Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Equisense Motion: an initial impression

When the Kickstarter for the Equisense Balios (later renamed Motion?) floated across my facebook, I hemmed for about ten seconds before backing it.

Annnddd promptly forgot about it, so when a year later I received a shipping notice, I felt like a child I was so excited. I had a physical reaction to it. SO excited.

It arrives in this super cute little box with the attachment in it's own box, and a bunch of little details were well-thought out and made the whole process easy. For example, you can take the girth attachment apart, and all the pieces are imprinted with either an 'R' or an 'L' so you can put it back together by matching the right hand pieces together. There's also a charger with more adapters for different countries than I've ever seen in one spot.

It was raining when I got it, so even though I intended to jet right over to the barn to try it out I decided to wait a day for dryer weather so I didn't soak the thing right off the bat. It's supposedly water resistant, but I didn't want to kill it before I had time to play.

So I did the only logical thing a girl could do.


I ran about the house for approximately one minute with the dog chasing me.

The next day, I put it to the test on Elrond.

Stoked for cookies, not for work. 

It was pretty hard to spot once it was on the horse, super discreet. The sensor itself slides into that orange compartment and it's a little tricky to pull back out again to charge, but I think it's a practice thing combined with my deep fear of destroying the sensor.

In my crushing enthusiasm, I somehow neglected to charge it fully before riding with it, so what is screenshotted below shows you the first ten minutes of his workout. I will write another post after I've put a few more rides on horses with it, maybe a week or so in order to compare with the different horses.

What you're seeing is about five minutes walking to the left, a bit of trotting to the left, a spook, and some trotting to the right before it died. I promise I'm not that uneven usually!

Here are some things I'm really excited about:

1) I can automatically share the data with other people, so when I have a client who puts a horse in full training, if I get in the habit of using this properly, it would probably provide some peace of mind to see that the horse is, in fact, getting out.

2) If the 'symmetry' functions as it's supposed to, it will alert me if a horse becomes more asymmetrical than usual, thus helping to identify minor lameness before it becomes immediately evident to the eye. I like that.

3) I'm looking forward to having this to track how hard my workouts have been over the weeks and months, as well as being able to keep an eye on time spent on each rein. (Which, especially when I have horses with bugs about certain things, I do not pay attention to. I will trot lef through this corner until you stop being frightened of it.)

I'm not sure if the company plans on developing a heart rate monitor to work alongside their current device, but I think that would just about cap all - if within the same application as the Motion I could also see heartrate info.  I did also back Seaver, which claims it WILL have that information already taken in its device, so it'll be super fun in a few months when it comes out to compare the devices.

I backed it pretty early, so I paid €161. I believe the market price will be about double that, and at this point, I haven't used it enough to know whether I'd endorse it for that full price. It's currently still in Beta, which was pretty evident when I went to update it and the whole thing crashed, then informed me my Motion wouldn't work because I'd closed the application before it had finished, then it all worked fine without any further work. 

What are some ways you could find a tool like this useful? 

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Mischief of Barn Rats

I can't take credit for this wonderful phrase, but I can expand on why I think it's so important to foster my own 'mischief' of barn rats.

A client posted this article on my Facebook and I read it with my brow furrowed, deep in thought. "Be the barn rat," the article encourages.

I considered that of the 13 riders I regularly teach on Saturdays, I can count on six of them to hang around, groom horses, sweep the barn, help new students tack up, rearrange jumps, show me funny Instagram accounts, and generally be there for me.

It's sort of my M.O.  -- you hang out at my barn, you learn about the running of the lessons. Most of these kids have heard me take a student from the first time on a horse through cantering so many times they can recite the order of the exercises I teach.

If you sit around for too long on your phone, I call on you to run alongside a nappy lesson horse to help get the kid trotting.

If you listen carefully, ask good questions, and help out, you earn extra an impromptu rides. (Maybe not always the horse you'd hoped for!)

November 8, 2014 - four barn rats helping adjust stirrups
If you ride at my barn, eventually you graduate to the point where you can hang out. And I think that's pretty cool, and important, and I can't imagine my program without this element.

Tango also can't imagine life without these barn rats hanging around, but mostly because he's hoping they'll bring carrots.

What do you think? Does your barn or trainer foster barn rats?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New Life for a Saddle

A few weeks ago I read this post about re-dyeing a saddle. I thought to myself: "I know a saddle that would love this." 

introducing the $600 Niedersuss - well-loved and mostly destroyed

So I ordered a bunch of things on the internet, including this slightly concerning product:


But in the end, the result was absolutely gorgeous.

Okay already! To the nitty gritty of what I bought: 
So for about $48, I'd assembled the ingredients. 

I then took a bunch of photos of the ingredients.

And after that I finally made it out to the barn. You can read about the whole process (or how it's supposed to go) in detail on the original post, with my additions here:

I think I skimped a bit on the deglazing portion, and that definitely affected how it all turned out. A bit more elbow grease would have served me well.

Here's the saddle with just the first coat of dye on it
I essentially coated it with dye, did the other side, took a photo, re-coated the thing with dye, rode a horse, and coated it a third time. I then rubbed it until it was dry and felt impatient so I put the tan-kote on right away. Basically I'm the worst at following directions.

And here's the saddle with a layer of tan-kote, about ten minutes after I started putting it on?
I experimented a lot with putting the resolene on, and essentially I came to the conclusion that that stuff's a bitch so don't let it dry with bubbles in it. I have no good advice. Neither does anyone else on the internet. I think it's one of those "feel" things that we as horsepeople are always going on about. Feel under saddle does NOT translate to "feel" with resolene. I repeat. Does. Not.

