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Taking Lessons Once More


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Due to living in Greece for a few years  and then getting settled into life here in Washington it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve taken any serious lessons.  I mean I wasn’t just a bump on a log plodding along on any horse I could find. (ok not entirely)  I ensured I was still reading good books, I was riding dressage and jumping horses and I felt I was doing a great job.

Well as the summer is drawing closer on glorious Whidbey Island, I decided that I really wanted to work on jumping again but my boys are not quite ready yet. They are out of shape. They haven’t worked on much of anything and I didn’t want to jump them right into doing some jumping so I decided to take a few lessons on a lesson horse so I could focus solely on me and not my horse.

Boy oh boy was it a wake up call! I quickly found out 5 things.

1.) I have been riding dressage length way to long. Jumping length is a whole different story now. Talk about thighs burning after only a few minuets in the posting trot! Don’t even get me started on sitting trot.
2.) My right foot wants to point in not out and ends up throwing my whole body off balance and it becomes VERY apparent when asking  for trot to canter transitions as I loose my balance I also stiffen my entire body and narrow my hands to brace to stay in the saddle.
3.) I have forgotten what it’s like to ride with good contact on the reins. My boys are ridden either in a side pull or very very light contact. Having a horse that needs more contact to work properly I end up pulling and almost balancing on the reins.
4.) I need to focus on using more abs and less hands when riding in contact.

5.) I need to work on my cardio and strength sessions. I’m getting lazy and as I got tired I would start the dreaded knee pinching to stay balanced!!

So I most assuredly have a few things to work on now. Sometimes I’m like “I’ve been riding for 20 some odd years. I got this figured out. I don’t need no stinking lessons!” And it goes great for a while. I’m saving money. I’m feeling confidant in my riding and I get comfortable but then I start getting compliant. I start creating bad habits for myself, like letting my right leg  point inwards instead of pointing my toe out and keeping my calf against my horses sides for better aids.

Then as I get compliant I start to wonder why I’m having issues getting stuff like the left canter lead. Well it’s because I’m out of balance, and I’m not cueing correctly but I feel correct so I get confused and frustrated with my horse. Now enter a second set of eyes from the ground and SHAZAM immediately some problems become instantly apparent. And as I work to improve them suddenly some of the issues with my horses start going away.

The key is finding that good instructor you click with. Once you and the instructor are on the same page it’s a wonderful feeling. Each day I look forward to improving myself and each lesson I’m curious of what she’s going to come up with this time. I’m over here like “Here!!! Here!!! TAKE MY MONEY!!! LETS GO!!!”

I have to hold my excitement down because even in 1 hour I feel great improvements. I get frustrated, I get tired and then something clicks and there goes the excited feeling going off all over again…….And then I watch the next lesson and see someone do something perfectly that I struggled for 30 minuets to do just once and that competitive side comes out in me.

“Oh yeah. Little miss perfect with your awesome little horse. I’m gonna beat you.” And I set a plan for working with my boys and perfecting what I just learned. Who says you need actual competitions to show you what you need to work on. Just pay close attention to you lesson and then watch the next one and aim to make yourself better to “beat” the rider after you. Of course all in good fun now. No getting snippy with the other people!

No matter what your age or experience level never be afraid to take a lesson! If nothing else it’ll nip those bad habits in the bud and keep you in peak form AND you might just have a great time 😀

Until next time!

 

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Is Professional Eventing Going Away?

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If you have been following the FEI you know all the changes that are being proposed to keep Eventing in the Olympics. I mean I’m all for riding for the gold (Ok not ME… you know what I mean) but there comes a time when we have to realize that maybe our sport has outlasted its appeal to the olympic masses and that being a professional rider in eventing may be on its last leg.

Now I may get a bunch of hate mail over this but our cultures have changed dramatically in least few years. Everyone wants appeal, shock and awe, and FAST turn arounds to know who has won. That’s why show jumping is such a hugely loved sport to watch around the world. It’s adrenaline pumping, exciting and the race to the victory is relatively short. Don’t get me wrong Eventing has that as well, BUT it’s also drawn out over three days with one VERY boring interlude (Sorry dressage). It’s a sport that you can’t just jump in and easily follow if you really want to know the scoring.  Not to mention it’s an excessively expensive event to put on for ANYONE, especially at the upper levels.

I think we have been very bad about broadcasting our sport in a good way to the media as well. Half the time all I see is on Facebook how many horses or riders were injured or killed a crossed various countries events, and if you don’t think the average joe stumbles upon those you’re kidding yourself. I mean it’s super depressing to see, and I love this sport. Imagine what idea it gives to the “normal” person who doesn’t know eventing?

We don’t advertise much on the internet, or television for the regular non-horsey person to draw in new people. I think the only commercials I ever see  is for the Triple Crown in racing and Rolex….Really? Thats all we advertise for?! That’s really sad if you think about it.   At some point I believe we need to realize that our sport is loosing traction and we are sitting on a steep muddy hill. Once we get sliding down there’s no way to recovery and we are certainly slipping.

Now I want to point out that I said PROFESSIONAL Eventing may be going away. The majority of people I know never compete above novice, much less prelim. Yes there are those with great aspirations to ride a 4* and cruise around Rolex and obviously a good group that gets there BUT how many people have the time or the money to get themselves to Rolex or even qualify for the olympic team?

I have had some of the most fun at low level events and I have seen HUGE turnouts for them. These turn outs are fantastic for the event and everyone involved, but the higher you go up the levels the fewer and fewer participate. We have a course by my house (Whidbey Island Horse Trials)  that I watched last year and at the upper level course I think they had 13 or 15 participants, (don’t quote me) where Beginner Novice and Novice had well over 100 participating in EACH category. And this is a course that draws tons of people from all over the western seaboard. When does it become to much to maintain for the event holders as well? Setting up and maintaining an  upper level course for just 13 riders? Thats gotta be a hit to the pocket book.

The sport of eventing at FEI level is beginning to forget where the roots of eventing started. It was a military endeavor to test the cavalry mounts and riders to ensure that they were fit for duty.  The evaluation was more an endurance ride with the elements of modern eventing thrown in.  There was a true purpose to what was being asked. If your horse couldn’t complete the evolution for endurance, courage and responsiveness you were not ready for war.(Here’s a great website for a brief history of eventing) When eventing switched to the short format and began changing to more technical courses it began it’s evolution away from the meat and bones of eventing (Some of the changes are good for the safety of horse and rider and event holders) but at what point do you continue to change the sport just to keep an olympic  spot that the majority of people will never meet nor will ever ride at?

Some of the proposed changes are ridiculous just to appease the olympic counsel. (check out the list here ) Some days it’s best to go out with your head held high and realize that we have outlived our stay in the olympic hall. I don’t think eventing will ever go away. I think the lower level events and even events such as Rolex are quite lucrative. But at some point we have to keep the spirit of our sport alive. We have to remember our roots and stop changing it to be “cool and popular” and change it only for the safety and well being of our horses and riders.

