So I have a confession. If you've slogged through most everything I've written before this, this may not come as a huge shock to you.
I don't like riding Piper.
OK, I know, I know! Granted it was nice when Erica was riding because she was smaller and looked less insane on the painted pony. The really nice thing about it though was that I didn't have to ride her. I don't like riding her. We always fight. About.stupid.things.
OK, so timeout again. We normally fight because Piper KNOWS her job. Sadly that job tends to revert back to her previous training which is a "barrel racing, roping, running madly across the roads with a teenager on her back" training. But she owns it! Much like she owns everything in her life. So my normal "conditioning" hacks end up a full on, "no Piper, you canNOT drop your shoulder and dive out at an imaginary barrel". "No Piper, we are not going from 0 to full tilt after a cow".
Paint horses. Western horses. Sketchy training and gutsy horses.
Also, when Erica rode Piper, she let her do things that I wouldn't. Kinda like when your mom's not around, the kids go nuts. It was less Erica and more Piper (she's a persuasive bossy thing) and who's going to tell a 14.1h pony that no, we shouldn't jump that jump again epically for fun. This meant that once every few weeks, I got on the pony (normally western saddle and rope halter for steering) and reminded her of several truths: we do not fall in on a circle, we do not move around like a wet noodle, we do not floor the gas when we do a transition, we do not bounce to the sky going from walk to trot, and we do not drag our riders forward like a racehorse leaning into the bit.
I'm not the fun person.
After I rode her she'd be fine. It would be 2 hours of me asking consistently over and over and over and over and over and over again and rewarding anything that resembled moving in the correct direction. Eventually she'd get it (aka, let go of old habits) and we'd get off for that session. It was never fun for me but I mean, at least I can do it, right?
Then Erica went her way and I was left with this talented greenie beastie. Now pregnant. Trust me, I get how fabulous she is! I thought about selling her to a shorter person that might like her more, I thought about a lot of things. I'm excited about a baby from her but honestly, I want to ride her myself long term. I want it to be fun. I want to rock a cross country course on a pony that's gutsy, balls to the wall, and everything in between. She's never refused a thing and she's got seriously limited jumping experience (like less than 20 sessions over fences) and this is what she can do:
So basically in my mind, THE HARD PART IS DONE! Unlike Arthur, she doesn't worry me when I ride her (she's about as safe as the day is long ironically and actually will take care of you within reason). I just hate that a 30 minutes hack turns into a 2 hour "remember this" session of blahness. So Step One was ride the beastie. I got that easily. Step Two, jump the beastie. Ugh. She's way rounder, bolder, full of herself than Katy. The day I did it in June I just basically set the crossrail to about 18" and trotted back and forth. Naturally she flung herself at it and jumped about 3 foot. At that point I was like fine, game on and I worked her like a normal horse until she jumped 2 foot without rushing. Again, that "fighting" thing we do until she realizes that my insistently consistent cues mean something besides balls to the wall.
So mission accomplished but not pretty.
Then Piper started to get HUGE from baby growing. I decided to work on Katy and *gulp* Arthur so I have something to work on while Piper goes all preggers. Then I took a lesson on Katy a few weeks ago that was bad. Just. Bad. Like, I may have never ridden a horse before - bad. OK, maybe not THAT bad, I did stay on, but I was all over the place and nothing was responding to how it should. Naturally this was the hunter jumper trainer so I got an equitation lesson (which is really what I like :) ). It was painful, it was awful, but I felt a lot better in short order. The jumping was disastrous to watch but I got the job done (not the terminology the hunters want to hear).
I earned no style points.
Also, she mentioned that Katy's short trot will probably not fully "exercise" my core and all that. I debated Piper. The other thing we worked on was keeping the horse basically within a 6 inch area between your legs/hands/chest. You stay the constant and they fall in. I thought this was a bit of hoodoo, but then I saw it work on Katy and was like I WANT TO TRY THIS ON PIPER!
Last night I did. Sure she's kinda rotund (already) but she was happy to be worked and I - wait for it - had fun riding her. She tossed her head a few times, got on the bit, off the bit, sideways this sideways that, bounce here bounce there but I just softly countered and rode with more leg than hand and she... got it. In 35 minutes :) We had one fight where she tried to snatch grass while we free walk (that's going to impress a judge one day >< ) so I kicked her into some lateral work that was difficult and brought her back down to relax. Message was received that hard work would ensue should she take advantage and we were good.
