Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Chugging Along

My previous lesson was a bit of a hot mess and in hindsight I decided it was because his right hind was bothering him slightly.  A few days off ran into crap weather which ran into him slamming his hip into the fence(?) and turned into almost two weeks off.  I decided the fastest way to work on his fitness was long trail rides and long lining.  So I didn't ride a ton leading up to my first lesson after trainer got back from her vacation.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from him.  My riding has been rather floppy and not great as I am trying to figure out how to get my hips back to even.  My right hip wants to drop back way too far and my left hip just doesn't want to do much of anything.  The one benefit of having a very sensitive horse is I know immediately when I do get something changed.  For better or for worse he tells me when things are different.

The one day we had snow

He had a bit of a meltdown on the trailer again and came off it really sweaty.  Luckily I had given myself lots of time so I took him on a walk for a bit and then he settled down and ate hay while I regroomed him.  I gave myself time to have about 20 minutes to warmup and he was delighted to see trainer because she immediately started stuffing him with cookies.

I love his half colored lip

We walked around and I focused on my body and getting him to stretch while she finished up the lesson before me.  He was a little skeptical about the water dripping in the drains and cranked his face towards trainer anytime we were near her (hoping for more cookies).  But overall he was pretty good about going right to work.

Always get piping ;)

Trainer had us do the typical serpentines and leg yields in and out on the circle help him really stretch into the bridle.  Then we moved up into the trot.  He is slowly getting more consistent in the trot and the transitions, while still pretty sketchy, are showing improvements.  It is tricky getting him to maintain the stretch and not hollow in the transition.

My latest obsession

We touched on the canter a little bit.  The left lead was really really good and the down transition was about as good as he can do and the trot he transitioned into was great.  He was pushing behind without any hollowing and stretching forward.  It felt fabulous.  With the right lead I couldn't get my body right and kept flubbing the transition and he was picking up the counter canter.  It was really nice and balanced and no sign of rushing.  After I screwed up three transitions he started getting a little frazzled so we didn't push the subject and called it a day.

I can't believe how much his ride-ablility has improved.  Hopefully I can get my body lined out sooner rather than later, because he goes so much better when I get myself straight.  Funny how that works.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Curvy Girl's Guide To Breeches

Amanda put together a much more comprehensive and serious guide (here) but I can't be that organized.  So I put together a list of what I have tried so far the winner for me are the ROMFH Champions.  Feel free to stop at that if you find breeches dull.  A little about my shape.  I am tall and have a 36" inseam. I carry most of my weight from my waist to my thighs.  I am going through these in roughly the order that I bought them.  PS I am not plastering pictures of my ass all over the internet.  Sorry not sorry for the lack of pictures.

Kerrits Microcord Tights (I don't know what I paid.  Size XL)
  • These have worn like iron.  They are the first pair of breeches I bought and I had a fall in them that resulted in a tear in the knee.  More than four years later they still are still hanging in there.  They are showing wear, but that is only to be expected after six years of at least twice a week use.
  • They are the reason I kept giving Kerrits a try.
  • They are sliming in the waist and for being tights don't show much.
  • Super comfortable.  They are snug but don't feel like they are strangling my legs.

Microcord Tights hidden with black on black, but look at baby Stinker

Kerrits IceFil Tights (I don't know what I paid for them, but it was too much.  Size XL)
  • They roll down
  • They show everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING
  • They do not have belt loops
  • I only wore them once and regretted that decision

FITS Free Flex Full Seat ($150, I was shocked I paid this much...must have been stressed.  Size XL)
  • These have fallen out of favor recently.  I used to wear them more because they were my only grey pair.
  • The material is quite thin and is not flattering in the crotch area.  It is fine for riding, but I don't wear them in public.
  • The pockets are mesh so don't put treats that crumble in them.  Nothing is worse than riding and getting bits of treat falling down your leg.
  • The bottoms are also mesh and are too small on my calf, which causes them to feel tight on my knee when I am riding.  If you have shorter legs you would probably be fine.
  • Also the full seat material is weird and squeaks when you walk.  Nothing makes me feel chubby like hearing my thighs squeak while walking.  It also gives you a serious case of swamp ass in the summer if it is hot and humid.

Flex Tights II and baby Pongo who is now doing novice with his girl

Kerrits Flex Tights II ($90.  Size 2X)
  • I sized up on these so I would have room for my thighs, so they were a quite loose in the waist.
  • I liked these, but in about 8 months of less than one ride per week the full seats had come apart at the seam in the butt (the holes were quite large before I noticed them and probably had started developing much earlier).  I wouldn't buy them again due to the poor quality.

