Monthly Archives: July 2011

Thirty Six

36 days until I get into a car with my Uncle, grandparents and mom and head off to BC for my cousin’s wedding. I leave Carman on September 5th, and a week after that I fly from Kelowna, BC after celebrating my 19th birthday with my grand-parents, to Vancouver- where I spend 8 hours hanging out at the airport waiting for my 8:30 pm flight to…. AUCKLAND!!!! I fly out of Canada on a Wednesday (Sept. 14), and get to the other side of the world at 6:30am NZ time on Friday morning. It’s getting close! And starting to feel much more realistic!

If all goes as planned, I’ll be picked up at the airport in Auckland and taken to my new home and job for the next 8 or so months at LC Horse Farms (www.lchorsefarm.com).

I have no idea what to expect, and therefore no idea what to buy or pack for my trip. Of course, breeches and a helmet, boots, muck boots (cause I know I’ll be doing lots of that!), running shoes, and all the other necessities. You have no idea how excited I am to pursue my dream in the horse industry and travel while gaining experience in the industry.

I had my second appointment at Legacy yesterday with Dr. Pethrick (chiro) who assessed me again. I swear, I’ve got the assessment routine so down I can assess myself by now. He said that with my shoulder he wants me to do some work activating my lat muscles, which are the big muscles in the back that keep your shoulders down and back, because

when I raise my arms above my head when being assessed my tendency is to scrunch my shoulders up in compensation for not using the lat muscle. He also gave me a couple exercises to improve the stability and movement in my hips. Links to these are at the bottom of the page. The third link is the exercise for “waking up” the lats.

After assessing me he did some active release on my hip and shoulder. It ended not being as painful as I thought, my AT has done worse anyway. Basically it was deep tissue massage, while moving the joint and muscles being worked on. He also did a chiro adjusted my hip. I must say, he is very good at his job. So far, besides my regular AT, he’s one of the only ones I’ve felt confident in and I found it easy to talk to him. I’m not always the most trustworthy with doctors.. I’ve been through a few who don’t listen well. He told me to come back in two weeks, unless everything has been phenomenal and I don’t feel I need to.

One day at a time.

So, as a result of all this good news and pain free week I’ve had, I’ve moved back into my strength training routine and I’ll start back riding full time again on Monday. My AT said she’d help me set up a strength fitness plan, so I’ll go in and see her after competing Thursday. Now we get to see if this painlessness lasts once I start working my body again. The real test will be Heart of the Continent, which starts Thursday and goes through till Sunday. As I recall, the last show wasn’t so great on the pain front and that was only a three day show. But, one day at a time. That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it.

What have we learned from this? Equestrian is definitely a sport and definitely requires cross-training to develop and maintain the muscles necessary to ride properly AND effectively. Anybody who says otherwise is a fool.

(http://www.functionalmovement.com/exercises/chop_from_half_kneeling_with_fmt)

(http://www.functionalmovement.com/exercises/lift_from_half_kneeling_with_fmt)

(http://www.functionalmovement.com/exercises/reach_roll_lift_assisted_with_fmt)

 

Love this article

http://horsejunkiesunited.com/category/rider-fitness-2/

The only thing I would do differently on this is take out the running and replace it with biking. Running is exceptionally hard on your body, and not in a good way. Biking also imitates riding and requires you to use balance the same way you would when you’re holding a two point or half-seat. You can get the same cardio benefit from biking. 1 mile of running is equal to 5 miles of biking.

Oh Deer

 Got back into biking and strength stuff tonight, and this was my view! This was about 6 miles into my 8 mile ride on gravel roads. Here are some other shots I took while biking!

Beautiful

Got to Legacy Sports Clinic half an hour early today, the same time the receptionist arrived. So I waited in my car like a dork for another 15 minutes, then got out and managed to set off my own car alarm in the process. Embarrassing moment of the day number 1! I then spent the next hour with Dr. Priestly, who assessed my shoulder, back, hips, neck and knees. He came to the conclusion that all my nerves, joints, and ligaments work and move beautifully, and other then the minor issues I’ve had with my lower back and shoulder, there is nothing wrong with me. He got me in the one of Legacy’s two chiropractors for Active Release treatment this friday, which is basically a combination of acupuncture, chiro stuff, and really deep tissue massage. He said it’s a bit painful, but usually effective. He also said that because all my joints are so flexible, I need to up my strength training a shittonne. Well, he didn’t use those words exactly, but that was his point.

So, I have 39 days left to complete my transformation into superwoman.