I kinda want to ride her again tonight :) Grumpy soreness and all! Maybe she's not so bad :)
AKA: How do you do all these things?!?
This is what happened today:
2:30am - Went to bed after working on this blog, organizing pictures, and reading some Game of Thrones.
10:00am - Woke up due to husband's lack of food protesting
10:30am- Came back in from letting dogs out and feeding horses.
11:00am - Pancakes made.
11:00am-5:00pm Messed around on the internet and watched TV. I think we made some nachos for a lunchy thing
5:00pm Made some epic Panko crusted turkey meatballs on cous cous.
6:00pm-9:00pm Watched TV/aka Family Time
9:00pm - Put kid to bed, went to ride Katy. In the dark. With minimal lighting.
10:00pm - finished riding, untacked, fed/brought in dogs
10:20pm - trained the puppy
10:25pm - in the shower
10:45pm - on the computer/watching tv
So you may be wondering why I'm putting this nonsense up there. Well, its to point out that you can do LOTS of things in a day (or be epically lazy and get things done too). The key is to be focused and stick to a training plan. It was 100 degrees (F) today and felt like 105 at 6:00pm. While I could have ridden, I decided it was better to just chill out and avoid heat stroke.
I'm funny like that.
For my focus on the day, it was to rest up. We've started to do a lot of things lately and we really need to let our bodies, minds, and wallets rest. My goal while I rode today was really to work on my equitation (shut the front door, I know!). I need my core stronger in order to get better and do a good job riding Arthur and Piper so here I am. The program I'm wanting to use is more of an endurance racing/eventing hybrid. Week One is walking for 30 minutes increasing to 1 hour. Katy can do trot work for an hour with interspersed canter but I wanted to work on a harder surface than normal to help her legs get a little tougher and hopefully her feet too as they're normally softish. Considering that I was meaning to work on a walk, I ended up trotting most of it while focusing on me to avoid boredom and the Eq work at the walk was too easy. So long as Katy went where I told her at the speed I told her, I left her alone and worked on my things. She's awesome like that. I tried a canter and I sucked. I found a nice stopping point during the canter and rewarded her with some walking before finishing out with a trot cycle. So basically, the canter falling apart was my fault BUT my goal in this lesson didn't involve canter, but to work on my eq at the walk/trot. Don't throw out your plan or pick a fight when your goal was something else. Find a decent quitting spot on that sticky situation and move on. Did I canter the other way? No, and yes it bothers me because I like everything to be symmetrical, but again, it wasn't going to be good due to me not being strong enough. I was out there to work on that. Derp. Don't make it harder than it has to be.
For the dog training, people think I spend 500 hours a day training my dogs. Nope. I spend some time with them each day and make sure (like the horses) that when I'm around them they're learning something and I'm consistent. I wanted to work on my puppy's downing after several weeks of focus/motivation work so I brought her in, grabbed 10 treats and worked on what I needed before hitting the shower. Sure I could have trained her for an hour, but they don't learn well that way and I don't have time for that. Leave them wanting more too.
Because of these short sessions, I tend to jump around a bit, but always am working towards a goal. Keep sight of your goal, but break it into tiny parts and work on each individual part until they're as good as they can be and press on. If you ever need to go back a step, you can always do that since you made up 10000000 exercises to get to the final product.
So back to my schedule, you're probably thinking suuuure you sat around a lot but its Sunday! What about a normal work day? Oh here you go (Monday through Thursday, Friday we take off from the gym and do date night or something):
7:00am - up and getting ready
7:10isham- feeding horses and letting dogs out
7:30am - leaving the house
7:40am- drop kid off at camp/school
8:00am- at work 5:00pm- leave work 5:30pm - get kid
6:00pm- home and changed into workout clothes
6:15- hubs and kid grabbed, head to gym
7:15pm- home from workout/dinner/family time/tv
9:00pm- kid to bed, me to horses 10:30pm- done riding/critters fed, take shower/tv
Now mind you, just like my training, I've gotten to this point in tiny pieces. I started working on the gym a month ago. This meant I haven't been riding. Then I got good at that and added in eating less (portion control). That got decent and then I started eating healthier (see the difference?). Next up was adding in riding. I tried a lesson and it just really bottomed me out during afterwards (Friday night), I spent the next week tweaking my nutrition to keep up with the energy demands. With that better now, I'm adding riding in this week. Yay Soreville!
