Wednesday, April 2

This Is Not a Joke

I wanted to post this entry yesterday, but I feared people would only think it was an April Fools joke and never come back. This is, I believe, my return to regular blogging. I have been dealing with a few issues that led me to be a bit wishy washy with this blog. First, I had a hard time deciding on what type of writing I wanted to do here, but I also lost a dear friend last year and have spent the last year feeling not at all myself. Earlier attempts at bringing the blog back in a "fake it til you make it" approach left me feeling frustrated. I was empty inside and words would float around my head but never solidify into cohesive thoughts. The good news is, I've been doing a lot of training, riding, and thinking. Now that I'm feeling a little more myself, I'm ready to share my thoughts with you! BUT FIRST... We are going to start off with an update on Betty the wondermare.

After our fantastic outing at the SAFE show, Betty and I continued to work on riding, showmanship, and having her feet handled. I struggled to find enough time to ride her at the facility she was at as the days became shorter. Without arena lights,  I was still heading out to feed her each day, but I wasn't able to ride much. So, in October, she moved to The Red Horse Farm, my home base of operations and where two of my lessons horses live. We spent the next four months not quite riding as much as I'd like but still progressing steadily. Then we went and did this:

Her first time on cattle showed a lot of promise, but I realized how many buttons I still needed to install before she would be ready to work them again. We started working with more focus and with an aim at better body control. Betty was really enjoying her large pasture at RHF, but I was again running into issues with her housing arrangement. It was beginning to get hard to catch her, and I found myself making excuses not to ride just so I could avoid the half hour of chasing her around the pasture it would take to bring her in. In January, I had a serious talk with myself about getting this mare on track. At this point, she had about the equivalent of 45 days of training. We could walk/trot/canter and had basic steering but little else.

So, again, Betty was loaded on the trailer and moved a little further north along the road to Lazy M Stables. This has become my main training barn, and it made sense to have Betty where I do most of my riding. Since her move in February she has really come a long way. We have been taking lessons with a reining trainer, a dressage trainer, and hauling out to work some cattle. She has learned how to bend (relaxation is still a work in progress), is much better balanced, works well off my leg, and is starting to take horse strides instead of short choppy pony strides. This little mare has been such a joy to work with, and it turns out she's pretty talented too. She clearly was bred for the types of events I want to do and has such a steady temperament it's amazing.

So why bother to blog about her again after so long? Well, let me tell you what we have coming up! Starting April 1, we are participating in a 14 Week Riding Challenge. Between now and July 12, the goal is to complete 40 rides and a total of 60 hours together. Since we usually ride 5 days a week, I am hoping to complete this challenge by the end of May. Here are a few photos from our first ride of the challenge.

She's still pretty fuzzy but has put on some good muscle since the fall. These are our official "before" pictures for the challenge.

Baby slide stop tracks are starting to happen. Sometimes she braces too much, but it's a work in progress.

The reason for the challenge and the blogging, is to help keep me accountable and track my progress towards something that's already keeping me up at night with excitement. June 7-8, Betty and I will be heading across the mountains to clinic with Les Vogt. This guy is one of the greats, and I never expected to have a chance to ride with him. Needless to say, I am super excited and want to be sure that Betty and I are prepared to take home as much from the clinic as possible.

For some reason I can't get this video to embed, but it's a great explanation of his training approach and our road map for the next month at least:

We are currently improving pieces 1 and 2, and I just introduced step 3. So, we are well on our way. I'm also focused on getting her more relaxed and steady at the lope. Once these skills are a little further developed, I will put together a list of more specific goals. I still need to be careful of pushing her too hard, and I want to get out on the trails as soon as we dry out a bit here. Check back often to see what we're up to! 

No comments:

Post a Comment