Wednesday, April 11, 2018


The last two weeks have not been good to me personally.  These kind of weeks happen when you love someone (or several someones) who have substance abuse issues.  It can be very isolating, lonely, and frustrating when people you love slip away to a place where you can’t reach them, even when they’re right there in front of you. 

My thoughts exactly
I've experienced the effects of addiction so many times now in my life and within so many different relationships.  I used to cry, get angry, do anything in my power to stop the behavior, but what I’ve realized over time (and with professional help) is that you can’t stop someone who is determined to do something.  You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help.  And so, I’ve learned to provide myself with self care during these times. 

I look for ways to make myself feel good (healthy ways, if you don't include the occasional primal scream and cookie binges…).  That means spending time with friends, walking and cuddling my puppy, evening trips to Barnes & Noble for a coffee, and it also means A LOT of barn time. 

I feel the most myself when I’m at the barn.  I feel strong, capable, and in control of my life.  I can forget, sometimes for hours, what is happening outside of the arena and barn. 

It is a true blessing in my life that I found horses, horse friends, the blogging community, and Gavin. 

First signs of spring

Here’s hoping the next week looks better *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Half Halt Clinic

The Half Halt Clinic

This last weekend, I was finally able to lesson with an ‘S’ judge and local Denver trainer that I’ve been pursuing like some weird jilted lover for years.

Cooooookies Plleeeeeease
She asked me what my goals were with Gavin.  I told her I’d like to earn my bronze with him.  This is hard for me to say out in public (especially with the audit crowd listening).  I’m shy about my horse goals, mostly because I worry about others judging those goals and me/Gav. 

She asked what I thought we needed to work on.  I told her he was a very willing partner (this is the truth), and that I need to be better with my body and knowing/understanding how much to ask and when to ask.  AKA how to be a more effective rider.

She watched us go for a few minutes (transitions, change of direction, etc.).  She loved him, me maybe not so much. 

Positive takeaways:

1.       She didn’t say one damn thing about my hands/elbows/arms.  I feel like I’m finally making some progress in this area.  I think that one lesson I had with the grand prix rider who focused on equitation was mega helpful on this.

2.       She really liked him.  She must have said it once every 5 minutes.  She liked his gaits and his attitude and kept musing on why other riders in the area didn’t buy cobs. 

a.       This led to a tangent on Cardi (welsh cob superstar ;)) and how Jessica Wisdom rides the hell out of him (in a good way).

3.       She commented that I’m fine with the amount of leg and spur usage.  Just need more prompt canter transitions and he won’t be offended by my lengthy leg squeeze because it won’t be there anymore.

a.       I specifically asked her about this because I had an older pleasure rider tell me she didn’t care for spurs and that she’s noticed I leg my horse a lot.  To say I felt a little anxiety about that statement days later would be the understatement of the year.  It fucking haunted me.
Obligatory cute pug picture

Things to work on (homework):

1.       She kept asking me to sit the trot.  This is not something I do particularly often.  I like to push him into his bigger trot when we’re working and it’s a bitch to sit (see: Erika is lazy).  She said tough shit, you bought a horse with a big, bouncy trot and now you’ve got to learn to sit that trot. 

a.       Week 1: Sitting trot 10 minutes a ride

b.       Week 2 (and going forward): Sitting trot 5 minutes stirrups, 5 minutes no stirrups. 

c.       Week 3: admire my new abs of steel ;)

2.       Half halt in every corner, before every transition, after every transition, sometimes just to say ‘hey listen to me!’.  She totally called me out on my lack of half halts.  I fully admit that I never think about them, but when I actually practice them the canter transitions are much improved.  So ya know - the new name of the game is half halts.

3.       When you cue canter – he canters.  This isn’t optional.  Help him out on this by half halting before the transition, but still require canter upon cueing – not 3 strides later.  As always, this is a work in progress, but I truly believe once I install auto-half halts on myself, his canter transitions will improve dramatically.

4.       He can get a little lazy behind in the canter and lose tempo at the beginning of his canter work.  Ask for just a touch more and then follow a little more with hands at the beginning. 

5.       Work on my seat:

a.       Plug my butt into the saddle. 

b.       Relax hips and thighs. 

c.       Feel my seat bones on the saddle. 

d.       If my zipper touches the saddle, I’m clearly leaning too far forward. 

e.       Don’t stand in the stirrups at the canter.

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