I snuck looks around the corner.  

Ava’s new trick is to shove whatever itches in my face.  Shoulder itches?  Shove it into the human.  Belly?  Yup,  human can access it better from the ground.  

The cat’s have become complacent around Ava lately.  They should know better, but they are arrogant cats.  Yesterday I let Ava out and one of the cats decided to make friends with Ava.  It should’ve been one of those cutsey moments..  Instead,  Ava’s ears go back and demon monster horse lunges with teeth and hooves flying toward the cat.  The hoof missed by skant inches. Cat goes fleeing for her life.  Ava promptly turns toward me with a “Hehehe..  Did you see that cat run!”  look.  Like she expected me to get a good laugh out of it.  

Ok,  I admit,  once I knew the cat was fine,  it was kind of funny. 

Pics!! 

The old lady

Adventures in Vaulting

Ever since I watched a vaulting demo this past spring I have really wanted to try vaulting. Not only does it look like a ton of fun, but I also read it can help improve your seat and balance on a horse (which I’m always looking to improve).

Learn what vaulting is by clicking this sentence.

So last Saturday I decided to take the plunge. I was nervous. Really nervous! I went by myself. I felt out of place. I felt too old. I felt too fat. I was worried I’d make a fool of myself, and that I’d have preteen girls laughing manically at me if I fell off a horse attached to a lunge line. I fretted about it the entire hour drive to the place.

I had called ahead to ask what to wear. I wore the comfy yoga type pants, loosely fitted t-shirt, and tennis shoes that the lady recommended I wear. I felt oddly dressed for a riding lesson…. it felt so wrong with tennis shoes on!

When I got to the place, there were 3 young girls talking to the instructor. I fervently hoped they weren’t all staying for the Open vaulting session. I was in luck. Two of them left. The remaining girl, a powerfully built young lady, was going to be my guide for learning the movements on the barrel.

I was taller than my guide – an unusual occurrence.

The instructor asked the young girl (from here on out designated as M) to run me through a short warm-up and then show me the barrel exercises. M took off around the arena at a brisk pace. She mercifully slowed when she realized I lagged behind. We did one lap, and as I wheezed my way back to the front of the arena, M stopped and waited.

M hopped up onto a barrel with ease. I dragged a chair over to my barrel and clumsily heaved myself up. She ran through 5 moves for me to practice on the barrel. I watched intently and then set about replicating them as best I could.

After a very short period of time, my young barrel guide got bored and began doing handstands and intricate airborne dismounts from her barrel.

I did not try to replicate these.

Before I knew it, the instructor walked in leading a big, stoic looking gelding adorned with handle bars (I will figure out what these are called).

The instructor had M jump on the horse first. And by jump, I mean from the ground. Did I mention M is shorter than me? I’m short. I’m 4’11”. This teeny little kid bounced onto the back of a 16 hand horse from the ground. How freaking cool is that?!?!

M said she’s been vaulting for 3 years now. While I was there, M and the instructor were working on M doing around the world standing up at trot and canter. Then M practiced hand stands as the horse trotted and cantered. It was amazing to watch. I could’ve watched all day.

Then it was my turn.

They let me use the mounting block (Thank GOD!). The gelding was kind of a lumbering dude. The massively thick pad they use on his back made him feel extremely wide.The handle bars were very sturdy, and almost felt like a roll cage in front of me. It felt really safe.

At first the instructor just had me do the 5 exercises I practiced on the barrel at the walk. Basically, sit normal and hold your hands at shoulder height. Then stand on your knees (put your hands wherever). Then turn to face backwards (that was really disconcerting to me. Getting turned around was easy, but seeing the world move away from you was weird). Then you lay your chest against the horses rump. And final move was to sit sideways on the horse and jump down to land facing in the direction of travel.

Those were pretty simple at the walk. I think a lot of us have done some semblance of all of those at one time or another.

Except, then the instructor had the horse TROT!!!

The standing on your knee’s was pretty easy. Smooth horse. Nice flat, consistent trot. I still had a hard time letting go of the handle bars though. That instinct for self-preservation was strong. I felt balanced. I felt like I would be fine letting go… but I had to really concentrate and make my hand let go. lol!

