February 13, 2019

Lesson Wrap-Up: Jumping Breakthrough

I've told my trainer in the past, don't ask me if I want to jump or wait for me to tell you I want to jump, just tell me we're jumping.  So she did.

Armed with my new canter and my newfound biomechanics cues, I was hoping this jump lesson would be good.  AND IT WAS AMAZING!

Happy post ride selfies

For the first time, I felt how much of a difference it makes when you jump with a tight core and your lats engaged (thanks Megan).  For the first time, I really understood what Mary has always meant by "feel like you're riding the hind legs up to the fence."  And for the first time, I took my uphill horse with his snappy hind end to the base of the fence and felt seriously confident.

Side note:  This was my first time using the Equisense's course feature.  Pretty cool!

That's not to say I was confident from the beginning.  My trainer put the crossrail up to an 18" vertical on the sly mid-course, and I felt my wimpy amateur brain shrinking into itself as it told me how big it looked.  But then I remembered how wrong my wimpy amateur brain had been about that 85# clean and jerk on Saturday in CrossFit, and how I put that weight back on my barbell on Monday night and ripped it off the ground like I meant it, and even added a few pounds for good measure.  In my head, in that moment, that jump became that barbell and I got aggressive instead of wimpy.

My head is a weird place sometimes.  But it works!

Canter stride frequency taking a huge leap forward in the jump lesson

Connor is very used to landing on his forehand and taking a few strides to mentally check out while I'm regrouping on his back.  When my core and lats aren't engaged, I just follow him down to the ground, which makes for an altogether awkward jump and makes it hard for me to regroup quickly after a fence.

Finally did a respectable amount of canter in a ride

Even though we have a long way to go until that lifelong habit can get undone, I could feel how much of a difference it made to hold firm in my upper body and not just follow him like a ragdoll.  I had a lot more influence, and was able to regroup quicker and send him on quicker.  It made a big difference in my ability to put him back together after an awkward jump.

14.cm!  Wow!
We have such a long way to go, but I felt some serious glimpses of jumping feeling easy, and I want more of it.  Never thought I'd say that again!

February 12, 2019

Lead Ropes

I have to admit, this feels like a weird post to write.  I'm crowdsourcing lead rope recommendations.

I have had two lead ropes break in the past few months.  One died a traumatic death when Connor was spooked by gunfire or cannons or artillery fire or something when my trainer was bringing him in for dinner.  I don't know the whole story, but I found it in pieces in the field, so yeah, it's dead. 

Definitely have no idea what you're talking about, lady

And then recently my backup lead rope, the thumb piece broke off somehow.  And that's the second lead rope that's happened to me on!  Clearly, I'm buying inferior lead ropes.  Anyway, I'm tired of having to wedge my fingernail into the clip to get it off my halter, so it's time to go shopping.

Here are my only demands:
- It needs to tie tightly and well
- No slick lead ropes
- No flat leather lead ropes (I already own one)
- The longer the better, but not ridiculously long
- I really want this one to last because buying lead ropes is just a boring way to spend a dollar, so if you've had one that's lasted forever, I want to know about it.
- No chain
- No bull snaps, unless it has the tab on the side that makes it easy to get them on and off with gloves on

So tell me - what's your favorite and why?

February 11, 2019

Equisense Being Useful

I don't have any current media to prove that my efforts to reform myself at the canter are working, but I do have data:

This graph represents Connor's front end elevation at the walk, trot and canter over our last 20 rides.  The purple line represents the canter, and each point represents one ride.  

The dotted line is on the lesson in which my trainer really worked on this concept with me, and you'll notice that we've been on an upward front end elevation trajectory since then.  Every single ride since that lesson has been 1-3cm higher in front end elevation than the ~15 rides before this point (and more than that - that's all I can see in this one snapshot though).

I don't really take the Equisense data as gospel on a day-to-day basis, but when it corroborates a larger trend over time like this, it's super nice to have.

February 8, 2019

Best Clip Ever

I'm not sure what I did to cause this, but damn if my third (and last, please please please) clip this year wasn't my best ever:

I mean, that's just a good looking butt in general, if we're being honest.

A suspicious lack of clipper tracks

Third clip on those blades too.  Huh.  Maybe I will do wet clipping again in the future after all...

February 4, 2019

Spa Day

It was 65 and sunny on Sunday (yeah, four days after hitting record lows below zero - I can't figure it out either) so I took advantage and gave Connor his first spa day in months.

I've modified my tail routine since I last posted about it, and I'm really happy with it - I wish I'd taken a before picture, it was so gross!  I don't bag his tail, and I also don't wash it at all over the winter.  I was convinced it was going to be stained yellow but it came out pretty dang white:

I'll write up my new routine in a post sometime.  I also gave him his third and final clip.  I tried wet clipping for the first time, and it was fine, but I don't think I'll do it again.

It did turn out really, really nice though.  Especially for that being the third clip on these two sets of blades.

Bye bye disgusting guard hairs

He was clean, but even still gunk kept getting all over my clipper blades and the wet hair was harder to brush off him and me than dry hair is.  Some people swear by wet clipping, but I don't think I am one of those people - at least not for the third clip when the hair is super short.

I took a couple glamour shots just to commemorate the fact that he was clean for approximately two hours.

Just...sigh.  I wish it was like this all the time.

I also pulled his mane.  I am deadly serious about my "no mane pulling below 50 degrees" rule.  And equally as serious about pulling it the second it's warm enough.

Tryin' ta eat here, lady.

Then he got put out without a blanket for the first time since October.  YES it killed me to watch him roll immediately, but he was so happy.  Tails will wash, happy horses are more important.