Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sun and Sand

January 22-28, 2012

            I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, but only down time, or time away from the stresses of everyday life, or a vacation replenishes the soul.  We can accomplish this in an hour of doing nothing or something we enjoy.  We can go somewhere for a day or for a couple of days.  We can go on a vacation for a week, with the family, the spouse, or alone.  Do whatever it takes to regain some inner strength or peace or energy.  We all need energy.  We were shown in the Centered Riding Book 1, horses need energy to stay within their bodies for great movement.  We need energy to stay within our bodies, to keep going whatever we want to do as best as we can. We need energy to keep up with the movement of our horses.

Hubby and I went on our vacation this past week.  The sun, sand and beach were calling our names.  The first week of vacation went very fast.  Time goes too fast, as always.  We walked the beach every morning.  We were at the pool every late morning and afternoon.  We tried to exercise as much as we could in the gym.  We met new friends and went out to dinner with them.  It’s amazing who you find that has common interests.  Our new friends were in their early 70’s and had a farming background.  We even enjoyed a sunset sail, where the rum flowed and those who wanted to, could use the rope swing and drop into the still waters below.  Everyone is encouraged to try, even though I didn’t this time.  Many do, because of their “liquid encouragement”.  LOL

This 2nd week of vacation has been a repeat of the first week, with more relaxation time.  We missed a few walks on the beach and a few times in the gym.  But we are more toned, our legs are in better shape, and we are definitely tanned.  We met new friends, a couple from Wisconsin who were there meeting cousins, and friends of the cousins, from Germany.  People were friendly, you said hi to everyone, and people were ready to kick back and visit.  Saturday came too fast.

Even though I could actually stay longer, who couldn’t when the temps are in the 80’s every day, I am ready for home.  I’m ready to ride, and ride more horses, and at longer distances.  I’m ready to start training, and if there happen to be no training horses, than I have  two 4 year olds that need my attention.  I have 2 yearlings I need to start handling.  I will have my young horses desensitized, lunging and listening better before they are even riding.  I hope to share my experiences with others, and ride more horses for other people, but if that doesn’t happen, then I’ll be on my horses.  I’ll work on my Centered Riding skills.  I will work on being the best horsewoman that I can be.

            I’ve enjoyed my time away, to regroup, to revitalize, to reenergize.  Now is the time to take that energy to the next level.  Just as with horses, keep some of that energy inside you so that what you do, and become better.  Don’t use all your energy, or like a tired horse, you will have no energy left over to perform.  Think about how you can keep some energy in reserve.  Think about how you can take those reserves and perform to the best of your ability.

            Tomorrow starts the first day home (which was today).  I wonder how my energy reserve is?  (I rode for 2 hours and saw the sundset).  I hope I can continue the 2 weeks of exercising and weight machines and walking and continue exercising at home.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Give Yourself Rest Time

January 20-22, 2012

Give Yourself Rest Time

                After a week of exercising, I took last weekend off.  Last week, Hubby and I walked 3 miles each day for 5 days, as well as spending some time on the elliptical and weight machines.  We worked on building up leg muscles, arm and shoulder strength, and overall endurance.  By Friday, our bodies were feeling a little sore.  We knew we were working muscles we haven’t been working during regular chore time.

                It was time to give our muscles rest instead of continually working them. We felt the tightness in our legs and a little stiffness in our shoulders.  Time off allows the muscles to relax without needed to take an aspirin.  I feel if you take a medicine because you are sore, you are feeling better but putting a band-aid on the soreness and not allowing your muscles to heal.

                I think horses go through the same thing.  We ride them too much before they are conditioned and they become sore.  We continue to ride without time off.  Do they have a chance to rest sore muscles?

                I’m sure soreness in our own bodies may have meant that we did a little too much too soon.  This week, I’m doing the same amount of walking and elliptical, but I’ve decreased the amounts on the weight machines by a small amount.  I’ve taken away some of the strain.  My shoulders feel better.

                With horses, slow conditioning is better, adding distance as the horse gets into shape, then adding more speed as each distance level.  I feel that is the way I’m conditioning myself.  Now, I’ll stay at the level that I’m at and slowly add distance on the elliptical and slowly add weights each week on the machines.

