Down the Rabbit Hole

Well, not literally. At least, not like Alice. Although given that I thought the moonrise was the sunset the other day…

After Tuesday’s lesson, it was suggested that I try putting my stirrups down a hole, which I did today. Sure, we were still chasing a bit, but with longer stirrups I don’t think I was tipping forward quite so much. Next step – strengthen my lower legs (especially my lower left leg) so they don’t slide when I canter and maybe then we can try going down another hole (of the daydream variety this time 😉)!

Yesterday I headed up to Dartmoor for a bit of an explore (more – or should I say moor – exploring needed) and saw a herd of ponies! It was great for my driving too, involving single track country lanes, A roads, and just about everything in between.

Self-care Saturday has involved a run, bike ride, watching The Railway Children, listening to my latest audiobook (The Flatshare), and applying my self-care Saturday face mask.

Was pleased with a sub-30 5k (supposedly 5k) although my hands were so cold after my bike ride that it hurt under my thumbnails and I felt a little ill (whoops)…

Of course I piled the calories straight back on by eating too much chocolate cake… 🎂

Jess

Friend in the Forest

Yes, I’m naming this post after my poem that featured in Luke Jerram’s Of Earth and Sky project in Gloucester.

Why? Because on my days off I like to take myself up to the forest for walks (or runs if I’m feeling up to it like last week). Last week’s run saw me complete the 5k route in 30:12. I’m not sure I’ll be running the 5k Challenge+ route anytime soon though, given how muddy and slippery – and hilly – I’ve seen it is. The route I walked today joins the 5k Challenge+ route half way round, sticking with it until almost the end.

I’ve also changed to the non-ridden pathway for the apprenticeship, although I’ll still be improving my riding (hopefully) joining in the student lessons, but we decided it’s less pressure on me if I’m not assessed in my riding (I get flustered enough without being assessed).

This week’s lessons focused on control and maintaining the same distance between everyone, and then in our second lesson of the week we worked on walk-canter transitions, which I got rather flustered about when Jacob kept trying to rush off in trot rather than walk, but we managed a few on each rein. I think the key for me is to learn that the bubbliness is actually easier to control than trying to hold it, it’s just getting me past that ‘OMG it feels too powerful!’ stage.

Jess

And… Action

In the past couple of weeks I’ve officially started my level 2 horse groom apprenticeship!

In last weeks lessons I rode Dillon and Jacob, focusing on turning my body rather than leaning, ‘pulsing’ using my leg muscles rather than pony club kicks, half-halting, and not being afraid to bring my inside hand away from the neck more to ask for flexion to the inside. No pressure to remember all that and apply it all next time then…

We all have to make sure we get photographic and video evidence of practical tasks such as mucking out, which I’ve started collating. I know my mucking out isn’t the best, but I’ve been working on making my stables better this week (or trying to, at the very least).

In other news, it was my birthday earlier in the week so we managed to squeeze in a birthday meal before lockdown 2 kicked in. And that was on top of seeing my parents last weekend and a trip to Yeovil Literary Festival to hear Carrie Hope Fletcher talk about her new novel Into the Spotlight.

In terms of lockdown 2, I’m definitely feeling noticeably more anxious again… I was reluctant to go out today, and that was just to go for a walk in the forest (I almost ended up in tears driving up there I’d got myself so worked up…). I’m yet to deal with lockdown shopping…

A view from the… viewpoint?

Too many ellipses probably means I should be getting some sleep.

Sweet dreams,

Jess.

Ups and Downs

It’s been a better week this week. Despite not riding properly since last Wednesday (we need more cobs for us all to ride) and being nervous about the possibility of riding Pinky again – I literally had nightmares this Wednesday night – I got back on her for a lunge lesson on Thursday.

The takeaway points were:

  • Using my weight aids during transitions
  • Taking deep breaths when I feel myself tense up
  • Establish a good sitting trot before either rising in the walk-trot transition or walking in the trot-walk transition

All of these things should help me not to tip forward so much as I’ll be teaching both myself and the horse to respond to my weight aids. It should also help me to start getting more of a feel of the correct trot diagonal when I do start rising (I got a few right!).

Jess

Raising the Bar

Let’s just say this week hasn’t been my finest. Wednesday just wasn’t my day riding wise and I’ve taken a knock to my confidence. Our instructor on Thursday is coming up with a solution though – I think the plan is to take me out of group lessons for now and build up my confidence before I rejoin group lessons.

In terms of what went wrong, the pony I was riding is clearly very enthusiastic about jumping, so much so that put three trotting poles in the middle of the arena and she jumps the width of them. Then proceeds to go into her silly cantering mode with me struggling (I have an awful habit of tensing up and leaning forward, and squealing it turns out).

