Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Journal

I can't believe I have come to the end of my last full day here. I will leave my new-found European home sometime tomorrow afternoon, and I'm so sad I can't take anyone, or any horses back with me!!! Since I have come to this point I'm going to say some thank you's out here in internet-land for all to see, because I certainly didn't get myself here without some serious help.
First and foremost I need to thank Gabriele Nimsky for being so hospitable to me since I've been here, this trip could have been so much harder if she wasn't willing to do everything in her power to make me feel like home here.
Also, Karin Miles. I would not be here in Ansbach if it wasn't for her. She found out and then arranged this trip for me, and made sure it was possible for me, someone who speaks little-no German, to participate in such a fantastic and HELPFUL school. I am a better rider not only from her instruction in Alabama, but because she was so willing to risk her reputation by sending me to her friend and teacher, Gabi. Vielen Dank!!!! I hope I didn't disappoint!
I also owe many, many thanks to my parents, who were so generous to send me here to Germany for an entire month. I am incredibly blessed to have been born to two such awesome people!! I thank God everyday for you.
Thank you also to all of my new German friends, and my American friends who are supporting me by reading this blog and keeping in touch. I have met some really great people over my life so far, and I really have to count my blessings to have you in my life. Thank you for your support, your attention, and your love. I've had some lonely times while I've been here, and no matter if I met you here, or in the States, both groups of friends have gotten me through.
Finally, to everyone out there who has ever given me a riding lesson. I owe you thanks for keeping my motivation up to stay with the sport I love, and for teaching me to ride correctly. Considering what kind of instruction most people get in the states, I've been very lucky to have relatively correct instruction throughout my riding career. While I have bad habits like everyone else, I feel I really cannot blame them on incorrect instruction. Thank you so much!

Ok, now to tell you about my last two days.
Yesterday I started the day as always, except this time I slept through my alarm due to some pretty horrendous allergies. I took my first trip to the cross country course at 10am, no jumping though, just practicing control over the hills. Compagnon, one of the laziest horses here in the arena, is a freakin' racehorse when you take him out. I trust him, but he's really hard to stop, and even harder to collect. Le Marquis was in the afternoon, and it went really well. The Eckert Meyners training I've been doing is helping me with him. There were far fewer awful moments than there were when I first started riding him. My shoulders are coming back, and so are my lower legs. Matt came by for dinner so we could hang out one more time before I leave, when I returned I discovered a little party going on at the Riding School, though I had to say goodbye to Matt, it was still kind of nice to have a little champagne with my peers. This has been a good group, I'm going to miss them!
Today was much better as far as allergies go. I helped with the morning chores, then watched some of the private lessons in between packing. Ugh, PACKING!!! I don't want to leave! I want this place to be closer to Alabama so I can have my Dixie, and my family and friends nice and close! Why can't I have it all?? Haha, spoken like a true spoiled brat, I hope I don't have to tell most of you that I am absolutely kidding. I'm lucky to have had this experience at all.
At 1400 I rode Compagnon for our Cross Country jumping lesson. Steffi (one of my friends from the first week here, who returned for the second) took pictures so Fr. Nimsky could focus on keeping her eye on me, Marvin and Tina...but mostly me. Haha, I have a picture of her today that says it all about how she feels about my cross country skills :) Gladly though she still let me jump, though I think I had less control today than I've had the entire time I've been here. This is mostly due to my ineffectiveness at using my seat as a brake, so I have some homework, that will undoubtedly be collected by Fr. Nimsky the next time I'm here. I look forward to turning it in :). Over all it wasn't a bad day, sort of sad because of the overhanging knowledge that I leave tomorrow. But I seem to have made some friends, Tina asked me today when I was coming back, and seemed very happy when I said I hoped I could come next year or sooner if I could scrape up the money.
I have a crazy dream of making it to the Olympics one day, and though my time here has shown me just how far away I am from that dream, its made me feel like its not out of reach. With the right instruction, the right horses to learn on (because horses often times are the best teachers), patience, and a lot of focus, I could really do it.
Starting here I thought I would end up leaving frustrated that I had more to work on than I thought. Instead I am leaving with new motivation to keep learning and moving forward with my dream. I have tons and tons of things to learn and work on before I can consider my dream realistically in my grasp, but now, unlike before, I can see the path that will take me there. Its a long road ahead, but at least I'm on it.
One week left until I see most of y'all again (my silver lining to leaving this wonderful place)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday Journal

