Back in the Saddle: Phantomrose's Journal - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 147 Old 07-25-2016, 04:29 AM Thread Starter
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Back in the Saddle: Phantomrose's Journal

My journey is restarting again, after being out of the saddle for about six years. I started taking riding lessons once again, in the summer of 2015... and what a journey is has been so far.

I started off my lessons at first by going back to the basics of riding. I was happy to know that I still had some of the things that I learned still in my memory, and was looking forward to the upcoming lessons. My first ride at the barn was an Appaloosa gelding named Gunnar. He was a nice horse, a bit lazy, but good for me to start off with. I alternated between him, and a paint gelding named Noony at first. Since I am new to the Eventing world (my old barn way back when was more trained in Hunters), I had to learn a bit differently, and started with Dressage as the fundamentals in my training. I quickly learned to love the Dressage lessons the most, as they taught me how to be soft, and supple with my lesson horse. I love jumping as well, although to this day, jumping still makes me a bit nervous.

Eventually, I went into my very first show in November. It was a Fall Fun Show, in which I did a Hunter Under Saddle Class, an 18" Hunter Course, a Trail Riding Course, and a Ride-A-Buck Bareback Course. I had a lot of fun at the show, and got second with Noony in my Under Saddle Class, and the Hunter Jumper class. I got fifth in the trail class, and ended up winning about seven bucks in the Ride-A-Buck, which was pretty neat.

During the course of my riding, my lessons would vary. Sometimes, it was hard to schedule a lesson due to my work schedule, or a conflicting schedule with my trainer, but eventually, we got a system flowing. The thing that I love about my barn is that in addition to lessons, the Barn Owner also offers a practice ride option, in which approved students can schedule a 45 minute ride alone with one of the lesson horses to work on things learned in previous lessons, and to gain additional time in the saddle. I have learned to love the practice rides, and incorporate them into my riding schedule in addition with the lesson that I already take.

By April, I was riding (and still am riding) and working with a chestnut mare, called Snickers. Now, Snickers is a neat little mare. I love that she offers me a few challenges, and helps me to improve to become a better rider. She can be a forward horse, and responsive to aids and cues. Her walk can be forward moving and powerful, and her trot is simply light and fluffy. Snickers is in her twenties, and used in the lesson program, although she was (and is) primarily the BO's daughter's horse. It is awesome in that I can talk to her daughter on the aids and cues she used on Snicks to work better with her.

Come June, I was starting to train for my first CT show. I had to learn Dressage Intro Test A, and try to gain confidence when jumping. At first, I had some doubt that I would be ready in time for the show about the jumping aspect, and talked with my trainer about it. She helped me, and pushed me in the right ways in my jumping, and I soon learned to jump confidently with Snickers. You see, when I first started jumping Snickers, I was a bit nervous and tense, because of her being forward moving. I had that unconscious fear that she would run off with me after the jump, even though she was always lovely with me, and took care of me. I had to learn to trust her, and just let go to let her do her job when she jumped... and she did that well. Now, I feel like that we work better together than we did in the beginning, and are still learning to work together.

July 16th was my first CT show... and I did rather well. I was so proud of Snickers, and proud that all the lessons and practice rides with Snickers had payed off. I ended up placing Second, which I was pretty surprised, humbled, and elated by. That day, I think I gave Snickers numerous amounts of pats, and love for being my partner for that show. I have another show coming up August 28th, and hope she will be my partner for that show as well.

And now on to the most recent ride. So, I rode Snicks today once again. It was my first lesson in lateral flexion and it went kind of ok. It wasn't bad, but I felt like it could've gone better. My mind does this thing, when learning something new in riding, where it tends to overthink things. When I was learning about lateral flexion, my mind was going into overthink and concentration mode. I think I confused poor Snicks a bit when learning as well. I mean, she would bend correctly, but then would not move off my leg when I asked her to. Sometimes, she would actually break into a trot instead, and I think that was due to the combination of me giving confusing aids, and me overthinking the whole thing. When my trainer told me not to think about the flexion, and to just see if she would go off the rail, I would get a good result... and I think she said that she saw flexion when I did it that way instead? It's hard to explain in words. I wish I could've gotten film or pictures that way I can review my ride. I love reviewing my lesson rides..

