Longest 10 Days

We’re 10 days into 2020 and it’s been… a year. Already. Could we just chill and have a drink here for a second and not jump headfirst off a cliff? Apparently not.

First things first, I came back from vacation to a box from Genny for Secret Santa! She knocked it out of the park too. The Charlie Mackey book I’ve wanted, a snuggly navy hat, an adorable keychain charm and the best smelling hand lotion (that mayyyy be already partially gone) – it’s like she knew everything that would make me happy and sent all of them.

But then the new year came and with it, brought a gross disgusting virus that laid me flat out for four days and had me hacking my lungs up. Lovely. Luckily, I recovered from that in time to go pick up the cabinets for the kitchen island I’m building – had a whole plan how I was going to prime and sand this weekend, lay out the island next week… Well.

In unloading said cabinets (yes, ALONE I KNOW IT WAS DUMB OKAY), I managed to get two of the three done. And then promptly dropped the third and caught my right middle finger between it and a metal pole. After cursing a lot, I went inside and watched it gradually grow larger and turn fun colors all night. But, I mean… it’s a finger, right? I was out of tape at home so I figured I’d just ask a nurse at work the next day to tape it.

Not so straightforward seeing as one of the docs I work with looked at it and went, “Uhhh you’re not taping that, you’re going to a hand specialist like.. tomorrow.”

Oh.

Sure enough, I can’t do ANYTHING STRAIGHTFORWARD.

Normal people break their foot – maybe an easy to fix bone, a toe, etc. I break my foot (circa 2016), I break a weird ass bone and end up in a boot for 5 months.

Normal people break a finger, they buddy tape, go about life. I break a finger, I end up in a massive splint contraption for 10 days before finding out if I need surgery to fix the fact that my finger is now crooked. Awesome.

Mix in we’re also working on a scar on my chin and that appointment happened Wednesday afternoon so I have a bruised face.

I am well on my way to being in pieces by February.

But at least my health insurance deductible might be hit by then?

(HAHA I haven’t even mentioned the bunny I found and how I fostered a damn RABBIT with a Jack Russell in the house…)

GO HOME 2020 YOU ARE A MEAN DRUNK

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A decade gone by

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of 2019 and with it, the end of a decade! Emily did a fun ‘decade in photos’ look back that seems to have caught on and I’m nothing if not a copycat.

2010

I was in my second semester of undergrad and my mom was showing Lucy as an amateur. This is the year of her second suspensory tear and we pretty much retired her at this point to hang out at my parents’ place full time with Sancho the Mini Donk. I did go hop on a friend’s horse at Auburn once, but there’s no photographic evidence. I was burned out beyond belief at the end of high school and was thoroughly enjoying being a “regular” college kid.

2011

Still didn’t ride much (at all). Hopped on Lucy a few times over the summer before my sophomore year of college, but mostly was still being a college student. Went to Pinto Worlds to watch Coorina’s baby show (and win a world championship!)

2012

I spent my summer hacking Lucy around and riding my aunt and uncle’s horse, Harry. Interned at the Pinto World Show in one of the most awful and sleep deprived experiences of my life, but learned for once and for all I had no desire to go back to breed show life. Found my college major and went back to school for junior year in the fall as an officer on sorority exec board where some geniuses trusted a 20 year old with a half million dollars.

2013

Finished out junior year, still no ponies in my life at school. Came home for the summer and interned, lost 22lbs and took my favorite photos ever with Lucy. Turned 21, went to Vegas, enough said. Back to school, football season, the best day of my life, the Kick Six, lost a national championship by 13 seconds. Living with my best friends in the world in the best townhouse in the best city.

2014

Lane was my first OTTB and such a good boy. I also rode all summer in too long stirrups.

Did some more college senior things, interviewed for grad schools, got into grad school, put two deposits down and changed my mind on a school at the last minute. Oops. Graduated. Went home and rode a family friend’s OTTB, Lane. Moved to Chapel Hill and started grad school in August. Found a barn to ride at and started riding consistently for the first time in four years.

