Lesson Notes 10/18/14

Got myself much more together today! Radar was really testing me (not in any insolent way - just.. seeing how much I’d let him get away with), so we worked on closing any holes in my aids. Had to get him square between my legs and hands, and ride straight down the quarterline, and make a solid turn in which he doesn’t fall in. Lots of whip hand switching, so I’m thinking of holding a whip in each hand next time to save time. 

I think I’m starting to get the feeling of correct head-to-the-wall leg-yield. Gotta concentrate on feeling just the hind moving under me. Outside rein has to lack any and all openings, and be used for a checking half-halt. Inside rein should NOT be too much - just enough to see the corner of his eye. Inside leg is pulsing gently, but not so much you’re pushing to the outside. You should still be traveling in a straight line. And once you get two or three good steps, pat, straighten, and move on to the turn. 

We tried it with rising trot, sitting trot, and of course, walk. Rising trot had some issues with him taking the opportunity during the upbeat to try to force his way back to the rail, but that got fixed after I tidied up my outside aids. Yeah, definitely want to try a whip in each hand. I nearly dropped it on the switch, and caught it at the last minute at the cost of Radar’s attention, lol.

We backed off the exercise once I got the gist of it (and Radar was paying attention agian), and gave canter a try. Right lead was fine, as always. He seemed a little quicker to pick up on it, and picked up on my directions very well! Left-lead is.. a completely different story. Like always. It’s hard to figure out when he’s offering, and when I do figure it out, it’s too late to ask, and he’s already shifted his balance so he ends up on his right lead. FFFFFFFF. 

After that, we worked on keeping his forwardness up during rising trot, and changing directions across the diagonal. Some trot-walk-trot transitions got him a little more reactive to the aids, which was nice. 

….still considering whether I should try out another instructor…. it occurs to me that after leaving Santa Cruz and Jec, this instructor was the very first I tried, and after that, I didn’t try any other instructor in the area because the rates were reasonable and she was open to doing lunge-lessons and had suitable lesson horses (that you didn’t need to lease separately). I didn’t really bother trying out other instructors because I felt her teaching fit my needs at that time. And again, the whole available lesson horse thing. WHAT TO DO. (there’s a PC eventer instructor person in the area that I’m considering, but alkdjflkasdjflasdjf this feels so much like cheating)

Note to self: Instructor away from Oct 26-Nov 2 - email work schedule on Monday.

Tags: personal



Okay first of all, you are NOT a sack of potatoes. You have a LOVELY upper body, an excellent line between your elbow and the bit and nice hands (although they bounce a little that’s not a function of poor hands or chicken elbows its the result of tension in your hips and thighs so all that…

I agree with @racethewind10 about the sustained sitting trot.  I teach it in short bursts and try never to let my riders get to the point when they’re that tense they’re bouncing.  People push it too fast, too soon and it can cause a whole host of problems, for sure.  And from a trainers perspective, there’s no reason why you can’t train everything up to very high levels to the horse in rising trot.  

That being said, I know when I’m teaching there’s a list of priorities in my head, and I just tick off everything from the top down until I see even minor improvements that I can praise.  You can’t work on everything at once, and I have a few students that are so hard on themselves when they backslide a little or aren’t progressing as quickly as they’re hoping to, and it’s detrimental because that disappointment will often cause more tension, making it a vicious cycle!  So with most students I see very obvious things and I don’t mention them, not because they’re not important, but because my focus is on getting a consistently decent result from the exercise before going, “Okay and NOW we’re going to focus on doing it with a bit more grace.”  I try not to draw attention to the bad bits.

When you’re learning something new, especially something with a big explanation wherein you know what the desired result is supposed to be, you will probably always ride it with a lot of tension at first.  So even though you ride softly at the lunge, or even on your own at large, when you’re given these tasks you backslide a bit.  And that’s okay.  You have to tell yourself that, and stop worrying about it or you’ll just make it worse.  It’s entirely possible that your instructor has a plan. 