                The point is to stay healthy, and keep our horses healthy and sound.  It is amazing how strong you can get with a little time of structured exercise.  I’m thinking the same for our horses.  Develop a structured plan of conditioning to keep your horse moving on down the trail or in the arena.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Burning More Calories

January 17-19, 2012

ProForm 590E Elliptical -

Burning More Calories

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012

3 ¼ miles walking

15 min elliptical, 120 calories

4 weight machines with 1 or 2 reps each

Wed, Jan 18, 2012

1 ½ miles walking

15 min elliptical, 130 calories

4 weight machines with 2 or 3 reps each, adding extra weight to each machine today

Thur, Jan 19, 2012

3.35 miles in 1 hr, 20 min

15 min elliptical, 135 calories

Each day, endurance is building. I can go faster on the elliptical, burning more calories.  Strength is building. I can add more weights and do more reps.

I’m starting to see the definition in the arm and calf muscles.

I hope this stamina continues when I get back to riding when the weather warms up!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Walking to build endurance

Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

Walking is good for the horse and also for the rider.  Yesterday, hubby and I walked 3.25 miles in 1 hour 15 min.  Our max speed was 4.3 mph.  Sometimes, it's hard to get a QH to walk out that fast.  But now I know if I can walk that fast, my horse better pick up speed at the walk!

Now, how many calories do you burn while walking?  For the mileage, at a moderate fast pace, I burned 224 calories and hubby burned 345 calories, based on our weights.  It doesn't seem quit fair that I walked the same and burned less calories??? (321 calories at another source that I goggled for both our weights).

From yesterday, it takes burning 3500 calories to lose a pound.  We burned 100 calories in 10 minutes on the eliptical machine.  Today, I worked 15 minutes, burning 150 calories.  I would need to use the machine 50 minutes for 7 days to burn off 1 pound.  I'm also adding in some weight machines, which should burn off some calories.  My goal is to work 30-40 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes on the weights, and while watching my food intake, see if I can lost a pound a week. 

I just read where it's not safe to lose more than 2 # a week.  Slow and steady is better.  It sounds like I'm conditioning a horse!

Monday, January 16, 2012

1 Kilocalories is 1000 calorie

Sunday, Jan 15, 2012


1 Kilocalories is 1000 calorie

Yesterday, I started back up on the illeptical machine.  I pedaled for 10 minues, burning .1000 kilocalorie.  At first I thought 1000, then saw the period before it.  I had to google to see how that converted to calories.  I burned 100 calories.

ok, so what does that mean?  How many calories do you need to burn to lose a pound?   I googled that same question, and here is what I found:


What It Takes to Lose a Pound

Diet and Weight Loss Tutorial

Unit of WeightApproximate CaloriesApproximate Kilojoules

A pound of body fat equates to approximately 3500 calories. So if you have a calorie deficit of 500 calories (meaning that you burn 500 calories more than you eat each day) you would lose approximately one pound per week:
500 x 7 = 3,500

It's easy to see that a calorie deficit of 1000 calories would mean that you'd lose approximately two pounds per week. And that's a good number to remember, because two pounds a week is commonly accepted as the maximum rate of weight loss that is healthy. Losing weight too quickly has other disadvantages. (from

That 10 minutes on the exercise equipment burned 100 calories. I need to up that workout to 500 calories, so 45-50 minutes per day, for 7 days.  That is what it takes to lose just 1 pound!

I'm also adding a few weight machines to build up arm and leg muscle.  That should also burn some calories!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Great Horsetrailriders Distance Derby

The Great Horsetrailriders Distance Derby

Friday's temps at 30 wasn't as cold as Thursday's 20 degrees!  I rode both days.  I had 5 layers on Thursday and was almost too warm.  Friday, I didn't layer as heavily, with only a sweatshirt, hoodie and winter coat on, and I was warm.  Even Shaggy was sweaty.

I'm riding more due to The Great Horsetrailriders Distance Derby.  Tammy of Horsetrailriders, with a friend Christine, has started this fun competition.  We are to GPS our rides and record our distances.  There is no big prize, just the satisfaction of riding your horse as ofter as you can and recording the miles you ride your horse.

I rode Thursday when it was 20 degrees, mostly due to my Hubby.  He called me a weenie, and to put on those winter clothes I have, and saddle up. So I did. I was almost 2 warm, as I had many layers on.  Fleece line jeans, winter boots, 2 sock, 2 gloves, 3 sweatshirts, 2 jackets, orange fleece head band and a beanie.  My helmet wouldn't fit.  This was the first time in almost 5 years that I didn't wear my helmet when I rode.  I had a lot of fleece layers on, but next time, I'll make sure my helmet will go on too.