My question for those at the upper levels and the FEI counsel….how many sports are NOT in the olympics and yet continue to thrive?  Quite a few if I do say so…I think there may be enough interest that upper levels could continue even if we do not have an olympic seat. And maybe JUST maybe it might actually change our sport for the better when we STOP focusing on keeping the olympics, or ensuring all countries can attend as olympic contenders, and start re-focusing on Eventing FOR the sport and make changes that just might make it more enjoyable for everyone while keeping the tradition of eventing alive.

Do you think our sport has a good future?

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Dealing With A Young Horse’s Antics….Oh Jack

Jack riding

It’s not often that Jack shows his age. Most of the time he’s my little angel of a (now)4 year old that outshines his uncle in manners and his ability to remain calm. However our latest ride this was not the case. Every bit of his 4 years showed up! If you saw the video of jack lunging on my Facebook page then you saw his first two days of work after about a week off. Now he was amazing in the lunge but decided that having to listen to me in the saddle was not very fun!  (The video’s below if you want to watch here as well)

Now I want to point out that with Jack, even his worst day doesn’t compare to Cash AT ALL. Cash can make a bronc master proud and a racehorse weep when he wants to. Jack on the other hand, while he tries his hardest, really can’t get much of a rebellion going.  Even in an english saddle he as to really, really, REALLY try to get me even slightly unseated.

Jack has had the majority of the winter off. I won’t lie, Cash is my favorite(I’ve had him longer AND his mom was m BFF growing up) so when time is scrunched and I can only work one I always choose Cash. Now I’m trying to change my ways. I can’t take the “me next” looks anymore from Jack so I’ve started switching off working horses. One day I work Cash and the next I work Jack so they both feel properly loved and looked after. If I have a really good day I might get to work them both!

So it was Jacks turn. The first day I lunged him and he did his best “I’ve never had a saddle on” bronc imitation but it didn’t take long for him to settle back down and remember that he had to listen and that the saddle really wasn’t going to kill him.  His bucks are much worse on the lunge line then they are when you’re on him. They are maybe a little under half has big under saddle. I decided that it was NOT the right time to ride him and that another day  or two of work to get those brain cells functioning was probably a really good idea. After another day of lunging (the bottom picture in the video) I decided that it was finally time to ride Jack.

Now I didn’t feel like trailering out to the arena and I figured that the ground was probably dry enough in the pasture for a little ride.  So I gathered up my helmet and reins and headed off to the second pasture. Now he was a little snorty about the trees and the manure bucket but nothing way out of the ordinary. I got on and he stared out really good. He even paused long enough for me to get a picture. Then I asked him to walk away from Cash and into the more muddy( his hooves sink a little more it’s not really that muddy) part of the pasture.

*Insert Baby melt down here*

He didn’t wanna, so he thought rearing would be a good idea. Now jacks idea of a rear is probably no more then a foot or two off the ground. Just enough to know he went up. I rolled my eyes and asked him to move forward again and he did. I praised him when he halted like I asked. I asked him to walk forward again and I praised I’m for that. Then he decided he REALLY wanted to go next to Cash, who was calmly standing in the corner watching us.

Jack is apparently buddy sour after hanging with Cash all winter and he seemed to be saying “OH my god i’m 100 feet from cash! There might be a lion hiding behind this tiny bit of grass! I need the herd!” And he proceeded to try to rip the reins out of my hands and walk towards cash (high speed is NOT in Jacks vocabulary thankfully).

Oh no no no. That’s not allowed! So I calmly asked him to turn. Well he thought that THIS was just the most RUDE thing I could ask him and began to do his imitation of a bronc. I pulled his head up a tad and asked him to go forward. I mean really it’s more of an excited rocking horse motion, or maybe one of those old time merry go round in high speed. I almost laughed at him but he was trying so hard I figured I wouldn’t tempt karma or fate and held it in.

Now Cash can get those heels up above his head and spin and put a bronc to shame. (He’s got multiple areas of talent ) and Jack was just kinda humping his back and hopping with all four feet off the ground in a smaller version of his excited lunging. He was very displeased with how I responded to it. He thought I should be shaking in terror and ready to do as HE wished.  Silly boy gets a break from riding and think that he’s the alpha now. So I waited for him to finish his tantrum and just asked him to walk forward again. If I could have seen his face from the ground I’m sure he had the frumpy kid face when his plan was foiled. I’m sure he was thinking “But this would work for Cash! Why is she still on my back? grrrrr” If only he knew what Cash has put me through.

I kept asking for simple walk and halt transitions and praising when he did what I wanted and ignoring all his temper tantrums, other then just doing a correction to stop the action like bucking. But I never kicked him, I never yanked on the bit. I pulled his head up if he was bucking but as soon as he stopped I released everything. I kept my reins long with little contact until he pulled a temper tantrum. And you know what. It wasn’t long before he was sighing, licking his lips and doing what I asked! Once he realized that he wasn’t going to win he quietly submitted and realized it was futile to fight. And I never once had to truly punish him for any of his antics.

This whole session probably lasted 15 minuets (If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may start seeing a trend here) but when he continually and calmly did what I asked I halted praised and then got off. It was a great note to end on and a high point for me. It’s the first time I’ve managed to react so calmly to a horses temper tantrum. With Cash I think I know what he’s capable of and fear makes me act more heavy handed with him when he acts up. I KNOW Cash can unseat me and hurt me if he gets it in his mind he’s not gonna. I’ve learned that the hard way a time or two so I try to hard to stop the action before it progress to something worthy of a winning 8 second ride.

Now waiting out a tantrum is not always safe to do on a horse, depending on the horse BUT if you can I feel it is well worth the effort with a horse like Jack, and even Cash’s smaller antics. I find that sometimes horses are trying to get you to act up and start a fight (*ahem* Cash). Sometimes the best thing to do is make a quick correction to stop the action and then carry on like nothing happened. Each horse is different on what corrections work but after the episode is over try your hardest to let go of any anger or fear that accompanied it (I know it’s much harder said then done)

The biggest thing Cash ever taught me was how to take a deep breath and release my anger. He WANTED that fight and manipulated me to get it. He wanted to prove he was alpha and if I gave him to opportunity he would take it. Once I learned to anticipate when he was going do something and then how to release my anger at his antics afterwards, our bond has really became strong. That ability to release my strong negative emotions is paying off ten fold now with Jack. It took me AGES to finally figure it out so give it a try when you seem to be having a bad ride! It may just end up being a great one if you can get passed YOUR emotions.

While I didn’t get a chance to Go Pro my episode with Jack. It died as I was getting on (One of these days I will remember to charge it BEFORE I ride)  I hope you got a little laugh at his antics and maybe just a slight insight on working with babies.

Until next time!

