Feels like ages since I’ve been in blog-land. Busy would be an understatement for the past two weeks. Suddenly there is this sense of ‘must get it done’ as our time at Ashmore starts to dwindle. We still have a little over three weeks to go. Sounds like a long time, and then suddenly a voice cries out in my head,’THREE WEEKS!’ A lot is still to be accomplished. The good news is Gage and I are well on our way.
We’ve taken some time to reassess and re-evaluate our goals. We are right on track, in fact we are actually ahead of schedule! It’s a great place to be as we can now ‘up the ante’ and set our goals a bit higher. Not too high mind, because we certainly do not want to jeopardise our foundation.
So what are the goals? Me jumping 3′ confidently. I’m doing 2’9″ at the moment, so going up a few more inches is realistic. Gage jumping 2’3″ courses correctly. One more dressage schooling show this weekend at Rocking Horse with a more advanced test (Training Level 1) and then XC schooling afterward. And finally, Gage and I doing our first competitive jumping of a cross-rail course at the upcoming GOHJA show(Greater Orlando Hunter Jumper Association). Even though our goal for his jumping is to reach 2’3″, we are keeping it small at the show to set him up for success. Always jump bigger at home!
I’ve reached my fitness goals as well. I came to Ashmore armed with a series of workouts to keep me busy with the knowledge that the riding and working would probably provide most of what I needed. I’ve been able to get one functional fitness workout in a week to balance out the lifting of countless hay bales, feed bags and tack and I’ve seen a nice progression in strength. This past week I was thinking it was time to move to the next workout. A little background on the philosophy: the idea is to do a single workout programme for eight weeks and track the progression before changing to the next. I’ve been doing One Armed Snatches with a 12kg/26.2lb kettle bell. The object is to do as many reps as I can, equally left and right arms, in 10 minutes. When I arrived I was able to do 80. Each week I progressed by 10 until Rob, my trainer at MBG encouraged me to ‘Dominate It’ and go for 150 in 10 minutes before moving on to the next workout. That meant doing 20 more reps that the last workout. I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. In the end, I did the 150 in nine minutes and blew my last result right out of the water. It’s an amazing feeling to succeed, and even better to beat a personal best. I could never have kept up the pace the past two months if I didn’t have the solid functional fitness foundation. I am now stronger, more fit and able than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s great!
Gage too is building his fitness base. He is still growing and is ‘bum high’ at the moment. He’ll even out with his withers in time. He’s also putting on muscle at a nice rate and starting to really look like a mature horse. His summer coat is starting to grow in and his lovely red colour is returning. He’s a real beauty to behold and just a darn good looking horse. He’s my boy and I love him to bits. Perhaps I’m biased?
One of the great things about being in Florida in winter (well besides the obvious weather aspect) is that there is access to anything one would ever need in the equestrian industry, and it’s only a short distance away. Better yet, most of it will come to you. Last week we had Jim Masterson (Masterson Method Equine Bodywork) out to work on Gage and the County Saddle Rep out to tweak our saddle fit. This week the Voltaire Design Rep came out to show Hilda their saddle and boot lines. Proximity is a wonderful thing. I was able to test the saddles on Gage too. I’ve been thinking about getting a dressage saddle and it looks like the Voltaire may be a great fit. I’m waiting for a second fitting when the rep can get a bigger saddle that will compensate for my genetic disposition of excessive amount of femur in my leg – i.e. really long thighs. Voltaire also do bespoke riding boots. Serendipity is really the word of the week. I had been thinking about a dressage saddle and the importance of having a good pair of boots that actually fit, and they show up at the barn. Yes, it’ll be a large outlay of cash, but these are things I need to move forward in the sport, so I best embrace it and accept that things happen for a reason and resistance is futile.
I know that leaving Ashmore is going to be difficult. I’ve made many friends here and have loved the training. Gage and I have grown more in the past two months than we have in the past two years. It definitely helped that our foundation was strong, but we also have had the opportunity to grow in a setting that is nurturing and supportive to our goals. It’s been very much a day by day existence and sometimes rather gruelling, even life changing. I’ll miss it here and am already looking forward to the prospect of returning next Winter. I’ve made a lot of new friends too! Perhaps I’m putting the proverbial cart before the horse as there is still a fair amount of time to go and much to accomplish. I’ve had a few people query me with the challenge of ‘Why go at all?’ That has me thinking. In some ways it does seem like a good idea just to stay down here and keep training. Then I envision the prospect of the Florida summer heat and humidity and think otherwise. I’m also realising the importance of returning home to digest everything that has happen, to re-group and take time to apply all that we’ve learned. To stay at this pace indefinitely is not feasible.
I’m also starting to look at the prospect of turning this passion of mine into something a little more profitable so I can continue to financially maintain the progress. There are ideas brewing to incorporate the riding and fitness together and help get the word out about the benefits of both. I’ve also had the opportunity to teach other riders here at Ashmore and have enjoyed helping them improve their skills. And there is also my insane drive to succeed at everything no matter the task. Somewhere in here there is a prospect to move forward to the next step. I’ll find it in time, and then it will be on to the next equestrian adventure. Suggestions are certainly welcome!
Until then Gage and I are using our time wisely and getting the most out of the final weeks here at Ashmore. We’ll keep you posted on our show results this weekend and all the adventures to come throughout March. Stay tuned…..
Annalise and Gage