Monday, April 7, 2014

Mirror Mirror

It's April, and life has been one giant blur since mid-March.

Since Alfredo's visit, things have been kicked into high gear, despite minor herd reduction.

I walked into my arena when I got back to discover brand new sets of mirrors have been erected while away. My barn owners are awesome that way. I love them already and I don't know how I lived without for a lot of years. On the other hand, mirrors are hard. They're very much tattlers on your position, your body, your horse, just about everything you don't want to see, you see it in 20 foot glory.

My herd was reduced back to three with a few horses coming in and out with their riders for teaching.

While I love the fact my business expanded, I also enjoy the small, quality herd that I have. There are some things that haven't changed, that I ride everyone five to six days a week, and that I know all of them and their idiosyncrasies. But sometimes, adjusting to life on a time budget kinda sucks. When you have five in your barn and they all have to be ridden, tack cleaned, bathed, videoed, ect., you're going to have to limit time. On the upside it teaches you to ride very effectively.

The weather has cleared up consistently now to the point I don't have to worry about being frozen out. April brings rain and the ability to get out of the arena and go start conditioning for the season. We're backlogged for doing sets, and have lost a few weeks of regular training thanks to the horrid weather, pipe bursts and terrain.

Needless to say, Weight Watchers would have a field day.

We started last week taking the horses out, one by one on their first gallops of the season.

Sinari, who had the luxury of having the majority of the last few weeks off (weather, chiro, dentist, clinic, ect) went back into serious, consistent work. Last year's problems are fading away, especially since we've changed around the level of support care and the way we view things. The pirouettes are already stronger, the tempi-sequences are getting faster, and the pi/pa stuff is getting there.  But she lacks overall fitness that would help her endurance.

Yes, endurance.

With the FEI tests, the movements are secondary to fitness. The tests are much longer than even a second or third level tests and everyone is expected to be strong enough to hold themselves together for three to four minutes at a time going through the sequence. And from PSG out, the movements do not let up. 

Sinari has traditionally been very hard to condition from the get-go. She easily looses it and is hard to gain. So the sets help immensely with just getting around. Plus it's a nice mental break.

Her schedule at the moment is two days (barring weather) out in the field, five days in the arena. This might change as things progress. But for now, she's gearing in pretty rapidly.

I'm debating about which show to really start her in. The temptation is the KDA, the footing for the FEI classes is really nice, but it's also a CDI, where we're judged by panel and also judged alongside the CDI. Not exactly a nice move up show where we can bury our heads. So, time to shop around.

Danzador has also started doing little sets. His fitness is much better than Sinari's to begin with. He hasn't been out too much, much of the focus has been on developing him physically in the arena. Also mentally as well, even though he's great in the arena, he's still a kid and has a big case of baby ADD, so hacking him was always a challenge as a klutzy four year old.

He's still not ready to tackle the track Sinari has been doing, but he has been going for walks up and down hills in fenced off paddocks with a bunch of questions- like a smalls stream, uneven footing, rolling pitch, cows and a few other things.

He's doing better, where he would spook or be immature, he's now mentally buckling in and really settling into being a good egg despite distractions. He hasn't gone out and galloped, but he does decent trot sets in company.

The winter has done him a world of good, and he's already much more mature. The photos are slowly coming back from the clinic and he's already less of a stork. But, the ubiquitous solution to everything is: needs more top line, and he's no exception. He's come out of the clinic really well, not sore, and still on a progressive track forward in his training. Right now, aside from conditioning, it's about playing with more forward and back. Getting the medium trot in an uphill balance, and coming back and not loosing the balance or rhythm.

It's a huge challenge in the trot. But he's getting really well.

As for me, my own fitness has become a priority this year. Back in January, I started back on the treadmill, and going to yoga three times a week.

I hate doing this part of the job.

I was never a gym person, and I feel very socially odd in those settings. I can walk into any room normally and feel fine, but at a gym I feel compared, and very much lesser than the girl who just cranked out a six minute mile or who did that flow-y inversion thing to another difficult pose.

Plus there's the mental stigma. At one point I felt yoga was just about having that nice stretch and eating your random protein shake in your yoga pants while driving a compact hybrid to feel socially better about yourself. And running was running.  

Not to mention my body is physically awkward in yoga, and holding the postures for four to five minutes at a time is a screamer. Running, well, I just hate running and I did two marathons.

While I do don yoga pants (I like getting my protein from a different source and I drive a truck), this yoga is anything but a gentle stretch and mediative period, it's active and it makes running look like a walk in the park.  But I'm glad I'm doing it, and I'm elated that there are two other people going through the same thing and keeping me motivated to keep going.

However, it doesn't make wearing white pants any better. Perhaps somethings will forever be uncool.