Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Ten Commandments of India

India has always been a special cookie. In riding terms she has never followed the rule book, she's written her own dressage rule book. So for you're entertainment I have written down some of India's "How to ride India" Rules.

1) Thou shalt not bother with thy pony's face

2) Thou shalt only bother with the pony's ribcage

3) Lateral work shall be done at least 62% of every ride

4) Transitions must be executed frequently by thy butt

5) Thou shall not touch thy pony's face unless to give directions*

6) Thy leg shall remain by thy girth

7) Thou shalt release thy inside rein at any opportunity

8) Thy hands shall not become busy

9) Thou shalt quit while thou are ahead

10) Thou shalt disregard all previous commandments when thy pony changes all the rules halfway through every ride

*seriously thy least amount of contact possible

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Semester is over....Let Show Season begin!

I made it to the end of the semester, a little worse for wear but I did it. I'm officially entering my last year of undergrad, and after that GRAD SCHOOL. Which is still less intimidating than being a real architect and having a real adult person job. I still don't know how to do "adult" things and it kind of freaks me out...

It will all be okay though because I will either figure it out or fall back on plan B which is to be a witch and live in the forest with a lot of ravens and just generally be really mysterious and slightly off-putting. So in horse news I entered India is her first official rated show for second level. She's done second level plenty of times but it was with pony club and technically those are not rated with USDF. So I'm currently going back and getting my scores for my bronze medal.
On a scale of one to bad would it be if I entered at third level next time with a 12% chance of actually getting a flying change....
I'm currently going between panicking about the show and feeling REALLY excited, I know I can do second level. Before India's arthritis episode we ran through 90% of fourth level... but its been a while and I'm scared we're going to get there and she will turn into freight train pony and pull my arms off like a scorned barbie doll. I'm getting there a day early so we can school so I should know what I'm up against. I just need to remember "if you have to fight something, fight the rib cage" which is trainer's way of saying don't worry about her head, keep the rib cage moving. When I get upset or frazzled that's the first thing that leaks out of my brain.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Horses, Depression, and an Impending Sense of Doom...

So I have never really opened up on here about me really. Y'all know my horses marginally well but almost nothing about me. So in the interest of young riders coming up, older amateurs, and everybody else who rides. This post isn't sunshine and rainbows.

 For 15 years of my life I have been struggling with moderate to severe clinical depression and anxiety. I was actually diagnosed this past March and started taking Prozac not long after. I really love those posts on the internet that romanticize depression, you know the ones pretty skinny girl, a single tear, some kind of candle or wilted flower... its all bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. 
Depression is sleeping all day because you can't get out of bed, its not taking a shower for a week until people start commenting on your hair, losing weight because you can't bring yourself to make food its too much energy, no matter how well your ride goes you still hate yourself, not being able to get to the barn because you are so overwhelmed and the thought of driving is almost sickening. 

I ended up pouring all of my self worth into riding well, winning at shows, being told i'm a good rider. Which as we all know is NOT healthy. Imagine the downward spiral when I messed up at a clinic or show. I felt like I had to know everything and if I didn't I was a failure. 
Failure. Undoubtedly the scariest word in all known languages. 
If I didn't make it to the Olympics I was a failure and would let everyone down. You can see where this is going... I don't have a lot of money I'm lucky my mom rides too and understands otherwise I don't think I would have horses at all. So in the highly political who's who of the Olympic selection committee I really don't stand a chance unless a millionaire would like to sponsor me. When I was finishing High School I came to the realization that millionaire's didn't become millionaires by throwing money around. This included that I might never get married and be able to split an income. So now I had to plan a future where I was 100% supporting myself and my horses and my dog. You can imagine how well that went over with clinical depression. I think its a real stumbling block for young riders. 

One minute you're riding in junior / young rider all hopeful maybe I can go pro! And then reality sets in and oh my god I've turned into an adult amateur. I don't know about anyone else but adult amateurs are made fun of constantly. I can't tell you how many articles and facebook posts about "I'm an adult amateur so therefore I suck at riding! lol pass the wine!" Which is where my own personal irrational fear of failure came back recently with a vengeance.  

There are a couple things wrong with this. Adult amateurs do not suck at riding and we don't need wine for every occasion. We like wine, big difference. (personally I wouldn't turn down a good pinot grigio) However! I have also been to winter clinics where we all drank hot chocolate and hot tea, so there! And the next falsehood! Adult Amateurs are the Queens of riding.

