Ride Journal: Dec 7-Dec 13

Joan of Arc is a badass. I shall try to be more like her...
Meridian Hill Park, Washington D.C.

Historical Fact of the Day: The only equestrian statue of a woman in D.C., and a gift to the women of the USA from the women of France. 
True to my hedgehog-addled promise last week, I rode a lot more this week. I wouldn't go so far as to say we were conquering things like Joan of Arc up there, however. We had a lot of ups and downs, and my rides were not very ambitious. 

Dec 7:
Neck wide at base = winning.
I hopped on for the first ride back in a week, hoping that Pig would feel ready to get back to work. Unfortunately, he felt more like he was 1000 years old and unable to do more than an unbalanced old-man toddle. 

In fact, he felt very, very off. I hoped off after 20 minutes (mostly at the walk) didn't loosen him up. I crossed my fingers that his funkiness was due to time off and fluctuating weather patterns, and hoped he'd be a little more supple with our next ride.

Dec 10:
Pictured: Pig looking less derpy than a gorgeous PSG trained warmblood. Marvel, for this is not a regularity.
I would be lying if I said Pig's off-ness didn't put me in a funk about riding. Couple that with oppressive darkness, and I had a hard time getting motivated to ride. When I finally make it back out to the barn, I decided to just ride sans saddle. I hoped that would let me feel Pig's imbalance a little better, and make a judgement call.

I am so glad I made that choice. Pig started out stiff and in a bad mood, grinding his teeth a minute I bridled him, However, being bareback allowed me to feel the places in his back where he was resistant and work on them immediately. I think this helped him feel a little better, as I was working on fixing him up rather than pushing him through a stiff spot. By the end of the ride, we had some lovely work under our belt. Pig was straighter in his lateral work, and starting to push more evenly with both hinds. His canter departs were much more uphill after fixing the push from behind, and he even stopped grinding his teeth. 

Of course, riding bareback in the pitch black darkness of the 1/4 mile from my turnout to the indoor arena is maybe not the most confidence inspiring activity. Despite a rather dramatic spook at a newly installed feeder by both Pig and I, we did make it to and from our little turnout barn fairly unscathed. 

Dec 12:
“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? 
It is the east, and Juliet Pig is the sun."
Thursday's positive bareback ride and the sunny 70 degree weather of Saturday had me excited to get out and ride. I still didn't want to push Pig very hard, so we headed out to a nearby field to let the dogs get some time outside and continue to work on balancing at all gaits.

Pig started off incredibly stiff, but I tried to approach the situation with a lot of patience. I was persistent in asking him to work in a walking shoulder-in both directions until he loosened through the neck and back. Finally, I put him on the bit completely and asked for a trot. He was lovely. We maybe only worked for 20 minutes total, but he was absolutely with me for every second. We even did two relaxed changes on my aids both directions. This was huge, as my aids for a change often get completely ignored when riding outside of the arena. 

I think we all just enjoyed being outside.

Dec 13:
"Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, 
Who is already sick and pale with grief"
Sunday, I didn't ride until I returned from helping a friend ride in a clinic. That meant riding in the dark again. Once more, I chose to hop on bareback and see what a little more feel could do.

Pig was slightly more resistant to coming through, but I think much of that was me. I was stiff, and not weighting my right seatbone as much as I needed to. Once I figured that out (towards the end of the ride, of course), he was much more willing to step up and evenly into the bridle. This makes a whole month of me promising my horse I would do more yoga, and not following through. I'm feeling pretty bad about that. Time to step up.

The earlier work had been so resistant, we didn't even canter after a brief warm up. I wanted to instead focus on just getting both of us working well in changes of direction and bend. Sometimes you have to focus on the little stuff to better put together the bigger picture.

Dressage training, it's like working a puzzle.


  1. I love your Shakespeare, it made me giggle. I'm in the same boat with the yoga. I know it will help my riding. Yet I don't do it.

    1. Dooo it. Seriously. It can be a huge help, even if all you gain is body awareness.

  2. I need to get back on the yoga/pilates train, too. Loved the Shakespeare, made me chuckle! Glad you were able to sort Pig out instead of going into a panic that all his legs are falling off and you'll only have a legless slug-horse to ride.

  3. if Ries had a carrot for every time I didn't do yoga when I said I would...

  4. Oh definitely sometimes i think we get too mired down by the bigger picture, but all those tiny moving parts make it up! Good call on the bareback rides

    1. Plus bareback = faster tack/untack = more time eating dinner. Commuter girl ain't dumb.

  5. i need more of that joan of arc badassery in my life lol

    1. Dude. I know. If I was homeless, I'd sleep under that statue every night.

      ... actually I wouldn't. It's on top of a hill, and pretty damn windy right there.

  6. I hear ya on riding in the dark in the evenings, it can be hard to find the motivation at times, but invariably i find i feel 100x better for my butt hitting the saddle vs the guilts when I give in to my laziness. *sigh*

    Physio has recommended I look into yoga...i know i really should, but if I take up yoga classes it'll, cost moneh, cut into already precious poneh-time but ultimately help all involved in the longrun *sob*
    When will I find a moneytree/win the lotto?

    1. May I recommend yoga videos? They seem corny (and totally are, do them alone and laugh at yourself a lot), but are so much cheaper than classes. A good class can help you get the basics and understand the process, but a good video can really get you through the day to day. I've used the p90x video with success. It's not "yoga" in the traditional sense, but the strength building part of it and faster pace keep me a little more engaged.

    2. Oh a cheaper video alternative where I do not have to embarrass myself in public would be awesome! Is this available online or is it a DVD format?

    3. P90X is DVD, but there are also lots of streaming versions on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon. Not sure what the access to those is in Europe...

  7. Ugh I need to do that, but I'm not sure I have the body awareness to learn yoga by myself in the first place. I'm... really bad... at that sort of thing.

    Plus it's super hard when the dogs think you're a human jungle gym anytime you're near the floor.


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