 

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Best New Grooming Tool: Hands On Gloves

It isn’t very often that I come a crossed a new type of grooming tool  that I like. Most ideas have been tried and done before with just a slightly different shape or material. Well, I just found my newest most favorite grooming tool ever. Cash AND Jack both enthusiastically agree. They are called Hands On Gloves and they are AMAZING! (I do have a video using them on Cash’s muddy butt, but for some reason my phone and computer refuse to talk to each other. One of these days I’ll invest in an iPhone so all my electronics will all talk to each other!)
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You put on these gloves and they have all the grippies of normal plastic groomers but they are on your fingers and palms. I can groom the boys in the most odd of places that I can’t reach normally with a brush or a good scrubber. (Like cash’s favorite of right between the chest muscles or the crease of the leg and chest)  I can carefully get around the boys eyes, ears and all around those weird places on the face and the boys just LOVE IT!  I haven’t seen my horses give me the “oh oh right there….oh please don’t stop scratching” looks so much before. The fact that they are shedding right now probably really helps them love these gloves. And I have drenched them in water and used them just to see. They still work great they just don’t wipe off the hair as easily as dry but they are very good. I’m not sure how long they will last with enthusiastic brushing but if it lasts the shedding season i’ll be happy. I’m really pleased with how much of the dead skin and dirt it pulls up as well. The boys will be gleaming in no time!

*Note* These gloves are a tad expensive at $25 a pop BUT you horses will seriously say thank you! Both Cash and Jack love them and they have two very different tastes for what and how I groom them!

My work schedule has been ridiculous lately and I won’t lie, my time with my horses has suffered because it. (hence my very few posts these last few weeks) and I love just going out to hang with the boys and give them some brushings to get my horse hair therapy going.  These gloves have really helped it for sure! 😀

I think time on the ground just hanging out with the horses is also just as important as riding the horses. I’ve found that when I do work in hand, or I just relax and hang out drinking a cup of tea (or wine) and sit near them while they are grazing really has drastically improved my relationship with my horses. I think in a way it builds their trust with me, and of course great grooming sessions always help, especially when you reach those really, really hard to reach places for them!  Any who I just wanted to jump in and say a quick hello before having to head off to find me some dinner and a really really hot shower before getting ready for my day tomorrow.

Good news! The sun has been shining and I think possibly that summer is almost here! That means a lot more work with the boys since it’s staying lighter much longer! So as long as work doesn’t put me on the crazy schedule I’ve been on the last few weeks I’ll be back to blogging again like crazy!

Until next time!

 

**This is not a sponsored post. I just seriously love these gloves and had to share! Click on the link above or check them out here at handsongloves.com**

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Daylight Savings And A Message For The Working Equestrians!

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Oh glorious daylight savings time! A bitter-sweet wake up this morning! I’ve had to down an extra cup or two of coffee thanks to the cut to my morning sleeping routine but I’m so excited to finally have enough time to ride AND get some of the chores done around the house after work!

Now here in the glorious pacific northwest it’s a bit of a catch 22. I mean really what is an extra hour right now when soon it’ll be getting dark at 1030 pm and light at 430 am (not even joking here!) but theres just something exciting about the time change. It means spring is here. My fruit trees are blooming, the grass is growing and I have flowers popping up everywhere around my place! Theres just something invigorating about spring isn’t there?

Alright my working equestrians! You know who you are! Your those normal people who have to work to support their love of horses! This next part is for you!

So I kinda had a break down Saturday morning. I have this really bad habit of over stressing myself and spreading myself way to thin with all the awesome things I want to do onto of my work schedule. Then I end up kinda spinning in circles not really knowing which project to tackle and somehow feeling guilty about not getting out to see my friends, and horses, and about 10 other things I feel I SHOULD be doing.

As many of you know I really want to get the boys going in eventing. A lot of my friends are already going for the season. They are out riding, showing and getting their horses in peak form already. Where are my horses? Muddy, chilling in the pasture as I slowly get it fenced piece by piece, and lucky to get ridden 2 to 3 days a week.

I fell into a trap of comparing myself and my horses to a lot of my friends and people I just follow in the horse world. The biggest difference between my friends and I is my work schedule.

As many of you know I’m a k9 handler. What I never put out is I’m a K9 handler in the US Navy. Well Uncle Sam really doesn’t care what my after work plans are, or what weekend jaunts I’m excited about doing. Do I have a set work schedule? Yup I do, but that doesn’t include a lot of stuff we HAVE to do to appease the CO. That doesn’t reflect if anyones gone for being sick, on deployment, leave or a heap of other tasks that we have to complete, and now we have to pick up their slack too. I don’t even want to mention being on call 24/7 when its my turn to be on duty. I’m not complaining here (ok maybe a little) I LOVE my job. There’s nothing else like it in the world BUT when it comes to riding my horses it puts a serious kink in it 9 times out of 10.

Most if not all of my horse friends are lucky enough to have a standard, wonderful job that sticks to its 8 hour work day or the even luckier ones are retired and have time to devote to their horses or their equine businesses!

I felt like I was behind the curve with my horses. That they weren’t where they should be and that I could be doing a whole lot more with them. That I was somehow being lazy and just not taking the time to work with them…. Well, that may be partially true but not completely. I took a deep breath and just had to go outside and just watch my boys graze and contemplate some things.

While they were happily munching I realized that my horses don’t have an agenda. They love to be worked and given attention. They happily meet me at the gate (ok it might be for the treats they know I have in my pocket.) They are the happiest when I re-arrange the temporary electric fence so they can graze. My horses only agenda is to eat, get loved on and beg for more treats.

I am the one with the agenda. I am the one stressing over how much I haven’t done with my horses. I am the one who feels like somehow I’ve failed my horses and myself. Do I want to compete my horses? Sure! Do I want to see them easily doing a novice dressage test and jumping 3 foot jumps with ease…hell yeah…. But what happens if I don’t get there? What happens if I don’t feel ready to go back on that cross country course? Absolutely nothing. The world doesn’t end. I don’t get labeled a pariah, and outcast from the horse community. I simply continue on. No judgment from my friends and family. Life just continues.

The biggest things we have to remind ourselves  is:
A.) My horses are happy whether they’re grazing in the pasture or being ridden.
B. ) I sometimes don’t have the time or the energy to work them. Do you think it would be a good idea to jump on a horse after just working a 16 hour shift where all hell broke loose? hummmm nope. 

I need to take each day one step at a time and just focus on being happy with my horses. Just enjoying the moments I do get to spend with them.

I’m posting this mostly as a reminder to myself to not feel like the world is ending when I don’t get to work my horses much  but also to a reminder to the working equestrians out there who feel they to may be behind the curve:

Don’t worry about it! Don’t feel like you’re being left behind. Are you having fun doing what you’re doing? Are your horses happy, healthy and eagerly meet you when you go see them? Then who cares how much you progress or compete? The only one who cares is you! Your horses are just as happy either way 😀

Until Next time!

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Have you heard of the Horsemaster program?

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Upon arriving in Washington I was meeting the people in the horse world here and I found something I’ve never heard of before. Of course there was a local group of pony clubbers, like there is about everywhere, but someone asked me “Have you heard about the Horsemasters program?”

Well I must admit other then calling myself a master of horses (in a very sarcastic manner usually after I’ve fallen off my horse) I had never known of a group called that. Well let me tell you it is the COOLIST program I’ve found so far. It’s literally Pony Club for ADULTS!!!

