Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New helmet from Great Company.

I have been shopping for a new helmet since Equine Affaire Ohio in April 2012. Miranda found a new one there, but hers still made me look like a Mushroom head. I know some of that can not be helped, but I refused to feel silly. So Equine Affaire this year was the perfect opportunity to try on more helmets, and find a better fit. And try on helmets I did. A bunch of helmets, in every booth that sold them. Poor Donna and Miranda!
I finally found a helmet that I thought was okay. No size 7 available. The price was $179. I am thrifty, and love a good bargain, so I wrote down the name of the helmet, and started shopping online.

The helmet I wanted was the IRH ATH SSV helmet, in the Long Oval shape. (for my long oval head)

Yesterday it arrived. Feast your eyes:
So, after Google searching for quite a while, I found that Smartpak had my helmet for $229.95. I also found a company that I had never heard of, Adams Horse & Pet Supply, that had the helmet for 152.99. Quite a price difference, but I was leery of ordering from a new company, so I asked Smartpak if they would Price Match. THEY DON'T DO THAT!! Say what? Yeppers, they don't do that. Sorry, Smartpak, great company, love your supplements, but I will save the $76.96 and go with Adams.
Well, after I added the helmet to my cart, I googled for a promo code, found one and was rewarded with an additional 15% off. So after shipping I paid $137.69 for the helmet!!

I saved $41.31 by not buying it at Equine Affaire.
I saved $92.26 by not buying it from Smartpak.

And I received prompt service and a great product from Adams Horse & Pet Supply. So check them out the next time you shop online.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The "Ride with your mind" Clinic.

Sometimes when writing a public blog, you come to moments when you have to make some hard decisions about how much to share. Since it is public there is a responsibility of honesty, yet a concern that such honesty could potentially harm individuals. Since my annoyance seemed not to be shared throughout the clinic group, I will leave it at this: Although extremely knowledgeable about horse/rider biomechanics, this clinician was not my favorite clinician.
A shot of the pad I made for the clinic. 

Okay...... on to what we were told:

Lower body:
Riders should be in self carriage at all times. This means less than 2lbs of pressure in the stirrups. Thighs rotated inward towards the saddle, heels rotated out from the saddle, feet flat for Dressage, and toes either straight forward  or pointed towards the girth (pigeon toed)(without touching horse). The aid comes from your calf, not your heels. Basically the shape of your legs shall follow the form of the horse and saddle in a upside down "V" shape, with the lower legs clear of the barrel. You will carry your weight with your knees and thighs almost exclusively. Like I mentioned there should be less than 2lbs of pressure in the stirrups at any time. Sound hard? Yeah it is!!

Abdominals: Muscles in torso should be engaged and in a "bare down" mode. She had riders cough to feel what that feels like; place hand on upper abdominals, and middle of back, cough, feel that? That is engagement of the right muscles. Do not forget about the obliques. You should sit and hold those muscles in a way that makes you stable enough that someone would have a hard time pushing you in any direction.

Lower back: FLAT!!! No curve. Instead push your back towards your belt, without bowing backwards. make sure your seat bones stay pointing straight down. Sit on your hands to find seat bones, roll forward and back to see what straight down feels like.

Upper Back: Straight, with shoulder blades towards each other.

Chest: have your collarbones forward, without tipping forward and without sending your girls upwards. This is not a Wonderbra moment. Just open chest without heaving.

Shoulders and arms: Arms should be spaced the width of your hips with reins in a straight line from elbow to muzzle. Straight line not just in up and down, but from side to side.( Reins should not touch the neck of horse.) Close shoulders by closing the back of your armpit.

"Following" eyes:(does not apply to jumping courses) Instead of following the old mantra of looking ahead, the "Ride with your mind" Instructors wants their riders to use "following eyes." Do not look into a turn, meaning turning head and looking in the direction where you want to go, you will instead keep your gaze somewhat averted. Looking over your horses outside ear, and using your periferal vision to navigate the turn. The idea is that when you look ahead you turn a very heavy part of your body, your head, and your shoulders, and you then put extra weight on the inside of the turn, pushing your horse towards the outside. This causes dropped shoulders, and a falling out in the turn. (The reason why this does not apply to jumping courses is because the body is on a half seat. or a two-point position thereby having less strain on the horse.)

Those were the main lessons from a very informative clinic. I would recommend going to one, as it does make you really think about how you adversely affect your horse when in motion. I learned a lot, and Denise and I will now see which parts we intend to keep, and which parts are discarded. The clinician shortened stirrups without fail, saying that all Riders these days ride in too long of a leg. This seemed to apply especially to Dressage riders.

Video and Pics to come......

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

About being prepared by being nervous early

The clinic "Ride with your Mind" is this weekend. THIS WEEKEND!! So, since this is my first solo outing as the Equestrian, and not just as a Show mom, I am a bit nervous. You may recall that I did compete twice, but that was because we were already there, and so it was more of a lark. This time I am the only rider, and Pippi has been my project for the last six months. As a part time, here and there rider of the past little was expected, but now that I ride three times a week, and have my own Trainer just for me, well...... I feel a little pressure.

