Thursday, June 30, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
That's the problem with reading lots of blogs....or rather NOT reading the lots of blogs you are subscribed to. I currently have over 1,000 new posts that I'm frantically (yes, frantically) trying to get through. I was SURE it was Gundiva who asked us for our biggest fear/hang up that her readers had, that – if we did not force ourselves to get over it – could lead to insufficient care of our horses. But now I can't find the post. Anywhere. Not on her blog. Not on anyone elses blog. And since the deadline to post a comment about our biggest hangups on that mystery blog was something like Friday the 13th or something silly like that, I'm thinking it was an older post.
But I want to play anyways! So here's my comment...if i could find the freakin' post again!
Of course, she asked for a comment, not a post. It's a bit long for a comment I think.
And she asked for our hang ups, not an all out confession. And I believe the exact instructions were that it needed to be horse related.
I'm on a sabbatical. I don't have to follow instructions.
But, I had been working on this post for a while. During the last year I’ve done some really stupid, please put me out of my misery, dump, idiotic things. I would quietly note them down in evernote and told myself one day I would share those gems with you.
The day has come.
Here’s a confession of hang-ups, phobias, and general stupidity. Some big, some small. Hopefully I will still have some readers after all of this?
#1: I hate getting wet. Really really really hate it. If I don’t shower RIGHT AFTER running I won’t until the next time I run. Even more than getting wet, I hate cold water. Nothing makes my head twist off quite as fast as someone trying to spray me with a spray bottle during the summer (usually coupled with my other nemesis – the fan). I HATE IT. During the winter I can go more than a week without a shower (clean underwear, deodorant, careful choosing of outfits, and being anti-social). In a related phobia, I really abhor fans. I don’t like the feeling of the air blowing across my skin. I have really sensitive skin. Can we just blame this on my sensitive skin? So how does this affect my horses? I rarely give baths. I can do a lot with dry grooming. A true bath happens maybe once a year. During the summer I do rinse after a ride, but that falls into the category of getting wet incidentally right after physical activity, so it’s tolerable. In endurance, I probably don’t sponge as much as I should. I have all sorts of reasons I don’t sponge, and fortunately it looks like I may have a horse right now that doesn’t need a lot of sponging. Heaven forbid I might have to sponge copiously on my next horse. I can, of course, force myself to do what my horse needs. You bet I was dripping wet at Devil’s Thumb during Tevis last year cooling Farley. But unless the situation specifically calls for water, I look for alternatives, and unless it’s for the sake of he horse in front of me, I’m PROBABLY not recreating with water. Step away with the squirt bottle and battery fan, or someone is going to get hurt. I may be wet, but you will be bleeding by the time we’re through.
#2: At our last night ride from the boarding stable (not at an official ride), I actually disciplined Farley for spooking backwards when I told her to cross a road (I was on foot). I then realized….I….errr….was looking at her WITH my head lamp ON. The bright setting. And asking her to come towards me.
#3: While adjusting my stirrups for 20 MT 100 in February, I discovered I had miscounted the holes in my stirrups and have been riding with the left stirrup 1 hole shorter for at least the last 6 months. Ummm…..I have all sorts of ways to justify this, but the truth is that is wasn’t on purpose, so even if that’s where they needed to be, it was a really stupid error that could been putting a lot of strain on us both (I definitely had more cramping on that side etc.) and I’m almost POSITIVE that’s how the stirrups were at the Patriots 100….
#4: A year ago I paid $80 for a bit. When there was a perfectly good $35 one that was exactly the same thing. Egg butt oval mouth with a copper link. I don’t know how to describe it, but the $80 stubben just had a better curve and was a piece of ART compared to the $35 JP Korsteel or whatever it was. Technically it was the same bit. Visually there was just something…..I have no idea whether Farley likes the Stubben better than she would have like the cheaper bit. Part of me feels like I was a fool to spend $45 more than I had to – but the other part of me says that I’ll buy ONE of these kinds of bits, I trust Stubben, and if there’s “something” about the line and curve of the bars that just fits better somehow…..does this make me a bit snob? I’m probably choosing the wrong thing to pay for quality…….but I LIKE bits.
