New Years Resolutions...

With 2016 finally over, I figured this would be a good time speak of resolutions. I know, I know, that tends to draw a collective moan from the masses, but my resolutions aren’t “going to the gym”, “eating less sugar”, and “going to bed early”. No, I already do those. My resolutions for this year are more of a rider related nature.

  1. Fix my shoulders.

Ever since the age of eleven where mother nature decided it was time for an awkward young Sam to develop into an awkward young womanly Sam my shoulders have curved inward around me. I’ve talked to a lot of women who developed this habit and over time it became their posture. In riding, I couldn’t feel this happening as it was my natural place of being: sunken in the ribcage with my shoulders cloaking around me. While my lower abdominals worked to follow the motion, my upper abs did nothing but suck in and hold me in my comfort zone.

I’m a video-holic. In college we would record our rides every 4 weeks to watch for progress, position issues and discuss how to fix them. It’s something I continue on my own today to see how my horses are going and where I am blocking them. I don’t have the luxury of mirrors in my arena so I rely on these videos several days out of the week. Still I see my shoulders and collapsed chest: I know it’s a weak spot. So my resolution this year is to, over the course of this year on every horse I sit on, take time to really focus on my shoulders opening and my chest growing taller. It’s going to happen through the conscious reminder. I have the strength to keep myself there but I need the muscle memory.

My hope for 2017 is an improved upper body in the saddle.

2. Improve PSG scores with William.

Wonder why I haven’t posted in a while? I’ve been sulking. Hiding, even. Show season 2016 wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. Yes, I got my USDF Silver Medal and yes, we qualified and went to Regionals to show Prix St. George but I missed out on All Breed awards by a little less than a percentage point and that really felt like I had let myself down. Since October I have been focusing on improving Will’s gaits, the quality and obedience in the changes and the fluidity of our lateral work. With our recent discovery of his “international trot”, I have been working hard on making Will’s medium and extended gaits slow and BIG rather than rushing and heavy.

My hope for 2017 is to stay in the running for the USDF All Breed awards at PSG, qualify again at PSG for Regionals and when thats under our belt we will set our sights on I1 and the beginnings of a Gold Medal (maybe).

3. Do MORE with Hagrid.

Hagrid has been traveling with me to work with Felicitas every time she’s in town. He practically loads himself on the trailer, hauls like a dream and settles in no time at all in his new digs to be braided and tacked up for our first lesson. He is showing himself to be quite the cool cucumber at new places and while baby things and Friesian things pop up, for the most part we are steadily working walk, trot, canter, 20 and 15 meter circles, baby leg yields and shoulder in. Home is always better of course but I recently took him to ride with Greta Wrigley at a client’s farm about 40 minutes away and he was a champ. For a horse that has only been under saddle since March he has really come a long way.

But my goals for him are quite lofty. I need to be taking more time to develop his brain and gaits, starting now. It has taken me YEARS with William because when I got him he had been turned into a pokey plow horse that carried beginners around on the buckle. He had learned to brace in the bit from unsteady hands and thought collection was an unnecessary and silly thing. I had to learn to be more subtle and learn to get the feel I wanted. Now I have more of an understanding and I know just how important it is to be showing Hagrid his “international trot” before he decides it’s a silly thing as well. As a trainer, my own horses come last every day. Some days, after riding eight other horses and I only have exactly 30 minutes before I have to start teaching lessons the thought of getting on Will or Hagrid is daunting. It’s easy enough to say, “I’ll ride them tomorrow” but then the same happens for the next three days. William, as my main squeeze right now always gets chosen and some days I just get to scratch Hagrid when he walks up to me whilst roaming the lands, tell him I love him and will be able to ride him soon. Soon isn’t good enough anymore. He must be a priority. Both of them.

My hope for 2017 is to have Hagrid steady in the bridle with a long neck and the beginning of springy warmblood-like gaits.

Good riding and good horses take years to develop and I am learning patience pays off... eventually. Best of luck to you all in your 2017 resolutions and to the fat bottomed horses we love!

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