It appears I am out of space to upload media here on the blog. I already have the premium version and can’t see an option to increase it. Maybe it is because I am on my phone?
So….what do I do now? I love using media and love uploading my videos and pictures here. I switched from blogger to WordPress to have easier access to uploading straight from my phone but maybe I need to go back there?
Folks, I’m stressed. Even through 100 hour work weeks in residency, so many board exams I’ve lost count and starting a business, I can’t recall any time I’ve been more stressed than I am right now. There is not a single moment of my life that hasn’t been changed thanks to the virus. I’m still able to work since I’m a physician, however my office is slow and I’m stuck between trying to keep my wonderful ladies paid and trying to not go bankrupt. Add in the daily call with the hospital for my required corona updates which often times goes against what the talking heads are saying and it’s a lot.
Friday I said enough was enough. All the stress, all the decisions would still be there come Monday. I took the weekend off, put down my phone, stopped reading/responding to anything about the virus, stopped talking about it and forced my brain and body to de stress.
It was just what I needed.
Friday became a horse day. The morning was spent cursing the dressage gods as I built my own dressage court. It took nearly 3 hours and over 6,000 steps and was still a little wonky. Apparently making straight lines isn’t my thing. But…I did manage to put together a serviceable and mostly accurate dressage court before Trainer AB pulled in for a Come to Jesus dressage lesson.
I debated having her come to me, but she comes alone, it is outside and she touched nothing. I opened all my gates, tacked up my own horse and stayed 6’ away from her at all times. It seemed as safe as anything.
This lesson was pretty important. After the disaster that was my last dressage outing, I needed to know if this was even something I wanted to pursue. I don’t care if I win, but coming in last and feeling like shit after each test isn’t enjoyable at all. Could we improve? What would it take?
Trainer AB dealt with my initial verbal diarrhea about it all. The consistent comments across all three tests I’ve done have included: counterbent, bad geometry, not against rail and falls on inside shoulder. Trainer AB said it was time to take dressage seriously and buckle down. As a side note, she explained that with new pairs to Eventing she focuses on jumping first as those phases are more dangerous. A bad dressage score may stink but a bad stadium round can get you hurt. Once stadium is doing good and xc is safe, she dials in the dressage. Apparently we are now in the “dialing in dressage” phase.
What proceeded was a full hour of getting my butt kicked. Oh my but I haven’t been that sore or tired in a long long time. We began by lowering my stirrups a hole and then continued to work on each individual element of the BN A test since that was the one we both remembered at the time.
It was….hard and yet really enjoyable to get down to the nitty gritty versus looking only at the big “don’t get eliminated in dressage” picture.
The basic gist of it all is that I need to be firmer with Eeyore. Instead of kinda sorta hoping we make a circle at E, I need to insist on it. Demand it. Not be mean or harsh but set him up and make him realize that when we enter the little white box, it is time to get serious. Trainer AB also helped me understand tiny details such as aiming for just left of the letter when doing the free walk diagonal and when exactly to start packaging him back up for the medium walk.
It. Was. Eye. Opening.
By the time we ran through the entire test I finally knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing and when. There was no more hanging on and hoping to survive. I rode every single stride. It was so nice to run through the test and hear her constant feedback and then to feel the difference it made.
I have a lot of homework but now that I know what I’m striving to achieve, it is going to be a lot easier to work on. I still don’t love dressage but it is starting to grow on me. No change to pure jumpers just yet I suppose.
Stop going to horse shows. Stop going to group lessons. Stop going to clinics. Stop going on group rides. Stop hanging with groups at the barn.
Stop going to get a hair cut. Stop drinking with friends. Stop having dinner parties. Stop in store shopping for tack, equipment, clothes.
STOP IT ALL. NOW.
Why? Because its your responsibility to be a mature adult. Because even if these feel like important tasks to you, they are not essential to survive. Just because a clinic or a show is still running, it does not mean it is a good idea to go. Because it isn’t a good idea to go. It is a very bad idea to go.
