Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We gotz no two point

Riding has been at a minimum thanks to a combination of weather and schedule.  The nights it is over 10 degrees, it seems like I have to give a lesson or something else pressing comes up.  The weekends have been so ridiculously busy that they haven't had much riding either.  Stupid winter.

I rode Mia bareback around the pasture last weekend and was very impressed.  There was no crap fit and she plodded along like it was no biggie.  It probably helped that K was riding with TWH, I will need to try to go out alone to see how she acts.  Unfortunately Mia has become pretty damn herdbound over the winter.  I can take her out alone but she does not like being left alone at all anymore. I have been turning her out in the am by herself while the boys finish breakfast and she is no longer galloping in the pasture so I guess that is a start in the right direction, gotta keep at it though.

Everyone was ridden last night, RB4 came over and rode App while K rode TWH and I rode Mia.  It was nice having everyone out and getting a little exercise.  K is now learning dressage so both RB4 and I focused a lot of our ride on K and trying to undo some of the H/J training she has had.  Getting her to relax her hips so her body follows the horse, getting her to keep her back straight instead of hollowing her lower back, riding WITH consistent contact, pointing her toes foward/in instead of out, etc.  It is certainly a learning process for her but she is getting it.

Mia was pretty good as well, the only real issues were her counterflexing to the left overall and being super stiff and fast to the right in the canter.  She was so strung out in the canter that I dropped my stirrups and rode in more of a dressage seat and then did canter figure 8's and that really settled her back down so that we could end on a good note.  Each attempt to get her to bend, relax and carry herself was short circuiting her brain so I am glad that the figure 8's help her so much.

For myself?  Geez I have no two point anymore.  Two Pointober was the last time I did two point and man does it show!  I started with a lot of stretching in my calf and could pretty easily hold two point in the walk but the trot was rusty.  I could hold position but I would teeter-totter in balance, smack my crotch in the pommel of the saddle, slip my lower leg back, not to mention I couldn't hold it for more than a few laps at a time.  Loser I am!   On the plus side, I am not sore today which I actually expected to be so that is a plus.

In a disappointing bit of news, my new instructor M's daughter B is in town this week and can give lessons Weds through Sat before she goes back to Ocala.  The bad part?  I can't go!  I am volunteering with a (car) race with SO and we are leaving on Wednesday and won't be back until Sunday night, the same time frame B will be here giving lessons.  Grrr!  I asked if she would let me know when they come back up to MI for lessons as I want to take one, talk about bad timing.  I guess if I can't do even 2 mins of two point it is probably best that I don't take a jumping lesson, but still.  Frustrating.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vacation! (Long post)

Well yes, I did go on vacation.  I don't normally share much about the non-horse aspects of life but I had a really great vacation and want to share.  Minus, of course, the ebodeathswineflu that had me coughing for a solid 1.5 weeks before I can finally now call myself healthy again.  Sheesh.  And the chaos that happened when we came home.  Cause things aren't easy.  So here is the quick vacation recap!
On Thursday, Christmas day because we always end up at the cinema since neither of us has real family here, we flew down to Vegas.  Want  to avoid crowds and heavy lines at security?  Fly out at noon on Christmas day.  Easy peasy!!!  It too us MAYBE 5 mins to get through security??  The flight was long but had free "wifi" which allowed us to watch pre-selected TV episodes which entertained us on the way down and back.  Plus the old coughing guy who gave me the eboldeathswineflu who sat next to me for over 4 hours.

We got in around 5p local time but we were on Eastern time and were super tired and hungry.  Almost no restaurants were open so we ate at the Rio hotel, where we stayed, and paid close to $20 for a super crappy hamburger.  Each.  Never again.