Friday was warmer.  I didn't wear as many layers and I was still overdressed.  Tha's good, as I don't like being cold.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When a teenager loses her best friend

One of my friends brought her daughter to me for lessons when she was young, maybe 8 or 10 years olds.  Spike had a mind of his own.  He pulled on her.  And she was little and didn't have the strength to make him listen.  She got older.  Spike got older.  She learned to make him listen.  Spike started listening better.  And the girl and the horse bonded and went on to have a beautifully, wonderful partnership.  And they could run!  I remember when she couldn't even make him trot.  They became a competitive team.

She said tonight...
Dear Spikee,
Why did you have to leave so soon? We made a promise when I was little that we would both make it to 200 years old! What happen to that promise bud? I know you don't like it when I cry but this I can't help but cry. You were my best friend and taught me everything I know when it comes to riding. I wish I could've said goodbye when you were still here but now that youre gone, It's too late. We had our ups and downs but you got me through it no matter how hard it was. You'll always have a place in my heart that will never be forgotten. I love you Spike.
Rest In Peace. ♥
January 12, 2012
I love you bud.

My heart breaks.  And I think about Finny.  And I think about her mom losing Johnny.  The hurt is there again.  But not so painful, as this is what I told her...

...there are so many of us who understand. Including your mom. Our hearts just break in 2. We wonder why, and why now? Why not that other horse? Not the horse that was so loved? I truly believe in God's plan for us, and for our ...horses. He took our beloved best friend home to be with Him. There is a lesson in there for us. Maybe to show us something special. Should I have taken more time with my horse before he died? Should I have cared for him differently? Should I have done something? Why didn't I know he was sick? Why didn't I know he was dying? Honey, I felt so guilty for so long, and I don't want that for you. Our horses leave us, just like our dogs and other pets, and we just need to accept that when it comes, no matter how hard that is. Guilt will just make the sorrow last longer. And we don't want to be sad when we think about Spike, or Johnny or Finny. We need to find peace, and I'm starting to say this a lot, but it's the only thing that is making me feel better... that place in your heart that hurts so much, that is breaking in 2, is where those special memories will be. I know how much you hurt. And it's true... only time will help. I'm sad that you are hurting so bad, and I pray that you can understand the whys. Don't feel any guilt, or sadness, or whatever, just know that it was time for him to go home to God's pastures. Look how many friends he has up there running with him! hugs!

It is ok to grieve.  It is ok to cry.  And when you think you can't stand it any longer, please cry some more.  Cry until you can't cry anymore.  Then peace will come.  Then happy memories will come.  Then another horse will make you happy.  I didn't think that would be possible, but when you love horses enough, you have to keep loving more.  You can't stop because you lost a special one.  Take the time to grieve.  But take the time to allow another horse to become a special one.

I am lucky that I raise horses. Believe me, those first few days when I lost Finny, I didn't think I was lucky. I had to feed the horses, but I didn't look at them. I threw them their grain!

I started riding Shaggy, and I thought, great, I have to train on another one to get him to where Finny was.  That will take years.  But I started riding him and I took him on trail rides.  He saved me because of his quiet ways.  He entered my heart in a quiet way.  He will never leave here.

I have Starlet, who will always be here.  Just because I raised her in my 2nd foal crop  and I get along with her. She puts everyone in there place. She is mine and she is not going anywhere.

Duster is Starlet's first foal.  He acts just like her, pushing his way where he wants to be.  Then other times, he runs to momma to save him. LOL  But his lope is awesome, and I can't wait to ride that.  He is by my stud, Duke.

Duke, who I just gelded, and I'm riding. I love his canter.  I will take him to dressage lessons and ride him in the Centered Riding Clinics.  I just love that deep, collected canter.  He is so natural.  After many years of no training, he rides the same. I give him a ride a year, in the past, but already this year, he has been ridden a half dozen times and has been to the fields.

Then there are 2 young fillies.  I love them both.  Dove and Fawn will be my replacement mares, because I'm not sure how long I can go without babies.

So you see, even though we hurt, there are other horse who grab our hearts.  After more than 2 years, my heart has opened up again and all these horses mean so much to me.

I'm not a good breeder.  You are suppose to sell your best horses or your riding horses.  I have to keep all of mine. 

So, honey, when you think your heart is broken and you can't go on, you can.  It took me 2 years to understand that, and I knew that, but I wouldn't let it happen.  Then these young horses just creep into your life and make you happy again.  or that mare that has always been around shows you her personality.  Or that stud, who is a gelding now, shows you what a great mover he is.

Find that horse that makes you happy, so that you can smile about your memories with Spike.  I know you won't smile until you're happy with another horse. Believe me and believe your mom.  Our hearts will always hurt.  But they don't hurt so much now.  Now our hearts can smile with happy memories.

