Trials and Tribulations of the Adult Beginner - Page 11 - The Horse Forum
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post #101 of 270 Old 11-04-2016, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
your excitement reminds me of how greedy and excited I get when I go to an art supply store; I am all into buying this or that new materials, for trying new techniques, new papers, new paints, new brushes, .. . etc. I just LOVE the gear and the dream.

and then, it sits and takes up space in my room. it takes me forever to actually use them, and what I really need is to just draw, draw and draw. quantity over quality, for a while.
If I had the ability to just ride, ride and ride that surely would be the right answer.

I'm very limited in that right now - so to carry the metaphor forward I end up doing a lot of staring at galeries, researching composition and technique books, and reading art critique. In the end, it won't make my hands do what they need to do - but the hope is that it can help make my practice more informed once I get a chance to actually practice. I agree entirely that the ratio I have of practice/study right now is badly lopsided towards study. This is true even for someone like me who really likes study and tends to employ a lot of it. But the reality is that I can only increase the 'practice' side so much with the access I have, so 'study' is the option I have available to work on.

That said, in my opinion: Budget permitted there's nothing wrong with buying art supplies (or horse gear) if that's what brings you joy - even if they might sit on the shelf a bit (presuming they won't spoil). If you find you get more joy from thinking about buying art supplies than actually doing so then by all means stop at that step. But I'm of the opinion that joy is a precious thing that should be nurtured, even if nurturing it doesn't always lead to the most logical or efficient processes.


...

As a note: I can't actually think of a good way to indicate how much adopting that last statement as a philosophy has changed my life for the better. Am I being bit silly with all this? Definitely. But I'm also excited and enjoying it deeply. For me that's worth being a little silly.
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post #102 of 270 Old 11-04-2016, 02:36 PM
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Sounds like fun!

Hello, I'm a re-rider (and apparently still learning to post messages because my last reply was lost...) after 20 years and having a great time! It's inspiring to read your journal, thank you for sharing.

A book that has very much helped me is Centered Riding, which offers very technical instruction, but you can take a few pointers to each lesson.

I personally love being around horses and the people at the barn where I take lessons. As soon as I step in, everything else drops away, it's a great feeling! My trainer tells me that I often "overthink" and she is right. Maybe others do too. I'm trying to leave the "overthinking" to outside of lessons and just do the work in the practice ring each time I ride. For me it's like learning anything new, the outside work and research is very helpful to reinforce what I learned that day.

And when I'm on the horse, I feel joy. Have fun! We are all so lucky to have the opportunity to include horses in our lives.
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post #103 of 270 Old 11-04-2016, 02:40 PM
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Centered Riding is definitely a really great text to help a person get started and get better at riding.

Centered Riding, by Sally Swift
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post #104 of 270 Old 11-04-2016, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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To both @Mimi2016 and @tinyliny :

You may both laugh a little, but actually “Centered Riding” by Sally Swift was literally the first book on horses I read - at the recommendation of @egrogan earlier in this thread.

My original plan in buying the recommended books was that I would work through each one and afterwards I would write up my thoughts in a sort of an overview/commentary format. Centered Riding actually threw a bit of a kink in that plan. This was because I realize I actually wanted to get a little farther along in riding before commenting on it too much. It really seemed to me a far better book on refining technique rather than a how-to, so I wanted to give it a good shake.

That said, now that I'm back to thinking about it and it's come up again it may be worthwhile putting down my thoughts in a post.
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post #105 of 270 Old 11-04-2016, 07:19 PM
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Yes, would love to hear your book reviews, as I'm already working on getting some of the ones that I've seen mentioned here in your thread, but will now wait until you tell us what you thought about them. Thanks!
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post #106 of 270 Old 11-04-2016, 11:54 PM
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you will find that as you go along, you go back and reread books, and you get more out of them every time you read, and as you know more about what they are talking about.

you know, it's the old thing where you don't know what you don't know in the beginning, and as you go along, you begin to see how very much you DON'T know, . . you know what I mean.