SmartPak Pipers ($70.  Size 36R)
  • I tried sizing up so my thighs would fit.  It was a terrible idea and I am an idiot sometimes.
  • I hate these pants so much.  I have only worn them a handful of times.
  • They pull on my knee when I am riding and they are snug in the thighs still so I feel like I am perching on my horse.
  • I really wanted to like them, but I despise them.

The best I can do for the knit pipers

SmartPak Pipers Knit Midrise ($60. Size 34L)
  • Inconsistent sizing (one pair ruined my self esteem then I proceeded to make SB try them on and it ruined hers.  Note to self friends don't make friends try on pants just because they are pretty.  I finally gave them to my mom that weighs ~115 lbs and they fit her)
  • I bought these because they were pretty and I was stressed.
  • They require a belt, but I have squeezed them on over two other pairs of leggings this winter so there is a lot of stretch
  • They are very comfortable
  • I would buy them again for <$55 if I forgive SmartPak for being tools, but that probably isn't going to happen

ROMFH St. Tropez ($73.  Size 34R)
  • I really wanted these in longs, but ROMF stops making longs at size 32.  This is a pet peeve of mine because lots of companies stop making longs at a certain size.
  • I purchased these about 8 months ago and I ride in them fairly frequently.
  • They have some pilling in the full seats at the thighs, but I think that is from my chub rub more than riding because they don't have wear anywhere else.
  • These pull slightly on my knee when I am riding, but it isn't too bad (I gave up on full seats after these for this reason).
  • I have them in navy and grey.
  • The bottoms are a little snug.  I wish the sock bottom had more stretch
  • Overall, the fit is pretty good and they have been wearing well.

ROMFH Champion and the reason I don't want my ass plastered on the internet

Horse Crescendo Desiree Knee Patch ($60.  US 32R)
  • Honestly I bought these because they were purple.  I didn't realize they were 32s until I was writing this.  Oops...guess that explains why they are snug (I thought I was getting chubbier).
  • These are fairly comfortable.  They are high rise which I don't love but I would rather have high rise than my butt hanging out.
  • The silicone knee patches immediately lost the tackiness.
  • I wouldn't buy these again, but I do love the purple color.

Black Horse Elysia Full Seat ($100 US.  Size 16 (AUS) which I think is a 36 US)
  • I sized up for room in the thighs since I knew I couldn't return them (Australian company).
  • They started to wear quickly
  • Show dirt like a MoFo
  • Basically never wear them anymore

ROMFH Champion Euro Seat ($55.  US 34R)
  • I have been wanting to try these for almost a year, but didn't want to pay full price for them.  I found them on sale over Thanksgiving weekend 2016 (yet another oops my finger slipped and bought something else purchase).
  • They are designed to fit curvy figures.  I wish they came a little bit higher in the back because the way they are cut I have to wear a belt with them.  I think it is a me problem and not a design problem.
  • Like with the St. Tropez, I do wish the sock bottom had a bit more stretch.
  • I am now up to three pairs and they are my go to for lessons
  • I got SB hooked on them

Stinker's thoughts after reading the post

Others that I didn't keep
  • RJ Classics Prestige Gulf-  I loved the material, but there was something unfortunate going on in the crotch.  I did end up keeping these, but rarely wear them.
  • Aztec Diamond-  These are not cut for a curvy figure
  • Goode Rider Perfect Fit-  Not cut for a curvy figure 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Chunky Monkey

After Stinker prolonged his vacation I realized we were both getting chunky and out of shape and trainer was about to get back from vacation.  I figured that the quickest way to get Stinker back into shape would be some long trail rides and long lining.

New sparkles but I am still waiting on the new bonnet(s)

The long lining is great because I can really focus on transitions and cantering without him getting frazzled.  Under saddle he starts trying to anticipate and gets nervous doing repetitive transitions, but on the ground we can knock out 100+ transitions in 20 minutes without losing quality.

I am slowly getting better at maintaining the contact at the walk.  And the trot and canter are getting much better.  He is getting stronger and stronger in the canter and it is rare to see him slipping in the hind like he used to do all the time.  I really can't quite believe how much he has changed in the last few months.

Chunky caffeinated deer

We also finally got the squirrel back in the brain on the trail ride and he walked home totally normal and even stopped and waited for Cowboy fairly well.  We went about six miles and climbed lots of hills and even went off roading.  Stinker is slowly figuring out the whole weaving through brush instead of getting nervous and trying to plow through everything.  He still barges some, but he doesn't totally lock up his shoulders and prevent me from maneuvering him around the brush.