I want the same for you. Hugs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So cold that...

I bundled up and rode today! I thought the wind wasn't bad, until I walked
outside. I put on layers, 2 socks, 2 gloves, 2 headbands, 1 hoody over my head,
winter boots, fleece lined pants, 5 sweatshirts and jackets. I was almost too
warm. I had a fleece lined head band over my head and down over my neck. I
rode 6 miles in an hour. We didn't stand still, but walked in so Shaggy wasn't
sweaty. It actually wasn't too bad.

I'm not sure how many days I'll ride if it gets below 20 though!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

So Windy I Tasted Dirt

Horses have their backs to the wind.

            Today was a complete opposite from yesterday.  Sunny, no wind, 60’s, versus a windy, then more wind, 30’s that drop to low 20’s degree day.  When I did chores, I could taste the dirt in my mouth.  Not just a dusty taste, but actually dirt.  The fields around here are being disked.  Even though most farmers practice the no-till farming practice, this year, they seem to be disking up the soybean fields.  So there seems to be more loose dirt that can blow around.  I guess it would be different if there was snow on the ground.

            Tonight’s weather showed Omaha, less than 45 minutes away, with icy roads and snow/white out conditions, with less than 2” of snow.  We had none of that, just the wind.  It was strange to see cars in the ditch, on the news, knowing that we had just wind here.
I'm glad we didn't have this weather,

only 45 minutes north of us, the wind was blowing, with light snow, that gave white out conditons.
            Needless to say, I didn’t ride.  With the wind, the horses would have been either alert or just tired out from the wind.  Horses need a day out from riding, to rest their legs, and their bodies.  We can’t ride long and hard without conditioning.  We need long, slow rides, then add speed and distance, but not at the same time.
            I had a long, slow day on Shaggy yesterday.  I had a short, slow day on Duke as that is all he can handle right now.  Tomorrow, even though the temps will be low, I hope to have a good ride on Shag.  Long or short, it will be good. I hope there is no wind!

Great Ride with a Friend

           Tuesday was a beautiful day out.  Today was sunny, no wind, with a high in the 60’s.  I posted on Facebook that today was going to be a great day to ride.  I had a friend who texted me back and wanted to meet to ride.  But I still had racks and boxes, from the store, in the horse trailer. I told her that I would be riding the fields around my home and I would love to have her ride with me.  It gets lonely riding alone!

            She came by noon, we were saddled and in the fields by 12:20!  We rode 11 miles in 3 hours, with the time flying by.  Within the first hour, we kicked out a herd of 5 deer, than about ½ mile away and across a road, we kicked out 12 more!  Then about a ½ hour later, we saw 2 deer that seemed to be struggling to get through brush, and we wondered if they had been injured during hunting season.  We also saw some hawks.  Hawks do seem to be plentiful this year.

            Normally, I trot a lot.  But I knew Shaggy wasn’t conditioned and would not last, for over 10 miles that we had planned, if I did too much trotting.  3 hours of walking and some trotting was just fine.  We traveled around the fields, and we visited. It was nice to get to know someone, who I have known for years, better.

            I did some extended trotting and some loping circles while Cindy walked or trotted on.  We rode some areas that I haven’t ridden before, exploring some new fields while we had the time.

            We had a wonderful time.  Chatting like old friends.  Topics moved easily from one to another.  And before we knew it, we had only 20 minutes left to our ride.  I decided to go the long way, and get one more ½ mile of trotting in then finishing our ride in an easy walk back to the barn.

            By the time we arrived back to the trailers, the horses were cooled down.  I put Shag back into his lot and Cindy un-tacked and left.  I got a cup of coffee and a snack, than unpacked some boxes from the horse trailer.  I didn’t want some books and clothes to draw damp over the next 2 wintery months.  After that, I still had time to ride Duke, and took him to the field for an hour.  I didn’t lunge him first, and it showed.  It’s amazing what 5 or 10 minutes on a lunge line will do for the attitude of a recently gelded stud.

            I finished my day with riding while the sun was setting.  What a beautifully orange sky, spreading horizontally across the prairie landscape.  The sun was bright until it set low enough that I could just watch the sky.  I had that setting the whole time I was riding Duke. 

            This was a wonderful way to end a wonderful day.  I wonder how many more of these days we will have until spring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Muscle Memory

I've just been glancing through the Centered Riding Book 1, and this statement caught my attention. "Changing old habits while riding". Muscle Memory.

