Sunday, January 26, 2020

Spring in Winter

It's been unseasonably warm this January. No snow for the month to date, which has only happened four other times in recorded history. It has made for some pleasant riding outside on the weekends, provided the wind isn't blowing. Today was no exception.

This picture sums up everything about our current relationship that you might need to know.
Coming back into work is hard and he would much rather be a pasture poneh, thankuverymuch.

Half-pass through cones at the trot.

It was a difficult ride. We are both in a difficult place and I need to seriously channel my inner patience to weather this storm. I know there is something brewing beneath the surface for me and I am trying to work through it. After working on our arena stuff, we did a bit of a ride out of the arena, which seemed to help both of us immensely. I am looking forward to trail riding this spring.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Rhythm Beads

I spent the day on Friday at the Stockshow with a group of barn friends, which included lots of laughing, food and some retail therapy. We ended the evening watching Gambler's Choice jumping show and enjoying the fact that I have zero desire to careen around an arena at mach 10 with limited steering and am thankful for the sport of Working Equitation.

One of the items we found was a set of Rhythm Beads. I've thought that it would be helpful to have them for some exercises in the arena, and would help me with confirming our rhythm, besides that, music is supposed to sooth the savage beast, so what would it hurt, amiright?

Bareback pad and Rhythm Beads

They are a turquoise blue-green, with purple accents and round orange beads that turn colors when they get warm (remember the mood rings in the 70's). The center piece is feathers and a shield wheel for weight. 

They also came with three strands to be hooked into the horse's mane, which were on the other side of his neck.

Center piece that hangs on his chest.

We had a very fun ride. Amanda (my trainer) and her sister K were riding together. Amanda started on her FEI Grand Prix horse, Laz, and K was riding their mare, Maggie (3rd-4th level). I was riding bareback with the rhythm beads on, listening to the music Ashke was making. About the time we were warmed up and ready to start working on our more difficult things, Amanda's mom hollered out and suggested we play follow the leader. By that time, Amanda and K had switched horses, so I started following Amanda on Maggie. 

It was so much fun!!

We did shoulder in and haunches out, changes of bend and 10 meter half circles, half pass with changes, shallow serpentines with changes, pretty much anything Amanda could think to throw at us. I finally had to call a short break because I was starting to feel my exhaustion (bareback vs saddle - the struggle is real). I sat in the center of the arena and watched K get a very soft, very relaxed piaffe for a couple of steps and several moments of passage. Then we did another session with all three horses again. Laz led that round with Ashke and I taking up the rear behind Maggie. It was amazing. And like always, when I am not concentrating on each moment and just relaxing with the flow, his changes improved. 

We talked about organizing a ride with six or eight of us, where we do a drill team ride. There's things its easier to figure out in a group and it teaches the horses to relax and move together. Plus, its fun to ride with your friends. I thought yesterday, while we were cantering behind Maggie, that Ashke doesn't rush or try to race the other horses at the canter in the arena, even when following another horse. I wish I could train that behavior on the trail as well, since we still struggle at the canter on trail.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Year End 2019

This has been a hell of a year. Some things have been better than I expected and some things have been so much harder than they needed to be. I have struggled to deal with an emotional exhaustion that runs deep and wide and strong. My anger and depression and exhaustion and frustration have kept me from the barn, because none of that is Ashke's fault nor his burden to carry for me. I have felt throttled from being completely honest in this space by the politics of divorce and because I don't want to be that person who is angry and bitter in public, but it has hampered my writing process. I am struggling to maintain equilibrium and peace in this space when I want to rage and flail over everything that has happened.

There has to be a balance between being honest and open in this space without coming off as a bitter old woman, cuz no one needs that, not even me. So here goes.

Show Season

Ashke was astonishing this year. Our three shows resulted in qualifying scores at all three at Intermediate B (Level 5) in Working Equitation. Considering our very first flying lead change was December 2nd during a Nicole Harrington Clinic a year ago, his progress has been amazing. I couldn't be more proud of this guy and how hard he tries for me. If we can work through the tension we feel when we are warming up and ride even close to the same level at a show as we do in our lessons, I will be a happy camper.

In 2020, there are seven shows on the schedule, some with new judges and some with judges we've shown under in the past. I am excited about all of the shows, but especially the shows at the Boulder County Fairgrounds the same weekend as the Rocky Mountain Dressage Show, which means my trainer and my barn will be there as well. I also plan to show at the National Championship in McCook, NE this year, which should make a really full show season. The goal I am working on with Amanda is to ride the same level one handed this year. It will depend on how well Ashke and I are communicating and how balanced he is in the canter. And how much tension he has in the warm up arena. Steadying him is easier with two hands, and asking him to remember to be round is easier with two, but I also know we are practicing it every ride and he is getting better, stronger, fancier every ride.

Hocks and Everything

The last injections were in October, when I was homeless and it was impossible to get out to ride, and we only did the left hock. Then I had his shoes pulled at his last farrier visit. He has been very, very sound ever since. I couldn't be happier with how he is moving. I have to give him time to warm up (me too), but once we are there, he is stepping up under himself, moving straighter at the canter and in lateral work, better half-pass movement and consistently improving flying changes. The old mexican saddle seems to be the perfect fit for Ashke and he is still going great in it. Prior to not riding as much as I was, his wither and shoulder were heavily muscled. My little beefcake.