Here is the bottom line deal: if we allow COVID-19 to run amok through our communities because we believe that our own sanity in keeping life normal, keeping routines set, going to places we want to go is more important than some stupid safety warning, then we see the same amount of morbidity and mortality that has occurred in Italy.
The simple truth is that we do not have enough ICU beds, gloves, masks and respirators to support the number of people who will become infected and require those items. People will then die on a mass scale simply because we will not have the resources to treat them. read that line again. PEOPLE WILL DIE ON A MASS SCALE NOT BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERTISE TO TREAT THEM BUT BECAUSE WE WILL NOT HAVE THE NECESSARY BEDS AND SUPPLIES TO DO SO.
And why will we not have those? Because you decided that a horse show or clinic was more important. Sounds pretty dumb, doesn’t it?
The entire point of this shut down is to slow the progression of the infection so that while the same percentage of people may still get infected, it will be at a slower rate thus allowing the ICU beds to empty, the ventilators to be freed up, the masks and gloves to be restocked. The point is to avoid making decisions on who should live and who can be allowed to let die. To avoid looking at two people equally ill and equally deserving a fighting chance at life, but knowing you only have one bed available.
Everyone is being impacted by this pandemic. EVERYONE. Some of us are being hit financially as our businesses are being shut. Some of us are losing our jobs. Some of us our working longer hours, being quarantined from our family as we work directly with those infected. Some are having to cancel plans and disrupt their lives.
Make the right choice. Your right to ride your horse is not more important than someone’s right to live is.
If you want to have life return to normal quickly, you will stay home. Limit interactions. Avoid groups. Cancel show plans, group lessons, clinics. You will do your part to stop the spread or at the very least slow it down.
Folks, if the first part of my day was one big giant cluster, the second part was my redemption. It was glorious. I’m still grinning. My face hurts. I don’t care.
Eeyore fell asleep at the trailer and napped away our two hour break between phases while I hydrated, ate fruit snacks and wondered why I was there.
I got back on him 25 minutes before my jump time and did a brief flat warm up before popping over the cross rail, carefully avoiding the large ascending oxer in the middle of the three warm up options. He was so much better behaved mostly because he was tired but also because I had my beloved Pessoa back on. I love this bit because it allows me to talk quietly to him and then shut up and he is so much lighter and more responsive.
Anyway…I was happy with my cross rail warm up but then Trainer AB showed up and pointed me at the middle oxer. A quick reminder to her that she has not yet had me doing oxers in lessons was met with a shrug and a “nows a good time”.
The warm up then became a mini lesson where she had me coming at the oxer at a canter on a left lead but then landing and making the sharp right turn to come back at it off the right lead making a left bend at the landing. It was hard for the fact that it was a sharp turn and there were other people to avoid but it also got me sitting up, looking where I wanted to go way earlier than I normally do, and riding more aggressively before and after the oxer.
We left warm up ready to go and headed to the ring with two ahead of me.
I then proceeded to have the best jump round of my life. It was AMAZING. We cantered every fence with only two breaks to trot when I wasn’t sure we were on the correct lead and a sharp turn was coming up, but instead of trotting the fence I picked the canter right back up.
I have never had a round like that. He was easy to rate, game to go over everything and felt perfect. We hit 5 hard when he got a bit lazy and I caught myself looking back at it which is stupid. I yelled at myself though and got my eyes back on 6 before it was an issue. We were clean and we were under time for a double clear stadium round at height and with a lot of filler.
I left that arena grinning and met Trainer AB at the rail with an even bigger grin on her face. The round was not perfect but damn was it close enough for me. It was everything folks. Everything.
It also brought us up from last to 7th out of 11. Not too shabby after all. One more love higher and we’d have come home with a ribbon.
