Phew, it’s been a busy last almost-week! Lots of great things, but also whirlwind-ish enough to leave me scratching my head that April’s already over. So, in contrast to my contemplative/serious posts as of late, this will be a happy, probably lengthy, mish-mash of several subjects. Also a contributor: THE SUN AND 70s ARE HERE
First, I have four incredibly special friends (honestly more like sisters) who came into my life at varying times starting in 3rd grade until my freshman year of college, and one of them is getting married in a little more than a month! Both I and riding buddy M (another of the four) are bridesmaids, and this past weekend we celebrated S’s bachelorette party with her sister and other friends by taking a trip to Michigan (new state what up) and renting a house. We went to a couple wineries (the one in a round barn, pictured above, was beautiful!), played some cliche (and hilarious) games, mostly cooked at the house, and took advantage of the hot tub. Side story: did *not* take advantage of a day bed/trundle that was on the same screened porch as the hot tub. Supposedly there were two “common area” beds – one being a pull-out bed from the couch in the open living room/kitchen area, and the other was MIA until discovered outside soon after, which, who the hell is going to sleep outside when it’s still 30 degrees at night?? Or like… just outside?? wth?
Sleeping arrangements aside, it was an amazing weekend. This is the first time I’ve done anything more than attend the wedding, and spending time with one of my closest friends and women who support and bring out her happiness left me feeling excited, appreciative and overall content.
Prior to that, (and working this Monday by myself, which wasn’t super helpful for recharging) I had a lesson last Thursday after two weeks off following my last outpatient surgery! While the above image from last August might be the most unflattering ever, it’s sadly the only one I have of miss Divine, which obviously needs to change! I haven’t ridden her since… November? I think, but she’s one of my favorites of trainer M’s and has been learning so much with the teenager who leases her. In fact, trainer M posted a video last night of them going cross country out at her parents and the pair jumped a
tree trunk log that was training height like it was no big deal!
They get along so well and have progressed a ton, but I was happy red headed Thoroughbred tolerated me for a short flat lesson in the outdoor for the first time this season, which was also wonderful because the weather was perrrfect. I also convinced riding buddy M to come out and lesson! She was on Missy the draft cross, who is super dependable and possibly longer than she is tall…
After thoroughly enjoying the late morning sun and breeze for a lap or so we picked up a trot and the first thing trainer M informed me of (well second… Divine is also back in a milder bit) was that they were working on turning through the outside aids rather than the inside. She said that from a recent dressage clinic, doing this will help set Divine up as she starts progressing through the levels. As an OTTB, she still can get heavy on her forehand, and she tends to fall inside as she turns.
What’s really cool is that I feel like I’ve been reading about varying degrees of this concept from other bloggers recently, so I somehow completely understood that I was now going to be using my right rein and leg to get her turning left, and vice versa for going right. Not that it was easy by any means – the first exercise was attempting to go over all the ground poles on a ~10m circle around the notorious spider jump from last fall’s Halloween show. While it felt like my outside rein was too tight, I realized that Divine felt WAY more balanced going around upright as if she were a carousel, rather than being bent like she was circling an ever deepening drain. I could also tell how hard she was working, because as soon as we left the circle she just wanted to stretch and then walk (which I fully agreed with).
While I took a walk break, M and Missy got to practice canter transitions. Being built more like a bulldog, trainer M said that it’s tempting to try and chase Missy into her canter, but that was the opposite of what they wanted. Riding buddy worked on sitting back and making her canter cues as crisp as possible, and eventually got some pretty clean walk –> canter transitions!
For Divine and I, it was reiterating the outside rein concept from the trot into the canter. Whereas before Divine’s canter cue was simply outside leg, it’s now bringing the outside leg back and simultaneously having the inside leg cue for forward. We stayed on a ~15m circle inside some jumps — well, mostly inside. Divine’s stronger going to the right, but I’m actually weaker on my left side so keeping her ‘inside the lines’ was a bit hit or miss going that way! Going to the left, the challenge was making sure my weak side kept her going, because my right side was solid on keeping her balanced with the correct bend. We had one or two breaks into trot, but also a couple circles that felt really good! When it finally came time to trot, Divine seemed quite disappointed. She collected some, and then some more, and yet more… making sure we were really, actually done with her favorite thing. “Yea, that’s something we’re still working on” was trainer M’s comment.
After our short lesson, M, Missy, Divine and I walked down the drive to the property owner’s house and the trails in the woods behind it. It was a bit sloppy in places, but Divine was happy to lead up until we came across a broken tree trunk that kind of looked like it had an arm coming out of it… Missy gave no cares and plowed right along, continuing to give riding buddy’s hands a nice rein burn that had started in the lesson. As we were coming back up the drive towards the barn riding buddy conceded that she’d need gloves if she rode Missy anymore, so we left riding in one of the back pastures for another day.
I didn’t get to see much of not-Rolex this year, but did tune in for most of the dressage live stream on Friday before leaving for Michigan. The one dark note for this post is that I happened to see Meredith Little’s dressage test. My first impression, sadly, was being hopeful that I wouldn’t hear anything negative or controversial about her riding for the weekend, and my second impression was that her test was good, but not better than Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18. Then again, impression #3 was that that pair was going to edge out Michael Jung for the top spot after dressage, so I ended up 0 for 3 on all of my hopes/predictions, though the first is the one I’m most disappointed about. Sigh.
That aside, I also watched Liz Halliday-Sharpe demo this super cool tracker called the Hylofit after all the tests were over.
The wifi/data input dropped several times during the test, but overall, the heart rates reflected increased exertion (and decreases) within a second or two of gait changes or adjustments within the gaits so color me impressed. Compared to a couple of brands I’ve read on other blogs, the price (as of present, which is 25% off) seems pretty comparable, if not less, and the features are also fairly similar. That said, I’ve no horse to test this on, and reasonable as it may or may not be it’s out of my price range. There’s also the fact that it’s not shipping until the fall, but overall I really hope some blogger finds this and tests it out!
Lastly, (there was a forewarning) my little sister is graduating from college Saturday. It’s kind of a miracle, but also kind of her somehow always making it work, but I just can’t believe the little freshman who was taking my car at the most inopportune times (or conveniently not informing me that she was doing so…) my junior year is going to be having her own ridiculously huge commencement in our Alma-mater’s football stadium. Of course, I also can’t really believe we then have to completely pack up her apartment immediately following that, but I’m trying to focus on the nice service and how proud I am for now…