I got super lucky since I bought my new house there is a covered arena near me and it was here I learned of a new Horsemasters program starting up right next door. The Sunset Valley PC-Horsemasters in Oak Harbor, WA, A newly  established group of kick ass ladies ready to tackle any challenge and have a blast doing it!

What is  Pony Club and Horsemasters?

Pony club is a very good structured program to get kids up to age 25 into the eventing community (and you can specialize in the higher levels if you choose to stray away from traditional eventing) and it gives really good knowledge on so many topics from basic grooming to stable management, and so much more. It was started in 1954 after the British Pony Club to teach horsemanship and all aspects of care for the horse. It has since gained recognition world wide  and there are many programs in many countries to date.

Horsemasters allows adults to do the same curriculum as Pony Clubbers and get the same level certifications( D-A) as a normal pony clubber but as an adult. Sometimes Pony Club will have an adult program running in tandem with their club or like mine it’s completely adults no children around.  I must admit I’m glad I’m starting this journey now because I think adults get a lot more out of the program then most children.

Now why would adults get more out of Pony Club in the Horsemasters program?

Well while I was horse crazy growing up I had this little stubborn “I know it all” streak in me. And there were many a time I just tuned out what instructors were saying or just rolled my eyes and gave an attitude. While some kids are completely devoted the majority are not so as an adult we have CHOSEN to do this. We will be paying attention as much as possible because we are taking our own time and money to do it.

This isn’t someones mom living vicariously through their kid, or using it as a weird sort of baby sitting program so they can go drink and gossip with the local horse ladies. No. This is a group of adults who are beginning and/or continuing their education and are truly devoted to it. They are people 18 years old and above who are out there to have fun, increase their skills and are some of the most encouraging people I’ve met to date. Not to mention Horsemasters is a great way to network with other riders and horse people in the area. If you’re new to an area it’s a virtual gold mine of information about local shows, places to ride, events going on and some good old friendship! I’ve learned more about the goings on of the horse community here in Washington in the last month then I have the whole time I’ve been here!

Tomorrow is a clinic that explains the certification process and I’m super excited to go. Hopefully I can try and quickly get through my D ratings and jump right into C this summer!   There will most assuredly be some writing and videoing about this weekend so have no fear of being left out and I’ll post it as soon as I can (there will also be a link added below for you to!) I’m about to gain some knowledge not only on the inner workings of Pony Club but hopefully some more friends as well!

If you would like to find out more about Pony Club/Horsemasters and see if there is any in your area check out their official page at https://secure.ponyclub.org/findponyclub/map.aspx

 

Until next time!

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Dressage Just Got Real Part 2


So if you’ve read part one (Check it out HERE if you haven’t) have I blown your mind yet?Well let me show you why lifting the head was essential and how it really helps this second part.

So your horse now understands that when given upward pressure on the bit he has to hold his head up. Remember when I said Carol put her finger in the snaffle ring and gently lifted up and Cash turned his head???  Now you see where we are going.

So once your horses head is up, stand in front (or slightly to the side for safety) and gently lift one side of the bit up and do a little vibration/wiggle by lifting up and down a few centimeters. The horse should turn it’s head. If not Ask, wait a moment, praise or ask again.

Now as they turn their head watch their front legs. Most horses will lean the majority of their weight towards the direction their head is going. They may also have a preferred side that they tend to keep weight on. For instance if the horse is turning its head left they pop their right shoulder out and lean to the right instead of following the head to the left. (IE. Cash popping his shoulder out  and going right to go see the horses BUT I had him turned and bent to go left).

So as you observe them do they transfer their weight left and right to follow their head? or do they move their head but keep most of their weight on one side?

If you have a horse that leans all its weight on one leg, say the right front leg, that’s great for the left leg because it frees of weight and can move any way it needs to.  However, the moment you ask them to move the right leg they literally can not move that leg because there is too much weight on it.

posted leg free legIt’s like leaning against the wall using your right arm to hold your weight.  Your left arm is free to do what ever you want but you can’t move your right arm for fear of loosing your balance and falling.

Now to understand why they do this, a horses head weighs approximately 50 pounds! So when they are moving forward and they’re looking forward it’s easy for them to move that direction but if they swing their head one way or another they compensate with their “strong” side to keep in balance.  Horses have a preferred side just like we do so that it’ s typically the side that takes the majority of the weight when they more their heads left to right.  Some horses will shift their weight to both sides easily but the majority of horses will pick one side over the other.

This brings us to the next exercise:

You’re going to need your reins and a training whip long enough to reach their butts.

Take the reins and put them over the horses head like you normally would to mount. Then grab the outside rein and ensure you have a nice light contact with the bit but are not pulling on it. It’s there to keep the bit steady. You will put the outside rein in your hand closest to the butt,with your training whip also in that hand, and position your hand on the meaty part of the shoulder.

You can see how i'm holding the bit and the reins here.
You can see how I’m holding the bit and the reins here and where I’m holding my hand on the shoulder. Sorry about the sun glare!

The best way to grip the bit  is going to be gripping the top part of the snaffle ring ensuring you only pull up not back and/or down. You can hold it any way thats comfortable but this ensures you are only pulling up.  Don’t be afraid to use the noseband to help make sure you don’t pull down on the bit until you get the feel for it.
holding bit
So once you’re all situated you are going to ask for walk.

Ask, wait for response.  Praise if they did it right. If they didn’t move  ask again while simultaneously using the whip to tap at their side to get them to move forward  and cease all aids as soon as they do and praise.

Then ask for whoa by pulling up slightly with both reins and releasing the upward movement. The release is MANDATORY!  This is your wait for their response moment. If you continue to hold the horse will resist. Give them the opportunity to respond! Then either ask again or praise depending on the response (seeing a theme here?)

When you’re sure you have go and whoa you can move on to the next step. 

Ask the horse to move forward. Now just like when the horse was standing and you asked him to turn his head,  wiggle the inside ring up and down several centimeters. Once you have the bend in his neck praise!  As you move forward walk on a large 20 to 40 meter circle. If needed walk down the rail but it is usually easier to do on a circle. As you do this a lot of horses will fall in with the shoulder. Don’t worry we will fix that next.

Take your hand holding the whip and outside rein and watch the inside leg. As the inside leg ( or the shoulder you’re standing next to) begins to raise off the ground. Push on their shoulder and then release the pressure before it strikes the ground.

Crossing front legThis should cause the horse to step across their outside leg and move their shoulders away from you.  This does take a bit of timing practice and you MUST release. If you do not it causes what is known as opposition reflex. This means the horse will lean into your pressure instead of away. It’s a natural response. Even you will do it if someone pushes steadily against your shoulder.

Make sure to praise praise praise when they gets it right.  Don’t reprimand if they do it wrong or don’t do anything.  Let them stumble on to the right answer. If timed right they understand what your asking very quickly. Don’t over do it. Once they have done it several times repeat the steps on the other side.