2015

Went XC schooling for the first time and get bucked off, but also fall in love. Decided I want to event. Started half-leasing Skylar who was spooky and scared me half to death 75% of the time. Did… grad school things. Interned in Chapel Hill over the summer, started second year of grad school, stopped riding as applying to fellowships and flying all over for interviews took over my life.

2016

Travel in the spring, watch UNC lose a national championship to a buzzer beater, compete in a case competition at Minnesota, break my foot in a Minnesota bar, graduate from grad school in a boot and move to South Carolina to start fellowship. Spend what feels like the next 7 years in a walking boot (5 months but STILL). Didn’t ride once all year, but start volunteering at Tryon for events, including working at AECs. Found out Lucy tore her deep digital flexor despite being retired and doing… nothing. She stays retired and happy.

2017

My left drift means I don’t get to jump without guide poles until I learn how to not take out standards

Adopt Finn the Jack Russell! Refinish my first piece of furniture, go on a girls’ trip to NYC, volunteer at The Fork, go to DC for a wedding, finish fellowship, move to Indiana, immediately find a horse. Start leasing Doc! Complete our first CT together in August, visit Olivia in September, fall off Doc for the first time in October. Do our first BN CT in November, buy my County and head home for Christmas!

2018

If you think I’m ever going to stop using this photo, you’re wrong

Stuck inside until March thanks to the coldest winter of my LIFE. Immediately fall off the middle of March and break my back. Out of the saddle until June, but back in it just in time to go to Event Camp! Have some of the best rounds of my life, go down to the Hoosier Horse Park and spend all day getting run away with. What can you do. Go on lots of trail rides, spend all summer conditioning and complete our first BN HT in the fall, finishing on our dressage score.

2019

Start my new (fantastic) job and readjust to my commute. Jump around BN a few times. Have an amazing week at Event Camp where we jump Novice height and some Training questions, but cut short by some funky steps. Back by the end of the summer where we have an amazing time schooling XC at the HHP including jumping a N/T trakehner. Find a dressage saddle after 10 trials. Ready to go to Team Challenge in KY when we get the news that we’ll have to retire him from jumping. Cry, drink, and in the end, say thanks that he’s still happy and healthy and nobody got hurt. Start looking for a new horse and end up taking a trip to Lousiville and making phone calls to vets, barn owners, hauling companies and send lots of fun text messages… to be continued.

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Feeling a lot like Christmas

I can’t say I have any overwhelmingly fun news to share… yet. But at the risk of jinxing anything, things are happening and 2020 is looking bright and shiny and… chestnut?

And that’s all I’m saying about that

I did get to go down to Louisville last weekend though and in between trying not to be sucked into a mud bog and getting distracted at ALL The Pretty Farms (can we agree heaven has rolling green pastures and four rail fences? K) I got to see Emily and May!

OMG she is so much fun.

And it even gets better than that because I got to ride May. Emily was trying out my jump saddle (which fits them beautifully) and so when she offered me the chance to pop on the World’s Best Thelwell Pony, the answer was obvious.

On the ground she’s a snuggly little bug with the best manners. I wanted to pack her up and take her home to live in my living room. Under saddle, she’s so sensitive (in the best way) off the leg and smooth to ride. I love her. Emily popped her over a few fences to try the saddle and May is even cuter over fences than pictures show. I was being a chicken about the footing along with not being able to feel my hands (genius, gloves are a thing for a reason) so I just flatted her around for a few minutes. She’s so safe and comfy feeling – like a very sensitive athletic couch.

In non-pony news, my office moved to the children’s hospital which means we get All the Fun Things like full blown ballets in the lobby and therapy dogs in Christmas attire.

I shipped off my blogger Secret Santa gift today (sorry for the delay!), my Christmas vacation starts at 5pm tomorrow and I will soon be on a beach soaking up every last bit of warmth before Indiana beckons me home to its cold tundra of January.

