Winter Doldrums (With A Little Sunshine Mixed In!)

Long time no update! There really hasn’t been much to talk about as far as my riding since my last update, but I did have a really good lesson with Heidi before I left for two COTH trips, and I’ve been hanging on that feeling ever since.

I’ve just gotten back from two back-to-back trips, first to the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival in Del, Mar, California, and then to Wellington for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Two weeks of fancy prancing, and I’m inspired to put on my fun-colored breeches and make Oh So wear his blingy browband, but I’m ready to jump!

Before my whirlwind trips I was finally able to connect with Heidi for a flat lesson. I haven’t been able to see her since late November because of the weather on the weekends, so I’ve felt a little lost working on my own, knowing that I’d really like to get the right to left flying change this year.

We had a very good lesson where we touched base with some shoulder-in and haunches-in on the long side to supple him, then went on to work on the changes.

We started just asking for them on the diagonal, but then we played with keeping the counter canter and making him bend his head and neck left and right, listening to me and not trying to change. Once he was supple that way, I asked for the change on the long side.

We mostly did it in right lead counter canter, and he did a couple of clean but ugly changes left. He still thinks it’s OK to slip in a trot step, so we’ve got a lot of work to do yet. I think a lot of it has to do with me just not being educated enough to have the feel and timing right, so we figure it out together! I’ve been playing around with the changes at home on my own, and found that if I just shift my seat bones and try not to swing my legs too much he’ll often have a quieter response, so we’ll keep working on that too.

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Dirt between the ears!

I was kind of inspired watching Laura Graves and Verdades do their changes this weekend. Rider after rider in the CDI would swing their legs wildly in the changes, and her legs didn’t even move! That’s really what it’s all about, the invisible aids.

Heidi has confidence we can get our scores for our bronze medal this year, so I’m keeping that as a soft goal in my head. He feels better than ever, but I don’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed if we don’t reach a goal. The only thing besides the changes that’s holding us back is my inability to sit the medium trot, so I’m forcing myself to keep working through it and working on some flexibility and strengthening exercises at home.

Oh So is celebrating his 18th birthday today. How time flies! He doesn’t think he’s a day over 5!

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Welcome home Mom!

My trip to California was pretty amazing, and I wish I’d had more time to explore San Diego. I had a couple of hours before the jog on Wednesday when I arrived, so I drove 5 minutes from the airport to Balboa Park and wandered around. There were a ton of museums that seemed fun, but they were all randomly closed on Wednesdays!

The CDI was quite small with only three rings. The international covered ring was lovely, and I spent most of my time there. My hotel and the horse show was very close to the beach, and I had some time in the mornings to go have my bagel and hot chocolate on the beach, which was lovely.

I flew home Sunday and had two days to hack Oh So before heading off to Wellington for the CDI*****. My parents wanted a beach vacation so they came down with my aunt to visit Palm Beach, and they came to the both AGDF and WEF. It was fun to show them what I do, even if I didn’t have a ton of time to hang out.

I flew back Sunday and had enough time to hack Oh So before it got dark. We had tons of rain while I was gone, so everything is a muddy mess, but hey, we’re in mid-February, so we’re almost getting to the start of show season! I’m hoping to get Oh So out this weekend for a jump lesson, but Heidi’s out of town the next two weekends so we’ll continue to go it alone.

 

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2017 In The Rearview

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In the grand scheme of things, 2017 is a year I’d like to forget. I started off the year thinking positively and wanting to get out of my comfort zone. I was ready to embrace the first year of my 30s and make it the best year ever.

Things were going pretty well in the winter and spring. I was pretty busy traveling for work, but I was able to get Oh So out to a couple of shows. We could have won Morven Park in March, but decided it was a bit too wet to run cross-country and withdrew, but we had a good run at the Loch Moy Starter Trial in April.

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Favorite Photos of 2017

Despite being injured and off my feet for several months this year, I still had the chance to go to a ton of amazing competitions for my job in 2017.

As always, I feel incredibly fortunate to do what I love for a living, and this year I got to check off a couple of bucket list events, as well as go to some longtime favorites. I attended 18 competitions this year for COTH (14 actual trips total, counting the USEA Convention).

A photographer friend generously gifted me some Lightroom classes to work on while I was laid up, and I think my editing skills have gotten a little better this year! I’m always in search of the perfect jumping shot, but I’ve been trying my best to be aware of my surroundings and capture quiet, candid moments as well. My New Year’s resolution is to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and play with different perspectives as I continue to capture some of the country’s best horses and riders.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my coverage this year.