Hello again! I can't believe it, but I only have 3 days left here. 3. I'll have another week in Germany for traveling that's true, but its actually hard to look forward to that when I know I'll be leaving this place. It's my home in Germany now! Part of me wishes I had another month to spend here riding and training, I feel that I could become and incredible rider in such a short time if I spent it here. There's also the part that misses my family and friends back home, not to mention my puppy! I've learned so much since I've been here, and I'll just have to find a way to continue my education at home, though I currently do not know of a horse that I'll be able to ride for such training... Guess I'll just have to revisit buying Noah haha.
Now that I've gotten all the sappiness out of my system, I guess I'll tell you about my day.
As always it started at 6:30am, I rode in my first lesson at 9:30 with someone filling in for Gabi (I can't remember her name, eek!). She was really nice, and really consistent with what Gabi is already working on with me. She actually gave me a couple new exercises to work on my position. I've always seen movement awareness/seat/position training with the Eckart Meyners system as an alternative way of training riders, and have had my doubts just because it looks a little silly sometimes. Though I've had my doubts, the 'personal trainer'/fitness junkie in me has wanted to try it out and see if it helps. All I can say (I know I'm getting repetitive) is HOLY COW. There have been a couple exercises (they're kind of too difficult to explain on here) that have really made a difference. I'll attempt to explain my favorite so far, it helps with cross coordination. What you do is take a pool noodle and place it in 5 different positions while you're laying on your back, you start with the noodle under your neck, then under your shoulders, your upper/middle back, lower back, and butt. With the noodle at each of these positions, you lay on your back (duh) with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, then you rotate your head and knees in opposite directions, fluidly, bringing your knees all the way to the ground. You keep moving your head and knees back and forth in opposite directions 10 times, then you move the noodle to the next position. After this exercise, I got back on Pingu and felt like every miniscule movement I made was deliberate. I was completely relaxed and loose, but at the same time in total control of my body. Granted that feeling was gone by today, but at least I know the exercise I need to use to feel that way again!
My first ride was on Le Marquis, and though I had some good moments especially with the new exercises I learned, I had a few really frustrating ones too. There are two students in my class (I won't name names) that are completely unaware of where they're going. Now, to be fair, it is occasionally difficult to predict the future movements of other rider-horse pairs, and I've had a few close calls myself, but for the most part I try to be observant and courteous of the other riders in the arena. The vast majority of the people I'm riding with have certain "tells" that hint to others when they're going to turn, when they're going straight, leg-yielding, etc. These two have no tells, and are prone to circling randomly and stopping right where you were planning on going. One particularly frustrating moment was when the instructor asked me to do a trot circle then a canter circle after doing an exercise to see how it worked. My trot circle consisted of trying to dodge and maneuver my circle around other riders, so it was slightly tense, then my canter circle ended about halfway when I was cutoff by a rider transitioning to the walk directly in my path. Le Marquis went from a nice round canter, to a halt that would make even the most inexperienced rider cringe, to avoid hitting the other horse. Ugh. That was just one moment though, amidst a ride full of good ones, so I'll choose to look at the silver lining.
Ok, vent session is over now, thank you for listening... or reading rather.
My afternoon ride was on Little Lupo and outside! :) For a 5 year old that's only been under saddle a year, he's sooooo easy! This time Marvin rode Monty Python with our group, so he got to watch me and Lupo a bit. (No pressure right?) Luckily, once Lupo got over all the "new" bushes and jumps and other things around the barn that have been there for years, the ride went extremely well. He's great for my confidence, and is always fun to ride. Marvin was really nice about how my ride went on Lupo, which means a lot to me since Marvin is the one who primarily rides and trains Lupo. After this morning's slightly frustrating ride, it felt good to get outside and on a horse that the other riders respected enough to keep a little more distance from.
But my rides aren't the real news here. The BIG news is that I'M GOING CROSS COUNTRY TOMORROW!!! For those of you who don't know what that means, it is when you gallop and jump obstacles like downed trees, ditches, and other solid objects out in a field. It is my favorite thing in the world, and I never thought I'd get to do it in Germany, I thought I had to bring my own horse to try it. I don't deserve this vacation, I really don't, but since I'm here, I'm going to act like I do. And I'm going to enjoy and treasure every minute of it.
Believe it or not I still desperately miss all of you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday Journal