Luce still being the best retired girl, shiny and happy at 22!

I may (or may not…) write more about 2019 in summary, but I can say while it wasn’t the year I planned on (like, at all), it ended up being a great year. I’m so grateful to have a wonderful family and friends, the greatest ponies in my life, my health, a job I adore and more blessings than I can count. Signing off for the year to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a wonderful New Year!

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Boredom sets in

I have no horse to write about (YET. Poor Emily has heard it all…), but I’m bored reading and not actually writing (uh, probably because I have too much free time because see above no horse). So, L’s questions it is.

1. What discipline do you ride? What would you ride if you could pick any other one?

This was fun

Well, I’m an eventer these days. Or was/will be again? An eventer in purgatory? But I grew up riding on the Quarter Horse/Paint circuits showing all-around, using spur stops, wearing ALL THE SPARKLES, and going extremely slow. I’ve also spent a little bit of time in the hunters, the QH hunters (yes, distinguished from the USEF hunters, although not as much now as in the past) and on working cow horses. If I had unlimited time/money/sanity, I’d definitely have a cow horse again.

2. How many horses have you ridden in your entire riding career?

Have no idea who this horse is, but he’s cute? (Also, look, I’ve never remembered to bend my elbows!)

Like… a lot? I sat here and counted off 35 and I’m sure I missed some along the way.


3. Most bizarre activity you’ve done with your/a horse?

SAINT

Poor Lucy has put up with like… everything. I routinely came home from college in the summers and hopped on her bareback with a neckstrap or halter and did dumb stuff like ride her backwards. In a bikini. At a lope. (The only time I’ve ever come off that saint of a mare and she just stood there like, “What did I do to deserve this idiot?”) We also “herded” (um, lacklusterly chased) alpacas around once.

4. Do you consider riding to be your outlet? If yes, why?

Yes… and no? It’s an outlet from work, but my mind also goes 900 miles a minute about horses too, so I’m not sure it’s entirely an outlet. I’m far too competitive as a person for that. But being physically in the barn I might consider to be more of one. Or cleaning tack, sweeping aisles, that kind of thing. Riding uses more of my brain power than I’d like to publicly admit.

5. Have you ever read horse-related magazines? If yes, which one(s)?

All of them? Definitely read Horse Illustrated, Young Rider (I was even in it!), AQHA Journal, Chronicle of the Horse, The Equine Chronicle, Horse Connection (a Colorado/NM local magazine), Practical Horseman… I was even known to pick up a Western Horseman. These days I consume most of my media online, like every other millennial.

6. Most memorable advice given to you?

Yikes, there are a lot. But honestly probably my mom just saying something along the lines of, “it has to be fun.” When it stops being fun, it’s not worth it. But in more practical advice, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Also, to breathe.

7. Did you ever collect Breyer horse models or similar?

#tbt (also the horse the blog is named after, due to her bald face but dark eyes because she had “mascara” on)

Only somewhere in the range of 150-200 of them, whoops. My mom and I got really, really into model horses for a while (actually mom still is). Lots and lots of Breyers and a large number of Peter Stone models. We actually met Peter Stone and he made my first mare, Coorina, into a model. Every once in a while I see a Coorina model floating around on eBay or something.

8. Favorite “celebrity” horse?

Not a celebrity. No idea why this photo exists, but I’m admittedly not mad that it does. Poor Lucy.

Can I pick Lil Sebastian? If I have to pick a real one, probably Funny Cide, Mr Medicott or Vital Signs Are Good.

9. If you could spend a day learning from any horse person (past or present), who would you choose?

And my mom’s a pretty badass rider, just saying.

I hate these pick one questions. The eventer in me says Ingrid Klimke, the practical person says Sharon White and the girl who grew up on a Quarter Horse says Jack Kyle (who my mom actually rode with growing up).

10. If you could ride in any international arena in the world, where would you choose?

Can I just go hack around at Burghley? Or can I really piss off all the golfers and go ride around Augusta National?

