#fivethingsFriday – Riding Edition

  • Things have been going pretty well lately with my riding. So well, actually, that I haven’t posted anything about them because there hasn’t been a lot to say beyond, “Damn, that was awesome!” Cinnamon and I have been working more on being straight and forward. Cinn walks like a drunken sailor half the time, largely because he is trying to cut in to the center of the ring and…you know, stop working. If you drop his inside rein for a second, he’s got his nose to the middle and he’s swerving. For most of his problems, forward is the answer, because if he’s forward, he doesn’t have time for shenanigans. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like to go forward because, well, then he won’t have time for shenanigans.

This photo is my favorite. We’re prepping for a halt.

  • A couple of weeks ago, I was cantering Cinn, and it was probably one of our better trips around the ring. As we went around, he stumbled, and my reins came out of my hands. Rather than panic – which is usually my first reaction – I just collected my reins up and kept going. I didn’t even realize what had happened until all of a sudden, I heard my trainer yell, “Good girl, keep going!” Truth be told, my lessons have been exponentially better after that little confidence boost.

 

Ignore the stupid face I’m making. I was joking with my trainer. Focus on the pony.

 

  • Last week, I rode Suzie, because Cinnamon had had a show with the younger girls earlier in the day (and apparently did very well – they brought home a Champion, a Reserve Champion, and something like four¬†firsts and a smattering of seconds). I love Cinn, but Sue is such a pleasure. She’s forward on her own, and I don’t constantly have to get after her to make her move. Also? When I ask her to canter, she does it. It takes Cinn a while, partially because he’s lazy, but also partially because when he came to my trainer several years ago, he was a retired – and poorly trained – gaming and barrel horse. He apparently had no conception of how to canter under saddle, and consequently still struggles with balancing himself, particularly to the right.
  • My trainer was so pleased with the way I cantered on Suzie that I’m going to be alternating between her and Cinnamon for a while. Cinn is always my favorite buddy, but I’m really learning to enjoy Sue. She’s quirky in her own way – very skin sensitive (brush her gently and quickly), she has to chew on her halter before you put her bridle on, and she basically has ADHD; she hates to stand still. But under saddle, she’s responsive and willing, and a better babysitter than I’d expect for an 18-year-old chestnut Thoroughbred mare who used to be a lunatic show jumper.

 

Ugh, I love this guy.

 

  • Still can’t hit my effing diagonals. I can get them maybe 60% of the time, but at least I’m starting to know when I’m wrong?

#firstbootproblems

Equestrian confession: I have never owned a pair of tall boots. I’ve never needed them. Up until the last three months, I never thought I would¬†need them because I didn’t want to show.

However, I do need new boots in some fashion. My paddock boots are old and beat up, and the suede half chaps I bought last year are getting there as well. When I told my trainer that I was in the market for new boots, she suggested I get tall boots because they’d last longer than my half chaps and I could show in them, since I’ve now decided that’s a thing I want to try. So on Saturday, I went boot shopping.

On the recommendation of my trainer and also general good sense because their return policy is awesome, I went to Dover. I explained to the lovely and helpful salesgirl that I had ridiculously muscular calves and thought I might be a tough fit, that I knew nothing about tall boots, and that I’d like something in the $200-$250 range that was appropriate for schooling-to-show. The girl gave my legs the once-over and said, “You should be fine to fit. We’ll try a regular medium calf.”

You should know where this is going by now.

Several pairs of boots (and several skin-pinches) later, we had only found one pair of boots that even remotely fit my leg properly. It’s what the girl called a “sock style” boot, meaning that the leather was incredibly soft and hugs the leg like a second skin. They were actually super comfortable, except for the fact that they were a dress boot (rather than a field boot) and I couldn’t really bend my ankle. The salesgirl swore the boots would stretch and allow my ankle to bend, but she also told me that the stock-style boots don’t have a break-in period, and those two things seemed contradictory. The other issue is that the leather of the boot was so soft that I really think that the fit of the boot wouldn’t be maintained past a few months; once it broke in properly, the boots would probably drop and bag, just like my regular “going-out” boots that I wear to work.

You can just tell these will sag after a few good rides. Also you can see all the “fallen soldier” boots behind me that just didn’t fit.
Bagging was the issue in general: because my ankles are so slender (8 inches in diameter) compared to my calves (15.75 inches standing, 16.25 sitting), what fits me in one place logically doesn’t fit me in the other. The girl at Dover told me I’d probably need a custom boot, which, with wedding payments and general living, isn’t a possibility right now, especially when I don’t even know if I’ll like showing. We tried a leather half-chap with a zip-up paddock boot, but I had the problem again with the bagging in the ankle.

My trainer seems less concerned about my boot-shopping woes than I am. She says to go boot shopping with her next time, and we’ll find something – boot or half-chap – that works. Right now, we’re both on the same page: lace-up paddock boots (because I’ll get a better fit and more mobility through my ankle) and a decent leather half-chap are probably the way to go.

The hunt continues.