We do a bareback ride at least once a week and I think it has improved my balance and ability to ride. I am happy to report that I haven't lost my ability to ride off my butt and balance and not off my feet. I love riding bareback and love the idea of doing trail riding that way, but I'm not really sure how practical that is in the real world. Amanda has wondered if a treeless saddle would be a good option, but for now I am happy with what we are working with. 

Home Life

Let's start with the basics. I have lost 60 lbs since March and I feel great. The weight loss wasn't planned, nor was it due to my not eating. It was caused by the reduction of anxiety in my life. For the first time in twenty years I began sleeping heavily, solidly, and without stressing about what might disturb the other person in bed with me. I'm not sure I recognized how much anxiety I carried in worry and stress in my living arrangements, and although there was stress associated with the divorce it just wasn't the same. That was more of a "facing the unknown" type of stress (especially where the creatures under my care were concerned) and less of the "I'm never going to be good enough, sexy enough, enough-enough" to make her love me. I no longer needed to worry about her happiness or her meals (est 127,000 meals that I prepared over the course of our relationship), or how she is impacting the fung shui of our home. And I no longer have to live with or spend time with a liar. I didn't realize how those emotions impacted my feeling of safety in my home until I moved into my own house. 

 Boo is fearless where the dogs are concerned.
She's not too far off from wrestling with wild abandon.

 Speaking of which, I love my home. I love living with T and B and nothing has been easier. I feel so safe and comfortable that I haven't done any cleansing rituals or cast a circle around the property. I feel safe and sheltered. Of course, having three big dogs doesn't hurt, but I really am very happy with our living environment. T and B seem to love their space and we had a great time over the holidays. T got a promotion to assistant manager at work, so he is moving to a morning-centric work schedule and I am looking forward to doing meals with them in the near future. 

 The kittens have started spending monitored time upstairs.
So far, no one has been eaten and although Mia really wants to play, she is learning to be less enthusiastic in her approach.

Our holidays were amazing and I had so much fun. The house still has outside lights and might until March. The tree was beautiful and mostly covered with new ornaments. The only bummer was an ornament that was given to me by my great-grandmother, that I swear I packed, was not in any of the boxes I moved into the house. T was pretty distressed (I've had this particular ornament since I was a year old) and reached out to see if he could get it back. Suffice it to say, the ornament was not forthcoming. I hope it brings her great pleasure every time she sees it on her tree. T and B got me a Switch for the holiday and I have been playing Pokemon Sword ever since. I am really looking forward to playing Lego The Skywalker Saga  with T again (our first video game experience together when he was six). Plus, a couple of Zelda games. I also made sugar cookies (baby yoda), molasses sugar cookies, plus fudge, peppermint hard candy, and caramels. I haven't done that much holiday cooking since I was a kid. (It was a huge endeavor when I was young. My mom baked and made candy for weeks leading up to the holiday.)

I'm looking forward to 2020 and getting a year under my belt. I'm giving myself a year to mourn, grieve, process, and experience all of the events, holidays, birthdays and traditions that I have been molding my life around for the past 23 year, anew. Establish new traditions and carry over the one's we really enjoy. (We may never take down the lights.) It's not that I am sad about being divorced and I absolutely don't want to go back, but I also know that things catch me off guard and trigger me. I need to be able to work through those trigger moments without explaining to someone else why I am feeling the way I am feeling, other than T. He understands and has been really supportive. 

Goals for 2020:  

I want to camp a lot this coming summer. I have a hybrid camper that I am dying to take out and test. The dogs don't really need the option to run, like they used to, but I do need my hammock in the shade of pine trees, rocks to climb and a star filled sky to gaze into at night.

Horse shows, including the National Championship show, by myself. Our club is filled with women who hitch their own trailers, haul to the shows and show without any physical support from spouse or kids. I am determined to do all of that myself. I don't need anyone other than me and I need to start acting like that.

The idea of hitching and driving to ride applies to trail riding as well. I miss it so much and really want to get back on trail. I also think Ashke will love to go. I want to get back to Vedauwoo, where I can ride wherever I want at the pace I want and not have to worry about picking a trail the bike can keep up with me on. I hope to find a couple of people who I can ride with that I will enjoy spending time with, and who are willing to ride for the length of time I want to ride.

I am looking forward to making of my home a jungle of bushes, weeds, plants and trees (if I can keep the puppy from eating them) for the dogs to play in and around. I also have fencing to repair/replace and flooring to do. T and I are talking about building a dog shelter between the two decks we have to provide shade during the summer and warm bedding during spring and fall. I'm thinking a slanted roof, with shade walls and straw bedding (I love straw). I have 18 straw bales spread across the back yard, which has really reduced the amount of mud tracked into my house and will give the ground moisture and protection to grow something green in the spring. Hopefully the seed will take and whatever grows will come up through the straw.

I want to reach the end of next year in a place where it feels as though the past is a distant and dim memory. I'm not sure at this point that I want to date anyone. I really like having my own space, my own schedule, my own budget, and I'm not in a place where I want to compromise with anyone again. It will give me the time to support T in his process as well, since the change to his life is almost as great as mine. I'm hoping that we will be in a place to move forward with whatever we desire at the end of the year.

I also need to get to the barn on a more regular schedule. This has been a very inconsistent year as far as riding goes, and although we have made significant progress in our development, it's taken a back seat to all of the chaos I've been dealing with. I need to make it a priority for both of our sakes. I think he misses me as much as I miss him.

So, that's it. I meant to publish this yesterday, but didn't manage it. Here is to a new year.