That all being said, I approach different students in different ways depending on their learning style.  Based on what I’ve read from you in the past, I think you’re what I think of as an A-type analyst student.  When I’m teaching you guys something new, I rarely tell you what it is we’re doing or give you too many directions at once.  I break it all down - like a piano player who learns how to play with both hands separately, and put it all together gradually after you’ve had enough practice for the motions to be ingrained in the muscle memory.  

So I might say, “Okay go to the wall and pay attention to the swing of the shoulders.  And every few strides when his inside shoulder touches the ground and he’s got weight on it I want you to raise the inside rein softly against his neck and float it down again.”  And then I send you out to practice over and over, before adding, “Alright now bring your outside knee back.  He’s going to be all over the place, I don’t care where he goes just focus on maintaining the inside hand and then bringing that knee back.”

And I’ll just add stuff like that.  And you have no idea where it’s going but we’re building something.  And before you know it you’re executing this perfect shoulder in down the wall in trot.  And what’s more is that it’s totally fluid and you can adjust it because you’re not fiercely trying to maintain it through tension, it just happened and now you’re sitting on it, and because you learned and practiced everything separately you know what all the aids do and you can quickly learn to manipulate it all in real time.  It’s very cool.

But in order to do that, I had to put the analytical part of your mind to sleep so you could go into your body a bit more, and I move you around like a marionette until I have you exactly where I want you.  I’m often telling people, “Okay now this bit is really easy.” And then just changing one tiny little thing and making you practice that.  It has to be boring because when you get bored you start to relax, and then I’ve got you exactly where you need to be.

With your instructor, I would be frank with her and say, “Hey I’m feeling like I’m slipping back into tension with this exercise and I find it a bit frustrating.  Would it be okay to intersperse some rising trot into it, or maybe some stretches/exercises to work on my seat in between work on this?”  I guarantee you that she sees your tension and plans to work on it, but it’s probably not as high on her priority list as the movement you’re attempting to do.  And it wont be a priority unless she knows it’s bothering you, wherein she may be open to compromise.  Most coaches are.  I love getting input from a student, because it gives me a glance into how they think, and I can tweak my teaching style so that they actually start to learn things faster.  It takes a lot more time for me to figure out how to teach reticent students, I either have to tease them out of their shell or do trial and error until I come upon something that works.  But any of my long time students know to stop and just come out with anything that’s bothering them, because I need to know about it before I can make it better. 

First of all, you sound like an amazing instructor, and I’d love to be taught with that teaching style. ;o; You’re right in that I can be too analytical, and as a result, over-think things that shouldn’t be that complicated.

Next time I feel that way, I’ll stop and ask her to work on that tension. Sometimes, I just get too focused that I forget that I can speak up during a lesson..

Thank you for your input, Daishar. ♥ I always appreciate your comments. 

Okay first of all, you are NOT a sack of potatoes. You have a LOVELY upper body, an excellent line between your elbow and the bit and nice hands (although they bounce a little that’s not a function of poor hands or chicken elbows its the result of tension in your hips and thighs so all that kinetic energy has to go SOMEWHERE and its ending up in your elbows). You had some nice forward trot out a horse with short little legs and from what I could tell your canter is forward and straight and rhythmical if not consistently round.

That said, I really disagree with your instructor making you do that much sitting trot. ANd this is 100% not a reflection on you. But neither you nor Radar are at a high enough level where you should be doing sustained sitting trot. And I really mean its just a matter of “You’re not there YET.” Its a lack of miles and muscle, nothing more.  I really really object to the way too many instructors push ST before students and horses are ready.  I think its extremely detrimental because you get tight and tense, and then your horse can’t come through their back, which makes them harder to sit, which makes the rider tighter etc etc.  There is no reason for you to be sitting the trot on that horse, especially not if you’re just working on forwardness and transitions. Until you have the core strength, and have learned to let your leg hang loose around the barrel, absorbing the shock in your ankles and knees and NOT in your lower back, you’re simply physically not going to be able to help your horse get his back up and his hocks under him. 

