Confessions of An Aspiring Amateur: Revelations & Answers to Q&As.

I wanted to address some things that happened to me last week that were frankly disappointing, disheartening, and took a toll on me physically and mentally. I was bullied based on a tweet where I said I was trying a jumper that had future GP potential (who, by the way, is only doing the 2’6″ with her current rider, and will be going higher this current year; she will actually be ready for GP level by the time I theoretically am). My tweet started all sorts of controversy, including some weird impression that I thought I could just skip steps when it came to horse showing and riding.

After being sick for two weeks and having a lot of time to contemplate my choices, I’ve decided not to give the jumper a try. This is NOT because of the bullying I encountered. I really thought about my goals, where I am in my riding, and how long it would take me to the GP level, if I would ever get there, and I decided that right now, this wasn’t the best decision for me.

I’ve also tweeted previously about considering going pro. I’ve decided to put those goals on hold and focus on becoming a really good Amateur (and bringing awareness to the Amateur community in regards to equestrian companies and USEF). Once I reach that level, I will consider the professional level. Do I have the horsemanship knowledge to be a professional? Yeah, I do. But do I have the riding mileage? No. I am only at the 2’6″ level. I don’t want the pressure of moving up fast, and while I will always have aspirational goals, I don’t want them to get in the way of my riding. If I move up quicker than expected, great! If not, that’s totally okay. And I am okay with that.

To answer a few questions:

Do I think I can just skip steps in showing a go from doing the 2’6″ to the 3’6″? No. Absolutely not. We all have to pay our dues, and I absolutely know that.

Am I ‘dumb and wealthy’? While some people may think so, I am very careful with how I spend my money, and I am far from dumb. My tweet may have been on a whim and out of excitement, but after much thinking, I came down to earth. I simply was excited.

Why am I stepping Luther down in the levels and potentially selling and/or leasing him out to teach children? Luther is severely arthritic because he was not taken care of properly before I purchased him. It is only fair to him to make sure he is not pushed beyond his limits.

It doesn’t look like you’ve mastered Luther. You, anon, are basing this off of the very few videos you’ve seen of me riding him. My current trainer does not video a lot while she is teaching, so you really don’t know how I am with Luther now than how I was with my previous trainer. Additionally, during most shows, he was either a. lame or b. full leased out, so I did not have an opportunity to show him. I had to focus on showing other horses that didn’t have the same issues he did.

That is just addressing some of the few criticisms and questions I’ve gotten. I hope this clears up some of the questions and controversy around my riding. I know where I am, where I need to be, and what I need to do.

 

Healthy equestrian meals on a budget

Submission by Kate S.

It’s hard to balance a budget while on a tight schedule; half of my meals need to occur in under 20 minutes before I’m out the door and on to the next event in my schedule.

I’ve really gotten into the idea of freezing meals, so I have things I can thaw the night before, re-heat, and eat when I come home. I’m also on a tight budget so cheap, but healthy is always a priority for all of my meals. I tend to eat a lot of meat free meals to help minimize costs, and like to incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into multiple meals, so I don’t have to throw out too much.

Here are some quick/easy recipes that have become a part of my rotation. They’re easy on your budget, freeze well, and best of all, (fairly) healthy!

Breakfast

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins: these are one of my new favorites! Flour is replaced with rolled oats to up the fiber. It is a touch on the sweet side, but I love one for breakfast. I sprinkle with mini-chocolate chips before baking to defeat my “gas station PopTarts” cravings. Add a piece of fruit and you are good to go! (Tip: you can still make these if you don’t have a blender/food processor, but purchase “fast cook oats” instead of rolled outs).

Omelettes: I eat these for lunch and dinner usually because I’m always running out the door in the morning. I usually toss in a little spinach, cheese, and/or avocado.

Baked Eggs in an Avocado: I’ll be honest. I have yet to successfully replicate this recipe aesthetically, but it sure tastes good! I like to sprinkle a little cheddar on top. Again, I’m usually running out the door, so this is a weekend breakfast, or weekday lunch/dinner.