Friday morning we awoke bright and early and made the over 4 hour trip to the Grand Canyon.  It was really pretty.  We had several hundred dollars in miscellaneous gift card/prepaid debit cards so we splurged big time and went on a 4 hour guided sunset canyon tour.  Did we go anywhere anyone else can't go?  No.  It was all pavement and pubic access areas of the park however we got a lot of background information and our guide knew exactly where to place us to get the best pictures at these access areas.  And he did not let us dilly dally!
He took as many pictures of everyone as we asked for, talked about the spots we stopped at, talked about the canyon and then got us back in the Jeep to move us to a new spot because he wanted us to see as much as possible.  We spent maybe 10 minutes at each stop except for the last 2.  The next to last stop was the Watchtower which was really cool.  You can go all the way up (very steep, narrow stairs) and there are fantastic views.  The higher you go, the less people there are and it made for a really awesome experience.  We finished at Moran Point for the sunset which was truly spectacular.  Then there was the 4 hour drive back to Vegas :)
One of the cool things about Vegas is the hotels on the strip.  They are just awesome.  As someone that doesn't gamble (lost all $21 we brought lol), I LOVED seeing the casinos.  On Saturday we got up early and walked up and down the entire strip (except for the Luxor/Mandalay Bay).  From Bally's to Circus Circus to Luxor and back.  That is 5 mile walk people!  What did I see, I saw as much as I could!  I saw the gondola rides at the Venetian, I tried to go on them but there was apparently a very long wait of at least a couple of hours and I didn't have that kind of time.
It was cool to look at anyway.  We saw a circus act at Circus Circus.  We saw the Showgirls statue at the Riviera.  The butts are VERY polished with all of the handling while the rest of the statue is pretty unpolished haha!
We saw the ship at Treasure Island.  We saw the Eiffel Tower at Paris.
No idea why Blogger won't stop putting this pic on it's side :(
We saw the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York.
Or this one.  Very annoying b/c they are actually vertical
We saw the Bellagio.
But they didn't have their fountains on :(
To finish the night, we went and saw the Penn and Teller show at the Rio.  Really cool show.  Really, really cool show.  Absolutely no idea how the tricks are done, it is mindblowing.  I know they have a full team to pull everything off but it is amazing.  Penn is as vocal about rights and doing the right thing as he sounds like in interviews.  We had a private meet and greet afterwards which was awesome!!  They even practiced a card trick on/for us that they were doing on the Late Late Show on CBS on 1/9.  I watched the trick in front of me.  I watched the trick on tv.  NO IDEA, MIND BLOWN.  Teller is really fun to chat with (yes, he does talk) and Penn is very engaging.

Sunday we went to California and visited Death Valley.  Really cool place.
The white stuff is actually salt, all of the ground is extremely hard
and crunchy from all of the salt!
We visited Badwater Basin which is 287 below seat level and then Dante's Peak which almost 5500 feet above sea leavel.
It was during this time that I suspected I was sick and started chugging Robitussin. :(   Monday I was awoken to being having my butt kicked by being sick but I absolutely refused to stop.  SO tried to get me to go to urgent care (I really should have went) but I refused.  We finished up the strip tour and saw the Luxor pyramid (COOL!)

We visited the shark reef at Mandalay Bay.

Touching the rays and horseshoe crabs
Another on it's side :(  SHARK!
We tried to see the flamingos at the Flamingo but they weren't on exhibit.  We also tried to see the worlds largest golden nugget at Golden Nugget but we couldn't find free parking and it was a mess with construction so we gave  up and saw a little of Fremont Street.  We took a ride on the High Roller, the world's tallest observation wheel.  You stand in a pod and you can't really even feel it move as it stops/starts and rotates.
550 feet in the air!
Awesome views in the High Roller.  Definitely go during
the day though to avoid crowds, it is also cheaper.
We didn't get to do everything I wanted but that was my fault, I was running at about 40% and was not doing well.  We drove well off of the strip and toured 2 local casinos and ate at one of them.  The atmosphere was TOTALLY different.  Totally different kind of people, totally different kind of atmosphere, total lack of crowds.  It was actually really cool.

Tuesday we came back to problem after problem.  While we were gone, the woodstove started belching smoke and the stovepipe was smoking.  Turns out there was some sort of something that had collected on the cage of the chimney cap blocking air from flowing through.  That took 2.5 hours to fix.  The horses had drug our snow blade from the corner of the arena into the front third of the arena.  Somehow.  It is over 300 pounds and there wasn't a single scratch on anyone and the blade wasn't tipped over.  The horses had broken a tie ring that I use to tie hay nets.  Somehow.  There were no broken nets, no broken clips, no stretched halters, no idea how it was broken.   The horses had decided to drink almost 100 gallons in 3 days despite going through that much in 6 days the rest of the year so the house sitter and to wrestle with filling the tank when there is no spigot close to the tank.  The chickens got out.  Twice.  What a mess.  It took all of Wednesday to get things back and order and back to fairly normal.