And the reason I’m pointing all this out is because you need to stop blaming yourself for being a “sack of potatoes.” You clearly have some very solid basics, a LOVELY position and a nice long leg that hangs at the girth and will someday be the envy of pretty much everyone you ride by. But you’re being asked to do something that’s currently beyond your (and your horse’s) physical capabilities and its resulting in you bouncing all over the place. And that’s on your trainer, not you. You should be working toward sitting trot in tiny increments of 3 or 4 steps with plenty of posting trot in between where you work on getting Radar’s withers up and his butt underneath him (which you really are moving toward quite nicely in this vid) because once his back comes up and he *pushes* you’re going to have a springier surface to sit on which will help you sit the trot too. 

When i watched Charlotte Dujardin clinic she spent a LOT of time criticizing people for sitting on horses who weren’t physically or mentally ready, or sitting before they as riders were able to do it properly for long periods of time and watching how she worked with those younger horses and horses that were tight and tense, i am 10000% in agreement. 

So cut yourself some slack girl you’ve got great basics you’re just being asked to get ahead of yourself. 



Thank you for your input, Race! Yeah, this is kind of huge leap from weekly lunge-lessons, and it’s gotten a bit more anxiety-inducing the past few weeks for me and Radar. I see what you mean by that tension/tightness feedback loop - no wonder Radar’s tail’s been so unusually swishy lately.. It’s a good idea to slow down. I’ll talk about this with my instructor. Hopefully, she’ll understand and slow down for me. 

Your analysis/explanation and encouragement are very much appreciated. <3 

Focus on the cute Fjord, and not the sack of potatoes bouncing on top of him. (Unless you have some constructive crit*..)

(Source: fictionalistic)

Lesson Notes 10/12/2014

Birthday lesson, yessss…

I’m learning, in very tiny baby steps, how to do head-to-the-wall leg-yield. I kept messing up because my right elbow doesn’t want to stay by my right hip, and I kept thinking I needed a larger angle.. 

Going to the right - 

The new outside hand needs to stay firm. My right shoulder/elbow/hand is on my dominant side, but it’s always really weak when tracking right. Go figure. If I let Radar have too much outside (and I was using too much of my left hand, urgh), he’s just going to move his neck and pop out his shoulder, and go right through those outside aids. 

Half-halt before… everything, I suppose. Get him to collect a little before asking. If he is ignoring your aids or confused, halt. Get back on track. 

Keep him well away from the rail. Turns on the forehand don’t.. really gel with him, and he’ll stick onto the rail like glue if he gets the chance. 

When halting, SIT THE FUCK DOWN. I was just about popping out of the tack today from tension in my legs. So, yeah, whenever that happens, drop the stirrups, and feel your seat bones again. Radar is the easiest horse ever to halt, so it’s 100% my fault, haha. 

"Get into his small pony brain." LOL. Radar can be a little wiley about things, and you have to convince him that you’re not a total pushover. (See: rail)

I feel kind of awful about not having the intuition to ride at the angle needed or the ability to control my annoyingly stubborn right arm.

And I got video of my riding today, and it still looks like I’m squirmy and driving unnecessarily with my seat and noisy lower leg and chicken wing arms WHY WHY WHY WHY. I spent a solid year on the lunge-line, and I’m still messing up so badly.

But Radar’s trot is so cute… I have to post it. You need to see how adorable Radar is when in motion. As much as I’m frustrated with me, I’m glad to have been able to spend a year with that stoner pony. 

Tags: personal

My second day of being back on Facebook, and already, I’m reminded why I stopped frequenting it in the first place.

Someone whom I once considered a friend posted a “random rant”:

"But anyway, what has happened to young women these days? So smart yet too into themselves… I’ve never understood selfies nor the "look how cute I am" phase that appears to last forEVER. Just put on a shirt, forget the accessories, put down your phone and go do something you like without feeling the need to inform the public of how awesome you are!"


Oh, yes, all of this new-found self-confidence is so awful.