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Retired.

This… just sucks to write. And live. And just general suckage.

Doc’s retired from jumping as of Saturday morning.

Yup, still hurts to say.

What started as an appointment for, “Oh, I think he needs Adequan,” ended with “this horse will never jump again.” Well shit.

In the matter of an hour vet appointment, I managed to cancel two HT entries, a hotel room, an online order, a clinic entry, my team challenge team… nothing but ruthlessly efficient, I guess. And you know, cancel my optimism and dream of galloping through the finish flags at the KHP next month. Told you it sucks.

I went home and ate donuts and pizza and drank and watched TV and slept and tried to avoid looking at all the things all over my kitchen I’d purchased and was organizing to take to Kentucky. After 30 hours of wallowing, I pulled myself together, left the house and tried to be a normal person.

A hot shower, a good night’s sleep thanks to a hefty dose of melatonin, and a yoga class later, I feel a little better. Enough to think about what’s next without wanting to cry.

So next? Finding another horse that’s financially workable (horse shopping with a budget of… nothing is great fun), spending the winter getting to know a new horse, trying not to lose my mind in the meantime… Sounds like a party. A Halloween horror party maybe.

I’m not all doom and gloom. I’m so grateful for everything Doc gave me. I’m 100x the rider I was two and a half years ago. He’s the horse who took me through my first HT, who I jumped 3′ on for the first time, who taught me more nuances and feel than I’d ever imagined. I’m so grateful that we didn’t have the potential catastrophic injury happen on course. I’m thankful for the times he taught me how to let go and go for a gallop and just experience the joy of watching the world thunder by, wind in your ears.

Even if we did have the worst left drift of all time

But I’m also heartbroken I won’t get to have the feeling of taking a horse I trust so intrinsically around a Novice XC course. Of galloping down to a line that scares the hell out of me, only to feel entirely weightless and unable to contain the cheer of excitement on the other side. That I won’t be showing off how damn smart and athletic and funny my big red Saddlebred is at any more events. He may have “just” been a lease, but I love him as much as if he was my own.

And now, we see what’s next.

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Ice, ice baby – or not?

I was recently lamenting to a non-horsey friend about trying to find a pair of ice boots I liked that wouldn’t break the bank. They inquired more about what we used them for and how – and then proceeded to turn my world upside down. I’ve been a loyal ice-er for years of my horses (and self) – not after every ride, but certainly after a XC school, on any soreness, at a HT or a tough jump lesson. It’s good horsemanship, right?

Until she told me I might still be stuck in the 90s and… totally wrong? Apparently the most recent research is showing ice may not be the most beneficial thing for recovery. Think I’m crazy? Me too.

©Megan Allen

Because I’m good at writing about shoes, horses and spending money, but not great at science, I just straight up brought some quotes in to do the talking.

“The rationale behind recovery ice packs, baths and cold tubs goes something like this: the cold stimulates your sympathetic nerve fibers, which react by signaling blood vessels in the area to constrict and send blood back to your core to protect your vital organs. This rush of blood away from the extremities reduces blood flow to the areas you’re icing and slows the metabolic processes in these regions, including the inflammatory response, and thus reduces any swelling that might otherwise happen. The pressure of the water may also provide some compression against your muscles and blood vessels, which could also slow swelling and inflammation. Finally, icing relieves pain by numbing sore areas, at least temporarily… There’s no question that icing can reduce pain, at least temporarily, he told me, but it comes at a cost. “Anything that reduces your immune response will also delay muscle healing,” Mirkin says. “The message is that the cytokines of inflammation are blocked by icing — that’s been shown in several studies.”
Instead of promoting the process of healing and recovery, icing might actually impair it, he says.”

“Athletes love icing sore muscles, but that cold therapy might make things worse” – Washington Post

In other words – sure, ice will numb things, but for how long and at what cost to performance?