We had such a nice vacation though, except being sick, and really hope that we can do it again sometime.  Vacations rock!  There isn't anything we wouldn't do again and things we would definitely do again if we went back.  Stay at a local casino instead of a strip casino.  The old casinos have the amazing food deals you hear about, NOT the new casinos $$$$, anything on the strip is pricey except Denny's.  Definitely plan on spending 2-3 days for the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, each.  It is worth it to go to a show, do NOT buy tickets before you go unless it may be sold out.  You can very easily get tickets at half off or more anywhere, including at the box office.  Be ready to just blow people off, people will walk up to you with a sales pitch every few feet, stop worrying about being polite.  We were going to go to another show Monday night but I just couldn't make myself go.  A lot of the touristy things are quite pricey, our hotel included a free ticket on the High Roller with a coupon for a 2nd ticket so it ended up being $10 a person.  Definitely not worth the $25 a person (during the day!) they actually charge.  I would definitely go back.  Has anyone been to Vegas?  Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, New Goals, New Updates

What a vacation.  SO and I went to Vegas for Christmas and had a wonderful time.  We went to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and had a private meet and greet with Penn and Teller.  I caught some ebolswinedeath flucough thanks to some guy on the way down to Vegas and spent the last 2 days in Vegas in misery but refused to slow down or go to a doc because, come on, VEGAS!  I don't have time to be sick in Vegas!  It has been over a week and a half since this nagging, painful cough showed up and it is JUST NOW going away.  I finally stopped chugging Robatussin on Sunday and I can breathe now at least.

When I got back from vacation last Tuesday, I had a lesson scheduled for Friday.  It was to be the last one before M went to  Ocala for the winter (Jealous!!!!!!) so my lessons are to be put on hold for a few months.  I rested on Wednesday because, come on, my body gave me no other option.  I finally rode Thursday night and just could not do it.  Anytime I picked up a trot, and even at a walk, and took in a semi-deep breath I would double over coughing terribly. It was horrible and I cut our ride down to about 15 mins at mostly a walk.  I called M and told her the news and offered to have her give Mia a training ride instead of my lesson.  She was actually happy to cancel because things were getting crazy in her preparation to go to Ocala and not giving a lesson would free up her time considerably.  As such, I had no last lesson :(

Saturday I rode around the block with K and it confirmed that I made the right choice in cancelling the lesson.  By Sunday I could take normal breaths without coughing my lungs up.  Progress!  I rode last night and it was the last ride until at least Sunday as my basic requirement for riding isn't being met.  That requirement?  It needs to be at least 10 degrees outside.  The HIGH for the next 2 days?  A whopping 9 degrees.  Then 14 degrees.  Yeah, basic requirements are not being met.  Sunday is looking promising though, it should get all the way up to 21!  *le sigh* winter problems.  The horses are all snug in blankets and are parked in front of hay nets in the arena, they seem warm enough anyway.

Riding Mia is becoming more and more interesting since I started these lessons.  I am working really hard at taking the information I learned from my three lessons and applying them to my riding instead of falling back into old habits.  Things I have learned?
1.  Stop blocking with my right hand.
2.  Stop staying behind the motion in the trot
3.  Stretch myself down and also up as we prep and then go through a turn
4.  Stop pulling/riding backwards
5.  Allow Mia to stretch down and forward in all gaits as long as she stays consistent and soft
6.  Stop blocking with my right (everything)
7.  Stop pulling with my right hand
8.  Longer stirrups are a must
9.  Work on the trot and eventually the canter will come
10. Stop blocking with my right (everything)!!!
My right everything is too blocked.  Apparently I pull backwards with my right hand, block with my right arm, am too stiff in my right hip/leg and even look too much to the right.  Damn being a strong right kind of person.  My last 2 rides have been really good though, despite face hurting cold, in that Mia is starting to almost immediately stretch forward and down into the contact.  When, of course, I don't grab her and pull backwards.  Her walk has already improved, typically she has to warm up before she relaxes her walk and now she has a nice swinging walk almost immediately.  Yay!  At this rate, I would expect her to start giving it to me right away if I keep this up because apparently it was me and not her.  Go figure lol

We have plenty of homework to work on while M enjoys the weather of FL, she is supposed to come back up in a month or so to give a couple of lessons so she said she would let me know and I could trailer to her place.  So that is good.  Hopefully she will see changes by the next visit.

My goals for this year?  Fix my problems with my right side so I can ride better.  Get Mia finally consistent in the bridle once and for all.  Get Mia over lots of stadium jumps, preferably over some small courses either at home, away or both.  Get Mia ready to go *gasp* Novice level, I don't think she needs to stay at Beginner Novice this year since she drags me to the XC jumps and it is the stadium jumps she has issues with.  I am going to refer to M (or her daughter B who is also a very accomplished eventer) but she seemed to agree when I talked to her about it. I want K to successfully show TWH in the starter level and I will give her lessons to help get her there.  Ideally, I want App to get back into full time work which shouldn't be too hard since I now have a full time rider for TWH.  Will I achieve my goals?  I think so, I hope so.  Here is to 2015, let's make it better than 2013 lol!  Maybe even better than 2014!!