I know we have muscle memory. And what our muscles tell us, or do to us, as in whatever position we hold, we think that is correct. Sometimes it is not, and we have to re-learn the correct way.

This was brought to my attention while I lope, besides other areas. When I lope, I lean back a little. To me, that is correct. When the instructor showed me where my body should be, I felt like I was leaning over the horse's neck.

As I'm changing my posture and balance, allowing my hips to open, and finding that neutral pelvis point that will also keep my legs under me, my upper body should improve. If my legs are forward, I'm leaning back. If my legs go to far back, it pushes me too far forward.

I ride a lot in 2 point, and that has brought me into a better alignment. I have found that balance point with my upper body, and I keep it when I sit. OR so I thought.

Tom took a few photos of me, which I posted on my Horses Are Our Lives blog. Not of me riding, just sitting still. But when I was loping Duke, I asked him where my alignment was, and guess what he told me? I was too far back!!! Not as much as 2 years ago, but still back when I loped Duke!

But I know why. That big boy has such a strong deep lope, he throws you back, even if you are in motion with his lope. But then that meant I was still behind the motion.

I went back to a little bit of 2 point and trotted him around. I loped him and asked Tom how it looked. Better, but still a little bit back.

Now that I know this when I canter, I make myself come a little forward. I need to learn new muscle memory.

The other area to remember that if you do this, don't let your back arch. Come forward, then flatten your lower back, keeping your seat bones in the seat.

Your lower back will thank you for this when you get done riding. You won't have a sore back if you remember to flatten your lower back, let yourself sink deep into your seat (no slumping), and then take a deep breath out and relax.

Do it now, while you're in a chair. You will like the feeling!

"Embrace the Journey!"

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Duke Rides the Field

Saturday, January 7, 2012

            Duke is turning 15 this year.  I raised him and he became our farm stud.  He and Finny had the same dam, Blackie, a granddaughter of Boston Mac.  Finny’s sire is Red Dee Hobby.  Duke’s sire is Good Asset.  They both were bred for the pleasure showing.  They both are slow legged, deep hocked, with a strong, true lope.

            We rode Duke as a 2 year old, and showed him as a 3 or 4 year old.  After many foals, and a few rides on him the past 10 years, I realized that the time was right to geld him.  I thought of gelding him a few years ago, but then decided to breed one more time.  Now I have 2 beautiful fillies, which will be my replacement mares.  I know gelding at an older age has more complications, with increased risk of bleeding.   Duke did very well, didn’t start swelling until day 3, then only swelled as much as younger horses.  He was to have a lot of exercise, and we had him in the indoor arena.  After 3 days, we put him back into his pen, but he didn’t exercise himself as much.  He started to get abdominal swelling, so during the following 3 or 4 days, we put him back into the   12th, it will have been a month since his gelding. 

I may not get some of the behavior out of him, but now I’m riding him.  I’ll expect him to act like a gelding, which he is now.  I just hope that one day, he will be able to go in with the other horses.

Duke is riding beautifully, after just 4 days of riding.  The first day with the saddle on, I lunged him about 15 minutes, first in the indoor arena and then in the outdoor arena.  He could have cared less being in an area that the hadn’t seen much of.  He wanted to buck a little, but being fat and out of shape, that didn’t last long.  I put my helmet on and I rode him about ½ hour that first day, mostly at a trot and lope.  He wanted to lope around and I left him.  But he was too out of shape to do more than that. 

Day 2, I took him to the grassy area to lunge about 10 min, then rode him 15 min in the outdoor arena.  I rode him in the grassy area, then took him to the field. I only rode about 10 min in the field, just long enough for him to get used to the corn stubble and to see the culvert at the road.

Day 3, repeat of day 2.  Then we rode about ½ hour in the field, back and forth the corn rows and up and down the slight hill, getting used to different terrain.  He’s learning to pick up his feet over the corn stubble.

Day 4, repeat of the previous days, except I went an hour to the field.  We went over to the CRP land and rode the tree line.  His trotting improved as I put him in an extended trot to trot the grassy area.  He acts like a broke trail horse.  He didn’t startle as birds flew out of the trees.  He carefully walked over downed tree branches.  He perked his ears and went forward.  He rode beautifully by himself.

I may give Duke a break today. 4 days in a row after years of leisure, I may just give his legs a break today.  I have Savannah to take to the field as I have someone coming to look at her tomorrow!  I may take Shaggy out as he had yesterday off.