all I can say is that the Centered Riding is a good one to keep for a later reread, in a year or two.
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post #107 of 270 Old 11-05-2016, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
you will find that as you go along, you go back and reread books, and you get more out of them every time you read, and as you know more about what they are talking about.

you know, it's the old thing where you don't know what you don't know in the beginning, and as you go along, you begin to see how very much you DON'T know, . . you know what I mean.

all I can say is that the Centered Riding is a good one to keep for a later reread, in a year or two.
Yes! I have a library shelf of riding books and anytime I revisit one, I understand a concept a little better than the last time I read it. And I always keep reading. Sometimes something is worded in a way that you understand it so much better when one author says it than another.
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~And He created the horse and said to it, "I have made thee without equal."~
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post #108 of 270 Old 11-06-2016, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LlamaPacker View Post
Yes, would love to hear your book reviews, as I'm already working on getting some of the ones that I've seen mentioned here in your thread, but will now wait until you tell us what you thought about them. Thanks!
Awesome :). I will start posting them as soon as I get a chance - probably Monday or Tuesday. I actually have my one for Centered Rider mostly written up. I just didn't post it because there's a huge chunk of 'I don't feel qualified to comment on this'. This will be incoming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
you will find that as you go along, you go back and reread books, and you get more out of them every time you read, and as you know more about what they are talking about.

you know, it's the old thing where you don't know what you don't know in the beginning, and as you go along, you begin to see how very much you DON'T know, . . you know what I mean.

all I can say is that the Centered Riding is a good one to keep for a later reread, in a year or two.
Yep and agreed. At a bare minimum I want to re-read some of the sections after I actually have learned the foundations of the skills she talks about in each section. I.e. reading her section on the canter after I actually learn to canter to see how things come together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by equinesmitten View Post
Yes! I have a library shelf of riding books and anytime I revisit one, I understand a concept a little better than the last time I read it. And I always keep reading. Sometimes something is worded in a way that you understand it so much better when one author says it than another.
I am kind of a reading addict honestly. It's one of the ways I really tend to approach learning. I have 7 equestrian books thus far, 3 of which I have read and 1 of which I'm working on. It's coming along. My favorite thus far has been Riding and Schooling horses by Harry D. Chamberlin - recommend by @bsms . It just really made some things click for me. I'll write up some stuff on that one as well.

Honestly, I would love to see (and maybe should start a thread somewhere) peoples book reviews/recommendations. There's so much good (and bad! - and just controversial) stuff out there that it's really interesting to hear different people's favorites/least favorites.
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post #109 of 270 Old 11-06-2016, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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Post Lesson 4 and Volunteering

Today was a sort of generally awesome day of riding and volunteering.

The Lesson
Lesson started with herd-catching Dragon. That went pretty darn well actually. The halter I used was a lot stiffer and slid on quickly and effectively. The same two little treat-beggars as before came to bother me, but backed off fairly quickly once I threatened to thwack them.

Walking back towards the gate, actually a bit away from the herd, I did get rushed at a little by… I think Bronze? He came over somewhat speedily at me from having been quite a ways away from the rest of the group, seeming like he was going to run pretty near me (though I don’t think into me - hard to explain how I knew that, but the body language wasn’t quite straight-on). I just had no patience for it. It was early. Perhaps I should have been more impressed or concerned - but I just really wasn’t. I got the rope ready to seriously clock him, and about the time I finished doing that (at which point he was probably 15’ away) he changed directions abruptly and took a considerably wider path around us. He never even got in range.

Tacking up went smoothly - though slowly as I was doing all of it this time. I picked out Dragon’s hooves again (the joy of being first lesson). I chatted with Jill a little idly.

The lesson itself went very well. After warm-up we spent the first two thirds of it mostly on posting trot - which is becoming much more reliably solid. I have gotten out from falling into being ‘behind the horse’ and the whole motion feels less rough and more reliable. I had much better speed control - I think largely because I’ve gotten better at shuffling around rein length without being so distracted that everything else falls apart.

We then went on to picking at my form a bit on the lead line, and I was formally taught two-point.

