Don't forget the wine!

Well after a brief hiatus in which I traveled to Seattle for a funeral, my nose has been shoved up against the training grindstone again. Giving my horse 3 days off the week before our first recognized appearance at First Level wasn't exactly in the cards, but you have to roll with the changes of plan (no matter how much of a perfectionist-type schedule freak you are!).

So this week has been full of tweaking my riding, practicing my position and rein holding, running through my tests, and brainstorming relaxation techniques for myself and my fiery red-head. I can't say everything has been progressing smoothly, but I can't say that I'm terribly unhappy with the work we've been putting in.

Overall, I feel a little stagnated. Our last lesson with Nancy was so good, but I can't seem to get back to that feeling. Instead, Guinness seems to be taking advantage of my work to hold the reins instead of pulling on them to by dropping out of contact in the right rein. In addition, my left hip is still screwed up (though, not as badly as it was!) and this has resulted in a weak left leg -- allowing Guinness to avoid the right rein more than he should. If I think about really applying my left leg, he's better. Unfortunately, I can't do this for a long time, yet. It's disheartening to feel the contact I worked so hard to achieve go away, especially since our work was so consistent for awhile.

I've been doing my best to stay positive during my rides, but I think I've been riding just a bit too long. After about 45 minutes, anything I ask for seems to be greeted with exasperation, instead of eagerness. That is pretty disheartening for both of us, so I need to remember to ride a little shorter and take a little less work in each ride. I don't need to cram in perfect everything during every ride. I also need to stop pushing so much with my body and sit more upright. I've been pushing for activity too much with my core, instead of with my legs and whip. That causes me to collapse and pull on the reins. It's a hard habit to break, but I need to practice more before the show this weekend. Along the same lines, allowing for a slower tempo trot and canter isn't such a bad thing - especially while I'm working on increasing engagement. It's a calmer pace, and one that might allow Guinness and I to stay calmer and more together at the show grounds.

Counting tonight, I have two more schooling rides before leaving for the horse park on Friday afternoon. We are scheduled to ride 1st 2 just before 11:00 and 1st 3 just before 2:00 on Saturday. Those times are pretty nicely spaced for me, and I hope they don't change too much. I'm getting a little nervous about my first "Big Show" at First Level, but I'm trying to remember that it's just the same as any other show. With the long morning and slight gap in rides, I better not forget to bring some wine!
Guinness in the sunflower field; Sunday morning hack.


  1. You guys will do great, deep breaths!

  2. You've got this Austen! You two are ready to rock First Level at a 'Big Show'!

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, guys. We had a good ride last night, and that really increases my confidence!

  4. Oh, best of luck to you both!!!!!!!! :0)


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