Merideth? why do you say such a thing when we aren't featured in magazines and such? 
Ill tell you. Who else can hold a full time job, ride and train a horse, and make their life look somewhat under control? Adult Amateurs that's who. We are freakin superheros of the horse world. Going to the barn at weird hours around work. Riding even though we're tired. Succeeding on one or two horses come hell or high water without playing a numbers game of "one out of these 12 horses will probably succeed" We are awesome. Full stop. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12-12-17 Riding Update

Finally on a semi normal riding schedule again! Finals are over I know I made an A in at least two of my classes. Its amazing how someone can go from being a B - C student in regular memorization seminar classes and as soon as they enter classes that are problem solving based suddenly I've turned into an A student. Go figure it's like people think differently and have different strengths. Although I have to admit my high school answers to test questions where I said I would approach a problem differently than the teacher wanted all makes much more sense now! 

Anyways, riding updates,
 Rave has spent a bit of time in some draw reins, she's currently going through a phase where during canter transitions shes using her head and neck to launch into the canter, which really doesn't bother me that much because it means shes not falling into canter. The part that does bother me is when her skull collides with my face, hence the draw reins. I've already had my face glued together once in the past two months I really don't want to go to the emergency room again. Note to self don't put your face in front of your horse's knee while clipping their legs. Not Smart. Mostly with Rave I've been working on relaxation through all the gaits and transitions. Coming from a racing background OTTB's have a tendency to overreact to any "go aids" Rave is no exception. Learning that she can relax and stretch has been a test of patience. Her trainer on the track is one of those guys that you watch breeze the babies and it kind of makes you nauseated to witness. However, she makes progress everyday and learns stuff very quickly! We just need to relax WHILE we do all the cool new stuff she's learned!

India has been doing GREAT. Mostly because I figured out I had been asking for halt wrong... So I've been really learning and researching Andrew Mclean's methods of training horses, and oh my god it is the most common sense, relaxed, easy to understand, wonderful method I have ever learned. Growing up riding with Mary Wanless and good rider biomechanics (not demonstrated in the pictures in this post because currently I am a flabby mushy human) I grew up with "what is stronger? your abdominals? or the hold on your reins?" Which good yes, more core strength than pull on the reins, makes sense. Except when Merideth's brain translates that into "don't put pressure on the reins ever" So for years I've been asking for half halts, down transitions, everything with only my core and seat, and never backing it up with my rein aids. *cue trainer asking me if I am literate* Answer? Mostly literate, sometimes it's iffy. Mary has for years told us that to halt you engage your core and upper thighs and close your hand on the rein like squeezing a lemon to ask for a halt. Body asks for the halt, reins back it up. You are now asking yourself, how then did I misinterpret the halt aid when everyone I ride with was saying the same thing? Excellent question.

 I somehow missed the part where you have to teach the horse to halt just using rein aids first, as a back up emergency stop in case your core and seat doesn't work one day. I skipped steps A B C and went straight to steps J K L. So to remedy this I've been doing Andrew's ground work. The premise is that you ask the horse for movements with only the reins / leadrope. The point is that the horse does not follow your body movements, they follow clear signals given for specific behaviors. If I want my horse to back up I take my reins and push them gently back toward the horse's chest. That's it. You don't move your feet, or push them or anything, they react just from the pressure in their mouth. When this is translated into the saddle it means that pressure on the bit means stop, continued pressure means backup and shift your weight onto the hind end. That's the part I was missing and since this discovery and working on it, India has completely changed. Look back through this blog every problem I've had with her is all about hauling on the bit, dumping on the bit, grabbing the bit. She didn't know what pressure on the bit actually meant, but now she's light, soft, and so so so sensitive to everything. Part of the sensitivity is just who she is, she's never been an easy kid ride. She's the definition of schoolmaster, if you don't ask correctly she will give you nothing but if you ask correctly she will act like "well stupid human why didn't you just ask? sure thing!" I can't even describe how lucky I am to have ridden her for this long, she has taught me more than any trainer or professional. I seriously doubt whether I would learn more from Charlotte Dujardin than I do from India. Next Dressage Today will have India on the cover with the title "Dressage Goddess explains how to train your very own unruly human"   


Friday, October 27, 2017

America's Next Top Washrack Models

How did I get so lucky to own these two? They both try so hard (most of the time :P ) and they are so smart and so sweet. Wow I 

Thursday, October 5, 2017