Monday, March 6, 2023

WWDS Scrubbed But It's Okay

Well, the World's Worst Dressage Show got postponed for very legitimate concerns. Many of the competitors were going to be traveling over mountain passes to attend and the show organizers opted to postpone to the end of April so that they and their ponies could travel safely. 

I was honestly, relieved. I've been GO GO GO all of February and while that was okay and I could manage, having a weekend to finally breathe and spend time with family was what my body needed. 

I was able to go consign some of my unneeded horse stuff at the 4H Tack Sale at the Fairgrounds on Friday which I've been meaning to do for YEARS. Discovered a family of mice had nested in some baby blankets as a result, so those are now trash. Gross. 

Had my regularly scheduled riding lesson Saturday morning. Had a minor breakthrough in discovering that I really look too far to the inside of my circles and it's making it hard for Gwyn to be straight. If I adjust how I look, suddenly she can become straighter easier. Amazing how that works, sometimes.

We worked a lot on straightness, even in bend on a 20m circle since Gwyn offers the illusion of bend by turning her neck but not really engaging from her hind. I was really starting to get the feel of the whole horse and putting all the aids together. I need to keep more contact in the outside rein, which will help keep her nose more to the center of her chest (not pulled to her chest, just aligned). This helps my inside leg aid be more effective in asking her to step under herself (with whip tapping to enforce the ask) while controlling the shoulder with outside leg and rein. 
At least I look good. Gwyn decided on mare ears

We had SO MANY good moments. I'm still in Feel, Think, React, which makes my "React" too late, but I'm getting better about reacting on instinct and correcting AS Chriss points out that Gwyn is crooked. So I'm feeling faster when her body gets misaligned and not needing to think the mechanics through for what my response should be. When I started I didn't have the feel AT ALL so yay! Or sometimes even know what I needed to do.  

I like to say that Chriss's lessons are super simple but also super tough. I have basic skills to be competent on a horse, but this is giving me finesse and I love it. 

We all went to the tack sale after lessons and I found some good deals on the few things I was looking for. I only got one item that wasn't on my list, so I'm proud of that one. And you'll see why I couldn't resist it.
On Sunday, the sun came out and I needed to pick up the items that didn't sell. Hazel wanted to go play with Riley and Kaylee opted to come too to ride Gwyn. She also helped me groom and I'm always struck by how good of a kids horse Gwyn is on the ground. She is so careful around them and is starting to be a good under saddle kids horse (with heavy supervision). 

My splurge purchase from the tack sale. It's hand embroidered with peacocks. 
I was shocked that this was available and for the price I snagged it. It's an equipedic endurance pad which retails new for $270+. It was listed at $100. I was hoping to find a saddle pad that was shimmable so I could get spinal clearance for use with my TCS. But then there's a brand I've been considering buying new anyway! Instant yes. 
I need to remember to bring stirrups and leathers for Kaylee so I can just switch them out. Mine don't go short enough for her. Check out good girl Gwyn. After Kaylee, I hopped on to practice what I'd worked on in my lesson. 
We enjoyed the sunshine while the kids played. 
And we enjoyed the view of the snow capped mountains on the way home across the river valley.

Monday, February 27, 2023

World's Worst Dressage Show

This thing, y'all. 

I am GOING.  I am RIDING. I am a COMPETITOR. And I am OUT FOR BLOOD.  I WILL be crowned Dressage Queen, as the most matchy matchy rider with matchy matchy horse.  

I can't fucking wait. 

My outfit, in pieces. My coworker, Lee, is taking the train down to Vancouver and attending the show and watching. Cortney and I are trailer pooling from her house in her Mom's trailer and we're camping the night before. 

I'm making myself a batwing holographic shirt and planning a giant REVEAL salute to start my ride and reusing my grim reaper cape I made for the Wine Ride in 2021. 


Even my nails. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Halfway through January already

I'm resolving to work with Gwyn twice a week. This will easily net me the PonyUp100 goal of 100 sessions this year. I have a habit of falling into work too much to my own detriment. I need to remember to prioritize me. I'm doing pretty good so far and have a regular lesson time scheduled on top of Pony Club mounted meetings, though I'm passing on the first one because it's at Magnolia Ridge and I really don't like hauling up that hill. 

I really have to plan out my midweek barn visits because I end up so tired at the end of the day, or I suddenly find that's it's super late because I've finally been able to focus and get work done. Thankfully Claire gets me and is more than willing to solo parent for an evening. Me having the time at the barn is incredibly beneficial. 
I decided to cut basically all my hair off within the the first week of the year though. No more fussing with my pony tail for a comfortable helmet fit. 
This was a lesson day and we did some long lining since Gwyn was just distracted with kids running around and other horses doing stuff. It was really good to learn what I can do to bring her focus back to me and not escalate a situation. It's never an escalation in a dangerous way, but more a matter of maintaining her working in a helpful biomechanic.

The kids and I went on a mini hike after that lesson even in the rain. It was a fun adventure!