So, next Sunday instead of a lesson, I have a practice ride with Snickers. I already know what I am going to work on for that practice ride, and going to watch videos on flexion, and read articles about it, that way I can get a better idea of it. I hope that I will improve with the flexion, and that I don't confuse Snickers again. I want to get that "ah ha!" moment. I love it when I get those "ah ha!" moments in riding.
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post #2 of 147 Old 07-31-2016, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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It was a very rainy day today, so I had to do my practice ride in the indoor arena. I got to the barn at around 8:40am, and quickly got into grooming and tacking up Snickers. Today already felt like it was going to be a lousy day, although I was glad that it did finally start raining. When I got into the arena, I started of with a 10 minute warm up. I walked her both ways, and changed direction by using KXM and HXF. I also trotted a bit, and did some circles over by the A side. After the warm up, I got working on practicing lateral flexion... and I still think it went kind of screwy. She didn't break into a trot or anything when going off the rail, but this time, it seems like I couldn't bend her right? When watching my video that my brother took, I think I found part of the problem is within my body. It looks as if I was leaning a bit too far forward, and getting into my bad habit of not sitting tall, and hunching a bit. When going into trot to practice, it seemed to go a bit more smoothly, and it seemed like I got a bit of an "ah ha" moment when I re watched the video. When I broke back into walk, I decided to try a different technique, which went screwy. I tried to get her to face the while, while trying to practice flexion, and it just was not happening for me. I don't know... I think all the problems of me not getting it have to do with mainly me, and my riding, and not quite getting the aids right.

Snickers was good, and it seemed like she was trying her best to cooperate. Ah well. I know every riding day cannot be a great one, and that I will have those moments in which I feel stuck. I have a riding lesson with my instructor on Wednesday with Snickers. I think we might be working on cantering, since she wants to take me and another student Cross Country schooling on the 12th of August. I know she wants me to get more comfortable in canter... I love cantering! It's just the matter of learning how to steer, and looking ahead when in canter. I have the habit of wanting to revert my eyes down for some reason, and I have to break out of that habit too. That's it, as far as the riding update goes. I will post about how the lesson went on Wednesday. On Sundays, I will continue practicing the lateral flexion work. One of these days I will get it right! Anyway, here's a video on today's ride as well.


"All bonds are built on trust. Without it, you have nothing."
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post #3 of 147 Old 07-31-2016, 09:22 PM
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welcome back to riding!

I watched bits and pieces of your video. did you want feedback or just want to share it and leave it as is?
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post #4 of 147 Old 07-31-2016, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Liny :)

Feedback is very much appreciated and welcomed, as I would like to improve as much as I can on my next ride out. I might be posting vids/pics every now and then on my riding. Thank you! :)

"All bonds are built on trust. Without it, you have nothing."
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post #5 of 147 Old 08-01-2016, 01:48 AM
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Well, ok. it's kind of hard to see what is happening between you and your super nice mare. the video isn't that clear, but your brother was a saint to video you for almost half an hour. mine would be out of there in ten.

anyway, I am not sure what you are doing to try and get a lateral movement, and am often confused as to where you are trying to move her shoulders inward, or her hind quarters inward, as you trak along the wall.

when I took dressage lessons, we didn't work on any lateral movements until after we'd spent quite a bit of time working on getting really good forward movement, some good contact and acceptance of the bit (mostly working on MY ability to feel the hrose's mouth and get softening, without bumping or jerking), and did a fair amount of long and low, spiral in , spiral out.

when we did start lateral work, we did leg yield, and we'd start on the 'quarter line', and yield toward the wall. it is natural for the hrose to want to move toward the wall, so we take advantage of that to get leg yield. becuase forward momentum is more important than anything, if the horse got all crooked, and slowed down to a crawl, we would abandon any sideways movement and ask the hrose to go only straight forward, to reestablish forward momentum and impulsion.

I think that might be a good way for you to practice this mvement, on your own.

she'd also say, "think of it like two steps straight foward, two steps at an angle toward the wall, two forward, two at an angle." then, you'd get to "one step forwad, one at an angle toward the wall, one forward, one sideways, one forward . . . "

it helps you to not get crooked. Also, look a bit toward the wall, since you want to GO there.
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post #6 of 147 Old 08-01-2016, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the feedback, Liny. :)

In the video, I was trying to both bend, and counter bend on opposite sides of the arena, while trying to see if I can push her away from the rail with my outside leg. On one end, I was trying to gently pull with my outside rein, until she gave into the bit then I would give (my instructor would always tell me to give and take with the reins). On the otherside, I would do the opposite (with the reinwork at least, while trying to push with the outside leg), as that was how I was taught my last lesson if I remember correctly. I remember my instructor saying it was bend vs counter bend, and during the later part of the lesson last sunday (the 24th), my instructor added in to try to get the horse away from the rail while keeping the horse bent and going straight? Sorry, my mind is going a bit jumbly with trying to remember lol. I guess you can say I was trying to move her shoulders inward vs outward on the opposite sides on the arena.

