Sometimes, you get to smile so much your face feels tired

The past month has been busy, stressful, fun, and (thank goodness) sporadically sunny. In getting ready for a talk at a conference in Antwerp, I was really having to work closely with the themes that we have drawn from our study. Every once in awhile, I feel like I gain greater insights while trying to figure out a way to communicate with others than when I purposefully analyse and focus on the data. I’m sure it is a consequence of really having to understand the topic before trying to teach others, but it felt like a real breakthrough to me. The themes (and the metaphors we are using to explain them) are fairly complex and really, really, interwoven, so separating them out in a way that makes sense outside of my own head and instincts has been more difficult than I expected. That said, I feel much better about the presentation, and hopefully most of the bugs will be worked out this week during our practice meeting.

So, yeah, that’s one reason for the happy picture in this post. Another reason, of course, is the horse himself. The barn I ride at has been hosting some fun summer dressage shows. I’ve been entering them as much to force myself to focus on goals as to actually compete. Moss really deserves a rider who is always trying to improve. He’s such a talented guy, and he really enjoys working (and, of course, hacking and galloping), but it is waaaaayyy too easy to just enjoy riding around and around on such a nice horse without really focusing on improving, so hopefully these little shows will help me up my game a bit.  They’ve already convinced me that I should start trying to do more complicated dressage–Moss has really gotten a lot stronger over the past few months, and he feels ready to really start working on more demanding work. My big goals, I guess, are to get us “off campus” for a few tiny (low key!) shows and to work on more collected work (the extended work, we like, but the stuff that requires us to slow down? not so much).  I’ve also signed myself up for the Stage 1 exam for the BHS. Hopefully, I’ll get that, my riding and road safety, and my Stage 2 done this year and then start prepping for my Stage 3 (which I can use to get jobs teaching riding!).

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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?

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