“Gary Reinl, a personal trainer and prominent icing skeptic who over the years has worked with professional athletic teams, elite military squads and coaches and trainers around the world, says the problem is that icing merely slows blood flow to the area, it doesn’t halt it indefinitely. Once the icing stops and the blood flow returns to normal, whatever process you were trying to hinder will proceed again. The swelling will continue and the inflammation will start. The only thing you did was delay things, he says.”

“Athletes love icing sore muscles, but that cold therapy might make things worse” – Washington Post

Well. Huh. So I decided not to take this at face value and to use my university journal access to dig myself. And… sure enough, that’s what I found.

“There was marginal evidence that ice plus exercise is most effective, after ankle sprain and postsurgery. There was little evidence to suggest that the addition of ice to compression had any significant effect, but this was restricted to treatment of hospital inpatients. Few studies assessed the effectiveness of ice on closed soft-tissue injury, and there was no evidence of an optimal mode or duration of treatment.” – The use of ice in the treatment of acute soft-tissue injury: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials, American Journal of Sports Medicine

“The authors reported ice to be no more effective than rehabilitation only with regard to pain, swelling, and range of motion. Ice and compression seemed to be significantly more effective than ice alone in terms of decreasing pain. Additionally, ice, compression, and a placebo injection reduced pain more than a placebo injection alone. Lastly, in 8 studies, there seemed to be little difference in the effectiveness of ice and compression compared with compression alone. Only 2 of the 8 groups reported significant differences in favor of ice and compression.” – Does Cryotherapy Improve Outcomes With Soft Tissue Injury?, Journal of Athletic Training

“Cold packs were applied to exercised muscle for 15 minutes at 0, 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours after exercise. The exercise significantly elevated circulating creatine kinase-MB isoform (CK-MB) and myoglobin levels. Unexpectedly, greater elevations in circulating CK-MB and myoglobin above the control level were noted in the cooling trial during 48-72 hours of the post-exercise recovery period. Subjective fatigue feeling was greater at 72 hours after topical cooling compared with controls. Removal of the cold pack also led to a protracted rebound in muscle hemoglobin concentration compared with controls. Measures of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-10, IL-1β, and muscle strength during recovery were not influenced by cooling. A peak shift in IL-12p70 was noted during recovery with topical cooling. These data suggest that topical cooling, a commonly used clinical intervention, seems to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.”Topical cooling (icing) delays recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

“Significant training effects were three times more frequent in the control than in the cold group, including increases in artery diameters in the control but not in the cold group. It is concluded that training-induced molecular and humoral adjustments, including muscle hyperthermia, are physiological, transient and essential for training effects (myofiber regeneration, muscle hypertrophy and improved blood supply). Cooling generally attenuates these temperature-dependent processes and, in particular, hyperthermia-induced HSP formation.” – Post-exercise leg and forearm flexor muscle cooling in humans attenuates endurance and resistance training effects on muscle performance and on circulatory adaptation, European Journal of Applied Physiology

Similarly, a 2015 study reported on two experiments looking at how cold water immersion influenced how muscles responded to a strength training program, and found that cold treatment reduced gains in muscle mass and strength and blunted the activation of key proteins in the skeletal muscle. The studies “challenge the notion that cold water immersion improves recovery after exercise,” the authors wrote.

“Athletes love icing sore muscles, but that cold therapy might make things worse” – Washington Post

So – definitely a conclusion saying more research is needed, but also not an insignificant amount of research saying that cold might be doing less good than we thought, or even hurting recovery?

Needless to say, this has my little brain spinning. Do I keep using ice? Stop using ice? Only compression? I haven’t come to a complete conclusion yet. Not to mention, a lot of these are talking about muscle recovery – a moot point in horses who have no muscle below the knee.

For now, I’m going to continue to ice after XC schooling and at horse trials, but maybe lay off after any general rides, even if they’re harder jump schools.

Thoughts?

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Peer Pressure

Did I get scolded by Emma and told to blog? Maybeeeee. Am I doing it? Here I am, so… yes. Peer pressure works guys!