Two point just sort of clicked. I found a balance with the leg position which was just very comfortable and secure and was able to get into it reliably. It apparently looked pretty good from the ground as well. I was able to stay up there for a lap around our small lead circle without being forced out of it. Ironically, it actually felt better and less likely to fall forward than some of the times I’ve posted trot.

We also did some lunge work involving focusing on stability/quietness/position of the hands in posting trot while holding imaginary reins and balance challenges. Airplane torso-turns remain my weak area - not dangerously so, but annoyingly so. I need more work on them.

Then my trainer had me two-point along the straight stretch in the arena and practice trot->two point->trot transitions. I tend to not be ready to immediately post after coming down from two-point… or maybe I’m just timing coming down wrong. Whatever, we weren’t picking on it today - just introducing the concept.

Then we did a whole bunch of no-stirrup work at the trot including a whole lot of drop-and-catch stirrups. Jill seems very intent that I get this skill down solidly. I usually catch at least one within a second or two and the other takes me a little longer - but despite being told I’m doing quite well at it she continues to drill it to the point where I’m wondering if it’s a serious safety-critical thing.

We haven’t yet gotten to posting trot without stirrups, but I see it coming.

Jill seemed very pleased with how things went today. I mentioned to her I was thinking of possibly trying to do a quarter-lease or something on a horse to practice with and she immediately volunteered that when I was ready we can look at doing that for one of these horses in the winter - while making it clear that I am not ready to lease one of these horses yet. I agree with her and was unsurprised - but flatly excited that the possibility might exist in a timeframe that would include her winter arena season.

Of course, after all that I am nearly an idiot and distracted. I do a great job un-tacking the bridle without missing anything or ever leaving control of the horse (Dragon is very forgiving, but other horses here may not be) but after that I get ahead of myself and start walking Dragon out with her saddle still on. Yes, seriously, I am that much of an idiot. .

Jill asks me what I’m doing, and I shamefaced realize my foolishness and start rapidly heading back. I remove the tack and lamely explain to the next lesson (who’s finishing their own tack-up and looking at me like I’m crazy) that this is my fourth lesson and I am an idiot. She reassuringly tells me I’m doing great to be able to tack/un-tack the horse at all at this point.

I then forget the horse blanket, but honestly consider that a much more fair error considering I wasn’t even sure we still wanted her blanket on as it was getting warmer.

I will say that a lot of times it seems that Jill is nowhere in sight/mind until I do something wrong/stupid, and then she’s right there catching it. I really do like that about her.



Volunteering
After the lesson I rushed off to grab a quick deli sandwich in the nearby town and then drove out to the Rescue Barn. I would have missed it entirely were it not for google maps, which kindly pointed out that the long driveway with the ‘barn closed’ sign really was where I wanted to be.

Open volunteering time had a lot of volunteers. The sign-in sheet had 25 by the end of the day - plus the longer-term folk who I don’t believe bother to use the sheet. About two thirds of the volunteers there were youths and teenagers, with another third or so being adults. A lot of people seemed to know what they were doing, and I felt a little awkward trying to figure out who was in charge and who I should be talking to.

I turned in paperwork and was asked if knew anything about horses. I explained I had just started taking English lessons but had no real experience with horse care of any sort - though I’d be happy to learn. I was asked if I knew about basic horse safety. I said ‘don’t get behind the horse’ - that was apparently good enough.

It was explained to me that everyone inside right now was actually pretty well behaved and safe - but that every unfamiliar horse here should be treated as potentially dangerous until I knew otherwise. This made perfect sense to me, especially given that this place specifically takes in horses confiscated for abuse (amongst other sources).

The setup there included a number of areas - the largest barn included a small indoor arena surrounded by stalls on three sides. Some of these stalls had paddock areas which surrounded the barn and others were indoor-only. My understanding is most of those indoor-only stalls were occupied by horses with lameness issues, excepting one very scared mule who was with a friend in one of the big stalls working on being around people and the only horse inside I didn’t really interact with - who was cribbing basically the entire time I was there and seemed to be a source of discussion amongst the senior volunteers.