I got our ball python an accordion tube and I think she likes it. 
This mid week ride was hard. One of our clients was running a stress test audit in preparation for an FDA visit next month. I get tapped hard for audits because I'm amazing in front of auditors (Gonna brag here, because I'm fucking proud of that ) But it means heavy socialization and 'masking'. In this sense it's about presenting myself in a neurotypical way, with minimal fidgeting, and answering questions almost like an oral exam where you kind of have an idea of what they will ask you. Saying you don't know is okay, but being confident with the subject matter is crucial. And knowing when to stop speaking is even more crucial. 

Either way, it's exhausting. I knew the week would be exhausting. I planned a barn trip. I even wore my black Romfhs because they look just like my black ponte dress pants so I figured no one would know I was wearing breeches and I was correct. Then the traffic was awful because the highway going north shut down so all evening commute traffic routed to back roads. 
Nevertheless, she persisted. 
No regrets. 
Gwyn needed new grain premade, so it was good I did. She supervises well. 
Then it was lesson day again and I realized that I have a lot of tension that I'm carrying myself that is now starting to affect Gwyn. So I'll need to work on me with that to help her. And I'm just really pleased that Gwyn is telling me, in her own way. 

I was super stiff for this lesson. But I made sure that I helped Gwyn release her own tension before letting her back out. That posture prep groomer is amazing and Gwyn loves it. We had immediate yawns as I worked across her body.
And then, because it's been so rainy but the sun was out today, I spent time just hanging with her while she got to graze.

I'm so pleased with her condition. 
And then I went shopping for a special, special project.... 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Beginnings and Endings

This is from about Solstice on. We tried a new tradition this year and started opening a present a day from Solstice through Christmas Day. Our family isn't religious, and we're trying to be less christian centric in the holidays we celebrate, so this felt nice. And with two young kids, you get to spread out the joy and enjoyment of gifts so they have more time to appreciate individual items. 
"Good Rides Only" on the spine of my new constellation pad

We got hit with a blizzard the week before Christmas, which effectively sent kids into winter break two days early and wreaked havoc on my work schedule

A solstice simmer pot for good, pagan vibes

Barn owner posted this, with Gwyn in the background

My mom was able to make a new stocking to replace the old one she'd made for Claire when we got married. It meant SO much to Claire that she did it. It was a surprise for us both when it arrived before christmas! My mom made all of the ones with names except for mine.

One of my gifts was new keys for my mechanical keyboard. They are in my fav colors (purple and teal) and allow the light to come through

Christmas Eve day feed store outfit since Gwyn needed more grain

Christmas Day barn trip. The Goober is regaining some topline! Our slow and steady work is paying off

Another Christmas present. Claire got me a dressage style and her face went WHITE when I told her that this must mean I should get a dressage saddle next. 

It worked just fine with my AP saddle :) 


The covered arena was freshly dragged. We were the first hooves in it!

Day after Christmas, Gwyn politely stayed where I put her while I went to help Hazel with something.

Gwyn was very concerned with both Hazel AND the feed room being messed in.

Lesson day, mid week, during daylight! Worked on a lot of lateral movement. 

Lateral movement has been the focus of lessons lately but it's also helping Gwyn build strength where she needs it. Shoulder fore, leg yield, asking her for more weight on the hind end. We lose some of the ability to do lateral work at the trot but are slowly working up to it. Part of it is me losing all coordination within my own body when posting. 

I don't have particular showing goals this year beyond getting legged back up for LDs and maybe doing some intro dressage again for miles, and the FCPC derby in August. 
I kicked off 2023 with a trail ride at Bridle Trails with Cortney, Trudy and Trudy's friends. Gwyn was content to lead for the whole ride, which was good because two of the horses were anxious wrecks. We got a decent ride in despite their anxiety, though Gwyn apparently walked too fast for Ace (the gray on the left, above), who jigged the the whole time, which was slower than Gwyn's walk. 
Again, I just love Bridle Trails. It's green year round with excellent footing. Love the evergreen nature of the evergreen state.

I dressed up for this event with a 2023 headband and Gwyn and I were bedecked in holo accessories. The park was packed with families. It's a state park and WA state runs free days where a parking pass isn't required. Jan 1 is one of those dates. Additionally, it was also part of the First Day Hike program where there are organized hikes across the state parks. At this park, they had carrots and cocoa!

I didn't want this ride to be just a casual walk in the woods. I made sure I was constantly checking in on Gwyn's 'crookedness' as we traveled down the path. So if we were walking straight I made sure she was traveling straight or I was asking for leg yields back and forth across the wide path. If we had curves, I made sure that she was bending and stepping under herself appropriately. It kept her brain engaged for sure, and she had lots of snorts and stretches as we walked. 

A few times Cortney and Reign pulled ahead. Reign and Gwyn actually got along today!

Gwyn was very interested in the trailer after Reign loaded so I just... let her go to see what would happen. My "hates slant loads and enclosed trailers" mare hopped right on. Dork. At least I know that Cortney could haul us in a pinch!

HOLOGRAPHIC: Winter is the only time where Gwyn tolerates this pad. It does not breath well. 

Happy Mare with leftover breakfast, lunch and naked time in the sun.

Later that day I got awful news from Cortney and spent Jan 2nd by her side once she was home.  So 2023 can already suck it. Immediate mood swing to the negative. I'm glad that I was able to drop everything and go be with her. 
I helped her with barn chores and got to see Saffron