A Fond Farewell to my First Tall Boots

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There is sad news to share.  My very first pair of Ariat tall boots finally said, “Enough!  We just can’t do the day-to-day grind anymore.”  My husband had to cut me out of the right boot because the replacement zipper decided to go full GI Joe kung fu grip and not let go.  The original zipper is but a faded memory, and the boots just aren’t worth salvaging with a third zipper (that is if you can find anyone around here who will replace a riding boot zipper).

I still remember purchasing the boots in 2005.  Back then, I was naïve enough to think that $300 was a lot of money for a pair of riding boots; I now stand corrected and wish that the $300 boots available today fit my leg.  I brought these shiny specimens home and lovingly took them from the box and thought, “How pretty!  I’m never going to let them get muddy/stepped on/dirty.”  Bahahahaahahahahaaa.  Yeah, right.  These poor boots were finally designated my everyday boots about 2 years ago which meant that they received as much love as my doormat.  I see it every day, step all over it, but don’t spend much time cleaning it or maintaining it.  I’m pretty sure the dirt and grim has been holding them together for the past 6 months.

Fear not for my feet.  There is an identical pair of Ariats waiting in the wings to take over daily duty.  They still have a fighting chance to be used at schooling shows IF Ike can keep his hooves away from my feet, and I can take 2 minutes to wipe them down at the end of the day…My current show boots are a pair of DerDau’s that make my leg look like it is a mile long.

002I still walk like Frankenstein in these boots, but they were comfortable to wear in the saddle from day 1.  You might be wondering why a dressage queen like me selected a field boot.  Well let me tell you – I tried on every make and model of field and dress boot available in my size that the closest tack stores had to offer.  Some hit me in the wrong place at my knee.  Some would fit in the ankle and be too big in the calf.  Others would fit in the calf and ankle could do a cha-cha with all the extra room.  I also found that dress boots were very uncomfortable across the top of my foot – they created an immediate pressure point that was not going to get any better.  If and when I really have to have dress boots, I will cast my net wider or go custom.  For now, I am very content.  There is an elastic panel that runs parallel to the zip that gives the boot a custom feel through the lower leg.  I have warned Ike to steer clear.  I promise to take very good care of these.

Still have not worked up the nerve to put my old boots in the trash.  It seems a shame that I can’t find a use for the leather.  Anyone have a puppy that needs a toy?

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Ride Every Stride

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Ike and I had an incredible lesson with Ms. C yesterday.  The weather cooperated.  Ike cooperated.  The evil vulture flock was nowhere to be seen.  My body cooperated, i.e., the ankle pain was almost nonexistent.  And the new DerDau’s made their first appearance at the barn and made it home with no hoof impressions or other permanent damage.

As Ike and I are getting back into regular work, I’m realizing my biggest problem…not my only problem…..but the one that plagues me and many other average riders.  We do not ride every stride.  People like me ask their horse for a particular gait, and then we become passengers.  Here comes a corner, but at the last minute, we move our hand and hope that our horse is wise enough to know to turn rather than jumping over the dressage arena.  If you ask a professional, they will tell you that they give a small half halt a stride or two before the corner and then again coming out of the corner.  Those pros are always planning ahead and staying 5-6 strides in front of their current position.  I, on the other hand, hit cruise control, get distracted by a butterfly/bird/cat, and then realize Ike has flattened and fallen on the forehand.  If I were a dog, I’d be the one who……………..Squirrel!!!………………..you get the idea.

During my lessons, Ms. C keeps me on task and focused on the exercise.  This spring we are working on transitioning to First Level.  In order to do that, we need to achieve a consistent connection at the walk and trot.  If I can’t keep it in those gaits, the canter will be darn near impossible, but ultimately we need it in the canter as well.  Ms. C has us working on a 15 meter circle with numerous transitions.  No longer will a half-ass transition be accepted.  Do it again until you get it right.  To not repeat it only tells Ike that what he did is acceptable.  But for full disclosure, sometimes the mistakes are on my side of the equation.  My aids were too loud which caused Ike to misinterpret my request.  Do it again Alison.  Be a little more subtle.

Bending is the other important skill that we are trying to improve.  I was thrilled yesterday when Ms. C noted that Ike was bending much more consistently.  Interesting, Ike has been out of work for the better part of two months…how is it that we are better?  Ah, his rider has a purchased a vowel and is now understanding how to properly bend her horse while on a circle.  Yes, I occasionally over bend Ike’s body or let the outside shoulder lead us astray, but I can keep all of Ike’s body parts working as one more often than not.  We were doing so well yesterday that we even attempted the canter.  The best we could do was 5 or 6 strides before Ike said, “too hard to maintain.”  Five or 6 strides is still better than no strides or looking like Scooby Doo.  Even harder to achieve was the canter to trot transition with Ike in the proper bend – someone still allows her reins to get a bit long while cantering so that there is no connection in the down transition.  Add that to the list of problems to fix.

When our lesson was done, I could not have been more pleased with Ike’s work.  Grumpy horse is being pushed out by happy horse; it doesn’t hurt that Ms. C gives Ike a goodie during the breaks in our work.  Still trying to figure out why the rider doesn’t get a goodie as well.  It might help with my focus on the lesson and not on the squirrels. 🙂