There were some sad scenes. The worst of these was a horse missing an eye that was still very fresh. I was actually warned I may not want to look, but not being at all squeamish I did. He was actually incredibly sweet - not the sweetest of all the horses there, but still shockingly polite and friendly given that he looked a bit a mess. I believe he was one of the thirty or so ‘permanent residents’ who the shelter has no real intention of adopting out and are here for a peaceful retirement.

Beyond the main barn there were several different pasture areas in which groups were turned out, each of which had fairly solid free-standing shelters open on two sides with water-hoses next to them. Then there was a whole separate barn which was occupied entirely by mules, donkeys, and a couple goats. That barn also had a lot of turnout area - but the animals seemed to crowd around inside more than the horses did. One goat kept asking for attention, but I didn’t want to risk getting nipped.

My first job was topping off water-troughs, which was mostly doable from the isles but did involve getting into a few of the stalls. Then I swept the isles for a while, and contributed my tallness towards helping take down some of the summer fans.

The stable overall was in the early stages of preparing for winter, and a lot of things were getting pulled out and checked on. Some of the biggest news was the discovery that one of the storage barns containing blankets had sprung a leak during all the obnoxious wetness that we had been having recently. This had wetted some of the blankets and led to mold. Unfortunately, as mentioned by the lead organizer “I have too many horses with respiratory problems to take any chances” and there was a considerable operation underway to clean, dry, sanitize, and throw away anything that might be impacted.

I ended up getting picked up by that team. Due to the fact we were dealing with mold and were being very careful in how we handled things it was only adult and older volunteers. It was a surprisingly big job that would end up taking our little team of four the entire rest of the volunteering day - every single blanket had to be pulled out, inspected carefully, and if any mold at all was spotted tossed. Anything where mold wasn’t spotted but which was close to any items where it had was slated for an even more careful inspection, and the items which neither had mold nor were close to mold were hung up to air out in the breeze. About a third of the supply was just trashed entirely. Someone was brought up to talk about how the leak would be fixed, then everything that was deemed safe was carefully folded, sorted by size, and re-packed onto newly labeled shelves now sitting on pallets up above the floor.

“Team Blanket” was a lot of hard work, but was also fairly satisfying. I ended up getting on well with the lady who seemed to be leading it up (I think a chief volunteer?) who started talking about things like events she wants to organize in upcoming weeks. They seemed pleased to have me there - and I was thrilled as well.

Notably, one thing some of the more experienced volunteers did seem to be doing was working on desensitizing the horses and a little bit of work in-hand. I’d really like to get to the point where that is on my skill list. That said, that’d be more an item for the future.

So overall - great day with the horses. Another lesson to come tomorrow - though I am not expecting anything terribly exciting.
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post #110 of 270 Old 11-06-2016, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Post Lesson 5: Learning to Share

I woke up sore this morning and realized the cost of my decision to add the rescue work in the same weekend that I added my back-to-back lessons. Keep in mind that an entire lesson of posting trot still leaves me a little sore as it is. Barn chores also result in soreness. I’m in pain and we haven’t even gotten to the lesson yet.

While I understand that daylight savings time is a real annoyance for some people it was my savior this morning. I woke up early to force myself through a full 20 minute stretch routine, grabbed a protein-filled breakfast, and then stretched some more. Finally, I gave in and took a painkiller - I’m going to be paying for this, but I’d like to pay for it while sitting at my desk job tomorrow instead of during my lesson time.

When I arrived at the lesson I was very confused… there was another student there. I was wondering if one of us (perhaps me, perhaps her) had managed to screw our times up. She went out to catch her lesson horse, and I sort of tentatively walked forward until Jill told me to go catch Dragon.

I just kind of went with it. Catching Dragon at the beginning of feeding time was both easier and harder than prior attempts. On the plus side, no one else bothered me at all. On the downside, Dragon actually required a bit of effort to get away from the food. She was utterly polite in letting me mess with her, but as soon as I went to lead her away from the hay she actually took a fair bit of assertiveness. I also didn’t bring a treat out, so she hadn’t been pre-bribed (though oh I spoiled her during grooming… she DID miss breakfast after all).

