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no icon for the old man yet - I was thinking Aulde Manne in my head

I did stop and feed him peppermints, having been told he is hard to catch, I figured I'd get in good with his pasturemate and then he'd eventually come see what he could scrounge from me as well. It worked pretty well. And simply offering peppermints and walking away again made his brain buzz. So when I came back from my lesson to hop on for a short ride to make sure I could do it by myself, he didn't even try to duck out on me. I have carrots for the next time.

Awesome awesome lesson, with the blonde tank. He was distracted and resistant, and Lani gave me a couple tools for getting him into a frame and keeping him there, and we had a canter that was awesome. Round, bright and light in the shoulders, upright around the corners.... it made me giddy.

And then I went and got the same canter on Bully, and it made me giddy all over again.
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gym: check (pilates and yoga)
ride: check - lesson today
fabric thing: check

Lesson on the patient Morgan mare over icy terrain which we both hated. It took a lot of effort and a lot of hands forward and finally even a pair of spurs to get us into the kind of frame that was easy in September. Winter has a lot to answer for. And yet, being able to having to focus so hard on one particular thing makes it better and more ingrained, so that when the easier weather comes, there is one more layer of better reflexes installed in me.

Ice storm predicted for tonight late, the edge of the front was hovering over us all day.

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Thank you so much, all you cheerful enabling horse owners. I did have horses as a child while growing up, so I do understand the whole vet/farrier/board trifecta. You are completely correct that a lease would be a good idea, or even a half lease.

However - the job was not there, so no horse. I do kind of need finances to offset the equine, it wouldn't be something I could exactly sneak into the household budget. I think, having not had this particular horse drop into my lap, that I will continue with Plan A which is Find A Teacher, and assume everything else will flow from that.

In other news, the lessons continue, and the remembered skills are returning, as, unfortunately, are the bad habits (holding too hard with the hands, looking down, hunching forward) although the number of moments of forward lean has been aggressively reduced, mostly courtesy of yoga (my yoga teachers say "lead with your heart" and "side body long, inner body bright" and "BREATHE" and it kind of follows me around in the rest of life).

I rode another aged mare this time. She was Arab, with vertical neck evasion and tendency to quickness. It took the whole lesson to get her to come down into my hands and bend around my inside leg. Actually what it took was a long hard shoulder-in to the left, with tiny circles when she was falling apart. What I forget about short horses is how tiny a circle they can turn, so 10 m is not yet small enough. Also once I carried (without using) a whip she moved off my leg much more handily and forward into my hands better.

We spent a lot of time doing bending things at the trot - big circles, smaller circles, 3 and 4 loop serpentines, leg yield off the rail to the quarter line and back, and these shoulder(s)-in(s) (how DO you pluralize those?) We had nicer bends to the right, but she drifted out more. And two odd things: The first was near instantaneous down transitions, it didn't feel like a hollowing, but more like a cow pony stop - head and haunches down, back up, almost skid into it. I couldn't get forward motion into the down transitions for most of the lesson - we might have had one nice one. The other was that she had no speed regulator. Most horses get a nice trot going, and if I stay steady, so do they. She had none of that. I felt I was either trying to slow or encourage her for the entire lesson. It was tricky to balance between keeping her steady and letting her roll along - telling a horse All The Time faster,slower,here,there,now,no,maybe,go,stop gets wearing on both the horse and rider. They need a break to just carry themselves, and the rider needs a break to see if any of the corrections have been heard. But in and around that, we had no two consecutive minutes going the same speed. Probably my fault.

I didn't think to ask how much of her unevenness between tracking left and right was due to my unevenness tracking left and right. I'll have to think about that over the next ride.
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Drama r we.

I looked at a horse last Friday, and loved him. A TB/Oldenberg cross, 15.3 gray gelding, 7 years old, 3 nice gaits, worked to Training/First level dressage, some 2'9" courses, was at Stonleigh-Burnham school in the riding program with his person, sensible, flashy, fun to ride. It was awesome. I need a part time job to keep a horse, but I can, in fact keep a horse if I can find part time extremely flexible work. It has to fit around kids, and the proposed horse, and blah blah blah. It is between fun and painful to contemplate the possibility too hard. I'm still waiting to hear back from the potential job.

