Let there be fun

Me on Eddie in the background, my student on Sammy in foreground. Picture taken last summer. Just for fun, note the bitless bridle on Sammy

Today I was setting fences for a student who was riding one of my horses, Sammy.  We’ve been working on strengthening her position and getting her riding fitness back up since having the summer off from riding.  She has good jumping basics and her fitness is on track so today it was back to jumping.  We started out with a cross rail which went beautifully.  I told her to keep cantering and while she went around the arena, I made it a small vertical.   She jumped that and I directed her to keep cantering.  I made it a 1’6″ vertical.  They jumped that beautifully.  I told her to keep cantering, she jumped the next change I made to the fence.  We kept at it until we were at a 2’9″ oxer, a pretty good effort for her level.  What struck me about it was how very easy jumping is when the basics are right and the rider has  confidence in herself, her trainer and the horse underneath her.  It was nearly as fun to watch as it apparently was to do, judging by the big old smile on both the horse and the rider’s face at the end of the lesson.

Speaking of getting the details right, and, as Nora Jones would say, “a little bit of nothin’ wrong”, here’s Peter Atkins and Henny running xc at Fair Hill last month.  Watch and smile.

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I’m Camie and I’m a coke addict

Oooooh, icy cold deliciousness

Oh, how I loved the icy cold deliciousness of a coke in the morning.  The sweet release of carbon when the can is opened, the sound of it pouring over ice and the quiet fizz as it sat by my computer.  Sometimes I would buy a 32 0z. coke and sip it all morning.  It was great.  I wouldn’t get hungry at 10 a.m. if I had a 32 oz. coke there feeding sweet sugar into my veins all morning.  Have a coke and a smile.  I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.  Coke is it!

I’d be driving in to work and thinking to myself, “I need a little treat.”  Stop in at my favorite fuel station, talk and laugh with the attendants since by now I’d developed a relationship with them, fill my cup with cubed ice (not crushed!) and fill the plastic cup with the nectar of the gods.  Enjoy all morning.

I never drank coke in the afternoon or evening.  It was a morning ritual for me.

And then one day I noticed how ridiculous it is for a college-educated extremely fortunate person to put high fructose corn syrup daily into my body.  It just finally made no sense.  I decided to quit.

I didn’t quit because continuing to drink soda would make me fat (though it would) or because my mom has Type II diabetes.  I quit because I finally realized just how stupid it is to drink soda on a regular basis.  There just is no redeeming quality in soda.  I simply fell out of love with it.

It has been 12 days.  Driving past my Quik Trip the first few times was really a challenge.  I drove a new route to work.  I also bought the kind of tea I like, even though it is more expensive than soda (which was my excuse for not buying it on a regular basis before.  Lame-o.)   I also had to start bringing a 10 a.m. snack, since I couldn’t rely on high fructose corn syrup to carry me to lunch.  So I brought apples or pears or nuts.  The first of the positive changes.

Then, since I had a healthy snack at 10 a.m. and didn’t have gut rot from all that soda, I felt like having a decent lunch.  With the lack of morning caffeine and the more frequent healthy lunches, slowly but surely the afternoon crash I used to be able to set my watch by at 2:30 has dissipated.  Another unanticipated bonus.

After a week off soda, I started to sleep through the night rather than having to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Maybe TMI, but also a bonus.

And other changes.  I don’t have to carry my cans home for recycling, my teeth are whiter and I drink more water, which tastes better to me now for some reason.

But the best, THE BEST, was today.  It was 78 degrees at our house today.  The forecast for tomorrow is for 40 degrees and a rain/snow mix.  Today I could wear a T-shirt and ride in the fields and woods near our house, tomorrow I will have to wear a sweatshirt and ride indoors (ok, that isn’t so bad either, but still, my point is that today was glorious weather for November 1st in the mid-latitudes).  So I wanted to ride all four horses TODAY.  I wasn’t tired.  I didn’t hit the afternoon nap wall.  I didn’t have to run in and go to the bathroom.  I just rode 4 fabulous horses.  I hacked all over southern Story county.  I worked on connection, lengthenings, galloping, leg yields, you-name-it.  They were all great.

Coke or this?

Charlie reminded me about the thrill of galloping.  Eddie aced the cavaletti.  Sammy is learning to let go in his poll and breathe.  And Elliot was the last to go.  Many is the time in the last year where I was too tired to ride the last horse.  Very disappointing and left a hangover of guilt along with the tiredness.  Not today.  Today I tacked up the last horse with ease, warmed up in the arena over the cavaletti and then out for a hack as the sun set.  Balanced canter and medium canter, joyful, springy goofy-warmblood trot.  Then a swinging walk the last quarter mile home.  I was the luckiest person on earth tonight.

All because of one change.  I gave up coke because I decided it was a ridiculously stupid habit.  I didn’t know how right I was until I stopped doing it.

Have you given up a bad habit and been pleasantly surprised by unanticipated horse-related repercussions?  Maybe you have changed your diet specifically for your horse.  I’d love to hear your experiences.