            I know winter is coming, well it’s here, but we’re having beautiful weather.  I think Thursday was 68, and that’s unheard of.  But each day since, the temps have been dropping. Today is to be in the low 40’s, but I don’t know if it’s going to make it.  This next week is supposed to be back in the high 40’s.  I’m sure the snow is going to hit us one day!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Relaxed Shoulders and Thighs While Riding

            Yesterday while riding, I was able to have very relaxed shoulders.  Normally, I think I ride relaxed, but when I think about it, in the past my shoulders used to be up or tight or tense.  Without me even realizing it, I rode with tension in the neck and shoulders.  Many of us ride like that.  I thought I rode relaxed until the Centered Riding and Alexander Technique instructors taught me to drop my shoulders.  When I rode Shaggy in the field, my shoulders were down.  My arms were moving freer.  Even when I trotted and post, my shoulders stayed down.  It was a great feeling to think about it while I was riding and to realize that my shoulders were relaxed.

            Another Centered Riding tip that I was visualizing was that of Stubby Legs.  This concept is a little harder for me to analyze and figure out.  It became one that I could understand as I rode yesterday, and I felt what my legs were doing. Granted, my 2 horses are a little heavy, making their barrels a little rounder.  My thighs did lay on the sides of the horse easier.  While maintaining a grounded feeling in my feet, I rode with light contact with my thighs, allowing my thighs to move with the motion of the horse.  In the past, I think I stayed grounded in my seat, and my legs hung relaxed, but were not active.  Now, I’m maintaining a light contact, and not only moving my seat and hands as the horse moves (at the walk and canter, only elbows at the trot), my thighs are moving with the horse’s motion.  And I’m feeling it today, after 2 very active riding days.

           I had just read an article in the Centered Riding Newsletter before going out to ride.  “When Sally Swift taught us the Following Seat, she also talked about the Following Hand.  We should allow the reins to draw our hands forward. Our elbows straighten and bend to maintain consistent contact on the reins.  A rider’s hands stay with the horse’s mouth.  At the canter, the hands and seat follow the horse’s head and body forward during the 3 beats as the horse’s legs move and land again.  The rider’s hip joints open and the elbows open.  The both bend again during the suspension phase.  The Following Hand is actually the following elbow!!!”

            This is one of those “light bulb moments”.  Even though I knew this, I finally “got it” yesterday while riding Duke.  He does not like a unforgiving grip on the reins.  He does not want to be “held” in a frame.  He was all over the place, high and low, with his neck and head, searching for that place of comfort. I know that.  And with this article in my head, something finally clicked. I don’t have very much formal dressage training, just traditional horsemanship training where you don’t move.  Now, over the last 2 ½ years, I have freed up my body to allow the joints to move.  Finding correct posture and balance and letting go of tension that first year helped.  Learning to allow my shoulders to move last year helped.  But all the key pieces fell into place as I rode Duke yesterday.

            Duke has only been ridden a few times in the last few years.  He was my farm stud and after his first 4 years of training and the show pen, he has sat for the last 10 years with minimal rides.  All the training is still there.  Yesterday he told me he needs a lighter hold.  Yesterday, I finally understood exactly what that was and gave it to him. Like my 3 year old grandson says while watching on of his movies, Incredibles, Lightttttt Bulbbbbb.

            That light bulb was shining brighter as I kept a light constant contact on the reins, moving my arms, allowing the elbow to have more action.  The difference is subtle, as I was already following the walk and canter with my hands. The impact was huge, as I allowed the elbows to do the following, and my hands were just there. No tension in my body.  Duke settled down and quit searching for that spot.  I need more practice during his huge, deep canter, but what a difference.

            I also realize now why the CR instructors say I lean back at the lope.  (and like everyone, I thought I was correct until shown the correct way.  I felt like I was leaning forward when I am balanced.  After 2 years, that feels correct now).  But during Duke’s canter, his momentum kept throwing me back! I was leaning back. I was behind his motion, and I need to correct myself.  I went back down to the extended trot and 2 pointed. Then I cantered, keeping that forward feeling in my body.  The balance is better.  Wow, 2nd light bulb moment was to understand why I learned to do something the way I used to be doing it.  My body had responded to the horse’s motion.  What my body responded to was momentum, but then I didn’t re-correct myself and go back to balance. I learned to ride there, thinking it was correct.  Now, I know where balance is, and I need to remember to keep balancing myself as I ride his deep canter. 

            What a fun guy Duke is to ride.  Wow, I can’t wait to take dressage lessons and ride in my next CR clinic with him.  We are on our way of understanding and learning the next layer of riding skills.