So I decided that I was going to deal with the nerves early. I would channel my nerves into preparing. Miranda normally prepared by cleaning, packing and organizing, but now it all falls on me. My friend trailers Pippi on Thursday, but my car is already packed. Throw in the saddle and I am ready to go.
And you know what, I am less nervous now. So being obsessive seems to have worked.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lie for me? Will ya?

Four months ago taking Pippi to a clinic seemed like a GREAT idea. Two months ago it seemed like a GOOD idea. Last week it seemed like it might be OKAY. This week it seems like the most addle brained idiotic asinine bunch of horse manure I have ever heard of.
Funny how it take on a new perspective as the event creeps ever closer. Really makes you wonder huh? Makes me wonder if Tequila and Valium is just frowned upon, or really a bad mix. Makes me ponder all kinds of things, like what types of excuses would sound plausible.

 Pippi is lame? It could happen. Happens all the time. Sometimes your horse just turns up lame, and all you can do is audit the clinic. Bummer!!

Pippi threw a shoe, and there is no farrier to fix it? I looked at her yesterday and there were no shoes. As a matter of fact I have not seen them since last fall, so that is a problem. (If I leave out that she is barefoot now, this could work). Except, knowing Kara, I would be offered Selena to ride within seconds of such news. Dang it!! Same thing if Pippi was lame, now that I think about it. Oh MAN!!!!

I can't find my saddle? Sounds good, but I bet those "friends" of mine would let me borrow anything that I was missing. With "friends" like that.......(you end up riding in a clinic!!)

The Truck broke down? Oooh-good one. Except it is not my truck, so I would have to get Tracy to lie, and she won't because she is in cahoots with all my other "friends." In times like these TRUST NO ONE!!

Fine, all I can think of is faking illness. What's going around? Clearly I need to call a friend with kids in Elementary school as any conversation with such a creature will lead to a chat about what is going around, with details about length and symptoms of said illness. Now we're talking!!

The only thing is..............what if not going leads to regret? I hate regret! Always reminds of those times when I was a kid and decided to stay home like a big girl when my parents went somewhere. The moment the car left the driveway I would be filled with such regret.

NO!!! I want to go after all. Come Back!!! 

Trying to send mental images to my mom; feel my pain, come back! MOM!!!! Mom???

This mental battle will rage for the next week for sure. Shall I go or shall I chicken out? Pippi will be moved to Kara's for the weekend on Thursday April 18th around 6pm. The clinic is Saturday and Sunday. So by moving early I will have time to acclimate Pippi to the arena and everything. Unless you, my true friends and supporters, can come up with legitimate lies that prevents me from going.  Well?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Oh HELL no!"

How is that for a mindset? "Oh HELL no!!" Might not be the best of language, but when you fill your mind with those words, things happen. Attitude changes and "look out" ensues. Let me explain:

Pippi is a Spookin'Fool horse, as in a direct descendent of the aptly named APHA Stallion "Spookin' Fool" and the daughter of "Spookin' Cody." Whoever named this line knew what they were about. Pippi can spook and fly sideways quicker than a hummingbird, and with as much quiet and grace. We can just be riding a long, and without so much as a snort, a stop, a shake or a blink, we are across the arena, with me cursing at the pain that still persists in my right elbow. Can't imagine why that is not healing faster. Ahem!!

So, Denise the Trainer has now witnessed such an event, and was surprised at the swift change in Pippi. "Wow, really don't see that coming do ya?" Nope, sure don't. Not at all, no sirrey Bob, absolutely not, negatory! It's like trot, trot, trot, HOLY MOTHER of ^$*^#$&*!!!  I think you get the picture.
What scares her? Strange sounds of things that she can not identify and/or can not see. That about covers it!

So, what is the plan? Ride calmly, as usual, but when she spooks (note, I did not say "if she spooks") I am to change my mindset from calm/supportive to "Oh HELL no!!" in the blink of an eye. Denise says I have to be louder, scarier and more obnoxious than the thing that spooked her to begin with. Sound easy? It's not because I am a slow little human, without the power and speed of a freaked mare. I have to force her entire attention back to me, whatever it takes.

"Break her neck if you have to!"
In case I actually believed that she meant that, Denise followed that up with:
"Well, you know...... you can't......... actually break her neck? I just want to do what it takes, okay?"

Okay!! This was told to me last Monday evening, and as luck ( ? ) would have it, I was able to practice this new mind set on Wednesday. I was riding along, trot trot trot, down the right side, when Pippi hopped sideways like a deranged equine Rockette. I stated "oh HELL no!!," fine - I yelled it!! Braced my legs, and pulled on the reins. And lo and behold we stopped about halfway across the arena. Stopped and stood.

What? No harm done, but I was in control again. Pippi was back to calm horse, and we continued as though  nothing had happened. Awesome!!

Friday, April 5, 2013