Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Advil Mixed with Marissa

Gem was very fresh and pushy last night. He was a bit of a handful, even when tacking up for lesson. I don't know why, but I have to say it didn't really bother me. Perhaps my relaxed approach to the evening was a result of the extra-strength Advil I had taken late afternoon to stave off a headache; it took the edge off. Gem really gave me the business when we walked around the arena and when we upped it to a jog - he was leaning on the bit, squirmy, tail swishing. LA gave me the dressage whip. When Gem saw the whip, he had a bit of an attitude change. We did an amazing posting trot. His head was well positioned and he stopped fighting the bit. We were moving and grooving. It was delightful. I love the bigness of his movement.

But it was short-lived. Once again, Gem didn't want to lope. He started tossing his head, bending or backing up. I did use the whip once on his butt-inski (not very hard because it still makes me nervous!) - he bucked a bit and then loped..... beautifully. I was relaxed and felt that my balance was pretty good. We went around the arena twice!! Yipee!

LA had poles and a cavelletti set up, so all of us were excited. It's a nice change from the usual lesson. We walked the course first:
  • Over 4 poles
  • Wind through 3 upright poles
  • Walk into a "box" and do a 360 turn
  • Over the cavelletti (set at the lowest setting)
  • Walk in between two poles and then back out
  • Do a side pass over a pole
Cool, eh? Gem was interested. He likes poles, so I was feeling pretty good about this. Doing parts of the course at a jog was a bit of a challenge. The course seemed a bit tight for his size, but we did our best. We managed to knock the poles out of position the first time in the 360 box and we walked over the cavelletti instead of jogging over it. When we came to the pole that we were supposed to step over and then do a side pass, Gem tossed his head around and started pawing at it, eventually rolling it up his other front leg and biting it. It was hilarious. We were killing ourselves laughing.

When my turn came up again, LA told me she wanted to see us jog over the cavelletti, not walk. Darn, I didn't think she had noticed. :-) We approached the cavelletti at a jog and Gem jumped over it....I mean JUMPED like he did the last time. I lost my stirrups and almost came out of the saddle. I didn't freak out and kept moving at a jog. The crowd was cheering at how big Gem's jump was. He was really getting into the spirit of things. We went through the course again at a jog, and this time I just relaxed and let it happen.....was this the Advil talking again?? He jumped it again and it was beautiful. I did not loose my stirrups and I actually felt OK when we landed.

Because his jump was so much bigger than the other horses, LA told me she was making the cavelletti higher for us. There was a brief moment of panic, but then I remembered what Marissa at Tucker the Wunderkind said the last time we jumped: "I do have to scold you though, because in my experience if a trainer suggests that we do something, it means we're completely capable of doing it (regardless of whether or not we think we're ready). Next time LA suggests that you try something outside your comfort zone, I think you need to shut your brain off and follow orders." OK, Marissa. Deep breath and off we went.

LA was yelling instructions at me as I completed the upright poles and headed towards the cavelletti. I guess in my excitement, I cued Gem into a LOPE. Yep, a lope. I didn't panic (WTH??). We jumped the cavelletti at a lope! Up and over. I couldn't believe it. My classmates were yelling and LA came over to us and gave me a high-five. I couldn't stop smiling.

When class was over, Gem and I helped LA bring the poles to the back of the arena; while still in the saddle, LA would hand me the end of the pole and Gem and I would drag it over to the pile. It was a good exercise. Geez, those poles are heavy!

What a great lesson. I have no idea why Gem was grumpy and pushy when we first started out, but it didn't bother me or set the tone for a tense lesson. Perhaps the confidence I gained at last lesson saw me through this one. Perhaps the Advil I took relaxed the tense muscles I get after a long day at work enough to let me ride like I should? Do they make an Advil equivalent for horses??? :-)

We came to the conclusion at Beers and Burgers that Gem could have a career as comedic relief for other a jumper....or as a logging horse. I have no real stiffness or whiplash today. I am still amazed at my accomplishments last night and am wondering if taking Advil should become part of my normal routine on Tuesday nights. Will Advil become my version of "Mother's little helper"....? If it means that all my lessons will be as awesome as last night, then it just might! :-)

What was I thinking....?