Hallo! Wie gehts? Haha, working on typing in German, I think I'm getting better!
So today I rode Le Marquis, Pingu, and Compagnon.
Le Marquis was dressage this morning, and we're getting better. The mats from our exercises yesterday were still up so it was a lot of work just getting him to walk and trot past that! Marvin and I exchanged opinions of Le Marquis and he agreed that there was no way to get him past that stuff quietly. I really like Marvin, Tina, Jaqueline, Katrin and Daniella, haha and Gabi too! They're all just so nice! I wish I could stay here!
In the afternoon I was supposed to jump Pingu, but unfortunately he came up lame in the warm up. We're not sure what's wrong, but when I checked on him later I felt heat in his fetlock. Hopefully he's just a little sore from getting up the wrong way or laying on it and will be back to normal soon!
I rode Compagnon in the lesson that followed the original one I was scheduled for, which was nice since I got to watch the rest of the previous lesson and see how to complete the exercises. Compagnon's dressage isn't really great, or at least I have a really hard time getting him to go on the bit. Once I got over his head and neck literally being a straight line coming out from his chest, we ended up jumping really well! He's easier to control than Lorena, and can apparently jump really high!
Overall I had two good rides today! I can't believe its Tuesday though and my time here is almost up! Neither can Gabi the last time we talked about it, she thought we had another week :(. She's really been an incredible instructor and hostess to me since I've been here. I'll really miss her when I leave! She says I should come back though, and test for my badge, and when I leave she's going to give me a certificate saying that I completed training here with her, so I can put it on my resume.
Not sure what's on the schedule for tomorrow, I'll keep you posted though!
Miss y'all!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Journal! I'm back!!

Brace yourself folks, this might be a long one, have to catch y'all up from the weekend!

