Blog .:. November 2006 10 Entries

Learning to Ride

28 November 2006 Comments

This past week we were working on serpentines–a good lesson. No huge “ah ha!” moments, just several little clicks as things slotted into place. I’m not complaining–it was very satisfying to come away and know there had been definite progress during the lesson and that previous lessons were starting to gel.

But in thinking over the lesson, what strikes me most is how good serpentines are for me as a rider. Forget the horse–I like serpentines.

I like to think ahead. Always. To be planning my next move. If I hang too much on the same thing, I get bored and switch to auto-pilot. This is why the hunters don’t interest me as much–trying to maintain the exact same thing all the time doesn’t challenge me in a way I enjoy. I’m not saying hunters are easy–I think it’s extremely difficult to put together a flawless hunter round–they just don’t challenge me mentally the way going from movement to movement in dressage does.

There’s also that little issue with my fear of jumping that keeps me out of hunters, but that’s an issue for another day.

But serpentines, as I was saying, work for me. Changing the bend isn’t automatic for me, yet, so having to think ahead on each loop and mentally check my aids, as well as ensuring the horse stays coming forward through the movement, is a mental game for me. A constantly changing mental game. And if I get it wrong–if I miss the bend or the horse gets sticky in the transition?–it’s not long before I have a chance to try again. I can’t dwell on what went wrong, the way I might in a circle. If I get it right, the loop lasts just long enough to confirm my aids are correct, and then I have to change again–so I also can’t dwell on my success so long that I lose the edge/preciseness of my aids.

Every change in bend is a chance for me to self-check where I’m at and if I’ve “got” it–whereas in other figures (such as a circle), there aren’t really built-in checks. I can “decide” to check myself at this and that point on the circle, but it’s not the same (for me) as the definite change in bend on a serpentine.

It’s like the free walk/long rein across the diagonal–another exercise with several built-in transitions. I can’t stick, I can’t obsess when it goes wrong (or right). I can only keep moving forward and maybe retry the entire exercise.

I know some riders hate serpentines–they hate the constant changes. They work best when they can, say, ride a twenty meter circle over and over, letting the sameness of the shape help them fix their aids. For them, the stability of the exercise is a bonus. Where I get sloppy on a circle–because I become complacent about the shape, or my outside aids, or my inside hand, or what have you–the circle offers them a structured way to work towards perfection of the aids.

I’ve always sort of “known” this about myself–how I like to ride, the challenges I like to approach–but for some reason it’s making sense this week in a way it hasn’t before. It gives me a sense of independence–a feeling that, if I were riding outside lessons, I wouldn’t be completely lost.

It’s a good feeling. I feel like I can actually ride. Serpentines, at least. Don’t ask me about circles.

Tagged: Horses

Finally a break

28 November 2006 Comments

I hate to keep harping on about the weather, but… there wasn’t anything else to talk about. We’re apparently in one of the coldest winters of the past fifteen years. For the past week, we were only a few degrees off the record low temperature. Our daily high temperatures have been lower than the average low temperature. I mean: we’ve been fifteen degrees below normal. For weeks.

The only exciting thing to happen to me in the past few weeks? My gloves froze to the wheelbarrow handle. You can see why I’m not posting much, right? It’s probably a relief–the posts would have been all the same. “Cold.” “Still cold.” “What is this ‘global warming’ thing of which you speak, and when is it going to show up?”

But today it hit nineteen degrees. Nineteen! Positive! Degrees! I didn’t even put a hat on, it felt so warm.

On the downside, the barn’s pipes froze. Normally we save this sort of excitement for the Jan/Feb cold snap, but we’re either getting it over with early this year, or else the Jan/Feb cold snap is going to be absolutely brutal. Given the weeks-long cold snap we just went through? I vote “brutal.” Sigh.

But that’s weeks away yet, and for now we’re getting a warm-up period and some snow. Yay!

Barn work is so much easier when I’m not bundled up like a giant marshmallow puff.


This blog worries me sometimes

26 November 2006 Comments

Well, not the blog as such. I’ve long since accepted this blog for what it is, not that I can be bothered to define it.

The search terms people use to find my site worry me. On the one hand, they make me appear to have interesting topics:

quo scelesti ruitis
poetry by woman
sound and rhythm in sentence writing with commentary
fagels aeneid

Those are respectable search terms. Why, I might almost think I’m saying something relevant here. *snort*

Except for the fact that people also find this site by searching for:

this is not a solicitation please
granny pants
chess pieces dental

and, of course:

six week old drool

Inspiring! I am absolutely inspiring! (And to the person looking for first aid for a frozen shoulder, I really hope you didn’t waste too much time here and actually found the information you needed.)


My kingdom for something worth saying.


So you want to visit Alaska, eh?

26 November 2006 Comments

Today, we had 6 hours and thirty minutes of daylight.

Today, our high temperature was 8 degrees. The average low temperature for this time of month? Is twenty degrees.

That’s right: our high temperature was fourteen degrees below the average low temperature. The day’s low temperature (-5) was only nine degrees off the record low for all of November, but, personally, I’m hopeful we’ll break the record low in the next few hours. I think I’d feel better about the cold if it were a record low.

We’re in what the newspaper is optimistically calling a “weeks long cold snap.”

Oh, bite me. Cold snaps end. This… whatever it is… is not ending.

And these are the actual temperatures, by the way. Without the wind chill factor. Thinking about the wind chill factor makes me cry, so I try not to. Think about it, I mean, although crying’s a bad idea, too. The tears just freeze your eyes shut.

You think I’m kidding? It was five below at the barn on Wednesday. I’d go outside and my eyes would start watering, it was so cold. And then the water would start freezing, so by the time I got back inside it was hard to blink.

Our average temperature for the month has been thirteen degrees. I’d apologize for whining about the weather so much, but you live in thirteen degree weather and see if you do better.


And we have the January Cold Snap to look forward to.

Oh. My. God. What if the January Cold Snap is fifteen degrees below normal, too? I think I’m going to cry after all.


Why I shouldn’t be allowed near ovens

17 November 2006 Comments

So, it’s 3 a.m. and I’m happily working along, making various website-y things. I realize I’m hungry and it’s about dinner time.

Biscuits, I think. Cheesy, buttery, garlicky biscuits. Mmmm. And sausage! I add. Double-Mmmm. [stares dreamily off into space… Meat!]

Sausages can be microwaved, but biscuits must be baked. No problem. I preheat the oven and mix up the ingrdients. About the time the oven is done preheating, the smoke alarm goes off.

Whoops. Must have spilled something when I made lasagna last weekend.

My housemate is not amused. Something about being woken up at 3 a.m. I completely understand—that’s how I felt about fire drills in college. When I realized they were fire drills, that is. Mostly I would sit up in bed and try to answer the phone, until my roommate dragged me out in the hall. I’d wake up about the time we got outside, and demand to know why we were outside. I don’t do beeping noises in the middle of the night. It’s a wonder alarm clocks even work for me.

So I can’t blame my housemate for being angry, really. But there go all the brownie points I was hoping to make by leaving extra cheesy biscuits for her for breakfast. I’m going to have to spend the weekend sucking up.

I’d offer to cook dinner, but… that’s probably not the best plan at the moment, don’t'ch’a think?


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