Eeyore got all the pats, half a bag of Nicker Makers and put on the trailer to rest and eat hay while we waited another couple hours before M had a jumper round on one of Trainer’s lesson horses, a gorgeous grey mustang with ice blue eyes. M had told me one of her bucket list items was to do a show here and while we couldn’t make a full show happen, Trainer was nice enough to offer him for the jumper round, bring him and stay the extra two hours to wait for her to go. She is an amazing woman.
I have soooooo many thoughts to share but for now all I’m going to say is that Eeyore gives me wings. He isn’t easy, but damn that horse folks. I can’t imagine having another in my barn in his place. I adore him and he isn’t going anywhere even if he hates dressage.
It all started with this text on Thursday with my Farrier:
I had hoped to sneak out of work a little early on Friday to do all my show prep: clean my tack, ride Eeyore in his dressage legal bit for the first time in months, set up my dressage court to run through my test at least once before the show, pack, bathe the beast etc….
Except I didn’t get out early. In fact I got out later than ever. Ok. No big deal. It stays light later I could still sneak in a short ride.
So there I was at 5:15pm the evening before the show putting a hoof boot on my horse and throwing all my plans to ride out the window.
I called the show office but no farrier was scheduled to be there the next day. My farrier could not come out that evening and Trainer didn’t get a response from hers. It looked like the show was a scratch so I did what every good horsewoman in this situation would do: I went to Tipsy Taco to drown my sorrow in queso.
While there a friend called me to tell me that she got in touch with her farrier for me and he was happy to meet me and tack back on the shoe, which I fortunately found in the pasture. God, I love horse people.
This did mean that I needed to switch back into horse show mentality at 8:30pm. I had a disgusting horse that hadn’t been ridden since Tuesday, muddy tack, an unpacked trailer and only a vague sense of my dressage test. I went home and went to bed.
The next morning I did my best to knock the two inch thick layer of grime off my disgusting horse, roughly cleaned my tack and threw everything in the trailer so I could meet the farrier at 8:30 am. My dressage time was 10:58 am and I planned to get on at 10:15 am. The farrier arrived right on time, tacked it back on in 15 seconds (omg but Eeyore was the best boy! I have to write an entire post on how great he was at this show in general) and then spent 30 minutes discussing biomechanics and his hooves. Which, great. I love the education but I have to show and I don’t have time for this right now.
At this point I figured we were a go for this show and all the gremlins were exhausted. Hahahahahahah. Nope.
When I went to check in, I walked past Trainer and said hello. I mentioned that perhaps I didn’t dress appropriately. You see, I had grabbed my dark green tights in the pitch black of my room trying not to wake the hubby that morning and while I did have my white show shirt and coat it really wasn’t a great dressage picture. Plus every single other person was in white or tan. This was a schooling show and I’m sure they wouldn’t have said anything but I really stuck out like the red headed step child.
Of course this is Trainer and she just said “go find my trailer. I have tan breeches inside”. Which then led to a 20 minute hunt for a trailer I only vaguely remembered. Eventually I sorta guessed which was hers. I laughed as I slid into a pair of tan breeches I found and hoped I hadn’t just stolen pants from a stranger.
At this point it was 950 and I had wanted to be on by 10:15. I still had to tack up and change into my show shirt/coat and my nerves were shot. I managed to get on him in time, but then realized I forgot my gloves and just said screw it.
I ran into Bette at this point and jokingly said something along the lines of getting all the issues out before I mounted so now the ride would be amazing.
Someone. Please. Make. Me. Stop.
I’m going to blame a lot of the warm up on me. Is there a class on how to deal with it? I get soooo tense. I hate it. One person claims the entire far end with her trainer and stays on a circle that you can’t get around. Another person is doing a huge figure 8 that is sorta haphazard so no matter what I did I’m cutting her off. Others are zig zagging. At one point I just halted in the center and hyperventilated. I was doing my best to pass left shoulder to left shoulder but people were going right and hugging the rail which made it impossible and I froze.
Which obviously was great on my wound up, hadn’t been ridden in forever horse who doesn’t handle warm up all that well himself.