So we'll start with Saturday. I rode Le Marquis in the morning with Gabi, this time we were outside so it was a bit of a challenge to keep him focused. Gabi gave me some good instruction on how to keep his mind occupied so that I'm always giving him something new to think about, instead of letting him distract himself. By the end of the lesson we were doing pretty well, but I was awfully tired!
I have a whole slew of things wrong with my posture when I'm on Le Marquis. He's a very balanced horse compared to Pingu, and moves much more uphill (by comparison) so I tend to lean forward, with my legs too far forward, and move my elbows out. Then when I want to stop him my elbows come out even more (I look like a chicken) and I brace them. So, by the time I'm done with my ride, my thighs hurt from the way I cramp them to sit in the saddle, and my back, shoulders and triceps hurt from trying to stop the horse... This, once again, is why I'm here. This is my horseback riding bootcamp, except Gabi, Daniella, Marvin, and the crew are soooo much nicer than Drill Sergeants.
After my ride I hopped a train to Weiden to meet Aaron. Since we've been in touch for so long, I thought it would be nice to see him for one last weekend before we part ways for what is likely to be a very long while again. Weiden is a small town much like Ansbach, just different because its a different town :). It was a beautiful day on Saturday so it was nice to catch up with an old friend, have dinner outside and enjoy some german beer (OMG YUM) and people watch. We may have gotten some ice cream too...please don't tell my waistline. The rest of the weekend in Weiden consisted of breakfast on Aaron's porch overlooking some cows, driving around Weiden for a little while, then back to the train station. Overall, my Saturday evening and Sunday morning were nice and relaxing, and a good break from all the horseback riding I've been doing. Aaron, if you're reading this, best of luck with your future endeavors, of all the people I've met that have ended up in Germany, I think you've made more of your time there than anyone else, Kudos!
Sunday evening was spent trying to find a Vodafone Websessions voucher at a gas station...there weren't any. Though today I was informed that because of Ansbachfest all the stores were open! Dangit, I rode all over this town and into the next looking for one of those things! Though there's a silverlining to every cloud, mine was that instead of talking with friends on the computer until all hours of the morning, I went to bed. Early. Which allowed me to wake up today and be ready to go!
This brings us to today! There's a new group here! So far everyone is super nice and most of them speak english! Its an older group, and this time I'm the youngest (last time I was the oldest) so its a different dynamic. We're doing just seat lessons this week, which basically means that I will have two lessons a day just focusing on my posture, position, and effectiveness in the saddle. On Le Marquis I have a different set of problems than I do on Pingu, so this week will be interesting based on who I ride and the different issues with each horse.
This morning I rode Le Marquis, and really focused on keeping my shoulders back, my elbows in, and my legs back, its a struggle but it was definately better today. I then rode all over Ansbach, going grocery shopping, vodafone searching, and then I bought a dirndl. I will post pictures, I'm blaming the purchase of the dirndl on Aaron and Michael, you know who you are and you owe me some Euros ;).
This afternoon, for the private seat lesson, I rode Pingu. My inner thighs are especially tight on him, and its difficult for me to coordinate my movements in such a way that I don't inadvertently move a part of my body that doesn't need to. The lesson was partly on Pingu and partly on the ground. Gabi showed me exercises on a stool with a moving seat and on a mat with a pool noodle that really helped me loosen up! I also found some muscles that need some massaging in order to help them release and get loose. So a warning to all you horse people out there that workout like mad, make sure you stretch too!! I've worked out for so long and so hard that I've only made myself tighter, not more flexible, which is a big problem not just for riding, but for my body in the long run!
Tomorrow I have a dressage lesson in the morning, then we jump in the afternoon. I can't wait to tell you about it!! Oh, and as a PS. GABI WANTS ME TO GO CROSS COUNTRY!!!!!! I am excited beyond words, I haven't done cross country in 6 years, its my favorite thing in the whole world, and I get to RIDE IT IN GERMANY!!!! I am the luckiest girl in the world. *sigh*
Time for a late dinner, miss y'all!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Journal

Hoooooly moley I am so tired today! Prolly cause I haven't been going to bed early like I should, and because I am sooo not used to working in a barn and riding twice a day. But this is a good tired, a satisfied "I was so productive today" tired.
To start off the day I helped with the chores, since its just Marvin and Katrin working these last couple days. I think I surprised Gabi that I was still helping them, either way I think I should pull my weight around here. I then got myself a little breakfast, took a 15 min nap, and got my butt back to the barn to ride.
My first ride of the day was Le Marquis, he's really pretty, and really smart, but a total jerk if you let him get away with it. I have good news, since Gabi warned me, he didn't get away with it. We actually had a really good ride. He's a jerk when you don't do it just right too. So if my legs were too far forward, he was a jerk. If I used too much inside rein, he was a jerk. If I didn't turn him from my outside aids, he was a jerk. I'll tell you what, this horse is the best teacher in the world, smart enough to know a lot of movements and what different aids mean, and smart enough to know when its not right and he doesn't have to do it. That's a schoolmaster.
After that I went into town and figured out the Deutschbahn, it wasn't as bad as I thought, and I got 3 Euro off because I booked it with a kiosk! So, I'm going to Weiden tomorrow to meet up with Aaron, should be a good trip! I've been wanting to see another city, even if it is a small one like Ansbach, feels more like a real German experience that way.
My second ride was on Lorena, and it was a jumping lesson! We have narrowed my issues down to my hands and my seat. My hands are occasionally crazy over the jump, especially when I get surprised or don't trust that the spot is perfect; and my seat is an issue after the jump. I have a tendency to yank with my hands while my butt is out of the saddle, instead of using my seat to bring the horse back to a nice slow canter. Needless to say, Lorena ran. And ran. And ran. My arms are killing me. Gabi trusted me enough to keep the jumps a little higher than I expected (still small though, we MAYBE jumped 2'9" today-funny, the biggest one was our best one) so that was good, but I think I'm going to try jumping a different horse next time. Lorena's just too hard to slow down, and I need a horse that's going to encourage me to sit after the jump. To add to that, I think Gabi can tell that she and I don't really have a connection. She doesn't go on the bit, or at least not for me, and I feel like I have no control...therefore, I don't like her very much.
As always though it was a good day, and I'm looking forward to my ride tomorrow, a little work, and then a nice evening in Weiden.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday Journal 2

