Vesper's thread

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by Winchester, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    23 days after our last ride...!

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    Finally back on my horse! Big deep sigh of contentment.

    We pulled her front shoes on Friday as the weather promises to keep snowing, thawing, freezing, repeat for who knows how long, so I wanted her to have a better grip on the footing in the arena when she gets her minimal turn out. I also had my fingers crossed that I could at least start doing some walk under saddle again if the snow wasn't balling up in her shoes.

    I arrived at the barn today amidst another snow dump, but it was that soft crunchy/fluffy kind that gives good grip (for horses and cars!) so I gleefully grabbed my helmet, bridled her and swung up. She also got her earplugs in because first ride in 23 days + bareback + snowy footing = cauldron of fun.

    We just walked around with a few shuffling jogs, working into the bridle. So excellent. She was chuffed afterward, and I was delighted.

    If it stays similar weather/footing, we're using the saddle next time and actually going to get into some light work. :D

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  2. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    Ohhhh brrrrrr..idk where you're at Winchester but I've got goosebumps from looking at the cold snow. It was really warm yesterday here and I sure didn't complain about not having a white Christmas. Stay warm-!!
     
  3. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    Looks like an Ontario Christmas Win!! Lol

    That's us all the time - though we have indoors....Glad you're back riding though. Keep it up, you've made a lovely skirt to keep you warm! :)
     
  4. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    @Alsosusieq2 I'm in SW Canada, which is (SUPPOSED TO BE) the mildest winters. Obviously my region didn't get the memo this year! :ROFLMAO: The snow is delightful because we never get this much, but now that it has affected my riding so drastically I'm pretty over it haha.

    @Rhythm 'n Blues IKR! :faint: We managed to spend about 7 minutes in some kind of correct work, but without a saddle I was too cautious to push for anything else. Fingers crossed for more rides this week!
     
  5. FallenAngel

    FallenAngel Senior Member

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    We have had a disgusting winter so far, and its just supposed to keep going! I havent even been able to walk kinta down the road to my coaches indoor. Its driving me crazy!
     
  6. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    You both are going to have to up your game this winter to keep fit :) :p
     
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  7. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    Welp, I've been hitting the gym about 300% more than normal because I have all this free time I don't spend riding, so at least I'LL be fit. No promises for Vesper :ROFLMAO:

    Oh and I bought some actual NICE breeches today for the first time in my life, that don't give me saggy bum. And a dressage schooling pad. And some bandages. Pretty sure that counts, right?
     
  8. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    That counts to upping the wardrobe game......and the you fitness game. Dunno if that was the game I was implying......lol. :p
     
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  9. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    Haven't done anything worth updating much recently, because all of December and 80% of January had ridiculous amounts of snow and our arena was an ice rink. There were occasional days that I could hop on for a walk when the snow was powdery, but mostly I just cried as my money went out of the bank and I could only brush the horse.

    I got about 1.5 weeks of snow-free riding at the end of January, which was spent slowly bringing us both back into work after almost 2 months off - the longest vacation she's ever had since I bought her. Considering how little exercise she got, she was really calm when she went back under saddle. She was very happy to be back *doing* something. My butt bones ached for an entire week, it was pathetic :ROFLMAO:

    My immediate goal was to improve how I carry my hands. I've always ridden with them down near my crotch, but it's time to quit that bad habit. Every ride I am now training my muscle memory to keep them up, which in turn helps me sit up instead of tipping forward. It's been good progress with that so far. I still slip back into the old ways, but I'm becoming more and more consistent in how I carry them. I know it's not an immediate fix, and I'm pleased at the progress in that area.

    Goal number 2 is straightness. My hips/back are crooked, and thus Vesper is crooked, so I'm paying +++ attention to how I sit as soon as I'm in the saddle, focusing on even weight in my seat bones. I am taking special care to use my entire left side correctly now instead of letting it dangle because it's weak. I had fallen into the habit of using just my heel to cue the left side, as I'm weak from ribcage through my hip on that side. Now, left leg cues are starting from my hip, traveling down my thigh and ending at my ankle (if needed). Also using the left rein to help block that bulging left shoulder. I've actually found it surprisingly effective, since previously I wouldn't get any response from her by engaging my left hip/thigh, but I think that since I'm able to straighten her through her body a little better, and am preventing the left side bulge, my more subtle cues are now being communicated effectively. Vesper often overcompensates by giving me a lot of movement, so I have learned to sort of "pinball" her between my aids to keep her straight, instead of asking from one side and ending up with waayyy too much response. It seems to be very effective.

    Days before we left my old barn, my BM was talking to me while I rode and I realized that, although she's given me lessons and cared for my horse since May, she's never actually been on Vesper. I offered her a ride and she climbed on, and made everything so fancy. It was great for her to feel the things she'd seen when I ride, and I loved watching her make Vesper look great while explaining the tricks she was using. She wouldn't allow me to video her as she was wearing work clothes and is self conscious about her appearance on social media!

    I got back on after she put Vesper through some exercises, and it was amazing the difference I felt. One of our ongoing issues is inconsistent contact; Vesper's head is often popping up, dropping down, holding steady then repeat. But after my BM rode her, she was so steady in my hands. We worked on that straightness issue, moving her into the outside rein off the inside leg and lots of tracking up with her hind end. My next solo ride, she was again super excellent. But that was about it for the consistent contact lol - we're kind of back to the bobbing in and out. I'm not sure if it's my hands being inconsistent or something else...

    We moved to a new facility on Jan 31 which has an indoor arena, so we've been taking advantage of that the last 3 days. The first 2 rides, Vesper was pretty revved in the new environment (no surprise) but she channeled it marvelously! The moment I gathered my reins and added some leg to get her working in a connection, she lifted her back immediately and maintained so much impulsion and energy in her work. Obviously we had moments where it got a little too much "forward", but with lots of transition work she settled back down and I didn't fall into a pulling match with her. Yay progress! For the first time in a long while, I genuinely feel like I am becoming a better rider *for her*.

    It is so neat to ride a horse that is ready to transition at the slightest touch... That's what those high level dressage horses are like, and it definitely gave me pause. It takes much more "riding" to work with a horse like that - I can't "cheat" my way through it, or just putz around the ring. Vesper isn't marvelous like that all the time, but she could be if I encouraged it. My anxiety has always kept me in a place where I prefer putzing because it's safe, but I realized that I have reached another level of my riding and if I want to, I can choose to be very intentional every single ride.

    Riding for me has always been a *huge* mental game, and these last few days I have been working to change my perception of what "normal" is for us. Vesper is a huge, forward mover, and when I'm on her, it often feels like we are rushing (especially when jumping ugh). But when I watch video footage, I realize that she actually looks really casual! Now that I have mirrors in the indoor arena, I've had a few moments of "Ugh here we go again, losing control... Oh wait, hang on, she actually just looks like she's just a bit more active instead of trudging along." So my mental exercises are now to redefine "rushing" into "active". I know it's going to take some time to overcome the anxiety that develops with this, but I also know that if I am feeling really uncomfortable, I can simply work some downward transitions until my stress settles.

    I'm feeling really excellent about this next season for us. I am astounded when I think about how much she has already taught me in 2 years, and how exponentially I have grown as a rider. And to look forward and realize that we don't seem to have a "ceiling" in sight..! What an encouraging prospect. :)

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  10. mooselady

    mooselady Senior Member

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    Great update, I can relate to so much of what you post there. SO glad you have an indoor now so you can keep riding whatever winter throws at you. Not sure if I wish we had a mirror in our arena or not, I guess it would halp me stay centred and sit UP
     
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