I will talk more about Duke soon, I promise.  His story is coming.  Part of it… he will be 15 this year!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shaggy's 1st Ride of the Season

Shaggy, Wed, Jan 5th. 60 degrees!

Temps were in the low 60’s, I think.
What a great first ride of the season!

            I know I was going to talk about Duke today, but I didn’t get any riding photos of him, so I’ll do him tomorrow.  But I did get photos of Shaggy at the trailer.  I took a few field shots.  Even though everything is so brown, it was nice to be out. It really did feel like a spring day.  It was very warm here in NE for January, with almost no wind. I was down to a long sleeve T and a hoody, and was almost too warm.  My fleece lined jeans didn’t help, but I’m not wearing those today.

            I groomed Shaggy, saddled, moved him around a few minutes to breathe so I could tighten the girth and got on.  We went right to the field.  With being so busy at the store, and no ride time since maybe late Oct/early Nov, he was a good boy.  He put on some weight though, and it made me appreciate the feeling of “draping your leg” around the horse, as it’s so much easier to do on a fat horse!

            We went to the fields.  He wanted to trot so I left him. He was ears perked and going.  I rode in 2 point most of his trotting. In a few harvested bean fields, I asked for slower speed to work on posting, thinking of my Center floating up and out, lightly and easily. He makes posting easy, with his long, deep strides.  His momentum pushes you out of the saddle effortlessly.

I did work on a few things for a very short time.  I realized, while trotting down the rows of a harvested corn field, that the corn stubble helps to keep the horse straight. If he doesn’t stay straight, then he’s catching himself on stubble.  Shag has a natural straight way of going, so it is easy to work him on a straight away. 

            In the bean fields, you can see the rows, but there is none of the stubble restrictions or hazards, so traveling through these fields, the rider needs to stay more active.  Then I thought that the same feeling should be true for the corn stubble field. Stay active and stay straight.  Shag did pretty well staying light and straight at the trot through the beans.

            Then we were in an open bean field, and the rows weren’t quite so defined.  We were also trotting parallel to a tree line. Shag was a little focused on the tree line and birds fluttering around in there then going straight.  Now I was more involved, posting with my Center and being light, but concentrating on his head and shoulders staying straight while maintaining light contact with elbows bending as I posted.  We were in work mode for that field.  His trot needs to be a little slower and we need work on the extension, and that will come.

            The rest of the ride was just a “let’s just ride” mode.  Trot, loped some, and walked when he got winded or starting to sweat. I did canter one short grassy area and was a little over 19 mph.  A little while later, on top of a grassy hill, I left him run another short distance, and I think we were at 22 or 23 mph.

 I’m having a hard time getting my Garmin to download on Garmin Connect, as I have other rides that weren’t downloaded previously, and it is taking forever to load.  I tried to download just that ride, but for some reason, can’t find how to select just that 1 ride. The program wants me to select all of the past rides that haven’t been downloaded.  I’m going to delete everything out of the GPS and start over.  I’ll try to ride the same way today and post what I get.  I know I rode him for 6.1 miles in 1 hour 20 min.

  I rode Duke after and I’ll post about his ride and todays ride next.

            Have a great ride and I hope the sun is shining for you, too!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year Thoughts

Duke as a 3 year old, he's 15 now. I'll post more about him tomorrow. 

           I have made some promises to myself for the year.  The first was to ride as many days as I could, weather permitting.  I’ve yet to start riding, but the sun is out and it’s going to be a beautiful day.  I’m riding today!  I know others rode on New Year’s and the day after, but the wind was terrible on New Year’s and I had family plans the next day. Then yesterday was pleasant, but a little chilly, and I was just too tired to do too much.  I did almost nothing, even though I tried. I was just tired from moving the clothing and tack back home after closing the store for holiday shoppers on Saturday. We traveled to CO twice for the holidays, which I loved. I worked 6 days a week  the first 2 weeks of Dec, we had 2 grandchildren birthdays, and yesterday was my first day I was home alone. I was ready to do nothing. I did a few things, but it didn’t account for much.  Today, I’m in overdrive, as I’m doing household expenses, store expenses and reports, blogging, bills, planning CTR’s and vacations, drinking coffee, and just feeling better!

Second, I want to exercise/yoga/pilates/ whatever more this year.  I really don’t care what exercise, but something more than horse chores.  The middle age “middle” is beginning to happen and I don’t like it. I’ve been wanting to get an elliptical machine, as that helps movement in all the joints, which goes hand in hand with my Centered Riding. I’ve yet to start exercising this year, but I did put a week in at the gym before Christmas. I love Groupons and Living Social coupons. I got a membership for me and my hubby, only paying $19 each for unlimited usage.  It will get expensive if we don’t start using it again. I have 10 more days left so I better start!