Late second post today, this may be a quick one...but I have a tendency to say that and ramble on for forever. I would like to mention quickly, so I don't forget when I get distracted by writing about the horse show, that several people have been mentioning to me that they follow this blog. I want to thank everyone who reads this!!! It means a lot that y'all take the time to keep up with something I've been working on in the hopes that my friends will enjoy it! I love the feedback! Keep letting me know what you want to hear more about and I'll make sure to mention it.

Now, on to the rest of my day :)
I took 470 photos and videos today, yeah, the show was that cool (at least to me). Specifically, the show was designed to celebrate the young horses of Bavaria, ages 3-7, competing in Dressage (levels A-M...there is no real accurate translation to the US system for that, check the glossary later and I'll explain), Show Jumping (levels L-M), and cross country (pretty sure it was just A).
Let me tell you, it was SO COOL. These horses are of a quality that I've only seen in sprinklings around the shows and barns I used to frequent, all of them were SO NICE! Plus there was an awesome concession stand, so I got a Ciabatta bread sandwich with tomatoes and mozzarella (be nice I had issues figuring out how to order a brotwurst) and a caramel macchiato-which by the way is totally different from the Starbuck version. Despite it being freezing, and being a bit lonely this morning, it turned out to be a great day complete with puppies, horses, jumping (yay!), Marvin and Lupo placing third, and finally figuring out the Deutsch Bahn (the travel system). I will edit this post tomorrow and add pictures and further details of the show, for now I'm off to try to combat this recurring jet lag.
Miss y'all!!

Thursday Journal 1

Woohoo, get excited! Two posts today! Haha, so today's a better day, aside from waking up too early, which was still late...
I started the morning riding Pingu and Allegro on my own, lucky me got the two spookiest horses in the barn I think. Both of them nearly dropped out from under me when they saw the judges stand, silly geldings. Anyways, Pingu got to actually be worked with, since I need to do some figuring out on what's going on with the canter.
This is what I came up with, bucking was a poor adjective used to describe what he actually does. When Pingu canters, and is upset/pissed off, he curls his neck down too much and bobs his head more than he needs to if he were holding himself in the correct way (I would blame myself, but he does this on a loose rein) and at the same time rounds his back and doesn't track under himself with his hind legs...enough horse jargon for you? This is my theory why he does this, based on experimenting today. First, I tried cantering on a loose rein thinking that I was too hard with my hands and it was making him tight through his back, wrong- his head just gets lower, he has more leverage to pull me out of the saddle, and in fact arches his back and hops even more. Hmmm, what to try next? Ok, hands like they were, soft and following, make sure to remember that, more inside leg and passive outside leg...lets see how that goes- better, but at certain points of the circle he still yanks me out of the saddle, and when I try to sit deeper and use my calves (not spurs at this point) to keep him going he throws his head in the air and runs. Great, there's 6 young horses in here warming up to show, they're behaving like seasoned Grand Prix horses, and the ex-meter 50 jumper I'm on and I can't keep it together...Ok just trot now, try to relax and think about what you're have to end this ride with a good canter in each direction, you have to fix this now or you won't before you leave.
So Pingu and I trotted around and around, doing a nice long, low, forward trot. As he's trotting around he seems to be getting more and more relaxed, some of the horses leave, some come in, but he's not spooking at the new horses coming through the door anymore... lets try some leg yielding and some serpentines, flex him even more than in the warm up, now canter. He was a gem. Now I think I know what's been wrong, and on top of it all I have yet another reason. First, he needs to relax, when he's relaxed I can get the long low trot and successfully complete serpentines and leg yields without him flinging his head around, when I think I've done enough long and low and flexing, I need to do ten more minutes. Then Pingu can canter. The trouble all this time has been in the warm up! We've been working very hard, sometimes twice a day, and he's getting stiffer and stiffer as I neglect warming him up the specific way he needs, as he gets stiffer he needs even more of a warm up. Silly me, all this time it hasn't necessarily been my riding skills, but my horsemanship! I also noticed two small saddle rubs on his withers, no doubt from the way he canters, and my attempts to stay in the saddle. Nevertheless, this is a saddle fit problem, which may have been contributing to my issues with the canter. Pingu is getting the day off tomorrow, then I will start using an extra pad.
Now on to Allegro. Allegro was used extensively yesterday for the dressage and jumping testing, and was used 3-4 times a day to help the girls get ready. So he got a 20 minute ride today, purely to get his muscles moving. Have I ever ridden such a spooky 9 year old! Goodness, he still wasn't relaxed after the 20 minute ride. For the sake of Allegro's well being we did a long rein walk, trot, and canter, with some (attempted) long and low trot at the end. I could really feel how stiff he was, even though I hadn't ridden him before today.
Its been raining all morning, so the jumping part of the show today is certainly getting more and more interesting as the day goes on. My post this evening will give you more details about how the show goes today! Yay for the day of the young horses!! Expect pictures!
As an aside, I will work on a page on horse jargon for those of you being sweet and trying to follow the blog, but find it hard to understand, I'm going to try to keep it to glossary format so its not a lot of reading, just a reference. Keep in mind you can always ask me questions via email or facebook!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday Journal