 

Wanderlust: Covering 2,000 Miles In Europe

It always takes me forever to write about my big vacations, mostly because when I get back it’s usually straight back to my normal, busy life, and I’m left with little time to absorb my experiences.

But taking a few weeks to do so actually helps, I think, so here goes!

I had been waiting for months to take this vacation. I had to reschedule it after my accident, and the dates at the beginning of November were just about the last ones available for the year and before the weather turned.

I’ve done several COSMOS trips of single countries, but this year I decided to try a multi-country one.

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Coming Full Circle

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It’s been just a few days shy of a year since I bought Thomas, and the year has turned out to be nothing like I originally expected.

On Tuesday Thomas went to his new home with a young professional. I’d convinced myself over the summer and early fall that I was going to keep him; he was too nice of a horse, and I knew he had so much potential.

But after riding him for five days once I was physically and mentally able, I decided he’s just not for me. Maybe it’s something I communicated to him, but he was still nervous when I went to get on, despite being fine with my friend and Dusty, so that was it.

In the end, with me riding alone most nights, I just didn’t feel it was the right decision to keep trying. If I had more experience with different kinds of OTTBs and green horses and help every day maybe I’d feel differently.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Bear recently and how easy he was at just 3 years old when I got him off the track. He was just the total opposite of Thomas, who’s sensitive, but then fairly simple on the flat. Maybe something happened in his previous life that contributes to his sensitivity, and combined with my distrust of him, it makes for a bad combination.

I feel a little put off by Thoroughbreds directly off the track now, which sounds silly, but this whole year has made me just a little more aware of my own mortality. I also just don’t have the experience, or the time frankly, with travel and also riding and competing Oh So. One thing that I felt was really missing was being able to spend a lot of time with Thomas. When I first got Oh So and Bear I had them at home, so I learned their ins and out and saw them multiple times a day.

I know most adult amateurs board their horses and face the same challenges, but I think Thomas needed more time than I could give him.

Maybe I’ll save for a couple of years until Oh So is ready to retire and then buy something that’s already been started like he was, but I’m just never going to be able to afford a going horse.

It just feels like this year was a colossal waste of time and money, and that sucks. I haven’t had dozens of horses over my lifetime, so I get pretty invested in the ones I have, and none of them have ever not worked out in this way. It’s a weird and demoralizing feeling, to be honest. There’s a lot of what ifs–what if I hadn’t come off, was this my fault, what’s he like to go cross-country, how would he have handled his first show? I just didn’t get to experience all that fun baby stuff after the work I put in in the beginning.

But I’m happy he’s found a rider who seems to adore him, and I’m excited to watch their progress. He looked really good when I saw him go with Dusty, and I feel like he’s just on the cusp of being ready to compete this spring; I just kind of wish it was me in the saddle.

People have been telling me, you learn something from every horse, and I guess I learned the hard way what the right horse is for me.

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Product Review: Jackets and Swackets!

It’s my favorite time of year; light- and mid-weight jacket season! I’m not sure what it is, but I can’t resist a deal on a good barn jacket. I don’t love wearing long, heavy jackets when riding, even though I love my Mountain Horse heavy winter jacket and my Kerrits midweight one.

I just feel a bit restricted and bulky when wearing a winter jacket on top of other layers, so if I’m doing any kind of riding other than hacking I tend to ditch the jacket anyways when I get warmed up, even on the coldest of days.

My go-to for riding is a long sleeve top or fleece with a light or midweight jacket on top, so I’ve gathered quite the collection over the years.

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A Day In L.A.

I had a lovely visit to the USEA Annual Meeting And Convention in Long Beach, Calif., but before I did that I took a day to explore Los Angeles.

I did just about every touristy thing in L.A. back in 2004 with my family, but I wanted to visit now that I’ve had so many more years of travel experience and perspective.

Unfortunately the city is so huge and traffic is so bad that a day is just not enough time to see everything!

I decided on the Hop On Hop Off bus, but it had 4 routes, and the two I chose were slow, so I ended up using an Uber too.

I decided last minute to take a studio tour of Warner Brothers, so I only had until about 2 p.m. to see other sights.

I started my day by walking from my hotel to the Farmer’s Market. I loved wandering through the narrow aisles past foods from different parts of the world, exquisite desserts and shops full of trinkets and souvenirs. It felt a bit like being in Europe.

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