Catching up!

It’s been a crazy summer and now it’s fall the time we spend working on goals for next summer!! I did 3 shows with Mister this year-they were all 2 weeks apart!  They were good-they taught us a lot!  The first one helped get our nerves under control, the second one taught us some independence as my riding instructor also had to be at a different arena with her kids and our third one was overcoming tiredness and knowing when to quit! The second show we had to do our tests without my riding instructor there and also my reader left so I had to find someone else to read for me!  And I did not have a meltdown! So yay me!  This really boosted our confidence and showed me that we both could keep it together even when things didn’t go perfectly smooth! Our last show I had let Mister’s feet get a bit too long and his feet were a bit sore so he was not moving as correctly as he normally does. So we only did 3 tests instead of 4 since the judge commented that he might be uncomfortable and you could think of giving him some bute.  Instead, I decided to forfeit my last test.  It just wasn’t worth it and I knew there would be more shows.  We were also going through some saddle issues as well.  Shortly after that, I had the saddle fitter come out and adjust his saddle plus he had a massage and that really helped him and also the farrier came out! We also did a level 1 and our first try in English we got a 59!  Which was impressive!!  We did get a 60 as well at Training Level so our scores are starting to come up!  And our comments of harmony and such I always love! Plus we are getting 7’s for our canter which amazes me!  Next year we will get 8’s because it is an even better canter now!  And our circles are getting better too.  We have lots to work on for next year but we are well on our way!  Also, we will be doing Level 1 and finally getting out of training level!

This past summer we had some stresses with huge forest fires for the summer again! This time they were in my hometown so while the fires didn’t affect as many people it did affect my hometown and stressed me out! Plus we got all the smoke from the fires so it was pretty tough to do such heavy workouts!  We didn’t go to any more shows after the 3 this spring!  I was very glad I got them in when I did!!  The September show we just didn’t have the motivation for.  I wanted to take Cierra but we just hadn’t worked on anything enough because the weather this summer made it pretty difficult to progress!

September finally brought an end to the smoke though and we started to make some real progress!  Cierra and I started working on the canter! And wow is it ever an amazing canter! She is really trying to figure it out and one direction she has it, but the other direction she is doing this super funny stomp her feet and my riding instructor said it’s kinda like trying to do a canter on the spot because she is   I am glad we took our time with her with her because she just wasn’t ready and is not the kind of horse you really should push too much, she does things when she’s ready and when that happens it’s amazing! She is really starting to come together and has such a personality!  I can’t help but laugh at her antics even when she’s being bad and showing some attitude!  She is so vocal, she kinda reminds me of me-she likes to talk whether it’s hollering at me to come see her or groaning at me when I ask her to do something!  You really don’t have to guess what she’s thinking!!!  Plus her antics on the lungeline are also too funny! She does listen but when you ask her to do something she either grumps at you or does a head shake at you and I know I shouldn’t laugh but it is just too funny and I can’t help it!  She has also changed shape and movement so much since the spring it’s really neat!  She just had a growth spurt but in the spring I will measure her and see where she’s at.  She is growing slowly and you don’t really notice until you look at her and think oh wow she seems taller!  She also has a presence about her so she does not seem small!  When her head is up and she is curious she could pass for the same height as my gelding whose 15’3 and she is only 14’3! She is so much fun right now!  I definitely had my doubts this spring though when we did not seem to be meshing even though I really liked her.  I’m glad I stuck it out!  And maybe it just took me accepting her and her silliness!  I even got her out for her first trail ride!  She was super awesome for it and we will definitely do more!

Mister and I had a tough September.  I started back in my dressage saddle and I just felt like I went backwards in my riding.  It is a really nice saddle and it fits me but I think my other dressage saddle this spring put me in a bad position on him and this one actually puts me in the correct position but my body was fighting the position.  I was super floppy and felt like I couldn’t even canter because even trotting felt out of place.  And because I was riding Cierra lots and she was using up so much of my leg strength I was having a hard time on Mister.  My body did not like switching back and forth.  Plus Mister was not enjoying it either.  But I decided that I was going to keep riding in the dressage saddle until spring because a couple of weeks was not going to be a good indicator of whether or not Mister and I were going to be riding dressage or western dressage.  We discovered part of the problem is because Mister has bulked up so much over the last few years and before when he was younger he was quite a bit slimmer so it was easier for me to get my legs on him and now he is so much bigger.  But I have adjusted and while it’s still not the easiest I am getting better.  And since our rides have become better Mister has become happier again.  The dressage saddle is a Schleese and I had it fitted to him, they had to widen it quite a bit plus they changed the air bladders to wool so now it’s a beautiful saddle.  I know it fits him and me it was just a matter of getting used to it! We are getting close to where we normally are in the western saddle now though and by the spring we are going to be further ahead for sure!  I love all the training that happens in the fall and winter!  Cierra’s canter has actually improved Mister’s!  That is just so cool!  The other thing that has helped our canter is me preparing him for it instead of just saying do it now.  And now we are also able to get the canter from the walk which was so hit and miss for us before!  He has been so amazing this fall especially all of October.  He’s back to being super content and happy and seems to enjoy this saddle now that I’m not so floppy!  He is really getting back to his calmer self this past year.  It’s been nice since he used to be a calm and happy horse.  But we had a stressful few years.  So it’s nice that he’s coming back to himself after that! And our shows were really great this year!  Next year will be even better!

We have also discovered I have a hard time with hand-eye coordination and my brain does not trust my hands to stay where they are so unconsciously I kept looking at my hands and also I would think about what I’m trying to do instead of just doing it! Once I told my brain to just keep focused on the front and not to worry about my hands then I could do beautiful shoulder in’s and haunches in and circles.  My body knows what to do, my brain just has to let it.  So since then, my riding has come forward again.  And now I’m also really enjoying my dressage saddle and it’s really feeling like home!  I can canter without feeling like I’m going to topple over!

So even though the summer wasn’t as fun. the fall has really been. Plus I have been riding both horses in a day once or twice a week and that is really challenging me! But in a good way!

Here are some pictures of my summer and the horse shows this spring!

Mister in the top set and Cierra in the bottom set!