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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Quick update!

The girls are doing very good! India got a new saddle its an Albion and it is absolutely lovely and fits so well.
Rave also has acquired a new HDR jumping saddle. School has been incredibly busy and stressful, only three semesters left though so I might make it. Senor-itis is real and it hits very hard in college.
I also moved barns to a much more low key place where there are many more turnout options and I think everyone is enjoying themselves. India certainly is her arthritis is much more manageable.

Planning our next show for February hopefully I can get my second level scores done in one go, that would be so nice. I'd also like to take Rave to go walk around and experience a warm up arena. I'm not in any kind of hurry to throw her in the show ring. She's learning how to be consistent and relaxed which is much more important than showing training
level every chance I get. I show when there's a reason like getting scores or experience. It's a good system so far so I'm sticking to it!  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Back to the Vet School

Welp its been a super fun and enjoyable year for horses (all sarcasm of course)

Rave has now been in heat for 4 or 5 weeks and poor thing is miserable. Shes very herd bound, losing weight, winking constantly, peeing everywhere, back pain, tying up, and just generally not being able to relax. AT ALL. EVER.
Riding her is pretty pointless right now because all I'm doing is damage control.
I made an ultrasound appointment for her next Tuesday and we'll see whats actually going on in her ovaries. My vet is pretty convinced she has some kind of tumor cyst things in there causing her hormones to be all sorts of out of wack. Luckily if it's what he thinks it is then the fix is a simple shot of progesterone. The other option we're looking at is just going ahead and taking her ovaries out. If there are tumors then those puppies are coming out! If they are more cyst-like then progesterone shots. Either way breeding her wouldn't be a good idea and I would never breed her unless I ran her through an inspection and she passed. The world doesn't really need anymore thoroughbreds  no matter how nice she is. It's easier to just buy a foal or yearling and then know what I'm getting myself into.

As much as everyone likes to tell me you don't ride color, gender, or the shape of their head, I'm sorry but I get along with mares better. I love my girls. I could take or leave geldings. I'm a mare person.
If I bred her and got a colt I would probably end up selling him and that's not really responsible so no breeding anytime soon for me. :P

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I've been sick one illness after another. First I had a cold, then a stomach virus, and now I have the flu. I cant wait to graduate and not constantly be exposed to 30,000 + peoples germs, and people who lied about being vaccinated. Oh yes theres a mumps outbreak at my college. A very simple vaccine called MMR could fix that up in no time. Get your vaccines people you are messing with my herd immunity and I am not pleased.

So needless to say between school and trying to succumb to microscopic pathogens I really haven't been riding all that much. But there are some good points, like Zuli went to her new home with my trainer. She's going out in a huge pasture with two other retired mares Luna and Tina. Luna and Zuli are new best buds and Tina is content to scream at both of them if they get too close. She's so much happier being out all the time her personality is coming back in full force.

Me and India have made a huge break through in our contact issues I think we finally located the problem and now have a game plan for fixing it. Meanwhile Rave is still gaining weight at a glacial pace because she doesn't want to eat her rice bran. Because picky.
It's also time that she learn that canter is not upsetting.
So on the books is innumerable canter transitions until they become boring.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rode Rave and India today. They were both wonderful (as usual. i'm the one that messes things up)
One of my moms students rode India but all they did was walk and not for very long, so I got on after and did about 10 more minutes. She was LOVELY. Today was the first day since her rehab started that she was perfectly willing to keep her head down. Which is a huge step forward! She wasn't as responsive to my flexions as i would have liked, but considering the girl that rode before me doesn't even really understand flexions i was pretty happy and let the issue lie. We also did some lateral work and a couple simple changes, she still has some barge through the down transistion but much better than before we started operant conditioning. When I have more time I should do a basic write up about operant conditioning. Tomorrow is her day off so I can work on flexions and the barge on Tuesday no problem! 

Rave mostly paid attention, but since she's only been doing actual work since this past November its to be expected! And she's only 6.Thank god she's not 5, i'm not sure i'm ready to go through the 5 year old year again this soon. I need some time to recover! Zuli turned five and suddenly wanted to live on her hind legs. And there was no half assing her rearing.... she went all the way up or not at all! So anyway Rave... Her walk and trot are becoming quite respectable so today I decided its really time to tackle the canter. I usually don't touch canter for a good while after I get a horse, and I got her in October and have maybe cantered 13 times since? But its finally time to be a big girl and learn about canter transistions. Her down tranisitions are actually not bad, I made sure she had very good brakes before I even went to trot. I'm not a fan of careening around the arena. It is unnecessary. If you can't walk correctly whats the point in trotting??  

She doesn't quite understand the transistion yet so it's going to be a bit ugly for a while. Which is fine it's all part of the process. And plus I have a big fat ZERO show plans for her any time soon! 
Which is more of a relief than one would guess. Theres no time limit, no pressure, and no real expectations except the ones I determine. Which if we're being honest are pretty difficult to live up to on my own let alone add in showing on top of me. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Its been a while

you could say I rediscovered that I had a blog 4 years later.... and you wouldn't be wrong.
I did completely forget about it. life got busy, life got tough, things changed, and things stayed the same.

I'm 23 now. Hard to believe looking through this blog when I was but a tiny little nugget.
I'm a senior in college, and in two years I'll graduate with a BARCH degree in architecture and sustainability.
I'm almost done with my RWYM rider biomechanics coaching certification.
I got a new horse, then had to retire her at 7 over an undisclosed sesamoid fracture. Her name is Azula.
this is her when i was still riding
I'm still not over it. She is a true soulmate and I'm fighting very hard to do whats best for her and be able to retire her where shes very happy.

I leased India out for a year to a wonderful kid who sadly lost interest. The parents didn't keep up to date with her vet checks and she ended up having some bad arthritis develop. As soon as I found out I took her right back. 
She has had injections in her hocks and stifles and is currently getting massage and acupuncture once a month (lucky bug) and has been in a rehab workout schedule for six months. we're back to schooling first and second level even better than last time. She turns 18 this march and other than some pain management shes good to keep going!

Falco was put down when he was 27, his cushings got bad really fast at the end. But he spent his last year wandering around a good friends farm bellowing like a hippo at all the ladies.
My mom ending up buying another chestnut gelding named Falkland 

He likes to channel Oscar the grouch and if he was a person he would definitely like to sit on the couch with a beer belly. But deep down he is a sweet boy and we wouldn't trade him for anything. They are schooling second level getting ready to move up to third. 

The newest member of the motley crew is Ravala. 

Shes a six year old thoroughbred that honestly looks more like 3 year old warmblood. Shes also the tallest at 16.2. Which is ironic because I'm the shortest at only 5'2" 
She doesn't really know anything and I've only had her since october, but she learns fast. The more she comes out of her shell the more I understands just how fast she learns. She's got three great gaits, clean x-rays, and shes not scared of anything (except face towels on occasion, but I doubt the validity of these claims) 

So I guess I'll write again.... maybe redo the blog theme (its so old) I'd like to start using it again.