Hello all! I let my blog posting go again 😦 And here we are, about halfway through summer!
Summer has been incredible. I am busier than I anticipated. This summer I decided not to do summer school. I have worked summer school every year since I graduated, but this summer I was very inspired to have some “me time”…or more like some “me and Cloud time”. Just one of the many things I have to thank Debbie for…without her, I wouldn’t be so motivated to be with Cloud and progress in our riding. But more on that later….
So although I am not doing summer school, I still seem to be so much busier than I thought I’d be. I did some housesitting, and I picked up one extra restaurant shift a week. I also started working out with a personal trainer, and I’ve been trying to spread the love and spend time with Lambeau AND Cloud. But between riding lessons, working out, and working at Emil’s… I have a lot more of a schedule than I thought I would. It’s alright because I am still doing most of the things that I really wanted to do this summer, it’s just that I have more of a schedule than I thought I would.
The best part of summer is how much ‘pony time’ I am getting in. I am riding about 6 days a week, minus a few days when I was housesitting and a weekend that I went camping. Mondays and Saturdays I ride first thing in the morning and Wednesdays/Fridays I ride after my 8am workouts. Tuesdays and Thursdays I am taking my lessons at my usual 4:30pm time slot, unless something comes up on mine or Debbie’s ends. I’d love to ride in the mornings every day, because it’s cooler (although this has been a delightfully cool summer!) and to keep Cloud on a regular schedule, but Debbie’s mornings are pretty full. And Sundays are usually Cloudy’s day off because I work the midday restaurant shift and don’t get out early very often.
Summer is also incredible because I am doing a lot of 2-a-day barn trips. On the days that I ride in the morning, I come back in the afternoon to feed Cloud dinner. It’s never a too-long visit, but it’s just nice to see him again and to give him an extra coat of fly spray to go into the overnight.
Our rides have continued to be pretty stellar, although we did go through a rough week not too long ago. While training with Debbie, she often mentions 2 steps forward, 1 step back….there are lulls or plateaus, but they usually come just before a great breakthrough. But this felt different. Cloud seemed cranky and actually pretty naughty…like purposefully naughty. Well, with Debbie’s help we realized that the issue stemmed from a bout of crazy salivation. Cloud had been coming in from the pasture and was very slobbery…He would spit up massive amounts of water. Debbie had mentioned that Dusty, Cloud’s pasturemate, was drooling too, and Martin (farmhand) said he saw the pony drooling too. Debbie’s theory was that the extra salivation was uncomfortable to Cloud while I was riding, which made him act out. We talked to a fellow boarder’s vet who came out one day, who said that with all the rain we had been getting, the clover was likely the culprit. So nothing to worry about, and the drool/slobber just stopped one day, and sure enough Cloudy Boy was back to himself.
So I am between lessons this week. Yesterday afternoon we had a lesson and we have another lesson tomorrow morning. This morning I went out early for a ride. I am LOVING these cool summer temps! It wasn’t even 60* when I rode this morning. An old student of Debbie’s who is visiting from out of state came out yesterday with Debbie to watch my lesson. Debbie was very excited to show her Cloud and I, which makes me feel very proud 🙂 We had a good lesson. A newish development is that I am sitting the trot the majority of my rides. I warm up and cool down in rising trot, but everything else is sitting trot. And it’s gotten so easy 🙂 We kind of touched on a little of everything we have been targetting…lots of transitions, 10 meter circles, shoulder in, traverse, walk pirouttes, and half pass at the trot and canter. We also did some counter canter and some canter/halt transitions. I think Debbie was putting us through our paces for our audience! All went pretty well! I’m excited for our lesson tomorrow.
This morning I got out early and was able to ride during Debbie’s lesson with Melanie and Dusty. Her old student came out to watch that lesson too. Melanie and I chatted as we got our horses ready and also after our rides. Debbie commented to her old student about the comamarderie amongst her students at our barn. We all enjoy riding together and watching each others successes, and we all can’t get over what Debbie is teaching each and every one of us.