I called my AT after my assessment and we discussed what comes next. She agrees with the Active Release, so I’ll be doing that Friday afternoon. And she is going to help me get back into strength training. We plan to start off where we were before things got bad again, and work from there. I’m going to start biking, plus aquafit classes starting tomorrow and then add weight training back into my schedule. We’re moving Willard back home to Carman next week, so things should get easier with him here. It’ll free up a lot of time that I previously spent driving 45 minutes there and back to ride 3-5 times a week. Let’s not mention the gas money.

I’ll need to focus a lot of time strengthening my legs, as the equestrian sport demands a lot from our legs and core muscles. While I already have decently strong legs, there is always room to improve. Especially in my hips. So lots of squats, bridges, lunges, and balance work are in my near future. I’m actually excited to get back into an intense training routine- there’s nothing nicer then seeing improvements in your riding when you’ve been doing extra strength work on the side. Because it really does help. I believe every rider should have an exercise routine outside of just working horses, even if you ride everyday seven days a week, there are some muscles that need more attention then what you do on the horses back, and you’re equitation will thank you for every squat, plank, bridge, sit up, lunge or core work out you do.

Double Trouble

Last night I had two lessons with Charlene, one on my boy and one on Cash.  It’s amazing to me how much Will transforms and relaxes in that arena. Every time I have a lesson there he moves so nicely and he’s completely with me on everything. The atmosphere there is so great.

We didn’t really do anything in our lesson out of the normal. Started out working on three single jumps, which we handled nicely all around. Charlene commented on how much I’ve improved with supporting Willard all the way through jumps and not finding distances with my shoulders, but with my leg. Also how I’ve gotten much better at finding pace, not speed. Then we added a 4 stride line to our little course, and even the first time down to it we got the correct distance. Yay! We’re finally doing good!

After Willard, I hopped onto Cash. Her quiet demeanour was shown as she hardly even glanced at the new surroundings or the other horses in the arena. We walked trotted and cantered around a ring full of jumps (one 4’2″ fence set up in the middle of the ring which even Will looked at warily) with no issues, nice frame, and very very calm. Charlene kept saying ” oh she’s CUTE!”. We started with some poles on the ground for miss Cash to trot through. She’s never been worked over poles, but after a few circles through them she got the hang of picking her feet up quite well. It’s important to always start horses that have no jumping experience off with just basic poles. It teaches them to lift up their feet and gives them a sense of where their feet are.

Next Charlene set up a small X, which got progressively bigger. We discovered that Cash isn’t what you call a natural jumper, she isn’t “impressed” by little jumps. The first bit she literally just trotted over, like there was nothing under her. Charlene then made the X bigger and added a 9foot rail in front of the x, this encouraged her a little. But it wasn’t until we added a ground rail on the opposite side of the fence that she actually jumped over the jump. By adding that pole under the x on the far side, it caught her eye a little bit and by this time she had figured out how to lift her legs up in a jumping motion. Everything is about patience with young/inexperienced horses. If you don’t have patience, you shouldn’t be in the business of training horses. Some horses are quicker then others, and some are very stubborn. It’s all about reading what kind of horse you’re on and catering to how they are going to learn best. Each horse has a different learning style, just like we do. In the same way, each horse has something different to teach you. Riding different horses, especially when you’re learning to ride, is a valuable skill to develop. The best riders can get on any horse and go right into the show ring and compete successfully. Have confidence in your ability and your decisions, and the horse will have confidence in you.

That’s all I’ve got for today, specialist appt tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Support

Rode in an Andrew Curry clinic today, after working from 6am-11am spraying 4000 rows of wheat. The clinic was pretty good, I was very stiff in the saddle because my back is not great today-but I’m pretty sure the only one who noticed that was me and probably Willard. We started off our session with a warm up of lots of transition work, which we nailed. I’ve been working with Will on transitions a bunch since the last clinic (6 weeks ago), and it’s really been paying off. Transition work is second to none when training a hunter/jumper or really any horse. Then we started jumping work.

The first exercise was a three fence gymnastic- one stride between each jump. Andrew’s only critique on this for me was to make sure I slow my body and don’t out jump the horse- I tend to duck sometimes going over fences, especially lower ones. It’s important to stay tall with your back and shoulders and close your hip angle with the horse over the fence, not throw your shoulders towards him in the air. The next addition was a vertical off the diagonal after the grid. Then a 4 stride line (trotting in) was added, later it became a 3 stride with a large oxer out, then around the corner transitioning to a trot and catching a skinny box out of the corner bending line (6 strides) to a vertical home.