            Third, I want to work on being more gracious.  You know, the kind of lady that just smiles and is gracious to people around her, no matter what the situation or environment.  She smiles, says things are fine or welcome, takes you by the hand, and makes you feel welcomed.  Well, I’ve only seen this done well in movies, but that is the type of person that I want to be.  No matter what happens to me or around me, I smile and say, well, everything is going to be ok, or so nice of you to be here too, or everything will work out. And things usually are fine or work out, but it’s nice to have someone nice around you.  So I’m not sure how I’ll do but at least it’s a thought in my head.  And maybe, if I stop and think, that thought will pop out and put some nice words in my head to say.  Here’s hoping, anyways!  LOL

            And 4th, I want to get back to blogging every day.  Even if it’s just hello and what are you doing?  Or put across an inspirational saying that I came across on Facebook, or start reading the bible or other inspirational/personal growth books more and put out a saying.  Just something.  I enjoy doing this blogging as it gets my thoughts out of my head to make room for all of those nice sayings that I’m suppose to have.  I found that as I worked on my chat, Horses Are Our Lives, I blogged less. I want to incorporate the 2, and what we talk about on the chat, I’ll blog more about it.  Like right now, we’ve gone through the Centered Riding Book 1, each chapter at a time.  I’ve outlined the chapter, gave my thoughts, and others posted their thoughts to discuss. I’ve decided to post each chapter and thoughts here too, starting next week, and go through Books 1 and 2. If I talk about the exercises, by the time spring rolls around, we will know them, understand them, and ready to implement them and practice the while we ride.

So I missed blogging each day already, but I’ve made up for it today. 

Sunday, Jan 1.  Happy New Years. We had pork and sauerkraut for supper.  This is our traditional Pennsylvanian good luck meal.  Friends came for New Years Eve, keeping us up until 2:30!  LOL  The kids and mom stayed over and Hubby cooked us scrapple, hash browns and egg, ham and cheese omelet for breakfast.  Friends left, and hubby and I finished watching a movie, as it was too late to go to church.  I need to rest a little longer, but then watched the 2nd movie, Last of the Dogmen.  I just love that movie!  I was feeling really tired, but horse water tanks needed filled, and horses needed to be grained.  I made myself go outside to help. And I’m so glad I did. I felt so much better once I was in the nice, crisp cool weather.

Monday, Jan 2.  Still a holiday. Family came to watch the Penn State Football Bowl game.  First, they helped me unpack some of the trailer, and we brought in all the hanging clothes that were left over from the store.  My basement looks like a store now!  We snacked on a meat and cheese tray and a veggie tray.  We had pork sandwiches for supper. And then it was time for showers and to relax. The days go by too fast sometimes.

Tuesday, Jan 3.  My first day home alone in a long time.  And I was tired.  I’ve already talked about that. I should have just laid down on the couch and read a book and napped (which I never do, except for Sundays when the weather is terrible out). I did a few things, but nothing worthwhile blogging about. LOL  Hubby started a new job, so the highlight of my day was hearing how excited he was talking about what he will do.  And he brought Chinese take-out home for dinner, and that made the day better.

Today, Jan 4th.  I’ve started my blogging promise.  I’ve starting thinking about how and what to say to be gracious.  I’ve made the promise to ride this afternoon.  And I’m to meet hubby after 5 to go exercise. The day is off to a great start. I hope the sun shines all winter!

I've pictured Duke above. I plan on riding him a lot more this year. I'll post about him tomorrow. Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Caden's 3rd Birthday

Makenzie and Caden turned 3 in December. We weren't able to go to Makenzie's party in early Dec in CO, but the family was together at Thanksgiving, and we had a birthday party for the 2 of them then.

Caden's birthday is the 26th, and his party was the Friday night after.

His cake was designed as a robot.
and he had robot decorations.

His mommy helped him open all his gifts.

Pop and I got him Toy Story Woody and Buzz figurines.

and Pop gave him a hat with a flashlight attached!

Caden was ready to blow out his candles!

and eat his cake!

Baby brother Tyler hung out awhile with Grandma.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas in Colorado

Makenzie is excited that Grandma and Pop came to visit her at Christmas!

We played in the snow and swung on our belly!

Christmas morning!

Makenzie is excited to see presents!

Looking at presents with mommy.

Sara, Jake and Makenzie

Pop, Grandma and Makenzie


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