You are teaching your horse that they are mobile in the shoulders as well as  how to shift their weight left and right evenly while maintaining bend. That is why having their head up in these beginning steps is really nessicary.  If they have all their weight on the forehand it is a lot harder for them to move their shoulders.

The Final Exercise: 

crossed hind legsNow once they have mastered both the right and left shoulders moving away from the pressure, while still circling at a walk,  take the whip, hold it horizontally a crossed their body  and tap their haunches lightly as the rear inside leg (hind leg closest to you) is lifting off the ground.  This should cause them to step under and a-crossed moving their hind end to the outside. Ask with a tap or two, Wait for a response and ask again or praise. (The pic is a horse at a stand still but it gives you an idea of the moment you are looking for)

Now when asking for this exercise the first time horses will usually try to go faster instead of over. Cash tried to trot forward the first time he was asked.  Just hold them steady. If needed give that slight upwards pressure on both reins and ask for walk. Be patient. This can make some horses a bit nervous to start.  Once they even take a tiny step a crossed to the outside with the back leg praise, praise, praise!  It usually only takes a few tries and praises for them to understand it typically if you’re timing your aids right. I mean if Cash picked it up in about three tries I think a calmer horse would pick it up faster.

The hardest thing is ensuring you’re not pulling on the bit while asking for the aid and having the correct timing when giving the tap to the haunches to move.  This final exercise teaches a young or inexperienced horse that while they have more weight on the haunches then normal they are still able to move their legs laterally and it begins to teach the engagement of the hocks.

That’s it for my first lesson. A very simple and yet profound exercise. I do ask please keep the sessions short! Carol only worked with me and a Cash a grand total of 10 minuets out of the hour lesson. The rest of the hour was spent just talking and explaining. There is absolutely no reason you can’t stop after five minuets if your horse is understanding it. In fact it is much more beneficial to the to stop after a short but great session.

What blew away was the response in Cash at the end of the lesson. He started out nervously chomping the bit. By the end of the lesson he was still chomping but it was relaxed and much slower. He was calmly standing next to me. Which was AMAZING given the fact it was about 40 degrees with about a 15-20 mile an hour gusts of cold wind. At the beginning I couldn’t get him to stand still to save my life!

Repeat this exercise every day for 1 week or if you can’t do it ever day of week do it as many times as you can for two weeks. Don’t ride your horse at all until the end of the week and let me know how your horse responded. You do not need any arenas to do this exercise either! I do it in my pastures and front yard (yup hoof prints everywhere!)

HERE’S a great little video showing exactly what you need to do once your walking! The young lady is doing the work and Carol is talking to the girl as she’s doing it. I have tried taping my personal sessions since my lesson but my camera decided to hate me( I do think it’s my memory card…hopefully) , but I can’t seem to get the right angle to show you or longer then about 15 seconds to record. I need my own camera crew haha.

If you have any question let me know and I will get you the answers! I hope you’ve enjoyed this 😀

Until next time!

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Dressage Just Got Real Part 1

Dressage arena set up with letters Tower Letters are molded using 100% UV-stabilized HDPE. White with large black letters molded onto all three sides. Letters are stackable with anti-suction tabs to prevent sticking. 10-017 10-018 Wellington Dressage Arena 2-023 2-024 2-025 2-123 920PW 920PWC Wellington Arena Package Wellington Arena Tower Letter Package WATowerp1 WATowerP2

My mind = blown. I never knew such a short lesson could bring about such revelations! Where has this amazing trainer been hiding all my life?!! Now it’s taken me almost an entire week to digest and understand exactly what she told me throughout my lesson. The information I learned will also be broken up into several posts because it’s so much I don’t want to overload  and confuse you.

The camera we were using for the lesson decided to hate my memory card so I didn’t get it on video and I’m attempting to re-create it with my go pro but like all thing technological it seems to never want to work when I need it to…. or I fried the memory card.

Before we begin I want to point out that I put Cash back in a bit for the lesson. I figured that since I was riding with Carol McArdle who has an extensive background in not only dressage but eventing as well, (Check out her bio HERE)  that maybe she would see something that I’m doing or have ideas on how to make him happier with the bit.  I was right!

To start our lesson I got on and started walking around in warm up. Carol wanted to see my typical warm ups and how we worked together on a normal basis. As we were going around the arena Cash saw two horses just chilling on the other side of the rail and decided he REALLY wanted to meet those horses. He did his classic “I wanna go THIS way” move while I was telling him “No go this way” and we were arguing over which direction we were going.

This was literally about 2 minuets into the lesson. It was at this point Carol stepped in. She said

“You have a communication issue. Your horse doesn’t understand what your asking with the reins.”

Now the next bit is gonna sound weird. It goes against almost everything I have been taught but hold out on me. I promise it’ll get a bit clearer.

She then grabbed the right bit ring with one finger and lifted gently straight up and gave a tiny vibration and Cash instantly turned his head to the right.

“The key to a horse is not pulling down and back like you were doing. It’s pulling straight up on the bit. Your horse has never done this before and see what he did? He automatically turned his head.” and  then proceeded to tell me to get off my horse.

Wait…What?!…I froze….What did she just say? Get off my horse??!  Pull straight up???  HUH?

This is the FIRST time in my entire life that I’ve been at a lesson and I was kicked off my horse. I thought maybe she wanted to get on him and show me something. I kinda prayed she had insurance and jumped off.

As I hopped off she put my stirrups up. So I waited even more confused. Did I screw up that badly that we were ending the lesson already? Then she told me we are starting at the very beginning basics.I was still confused. I thought I was at those basics with Cash but she was not talking about the basics in the saddle.She meant starting at the basics on the ground by doing in hand work!

Now in hand work is something I have always attempted/wanted to do. I have about three books on it and I’ve watched countless videos but I never quite understood what they were doing. So she grabbed the reins and began to show me.

I was blown away and secretly grateful that she did this.

The information she told me has completely changed the way I handle a horse with a bridle. So for the next bit I’m gonna break it down to help explain why you do this first evolution by pulling UP on the bit.

All right a little tid bit on some basics of how bits work in a horses mouth varying on how you pull on the reins. This was how Carol explained it to me. I added some pictures to help clarify.

Pulling straight back with the reins: This pulls down on the tongue and possibly the bars of the mouth causing intense discomfort. Think of it this way. When you’re at the dentist and he puts his finger on the back of your tongue and pushes what happens? It creates gag reflex. The same is true in your horse. The pressure is not comfortable in any way so they try to evade it one way or another or brace against it.

Bit pulled straight back best

Pulling down: Puts INTESE pressure on the bars of the mouth and possibly the pallet as well. The bars of the mouth are extremely sharp and narrow. It’s very easy to cause stress fractures as well as bony spurs on the bars with constant downward pressure and severe bruising to the tissue of the bars of the mouth and the roof of the horses mouth. Just ask a vet or dentist if you don’t believe me.

runningmartingale

Pulling straight up: Puts pressure only on the corners of the horses mouth. As the bit moves up it tickles or strokes the tongue causing the horse to lift his tongue and swallow releasing pressure in the poll. It has no effect on the bars or pressure on the tongue and is much easier on the horse. And for horses like Cash doesn’t invoke a fight response to pain. In the picture below you can see the action of the bit as due to the angle of the horses head. The bit is being pulled up along the tongue not down.
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The best thing she told me to remember was “Ask. Wait a moment. Give the horse a chance to respond to what you’re asking. If they give the wrong answer or don’t respond at all ask again! Once you get the right answer praise praise praise!”