Serious face. (Going to save my smile muscles for the actual interview bc face freeze sometimes happens..)
I do have a blazer or hunt coat if it really comes to that, but it&#8217;s currently 90 degrees and the building I have the interview in has its AC busted (visited yesterday to check where the library was). 
Thinking about foregoing the ponytail/bun - it makes me look really severe, and paired with my below-the-knee skirt&#8230; yikes. 

Serious face. (Going to save my smile muscles for the actual interview bc face freeze sometimes happens..)

I do have a blazer or hunt coat if it really comes to that, but it’s currently 90 degrees and the building I have the interview in has its AC busted (visited yesterday to check where the library was). 

Thinking about foregoing the ponytail/bun - it makes me look really severe, and paired with my below-the-knee skirt… yikes. 

racethewind10 said: Job interviews are just like riding a course or a dressage test. Plan for what you can, breathe, (like no really, if you haven't had a sports med coach teach you proper breathing you should anyway for riding its really helpful) and don't get hung up on what you could have done better till its all over. Also, in most interviews they have a time where they *ask* if you have questions, so don't be too worried you'll use up your follow up questions too fast. you go this :)

Ahh this was such a relief to see in my inbox. Thank you so much for the advice, Race! ;u;

Yeah, I do tend to hold my breath or only breathe through my chest when I’m concentrated on riding, haha. I’ll look up breathing exercises and practice ‘til it’s time to go. 

Lesson Notes 10/6/14

Gotta unlearn that ugly habit of “pumping.” Part of it is left-over anxiety. And another part is - well, this always happens when I ride horses that aren’t that forward. I eventually relax and can sit quietly, but at the beginning, there’s a lot of tension and the urge to drive. It’s awful, but there it is. I can only try to fix it. 

We’re turning corners a lot better this week. Has to do with being patient enough to let Radar complete the turn. Again, with the anxiety. I never have problem with looking ahead, but that’s the problem here, haha. Gotta stop looking so far ahead, and look just far enough. 

Gotta prepare for that left-lead canter. Got it the first time as luck, ended up getting it again after too many attempts after setting it up with inside leg. Right lead was fine, as always. I’m sitting a bit taller now, not letting myself fall backward. So, yeah, good. 

I’m too tired and angry to even try to remember what else I need to write. (Not angry at..riding stuff or at Radar - just.. life things. Why can’t I feel the same enthusiasm for those things as I do for this? Blech.)

Note to self: Read up on head-to-the-wall leg-yield, print, highlight. 

Also, ask Susie to take video next week. (Birthday lesson marks one whole year riding Radar.)

Tags: personal

Lesson Notes 9/28/14

I have figured out that 50% of the issue I have with steering is that I’m not patient enough to turn with the horse. I always turn too early! And that contributes to drifting and leaning and general confusion for the horse. The other 50% is that I’ve been on the lunge-line for a year, and I need to re-learn some stuff, ha. 

Gotta be more aware of when my right shoulder sneaks forward. Oh, and don’t over-turn to the left. 

Straight on the quarter-line, half-circle, continue on quarter line, half-circle. Keep your outside aids on the moment you feel drift. 

Three left-lead canter departs!! Radar’s getting his groove back. And right-lead was fine. Had trouble with the downward transition (which is something I never thought I’d have a problem with, at least with Radar). Guess he was more pumped than usual because I stopped asking for forward, just sat there, and he went on and on and on. AWESOME because he usually doesn’t do that without a lot of encouragement, but now I’ve found I have an issue with trying to stop my seat from following. I ended up leaning back too much, which canceled out the use of my abs. Gotta straighten my torso and think UP instead of back. The moment I changed from leaning to straightening, Radar dropped back into trot. 

Very glad that Radar is recognizing who’s riding him. :P He can’t get away with shuffling these days.


Instructor’s horse started colicking right before I had to leave. If you could, please send good thoughts their way! This is the second time in a year. ;;

Tags: personal

that gun is loaded, but it’s not in my hand

Warning: Torture imagery. Gore. Violence. Press the “J” key to completely skip this post.


Harper doesn’t see the appeal of a gun. 

The hollow thump as metal eats away the flesh in its path and cracks solid bone.