Hill tops make for the best pictures

Things are looking pretty good, especially since I got a lesson scheduled for this coming weekend.  I was very happy to get trainer's text first thing Monday morning asking if I wanted a lesson on Saturday.  I guess we are starting to grow on her since we are on her regular schedule and she isn't trying to pawn me off on other trainers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Eating Crow

It shouldn't be a secret that I love my Kastel sun shirts.  I own a boatload of them and wear them all the time.  So periodically when reviews pop up and say they are really hot, I have been like

And for that I am sorry, because I think I finally figured out the difference.  A few months ago, I finally found a navy one on sale enough for me to buy it.  And I was shocked as hell that it was awful in the heat.  So so terrible.  It has been great this winter and I frequently wear it.  But when it is hot nope nope nope.  Do NOT go there.

Of course me being me needed a reason for why they were so different.  I started with the fabric content and sure enough all of my other ones are 88%/12% nylon to spandex, but the hotter shirt is 92/8.  I don't know if anyone else cares, but it made me happy to finally figure out the mystery of the OMG hate vs OMG love reviews.

Bodywork All Around

When I found out trainer was going to be on vacation for most of January so I wouldn't have any Saturday lessons for awhile, I thought it would be a good time to schedule a bodywork appointment.  The lady that does the bodywork also is a physical therapist so I decided to have look at my hips since they have been so wonky.  Plus once I was spending all my money I figured I might as well throw something in for Cowboy.  So all three of us got put down for bodywork.

I thought about canceling Stinker, because he is quite defensive to start with and add in the sore hip I was a little worried that she wouldn't be able to do anything with him.  But I decided he probably needed all the help he could get since it is the side he tends to favor anyway and I could just give her a heads up.  Thankfully he didn't seem quite as sensitive on Saturday, because the first thing she said was "That is a good way to fracture a hip."  Luckily I was off the OMG FOREVER BROKEN train.

As expected he was very reluctant to let her work on his hind, but she did get some good releases.  And she spent a lot of time on his left shoulder, which tends to get wonky when his right hind is bothering him.  Overall it was a very productive session and made me feel better about things.

Cowboy is the opposite of Stinker when it comes to bodywork.  Stinker tends to fidget and try to avoid the releases.  Cowboy immediately got droopy and went to yawning and licking.  The most interesting part is she worked on Cowboy long before we got him, and she said he felt much better than before.  I have been concerned about his muscling, but I don't think there is anything to worry about and I just need to stop staring at dressage horses so much.

Finally it was my turn.  She set up her table in the barn aisle and Stinker stood with his head hanging over the fence the entire session.  A quick exam showed that my hips were uneven and my right hip was sitting lower than my left.  A few stretches later and one small tweak they were back to being even and I have a serious of exercises and stretches to do to hopefully keep them in position.  I really liked that she rides and knows exactly what I am talking about and how things effect the horse.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Who Needs A Hip?

In true Stinker form as soon as it stopped raining he banged himself up.  I am really not sure how he managed to do it, but it looks like he slammed his right hip into something quite hard.  He took 3-4 inches by 1.5 wide patch of hair off, but the part I found concerning was the swelling below the cut and the fact he wasn't trotting or cantering on his own.

Not that ugly, but quite ouchy

He loves to move, he is basically the energizer bunny in equine form so I get concerned when he isn't bouncing around.  I made him trot a little and while reluctant he was only slightly off so I made myself wait and see.

Friday I was starting to get nervous, because he still wasn't trotting on his own and he was still very sensitive to the touch.  I debated calling the vet, but decided there really wasn't much to be done since he was resting himself and the lameness was not getting worse.

Just wanted more time off with the nice weather

Luckily, by Saturday morning he wasn't as sensitive and was back to bouncing around.  I wasn't even upset when the little turd kept trotting away from me and wouldn't let me check the swelling.  The swelling is mostly gone and he seems to be moving normally which makes me very happy.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Work Da Booty

After the no hamster day, I decided to take advantage of one of the last non rainy days for the week and do a hill workout for Stinker.  The hill I chose to use starts off with a fairly long shallow steady climb and then ends with a short steep climb.  Overall you climb a little over 100 ft and it takes Stinker less than five minutes walking.

Top of the hill

I had intended to do the hill four or five times, but he was starting to sweat after three so I stopped there.  It was starting to cool off and he has not been clipped so I didn't want him to get too sweaty.  Silly me.  On the way home he decided he no longer knew how to walk and as a result he got himself quite worked up.

More of this please

I stayed consistent and would halt or circle when he started to get bouncy and lose the rhythm of the walk.  It was very slow progress and by the time we got back he still wasn't giving me the walk I wanted.  So he got to walk past the paddock (and his lover boy, Cowboy), turn around walk back past the empty lots and repeat.  Luckily Stinker picks up on things fairly quickly and realized he wasn't going to get to go back to the barn until he settled down.  After two passes, he immediately settled and started stretching for the contact.