Why go through all this?
I want to ride. I need to work. I want family time. I train dogs. I'll be going back to school for a PhD in the spring and will need to have a schedule down pat in order to continue. The other thing about all this is... I feel great. For the first time in over a decade, I'm DOING not WISHING. If you want it bad enough, you'll figure it out. My body is starting to feel great - no nightly abdominal pain, no headaches, no weird sleeping patterns. Also, don't beat yourself up if you mess up a day or two here and there. Sometimes you just want to veg, or pig out, or whatever and that's ok (your body, your training, your money, your horses, all of it!). Restart the next day and push on.
You can do it; I swear I'm not Wonder Woman! :)
I haven't talked about my "methods" for fixing my train wreck of a horse (Arthur) in a while. When I started things with horses, there wasn't someone hocking their goods online, videos available at the flip of a something, or anything like that (gosh I sound old *waves cane). I learned from the horses mainly and with some awesome trainers (sometimes not awesome) that showed me what to do. And watching lots of people fail epically with their own horses.
In general, I like finding out how things work as well as fixing things and most importantly, doing it efficiently. This is why I'm good at training animals (and people but we won't talk about that today). Clinton Anderson was the first marketed person I perused and while I liked what he's doing and something is better than nothing, I wasn't sold on the "program" and once more, did my own thing as it made sense to me. Shortly before I got Arthur though, I was looking for some reining videos to try something with Piper and stumbled upon a trainer named Warwick Schiller. I was watching the videos more to see how things looked and if I agreed, but while listening to him he totally spoke to me.
His techniques are about being structured, doing things for the right reason and letting the horse figure out the right thing. I mean, that's so me! So I watched some more of his YouTube things and come to find out, while he's competed in the WEG for Australia in reining, his main thing is "fixing" broked horses in CA. He also works with each horse in the time frame the horse needs to be worked in and takes into account the personality differences.
Oh and his subscription is like $25 a month and he literally walks you through training each horse from start to finish with hundreds of hours of video. I could just watch and learn with him narrating. Also, one of his project horses was a "Bucking QH" that I swear has the same back story as Arthur so why not?
Now things aren't perfect and you need to use your brain, but in addition to the copious amounts of hours of video, Warwick also actually haunts his Facebook group himself and will reply regularly to questions and such. Warwick's strengths are definitely his lack of bravery (why get ON a horse that you can't even catch?!), his well thought out action, his demonstrations, and background in horses in general. Oh and his main specialty is fixing dressage/eventing/etc giant warmbloods that have been mentally wrecked.
So most of Arthur's journey has been using Warwick's methods and its been nice to have a virtual training coach to help out.
Granted it doesn't help me feel confident when I stick my foot in the stirrup, but I'm not sure anything less than a 6 pack of something would do that.
Check him out here: http://www.warwickschiller.com/
OK so my workouts are going great. Well, aside from being mind numbingly boring but effective. I can tell I'm getting stronger (or at least the readout says I can go farther and burn more calories in the same amount of time so yeah?) but now I need to work on losing weight. Sadly, just working out isn't making me lose the weight and I'm now so hungry I want to eat a baby moose after a work out so here we go.
I'm going to not only watch portions (I rock at this), but make better choices more often than not for foodz. Basically, more protein and good fats, less refined sugar and awesome carbs. Lame. At least I like meat and there's no way dairy is coming off the plan. But I've decided I'm not really dieting per say, I'm just going to watch my foods, tweak based on what my body says and go from there. Its like an Atkinsy Paleo whatever type thing. I'm totally making this up. I'm just logging things on Lose It to watch in calories and out calories plus fat and protein. Super high tech, I know.
So far its going ok, but I'm going to have to get creative about the things I eat as I'm getting bored already.
