Saturday, April 04, 2009

A turn in the road

I am taking a break from riding.

Dada, my teacher and friend, is no longer comfortable with me riding independently. She tried to say it was her fault for getting old or some other nonsense. I know better than anyone that I do not look very graceful when I ride or when I do anything else.

I have to find another sport/exercise/hobby to enjoy. I will certainly write about that here. I do write about life with my disability here. It tends to be a little more raw.

Anyway, thanks, everyone, for the support.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ready to ride

I am almost ready to quit my job and make horses my full-time occupation today ... because last night I saw the Lipizzaner stallions. It was so cool.

I also feel more manly about dressage because apparently it started as military training -- take that, horse ballet.

The Lipizzaners did a few moves I know how to do, like circles and serpentines and leg-yielding, but they dud most of them at speeds I can only imagine. Leg-yielding is about a million times cooler looking when it is done at a trot or cantor.

They also did some steps called "Airs above the ground," which the show's host said were originally military maneuvers. They were cool as all get out, but most involved like a Lone Ranger and Silver buck that would leave the horse's belly a tasty target for a spearman, so I was a little dubious. I read something later that said they were probably just drills.

But there was this one, called the capriole, that looked like a serious move. The horse jumps up in the air and then kicks its back feet. I am not sure when knights or cavalry would turn around away from their enemies so the horse could kick them, but that one looked like it might be useful in a battle. Here is a video of it.

I saw Eric Clapton in concert years and years ago, before I knew I was disabled and when I fancied myself a guitar player. We decided afterward that Clapton made you want to go practice or go throw away your guitar because you'll never be that good. I sort of felt the same way after the Lipizzaners.

But mostly I just wanted to practice.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Me and my Shadow?

I thought when I started riding T last year that she would be the last horse I rode. She was great; she had energy and initiative. I had to slow her down sometimes; that thrilled me no end.

What then was I doing on my last lesson before winter break riding Shadow, a Trakehner-Arab mare? I am still trying to decide if I was being disloyal to T and Morgans.

Dada says T has a lot of motion in her walk, and I know Dada is less confident of me and T than she used to be. And Shadow has a wider back and a smoother walk and has a dressage background.

The first time with a horse is probably hard for everyone as the horse adjusts to one's movements. I move a lot, so it is really hard on a horse to learn to ignore my body's slippings. T mostly did. Shadow stopped when she felt something was off. Dada liked that. Me? Not as much. It was real work to get and keep her moving.

After a while, we managed to get moving at a nice rate and she really curves in circles.

I was looking forward to riding her again - who am I to argue with Dada – but my work schedule has demanded that I stop for the winter now. It will be a good time to break. Dada and I will re-assess things in a while and see what's what.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stress or something

I have spent the last 20 minutes looking through old photos to figure out where I used to put my hands. Dada said my trunk was swaying and I looked exhausted. She suggested it was stress, and she may be right. I know I have some stress in my life, but I felt pretty good.

I loved having the dressage letters out. It really makes me know where to ride. I thought I ride some decent circles and a good figure eight.

But my trunk was swaying. Part of the problem is that I need rubber bands to keep my feet in the stirrups. The left one came out today.

My hands, though, are the real problem. I wind up leaning forward on them. The set-up we have now has me holding straps for extra balance help. But there is to much leeway in the straps so I sway. I need something right at the top of the saddle that would encourage me to sit back.

Oh well. Maybe it is stress. I am going to take the winter off and see how I feel after that.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Book review: 'Equus' is great for horse lovers

I think I have a new favorite horse -- or at least member of the horse family: the Poitou Donkey. They look pretty good in this photo, but no where near as wonderful as they look in a new book called Equus by Tim Flach.

I got an early copy of this book to review here and it is pretty neat. You can see some of the photos here on his website. Click on "Equus."

He fills almost 300 pages with all different kinds of horses, from zebras to Arabian stallions with tons in between and almost nothing else living. There are the paws of a dog and part of a rider, but that was it; the rest is pure horse.

What I especially like is seeing breeds I have ridden in more natural habits:

  • Mustangs, reminding me of Corey
  • Halflingers, reminding me of Andy and other ponies
  • Fjord ponies, recalling Finn
There are no photos of Morgans (Don't worry, T; I still love you). No Shire horses like Bella, either. That's OK; there are so many other cool breeds.

Most of the photos are grand, too. I don't care for some of the arty photos were Flach shows just part of the horse or something. I like the ones where he presents the whole horse in all its beauty.

And I know it would probably disrupt the art of the photo, but I wish the book put the little photo captions on the page with the photo instead of at the back. I want to read about what I see when I see it, not 200 pages later, and it is a pain to flip back and forth.

The scenery is so perfect, whether it is the American West for Mustangs or a glacier lake for the frolicking Icelandic Horses or sand dunes for the regal and rearing Arabian. Flach knows how to take a photo.

And that in the end makes this book a winner. You can look and find horses that are cute, horses you want to pet, horses you want to ride, horses you just want to see more of. Flach gives you that in Equus.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Six-pack abs, here I come

Well, maybe not, but we are trying to persuade my body to sit on my butt and not use my arms on T's neck to hold me up. As you can see from the photo, it is very much a work in progress.

Sitting on my butt, or sitting bones, feels better and makes it easier to ride, but I can't do it for that long before I grab at T's neck. Or tilt widely.

It is also easier on my arms and wrists, so I like it. I need to remember to sit back.

Coming soon: A book review?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Remembering how to ride

I made my triumphant return to the riding ring yesterday. Well, sort of.

I did ride for the first time in several weeks, but it was not that triumphant. I felt real, real wobbly. I did some decent leg-yielding, which I still find super-cool, but on that I kept fielding like my stirrups were coming off. They actually were, too.

Dada asks me if I am trying to give her a heart attack when I wobble. She asked that a lot Tuesday. I guess I will find my stride again.