Stinker wants more of this

Now if we could just do that without the dramatics I would be happy camper.  In the end he got a bit more of a workout than I had intended, but considering it rained Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I don't feel bad about it.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Wanted: One Hamster

Poor Stinker lost his hamster on Saturday.  It was a no good horrible rotten day for his poor little brain.  I grabbed him early because he was filthy.  It had rained and he found the one slightly muddy spot and rolled in it.  Both sides, face covered, all the way over.  Such a filthy pig.

He started getting anxious in the barn and kept getting pushy and wouldn't respect my space.  I tried distracting him with hay, nope hamster was fully lost.  He finally calmed a little when Cowboy was brought in, but still almost murdered my saddle twice when I was tacking him up.  Needless to say I was rather annoyed and making threats (not that he cared).  I hoped he would settle once we started moving, but he didn't really settle until we climbed a steep hill.  Then he perked up and started acting like his normal self.

Unfortunately, on the way back down the one trail we ran into a large group (10+) of dune buggies.  Usually Stinker is better than Cowboy with dirt bikes/dune buggies/traffic, but not without his hamster.  Stinker hit the brakes and refused to go forward and felt like he was about to spin and bolt.  I decided the best option was to not press the issue and just get off.  I was rather annoyed, because the people (who were stopped and out of the dune buggies) did not even leave a path for the horses to get through.  So we had to scramble through the brush and drop off a bank to get around them.

But poor Stinker was totally frazzled and I had to walk him for about another half mile before he settled enough.  He was pretty twitchy for the rest of the ride and was quite relieved to get home and turned out again.  I haven't felt his brain so out of sorts for a really long time.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Less Than Perfect

Stinker has been excellent for the lessons, way better than average.  He adores trainer and puts his best hoof forward for all of our lessons.  We finally had an off lesson.  It actually made me feel a little better, because the inconsistency at home isn't just due to my inability to ride.  He wasn't bad, just tense and frazzled.

Tack room is scary

After the fact I decided it was caused by his right hind being a little sore.  My main reasoning behind that is he would not let me post on the correct diagonal when it loaded the right hind.  He would tense and jig and toss me off.  He used to do this when his right hind was weaker, but over the summer and the fall it strengthened up enough that things were fine.  Plus he has been being especially bratty in the paddock.

He had been running circles around Cowboy for awhile

Anyway back to the lesson, it was nice to get a few more tips on how to manage him when he is having a bad day.  The bad days are a lot fewer and easier to manage, but more information and tools never hurt.  Most of it was reminding me that my riding has to be better and more precise when he gets like that.  I need to be steady and firm, but not harsh.

Post lesson noms

He feels more secure with contact, but at the same time when he gets frazzled he bounces off the contact a lot.  My timing and position need to be on point to get him to settle.  Luckily with trainer reminding me how to ride and getting my hips in line, we were able to get him some what consistent. He never settled as much as I would have liked, but he was stretching and working correctly.

Trainer asked me if I wanted to canter and I declined.  She did not push the issue even though I could tell she really wanted to work on it.  I liked that she took my word for what I was feeling with him and didn't push for more.  While I do have a tendency to error on the side of too cautious, I do think cantering him would have been a very poor choice, especially if he was a little sore.  Sadly that was my last lesson for three weeks.

My plan is to really work on getting him back to being settled and being able to use my leg more.  Hopefully the weather will keep cooperating, so far this winter has been really mild and the footing has been holding up really well.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Year of the Canter

I am dubbing 2018 as the year of the canter.  It doesn't feel like it is a stretch goal.  It feels attainable, but I also am waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Stinker has had me so well trained with various physical issues that I am just waiting (and hoarding my money) for something else to pop up.

But I want to have Stinker consistent in the walk trot and canter.  I think physically everything is ok, especially if I can keep getting him out on the hills this winter.  It has helped to build up his hind end so much, and so far the winter has been pretty mild.  I just need a little more daylight and spending less of it at work.

I want to put my budget towards lessons and saving to replace trusty rusty, so I am not planning on doing any showing this year.  Last year I wanted to take him places so he was some what used to hauling before the move.  But he has been in a show environment and it didn't blow his mind.  We see a reasonable amount of traffic at the lessons, plus he has short hauls to the lessons on a regular basis.

As far as goals for me, I am not setting anything in stone.  My life still feels upside down from all of the changes and I don't want to add in goals.  If I don't meet goals I have full control over I feel like a failure which isn't a great feeling.  Maybe in the next quarter I will feel more settled and have a better idea of what is sustainable for me.