Banks

The first time I went down a bank it was on my first horse, Sheena. I had trailered in to a friend’s barn to go trail riding. Instead, being young and stupid, we went to play on their XC course without permission. (I know. I know.) They had a bank complex and Sheena, who was not willing over anything higher than 2’6, dropped down a huge training bank with no questions.

The second time I rode a bank it was with Dandy. It was his first XC school and I wasn’t just asking him to go down his first bank, I asked him to go don’t his first bank into water (granted, a small bank). Dandy was a very brave horse but he went cautiously down the bank his first time. Dipping his foot in cautiously which led to one of my favorite pictures.

So when I started working with Gus, I didn’t give a second thought to going down banks. I had had two horses who didn’t think twice about it, why would Gus? Oh but Gus did think twice and thrice and even a fourth time about going down banks.

We would school it one weekend and be fine but the next time we saw a down bank it would be like he had never seen it before, even if it was the exact same bank. So I think it’s a little understandable that I started developing a complex about them. I just didn’t know what I was going to get at any one time.

Then at our XC schooling before Full Gallop we came across a small bank complex. While getting Gus to move out of the way I asked him to step down the most baby of baby banks there ever was. It was basically a pole with an extra two inches on one side. He balked. And continued to do so until we got a lead over with another horse.

What. The. Hell.

So we schooled it. Over and over again. Moving up to the next size as Gus got more confident and was willing to go down at a trot and then at a canter. And I got schooled too for not leaning far enough back and not keeping my legs on. All very fair criticisms but I was just more frustrated at Gus more than anything. Why do we constantly have to redo this? We have no problems going up banks. (Or, at least, Gus has no problems, I’m a mess and can’t coordinate myself, but he takes care of me.) But with down banks I feel like we start over at stage one every single time. It’s frustrating and it certainly puts a dent in my confidence.

At least when Gus does get to the going down part he at least jumps down nicely instead of launching himself. Small victories?

Eventually we were going down the Novice size bank and LT moved everyone over to do a Novice size Training Question: downhill to a brush fence and then three strides to a down bank. She told me I didn’t have to do it unless I wanted to and I did not want to, did I? I mean it looked kind of fun but it was a down bank after a downhill jump. Oh, what the heck, I told myself. Worst case scenario is that he stops again.

But he didn’t! Because I actually rode the fences Gus quietly hopped over and then down for me.

I was pretty pleased with myself. We can ride banks! At least for now.

Putting it into Perspective

For Christmas my husband bought me a winter layering shirt from Lululemon. I’ve never had anything from Lululemon but I did know one thing: that shit is expensive And, my husband being your typical male, didn’t black out the pricetag so I knew just how expensive this shirt was.

$88 if you’re curious.

I loved the shirt though! It was super soft and warm and had thumb holes. The boy did good. Still, I couldn’t help but cringe thinking about wearing such an expensive shirt to the barn. What if it got ruined?

But I was pulling out breeches and a belt I realized just how silly that was. I mean, my breeches alone are over $100! And then once you factor in the tack that goes on the horse the shirt is probably one of cheapest parts of my outfit.

So I stopped worrying and wore the shirt to the barn. Now it’s one of my favorite layering pieces for winter riding.

Best Photos of 2017

I was blessed with so many good photos this year. Beyond blessed! But, I just found out that I’m getting an award from our local dressage and combined training club and they want a picture for the slide show. How am I supposed to pick?

Help a fellow blogger out?

Stadium at Sporting Days Farm H.T.
Best Horse Ever at Poplar Place May H.T.
Stadium at Stable View H.T.
XC at Stable View H.T.
Dressage at Area Champs
Novice Stadium at Tryon Riding & Hunt Club H.T.
Finishing XC at Pine Top Thanksgiving H.T.

 

 

So which one is your favorite? Got another? Let me know in the comments!

Focus and Relaxation

I’ve had Pax just over a month now and it has been a really different experience. I didn’t set out to get a two-year-old – I would have preferred that he had been three going on four – but when I saw him, I got that feeling that he was the one. Age be damned. But not only is he two, for a thoroughbred, he’s a bit of a young two having been born in mid-May. And while I wouldn’t call him immature in the sense that he’s overly silly, you can tell he’s a baby and he mostly has the attention span of a gnat.

So all the ground work I am doing with him is imperative to teach Pax how to focus and how to relax.

The focus is coming along though we still have moments where he’ll forget and spook himself over a stationary object or the dogs that have been walking quietly beside us for the last ten minutes. Pax isn’t nasty about anything, he just doesn’t know how to handle himself yet. To date, he settles pretty quickly and forgets even quicker.

The relaxation though? That’s been more difficult. Now that Pax knows the basics of the groundwork we’re teaching him (how to send, how to turn his haunches, two eyes & two ears), we’re starting to use that to teach him to relax. In our lesson this week, LT had me wait to release the pressure until we saw at least a small sign of relaxation in his body. I had to see a lowered head, a cocked back foot, an exhale or sigh, something to show me that his mind was slowing down as much as his body was.

We’re still figuring each other out, and I can already tell that he will not be as easy as Gus has been, but I’m having a lot of fun learning right alongside.