Nailed it.

I swear it tasted better than it looked. Pro tip: scoop out some of the avocado before adding the egg.

Lunch/Dinner

Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Bake: this is definitely a make ahead recipe, but one batch is about 6 servings. I freeze half of it in single portions for later in the month. I like to add diced green peppers to mine; I’m all about packing vegetables into everything. I’ll add chopped avocado to the top when I eat it.

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki: I personally rarely eat meat, but my boyfriend loves chicken. This is one of his absolute faves. Cook a big batch ahead of time, freeze in portions, and reheat to serve with rice.

Slow Cooker Chili: this is another make ahead recipe, but again, you can portion it out and freeze to eat later. I usually replace the jalapenos with chopped green bell pepper, so it doesn’t have as big a kick.

Tips

  • Buy frozen vegetables and meat in bulk: they have similar nutritional values and don’t spoil like the fresh varieties do!
  • Canned vegetables are your friends; I hate eating them plain, but love to eat them in dishes. At $2 a can or less, these are your friend!
  • Use slightly overripe fruit to make muffins or baked treats. When my bananas get too ripe, I make banana bread or muffins. Wrinkly apples are baked. It minimizes waste, and stretches your budget!

Kate is a 3rd year veterinary student, who continues to ride and occasionally compete on the local Hunter/Jumper circuit. She currently competes in the 0.80m jumpers and hopes to move up in the spring. When not on a horse, grooming a horse, or blogging about horses, she is studying veterinary medicine with a guinea pig in her lap. After graduation, she hopes to eventually become boarded in Emergency Medicine and Critical Care, and continue riding and showing in the jumper ring.

Kate can be found on Twitter.

National Trainer Appreciation Day

Written by Erin Post & Jess.

Happy National Trainer Appreciation Day!

From early morning horse show days to lesson days, your trainer has been with you through your worst and your best. Here’s our 10 top things were thankful for about our trainers:

They don’t judge you. You just can’t get your lead changes down in your lesson, and you get frustrated. You had a bad day at school, and you’re just trying to get through your lesson. You cry because you’re anxious about going faster or you just can’t get that jumping line right.It’s okay, they get it. They’ve been there too, and they survived. So will you, and they know it.

They’re supportive, even if you mess up. You just chipped two jumps in a row in your class. You know you messed up big time, and now you have to face the wrath of your trainer. She or he lectured you after you get out of the ring, but they also praise you for not screwing up that badly, ie. they also focus on what you did well. There’s always a bright side, even if we did faceplant in the dirt.

You can cry; it’s okay. You get frustrated and the tears start flowing. It happens. Life is tough, and being an equestrian is tougher. Your trainer gets that. Now suck it up, and keep riding.

They tell you when you suck and they tell you when you’re amazing. Honesty is the key to success. Your trainer knows when you can do better, and when you’re not pushing yourself enough. And if they’re good, they’ll tell you. That yelling they do sometimes? It’s out of love. Really.

They know your skill set better than you. They know what you can and cannot do as an equestrian and will always have your best interests in mind when asking you to do new things. A good trainer will never ask their student to do something they’re incapable of doing.

They give you helpful life advice. Who else would you talk to about homework, and stressful parents? Or annoying barn drama? You don’t have to be best friends with your trainer, but you can talk to them about things outside of riding.

They help you kick your own butt. They push you to do bigger and better things you don’t want to, but that they know you can. That 3 foot oxer you’ve been dreading? Yeah, your trainer just made you jump it for the first time AND you stayed on. Mission completed. Trust me, I’ve done it.

They’ve taught you everything you know about horses. There’s nothing like hands on learning. Would you really learn how to pull a mane via textbook? No, probably definitely not.

They’re good role models. You admire their eq, their skills, their professionalism, their attitude, and you hope to become an amazing equestrian like them someday.

They’re family. You spend every moment you can at the barn or riding, and they know everything about you. Maybe even more than your own family. Again, you don’t have to be best friends with them (this could turn out ugly), but if you’re spending that much time at the barn, your trainer is bound to learn a lot about your life.

