Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Frustration, and Age, and Fear

I had my weekly riding lesson this morning, which is usually myself and a young girl, maybe in her early 20's, who has been riding at my barn for years. She rides Landie, my instructor's Hanoverian mare, and I have been riding Promise, one of the boarder's Thoroughbred mares. Being horseless means you ride whatever is available, which can be a great thing, because it teaches you to adjust to many different horses and their way of going. After a twelve year hiatus in my own riding, I've been back at it once a week since early July.

My riding fitness is definitely improving; I'm not crippled by muscle soreness for days afterward anymore, and things that used to exhaust me (endless 20m trot circles) don't anymore. Adapting to a difference in riding instructors is taking a little more time. I like and enjoy my riding instructor a whole lot, she is fantastic as an instructor and as a person, and I am SO glad she is teaching me and my children to ride and develop their horsemanship. But my physical self is significantly different than the last time I rode consistently, and I am having a hard time translating what she tells me into actions that produce the desired result in the horse I am on. I am trying, so very hard, to ride with lighter hands and a lighter seat, and to give the correct aids and to be balanced and stable in the saddle. But this 42 year old body just doesn't seem to work the way it used to (I know, shocking). For one thing, I have discovered that I have absolutely no stomach muscles anymore. I think that a couple of things are at play -- one is the fact that I am older, and less muscular overall, two is the lack of 'real' work my abs have had in the past few years, and three is my last pregnancy which resulted in a c-section. I did some research on the aftereffects and lo and behold, the slicing into of a muscle results in reduced effectiveness and strength once the muscle is healed. Joy.

I'm having trouble with my seat -- allowing myself to ride like a hunter, more forward and not sitting on my 'sit bones' with my weight over my hips and ankles. My low back kills me after each ride because the counter muscles -- abs -- are not working together for my postural stability. This results in stiffness when I'm in the saddle, which translates to decreased dynamic balance and strength, which increased the compression and concussive effects on my joints. I know this, and yet, I can't seem to get past it.

Also, I have never had weak ankles, ever in my life. But I can't ride at more than a walk for more than ten minutes without ankle support for BOTH ankles! My left one just plain quits working and rolls to the outside in the stirrup if I don't wrap it well before I get my boots on.

I have found that the old ghosts of past fears seem to be still haunting my mind. I am afraid of being run away with -- of being on a horse who is cantering or galloping, and who is not listening to my demands for a decrease in speed or change in direction. And I am scared to jump because I am scared to fall off, even though I have been successful at 2'6" fences in the (far away) past. I hate not feeling in control, and in both of these situations, I really have always had to fight to maintain a sense of calm and not panic. Freaking out on the back of a galloping animal does nothing good.

Today's lesson took place on a beautiful morning, although it was a bit windy. Promise was apparently in a particular mood, or else I was doing or NOT doing something that annoyed her because most of the time I spent on her back involved me dealing with her incessant head-flipping, head-tossing, ignoring-the-bit ways. Oh, there were a few beautiful moments of her looking fantastic and going beautifully, but for the most part, I could not ride her worth a damn. I wanted to feel fearless and determined and get the job done with her and NOT let her get away with anything, but I don't think I got there. I wanted to get off. Getting corrected for a number of things I was pretty sure I was doing correctly, or didn't understand I wasn't supposed to do, wasn't fun either.

Plus I am having real difficulty changing the way I ride. I've always been taught certain things, like half-halts to get the horse to submit to the bit and not allowing them to rein back with their head in the air, and to use an opening rein to help an inside bend, not lifting the inside rein to get the bend. I don't remember riding with my hands so low and buried in my lap, but that's the way the horses I ride now seem to go. I spent so much time in a dressage seat before -- looong stirrups, lots of bending, lots of leg-yielding, and lots of work at the walk and the trot, with and without stirrups. I love dressage. If I never jumped another fence, but could ride on the flat forever, I'd be okay with that.

