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riding lessons

Barn, Chiropractic, dressage, dressage lessons

Back to the Barn

After the holidays, head cold, freezing temps and seasonal flu, my barn time has been seriously limited for the past two months. Having gone through the 12 stages of grief, I finally had to give up and accept that nothing is going as planned.

Cold temps and lots of snow mean time off for many of the horses in our barn.

Cold temps and lots of snow mean time off for many of the horses in our barn.


Today I made out to the barn for Micah’s chiropractic session, choosing to let Natalie ride Micah during my lesson time rather than risk a relapse of the head cold. Between lesson and chiropractic time, I would have needed to spend nearly four hours in the barn, which I just didn’t feel ready for at 30 degrees. (Granted, 30 degrees is feeling almost balmy compared with this season’s foray into the low teens.)
Despite not riding my horse, it was good to be home. How I’ve missed my horse and barn buddies.
Micah and his pasture mates were hunkering under their shelter, likely complaining about the two feet of snow covering the grass. Micah saw me coming and headed my way, certain that the carrot in my pocket was better than a mouthful of snow.
Horses stay under shelter, hiding out from heavy snowfall

Horses stay under shelter, hiding out from heavy snowfall


Chiropractic went well, with Dr. Taryn Yates giving Micah a thorough adjustment. “His back is doing so much better than when we first started working on him,” she said. “Just some minor sore spots.”
Dr. Taryn has been seeing lots of sore shoulders from horses walking and slipping on ice. So, while Micah hasn’t been getting much work this month, at least we’re not letting minor problems turn into major events.
As my head cold subsides and temperatures rise above 20 degrees, I’m ready to start bringing Micah and myself back to work. While it’s harder to get myself out the door when it’s cold, it’s certainly worth it to spend time with my barn family and my horse.
May your roads be plowed, your pipes thaw, and you and your horse stay healthy through the season.

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Post Lesson Euphoria

My husband is getting tired of hearing me say, “Best lesson EVER!” every Tuesday afternoon.
Poor man. Little does he know that he’s in a much better position than the husband whose wife comes home discouraged, tired, or — worse yet — angry after every ride.
I am a rider who is cheered by each ounce of progress we achieve on a weekly basis. I ride a wonderful horse, who is consistent and sane, yet makes me work at it. Any time we make progress I have the dual pleasure of knowing that I worked for it and an appreciation of the gift my horse gives me by choosing to go along with this crazy sport we call dressage. After much hard work, we are hitting our stride.
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Credit goes to my trainer, Natalie, of Natalie Perry Dressage. Natalie has figured out my quirks and foibles and works really hard to get messages through my helmet and into my brain and body. It’s no small feat.
After some time off, I had backslid a bit with the my nemesis, the left lead canter and Natalie took me back to the trot to address the problem. She had me turn Micah with the outside of my body onto and off of the center line. The exercise fully illustrated the importance of the outside aids, which is a total body experience. You simply can’t make such a tight turn by hauling on the inside rein much as you might want to. Every time I think I understand the outside aids, I find a new level of understanding and appreciation.
The outside-aid turn was just what I needed to help me to more effectively use my body in the left-lead canter. I practiced the exercise during the week and we repeated it again today, with the result of some truly beautiful canter work. It’s music to my ears when Natalie says, “You’ve been practicing.”
I hope it’s rewarding to her that I am listening, paying attention, and trying hard to incorporate what she teaches. Her job isn’t easy.
No matter what level we ride, we can make progress with the help of caring instructors and kind horses. Let every bit of improvement cheer and inspire you — letting both your horse and trainer know how much it means to you. We’re all in this together.

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Getting There is 1/4 of the Fun

Those who know me know that math is not my strong point. There are other ways to say that, most of them less flattering but probably more accurate than any attempt I could make to solve a quadratic equation.
I especially enjoy making up fake statistics. Who’s going to check, anyway?!
Today, driving to the barn was harrowing. Due to shenanigans on the icy roads, it too me 32.1% longer than normal to get to the barns. At least 25% of the drivers were timid, moving along at 15 mph drivers. Another 30% of the drivers were assertively driving 45 mph in their 4WD vehicles, some of them ending up in ditches. That left the remaining 45% of drivers moving along at a somewhat sane speed.

Road to the barn. Packed snow made for exciting driving.

Road to the barn. Packed snow made for exciting driving.


By the time I got to the barn, I decided that 1/4 of the fun was in getting there. I was particularly intrigued by the two women who got their car turned 360-degrees in the opposite lane. I have no idea how they accomplished this going uphill. They were unharmed but bewildered. The oncoming traffic was 100% stalled and not amused.
By the time I reached the barn, the temps were a chilly 24.2 degrees in the sun, so I was sporting a layered-up clothing combination that can best be described as “chunky.” The extra clothing resulted in an 11.2% reduction in my ability to feel attractive, while increasing my heat comfort level by 12.9%, resulting in a net loss of 2.4%.
For the 2nd time in a row, Micah was happy to meet me at the gate of his snow-covered pasture for a carrot. That’s a 19.7% improvement over his usual ‘come and get me’ attitude! There’s a 98.2% chance that the gate-greeting response was food motivated; 1.4% chance that he misses me so much, he’s willing to walk an extra mile (1.609344 kilometers) to see me. Such is the reality of equine love.
I had allowed 1 extra hour (60 minutes) to account for erratic driving experiences, as well as time (19 minutes) for lunging before my lesson. I hate lunging but it’s better than death by dressage.
After only 1.3 emphatic canter departs, Micah indicated that he could handle a lesson with an admirable 89% degree of sanity. It was time to climb aboard.
It’s hard to feel loose and limber in the saddle when you are wearing 12.7% more clothing than usual. I was only able to zip my boots 2/3 of the way up, since the extra layers of long johns, fleece britches, and wooly socks added 9% more bulk, along with warmth.
Despite the cold and a recent lack of work (77% below normal), Micah was 99.7% excellent. He was definitely more warmed up than I was (36.8%) despite my ‘exercise’ on the steering end of the lunge line. We got some good work done (90%!), then bundled Micah up in a 200% snuggly cooler. He returned to his snowy pasture (4 inches deep) with a sense of having done a good day’s work.
Being back on my horse and in the barn, with all of its camaraderie, made the trip well worth the exciting drive. Of this I am 100% certain.

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My Stupid Legs

Today’s lesson was about my stupid legs.

Acting independently from my brain — who is supposed to be in charge — my legs pinch or pull up and my feet dangle in the stirrups. Rising trot is fine. Sitting trot, bleck.

I love sitting trot. I bounce along in motion with my horse, happy with or without stirrups. In fact, happier without stirrups – because they point out the problem.

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I discuss the issue with Natalie at the start of our lesson and she says, “It sounds like a good day for a lunge lesson!”

Gasp.

Continue reading…

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