Will and I handled everything in the clinic very very well today. I found everything so easy and kept wondering when Andrew was going to throw in another twist-but every time he did we handled it with ease. I guess all the work I’ve been doing with Charlene and on my own is really starting to pay off. Andrew himself said after the clinic that it’s clear that I’ve been working hard with Will and all the transition exercises he gave me are  really paying off. He also said that I’m much more supportive in the saddle, and that’s why today’s work seemed so simple. Good, bad, or ugly I am still there supporting the horse with confidence and a steady hand/leg combination- this makes the horse much more sure of his job and his ability to jump out of deep distances and also find the perfect distances is that much more improved.

After getting off today my body promptly re-reminded me that I’m supposed to be resting and healing.. I could hardly walk. As I write I’m icing and stretching. My shoulder is also very unhappy, which is another sign that I need to slow down. I have a lesson scheduled with Charlene on monday night, as my Thursday night lesson was cancelled due to a missing shoe on my horse. My plan for next week is to ride in my lesson and then see how I feel. If I feel like I do right now, then Monday is it for next week. I can’t push myself so hard if I want to be able to function in NZ.. I also have that appointment with the specialist at Legacy on Wednesday morning, and I’m wondering what he is going to say. Keep your fingers crossed for good news and a simple recovery!

Break…?

Worked a half day today, and left at lunch to head downtown for my appointment at the AT centre. My back pain has subsided a little this week, but it’s definitely still there. I still have an appointment with a specialist next week, but I went in to see my AT so that maybe I could function the rest of the week. She reassessed me, and (to my relief..sort of) said that she still doesn’t think it’s anything more then the little joint in my back and hip acting up. Which is what she first said 7 months ago. I agree with her. She also said that she really thinks I need to take a break from riding. Unfortunately I know she is right, and I’ve been in enough pain the past 2 weeks that I’ve been forced to.

This is so discouraging coming off of a show like I had at Beach. I have a lesson scheduled for Thursday night, and a clinic on Saturday this week. I consulted with my AT on this and brought up the point that it’s near impossible for me to take a full break from the sport when I’m working on two horses for sale by the time I move. That’s quite a bit of money and pressure- too much to sit on the sidelines. She understood and suggested that I try my best to minimize the amount of training I do. Ride in my lesson and clinic this week, but don’t go out and hack in between. And the week after, stay away from riding as much as you can but still be prepared for upcoming Heart of the Continent (a gold level MHJA show). I’m really not sure how I’m going to swing the next few weeks. I’m horrible at taking breaks- and obviously that’s why I come up with stress and overtraining issues.

I’m not so much worried about the fitness of myself or my horse being jeopardized as much as our progress sliding backwards again. I’d like to think that it won’t and that I could take enough time off to heal properly- but is that really the way life works? No. The world keeps turning just as fast even if it feels like your world has been stopped in it’s tracks. Yes I’m being slightly overdramatic. I know. It’ll all be fine and everything will work out eventually. I can’t help but stress a little bit over my progress as a rider/trainer and my horse’s progress as a competitive hunter and prospective jumper when I’ve hardly been able to ride since the last show. I guess we’ll see how my lesson goes on Thursday- and the Curry Clinic on Saturday. I’m determined to do both of these to the best of my ability and hoping that pain doesn’t conflict with my riding too much so I can get the most out of both sessions. I take my riding so seriously that I understand that it is very important for me to take the time to rest my back- because nobody can ride properly OR effectively under any amount of pain- it also effects your horse’s movement and comfort more than we know. So I’m just going to take it one day (ride) and a time and hope for the best results. That’s all I can do. Oh, and stretch. And ice..

PS Thank you to Kiirsten (http://prairienerd.wordpress.com)  for the kind words about my blog and what I’m trying to accomplish in the sport. It meant a lot to read her opinion on what I write, and it also re-inspired my determination to get better physically and within the sport. Us amateur’s gotta stick together- this is more of a team sport then most realize.

All This Beauty

It’s been a rough week. After the last show, my new back pain didn’t wear off like I’d hoped. It stayed around till.. now. By Thursday of last week ( a long week of not functioning at all for pain) I called my AT from work and asked her opinion. She said that because random stuff kept happening and I seemed to not be making much recovery progress that she was referring me to a sport med at Legacy. So my history was faxed over and an appointment was made with a specialist there. My appointment isn’t for another week and a bit- so I’m going in tomorrow to AT to see if that can help me function a bit better. To give you an idea of how much pain I was in last week, I tried to ride two horses in one night. I got through one session with Cash, painfully, and then drove to Sanford to ride my own horse.. got off after 15 minutes because of pain. So this is frustrating. I’m really hoping it’s nothing serious enough to jeopardize my upcoming move (48 days). That would REALLY suck.

