Snow, snow, go away!

I was a little annoying yesterday.  To myself.  I could not stop the growl in my mind about the weather and how it was putting a major damper on my business and getting the horses worked and doing horse chores.  Even the kids were cooped up inside for too long and that made me growl-y.

And then, I remembered three things:

  1.  “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” ~ Sir Ranulph Fiennes
  2. You can walk a horse in any footing, except ice.
  3. The walk is one of the most valuable tools we have for improving suppleness, building muscle and refining our aids.

So, Adrianna, shut it.

I put my big girl britches on (and two pairs of pants, three shirts, a vest, my snowboarding jacket, hat and gloves) and went out, did all the chores and hopped on a horse.  I hacked out and enjoyed the glorious weather and the unusual view of snow covering all the desert.  We walked and trotted and even had a little canter where the footing was good.  The horse did transitions, lateral work, collection and lengthening.  And we both came back completely satisfied.

So I did it again with every horse and reminded myself that the reason I do all the work in the arena is so that I CAN ride under any circumstances, over any terrain, in any weather.

Today will be much the same because the arena is a swampy mess, too slippery for anything but walk.  But, I know that I will get some valuable work in regardless.  If you have a horse that is hot or young or silly when going out, lunge in the areas that are normally too hard, like the driveway.  Just a little trot and walk can do a lot to get going.   The other thing I do with the green horses is pony them out as their warm up and then come back and take them out solo.  They get to go out twice, but first with the reassuring friend.

Tomorrow, when the arena is back in working order, we will be too!

SSH Corajuda a.k.a. ‘G’

Sometimes, a special horse pops into your life out of nowhere.  Sometimes they wheedle their way to you despite all odds. Sometimes, you get a unicorn.  Unicorn status is still up for grabs, but the filly that we picked up in September now belongs to me!

With the generous support of Rebecca Womack and Tavia Riley, I now have a spectacular ride on this youngster.  She is a four year old, Thoroughbred filly who raced four times.  Bred in California, raced at San Tan and then offered for sale in Phoenix.  But, she made it to Los Angeles before fate intervened and we got her.  Yay!

I’m really looking forward to bringing ‘G’ along.  Photos of her progress to follow!  In the meantime, heaps of appreciation go out to Rebecca and Tavia!  And stay tuned for more info on SSH Corajuda… Hopefully she lives up to her name!

Book Report: Reflections On Equestrian Art by Nuno Oliveira

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A big fan of Nuno Oliveira’s work, I was really looking forward to reading this gem.  It took the holidays and a couple of SNOW days in the desert to find time to enjoy it, but I did!  A really lovely read.  It is not technical like many contemporary horse books.  The book is divided into sections by theory or gaits and movements.  His discussion of classical work and it’s benefits to the horse are some of the best descriptions I have read on the subject.

I particularly like his continual discussion about the horse’s individuality and how important it is that the rider adjust the work to the horse.  There is no blanket formula for creating a through, connected, engaged horse.  He talks about how different types of exercises benefit different types of horses.  One example I quite liked was the Thoroughbred versus the Iberian breeds.  They are very different conformationally and he succinctly discusses the type of trot he recommends for each to improve and balance their strengths and weaknesses.

Having read so many technical pieces, including a review of the USEF Rules for Eventing and Dressage recently, it was refreshing to think of riding and training as an art.  The collaboration with our horses should be a project in refining and defining our craft throughout.  To all the artists out there… see you in the canvas.

Bring It On 2019!

What a wonderful season it has been!  We were blessed to spend the holidays in Utah with family and friends.  We played in the snow, made cookies, ate and drank entirely too much (it’s all about abundance, right?) and had some time to reflect on what a wonderful year 2018 has been.

At the start of 2018, ‘wonderful’ was not an expectation I had for the year.  It could have been characterized with much different words.  But, instead, I met fabulous people and big-hearted horses.  I made new friends in a new town and found support from new and unexpected places.  I found generosity all around me in so many ways.  It was truly a year of abundance.

I am so grateful for the connections I’ve made and how my fledgling business has grown and continues to grow in surprising and pleasing ways.  Wonderful is just one of many effusive words I could use.  But appreciation is the feeling.  Appreciation for my dedicated clients.  Appreciation for the community around me.  Appreciation for family and friends who have supported me in so many ways.  Appreciation for the horses… who are always teaching us so much.   Appreciation for my children and their bright outlook. Appreciation for the love that surrounds the whole program, my whole life.  Thank you to everyone who is connected to me, in any way, shape or form.  Thank you!

Looking ahead to 2019, I feel excitement, anticipation and satisfaction at all that lies before me.  Many new adventures are on the horizon and all of them are brimming with the goodness of 2018.

Sending out loads of love and wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy and Fun-Filled New Year!

All my love,

Adrianna

‘Tis the season…

Oh la la!  Traveling during the month of December?  This close to Christmas, colleges finishing their terms, children hopped up on sugarplums, amateurs abounding in the airport… what. was. I. thinking?

I have been saying since Thanksgiving that this month is a wash.  So many things pull our attention away from the work that we intend to do with our horses, that it seems futile to fight against the inevitable interruption to our routine.  Best laid plans are simply that and we end up with fresh horses and feelings of being left behind the work we wanted to accomplish.

When I resided in snow-country, there were months until our horses needed to be fit and sound for a competition, but now, living in the southern climes where winter never comes, now is our training time.  A top-notch clinician is visiting this weekend and our next schooling of cross-country falls on the first weekend in January.  Fasten your breast-collars people.

So what is the strategy for the holiday season when short days, cold mornings and countless social obligations disrupt the proper progression of our training?  Well, my advice is to give in.

Now, to be clear, I am not saying give up.  I am saying that this is the reality of our lives.  Training our horses and ourselves does not exist in a vacuum. We have children, jobs, homes, other horses, visiting relatives, trips, aging parents… the list goes on.  At this time of year, when daylight betrays us, we must be kind to the limitations placed upon us and our horses.  To fight it adds stress and pressure that earns us injuries and heartache.

My advice (though I know that the best advice is not given) is to just relax into the ebb and flow of the holidays.  Get to your riding as much as you can without serious inconvenience.  The rides may be shorter, there may be more lunging, trail rides might serves as the only ride to accommodate cousin so-and-so… that is okay.  Your horse will recover from any niggling soreness or injury and so will you.  And you will both arrive on the other side of the holidays a bit heavier, a bit sounder, but ready and fresh to your work.

Be aware of the fresh horse who has had extra days off and the human who has not had their mind on riding for a few days.  You both have to ease back in and expect less.  Fine. No problem.  The training you did before the turkey arrived has not disappeared, it’s just buried.  Be gentle in shaking off the dust or rust or trust.  Things will all come back.  In the horse, this looks like bucking, kicking and squealing when you lunge or round-pen them.  It’s okay, loads of transitions will help your cause and calm your horse.  Same to you when you get on.  Go slow, be methodical.

When you get to January without the guilt of training the way you THINK you should train, you’ll feel better, lighter and ready.  That is something that I want for Christmas, so why not give it to ourselves?

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