I'm a little on the grumpy side today (ok very) so I'm going to keep this short. I didn't ride today, between the tests, the weather, and the show tomorrow, it was just too much trouble to try to get me on a horse. That's not the reason I'm grumpy though, but riding probably would have offset some of the foulness of my mood.
I think mostly to blame is the weather today, its been cold for a few days now, and rainy, and it just makes it suck to go outside; but I have to, to help with stalls and do anything really. So there is Grumpy reason #1.
Then there's the fact that all the girls that were testing left today. So I'm a bit lonely without the noise in the dorm kitchen and without Lena and Corinna to talk to about the horses and the program and gossip about other random events.
Then finally there's Vodafone, which has made it nearly impossible for an English speaking person to top up a prepaid phone in Germany. I spent two hours calling customer service and getting hung up on when I was transferred to the English speaking customer service that I finally went back to the store I bought the phone from and topped up there. Apparently no one can figure out how your supposed to do that online or over the phone without giving them some kind of bank account number (not a chance in hell I'm doing that).
So there you have it, not very interesting today. I'll probably write more about the testing in the "testing for your badge" page a bit later when I'm not in such a bad mood.
Hope your day is going better than mine!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Journal

Only one entry today guys! I didn't ride until 2 this afternoon, so I went to the Mall today (finally!) to go to Real (the walmart) and buy some running clothes and groceries.
I got myself some shorts, a tanktop and a ball cap, in vain hope that it will warm up again soon.
Today's high was 54*F, but it felt a ton warmer, I guess it wasn't as windy today.
On to my riding lessons. My first ride today was on Pingu, and lets just say we're like any close relationship, we're nearing the limit of how much we can tolerate each other. He seems to be getting stiffer and stiffer each day I ride him, Gabi's very encouraging that we're actually doing just fine, but its hard to stay positive when you feel like you're getting worse and worse. Daniella was the instructor for my first group lesson, and gave me some good advice on getting him to loosen up. Gabi must've gotten word that Pingu and I have hit a wall, because she put me on Quando for my second lesson today.
Quando is a big bay gelding (when I say big I don't just mean tall). Gabi says he's mentally very sensitive, so I need to figure out how much pressure is too much and too little. This is something I need to figure out on my own, as she cannot tell me what it will feel like. He and I must have good chemistry, because I feel like I figured out the right amount of pressure from my legs and hands about halfway through the lesson. Gabi even had us working on collecting the canter and doing flying changes! I can't say that Quando is my favorite now because I'm loyal to my Pingu :), but I will say that I enjoy him very much and I think that he'll teach me a TON.
So here's what's on the schedule for the next couple days...
Tomorrow; big day for all 27 girls here to test for their badges, its test day! This will take all morning, and I will likely be videoing as many of them as my camera can handle. Today I spent some time helping the girls braid their horses (I have been designated the go-to girl for braiding tails) and helping them not be so nervous about the test. I'm excited to see how this works, there will be lots of pictures and video! Though tomorrow will be an exciting day, it will also be kind of sad, because many of these girls have become good friends of mine (Lena and Corinna especially) and will have to leave tomorrow. Luckily there won't be much time to mourn their leaving as Thursday is a big show!
Thursday there will be a large show for young horses here at Pferdezentrum Franken, and at the neighboring riding center. Marvin is riding Lupo (yes the Lupo I rode last week...hope I didn't ruin him!) in the Dressurpferdeprufung KI.A (Dressage Horse Test A) which is a basic dressage level for young horses and riders. I promised him I'd video his ride so he can look at it in the evening. They're also running cross-country at this show!!! My favorite! Here they use the same types of jumps as they do in the States, but there isn't quite so much galloping between the jumps. I'll of course write more about that on Thursday.
So, I'm in for a very exciting couple of days!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Journal 2