It’s a bit too neat for her. Where’s the flash? The artistry?

And yes, blood is a mess, but that isn’t what she means. There’s rarely any prelude to the gunshot, just point and shoot. Whatever tension you’ve produced beforehand deflates in the face of a bullet. 

What a waste.

What you want is the slow, steady progression of “Oh, no no no, this can’t be happening to me!” to “No. No. No. No. No. No.” It’s.. a bit like the five stages of grief. Only, the acceptance stage is drawn out over a long period of raw screaming. 

Flaying works.

Harper rarely goes the old-fashioned route, preferring the cruel slice of her magic to the inaccuracy of a blade. And besides, with magic, you have at your hands all the subtleties that make torture fun!

She usually begins by shaving off the barest fraction of a millimeter off the top layer of skin, starting with the most insensitive areas of the body. Most don’t notice at first, thinking it a phantom itch.

And then, it spreads. Face, neck, hands, feet, genitals—that’s when they really get what’s going on. And pity the fool who attempts to wriggle away from the assault because that’s her cue to deepen the cut. 

She continues, layer by layer, patiently cutting away any sense of hope they might have had. 

Eventually, they begin to bleed. Profusely. Well, she can’t have that, can she? With a flip of her hand, the blood is wicked away into nothingness as it wells up. Sometimes, she thinks this is more painful for the poor fool than the actual act of flaying. She is well aware that the touch of her magic burns. 

And when their eyes start to glaze over, you know you’re close. 

Their bones become increasingly visible, blood and flesh and fat all cut cleanly away. Oh, and their internal organs—still pumping away merrily, the last parts of themselves to give over to Harper. 

It’s a mercy, Harper thinks, and laughs softly. What a lie. 

When they’re almost there, their throats aching and dry with no more screams to give, just staring straight into Harper’s eyes with their own (if she’s careful not to carve their faces too deep) with a sense of resignation, she ends it. Because that’s what they’ve become. An it.

Can guns do that?

Lesson Notes 9/21/14

Guess who’s back to work today? My favorite stoner pony, RADAR!

And for the lesson, he was surprisingly not as stoner-like. His lesson workload has been cut in half, so that may be why. 

CIRCLES. We did so many, just to get the hang of steering again. Also, size control with spiraling in and out. Radar will try to drag you to the rail, and if you let him, the battle’s already been lost - you won’t get him off of it. So yeah, keep your outside aids strong and steady when you feel him trying to drift. 

We tried alternating sitting and rising during the circle - sitting during the “dangerous” part of the circle (near the rail where Radar might be tempted to pull away) and rising during the “safe” part. When rising, giving an extra push to your posting to prevent being slightly left-behind. 

He’s getting pretty attuned to my seat. Like, you wouldn’t think he’s as aware and alert as he is while working, but he is. It’s why, if he feels he has a less-than-confident rider on his back, he won’t bother with more than the absolute minimum (and if you’ve ridden him before, you’d know his absolute minimum is barely shuffling). It took me about a year, but I guess we’ve come to an understanding. :) It helps that he prefers being off the line, haha.

Radar can balance himself if you half-halt him only once or twice. Which is kind of a relief after the long continuous half-halt-5 seconds later-half-halt that is riding Mona (she is still super fun to ride, though, such a sweetheart). He does need to be picked up before canter, though.

Guess who managed two left-leads today? STONER PONY. So, hopefully, that means he’s on his way to getting that back. I’m so happy that I got even one left-lead canter today (was told not to expect it). The second time it happened, I was just putting on a little extra pressure, and he just hopped to it! Good boy! ♥


And in other news, I’ve figured out that it’s Radar’s saddle giving me chafing/blisters near the back of my thigh - not my breeches or underwear. It’s his giant freakin’ saddle. -_- Nothing to be done about it, I guess. 