I think I sort of got it at around 11min in the vid, when I picked up the trot (correct me if that is not so). I keep rewatching the vid over and over again to see where I am hitting and missing. I will definitely try the leg yield on my next practice ride. And yeah, I have a bad habit of sometimes either looking down, or not looking exactly where I am going, which I have to break. Thank you for pointing that out.

I am sorry about the clearness of the video as well lol. My brother is really awesome in that he will come and film my practice rides. They are usually 45min. I give myself 10min warm up before trying exercises that I learned in my past lessons. I have my brother start recording after the 10min warm up. That advice about thinking of it like two steps forward, two at an angle helps as well. :) Thank you very much for the feedback!

"All bonds are built on trust. Without it, you have nothing."

Last edited by Phantomrose; 08-01-2016 at 03:03 AM.
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post #7 of 147 Old 08-03-2016, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Well, what an awesome day at the barn! :)

I arrived to the barn at around seven in the morning. I tend to arrive very early on Wednesdays, and stay there until around 6:30pm, due to the fact that I currently do not have a car. So, I made a comprimise with my father, in which he drops me off very early before work on Wednesdays (it's on the way) and I will just stay there all day to help out. I love hanging out at the barn, and helping out where I can, whether it be bringing horses in, helping with feed, or mucking out stalls.

I did not have my lesson with Snickers until 11, so I groomed and tacked her up at around 10:35am, and went down to the outdoor arena to warm her up. It was a beautiful day, in which it was neither too hot, or too cold. It was simply perfect riding weather. In the warm up, Snickers was lovely to work with. She had a wonderful walk, and picked up into a nice fluffy trot when I asked for her to trot. When it came to lesson time, I was ready. The lesson was all about canter work, and be comfortable in canter... and it simply went amazing! I managed to get Snickers to canter, and even picked up the correct leads when going over the crossrails that my instructor used to help me pick up canter. I managed to steer her, and even went over a jump while in canter, which was pretty exciting. I was happy with how the lesson went, and how Snickers responded to me. I really hope that we get more canter work in. I'm happy that my instructor was proud as well. She really is a great instructor, and helps me a lot in my riding progress. It was a really great lesson, and am already looking forward to the next lesson, which will be out at a cross country park. It will be the beginning for me with cross country schooling, and I am looking forward to it.

After the lesson, I helped out with feeding, turning out the horses for the day, and mucking out the stalls. We prepared them for the next day, since most of the barn will be away at a show tomorrow. I also managed to get some ice cream with some of the girls, which was nice. It was just an overall good day.
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post #8 of 147 Old 08-08-2016, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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It wasn't a bad day at the barn for Sunday. The weather was just about right, and it seemed a bit quieter, which was pretty nice. I rode Snickers for a practice ride, and it went lovely.

Snickers and I worked on circles, lateral flexion, spiral in and outs, and the free walk. This time, the lateral flexion with her went better. I was happy, and satisfied with how she responded, and how she went right into it when I asked. My circles with her were nice, but could use some touching up. I will have to touch up on my circles again, since my next show with her is August 28th... eek! My free walk with her was good, and I think I improved on getting her to go with a bit more activity. In my last dressage test, I saw the comment that said the free walk was nice, but needed a bit more impulsion, and I think we made a bit of progress with it. The spiral in and out exercise also worked out well for the both of us. I liked how today was just relaxed, calming, and satisfying.

I am grateful for a lesson horse like Snickers. She is a awesome mare that tries her best. I love her willingness, and her spirit. She truly does give it her all, and I can see why she is in the lesson program. My instructor's daughter, who is Snickers' owner really did an awesome job with her, and I am grateful for that.

"All bonds are built on trust. Without it, you have nothing."
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post #9 of 147 Old 08-08-2016, 08:45 AM
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Welcome back! Doesn't it feel great to be back in the saddle?! Nothing quite like it, and it's amazing to see how much comes back to us! Snickers is so cute! Sounds like you have a great listener horse. Nothing better than feeling like you accomplished something on each ride. & the best kind of people are the ones you meet at the barn. :)

Ride more, worry less.
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post #10 of 147 Old 08-11-2016, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, PoptartShop! :)
It's amazing and so relieving to be back in the saddle. I missed it so much... and always look forward to my next day at the barn. Every time I go there, it is a learning experience, and I feel like I either learn something new, or progress little by little. Snickers is indeed a great little mare, and the crew at the barn are so nice, and friendly. I really like the environment there, and enjoy spending the whole day there.
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