I also straight dropped the container of resolene on the ground and it spilled everywhere and one of my floorboards now has a funny color to it. Don't tell BO that's my fault.

This photo if you look closely you can sorta see how I didn't get the resolene to layer completely evenly, even three layers later, but honestly the saddle looks 10,000,000 times better. It also looks better in person than photos reveal, I keep having people ask me about my new saddle and I giggle a bit.

My conclusion? Probably don't re-dye your expensive saddle until you've experimented on an old, cheap one first. But DEFINITELY re-dye your old cheap saddles. I have enough supplies to probably do two more black saddles, but it turns out my barn is filled with old cheap brown saddles so I dunno what to say about that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Impromptu trail ride

While messaging with Olivia, I realized I had a bit of a morning "off" in that I only had four horses to ride and not six. With some clever rearranging, it was possible to go for a trail ride with her! 

I pulled up expecting to see Nilla or perhaps even Eugene, but INSTEAD I got to meet this very handsome mustang who is definitely green but was ultimately more saintly about the trail than my mare was!

Levi totally made me believe that if it weren't for the whole "you have to keep them for a year, no reselling them," thing, a mustang would be my next horse. He was reasonable about bridges, went over a funny log obstacle MUCH more placidly than my mare, and generally had a happy-but-dopey expression on for the whole ride. I liked him. 

mare would have preferred fewer photos, thank you very much

Wouldn't have minded 'accidentally' putting him in my trailer but I imagine Olivia would be, I don't know, upset about that. 

Kat was pretty stoked to be out and about doing something besides long walks and transitions.

She also fell a little bit in love with Levi and although anthropomorphic, I swear she was looking for him when we unloaded at home. 

Also very brave deer!
I had a ton of fun, especially discussing elements I need to install to be able to attempt a 25 mile ride (shh! enough discipline exploration already!), and I'm definitely looking forward to next time.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Goals, stretch goals, falling behind on goals

One year ago, Kat and I were doing all sorts of jumping in preparation for Vegas Nationals, which we didn't end up going to. This week, we've been keeping our workouts sub-thirty minutes and mostly working on walk-trot transitions.

This is literally the most recent photo I have of her because I wanted to show off how homeless she looks

It's not her fault - she has spent the last seven weeks essentially on stall rest following a cut, stitches, an abscess, etc - but it IS disappointing.

In fact, reading Alli's post about the slow climb to greatness hurt a little bit, it felt so close to home.

I've gotten so much more education this year. I've taken lessons this year from SEVEN different trainers and learning something important and good from each of them. (Nine trainers if we count Dec 2015 too).

Tracey has 'upgraded my magnifying glass' and is teaching me SO MUCH about nitty gritty details, allowing me to be a better rider than ever before, and I'm super stoked to see how she continues to help me learn how my body works in the months to come.

Trainer N taught me about trusting Tango in a way I'd previously been incapable of, and her lessons brought Tango from this to this.

And there's more I could write about, from my lessons with Dumbledore to my larger understanding of what makes a good lesson, things I've learned about how to better teach my students, and yawn yawn yawn.

Megan and I have also been talking about how spectacularly bad humans are at predicting the future, how we sometimes set wildly inappropriate goals and sometimes are too conservative. I was looking at the local event schedule for next year and I realized this:

There are 15 weeks until my favorite facility hosts their winter event. That's a lot of time and also no time at all if we're being honest with ourselves.

My stretch goal will be to enter Kat at training - our dressage is or will be up to snuff to get us through the test, and it'll mostly be a my-confidence and horse-fitness thing determining whether we do training or novice. But our stretch goal is to do training, to start the year off confidently, to see what happens.

I was thinking I'd mostly focus on dressage this year, but the fact of the matter is that the mare loves to jump and I think I do too (I am being completely honest when I tell you I'm not sure I remember the last time I jumped anything bigger than 2'6") - and if she loves it, I can't drill her forever in a sport she's only tolerant of. It'll be fun.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Lesson with Junior

Junior has been around the farm for a while, probably about a year and a half, and he's mostly been teaching lessons during this time. He's gone on some trail rides, hopped over a few jumps (although an old injury prevents too much jumping), and taught a large number of kids to stay attached to their outside rein.

I've been really enjoying riding him though, and I have high hopes for him this next year. It turns out when you stifle the 'school horse' side and foster his inner fancy warmblood, he's a lot of fun!

In no particular order, a few notes from yesterday's lesson:

- On the hollow side (his right side) you have to prevent overbending. But also keep bending. But also keep a connection to the right rein. This is harder than it sounds.
-I have to post a littler higher, slow the tempo down, and then once he lets go through his body a little better, I have to add energy without increasing the tempo.
-In the transition to the canter, I have to try not to do so much with my outside leg and instead support more with the inside leg, right now I'm twisting my body around too much.
-In all transitions, I have to feel my way through them -- this means no launching the reins at him, no falling on the forehand into the walk/trot, you actually have to move forward through all transitions it turns out.
-Tracey was talking about compressing him from the inside-leg-to-outside-rein and then allowing him to fill up when I decompressed, and the image stuck with me but to be honest I'm not sure I fully understand what she wanted from me yet
-I have to stack my upper body up better in the walk, the trot, and the canter. Okay all the time I have to hold my upper body steadier.
-In a long-rein break, I can't let him just do whatever, he's still got to move somewhere and start to get the idea of keeping his back up. Tracey described it as he needs to soften the tone in all his muscles on a break, not switch to working the under-neck.

I have so many thoughts about these lessons that it's actually hard to write any sort of bullet-pointed-list, I think I'm too fuzzy on some of the concepts still.

Anyway, to combat that, have a fuzzy video of the last few minutes of my very sweaty steed and an equally tired rider.