Clinic Time!

For my birthday this year, I went full adult and splurged on a Celena Pentrack clinic. Time amazingly well spent with the endurance focused dressage trainer, and my Evernote app is full of pearls of wisdom on everything from saddle fit to working with a buddy sour horse. I was exceptionally lucky in that I was able to ride both days on two different horses, both of whom presented interesting challenges for Celena to guide me through.

IMG_5558.jpg

I put the kid in charge of taking pictures…time to get him a decent camera!

On Saturday I moseyed up to Shelton, settled in and met up again with 20 year old Shadow, whom I was able to squeak out my proudest completion two years ago, a 35 mile ride at Mt. Adams. I earned every mile of that ride, and god bless Shadow for chugging on through it with a rider who’s ankle died at mile 25. This weekend, however, he decided he was deeply in bromance with his owner’s other horse Rocky, so I spent most of my time with him convincing him I wasn’t the Boogeyman. I took him out for a trail ride on Saturday, walking the first mile before he settled down enough to mount.

My first highlight of the weekend came when I looked up, took a deep breath and realized I was once again out alone with just my dog and a good horse, miles of trails in front of me and the sun weakly shining down. My happy place.

IMG_5556.jpg

Clearly worried but willing!

Of course when we got back, saw Rocky, and I wanted to check to see if Shadow would go back out again, we had to spend a good quarter of an hour backing and circling and hollering down the driveway, but we did it and I stuck it.

A few hours later I hopped on Streak, the barn owner’s and my friend’s Texas bred Quarter Horse. Now, keep in mind this was this horse’s home facility, I’d spent a good chunk of last summer riding and working with this horse, and I put my kid on this horse for lead line lessons last summer. Streak decided he hated the bit, hated the corners of the arena, hated the chickens outside, and had totally forgotten what it meant to trot in a straight line. My low moment of the weekend came when Celena futzed with my seat and informed me I’d put my stirrups back on totally wrong.

IMG_5551.jpg

The makings of a ride camp dog!

My third highlight was once again sticking it out on a horse determined to holler and spin and squirrel his way through my riding time, but I almost learned more than if he’d been his normal even headed self. We dealt with his rooting at the bit, haunches turn, rating speed and responsiveness to my seat and the bit, and I eventually turned out a horse that remembered his job, mostly.

My third highlight of the weekend was piling blankets and pillows and dog beds in the back of the Emerald Queen and driving around the country block to the local drive in theater. Kade, the dog and I watched the Black Panther from the back of the SUV, scarfing down charred cheeseburgers and candy while cuddled together and watching the nation of Wakanda take shape before us.

Sunday morning I dragged my tired butt up and again put on riding clothes and my new, perfectly fitted half chaps for another spin with Shadow. He again wanted to have fits over his bro being in the outside round pen, so Celena and I spent the time working on my seat and engaging the poor lonely horse’s brain. He’s a good boy and eventually settled down, while Celena guided me through (ie tortured me) with two point trot poles. Man, have I still got a ways to go towards building strength for 50 miles of soft posting.

IMG_0001.jpg

Shadow considering his life choices

The last highlight of the weekend came during the after lesson chat. I’d last ridden with Celena a year ago, so this was an invaluable chance to check in with her about my progress, and boy she’s noticed! She said she barely recognized me when I drove in, nearly 40 pounds and a bunch of hair lighter. I still have a ways to go, but she’s pleased most especially with my quiet seat (minus the occasional unsoft landing), solid legs and grit, which she terms stick to itness. High praise indeed from an exacting trainer who expects us to give our best selves to our horses, so the horses can do the best for us as comfortably as possible.

IMG_0002.jpg

The main points I’m going to be focused on leading up to Grizzly are working with Ray and using some of Celena’s techniques to work through the first few miles of race brain, which includes letting him make mistakes I can softly correct, versus expecting him to race and holding onto his face. Continual core and leg strength building will continue, I really have to keep my arms and elbows hanging underneath my shoulders, instead of the constant “give away” I do now that leaves me sore after miles of incorrect positioning.

