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Riding Reflections

Sometimes I question why I had to fall in love with horses, of all things. And really, it doesn’t make sense. I am uncoordinated, sometimes fearful, and a perfectionist… and I choose to sit upon a one thousand pound flight animal and attempt to tell it what to do. Sure.

But then I have a ride like I had today and am reminded why I ride. Pig (the horse) and I started off a bit eh – he wasn’t engaging himself and was throwing his weight on the forehand. And we worked on it.

I activated every muscle I could access to raise hands, sit back, and use my body more effectively. He realized he could in fact bend, collect, and get light on the reins. This approach to riding suits my anal side perfectly. I love piecing it apart and putting it back together to improve. I love messing up but then figuring it out and improving. I love feeling the lightness. I love the intellectual challenge. 

And at this moment, I really love this horse. 

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Miscellany

  • This weekend I am going to MedX, a big conference this weekend about tech, social media and health. Super-excited!
  • They have an espresso bar. Enough said.
  • Had a great riding lesson today! Big takeaways: horse has four feet (duh), counting one two three four helps so much with getting a good collected walk; sitting trot: lower legs off, seat back, use thigh blocks.
  • Grateful for the work trainings I’m having, nice that continued education is valued.
  • 12 days until DogFest East Bay!
  • Sometimes you get to the barn and your horse has a peacock feather left in his forelock from the girl before you and it just makes you happy.
  • This was really miscellany. Props to anyone who read through this rambling list.
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Leverage

Sometimes you just need a bit of leverage. In riding, in life, in anything.

Today that came in the form of a jointed kimberwicke bit on Mr. Piggles the Morgan. Being a bit on the forehand, he is sometimes tricky to get truly yielding to the bit and light in your hands… actually, he’s usually the opposite of light! The kimberwicke is not dressage-show legal at the lower levels, but using it correctly can give me the feel I need to work on acheiving the same results with a snaffle if I decide to show next year.

The main takeaway from today’s ride (besides the usual – go forward, hands higher) was about my inside and outside reins working together and being complementary… inside to a heave bend, outside to enhance flexion. With the bit of extra oomph from the stronger bit, I could really feel the change and responsiveness.

Best part of the day, besides just being out there and having a good ride, was overhearing the other trainer in the arena complimenting my position… to have someone say I’m straight in the saddle is testament to the hard work of my trainer and I.

Can’t wait for my next ride!

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Expectations

We talk a lot about expectations in the disability community – about how they are too low for people with disabilities, about how children with disabilities are unchallenged and under-estimated, about how we need to set higher expectations for everyone.

But sometimes, we underestimate ourselves. Today was one of those days for me. I was convinced my horseback riding lesson was going to be ‘meh’. I was a bit dizzy and tired and was worried I was a bit out of shape since I didn’t ride last week.

That was not the case. For the first time in awhile, I had both strength and timing to keep Piggles (yes, I ride a horse named Pig) straight, forward, and (sort of) light on the bit. We had great balanced transitions and light halts. 

Everything just came together. Now there were many factors for this (barre class on Friday? lots of walks? who knows!) but it this reminds me to continue to set both realistic and high expectations for myself. 

Sometimes I need that reminder, and this great ride when I didn’t think there would be is a good push in that direction. 

    
 

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An Animal-Filled Weekend

So this past weekend was fun and animal-filled.

Friday I had a great riding lesson on Cowboy, a 20-year-old Paint gelding I’ve ridden on and off for a few years. So happy I have the opportunity to ride him again, he’s in a great mental and physical place and is just content with life right now (yes, I’m anthropomorphizing). After having a dog with me all the time since February, I now unconsciously give the horses dog commands… But then again, my dog now responds to “clucks” so I guess it’s even!

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Saturday I gave Cassius the opportunity to play in my aunt’s back yard, and it was great to see him have so much fun! He romped around and played a few minutes of fetch and a bunch of rolling around in the grass. Now that I saw how much he enjoyed that, I will try take him there periodically.

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On Sunday, I helped with the CCI booth at Animals on Broadway, a huge dog event at a local shopping mall. It was nice to finally meet a bunch of people (and puppies!) from my chapter, as well as a few other graduates. Cassius did perfectly, I think he enjoys anything that involves meeting other well-behaved dogs and having people tell him he’s a good boy.

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Next weekend I’m off to Ashland, Oregon to visit family. Strangely enough, Cassius has actually been there before (without me, obviously). I’m excited for our first non-CCI event, and to have Cassius meet the rest of my family.

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