I'm also having difficulty cutting myself some slack and accepting things as they are. I can't do better than I can do, once a week. I'm better than I was in early July, but not where I wish I was. I'm not even sure I have *time* to ride more often, particularly if it involves at least a half-hour ride out to the barn and a half hour back. It's just frustrating, that's all. And I am so very grateful that things have worked out to where I can ride AT ALL, than I can't complain. But I needed to write this all down so I could get it out of my head and stop being upset by my perceived failures today.

Riding makes me feel so powerful and so peaceful, and I just want to feel that way all the time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Here and There and Everywhere

Once again, it's been a while since I have committed any thoughts to virtual paper. The summer was busy, and just when I thought I'd get something of a break with the kids headed back to school -- wham! A couple of BIG work projects ate entire weeks of my life. Can't complain, though, the extra hours in the paycheck were certainly nice.

I've been riding once a week since July, and really really loving it, although I feel desperate at times when I realize there is no practicing in between lessons. Wren continues to do fairly well, and even Kira has gotten into it, starting lessons with our trainer a month ago. With the increased time spent at the barn, we've really started to think about a house with land so that we could have horses at home.  I want to rescue a horse or two from the slaughter pens, but we need our own property to be able to do that, as board is expensive. We rescued all our dogs and cats, and our two guinea pigs, so why not continue into the realm of equine rescue? I can't stand the thought of good horses and ponies going to slaughter for no other reason than they are temporarily homeless.

Oh, the horses. I love them so.

Kira rides Lily!

 I haven't made hardly anything in glass in the past three or four months. Over the summer, and through September, it couldn't be helped, but now I am hoping I can wrangle some 'regular' work hours, or try to set myself a schedule so that I can torch at least once or twice a week. I made some Halloween beads for a friend....

 ...and I need to make more. I love Halloween, and there are more pumpkins to make, and some black cats, and maybe a bubbling cauldron, and some more of those awesomely cute ghosts! Maybe this week I'll get a couple of torch days.

I've started my regular touring schedule at the museum, and that is going fabulously! I love it. I really, really love it. So far, I've given tours to school groups about our Greek and Roman artwork, and a tour about Virginia history, and one about the history of jewelry to a group of jewelers. Tomorrow I am giving a tour on the art of glass to a teen group. It's so much fun! I also scored a huge stack of exhibit and permanent collection catalogs for CHEAP at the museum's book sale in September. Yay! I knocked a couple of things off my wishlist with that little shopping excursion.

I've been thinking about school, too. Originally, I thought I really wanted to go back for a master's degree in art history, or museum studies, but the thought of truly specializing in any one subject or particular area long enough to write a thesis about it just stresses me out. I love ancient Greek and Roman history, but I also love the Medieval period, the Byzantines, early Christianity....the Vikings and Celts....I love the history of religion, and material culture of everyone, and Neoclassical art, and the history of glassblowing, and jewelry and food....and what I really love is the hunt for information. I love to do research. I like to write, but I love the hunt for information more. So it occurred to me recently that I could consider library science. I've been doing quite a lot of research on it (ha!), and I've found there are MANY programs that are completely online (as well as ALA accredited). So that's where I'm thinking I might be headed. If I could find a scholarship or grant or something, it would make the decision a whole lot easier. The cost of school is what's really holding me up. And fear. Major obstacles.

We looked at a FABULOUS house this past weekend. Like, perfect for our family, has everything we want in a house, and is on ten acres of land. The price is a bit high, but the realtor thinks we could offer much less given the last price of the house a year ago. But our house is nowhere near ready to go on the market, and we could not buy without selling first. I want to stay positive about this, because we aren't really planning to move right now, but sometimes I just wonder if we'll ever get to our farm. It just seems like so much to do with so much uncertainty.

Maybe I'll trade torch time this week for cleaning up the kids' rooms and getting rid of a bunch of junk.

I should probably stop looking at available rescue horses on the internet.