#5: I’m hard of hearing. I have a really hard time hearing certain tones. I have to constantly ask one of my sisters to repeat herself. Over and over and over. It’s infuriating. Not being able to hear well makes me a bit jumpy. That isn’t good when you are on a horse. I’ve learned to watch my horse for clues of something on the trail. On endurance rides it’s really difficult for me to hold a conversation if there’s noise in the background. It’s extremely frustrating to go to ride meetings. Just a few people murmuring back and forth and I can’t hear a darn thing. Any public event that is in a large outdoor setting (like graduations….) where there are likely to be rude people talking, and insufficient amplification of the people on stage is a real trial. Sometimes I have wondered whether some of my difficulties in playing the fiddle and being able to jam and pick up tunes is due to this. I like talk radio/talk podcasts a lot. I don’t listen to a lot of music. Music is hard for me to listen to. I have to concentrate. Otherwise it becomes noise that makes it hard for me think. I have always worn ear protection, never listened to loud music etc., so it’s probably mostly genetic. I have several close relatives that have the same problem and the family is only recently starting to look at those of us with the issue as less due to loud noises/lifestyle and more of a genetic basis. I admit that being hard of hearing is a bit embarrassing. And frustrating. BUT, it’s amazing what horses will do to help us overcome limitations with whatever tools are available. As a child I swore I would never wear a hearing aid – they were ugly, obnoxious, and frankly I found people who wore them a bit scary. BUT – I will GLADLY wear one when it’s time and I’m not even stressed about it, because I want to be there for my horses as close to 100% physically as I can be.
#6: I’ve always been a little freaked out by those harmonica contraptions that rest on a persons neck and cover their mouth, and let them play the harmonica hands-free. The uncomfortable-ness has stayed with me as an adult. I know –silly. But this is about confessions and freeing myself from secret obsessions right????? Fortunately I haven’t encountered many hands free harmonica contraptions in the horse world…..
#7: At the ripe old age of junior high, I declared I would never ride in an english saddle – those little “pancake” things. Growing up I was a HUGE fan of the Zane Grey books and the cowboys in those books were always sneering at those little flaps of leather on top of horses’ backs, and so I did too. Not sure what happened….but I’m sure my little preteen cowgirl self would be aghast at the saddle I rode 100 miles in – but on the other hand, she might be too distracted by that big shiny Tevis buckle…..
#8: Twice this year I have mounted Farley, realized I didn’t have my helmet on and consciously decided to ride without it. I know!!!!!! Stupid!!!!!! I ALWAYS ride with a helmet. Except when I forget apparently…..BTW – did you’all see this? Not likely enough to happen to me (and I could make the excuse that this is one reason among many my saddles don’t have horns) for me to declare myself done with helmets, but if it DID….boy, that would be a tough one!
#9: I have gone through a drive through with my horse trailer. I’m not sure if that’s a confession as much as a triumph? For those of you in the area…..there’s a wendy’s off of HWY 99 between Turlock and Fresno that’s horse trailer friendly! OK - not much of a confession. How's this - the major reason that I was scared to ride in an arena up until a few years ago, was because I was sure that the horse would ride too close to the side of the arena fence, my toe would catch, my entire foot and leg be wrenched to the side, and my foot and probably everything below the knee would be twisted off my body like a bottle cap. Yeah....definitely a hang up that I had to get over for the sake of my horse - the arena is a useful tool, not a death trap. I swear.
#10: Hornets and wasps bring me to full on panic attacks, complete with screaming and flailing. Honest. I become absolutely uncontrollable, incomprehensible and I’m pretty sure I will die if there ever comes a time when I have to actually deal with them in some manner other than screaming and running and crying.
Anyone else have anything they wish to confess? Anything you’ve gotten over for the sake of your horses?
Monday, June 13, 2011
This post was originally going to be one of those fire and brimstone, you better critically evaluate yourself blah blah blah blah posts. But this morning, I don’t feel like harping on a perfectly constructed inspirational theme. Sometimes having a draft list of a billion posts is useful, but for some reason this topic is clogging up the pipeline and I’m having difficulty posting anything until this gets out of the way. So, today I present the idea - draw your own conclusions.
