Horse Training

100 Days of Redemption: Days 91-100

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are Redeemed.

Romans 10:9-10

Day 91: We had such a nice ride tonight; Tatum and I rode our horses in the creek. It’s been rainy here, so the water was pretty high and we walked in a different part of the creek than the first time. I also led my gelding, Kova, from Redemption. They are used to leading together now, and she gave him confidence for his first time in deep water. After the creek I rode Redemption bareback on hills and trails working on stretching down the hills and staying off the forehand by rocking her balance back. It was obviously hard for her so I didn’t do much aside from working on strengthening with these exercises.

Day 92: I am so proud of Redemption. Today I rode her out in the polo field and she was so focused and well-behaved. We worked on counter-canter and walk-canter-walk transitions. The upward transition into the canter from the walk requires a really uphill walk, and she is getting stronger and able to carry her shoulders longer without complaint. She gave me a solid first-level ride today and I felt completely in harmony with her. This really is the best feeling in the world.

Day 93: I kept it shorter today as I’ve been asking a lot of Redemption and have ridden her 10 days in a row. We worked on picking up the shoulders, walk-canter-walk, serpentine and counter-canter. For the first time we did a full counter-canter 20-meter circle!

Day 94: After the first day off in almost 2 weeks, we had a good ride tonight. We worked on bringing the shoulders up in the trot to canter transitions, and then went into the indoor arena and schooled lateral movements. She feels a little stuck in the right shoulder/ribs today, so it was harder to get shoulder-in tracking right and haunches-in tracking left, but she worked it out by the end of the ride.

Day 95: I rode Redemption outside today. We focused on the canter and had so much fun. I’m really excited with this mare’s ability to sit and start carrying herself more. She’s so fun to ride and easy to teach. She was a little bit sensitive while I was grooming on her back, and she kicked out on one of our canter transitions, so I’m giving her another day off in case she is sore from something. (Video of Canter Here)

Day 96: It got so HOT so fast! I rode today for almost an hour with spurs, attempting to work on our lengthening. We rode in the polo field and did long trot sets getting her balanced, then asking her to lengthen. She gave me good attempts but broke to the canter repeatedly. I’m having trouble getting her to keep her flexion just while tracking right. I did a lot of lateral movements to get her suppled through her shoulders so she could lift her withers and cover more ground. We ended with a couple of good lengthening attempts, and I am excited to ride her tomorrow to see if we will have a better starting point.

Day 97: Shorter ride day, I decided to go back to the basics in an attempt to flex her jaw/pole to the right. I rode bareback and did a light trail just asking for her to change her flexion from dramatic to less dramatic. I was impressed how much it helped, in about 20 minutes she was finally offering to hold herself again. We ended with turn on the haunches. Sometimes it’s hard to take steps back and work on things I think we’re “beyond,” but the truth is, if my horse is having trouble with something simple, I have no backing to ask for something more complex.

Day 98: I rode Demi this morning after our easy ride yesterday, hoping that yesterday’s success would carry over to today. I am so pleased with our ride today, and so encouraged by how much happier and balanced she was both directions. We had the most successful walk-canter-walk transitions, and she started sitting and lifting her shoulders in all 3 gaits with no complaints and little direction from me.

Day 99: We had a fabulous ride with a new exercise that we both love: trotting in the polo field doing serpentines in which we collect around a turn, leg-yield on the straight, lengthen to the end of our line, then collect on the turn. These got us both supple and tired. She is remaining much straighter and through with the contact.

Day 100: I cannot believe this is day 100 – so bittersweet. We did amazing walk-canter-walk transitions, and she is finally getting the concept of lengthening across the diagonal without breaking to canter. I am so proud of this mare and how far she has come in just a few, short, action-packed months.

Concluding thoughts:

After 100 days it is time for me to add consideration on what we’ve been through and how it will affect us moving forward.

During this journaling period of logging my rides, I have also been more diligent about logging my prayers. I have struggled with anxiety in the past, and the Lord has spent several years waiting for me to learn to let go. So much anxiety and worry stems from pressures we place on ourselves:

“What if I’m not good enough?”

“What if I mess up?”

“What if I’ve just ruined my life?”

These are some common themes I have wrestled with. I still find myself struggling to balance between caring too much or not at all; the truth is, none of it is my concern.

Each and every day I am learning to go to my Heavenly Father just looking to please Him and give Him my best. In this, there are no mistakes, no inadequacies, no failures, and no abandonment.

He will never tell you that you are not good enough; He will never say you have messed up His plan; He will never give up on you.

Redemption has been a wonderful adventure for me. For a mare that I purchased with next to no information and next to no training, she has blossomed into a balanced, confident horse with exceptional talent for dressage. Even her demeanor has developed, this sweet mare whom I had to earn the right to pet now drapes her head into my arms to be held every day.

Redemption has learned that she is special, that she has a purpose, and that she is loved. For that, the 100 days are more than worth it.

For myself, I have learned how far you can push a horse before you need to let the information settle. I am in awe of the support I have received from my friends. For every show and every training accomplishment, I have had about a dozen people propping me up to make it happen. I’ve learned that help is not a sign of weakness, and that rest is a necessity for myself as well. It is good to have goals, but is better to be flexible and patient with myself just as much as my horse.

***Thank you for following along on this journey! If this has inspired you to log your own journey, I would LOVE to hear about it! For updates on Redemption please like and follow Guided Strides on Facebook or Instagram 🐎😇🥳***