Hello again,

This afternoon I rode while the other girls got to jump, it was a little distracting since I was riding during the group that jumps the highest and I enjoy watching them ride, Pingu didn't mind...

Gabi talked to me more about jumping today, since Pingu takes so much control they're going to wait until this class is through and put me on another horse that I can learn more on, for now though, Pingu is a great teacher for dressage.

I had my first lesson with Marvin today as my afternoon ride, and like I promised I lost the spurs...bad decision, Pingu has two speeds run like hell and stop, the spurs may irritate him more, but at least I have a few more gears between the two. Though he made me work for all of it, Marvin led us through exercises with transitions from trot to canter, canter to walk, trot to halt, and walk to canter (the last of which did not really happen). We also worked on collecting and extending the trot and canter to help prepare for transitions. Marvin is an EXCELLENT teacher, haha he carries a dictionary of riding terms in English, German and French with him when he teaches me, and asks as many questions as he gives instruction, but its only to give me the most specific direction for how to improve what I'm doing. He also was sensitive to the fact that Pingu gave me nothing today, which makes things a little more encouraging when they're not going well.

Other than that I videoed a few of my friends while they jumped today, and I felt like I learned a lot from watching, not only of German terms, but in how the girls rode. One of the girls I watched with knows little English, but always shushes her friend who knows more so she has a chance to try to say something, I think its adorable!

It never warmed up today, the high was like 50* F I think. Its horrible when you sweat while you ride (cause the horse you have does not want to go!) then you get off and are immediately freezing again, and this time you're wet...I don't recommend the combination. Not sure when I ride yet tomorrow, I should know more in an hour or so. Hopefully tomorrow it will be warmer and it will rain less!!! Aaron gets back from Malta today, maybe he'll bring their weather with him...

Monday Journal 1

Definately slept through my alarm this morning, luckily I woke up an hour before my first lesson! It is FREEZING here! Only 45 degrees today, I definately did not pack for weather this cold in MAY! Just another reason to go shopping today, might have to wait for tomorrow though, I was supposed to have my second lesson at 11:30, but its being rescheduled to late this afternoon.

Had another lesson on Pingu, it went alright, I started out with the group then Gabi pulled me to the other side of the arena for a private lesson. Good thing too, he and I really needed some work. Towards the end I practiced what we worked on by myself so she could help the other students, and Pingu ended up bucking, a mixture of him being sick of working on canter circles and my reins being too short, haha when I tried to fix it he ended up doing flying changes, so maybe leave the spurs off for a while til I figure out what's going on with my legs...
I'll write again after my second lesson :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What I've been up to continued...