Here was the inspiration in a nutshell – In my lesson on Tuesday morning, my trainer had to get a bit short with me. I couldn’t get Zach round. I felt like I was doing the same thing over and over (which inside my head matched what she was asking) and the results didn’t change, which is the very definition of insanity. I said something to that effect, and she said something like I was talking too much in the lesson and not allowing her to tell me what to do in our allotted time slot.
And you know what – she was right. It’s not fun to hear criticism. And sometimes because of circumstances, that feedback isn’t constructed in the most “constructive”, “polite” way possible, and sometimes you might even think “that’s not fair!”. And guess what. It probably wasn’t totally fair because of what ever cirucumstances you can drag up to justify why you did it THIS time. Doesn’t matter – it’s still true. Maybe the feedback could have been “phrased differently”. Oh well – because it doesn’t make their feedback any less true. And maybe, just maybe, because it stung a little, THIS time it will sink in. And finally, THAT might have been what you needed to get to the next level.
And of course, when I use that all-too-easy-avoidance word “you”, I really mean “me”.
Are you having trouble getting to the next level in your chosen discipline? Are you having trouble moving up to 50’s or 100’s? Or maybe even completing LD’s consistently?
OK, I may have lied. Now that I’m into the post, I’m perfectly willing to go on harping on the topic. Now I present, more use of the word “you”, where the word “me” and “I” probably should go!
Do you have anyone in your horsey life that is willing to be frank and honest with you? Sometimes it takes some frustration in order for a person to be honest – I know I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, and sometimes I give the most honest feedback when I’m a bit grumpy and tired. (I know, probably something I could work on….). But likely, if I do blurt something out, it’s likely to have been on my mind for a while and while the comment may be said on the whim of the moment, often the feedback itself was not pulled out of thin air of the moment.
If the feedback stung, take a minute to evaluate whether it was because it was particularly true. Swallow your pride, bite back your words, and force yourself to listen and reflect. You may have been given a gem in the rough, that with a bit of polishing could take you to the next level and beyond.
I had all this figured out a couple of days after my lesson, but never got around to posting it – or if the truth be told, writing any of it except a few lines in evernote to remind me of my main points. Then yesterday, I came across this:
If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate children at all….No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Most of you probably recognize where this came from. I’ve tried to remove most of the direct references to God in it, so the point I’m trying to make in reference to riding comes through clearer.
Although discipline (Let’s call it “honest feedback”) is mostly painful…..one thing that is proved is that the person CARES, and assuming that feeling isn’t hate that could motivate false hurtful feedback, considers you one of their own. Someone that smiles and nods as you bumble your way down the wrong path isn't necessarily your friend or a trainer that considers you part of their team.
My trainers motivation is to make me the best dressage rider she can in a very short amount of time. In a nutshell I’m skipping an entire year of training, we don’t have time for me to gently figure out what I’m doing wrong. I need to create new neuro pathways NOW to learn the material NOW and be able to execute it in the show ring in 3 weeks. There is no time for her to figure out the best and most “constructive” way to tell me something and have some heart-to-hearts. If this is going to get done, anything that is holding me back needs to be addressed with swiftness and honesty. And I don’t have the time to feel hurt or offended if I want to perform well at Pebble Beach.
There’s not a lot of trainer/coaches in endurance, at least in the formal sense like there is in dressage. It can be hard for the newbie. At a dressage show I can ask for advice after a warm up in the ring and get very specific comments about what needs improvement, without a lot of regard for my “feelings”. At an endurance ride, much of the advice is tempered and it can be very very hard to get the people who should be giving advice to give it! They don’t want to waste their time giving advice that won’t be followed. They don’t have the time/energy to coach their advice so it won’t offend, they don’t want to scare away newbies or appear “unsupportive”. I quickly learned that the people giving the most and “loudest” advice weren’t always the people I necessarily should be listening too... I think, on the whole, endurance is full of independent, intelligent people, whom the attraction of endurance is partly that we can march to our own drum. Unlike dressage where there seems more black and white and less grey, endurance is awash in a sea of grey that leaves much to the rider’s interpretation. However, I think much can be gained by critically examining how you react to honest, not-so-polite criticism, and whether it is holding you back.