Note to self: Place both billets through saddle pad - one in and one out makes his already huge saddle pad slip behind. Tuck the pad velcro strap under saddle flap.

first RP post in FOREVER

I have zero idea how explosions and buildings work, apparently. I hope the person I’m RPing with doesn’t mind the, uh, holes in this…


Tick-tick-boom. That was how explosives were supposed to be set off, right? A timer was needed so the person who set them knew how much time he had to get out of the way. It’s common sense to know beforehand how much time it takes, especially when you’re playing with something a little less straightforward than than usual. 

And of course, the lackey Fang-Ying had trusted with the explosives didn’t have the sense Ao Guang gave him to calculate the timing or the force of the resulting blast. As a result, Fang had faced down the tail end of an untimely fiery explosion, stuck on the second floor - and the factory they had targeted hadn’t even fully collapsed! A definitive failure by a definitive idiot. She viciously hoped Ao Guang would accept Tian-Ming’s spirit back to the sea with open arms and open jaws. 

Fang leaned against the steel frame, choked with hacking coughs. She clapped a hand against the aching gills exposed on her neck, feeling the delicate flaps of skin start to burn with pain. The smoke was quickly filling the building, and Fang still had found no clear escape route. There was burning debris blocking the stairway and an attempt to jump from this height would no doubt break her damnably human legs.

She grimaced as she felt said limbs buckle slightly. The force of the explosion hadn’t been enough to blast her into oblivion, but she hadn’t been able to avoid being knocked into a wall. Not for the first time, she reconsidered the wisdom of bringing their fight to land. She should have been satisfied by taking down fishermen’s boats and drowning sailors, but the allure of besting those arrogant, wasteful humans on their own territory had been far too tempting. And the offer of her mysterious benefactor to relocate to a place where he could provide her with resources was not something she dared deny (though she had a feeling it was not only Tian-Ming’s own foolishness that had landed them in this situation).

Her father was right - she really was too ambitious for her own good. 

Fang pushed off the wall, and clung to the railing to keep herself from falling to her knees. Through the distorting haze of smoke, she could make out a silhouette of a person on the first floor, close to the entrance. She called out hoarsely, but only echoed ringing met her ears. The figure disappeared from view. A snarl curled the woman’s lip, the thought that that person could have been one of her own - Liang or Malqe or Kanya or, hells, even that bratling, Itsuo - to abandon her gathered prickly heat deep within her chest. 

"Coward!" She roared impotently, amber eyes slit with fury. She slammed her palms against the railing - once, twice, but stopped dead at the sight of something seemingly god-sent: a thick, heavy chain suspended from the ceiling, trailing down to a curved hook. It was close enough to the railing that she could make it in one leap, and end was close enough to the ground that… yes, that would do nicely

With a little strained effort, Fang climbed atop the railing, ignoring the protesting creak of her knees and the heat from the metal that seeped into her skin. She absently ran her dry tongue over her lips as she considered the length she’d have to launch herself. She’d have only one chance and - she glanced over her shoulder to see flames licking ever closer - she’d have a limited time frame. 

Deep breath in, weak cough out. 

And jump.

Her hands barely caught onto the rusted metal links as her legs came up to curl around the chain as she slid haltingly down. The human clothing she’d “borrowed” earlier snagged, and she was able to take a tighter grip of the chain. There was barely time to take a relieved breath before she felt it - a creak and jump in the chain. She looked up to see that where the chain was bolted to the rafters, the metal was beginning to give. Well, she did want to fell this building…

Hurriedly, she shimmied her way down the chain, and jumped the last few feet, the impact shooting straight up her shins. Fang, a feral grin alighting her sooty features as she spotted a clear path to the exit, bolted. 

A dark silhouette - was it the same traitor as before? - stood in her way, but her watery eyes couldn’t make out the features. Her blood racing from the adrenaline and emotions high off of an imminent victory, she raced forward and took a wild swipe at the figure - only, she had forgotten that her talons were wholly inaccessible in this form. 

Human bodies were such a waste.

Do you guys remember Annie? Semi-retirement seems to suit her!
Look at that glossy coat!

Do you guys remember Annie? Semi-retirement seems to suit her!

Look at that glossy coat!

(Source: fictionalistic)

(Source: fictionalistic)

Tags: personal