DO NOT PUNISH a horse for giving a wrong response. This just adds unnecessary stress and confusion for no reason.  PRAISE is mandatory for a horse to know when he has done something correctly.

As Cash was standing there he was nervously chewing on the bit. She calmly took both bit rings and gently moved them up in his mouth until he RAISED his head just a little bit.Cash went to walk forward and turn but Carol calmly walked with him until he stopped. She lifted the bit again then he lifted his head a tad and lots of praise followed. It didn’t take him long to figure out when she pushed up on the bit he had to raise and hold his head up.

Now if you’re like me you’ve been taught to put the horses head down. That’s why side reins, draw reins and even martingales are used. It is commonly taught that we want the horse’s head round and down and taking contact on the bit for a young horse. But there is a very good reason to teach the horse to raise his head in the beginning stages.

I’m going to explain the biomechanics of the motion and how using a horses natural biomechanics to help train is really beneficial. And why wouldn’t we want to use what’s already given to us to make our lives easier? and easier on our horses? After all the goal of dressage is to teach a horse to carry a rider as naturally as possible and to build the strength in the horse to do the movements we are asking of them. Dressage is nothing but continual training of the horses mind and body.

shift weight picSo in nature as a horse hears or sees something unknown they immediately raise their head. When they do this it causes the horse to automatically shift its weight back to its haunches in case that sound happens to be a predator. This frees up the forehand and allows them to make a rapid movement should escape be necessary. Putting their head up also switches their vision for distance so they can see if a predator is near. How does this help dressage?

When asking a horse to raise his head, I’m not saying raise it to the point where if it rains he drowns.  I’m talking mere inches here. Not even as high as the horse in the picture.  He will naturally raise his head much higher to check something out like above. You want him only to raise his head high enough where you see the small shift of weight from front to rear. And it’s subtle so it’s very easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

Now that the weight is more towards the rear it is much easier to ask a horse to more his shoulders left and right.

I’m going stop this post here. Part 2 will be coming soon but just let this idea sit in your mind for a bit. Part 2 will show you how this first step will make everything much easier and how it helps your horses suppleness without anything crazy.….Intrigued yet???

If you want to read part 2 check it out HERE. In part 2 you will understand why lifting the head really helps the next exercises 😀

 

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A Whirlwind Of A Weekend And It’s Only Saturday!

This weekend has been a crazy whirlwind of activity and I’m only half way though it! Cash has blown my expectations out of the water already. (Knock on wood and throw salt over my shoulder!)

Cash trying bitlessI trailered him out to the covered arena and got to try his new bitless bridle thanks to an amazing surprise from my mom! He LOVES it. He relaxes, listens to subtle aids and just seems so happy in it. I don’t even know how to explain how well he feels in it. He was even reaching down into the light contact I had on the reins! No fighting of the turning aids, no wrenching the reins out of my hands!!! It is bliss and I hope it continues. I will eventually re-introduce the bit to him so we can show but for now I’ll take what I’m getting and run!!

I also pissed off Jack today by just trailering out Cash. We have a dressage lesson tomorrow with Carol Lynn Mc ardle!! (Eke!!! so excited can’t even adult!!!) and I wanted to see how he would handle trailering and being ridden without Jack anywhere near. Needless to say he was a tad bit of a space case to start. On the lunge he wanted to pay attention to everything outside the arena. He would listen to my commands but wasn’t really listening if you get my drift. It’s when I got in the saddle that he absolutely blew me away! We probably only rode for a total of 20 minuets but it was an amazing 20 minuets. He was responsive to all my aids! Leg seat and hand!!! It was a huge moment. We even did side pass at the walk and some turn on the forehand left and right!!!

He has decided that the far end of the arena is scary due to a tarped mound of dirt BUT when I asked him to trot towards it he actually picked up the trot and kept a great rhythm throughout the whole length of the arena. He got a little lookie loo at the very end but he circled a decent 20 meter circle and settled down and happily went a crossed the diagonal to the other side and repeated it. He was happy to do walk-trot transitions and only put a fuss up once when he was getting a tad tired! I think what helped is I ensured to praise loudly in a happy voice each and every time he did something well or gave an attempt to do it. He’s a horse that needs re-assurance  that he’s doing something right. He needs verbal praise and lots of scratches (not slaps!) to boost his confidence! If he keep going this way man I can only envision the possibilities!

I mean I’m still so excited about it that I am probably babbling away. The only thing we had issues on was the canter transitions and holding the canter. I think part of our problem is he’s super tight from not moving much in his pen due to the mud and probably a little sore as well. It will be very interesting to see how he does in our lesson tomorrow!!

Jack NappingNow I did mention Jack was mad at me…well I did make it up to him by allowing both him and Cash some time under the orchard trees to graze and Jack took full advantage of the semi-dry ground to take a lengthy nap (seriously I walked out to make sure he was still alive) He even seemed to be dreaming.  I felt bad that I had woken him up!

finish road fenceMy mom also sent me some Wellington boots since my other boots are no longer water proof. (You can read that story here)  I was able to finish ripping out that stretch of barbed wire (Nasty evil shit!) and I’ll begin the other side tomorrow. It won’t be long before I have the new fence up and the grounds dry enough to let the boys graze until their hearts content! The grass is already 6 inches tall out there! If it would ever stop raining I could graze it!!!

Now I did get the death glare from the boys when I had to put them back in their pens and Jack even jumped the electric fence (oh yes jumped!)as I was putting it back where it normal is. I had to run around with treats and a halter and finally corner him to get the halter on. Then he drug his hooves all the way back to the gate. I’ve never known a horse to walk so slow. Poor cash was pouting as well but he’s easily consoled by giving him a flake of alfalfa. Jack on the other hand is probably currently plotting my death.

So I apologize for this post being kind of a ramble. I’m still so shocked and excited and empowered by everything I managed to accomplish today (and I even left some stuff out!) and I wanted to share it so badly that well I couldn’t help myself! Tomorrow’s gonna be even better. A full rundown of my first lesson in over 2 years and my first ever on Cash will be written (and video hopefully)

Until Next time!

P.S. oh and If you haven’t gotten the news the boys and I are now on INSTAGRAM! Check us out if you get a chance 😀  (oh and please do me a favor and ensure you have “turn on notifications” once your following so you can stay up to date with the boys and I!)

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How A Newly Single Equestrian Spends Valentines Day

As some of you know  my husband and I decided to get a divorce a while back. It was finalized last month and so now I am newly single and then Valentines day arrives. Now normally I don’t care much about Valentine’s day but being newly divorced and hearing/seeing everyone talk about their significant others or planning big gooey dates with chocolate and flowers included kinda hit me a little hard.