At this point I saw Trainer waving to me at the rail. I made my way over and she offered to get on and canter him around. I asked if that was legal and she said it was fine. I wasn’t so sure but I was happy to hand him over.
And then he promptly bucked her off.
Want to feel smaller than small? Have your horse throw your Trainer in the dirt in a crowded warm up when you aren’t really sure she was actually allowed to even be on him in the first place.
This show was going super.
She got back on, rode him hard, he looked like he regretted his life decisions hard core and then she gave him back to me. Thankfully by this point there were only a few people left in the warm up arena, so I kept my brain from melting and we actually had a decent warm up.
Before long we entered at A and laid down the worst dressage test in history. It isn’t even worth a play by play.
On the plus side we did do all the things we were supposed to do when we were suppose to do them. Even the odd canter circles at A which aren’t done fully at the canter. We got both our leads correctly, didn’t canter the entire test and stayed inside the white fence. All base line good things.
We also went around counterbent as he gawked at the jumper ring next door, pretended to be afraid of the rail/letters and remained tense. I knew we’d get dinged for not being on the rail, but I also knew that putting my inside leg on to shove his orange butt over would break him to canter and I decided to take the hit on my track versus breaking gait.
We scored 43.3. Ouch. All comments were either “not on rail” or “counterbent”. End comments were “score will lower once proper bend and track achieved”. Which. Yup. Can’t argue that.
Trainer said it’s time to learn shoulder something. Fore? In? Can’t remember at the moment. But she said it would help with his penchant for going around looking outside the arena the entire time. I also want to discuss the bit options with her. I hate this full cheek. He completely blows me off and I have zero half halt or ability to get him round. Yes, I know bits aren’t magical and it is a rider issue. He goes so lovely and round in the Pessoa and I feel like I can talk to him then become quiet in that bit versus screaming and him still putting his hooves in his ears and going “lalalalalalla I can’t hear you“ in the full cheek. But sadly the Pessoa isn’t dressage legal so I’m going to talk to Trainer about it and see what my options are.
Anyway here is the video if you want to see it in all its three minute glory
I went back to the trailer to let us both rest before our stadium round at 12:55 and contemplated if he was the right horse for me after all, if Eventing was the right discipline and if maybe I shouldn’t have even come.
After having a month off with only one Trainer ride during that time, Eeyore is officially back to work. He looked a little puzzled when, after a good grooming Saturday, I grabbed my tack instead of a handful of treats. Sorry Buddy, it’s March and time to get back to work.
It started with a lesson Saturday late afternoon. Honestly, after me not riding him for a month I expected a pretty bad go at it. The horse I had a year ago would have been unrideable or at least not rideable in any productive way. But the horse I have now? He had his opinions and lost a lot of flexibility at the trot, but all in all he got to work and we picked up nearly where we had left off.
The lesson was pretty straight forward and was focused on waking us both back up and shaking off the cob webs. After working on a 20m circle w/t/c we moved to jumping and warmed up over a one stride cross rail to vertical combination.
Eeyore was pretty high on life at that point and we flailed a good bit but we managed to graduate from that to our three jump course of verticals set on a very sharp “S” curve with the focus on getting the proper approach to each and not losing the balance or momentum through the steep turns.
We did ok the first time through and even better the second and then she called it quits and sent us up to the dressage arena to walk through Intro C (which sucks BTW, what is up with the canter circles not done fully at the canter?!). The take aways from the lesson were the same as always: sit UP for the love of all things and be more precise with my aides. I tend to ask and keep asking which allows him to ignore me. She wants me to ask clearly and then stop and ask again if needed. Things I know and forget all the time.
It was the best lesson I could have hoped for after a month break from the saddle and I’m so happy with Eeyore. I signed up for a CT on Saturday at starter and I feel like we have a shot at not embarrassing ourselves. Currently Trainer has it in her head that I’m going to do the starter CT and then end with a jumper round or two at BN but we will see.