Anywho, on a more positive note (or maybe not for my parents) I found a gorgeous pair of denim jodhpurs earlier which fit perfectly and have become an early birthday present (how am I almost 22 yet remain the height of a 11-13 year old?…)

We also seem to get lots of rainbows here, so I’m sharing a photo of one I took earlier this week.

Jess

Music to my Ears

We’re midway through July already, and things are gradually starting to look up as we ease out of lockdown.

At the end of June, I decided to set myself the challenge of writing a poem every day throughout July, and while some have certainly been easier than others, it’s been interesting delving into my inner self. If you want to take a look, you can see my poems on my Twitter feed.

My running hasn’t been going too badly either, although I’m still battling the hills to what seems like no avail to try to get sub-30. In some more exciting news, those of you who follow me on Facebook will already know that following London Landmarks Half Marathon being cancelled, and the Royal Parks Half Marathon being postponed until April 2021, I’ve decided to accept the offer of having my place rolled over to that. Hopefully that means I’ll get the run a half marathon for Scope actually in London!

Earlier last week I ordered some reusable face masks, which came this morning! Naturally, I was excited to try them out as soon as possible, wearing them for my run (turns out glasses steaming up combined with rain is a bit of a problem, but I’ve had a few tips on how to stop them steaming up so I’ll be experimenting over the next few days).

I mentioned in a couple of previous posts about applying for equestrian apprenticeships, and I’m excited to have a trial/interview for one of them at the start of August! Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze a lesson in beforehand as I haven’t ridden since early March. I think I can remember what a horse looks like?!

In other news, I spent yesterday creating a logo for The Running Equestrian, alongside some ideas for the future!

As usual I’ve also had more ideas for articles so now I need to get writing – as much as I enjoy reading, I don’t think it can be all I ever do… Although having watched the first episode of Mystic, available on iPlayer and CBBC, last night, I’m thinking I may need to reread Mystic and the Midnight Ride!

Jess

Love is in the Air

It’s Valentine’s Day today, and I thought I’d treat you guys to an extra special post this evening. So I asked some of my followers on social media what they love most about their horses. Here are some of my favourite responses.

Cuddles

Never mind dogs – horses are man’s best friend. They understand everything we feel, and are always there to listen to our rants, as a shoulder to cry on, or share in our successes.

Cheekiness

If you’re lucky enough to be short, like me, and ride those super cute little ponies, you’ll know exactly what I mean. They might be tiny, but they don’t always like to make things easy. It’s part of what makes them so much fun to ride!

When their little ears prick up when something catches their attention

Quick, get the camera out! Our soul mates are always alert. Whether it’s responding to their best equine friends, trotting over to us when we call them in from the paddock, or simply just loving their job, the way their ears prick forward is just the cutest!

When they pull faces

Horses are photogenic animals, but as soon as that camera comes out he’ll be sticking his tongue out. Or baring his teeth in that giraffe-like manner. Horses are also intelligent, so why not take advantage of your horse’s ability to pull the best faces by teaching him to smile?

49

It’s been a long week, and while I’m chipping away at things slowly, sometimes a girl just needs a couple of days to chill.

Unfortunately no photos from equestrian club this week, and no PBs at Parkrun, but the important thing is that I got around Parkrun (that hill still gets me every time)…

But back to my relaxing. I finished watching Glee at the start of the week, and as a friend had recommended it to me, started watching Gilmore Girls. Both feel-good shows, which get a little (ok, very) emotional at times. Although the characters seem somewhat exaggerated from where I’m sitting, they have qualities that I think we can all relate to. Intense relationships…break-ups…dreams…regrets. Aside: I regret eating too much chocolate.

shutterstock_518587240
LOS ANGELES – NOV 18: Kelly Bishop, Alexis Bledel And Lauren Graham Arrives To The Netflix’s ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life’ Premiere On November 18, 2016 In Westwood, CA, 2016 <https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/los-angeles-nov-18-kelly-bishop-518587240&gt; [Accessed 9 February 2020]
But let’s not make this a post about regrets. Let’s make it one of growth. With the London Landmarks Half Marathon just – you guessed it – 49 days away I’ve run 15 km this week. Next week, I’ve volunteered to tail walk at Parkrun before taking part in a 10 km race (trust me, it’s more of a run for me than a race, and probably always will be) on Sunday.

The following week I’m going to be executing a few flying changes around the North-West to report on various equestrian events! Having focused a bit on jumping, it’s the turn of dressage and para-dressage to take centre stage.

I’ll keep you guys posted! And if you haven’t seen already, Northern Horse Magazine is available to purchase here.

Jess