This year I don’t have that someone to call mine and I won’t lie it kinda hurt a bit. Not to mention Facebook had to start dragging up pictures of our anniversary vacation we took around this time….I mean my ex and I are still friends but REALLY Facebook…do you have to add insult to injury right now?
So what is a newly single equestrian to do on Valentines day?

1.) Drink Wine! Of course being a horse crazy lady it has to be from 14 Hands! Hot to trot red blend it is!

wine and saddle

2.) Order pizza! Only stuffed crust will do thank you!  I will pair this delicious pizza with the wine.

pizza wine

3.) Horse time...of course I happen to have two boys standing in the paddocks awaiting me. Two quite glorious boys actually (ok I might be a tad biased but hey can you blame me?). Though these days they tend to be a tad on the dirty side (Have I mentioned it gets muddy here in Washington?) There’s just something about that warm horsey smell that lets me over look all the mud and poop stains to see those shining excited eyes staring back at me ready to go….Oh and I must admit I have a bit of a lovers quarrel going on. Poor Cash just HATES when I give attention to Jack… *sigh* He’s the jealous type but I think he’ll eventually get over it!

Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

4.) Eat Chocolate…I mean come on you HAD to see this one coming! Isn’t that what this holiday is really about?

horse chocolate

5.) Watch horse movies...yup it really is the best. From the old classic to new and cheesy Bring them ON!!

horse movies

So While I don’t have any crazy plans this week, or any binge drinking at the local bars lamenting my single status I do belive I have a glorious day planned. I mean really who wants to hang out with a bunch of people when there are horses around anyways? And I do have a social life….I swear….work counts as a social life right????

Happy Valentines day everyone! I hope it’s glorious and filled with deliciousness. Don’t forget to give those four-legged beasties a treat.

 

Until Next time!

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Fencing…Oh The Struggle Is Real!

Some days the struggle is real! I’m not talking about getting out of bed. I’m talking about the great debate of riding my horses vs. doing the laundry list of chores I need to do around my mini-ranch.  There are days when the weather breaks and it’s finally not raining and almost sunny out. I have to buckle down, give the boys a pat and a treat before reaching for the tools and heading to do some much-needed work around the place.Fencing 3

The worst part about winter is having to choose one over the other due to weather and light restrictions. Seriously, if I had been boarding my horses it wouldn’t have been even close to a debate. I would have been at the barn saddling up and getting ready to go but now having the beasties at home I have to decide what’s best for them. That hour ride or taking the day and getting a pasture fence re-done so they can be safe all summer long… *sigh* Let me grab the tools and my gloves.

I decided to start tackling the barbed wire fence that rings the majority of my pastures. I refuse to keep barbed wire where I have my horses. Bad things always happen when it’s around.

Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE manual labor and that’s not sarcastic. I seriously love doing stuff that makes me feel accomplished at the end of the day but I sincerely HATE barbed wire.  It’s a royal pain in the ass to deal with regardless of what you are doing with it!

fencingNow as I started this task I learned something, thanks to my wise father. Fencing Pliers are the BEST invention for anything fence wise! So a quick jaunt to the farmers supply and I was all set to get rocking.  Once I remembered how to use them I was golden and they made the whole job easier!  I  won’t mention how many times I caught it on my pants, hoodie, hair (don’t ask) before I finally figured out a system.

Oh yes! There is a system to taking barbed wire fence down. Now this fence is old, rusted and ill-maintained and put up on the wrong side of the posts. My dad happily pointed that out when I sent him the picture. so there was no taking one strand down at a time. Oh no, that would have been too easy.  I have to take all the strands down together. Why? Well the nice fence stays (the twisted wire pieces that you see in-between posts) that keep the fence straight and from tangling if it loosens a bit and helps with keeping proper tension…. yeah they are all rusted on.

Now about the time I got my nice system down and was in the groove of pulling staples and undoing t-post clips, I took a deeper step into the ditch…It’s full of water if you didn’t notice from the pictures….and I found out my waterproof boots are no longer water proof all the way up. My left boot began to fill with icy cold water. It wasn’t a gush either. It was a nice slow trickle so I could feel my socks slowly getting soaked.

I began to wonder for probably the umpteenth time why I thought this was a good idea on such a beautiful (for washington) day. OH YEAH…the boys will love it. So I kept going, until I stepped a tad deeper and my right boot began to fill with water. *Really Big Sigh*. I WILL stick it out! Only 17 more fence posts to go!

Have you ever had cold feet? Soaking wet cold feet? Yeah well 2 more fence posts in and my fencing beachhands were deciding to join my feet with the icy debacle going on. I sat down and tried to pretend I was sitting in the nice Caribbean ocean and that I was toasty warm! To my surprise it actually worked. For a grand total of 30 seconds. Before my brain kicked in and told me adamantly that it was tired, cold and “no you will not get one more staple out because you won’t be able to hit you pliers with the hammer to get behind that very stubborn staple that is refusing to come out.”

I tried desperately for about more 5 minuets. When I had a decent hole around everything BUT the staple I decided to call it a day and go put the boys back in their pen.

They had gotten a temporary expansion to their big pen so they could graze while I worked on temp expan penthe fence because they were giving me the “please the grass is so green” eyes. So they got to graze under the little orchard while I struggled, cursed and wondered what I was doing. I’ m sure they got a good laugh at me but I will get that fence done… Eventually!!

Until next time!

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How to improve our alignment in the saddle with one simple exercise

Image by: Susan Harris off americashorsedaily.com
Image by: Susan Harris
off americashorsedaily.com

A while ago I was asked to do a video on the proper shoulder, hip, heel alignment when riding a horse. Since I’m a believe in rider fitness as well I thought I’d show a very simple exercise that helps with alignment and a few little ways to improve your alignment without having to think really hard. So what’s this secret movement that helps you ask???  SQUATS!

Oh yes the dreaded squats. (ok well I used to dread them).  When done properly squats can seriously help with your riding and you can literally do them anywhere you have room to stand! Now that I know how to do them properly they are so much fun and I won’t lie I actually envision jumping my horses and the rhythm of his canter underneath me as I squat. (I do have a great imagination) And it makes squats so much more fun to do.

Now as you prefect these you can add stability balls or devices to activate your core more like you are when you are balancing over a moving horse but don’t rush into it. Master the simple squat and then think about adding more stability exercises later.

Now the biggest things to remember:

1.) Keep you shoulders level. DO NOT round your back or throw your shoulders down. Find a spot on the wall to look at and think “eyes up” (humm sound familiar?)  to keep yourself from going forward and keep those shoulders relaxed but straight. If it helps imagine releasing the rein over the jump!

2.) Push your booty back. Like straight back. Don’t keep you butt in the same spot. This causes you to fold your shoulders forward, round your back  and come up onto your toes.

3.)Think TOES UP! Keep your weight in your heels. DO NOT go up on the balls of your feet. This will cause a knee injury because you are adding excessive pressure on your knee-joint. If you feel like your going to need to step back to keep your balance  while squatting you are doing it right! Keep thinking Toes up.

