I Want My Weekend Back

This weekend was a bit of a bust. While Friday evening was enjoyable, warm outside, and nacho-filled, Saturday showed up teeth bared. How can weather go from 80° to 39° in less than a day? WHY? I was dreading going out the barn Saturday morning, totally trying to figure out how to wuss out of riding in 39° and sustained winds gusting constantly. Well, as it happened, although I did not get much rain at all overnight at my house, the barn must have had a downpour — both rings too wet to ride, and the grass was slick in the fields. Maybe even icy, but I wasn’t about to go check. Eli got treats and more treats, and grooming, and hand walking in the barn, which is boring, unless all the horses are lit up from cold weather, then it’s … not boring. I even put Eli’s stable blanket on for the whole day–luckily his blankets were still in my car and I hadn’t sent them out for cleaning yet. Almost everyone had already taken their blankets home! But it stayed right around 40° all day and that is totally blanket weather here.

Sunday started cold but warmed up nicely. I worked all day, so by the time I got out to the barn, I had run out of steam and just took Eli for a walk outside. It was much warmer overnight last night and I am hoping riding is an actual possibility this evening. Between the weather and work, I did not get much of a weekend. Conrad did get a bath, finally!

He’s been itchy from all the bugs and pollen — I hoped a bath would help but he’s still a little itchy, poor guy. At least he got a break from bug bites on Saturday.

Birthday Kid

Eli turns 15 today! 15 going on 5 …

He’s gonna get ALL THE COOKIES tomorrow. There is also a grid set up in the small ring and I really hope it is still set up Saturday because I want to jump it.

 

Extrapolation: Using Equilab

I have been trying out the Equilab app, mainly because it’s free, so why not? It is also fairly easy to use, although data from my first attempt at using it should probably just be deleted because I did not enter in rider and horse weight accurately — it was set on kilograms and I was entering in pounds. So for the first ride I guess the app must have thought I was a sumo wrestler on an elephant.

The app also asks for equipment weight, which I totally just guessed at. You can enter in different horses and facilities, too. And you can set units of measurements for other things, like mpm and distance — do you want to use miles or kilometers? I left it as mpm because that’s how jumper class speeds are indicated and I’m used to it.

Last night, I decided it would be beneficial to have video of a ride tracked in the Equilab app, to see how well the app tracks what’s going on. I didn’t ride for long and didn’t track the part of the ride we spent walking around in the fields that are currently covered in wildflowers. But the app seems fairly accurate as far as whether and for how long we were walking, trotting, or cantering.

The app also tracks turns, how much of the ride is spent at each hand, and energy consumption. Energy consumption for the rider is in calories, and energy consumption for the horse is in megajoules — this makes sense to me since horses are fed by weight, not calorically. This is probably also the most suspicious data point to me, because it really can only be an estimate.

The app also discusses the nature of the energy consumption estimates and whether a feed program should be based on the data gathered by Equilab — just sort of a cautionary paragraph on it, i.e., don’t do that without professional input. The app tracks all this data over time, so if I use this regularly, I could have a pretty good sense of our work patterns and possibly the energy consumption, too.

Which by the way — this is your data, but it is also Equilab’s data. Equilab knows where you are and stores all of this data on you and your horses and rides for you.  If you aren’t comfortable with an app tracking your whereabouts, don’t use this. (Or really don’t use the internets haha)

GPS is powerful these days, huh? No, I did not actually leave the ring at the canter, but it’s not all that far off. The app most definitely captured how much time I spend working off the rail as opposed to on it.

As far as comparing the video to the app data, it seemed mostly accurate. I have no idea how the app tracks stride length, but it does!

I guess Eli’s canter stride is almost 9′? That could very well be possible when we are just flatting casually, but it seems a few feet short to me. I don’t know from which points of the stride they are measuring, either.

And Eli’s trot step is 7′?

I guess?

So the data is imperfect, but for the most part a lot of it is very useful and close enough to accurate for me. If nothing else, you can see if you are working equally on both hands. Right away, this app makes me think I need to canter more. At the same time, I don’t think I would use this app for every single ride, but I can see using it once or twice a week just to check in on the data points I care about.

We would rather just walk around in the field, though. I am interested to see how the data plays out when Eli and I school over fences.

 

Weenie Wednesday: Backyard Time

The weather has become more pleasant, though not yet hot enough for bugs to get out of hand. On Easter, Conrad just kind of stood in the backyard for a little while looking at stuff in the grass. He is not allowed freedom in the backyard because he eats baby rabbits — that’s why he’s on a leash. I have no idea what was so interesting in the grass.