That to say – I really want to write a longer version piece of this, but I truly don’t know how balancing being an amateur with competitive goals is a sustainable life. I feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends and then some trying to get everything done. Work has been unbelievably insane the last month (I… can’t even get into it, but when I say insane, so much more than I’ve been through before), plus I’m trying to figure out some long term goals there – and what moves I need to make to get there. Nothing like some fun 75 hour weeks to throw you off your game a bit.

Add in riding. Lessons, schooling, trying to keep Doc conditioned to go run at KHP in October (!!!). Attempting to get to the gym so I don’t die on the XC course.

We got out on the cross country course at the HHP a month ago (omg, I really am behind) which was the final catalyst to send in entries for Midsouth Team Challenge. Emily touched on it recently, but it’s known for being a maxed out for the level, challenging course so I really wanted to make sure it was something we were prepared to handle.

Good news, left drift still going strong

Per usual with Doc… needed have not worried. We played with the water, banks, ditches and strung a whole bunch of things together. The best part? All the BN stuff looked totally do-able and even… small. We spent most of the afternoon jumping around Novice stuff. Stuff I wouldn’t have dreamt of jumping a year ago.

Like this ditch to N rolltop combo
This water was the nastiest water ever haha, but drop into water was a blast

My trainer strung together this bank-ditch-rolltop-sled-coop-hanging log-trakehner course (omg I’m tired reading that) and I’m not gonna lie – that trakehner is a full N/T jump and it made me want to pee my pants a little. Peer pressure hits again? Totally worth it because the best feeling in the world was coming over it after he jumped like a rockstar – felt like I could go conquer the world.

Best combo of the day

Kentucky here we come!

If you’ll be there, come hang out with us – we’ll have food and drinks and ponies aplenty!

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Equestrian Analytics and Data Analysis

In my non-horsey life (wait, there’s a such thing?), I work for a school of medicine doing business intelligence and analytics. Which is a fancy way of saying I play in Excel and SPSS and Tableau and Power BI all day and try to turn our huge data sets of operational, financial and other things into actionable information. Which is another fancy way of saying: numbers.

I play with numbers. I geek out on numbers. It’s no secret I freaking love medicine – working in healthcare is my favorite (for reals if you ever want to talk hospitals, medicine, health policy, come chat with a girl). Now I get to make decisions based on actual data.

I haven’t been cool enough to start playing with horse numbers yet, but I love reading those who have. So here’s my lit review (lolz no) of blogger and other data analysis type projects as they relate to ponies – and if you have more, send ’em my way, both for my entertainment, but also as a way to assemble data in one place for others who may be interested. These are just what I had saved or stumbled across.

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Best for last: Event Camp Day 3

Day three was supposed to be a cross country lesson with Sharon White in the morning and a dressage lesson in the afternoon, but as it turns out, cross country would be our last lesson of the week. That said, as much as the next few days gave me anxiety, knowing it all worked out in the end, this was about as perfect of a cross country lesson to end on!

Sharon is so amazing to ride with – she understands how horse’s think so well, but also gets teaching and explaining things (that first vs second toolkit thing Jen talks about). We did some more practice over the same things we’d done with Courtney the day before – ditches and water – before moving over to the other XC field which is where the fun really began.

I’d mentioned I wanted to work on riding over terrain – get me going downhill and suddenly any nerve I have vanishes into thin air. This would be fine if I planned to only ever event in like… South Dakota. Alas, hills exist.

I honestly can’t remember how we even built up to the entire thing because the last line we rode is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done and the most badass I’ve ever felt on a horse.

We rode this picture frame to a log on a downhill landing, in and out of the sunken road and a few strides to a blue house of barrels. None of the jumps were huge (BN/N) but it was easily the most technical line we’ve ever ridden.

That afternoon Doc came up sore on a hind leg so that was the end of camp for us (he’s jussttt fine, don’t worry), but what a way to go out.