When interviewed, Chris Pratt had someone ask him what was the first thing he cut out of his diet when he started working out. His response? "Fun" <-- me right now
Ok, so Shane rode Arthur a few months ago at Cowboy Country. It went well and in my mind it was something I should have been able to replicate. Shane DEFINITELY thinks that (he obviously has way more faith in my body than I do!) and I'd really run out of ground work things to do.
Yes, shocking I know.
So that left me + Arthur and only needing to work on riding type things. At the very least, I needed to ride him to find out more ground things I needed to work. Talk about an impasse. So I made the decision and it seemed a bit last minute.
I'd gotten home from work and just grabbed my riding pants, my gear, and told the husband to sit outside and watch in case 911 needed to be called. No really, I wanted him there to watch. Arthur was tacked, ground worked without event, and then I tormented him with a mounting block. Nothing was phasing him and I was starting to panic. I had nothing to work on, this was going to HAVE to happen. I.was.going.to.ride.my.crazy.horse.
So I took a breath, wiped the copious amounts of sweat from my eyes and agree to just sit on him. I look over to my husband for some moral support and realize... he's not there anymore.
I was going to have to die alone. Obviously.
So I swing my leg over and Arthur looks completel bored. In my mind though, this is the end. I'm shaking like a leaf, my body is producing the most amount of sweat I've ever produced and my brain is just an OCD ADHD smattering of freaking out and trying to remember what to do now. Arthur meanwhile is standing like a rock.
So I pet him. "Thanks for not freaking out like I am buddy."
Then I sit up. NOT THAT MUCH LEAN BACK OVER.
I grab some mane. WAIT NOT THAT HAND IN CASE YOU NEED TO FLEX HIM OUT OF HIS BUCKING.
Arthur is barely conscious.
I sit up a bit more.
He's still barely conscious.
I vaguely recall I should flex him on both sides. IF HE DOES THIS I'M GETTING OFF ASAP.
I flex him and he moves his head freakishly easy. OMGWHATSHEDOING!?!?! Oh right, I trained in responsiveness. Derp.
OK, so he flexes. NOW WHAT DO I DO? Umm... let's... disengage. Or get off. No disengage.
I ask, he does. I'm sweating enough to fill a swimming pool and my legs are hurting from shaking so badly.
OK, not dead, horse is working fine and possibly coping better than I am.
I struggle to recall what comes next when I suddenly recall the next step is to let him move forward. THAT'S LIKE RIDING OMG.
But I get up my nerve (at this point I'm annoying me), and ask for the disengage and let him spiral out. He does so beautifully and we walk once around the round pen and I bend him to a stop and I get off easily. Arthur yawns.
I might need some medications to help me through this part of retraining...
I already knew my body was going to be on strike, but in addition to cardio, I decided to work on my jumping form. My husband grumpily took pictures of the Meadowcreek incident and while I didn't die (in case you didn't read that post, I'm sure Die is the most used word in it), I also didn't really like the way I looked in the photos. (Turns out my stirrups were different lengths and also too long but more on that in a few more months).
Naturally I went to a riding lesson and was like HUNTER JUMPER PERSON! Torment me in EQ! And so she did. And my legs screamed. Katy was confused with the odd bouncing cavaletti and some other weird things they had us do to force me to think about my position. By the end of it I felt really fancy and the HJ people seemed happy with me. I wasn't too sure what to think but I looked more like them and everything hurt. That's a win right? :S
I hate the gym. Like, seriously hate the gym. Its so boring, its so gross, its so ugh! I also hate running and most forms of boring exercise. Why can't horses involve more cardio? Well, at least cardio that doesn't invole a horse trying to kill you/itself and therefore getting your heart rate up.
Due to the issues that I had at Meadowcreek, it was impossible to ignore the fact that my bum needed to be a bit smaller, my heart a bit stronger, and just get myself fit. Sadness, but it is what it is.
So since hubby loves the gym (weirdo) but never manages to go due to me? I made it a "family" thing and set new rules: Monday-Wednesday was gym time. We'd take Pierce and make him sit in a chair and play games while we worked out. Husband whined about some logistic things but I was prepared so we began the horrible, terrible, no good workouts.
Luckily the new stair stepper/elliptical thing isn't so bad and every machine has a television on it so I guess I can function for the short time I need to do this torture.