On Tuesday I had a FABULOUS lesson. A different school horse, unprepossessing to look at but with a lovely floaty trot once we got going round and smoothed out some of the spring ya-yas. I haven't had a nice extended trot for two years, not since Waitefield and Nishy. I have three slightly off feelings about this place. Two are teacher issues; she is young, and I think dressage is not her thing, although she knows more than I do, and she rides much better than I do. The other is just quibbling, but the tack room and the indoor smell funny. The barn is clean and sweet, the hay is nice, but the tack room smells like mildew as does the indoor arena. I could imagine a bottle of Febreeze or a thorough cleaning or even some open windows making a huge difference in the tack room, but I can't think how to improve the indoor offhand, and it kind of bugs me. So I will continue on with the 4 lesson plan and see what happens next. I was offered a chance to hack the schoolies on their off days, which would be fun, so apparently I do well enough to handle the easy cases.

Tuesday I also had yoga class before the lesson and circus class after the lesson. I am still lumpy and not strong enough to do what I think I want to do in circus. I am strong and stable in yoga. Not very flexy though.

I am worried abut committing to one horse, and worried about the financial issues around ownership/care. Other People's Horses are a really nice, easy way to keep riding. But OPH are not the way to develop a relationship with one individual, and hard to compete if I think I am headed that way.

Ah, the drama! Ah, the finances!
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The riding muscles! FTW! As one friend says, when the riding muscles hurt, at least you know you are/have been Riding, and it feels like a huge win, even when it is, well, sore muscles.

Lesson today, first since May or June last spring. Ancient gray arab (!) mare, mostly knew what she was doing. While not the schoolmaster that Garcell* is  or Nishy** we had some moments. Her preference was head in the air and hollow, plus slow or quick to avoid additional work, though we had some much better moments after warming up and practicing some leg yielding and spiraling circles in and out. Her canter was astoundingly uneven - much smoother to the right than the left, and felt like falling into the center once per stride. There were some jumps set up in the ring making figures difficult. I never took the same line twice for changes of rein or serpentines or anything!

The teaching was fine. Not brilliant, but workmanlike. She caught some of my habitual issues (sit up, look where you are going) but didn't speak to some things I think were not so good. I tend to be too busy with my hands, and hold too long and too hard. For this mare it made less difference than it might for others, but I need to push my elbows forward and soften my hands much more of the time. I was working on dragging a lot of yoga to class, especially the standing poses - balance weight in the feet, straight through the back, float the head, lead with the heart.

The barn had a nice vibe - filled to overrunning with all kinds of other animals. There were two angora goats and a black sheep in a pen, fistfuls of chickens wandering around, an orphan lamb in the tack room and a different cat every where I looked. I will take four lessons and see how I feel about the place and the teacher. the horses looked calm and cheerful. There was a stallion there, who was cheerful and kind and easily handled by his owner with a broken foot.

I came home and fell asleep, for two hours. I'm better now, I guess.

Happy Pi Day (3.14) - also Einstein's birthday - we have apple and blueberry pie for supper.



*first barn, 16 yo big gray rhinelander gelding that had been 4th level in dressage at one point
**same barn, 17 yo morgan gelding bred at UMass, 14.3 deep chestnut, had gone Training level combined training and 2nd level dressage
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In the It Is Always One Damn Thing Or Another Department:

After finally getting my 5 charges out into the pasture, across the the appallingly treacherous ice and (thank goodness plugged in the electric fence) I heard hooves crunching through the snow. I thought, of course, that one of my crowd had escaped. But no, the neighbor's two had escaped, and the profoundly in heat mare was flirting shamelessly over the fence, with her friend defending her honor, loudly. It took longer than expected to get them into spare stalls, with hay and water, where they continued to yearn, vocally, for my crowd. After the fact it was pretty funny, but at the time it was a little nervewracking.

i got to ride twice last week, I think I forgot to mention the 2nd time. We packed up the guys and trailered over to the indoor again. Dakota was exactly the wrong height and spooked relentlessly at a splash mark on the wall - I think the sun got him in the eye each time past it, because he'd go fine the other direction. It was nice to trot, and be able to move out instead of either swimming through snow or tippy-toeing across the ice. We are headed to the indoor again on Wed.

I asked Al the other day if I wanted a horse. After a long talk, he convinced me I am looking for lessons again. If I go looking for dressage lessons, eventually I'll find a great place to ride, and the horse question will fall neatly into place. I've had lessons that were very strenuous, and made me cry, but I got better Every Time, and I've had lessons where I  didn't cry and didn't improve so much. It would be nice to find some happier medium where I get better but don't have to cry for it.

There is the promise of spring in the air, but at the moment it is just a tease. We are still under a couple inches of solid ice, around and over and under the left over snow. It is at that uniquely treacherous state where it melts during the day, and then freezes into sheets of black ice at night. Mornings are slippery, and pretty scary.

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