Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back to Regular Programming

The fog is lifting! I am still getting into my pajamas when I get home, I am still a little anti-social, but I am no longer eating everything in the fridge: carbs are a little safer around me! Whew! I just had to get over the hump and let my body adjust to the winter darkness. This blogging thing is amazing. How wonderful that people that share a common interest with me, but who I have never met, can be so supportive. Thank you!!!

The weather has been quite amazing the last couple of weeks, which has been great for my SAD. Lots of sun and warm-ish temperatures. I have managed to get in quite a few rides.

Recently, I have been working on having a loose rein and just using my seat and legs to tell Gem where I want him to go. This exercise is based on a routine from Chris Irwin's Riding the Waves DVD, which Shannon over at It's Quarters for Me recommended (yes, Shannon, I watched the DVD!! :-)). The exercise that Gem and I do is part Chris Irwin and part LA and is to promote more effective communication with your horse through your legs and seat. We do this exercise at a walk. It doesn't look like much when you are watching someone else do it; the cues are so subtle. However, it does take balance and good seat and leg position, areas that I definitely need work on.

I do my usual warm up with Gem - walk, jog, walk - and then move him to the middle of the arena. There we do a few back ups, walk ons, and 90 degree turns. After we have loosened up, I start the exercise. While we are standing, I relax contact with the bit allowing the reins to hang a little but they still touch the sides of Gem's neck. Then I start using my legs and seat to ask him to walk on, turn, zig zag. In some ways, this is the perfect exercise to do when you are in an unbalanced state of mind. :-) It promotes relaxation and loosening up. I can shut out the "noise" going on around me and feel my body. The first few times we did this exercise, my lower back hurt; an indication to me that my balance was off. I am getting better at turning my upper body in the direction I want Gem to go. When you do that, everything else just falls into place. Go figure! :-)

Now on to something near and dear to my heart - fashion! It can be challenging for me when it comes to riding attire. I am curvy....just a little too curvy. :-) I am currently looking for a pair of heavier weight stretchy jeans for riding, preferably with tummy and thigh control....kidding!!! I am looking for something that I can wear in the colder months and that will cover the top of my boots so the cold air doesn't blow up my pant leg. I tried on a pair of Q-Baby Wranglers in my regular size, hoping that my fairy godmother would appear and make me look like the model in this picture. No such luck. While they looked decent when I was standing in front of the mirror, I think getting on Gem may be a problem and even if I could manage it, I think the supply of oxygen to my brain would be cut off by the waistband once I got in the saddle. I understand that they eventually loosen up with wear, but should I chance passing out while riding? Have any of you out there had experience with Q-Baby's????

Happy Thanksgiving to my American blogging friends!! Enjoy your family and friends.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Thoughts are with Dun Got Class. She had to say good-bye to her Haflinger, Wayne, yesterday. He was a beautiful horse and quite a character. Always tough to make these decisions, but he is now pain-free. If you have a sec, please show Dun Got Class your support during this sad time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

SAD, don't you know it......

I apologize for not being an active blog participant recently, blogging friends and followers. It’s not that I don’t care about what is going on in your worlds; I do! Rest assured, I am keeping up with what's going on with you and I appreciate the comments you have made on my previous posts. The lack of daylight messes with me. My focus recently is, once I get home, getting into my pajamas and eating any carb that is within reach. You see, I suffer with SAD.

I never quite understood what happened to me during winter months. I would sleep away weekends and when I wasn’t sleeping I was eating. I did not want to socialize. I did not want to think. My Husband read an article about SAD 20 years ago, and based on that article I started making some changes to my usual routine that helped alleviate some of the symptoms. One of the biggest factors that contributes to sluggishness is lack of sunlight. It's dark when you get up and it's dark when you drive home. My office furniture is arranged so that I look out the window while I work at my computer, allowing me to soak up as much daylight as possible. My Husband bought me a blue light a few years back and I use it in the dead of winter when it's still dark outside in the morning, while I am blow drying my hair. I used to have it on while I was putting on my make up, but I found that the blue tinge it projected on my skin made for interesting make up application. :-) Taking vitamin D has helped a lot. But, without a doubt, once again riding has been the biggest help in keeping me well.

I didn’t realize the how much of a positive impact riding had on dealing with SAD until My Husband mentioned it. Two years ago, when I started my riding lessons, my personal test was if I could make it through a winter; if I could push myself to go to my two lessons a week (one evening, one early morning) when it was cold and dark and snowing, then riding was for me. My school horse, GM, was not very fond of me, or any student for that matter. She would have been a convenient excuse to cancel. But I didn’t. Even when I was injured and couldn’t ride, I still attended the lessons. Riding had drawn me in and I was addicted. I persevered through the winter months. I started to feel better and more energized as winter progressed. I still had some down days, but they were no longer the norm. After surviving that first winter, I started looking for my own horse.

Last winter was my first with Gem. Unless it was too cold, I held to the routine of riding him three times a week. Being outside with him, getting exercise, socializing and having FUN was good for body and soul; my winter was not so bleak. I do not see sleeping away another winter in my future. I am already getting adjusted to the recent time change and I know that I will feel better very soon. I am so glad that I found the best prescription ever for SAD - Gem!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hello Vodka Soda, It's Mommy Calling....

My last few rides have been so-so. Can't quite put my finger on it. I have had some successes but I feel like I am not quite getting it. In general, though, I feel a bit like I am letting Gem down. It's like he's waiting for me to do something. I can sense it. I have been working on some weak areas, but frankly they are making me weak! I have been experiencing jelly-legs lately when I dismount.

We are still having issues with the way he bends when going around corners. I feel like a failure in this area. He tends to turn his head to the outside just a smidge as we round corners, causing his neck and shoulders to bend inside. This has been an issue since day one. As we come up to a corner, I apply my inside leg to get him to bend around it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Sigh. I end up using my reins to reinforce my leg, which I am not too keen on.

I am still not able to ask him for a large posting trot. He will do one instead of a lope, but he will not do one if I am asking him to speed up from a jog. Our sitting jog is quick-ish already, so I guess he just thinks he's going fast enough. :-) I can apply leg pressure all I want, but he only speeds up a little teensy bit. I can almost see it in his eyes that he is routing for me to ask him correctly so he can respond. Come on, you can do it!! Sigh.

It's getting busier in the arena because of the change of temperature. It's hit and miss on keeping Gem's attention on me. I now keep him walking, even in lesson. I want him to realize that we are working and it's not about standing in the middle of the arena gabbing. Keeping him moving helps, but I feeling like I am pushing or pulling him all the time to keep him focused on the task at hand. If I give him one nano-second, his attention will move over to the other horses in the arena. I don't mind him being curious or friendly, but currently when he does this he disengages from me completely. I am trying not to take it personally. :-) Hopefully, the novelty of having new arena friends will wear off.

On a positive note getting on Gem has improved. Out of the last 3 times I got on him, he gave me the business once and it was minor. I changed the location of where I get on him and I think that made a bit of a difference. I also walk him around the arena a couple of times with whoa and back up thrown in a few times for good measure prior to taking him over the to mounting step-ladder. I believe this exercise sets the tone, so when I ask him to stand, he does.

I have been tired after the last few rides and looking forward to my vodka soda when I get home. My body has been in a constant state of sore the last week, a side-effect of working hard at trying to dial into the right number. Not Gem's fault, really. He's waiting for me to get it so he can answer and we can communicate. I hope I find the right number soon. I don't like feeling like I am letting him down.

What was I thinking....?