The instructor even let me try some of the moves at the canter. I did let go of the handle bars while standing on my knee’s but I misjudged the stride and started loosing my balance at one point. Kind of scared me! I thought I was going to fall off. I didn’t, but really made me aware of how high up I was. After that the instructor let me try “The Flag” pose. It was SO AWESOME!!

Flag pose is where you have one knee on the horse’s back and the other leg straight out behind you. One arm on handle bar and the other straight out in front of you.

I successfully completed that pose (not elegantly, but I got ‘er done), and then the instructor brought the horse back to a walk and I dismounted. I was shocked how wobbly my legs and arms were after that. My shoulders especially were tired. It took a lot more upper body strength then I had assumed it would (for the low level of difficulty for the poses I did). It’s not like I was doing hand stands, or holding myself up with my arms. It was mostly sit and kneel stuff.
Anyway, I totally enjoyed it and can’t wait to go again. It’s something I would highly recommend to at least try once. Most of the vaulting facilities I’ve researched offer beginner friendly classes, you don’t need to buy any special clothes, the classes are reasonable priced (even for poor folk), and adults are welcomed. I never once felt self-concious once the lesson started and even the 8 year old made me feel welcomed. So give it a try sometime!

Ode to Pony

I’m an older adult on a small pony mutt.
In the world of dressage this makes me a nut.

I dream of a day I can wisk pony away, but fear judges will struggle for nice things to say.

My goal as dressage diva is hard to maintain when my steed is the size of a smallish great dane.

I’ve trimmed and I’ve primped her to look good in a braid,  but her weird pony mane can only look frayed.

I wrapped her in polos and even white bells, but instead of Valegro its Ms. Tinker Bell.

Riding a pony can be quite the thrill, there’s nothing quite like it, it quite fits the bill.

But its hard not to feel just a touch of animus, when even the OTTB’s have more street cred than us.

😂

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Why I’m a better rider than you

Because I pinned every meme ever created about George Morris on my pinterest.

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La Tee Dah

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My riding career in a nutshell:

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How I see it when people try to compare their dressage results against me, or anyone else:

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The costs of owning a horse:

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When I have to listen to people talk about their imported warmblood that cost more than my house:

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When the GMO board tells me the website I built for FREE, and won an award from USDF for, has to be completely thrown away because WordPress is “too difficult” to use:

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When I asked for a boarder meeting to discuss their free roaming horses, and inability to feed consistently, and they started the meeting off stating they were raising board:

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And in the car, after the meeting:

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And how I felt after that barn owner said she’d miss me:

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How I feel every year at the GMO banquet, which lasts 3 hours:

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And how I felt this year when I dropped off my stuff for the banquet, and then left before the banquet started:

🙂

OMG, Not Another Water Bucket!!

I really got my butt handed to me this weekend. I helped with barn chores over the weekend for the 20 some horses at my stable. I’m beat, and very sore.

I was fine until the watering part.

I don’t mean to pick on my stable… nope, that’s a lie. I DO mean to pick, but it’s their facility and they can do what they want…. as long as they don’t ask me to water horses again.

Anyway, the water buckets…

Who hauls 40 water buckets down long aisles in the winter?!? 20 horses, 2 water buckets each. I have a bad back, but can normally function passably well in day to day life. I took one look at their current system and about ran screaming from the barn. The least they could do is use a cart to move the full buckets from one end to the other. They don’t even do that. I commandeered a wheel barrow to help make it a bit less stressful on my body, but it still didn’t remove the fact that I had to lift 40 buckets up to chest height to attach them to stall walls.

My shoulders are screaming at me right now.

It was 16 degree’s this morning. Every water bucket was at least half full and frozen.

I got water on my glove and then my glove froze to the stall latch when I tried to open it.

My gloves froze to the handles of the water bucket when I lifted them. I couldn’t open the stupid clips that hold the water buckets with my gloves on, but my hands froze to them if I took my gloves off.

I can’t stand up straight now. My back feels like someone is twisting a knife in it.

I can think of a dozen ways that whole process could be made less horrifying. Several involve using rubber tubing… I would call it a Hose. I could sell this product and make millions!!

I hate winter…