So, Happy National Trainer Appreciation Day! A special shoutout to Erin’s trainers, Lindsay (who is also my former trainer) & Jenn, and my trainer, Holly, for embodying all of these qualities.

Me & Holly (far left).

Me & Holly (far left).

Erin on a trail ride with one of her trainers. Photo Courtesy of Erin Post.

Erin on a trail ride with one of her trainers. Photo Courtesy of Erin Post.

How to spice up your flatwork

By Terise Cole.

If you live where you get a true winter, then you know that the weather tends to get in the way of your riding. The temperatures are either too low to ride, or it is too cold to do much of anything once you mount up. A lot of riders, including myself, resort to flatwork for the chilly months—too much over fences in the cold weather isn’t the best idea—but about a month in you can get bored and so can your horse. The desire to ride starts to fade, the wishing for warmer days and jump courses begins, and the freezing temperatures can get the best of you. Time to beat the chill and spice up your flatwork.

Pole Work
You don’t need to me to tell you that jumping isn’t all about the jumps. Drag out those dusty poles and set up a course. Watch a few of your rounds from show season to pick a few things to work on—maybe you need to go deeper into your corners or want to tune your eye for distances. Poles allow you to focus on the flat portion of your jumping while saving your horse’s legs. My favorite exercise is to do separate grids of bounces (but with poles!), fans, and also work on different striding.  This keeps my horse on his toes, attentive to my aids, and vastly helps our adjustability.

Practice Tests
Break out the USEF Rulebook and study up on the 19 equitation test elements—even those of you who aren’t equitation riders. Some of them are “easy,” but can always use some fine tuning (those circles are harder than you think). Pick a few numbers in randoms order to create a full test or practice the one that may be the most overlooked; the demonstration ride. Try not to go over the one minute allowed and show off your horse’s best features. If you have a riding buddy, “judge” each other on the positives and negatives of each test you ride and find a place for improvement.

Lunge Lessons
This one requires an extra set of hands, so grab a buddy (or your trainer) and ask them to throw you on the lunge line. It seems juvenile, but you would be surprised how off-balance you might be once you let go of your reins. Go back to all those stretches you did when you were first learning to ride—airplane arms, scissor kicks, toe touches, hands on your hips—and try them at the trot or canter. These all help your balance and stability in the saddle.

Ditch Your Stirrups
No stirrup November can be continued! This can be done anytime and anywhere, so there is no excuse. You can even do any of the previous exercises sans stirrups or just ditch you saddle all together and hop on bareback. Be mindful of your horse’s comfort if you are a little rusty, but practice a little bit each day and you’ll be rock solid by the time show season rolls around.

Happy schooling!

Product Review: DogSync App (iPhone)

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I live in a household of what I will call 4 members because my boyfriend, Connor, stays over a lot. I also stay at his house a lot. One of the downsides of commuting back and forth between homes is that my dog, Jack, is taken care of by a variety of different people – my mom, my dad, me, Connor.


I recently found this app called DogSync. It allows you to create a “pack” to take care of your dog. You name the pack after your family – in my case, it’s the “Johnson-Sutcliffe” Pack – and everytime you do something with the dog, like give it a meal, water, take it on a walk, or it expels outside, you mark it on the app. Each person in the pack is then notified that the dog has done one of those things, so there is no chance of having an accident double feeding. There is also a selection for giving the dog a treat.

You can also ask a member of the pack to do something specific. So, say you don’t have time to take the dog out to go to the bathroom or feed him a meal. You can “ask” a member of the pack to do so. They can then complete the task, and it gets recorded.

So far, I’ve been very happy with this app. It makes caring for Jack much easier, and I know he won’t be overfed or overtreated. Best of all, each member of the pack is notified when Jack does a task, and you can add as many members to the pack as possible.

The one downside is remembering to use the app, but my “pack” has been good thus far.

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If you have a dog with multiple caretakers – I highly recommend looking into this app.

It is available on iPhone, and there is a waiting list for Android, which will be available soon.