Melanie and I also talked about motivation. I think that the biggest compliment that I can give Debbie is the motivation she gives me, and all of her riders, to ride our horses and practice what we are learning. I see it in all of her riders, but obviously I have the biggest insight on it from how I feel. Debbie has made me realize that, although I have always loved horses and loved Cloud, that I think I only *liked* riding. I never lacked motivation to come out to the barn and see Cloud. I loved grooming him and caring for him and grazing him and spending time with him…but my riding has gone through ups and downs. There were many times that I had to convince myself to tack up and ride.
I think I always wanted to be a good rider, but never felt like a good rider. I have ridden with several trainers and, sure, I’ve learned a little bit from them. But I never felt like I understood things. I never had a trainer who made it all make sense and made me feel like I’m a good rider. So where is the motivation to ride?? Things like blue ribbons and being competitive always seemed out of reach for me. More recently, since beginning riding dressage, I always felt like the upper levels would always be out of reach for me. I never learned enough from past trainers to feel like I would move up the levels. Nowadays, I’m not really sure if I will get back into showing, but I feel like if I do that I will have real goals…things to work towards, instead of staying at the same level and the same tests and hope to raise my scores a couple of points.
For me, the biggest thing to come from my lessons with Debbie is a love for riding. I have always, ALWAYS loved Cloud and loved horses, but riding was just a small part of that. Riding could be fun, but pretty often it was frustrating, reducing me to tears when I just couldn’t get something right or when Cloud wasn’t understanding what I was trying to do. And if it wasn’t frustrating, it could also be boring…when I’d give up on the tough stuff, I would ride around giving Cloud a long neck, feeling good thinking that we were both relaxed and therefore enjoying the ride, when really my horse was completely strung out and not utilizing his body correctly. And for me, although it wasn’t frustrating, I had little motivation to ride that way because it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t interesting and it wasn’t challenging. I was stuck in a terrible limbo…either not understanding how to progress, or not trying to progress and being bored.
I don’t know if I’m explaining myself correctly, but the proof is in the pudding…besides the obvious results that have come from riding with Debbie (his muscles, my muscles, the movements we are achieving, the harmony between us)…there is also a lot of evidence of the motivation Debbie has instilled in me. Since riding with Debbie, I have purchased a new saddle and bridle. Back when riding was less motivating, I didn’t ever have the desire to spend money on a good saddle or a new bridle. My saddle was pretty good for the price I paid for it, but it is nothing in comparison to my new saddle. I love my saddle! And I never would have bought it if I had’t started loving riding. My bridle was fine, but it was old and needed replacing. I also rode with rope reins and no gloves, but now switched to leather reins and gloves. Speaking of gloves, I have also gone through a fashion makeover at the barn. I never used to care how I looked when I rode. I rode in old breeches, old non-riding tshirts, paddock boots, and half chaps. Since riding with Debbie, I feel like a good rider…and wanted to dress the part. So I bought some new breeches and a blingy belt, cute riding polos, and tall boots. Now I look and feel like a good rider 🙂
But the biggest evidence of my change in motivation is definitely my riding schedule. I don’t have to talk myself into riding….I look forward to riding every single day. I don’t get out to the barn and find excuses not to ride (Cloud could really use a bath, I’m tired I just feel like grazing….). Rather, I ride and then bathe/graze/groom/etc. I’m never too tired to ride…it’s more often that I’m tired, but I don’t realize it until AFTER I ride and I go home and crash from my busy day.
Again, I can’t emphasize this enough, I have always loved Cloud. And I’ve liked riding. Certainly I’ve gone through some good times enjoying riding, but I have never felt as motivated as I do now. I love riding, and Cloud loves our rides too. This motivation isn’t just for Cloud and I, either. Debbie has some of the most motivated and dedicated riders in the barn. Just last night after my lesson, I was hanging out with another one of Debbie’s students. She was telling me how much she loves riding, even though she has had a very stressful week at work. And as she tacked her horse, I was in awe of how much you could tell her horse was ready to go ride. As Lee turned to get her saddle, Sogno side stepped closer to her, as in to say “here you go, put that saddle on me”. When Lee took off her halter, Sogno dropped her head for the bridle, and when Lee lifted the bit to her mouth she reached and grabbed for the bit herself. This is a horse who went through a stint of sticking her head high in the air to avoid being bridled.
Alright, enough gushing. I just love my trainer! And I love my summer with Cloudy Boy. Can’t wait for my lesson tomorrow 😛