So as you squat think: Eyes up, shoulders relaxed and straight, booty back and toes up. Just close the angles of your hip and your knees. Envision that jump! It helps!! Seriously it does 😀

But if this sounds confusing have no fear I put together a video to help explain. It is a tad long (sorry about that) but it helps explain a little bit more in detail.

If there are more things you’d like to see, questions you’d like answered or just to chat  feel free to comment below, send me a message  here or on  Facebook.

 

Until Next Time!

 

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How To Incoperate Horses Into Rider Fitness (And I’m Not Talking About Riding Them)

Rider fitness is one of the most talked about things around this time of year and rightly so. It’s a great time to work on new years resolutions. When most of the country can’t ride much due to weather it’s a perfect opertunity to work on ourselves. (And maybe some not so well kept resolutions)

I am one of those that hands down belives fitness increases the ability of a rider. It only makes sense. The more fit you are, the more balanced and muscle control you have, the better rider you are. But I also think that you don’t have to do the prescribed “eat salads and work the eleptical for an hour” kind. It’s too boring for me and I happen to love food so while a salad is delicious  I prefer actually hearty meals too. But food is for a later post. Right now I want to talk a bit more about rider fitness and how to incoperate it with your horse without actually riding them. *gasp*
WHAT? what do you mean not riding them…..Well it actually quite simple you see….IF you live where there is dry roads you now have a jogging partner! Who needs a dog when you have a horse??? Seriously my boys love it and sometimes they get to snorting so much and prancing (Jack I’m talking to you)  I start laughing so hard it hurts to run….Plus if you push yourself to hard you can ride them home!!! Double win!!! Don’t belive me???  video proof BAM!!

 

Don’t have time to go running or the weathers too bad then check out my workout for when your feeding hay HERE!

Have you ever tried mucking stalls out in the winter time?? If you don’t think thats a workout you are crazy!!! I won’t even get into what it’s like pushing a loaded wheel barrow up a  muddy hill here. But if you wanna really blast it, sprint up the hill with said wheel barrow.

Moving bags of grain? Do some over head presses with those feed bags or just try walking on the ice and not dropping them!

Horses kick down some boards?  Do some lunges and squats with the boards as you move them!

If you put some effort into your daily chores you can add an extra kick to what your already doing without adding a bunch of extra time. I love making time in the mornings for my actual workouts but I know work and life can get in the way and I still want to work on me so I try to add a little here and there to those pesky chores.

I will be doing some more fitness videos and blogs in the future just to keep everyone entertained by my workout shenanigans but in the mean time, if you are wanting to get back on track or just need motivation I have an amazing group of ladies (men are welcome too) who are starting a month of workout/healthy eating challenges. It costs nothing at all to join but if you want to be eligable for the awesome prizes you do have to donate to the prize pool. You can be as active or not as you like. There is gonna be some healthy recipies to share and use as well as workouts and just good ol’ motivation from a bunch of people looking to get fit, stay fit and just feel better about themselves (and their horses like it to. I know mine do)

“Frolicking in February” starts febuary 1st and runs through the 28th. It’s a closed group on facebook so it doesn’t matter what state your in you can participate! If you’d like to join all you have to do is message me or post on facebook and I’ll add you to the group!

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to add a little something for yourself during your daily routine to keep you healthy and going strong so you can ride your beasties for years to come. (and hopefuly a laugh or two as well)  If you don’t find a workout you enjoy then you won’t continue to do it and what’s not fun about adding your horse/horse chores into it?

We focus so much of our energy into our horses and their nutrition and fitness, that we deserve just a slice of time for ourselves too!!

Until next time!

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Being A Working Equestrian

Ya know, growing up I always wanted to be an adult. Because in my eyes I could sit around and eat cookie dough all day and play with my horses and not do anything I didn’t want to do. (Insert reality check here)

Obviously that is not how my adult life turned out….If only I’d known then!!….. As hard as I’ve tried to win the latest powerball and the occasional lotto those cards are aparently not in my deck so I have to work to support my horsey habit. Do you know how expensive hay is in Washington? YIKES! Hello PBJ for the next few weeks!!!

Now don’t get me wrong I have a pretty cool job but some days (weeks?) I feel  the job I have to afford said beasties actually takes more away from them. There are some days where I literally run out in the pitch black, throw hay, give a scratch or two and run to work. Only to get home in the dark, check to make sure horses are still safe and sound, throw hay and then head to bed and repeat. Or I’m just so exhausted I don’t want to do anything but curl up and sleep.

Now I’ve learned alot at my current job. But seriously do you just HAVE to take time away from my horses??? I mean can I just get a nice 8-4 job that I can clock into and out of right on the dot with a long lunch??? Is that too much to ask???

Oh wait…that would be boring. I can’t do boring. I would be climing the walls within a month….And I wonder why Cash has attention problems in the arena….*sigh* well guess I better stop complaining and go to work. UNLESS there is a rich benefactor out there who reads this and wants to…oh I dunno…support my horsey habits for me? And build me and indoor? and a barn to????….Ok Ok I’ll stop day dreaming. It’s time to go to work anyways.

Keep you heads up my working equestrian friends. It’s worth it in the end!!!

Until Next Time!

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To Koda, The Best Dog I’ve Ever Known!

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Koda,

My faithful companion growing up! For 14 years you have always been a bright spot at the ranch, even in the darkest of times. You grew up beside my brother and I and always made sure we had fun and were safe. We taught you how to sit, stay and come but you taught us to always be happy because life’s to short to be angry and to love unconditionally to those who matter. You always ran up, wiggle-butt a going, and say hi even if we’d only been gone 5 minuets. You never failed in your duties as a ranch dog and became an invaluble member of the family.

No matter the weather you were always by our side feeding horses and loved jumping up onto koda hay balethe hay so you were the same height as us and could give us kisses and lovings without having to jumping on us. Even at 14 years old when your body was creaky and didn’t want to move quickly you still did it, though not as gracefully.You loved chasing those pesky rabbits, though I don’t think you ever caught one.

You dug me out of snow dritfts when my brother burried me, you’d quietly hide in my room when I snuck you into the house when dad wasn’t looking and you’d happily sit under the porch when he did find you inside. You’d always  say “HI J.D.” to my dad when we asked you to even though you knew dad didn’t like a barking dog. You were happy when mom brought the school bus home so you could eat all the food the kids dropped. You  were there to keep my mom company when I left to start my career and couldn’t take you withkoda school bus me.

You aways greeted everyone who came to the ranch with love and happyness. You roamed the ranch ensuring all was well and holding down the fort when we had to go to town. You have the sweetist heart of any dog I have ever met and when you had puppies you passed it to them and shared your love and happyness to so many families for generations to come!

There will never be another dog like you and you will always be in my heart. I have so many stories to tell and so many good things to say about you I couldn’t write them all down.  I will mourn your passing but I will celebrate your wonderful life and all the gifts you gave me and my family.  You burrowed your way into our hearts where you will forever stay. I love you Koda and I can’t wait to meet you again on the rainbow bridge someday.

 

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