I ended up tacking up a little hastily to try to keep up with the other obviously much-more-advanced student. I skipped hoof picking due to time. This is probably where I should have asked what was going on - but to avoid being awkward I just focused on getting myself ready and figured my curiosity would eventually be satisfied and if I had any issues with it I could talk with Jill about it privately later.

As to what was going on: well, I got to learn what it was like to ride Dragon with another horse around. I’m not completely sure if this was by planning or because the other student had a lesson to make up - but either way it ended up working out very well.

We very much were on two separate tracks doing entirely different things. Her lesson was Pepper, who if you recall from my second post had just come in from off the track less than a month ago. They were focusing quite a bit on flexibility and balance while doing tighter turns and at the tail end the smallest bit of jumping - while dealing with another horse in the ring. My lesson was mostly spent trying to clean up and polish my posting trot and two-point with the new element of dealing with another horse in the ring.

… It was a probably unhealthy amount of fun.

Probably a third of my lesson was spent just trying to learn to really control corners while posting trot. Another third was spent working on weaving around fences while another horse also was weaving around fences - working on both steering and environmental awareness. The last third was spent on ‘fun’ stuff - two-pointing and cavaletti, now set up much closer together.

For the most part Dragon was absolutely fine with another horse around - it was clear this was very old-hat. There were a couple times where she sort of tried to ‘latch on’ to the other horse and I had to gently pull her attention back but I suspect this was much more a challenge for the rider on Pepper then it was for me.

The weaving around each other was just a tremendous amount of fun. I was the less experienced rider, but Dragon could turn on a dime if I needed her to in order to avoid a problem (and I have no problems staying on when she does this). The more experienced rider was obviously much more familiar with this exercise but Pepper didn’t do nearly as well with tight turns or following turning cues. Overall the exercise was just challenging enough to be really enjoyable, and neither of us ended up needing to halt our horses to avoid disrupting each other.

Going up into two point the first couple times went beautifully. My assessment from yesterday was right - I just needed to find the right moment to come down in order to be ready to start posting immediately. After I 'got' it this clicked into place a couple times in a row.

Then as things got a little more exciting I discovered a new problem - I would go into two point and Dragon would speed WAY the heck up. I think we were still in trot - but it was a trot at a speed I have not ridden in any other context. The first time she did this I aborted my two-point shortly after she drove forward - which put me trying to slow her down from the seat during a quite bumpy (but secure enough) ride. The second time I just stayed up in two point and tried to slow her down from there, which worked better (but led to me discovering that she steers quite beautifully from two-point because I was running out of arena-space). To be honest, this is now something I will need to figure out. I am pretty sure there’s something I’m cueing wrong that’s telling her to do this, or that she’s taking as an excuse/permission to do this. Jill indicated I’m giving her too much rein - so that’s the next item to work on.

Posting over the cavaletti was still very rocky. Jill gave me permission to two-point over them as an experiment and admittedly I found that a lot more comfortable. Then I kept doing it and Jill called me out on doing it because it let me avoid trying to post trot over the cavaletti… she was right. I was no longer allowed to two-point over the cavaletti until I can properly post trot over them.

There’s something weird happening with my timing and Dragon’s timing whenever we go over them. It always ends with me a little off-balance forward as we step off the last one, and then coming down a little late. I asked Jill and she basically told me that while she could pick at the timing the best way to get this one will just be to keep trying it until my body figures it out - but at the same time we can't just drill it repeatedly mostly for the horse's sake. So we're going to work on getting the foundations of posting solid and then keep coming back to this exercise until I have it smoothly.

By the time we were done both Pepper and Dragon were genuinely tired and well worked. Dragon was sweaty for the first time I’ve ridden a lesson with her and we got to do the ‘we just really had a workout’ un-tacking with grooming. This involved re-curry combing her out, especially around where the saddle was. I also got around to doing her hooves at this time - though they didn’t need it nearly as bad as they had previously. Then I spoiled her some more.

She got to be put into one of the stalls to get her own private breakfast and relax a little. I believe she had another lesson in an hour or two. For my part I am exhilarated but for the first time during a lesson my body really has been tested - my legs feel a little jelly-like and I am really just wiped.

A nap may be in order.
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