I’m going to try aqua-fit tonight, and go easy with it, just to see if it loosens up any in the water. Doubtful, but hopeful. In the meantime I’ve been baking. Currently Oreo cupcakes. I plan on taking them to work tomorrow to share, and into the AT centre. I rode yesterday, or tried to. I am so stiff that I felt  bad asking Will to do any ring work because I knew my stiff back would effect him too- so I just went for a 4 mile hack on the dirt roads. It was like 35 degrees out without humidex- but we had a nice ride nonetheless. I’m hoping to ride thursday with Charlene and Saturday in another Curry Clinic. I really hope I’m not in too much pain for that. And yes I know I should take a break from riding and see if that makes a difference, but I can’t very well do that for another year or so as I have 2 horses to sell, and 9 months in NZ to be working my dream job. So.. back/hip/shoulder/body please hold out for a little while longer. Then I’ll try and give you a break. Maybe.

Work has been hot and slow for me. It was 37 degrees today and it’s supposed to be around that temperature all week. So that’s awesome. The UV was 10 today- also pretty fantastic. We make work fun though, and I’m blessed with fantastic co-workers. Couldn’t ask for a better summer job.

Build-A-Horse

Day three went very well! We started off the day with an Adult Amateur Medal equitation class. My course was all right, a little messy though. We didn’t place in that one- there was some big competition. I was very happy with him nonetheless though, and the flat portion (sitting trot) went SO much better then it would have even 2 months ago. Thank you exercise and conditioning. Our next class was Open Low Handy at 3ft.  We had a good round in this, and placed 5th in a class of about 12.  We placed 4th in the under saddle portion! Then it was onto the Hunter Classic Open Challenge class. I went into the 2’9″ division. This class consists of two rounds. The riders are told their score after each round and after both rounds the scores are added. There were three divisions, 3ft, 2’9 and 2’6. It’s a combined class, so all these divisions are judged on the same card. My first round was really good, except I had a wide turn coming into a diagonal six stride- and this caused me to add for the seven. The judge gave me a score of 68 for this round- Charlene said that the fact that she gave me over 65 with an add shows that the rest of my round was very good. My second round went much better! I fixed the turn into that line, and had beautiful distances to every jump. Except the last fence. I got a bit of an awkward distance because we had a bit too much pace coming home. Still very happy, and I got a score of 74. My combined final score was 142. Very respectable! The highest round score of the day was 81, so I was only 7 points off of that!

I’ve learned this weekend that anyone can buy an expensive horse, but it takes dedication and skill to take a horse you can afford and turn it into a quality horse. You build your own horse. It’s nice to finally see all my work coming out in Will. He’s becoming a very nice horse and this weekend showed he can be competitive in open and senior level classes against some quality competition. Hopefully we keep improving over the next couple of months!! 🙂

Day 1 and 2 at Beach

Day one:

We didn’t actually do anything till about 2, so a lot of wandering around and watching. Our first class was the Junior Amateur 2’9.  We had an excellent round. All our strides were right, and we had a nice flow. Unfortunately we didn’t place. There were quite a few people in the class, and a lot of nice horses. The judge was also slightly asleep. Our next round, Sr. Low, went alright. I made a mistake coming into a line. But everything else in the course was good.

Day two:

Today started off with a lot more wandering around and waiting. Once again I started riding around 2 with my J/A handy hunter. I have no words for how good this round was. Flawless. No joke. When I came out of the ring, Charlene immediately came up to me (she looked a little teary) and all she had to say was “Oh, I’m so PROUD of you!” over and over while patting my leg. I was all smiles. Two of her other very accomplished students also were very impressed.  It made my day to have impressed all three of those people. We won that class, beating out some very nice horse and rider combos. Thankfully the judge was not asleep today. I had two 3ft rounds as well. Open and Sr. Low Handy. They went well, but not as good as my J/A. I was still happy though, the improvements that I’ve seen not only in my riding, but in Will’s trust in me over the past few weeks are AMAZING. I’m so pleased with the progress being made, and how it’s paying off!

My back and shoulder aren’t doing too well at the moment, which is slightly frustrating. I’ve stretched and iced, but it’s not helping. I have one more show day left and then it’s monday. If things don’t improve I’m not sure how work is going to go next week. My body is impossible.