Can You Guess What They Tried To Do To Me Yesterday???

Alison and Ike Culpeper August 2014

I have yet again seized control of the blog to share with my fans the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Mom just doesn’t do a stellar job providing you the facts.  Mom forgets to take off her rose colored glasses sometimes as she skips through her days.

The poor woman continues to struggle with what to do with her appendages.  I hear her reminiscing about how I used to attempt to ram her knee into the fence since I couldn’t make all my body parts work together.  Well here we are three years later and I am more than capable of coordinating my legs.  I cannot say the same for Mom and she is almost 46 years old.  Come on woman! Put your inside leg up near the girth when I’m cantering to help me bend.  You can clearly see from the photo that she is incapable of listening while in the show ring.  Just look where her leg is!  Sheesh!  And then she is surprised when I break from the canter or lean in.  Will someone please tell her to be there to help me…yes, I do a lot of the work, but she’s got to learn to do her part for the team.  I can only hope for better leg/seat/hand coordination at our upcoming show at Rose Mount.  With only a week until the show, I have to hope for a miracle.

That whole feed bucket debacle had nothing to do with what was in my feed bucket.  I’m not really a picky fellow, except for peaches, those things are gross.  I might have been pawing one morning while waiting for my breakfast and might have gotten my hoof stuck in the bucket.  When I pulled back to get it out, somehow the bucket got in the way and it broke.  Yeah, that is what happened.  Or wait, is it too late to blame my brother.  Yeah, he made me do it.

Lately, it has not been fun to be outside.  The weather has been okay, but the horseflies have been out in droves.  We horses have decided that they are evil.  We are pretty certain that they are the devil’s spawn sent forth to make us all miserable.  I have mastered the tail flick and the neck-reach-around to combat the flying devils.  My brother does a nonstop shimmy shake so that they cannot land on him.  He only stops when Mom is close by and then he shows her where it is so she can kill it.  While she is uncoordinated in the saddle, she does have lightning quick thwacking skills to kill the flies.  Go Mom!

And let me tell you about yesterday…Mom and I had another lesson with Ms. C.  I’m pretty sure they tried to kill me.  We worked very hard on the various movements that we will need for our upcoming show: cantering, trot lengthenings, canter lengthenings, centerlines, and leg yields.  We didn’t stop much because the horseflies were lying in wait if we paused.  After about 50 minutes I was breathing very hard.  It was scary.  I huffed and puffed and couldn’t catch my breathe.  Mom dismounted and they hosed me off for at least 20 minutes (I didn’t think I was that dirty).  Mom then stuck this tube of brown goo in my mouth.  She called it “elektrolights.”  I called it gross and tried to spit it back at her.  After about 20 more minutes I felt better.  I hope that never happens again.

If you are going to be in town next weekend, come see me at the show.  I love when my friends come to cheer for me!  Especially the ones who bring snacks!

Until next time,

Ike

 

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Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

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I can feel happy when I eat my ice cream, I feel sad when the ice cream is gone.  I feel tired after spending the entire weekend at a horse show.  My bed feels really good when I collapse in it at the end of the day.  Feelings are everywhere.  You can’t escape them even when you are riding.  Your trainer and clinicians talk a lot about feeling certain things when you are riding your horse.  “Did you feel that push your horse just gave you?”  “Did you feel how connected you were on that lengthening?”  “Could you feel your horse tense up right before he spooked at the vulture?”  All very valid questions.  But truth be told, I’m still not good with my “horse feelings.”

Like in the above photo, I’m obviously not sitting on my butt because I’m leaning too far forward.  I can see that in the photo.  But if you ask me about it when I’m riding, I will tell you that it feels like I’m sitting perfectly tall and upright.  When I’m told “sit on your butt,”  I immediately think, I am!  I know I’m not sitting on my head.  What else would I be sitting on while on a horse?!  When I lean back until told I’m in the correct position, it feels like I’m about to tip over backwards.  Ugh, this feeling stuff is hard.

Trainers also talk about feeling the horse in your hands.  Is there too much weight in your hands?  Is your horse leaning on you wanting you to carry his big head?  Do you feel nothing because your threw away your contact?  It is a hard thing to teach and even harder to understand when it is right.  Your trainer can’t be on your horse with you to feel what you are feeling.  They can only talk you through the sequence of aids until they see that your horse is moving correctly from behind and coming up and out of their withers.  They then say, “do you feel that?  That is correct.”  You then must process what things feel like and then try to reproduce it at a later date and time.  Sure, no problem you think.  Ha!  I usually have the epic fail when I think I’ve reproduced the “feeling.”  I’m told my horse is too flat and I’ve left his hind end trailing.  Sigh.  Again, this feeling stuff is harder then I imagined.

The feeling stuff just never ends while on your horse.  You need to feel when your horse needs a half halt to maintain your rhythm/tempo/balance.  Then once you realize that you need that half halt, you need to determine how much of a half halt to give.  If you do too much, you will have “lost that loving feeling” and ruined your connection.  If you do too little, nothing will have been accomplished.  You also need to make your aids subtle so that it looks like you are doing nothing.  [look up Charlotte and Valegro on YouTube and watch any of their rides – they are the epitome of finding the right feeling on your horse.]  I am the poster child of what not to do.

The worst feeling is when your instructor asks, “Which of those (transitions/lengthenings/leg yields) felt the best?”  Oh no, you are now in the hot seat.  Which one is the right one?!!  Eeek!  Was it the first one?  The last one?  Think woman, think!  You finally blurt out an answer only to hear the following, “Why do you think that one was best?”  Crap!  Put on the spot again!  I still don’t know if I’m right about the first question.  I finally mutter something about my alignment and my connection and pray that I’ve muddled through that portion of the oral exam.  I’d say that I get it right about 60% of the time.  If I could just make it to 70%, I’d feel a bit better.

I equate learning my “horse feelings” with learning my “baker feelings.”  What are baker feelings you ask?  It is the feeling of the bread dough in your hands when the consistency is correct.  My mother has tried for years to teach me to feel the dough to no avail.  She has the magic touch.  Her pie crust and apple crumb topping are divine.  I have tried to replicate that crust and those crumbs.  Fail!  My crumbs melt into a single blob in the oven; my mother’s are delicious individual balls of heaven.  She tells me what is in them, but when I ask how much of each ingredient I need, the answer is, ” enough of each so it feels right between your fingers.”  Thanks Mom, that is helpful…not.

Twenty-five years later, I’m still trying to learn my baker feelings.  I can only hope that my learning curve for my horse feelings is faster.