Then on Sunday morning Emma came to visit!!!! She was on her way home and swung by for a bit to meet and hang out. I was sooooo excited to finally meet her. She was the very first blogger I followed and I doubted we’d ever meet with her living so far away.
I quickly hopped on Eeyore to make sure he wasn’t going to be too extra then handed the reins off to Emma to try him out. It’s always interesting for me to hear other people’s take on him. With anyone new he pulls out his favorite evasion to work which is just to canter everywhere and the ride becomes a jumble of gaits and mishmash of pace and loss of rhythm but she handled it well and soon he knocked it off and got down to business.
When she had enough Orange Fun I got back on and hopped him over a couple jumps to show how happy he is to jump. We kinda biffed every single one but I wasn’t riding all that great and was just having fun.
It was awesome to get to meet Emma, the morning was gorgeous and I absolutely love watching others ride my horse. Not everyone feels that way and that’s fine, but for me? I’ll share the ride any time.
Eeyore’s break is officially over. Hopefully the show runs this weekend. Rain is in the forecast pretty much every single day now through next Monday so I’m not sure how that will go but we will do our best to be ready for it if it does run. If it is canceled we will re route to the Riverbend fun schooling hunter jumper show the following weekend.
While it isn’t feasible for us, monetarily or time wise, to show M the entire USA, I have been trying my best to fit in ways to show off some of the different parts of the east coast. She knows SC well and has been up to NC many times. We managed to sneak in a work trip to FL in the fall to show her the Gulf Coast and the Everglades which was unexpected. She is an avid skier, spending a week every February traveling to Austria/Germany/Italy to ski, and I started thinking that maybe we could manage a short trip up north somewhere to get her a tiny taste of American skiing. It wouldn’t be as nice as going to Colorado, but it was better than nothing.
I made plans way back in December for the end of February which was nice because then I snagged a pair of ski bibs and a nice coat for Wyatt for Christmas which he enjoyed getting once he realized what they were for. Those plans ended up dying the week of the trip which sucked a tad because then I had to eat my deposit, but a quick google search found a great spot closer to home and since it was the weekend after a holiday weekend, rooms were still available.
We grabbed the kids from school at lunch time on Friday so that it would still count as a full day of school for them and made the drive to Massanutten Virginia arriving just after dinner time. We checked into the two bedroom townhouse and settled in for the night.
The next morning we hit the ski slopes as soon as they opened. I hadn’t been on a pair of skis since 2004, Dusty the same, and Wyatt…never. But we had a near pro with us in M and figured she would help us out. It took no time to snag all the rental gear and make our way to the bunny hill.
We ended up staying out there skiing for 4 hours before we were all tired and cold. The day was near perfect with crisp blue skies and a high of 35F, but they ran the snow makers non stop and the icy mix coated you in seconds.
We handed back in the ski gear at 1230pm and headed back to the townhouse to change into….swim gear!
The afternoon was then spent at the indoor water park until we were all exhausted, dehydrated and starving.
I had spied a nice looking Italian Bistro on the drive up the mountain and we headed there for dinner once we were worn out from the tubes and slides. Dinner did not disappoint and we all crashed that night pretty early.
We left bright and early the next day and made it home around lunch time. We all laughed when we got out of the van into a 60F and sunny day. Why did we leave the warmth to go to the cold?? It was awesome though and worth the shivering.
After a quick nap, I jumped on the tractor to drag the arena for the first time since November then mowed all the non pasture grass we have as well. I would have loved to get the first pasture mowing done, but the big field takes 6 hours and I didn’t have close to that much time. The weather called for rain Mon-Thursday (which is proving true, ugh) which will limit the ability to work on the farm for a while again.
It was a perfect mini trip. The drive up was gorgeous, the resort perfect for our needs, everyone had fun and nobody got hurt. All my recent work related stress was long forgotten and honestly I feel so much and more refreshed for it. Now for the rain to stop so I can ride my beast before the CT on the 14th that I am signed up for!