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Directions are hard: Event Camp Day 2

How far behind at life am I? Well, this post is a month late. Yeah, we went to event camp a month ago and I’m just now getting around to part two. Which means… details are fuzzier. So you might be just getting bullet points (be happy you’re not getting an Excel spreadsheet, since that’s where my brain lives 99.8% of the time).

Days two and three were all about the jompies. We started out with a XC lesson with Courtney Cooper on Tuesday morning, who was great to ride with and I definitely would again. We worked over the trifecta (ditches, banks, water) where she really emphasized you can’t overdo teaching the footwork – walking in/out, up/down, over – or as she put it “dribbling” through them. I’ve totally taken it to heart and we’ve continued to use that in practicing over the last month. She talked us through riding a ditchy horse (lolz, mine is not), a water-averse horse (lolz, mine thinks he’s at the waterpark), and the unsure-about-banks-one (loz, mine thinks they are a playground). Great lessons, albeit ones I’ll be saving for future horses because mine is a real life unicorn. It’s cool. She also gave me my favorite takeaway from camp: she never counts 1-2 to a jump because you’ll literally change your rhythm to leave on 2. Instead, she counts 1-2-3-4 and I don’t know why it works but IT DOES. MAGIC. (Simple magic, but magic)

We moved on to jumping some combos including a half coffin, some stuff in and out of the water, the rolltop in the water (our first time!), and a handful of fun technical questions. Including where I nearly fell off, twice, cause that’s how I do it.

Was my horse misbehaving? Nope. Take a bad spot? Not really. Did I completely abandon steering, leaving my horse to jump over the side of a novice table? YUP. Yeah, I probably deserved to fall off, but once again, Doc the Saint saved my amateur ass and waited for me to put myself back into the saddle before continuing on.

Let’s focus on the fun part of that paragraph though: Novice. Table.

YUP. We jumped all kinds of novice questions at camp, including the (giant to me) blue box out of the water, the half coffin, the hogsback and the picture frame. And all of it was So Much Fun.

(After I got over wanting to pee my pants, but turns out peer pressure in a group is a solid motivator)

The rest of my takeaways I’m putting into a list so I will publish this for once and for all:

  • Keep a record of lessons/shows – we don’t recall a good % of things, but if you write them down, your memory increases substantially. Even if it’s just highlights from how things went, what went well and what didn’t, etc.
  • Count to 4 on approach vs 1-2
  • Keep your upper body back HOLLY
  • Can’t overdo the footwork on XC
  • Ditchy horse – hands wide and low, stay in the backseat, tap behind leg
  • Banks – let them come up and it’s ok if they need a second to think

The afternoon on Tuesday was a stadium lesson with Leslie. My notes conveniently disappeared into the disaster that is my tack trunk, but the theme of this lesson was “wtf is wrong with your leg Holly?” which is a million dollar question. We started off warming up where he wanted us doing a transition every 6-10 seconds – which is hard! But damn, once I had him off my leg and tuned in like that, the adjustability came so much easier. We did a lot of work on adjusting the stride down a line – doing it in 5, 6, 7 and the line on the other side – doing it in 7, 8, 9, practicing feeling what our horses did if we just naturally let them find the distance themselves versus collecting up or pushing for the fewer strides. It was really about getting the rhythm and then sitting still – not continually messing with your horse all the way to the base (cough, I don’t know anyone who does THAT).

Later, we worked on coming off an oxer coming across the middle and making turns either direction – without throwing our body around. Weird, what a concept. This turned into a semi-figure 8 exercise where, as it turns out, you can just use your eyes and a slightly open rein and magically your horse knows where you’re going!! CRAZY. Eventually it turned into a short course that included a fun bending line each direction that I only managed to get lost in the middle of uh, twice?

Because if you don’t leave a lesson with Leslie Law telling your group of amateurs that you’re why he doesn’t get paid enough and that your homework is to learn your left from right, well… did you even go to event camp?

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