This blog title is actually in reference to this SNL sketch (NSFW, but not offensive, merely HILARIOUS).
Since Camelot I’ve been running on a bit of a sleep and calories deficit. There’s just been so much to do that I’ve been subsisting on tried-and-true staples (like RAMEN) which get me through the day but don’t actually provide me with, you know, long term energy. I’m also teaching 100% this summer, so teach 6 hours of lab on Tuesdays and Thursdays and somehow at the end of those days there’s just nothing left over. I ride Murray late, which is actually really pleasant and cool and quiet most of the time, and get home late and fall into bed and whatever. I’m also on the board of a fledgling nonprofit and we’re pushing this month to get our website launched and paperwork finally turned in, and I’m bad at delegating and firmly believe that if I want something done right I have to do it myself so you can imagine who ends up doing all the website work. So after riding yesterday I made myself a huge bowl of pasta with chicken and fresh tomatoes (THAT I GREW) and let myself sleep for nine hours because I’m worth it.
My rides on Murray have been up and down so not too much to report there. During my first ride back after Camelot Murray happily and perfectly executed every single dressage thing (shoulder in, haunches in, leg yield, walk to canter, BOOM) he’s ever learned in sub-45 minutes and convinced me that he’s worth keeping. Then he spent the entirety of the next ride spooking at random shit in the arena and I regretted writing the check that was almost-the-last of his payments the day before. At this time, I owe a whopping $47 on him. This week he’s not been the worst, but is having a bit of a hard time adjusting to our new riding program (which you will see more about below).
And here we are, in the second half of the year, and I’ve pretty much fallen off the goals-making bandwagon. So I’m making like some other bloggers and doing quarterly goals, because it gives me a little more breathing room than monthly ones. So first, a recap and some completion of old goals, and then on to some new ones.
of our remaining Horse Goals
Show 2’9″ and 3′ — Haven’t been to a jumper show since Feb sooooo….
Show Beginner Novice and finish on my dressage score — HAHAHA NOPE.
Go to a rated show — hmm, I went but I didn’t complete. Does that count?
Show training level dressage — hasn’t happened yet
Dressage, dressage, dressage! — I’m going to give myself this one, I have been dressaging the shit out of that horse.
Increase Murray’s confidence and independence — working on it
Sit the trot and no-stirrups weekly — nope
Improve my cardio fitness — big fat nope.
So I’m doing well so far.
I’m also adding in some new behavioral goals for Murray. I’m calling it the “Behavior Bucket List”
– Learn to tack up in the cross ties
– Learn to tack up while tied
– Get over girthing issues
– Work past something scary without leaping sideways
– Personal space
We’ve already conquered a lot of behavioral bucket list items that exist for most horses (like trailering, being able to at least accept the girth, getting shipping boots put on, uhh… other things that I thought of last night while falling asleep but can’t seem to remember), but Murray’s list is just longer than some others. Who knows why (okay I know why: it’s his dad’s fault).
OKAY SO as we ramble on through this blog post, let’s talk about quarterly goals moving from here through September. I was really, really proud of the way Murray performed in dressage at Camelot, in case you hadn’t heard. He’s mastered lifting his back by lowering his neck (though he still tends to drop the base of his neck, I’m working on it), so now what I need to do is encourage him to actually shift some weight to his hind quarters.
We also need to work on getting more comfortable working with more contact and a shorter rein length. I err on the side of under-riding, and Murray likes a really light contact and goes around happily in it. However, as you can see, that light contact is essentially a loopy rein, which makes communicating with him a little challenging, and does not facilitate encouraging him to shift weight behind. So the first thing I need to do is shorten my reins but maintain a light, elastic contact. Sometimes I do shorten my reins on Murray, especially when he’s being bad and I need to really manage him, but he doesn’t love it and tends to get tense and pin-ball-y (bouncing around between my legs). So the next thing to work on is encouraging acceptance of leg pressure and relaxation in this new working relationship. I think that this will really help with our showing, because then when I put my leg on for a transition Murray won’t be like WTF?!
Next, to encourage him to lift the base of his neck and continue to work over his back, it’s time for poles, all over the world. MOAR trot and canter poles, please! This will also help with my final flatwork goal for this quarter, which is to start working on lengthening the gaits. Murray pretty much has one walk, one trot, and fortunately lots of canters. So I need to start teaching him to be able to extend and collect his trot while maintaining energy. I’m really looking forward to this. With this, I will try to hammer down our canter to walk transitions.
These are all flat goals, because I think they are things that will translate over to jumping as well. However the one thing I really need to do this quarter is determine whether or not I will need to get a new jump saddle. I’m super excited because we all loooooooooooove saddle shopping, especially on a budget. The flaps on my jump saddle are not forward enough for my legs in their optimal position, and while I can tolerate this, it’s not ideal and is starting to irritate me. It’s also possible that my saddle is rocking on Murray’s back over fences, and I just read an article suggesting that the pressure of jumping (approx 150 lbs per foot of fence comes down on your horse’s back upon landing) with an ill-fitting saddle will try the patience of even the best horse after a while. So I’m going to investigate that whole thing.
In summary, my third quarter goals are to:
– shorten my reins but maintain a light, elastic contact during flat work
– encourage acceptance of leg pressure and relaxation in this new connection
– trot and canter poles with connection
– lengthening and collecting of walk, trot, and canter
– canter to walk transitions
– figure out the jump saddle situation
– keep working in the cross ties daily!