There’s so much more I learned while mounted and from watching other’s ride with her all weekend, things that will percolate in the background until I have need of them. Having this clinic at the excellent T&A ranch was icing on the cake, most especially the propane heaters for Sunday when the rain and wind really whipped up! If you’ve read this far, a million thanks to Celena, Andrea, Amie & Terry for a perfect birthday weekend.

Bonus: Celena declared Cyrus her favorite clinic auditor!

IMG_5561.jpg

Get it out there

  
The world is bursting into crazy spring, cherry blossoms, tulips, rainbows as far as the eye can see. The south wind is blowing hard & of course I’m full tilt crazy. Each spring comes, & that exuberant south wind fairly shouts at me to set loose, make a change, hit the road. This year is no different; I’ve got a long road trip ahead this weekend, the plans & gear & to do list painstakingly obsessed over, the closets are looking a bit bare, & the patient boyfriend has persuaded me not to tear the apartment apart in my quest to make it different.

  
At the same time I’m a little more settled than usual, my job proceeding apace, Kade’s still in preschool though kindergarten looms at the end of the summer, I’m able to work with horses each week & soon, so soon I hope to add riding every week to the list. Included in all this is the writing group I’ve been able to wiggle my way into, & I love every moment of it.

  
The south wind pushed me to do something crazy last week-volunteer a sample of my last NaNo novel I’ve been working on for public consumption & critique. Gulp. Thanks buddy! So now I have to choose what is hopefully a somewhat coherent, sorta polished 10,000 word section of the story I’ve been penning since November…which no one else has read. Well, I’ve read aloud some of it to the five year old, but he thinks everything I do is awesome (unless it involves some form of the word “No.” Then he’s not so keen on it!)

  
Part of me is quietly freaking out over someone reading my writing-well, at least something I’ve put more effort into than, say, my woeful fourth attempt at blogging. The larger part is happily ticking away, mulling over which section to present & what kinds of critique to ask for. 

Between sharing my work, the world’s best (and most patient) boyfriend, my cutest blondie, a short work week and camping in the Horse Haven hills to look forward to, it’s a good time to turn 27 🙂

  

Who is 5 today?

  
Memories are a tricky thing, never perfectly trustworthy & apt to change or fade over time. But I have good reason to clearly recall what I was doing today, five years ago; labor! I wrote one of my most in depth blogs ever about it, but suffice to say it was a memorable event!
Even now, I can look back on how I brought my son into the world & draw strength from that. It’s a reminder that I’m doing pretty well for a first time Mom, & I have been making fairly solid choices (most of them anyway) since before he was born.

  
Today I have a golden, flirty, fully formed & yet still so much to discover little blondie who won’t stop growing & changing with each breath! I learn more from him & with him than in decades of schooling, & I never cease to be entertained. The best, of course, are the (thankfully decreasing!) wretched, woe is me, the world is bleak tantrums. You can’t help but laugh at what causes kids to go off the rails, #reasonswhymysoniscrying (today, no iPad before school, which has always been & will always be the rule).
I’ve practiced countless ninja moves, heard amazing stories of jet planes, friends & speed, accepted mud as a part of my daily life, cursed Legos when I find them with my bare feet, stocked up on Band-Aids of different kinds (Angry Birds, Star Wars, & of course, Cars), lost most of the pairs to his socks, & never cease to be amazed by how much pizza a 40 pound person can put away. And still I’ve not sucked in enough of that clean, sleeping little boy smell, felt the thump of his heart or the amazing amount of body heat put out when he crawls into bed with us to hide from a nightmare to get me through those teenage years I know are sulking just around the corner of those adorable fat cheeks & skinned knees.
We’ve welcomed Tom into our lives (I’m pretty sure he was accepted mainly on the basis of food & Lego provider by some of us). But at least we have someone to teach him the patience of fishing, the wicked coolness of a space video game, & an endless supplier of fart jokes (all farts real or imaginary are the most hilarious ever.)
I love you kiddo, & here’s to so many more Lego creations to build, puddles to become one with, rockets to launch, books to read & laundry to clean!