I’m sure I’ve opened myself up to all sorts of honest, open feedback in the comments! LOL. As with most of my posts, I recognize I fall short of the ideal, and writing is a way of clarifying what I need to do. I've probably contradicted myself several times, but view these posts as an evolution of an idea, instead of a heavily edited essay, and perhaps we can all have a sense of humor about this eh? :)
Posts should come more regularly. I’ve figured out that anything that needs to be done for ME on my own time (like running, blogging, writing) needs to happen in the morning. So instead of frittering away the best part of my day (early morning) doing housework and then laying in a stupor the rest of the afternoon, blogging will now happen first thing after devotions, and before walking the dog and going for a run. Know thyself…..
Friday, June 10, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
(whole 'nother story there that may be told later for maximum
entertainment purposes....). You'all have probably seen it already but
if you haven't - rent it for a dollar and have a movie night. Even if
you make a policy of not watching princess movies - watch it for the
horse, Maximus. You won't be dissapointed.
Is it sad that cartoon horses are more realistic to me than epic
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Here's a draft post from a LONG time ago. I never posted it because I didn't really reach a conclusion. To help me try and clarify, I posted the question "One or horse or many?" on the yahoo group new100milers. For as many people who preferred one horse, there were those that couldn't imagine not having their backup, and each side had excellent points. Now, almost 6 months from when I wrote the draft, I STILL have one foot on either side of the fence. However, it's raining (in JUNE!), I obviously don't have enough vit D to function, and something from the draft archives must do for today!
The question is: One horse or many?
Yesterday I slept until noon (easy to do when it’s rainy, cold, dark and there was a xmas party the night before). My plans for the day had started off rather grand. I would trailer to Del Valle and do an easy and relaxed 20 miles. As I biked to the stable I revised my plan to: I would saddle up and go for a nice hack on the canal bank. It started to rain and be a bit windy. New plan! I would trim her feet and then go for a 2-3 mile hand walk.
After arriving at the stable, I saw the posting for the farrier to come out this Thursday. I decided I was feeling much too lazy to do her feet this week and added Farley’s name to the list.
So what did I actually end up doing? I groomed her. We went on a short walk outside of the boarding stable boundary and I let her graze while I laid across her back, bareback, and listened to my ipod. After 20 minutes I hopped off and led her back to the stable. Then I biked home.
At some point I think every horse owner contemplates getting another horse. Time and resources are definitely something to consider when making the decision, but so is something more intangible – your relationship with the existing horse.
If I had two horses right now, I would have never been able to spend yesterday like I did – essentially a wasted riding day.
Minx was my only horse for 1-1/2 years. I rode a lot, but I also spent a lot of time NOT riding. I would groom her just because, and spent afternoons reading in her paddock and watching her. It was a one horse-one girl relationship and it was everything the story books say. Then I got Farley and it changed. I didn’t want it to change, but it did out of the necessity of giving attention and time to two horses. I didn’t spend time with unnecessary grooming because there was another horse waiting for me. There was always a horse that needed riding – I couldn’t afford to just “hang out” any more. There was never a point where everything was “done” enough that I could put off tomorrow what should be done today.
After Minx died, my first instinct was to run out and get another horse. After all, I had the time and resources. Each of my horses got ridden and more attention than many “single horse families”. But then I thought back to my one-on-one relationship with Minx and decided to see if that sort of relationship would reemerge with Farley as a single horse.
With a backup mount, I can ride more miles and have a mount for family and friends to ride. I can give each horse time off without taking time off for myself. With multiple horse’s I can play to each horse’s strengths – 50 milers, 100’s, cavalry competitions, arena work. However, it also makes it easier for me to ignore issues. When I only have one horse, I am forced to work through issues as they arise, so that I can still do what I want to do on horse back.
As I reread through the post I still think I have a good argument for one horse. However, I have also come to realize that I love endurance and if I need to give up the one horse/one girl relationship to get another horse because Farley needs to do something different, I probably will. Assuming that Farley is competition sound in a year (and she should be) there's an argument that getting a younger horse as my "up and coming" mount BEFORE Farley needs to be retired makes sense too. When I did have 2 horses, I was trying to compete both of them, so perhaps having a second horse after retiring the first still fosters that deeper more intimate relationship like when it's a single horse?
As a horse person it's hard only having one horse - like having them around! But balancing the quality of the relationship and the quality of MY life (stress levels etc.) makes it a tricky balance.