Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Making Luck

"But probably, if I had to pick one thing that I had to hang my hat on, I would want the horse that I was going to buy to have a face that I would enjoy seeing poked over the stall webbing every morning, waiting for breakfast." ~ Jimmy Wofford 

Have you ever had one of those rides that seemingly went great and yet left you feeling... less, disappointed, sad or just something you can't put your finger on? That's the kind of rides I've had over the last two days. I think the trouble is the knowledge that we are still struggling with the same things we've been struggling with since I've been home.

The other thing, I think, is yesterday my trainer said to me, "don't take this the wrong way but you guys looked better last week." Going backwards was so NOT on my to do list. So we worked on it today and it was better but still lots of room for improvement.

The issue I am talking about is Loki's lack of adjustability and his preference for running around on his forehand. It's so easy for me to get lazy and comfortable and let him get away with it but hopefully we "lit a fire under my arse" to start working harder and being faithful to ride correctly each ride, each stride. (Look at that I made a rhyme :D )

So in that vein I made my own SWOT which I first saw over on Viva Carlos. I'm hoping I can motivate myself, to see the good with the bad, etc. So here goes:

  • I love my horse. I know that sounds silly, but really I really love my horse. I love riding him and working with him even when we have a "bad" ride/day.
  • Loki is sound, has good conformation and physically capable of doing the things I ask. He is a pretty good jumper when he uses himself and could really do well in dressage with more training.
  • Time: I have lots of time to ride right now and spend practicing and getting things right. Plus we don't have to be in a hurry to meet any goals. Loki is only 6 there should be plenty of time.
  • Loki has excellent ground manners and can load/clip/stand with the best of 'em.
  • Loki is not spooky and typically settles into new places/situations pretty easily.
  • I have a great support network between my husband, sister, friends and trainer. 
  • Adjustability! We need to do lots of transitions between and within the gaits and just continue to work on this. 
  • Downward transitions! It sometimes just feels like we have mushy brakes. We do stop or slow down but there is some short circuitry in the way sometimes. This goes along with the whole adjustability thing.
  • Getting Loki more consistently off his forehand. He can do it but he really doesn't want to do it and will take the easy way out if I don't demand it. 
  • Tack: I still could use a new saddle but it just isn't in the budget right now so we are making do. 
  • I haven't run since we got back from Japan and it is starting to show. I need to get back to a regular workout schedule.
  • I don't have a trailer.
  • I can't seem to keep my shoulders back consistently when I ride whether it is jumping or working on the flat my trainer is constantly telling me to get my shoulders back. 
  • Right now I have the ability to ride several different horses as much as I can fit it into my schedule. This will hopefully help make me a stronger rider.
  • My sister is letting me borrow her trailer. This has been wonderful as trailering fees with my trainer have all been raised and my budget hasn't. 
  • Once we move into our house, which will be very soon, I should be able to get back to having a more consistent schedule which should include working out. 
  • New barn friends that like to trail ride. Nothing better for de-stressing from arena work like a nice hack in the woods!
  • Finances. We are still adjusting to our new budget that comes with being back in the states. I can't complain b/c I still do more than most but I am going to have to seriously cut back on lessons/shows/clinics/new saddles/etc. 
  • I could potentially need to find a new barn. Nothing to state publicly but the possibility is there and I really don't like it.
  • Fear or dwelling on the what if's. I am bad about this and need to work on focusing on the present.
Overall I think mostly positive. And I need to remind myself that having Time as a strength is HUGE. Most of our weaknesses should be solved just through time, that's my hope anyways.


  1. You got this girl!! Keep your head up!!

  2. You can do it! :) I agree, time is one of the biggest issues/strength, depending on what your life is like. :)) I normally only have time to ride twice a week, and those are mostly just trail rides because my mom and normally a friend comes and I don't want to either, A. Miss out on fun and something that Red actually loves to do to just sit in a round pen and try to work on stuff, and B. Because I know I only ride twice a week at the most sometimes and I want to get in as much fun as possible. Lol! Loki is a great horse, and you are a great rider! You'll always have weaknesses but what's important is that Loki and you are sound, excited about what you are doing and ready to take the next step! :) You can work through the weaknesses!

    1. If I had limited time to ride and the choice between trails and the ring 9 times out of 10 I'd pick the trails too. :)

  3. If you look at your list, the number of strengths and opportunities is almost DOUBLE your weaknesses and strengths! Don't let a few lackluster rides get you down -- you are in a prime position for improvement!

    1. I really hadn't looked at it like that but you are definitely right. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. As you know, Wiz and I have the same on the forehand issues we have to work out. But I think it's easy to think "OMG THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED NOW" and get frustrated, when in reality, unless they are naturally built up hill (which, lets face it, most thoroughbred aren't) it takes A LOT of time and muscle development for them to do this naturally. They are not trying to be bad. They are not trying to not listen. They just literally do not have the strength to do it, yet.

    But I've been struggling with how do you get that strength? Do you just make them do it? Do you let them go long-and-low until they've developed the proper back strength to slowly start getting their shoulders more up? I don't know. I've heard a million different opinions on the subject. I do know that when I was worrying about Wiz being off the forehand the last few weeks, he got all messed up. When I went back to focusing on his entire feel, and just being straight and bent and getting the contact correctly, he feels much stronger. I think I need to stop pounding on the need to have his shoulder up right now and let him just get stronger and straighter and introduce the more uphill frame slowly. But I definitely understand the impatience/frustration that goes along with that!!!

    Anyway, I've been struggling with the same thing lately, for some reason- the other day getting out of the arena really helped, maybe it was the change of scenery. ALSO, I might be doing Jump Start at the Kentucky Horse Park at the end of September. If you can make it, maybe you and Loki should consider it! They have a starter and BN division, and it's relatively inexpensive, as far as events go, and suppose to be straight-forward move-up type courses. :) Not sure how far away you are, though.

    1. It is always hard to know the exact right thing to do in the training process. It's easy to say do a, b, and c until you get to z but the problem is not all horses are exactly the same. The order that you train concepts might be the same but how you get to each new thing as well as how long it takes to get there could be quite different from horse 1 to horse 2. I just say that to say that I too struggle with knowing exactly how I should go about getting Loki from a greenie to a solid citizen and as an amateur there is a lot of self-doubt that goes along with each decision. Boy sometimes I just wish Loki and I could have a real conversation in English. But then again I might not like what he has to tell me, LOL!

      AND! I am planning on doing Jump Start this fall as long as the finances stay on target. That would be so much fun to see you there!

    2. I certainly hope to see you there!!

      And I agree about the conversation thing :) It's definitely difficult trying to figure out exactly what combination makes your horse tick- but that's also why it's so rewarding when you finally get it to all work together:)

  5. I love SWOTs. Your strengths are really strong, and that's exciting. I understand the budget threat, that's a constant threat myself.

    1. Yes, money and time are ultimately the two things that can make or break you and there is always a trade-off between the two, well, unless you are super rich I guess.

  6. We all have harder days and easier days. Don't beat yourself up--it's a part of training. :)

    1. Yes, truth be told if they were all easy days we wouldn't appreciate them nearly as much. Thanks!

  7. Your strength and opportunities are all strong ones which will no doubt carry you over and beyond your weaknesses and threats. Keep pressing on. :0)

  8. Loving your horse is not silly, it is your greatest strength. You can do it.

    1. You're right of course. Thanks for the vote of confidence!