California and back again…

This is definitely not a picture of me. It’s Sarah VandenBerg of Briarwood Riding School riding her horse Pacific in the Prelim division at Galway Downs.  My trip luckily coincided with Galway’s April Horse Trials, so I got to hang out, help out, and try out taking pictures.  This one is one of my favourites, mostly because Pacific looks so chilled out; duck? no problem. water? no problem. jump about a foot over the log? no problem. What a great horse.

The rest of the holiday was equally fun.  The first week, we stayed up north in San Francisco and hung out with friends up there.  It included a memorable trip to Bodega Bay and Valley Ford, where it turns out there is a tiny bed and breakfast with an amazing bar/restaurant attached. The first night jet-lag sent us to bed around 8pm, but not until we had eaten some amazing food (most of which is lost to memory in a blur of exhaustion, but I think some of it involved oysters, fried chicken, and possibly amazing fish tacos). We spent the next two days eating and wandering about the area, mostly eating. We had originally planned to go to Yosemite that weekend, but a late snowstorm (that knocked out power and the roads in and out!), made this trip “plan b”.  It worked out extremely well, all things considered, *and* the keen-eyes of our driver spotted a great mexican restaurant on our way back into the City, which just made the weekend perfect, really. We finished up our time in San Francisco with dinner at a friend’s house and then headed down to LA for a filming of “The Big Bang Theory”. Which was awesome. Continue reading

no this is not the face moss makes when I ride him, well not often, thank goodness

Although I’m sure there have been many, many times where he’s wished I’ve figured things out just a liiiiiiiiiittle bit faster. This is, in fact, the face of one of the horses in the Elgin marble exhibit at the British Museum. Aside from the oddness factor that is a horse head just…sitting there on a pedestal…this one also has one of the more stressed facial expressions I’ve ever seen.

Luckily, when you’re riding, it’s difficult to really see the horse’s face, although Moss likes to make up for this when he gets testy by sticking his tongue out and making it. very. clear. that he disagrees with whatever I might be asking/how I might be asking it/whether or not there really is a monster over in the corner disguised as a pony.

I’ve been taking a series of jumping lessons recently, both because I’m going back to visit everyone in California and want to be at least familiar with what jumping feels like again and because I think it’s important to both mix up the horses I ride and what I focus on.  It’s also become more and more apparent that Moss is a very, very, very nice horse.  The amount of huffing, puffing, and sweating I do in the jumping lessons is just, well, pathetic.  I’m quite out of shape. Continue reading

you know when it’s totally your fault? or, things that can be made a bit better by pop music

photoNot that I’m claiming the weather is my fault (either way–it’s been cold, but at least sunny, for a bit now.  Although it appears to be heading towards cold and rainy again). Nope, today my fault was the riding. Specifically, the jumping.

I hadn’t really jumped in awhile, and I was starting to feel rusty, so I’ve been trying to schedule in some jumping lessons at the riding school.  The first few went okay.  The session with the grids went really well, and the second session with a sort of mini course went fine, but today I was riding a different horse and just…lost my ability to steer.

It’s so frustrating, because I know that I sometimes I just lose my ability to really jump well (mostly only in stadium, why I think it is so much more terrifying to jump the jumps that will actually collapse is beyond understanding), and today was one of those days. I am definitely out of shape, which was part of it; the horse I was on was definitely bigger moving than many I ride normally, and he could perhaps (for my sake at least) have used a bit that was a tiny bit firmer than the loose link snaffle he had on, but the issues we had were 100% my fault. I kept basically steering the poor horse around the jump.  Because I was focussing on us having a perfect approach, I got all worked up about not being exactly straight and forgot that the most important part about jumping is to actually, perhaps, jump.

Argh. I did fix it a tiny bit at the end.

So, I promise to do better next time. Luckily, I usually only ride like an idiot one lesson at a time, so here’s hoping I got that out of the way.

To make myself feel better, I blasted Lily Allen all the way home. With a slight foray into Janis Joplin’s “Bobby McGee”. Oh well, you have to find what works for you, right?

Continue reading