 

Different Eyes, Same Concepts

This weekend was a little different as far as lessons go for me and Eli. We usually ride with my trainer on Saturday, but Eli felt a bit … weird … I asked a trainer & instructor as I trotted past them if they thought Eli looked a bit off, and the trainer said she was just saying how Eli looked kind of funny. Not lame at all, but perhaps a bit body sore. I decided light flat work would be better for Eli than jumping, so I let my trainer know the situation and figured we would just pick up with jumping the following week.

The grazing has been very good lately.

Sunday was Easter, so there were no scheduled lessons … except as it turns out there were. One trainer always holds a Sunday group lesson, and although one wasn’t on the schedule for Easter, she changed her mind and said it was back on, texting all of her clients. I was already tacking up, and asked if there was room for one more. I usually couldn’t join this group because of my side hustle on Sundays, but that was off because of Easter. And so I found myself riding in a large group of both juniors and adult amateurs. The group consists of both flat work and jumping. I will say at the outset, my right leg is still sore.

This trainer called me out on:

My rogue left hand

My lack of right leg

My excessive and unnecessary use of an opening left rein

My half-assed two-point on the flat

My sitting down in front of the jump

These are all things I have heard from my own trainer, but in different terms from a different perspective it was enough to get me really focused on getting out of my horse’s way with all of this extra picking I was doing. Wait, who me, over ride? Wha…? Nah … This trainer also got a left-to-right lead change on the flat out of me and Eli, so her way of explaining how to make that happened quite obviously helped us immensely. Eli felt totally fine and sound and not sore anywhere, which was a relief.

So anyway, after some flat work, the group worked collectively on stringing together a few lines of jumps. I benefit from watching others work, so that part of being in a group was just as informative to me as what I was working on.

Eli and I worked on (actually just I worked on; Eli was perfect):

Using my right leg to keep Eli in the middle of the jump

(Using my right leg at all, really)

Shortening my reins and keeping my hands in one position (a following one) so I am not constantly changing my rein length and contact with Eli’s mouth

Staying off Eli’s back in front of all the jumps

Easy to write, hard to do. BUT when I did everything right, Eli stayed soft and easily flowed down the bending line — we finally got to that point where if we can recreate this, we can start working on the details. He knows his job, I just have to stay out of his way. And how many times have I written that before? Ha. And of course this trainer had a lot to say about what we were doing and I am merely using my own words here from what I remember of the lesson and I’m not trying to quote her verbatim. There was more stuff she said that I remember the gist of but don’t remember enough of it to get it down accurately, but I think I get the idea. Like no way am I going to try to explain how she explained lead changes, because I will muck it up but I remember what she was talking about and it still makes sense in my mind, from a tactile perspective.

Eli’s Fleeceworks saddle pad is super easy to clean — just fluff the wool back into shape with the wire wool brush thingy.

I had tentatively planned to school with my trainer on Monday, but that didn’t work out. Even still, I was able to practice over a low gate what I had learned (re-learned, probably) on Sunday — mainly, that was keeping my reins short and following, not sitting down, and using my right leg to keep Eli straight. That’s not quite it though —  more like using my right leg in such a way that my body is no longer crooked, and Eli will straighten up naturally. Eli was so slow, and so soft, both Sunday and Monday … Maybe I am finally getting the hang of this whole riding thing? After, ya know, decades.

Bitey face has real life consequences. I don’t think Eli regrets it at all, though.

If I can beat the storms rolling in this evening, I will work on the flat with Eli. Otherwise he may be getting a few extra days off because of rain.

Professional Pictures and Show Outfit Details

Who else shows for the pictures? The photographers got some good ones of Eli! I am slightly obsessed and basically plastering them everywhere.

This one is the new header (Lavigne Photography)

(Lavigne Photography)

(SGL Photo)

(SGL Photo)

Eli is wearing his Lund Saddlery snaffle bridle, the Fleeceworks Show Hunter saddle pad, and a Lettia girth. I use Lund Saddlery stirrup leathers and MDC irons on my Devoucoux Biarritz.

I am wearing the Alessandro Albanese Motion Lite Show Jacket (that I maybe accidentally added to my cart at Riding Warehouse last summer during a sale or something. Accidentally.), a LeFash short sleeve Sport Shirt, Equine Couture Beatta breeches, EGO 7 Orion field boots, and a Duftler spur belt from Luxe Eq.

I was pleasantly surprised with how well the Beatta breeches wore all day. I’d buy another pair if I needed to.

We could benefit from another bonnet from ITBF, but one with “Get Off My Neck” embroidered on the ears. For practice.