  1. Oh my goodness... I saw the title of this post and thought, "she's not talking about me is she?" But you were! Very, very happy to have offered some encouragement and I'm glad you took my "scolding" so well! There is absolutely NOTHING better than the feeling you get once you've accomplished something that you were either afraid to do, or didn't think you could do. Horses give us that opportunity over and over, and it feels so good! I don't know what non-horse people do to replicate that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. I am so happy for you! Congratulations!

  2. Congratulations again on a great lesson! Good for you and Gem. I think if you think the Advil was the catalyst for a tense free lesson then you should go with it next time too. My guess is that once Gem saw and felt the dressage whip he knew you meant business :) He also probably was happy to do something interesting with the cavelletti and jumping was just the icing on his cake. Great going Wolfie and Gem.

  3. That sounds like a fantastic lesson. I dont think Lucas would handle being a logging horse as well as Gem did! And if Advil helps, go with it, even if it only helps you mently, its stil helping!

  4. Dude...Advil is alright as a pain reliever, but had NOTHING to do with such an awesome lesson! Logging horse my butt...get that horse jumping:) Congrats on a great lesson!

  5. LIKE!

    I'm glad GEM had a good time, too!

  6. I couldn't be more proud of you if I were there to see it! You've come a long way, Wolfie. Excellent job :)

  7. Morning!

    I think I will be taking Advil before my next lesson!!

    Marissa - You were right; there is NOTHING better than the high you get from conquering your nervousness or fear. :-) Thanks for the encouraging words that stuck in my head!

    GHM - Thank you! Crazy, eh? Me jumping??? :-) You know, his whole attitude changes when he sees a crop or dressage whip. Not like he's afraid or's more like, oh, she means business. I don't really use it - it's more for show, but it works.

    JPS - It was hilarious when he was trying to pick up the pole and he was absolutely fine with me dragging the poles behind him. I love that he's playful.

    Sarah - Thanks! "Who would have thunk it?" as my dad would say. You know what? I think I might set up that cavelletti on Sunday. ;-)

    Detroit Dog - He started out grumpy, but I think he really enjoyed himself later!

    Shannon - Your comments mean a lot. My confidence level has risen tremendously over the last two lessons. I guess I have come a long way and I have to say I am feeling pretty proud myself! :-)

  8. That sounds like a dream lesson! I think the advice you got was sound--if your instructor thinks you can, you can. Usually they're saying the opposite about jumping! There's not a better feeling than loping over a jump--the highest I've jumped on horseback is a foot--but still, it was the BEST feeling.

  9. Sounds like you're enjoying it which is great. I am really nervous about using the crop too in case the horse bucks. I never wanted to jump when I first started riding but now I feel it would be great to master the level of skill to do it. I did unintentionally do a really little jump over a log on the beach though which was fun but took me by surprise cos was expecting him to step over it but he jumped it.

  10. Linda - I don't think this jump was even a foot, but it seemed like it was 5 feet the way Gem jumped it! :-)

    JanLou - I definitely have to get my head around that a crop or dressage whip is not a weapon, but a tool. :-)

  11. OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!! You rock!! Not that long ago you were wondering if you'd ever manage your goal of loping twice around the arena & now look at you!! Think I'll be using you as my inspiration when I eventually get back in the saddle :D

  12. Joy - I know!!! LOL! I am pumped.

  13. Sounds like a great lesson....mine have been on a bad turn lately, maybe I need some medication. I had been thinking Bach's Remedies, but maybe Advil (or whatever uk equivalent is) is the way to go!

  14. TCP - Your lessons will get better. I know they will!!