Tuesday: Had two lessons on Pingu, one group lesson with Daniella, we worked on more changes but needed a whip today. I think both of us are tired. I also had my first private lesson with Gabi, she put me in spurs and they made a world of difference (see facebook video). We worked on canter departures and staying calm through the downward transition to trot. I still feel like I'm better than I thought they'd think I am, Lena in particular is very complimentary of my riding (she has no idea how much that means to me). She's the one who took pictures of me and Pingu, and filmed the video. Some of the other girls are talking more to me, since I've started spending a little time in the kitchen with them as they cook. We talk about the lessons and the theory, I'm getting alot more comfortable here. Today I walked into town to buy a phone and internet stick, it was really pretty just walking around! I feel a little better about getting around alone now too.

Wednesday: Two more lessons, today was pretty good with Pingu, we worked more on trot extensions. Gabi and her husband gave me a bike to borrow today!!! I'm so excited about being able to get around faster now!

Thursday: Whew, two more lessons, one was a jumping lesson though, that was a nice change, Pingu is a hard one to jump though. We had to jump from the trot because he's kind of hard to control, he used to do very very high jumps and I think gets a little over enthusiastic. Since I have a hard time following his head and neck over the jump I think I should practice on another horse until I get better. Its too hard to follow the movement when i have to hold him back to the fence. Aaron's coming to visit again today, so I need to get groceries, time to try out the bike!!
I rode around for an hour before I found the grocery store, turns out if I had just gone straight on the road from the school I would have found it. Soooo tired when I got home, but I was able to create a recipe for a bean and sausage stew that I really like. Hooray for figuring out how to cook over here!!

Friday: No Pingu today! I don't know what to do! :( I'll be ok haha, I'll just give him carrots as I walk by his stall. Gabi gave me a private lesson on Little Lupo today, he's a 5 year old they have in training there. He's actually really really nice, as long as I remember everything I'm supposed to do. I rode him again in a group lesson in the afternoon, all we worked on was bending, responding to the inside leg, going forward, and not getting distracted by the wind and birds...then some bike riders raced much for that idea. I really like Lupo too though, he's the blackest horse I've ever seen, kind of short too, so he reminds me of a less tragic Black Beauty. Pictures will be taken soon!

Saturday: I meant to video the girls' jumping lesson today, but the tylenol pm made it a bit hard to wake up, so I slept in til my lesson. Pingu and I worked on leg yielding, I think he was in a bad mood because of the rider switch yesterday. Gabi told me that he's pretty sensitive to that. I helped out with chores even though its not my day, some of the younger girls tend to skip out on helping sometimes and the others were getting frustrated at the lack of help and quality of work being done in the barn, so it seemed best to help keep the peace. Matt came to visit today, he helped me get my computer set up (yay internet!!) so now I have a connection to home! We also found the mall, so I'm going shopping on Monday haha, very excited!

Sunday: We had to work the barn today, I thought we'd have the day off, but no such luck. All the girls got the day off from riding though...except me, haha go figure. Pingu was a bit difficult today so the private lesson was what we needed. We covered everything from leg yields to flying changes. I took a nice long nap today, haha for about 4 hours, I'm not used to riding so much and having the guys come over two days in a row is wearing me out. Its a good tired though, I just hope I get used to it soon so I can do more throughout the days!

Thanks for reading guys!!! More specific posts on the horses, their care, the weather, the program, and my friends here will be up soon! As well as my daily journal entries! Keep enjoying your summers!

What I've been up to so far...

Hello again!

I have a bit more time so I figure I'll update you on what I've been doing this week and tell you a little more about this place. I kept a journal so I'll just copy what I have written down.

Saturday: Arrived in Nuremburg around 11:30, Matt picked me up and took me to the Riding School, Ansbach looks nice, but small. Gabi was here when I got here, she was so sweet and got me some food to last me through the weekend! (all the shops are closed on Sunday, and Monday because its a holiday) After moving my things up to my dorm room and getting my key, Matt and I explored the town and got something to eat. I have no internet, no cheap way to call Matt or Aaron, well just Matt right now since I seem to have the wrong number for Aaron. Overall it was a pretty good day though! If you're ever in Ansbach and want an enchilada, I don't recommend the local mexican restaurant, the enchilada tasted like sloppy joe. Gotta say I'm a little worried about spending three weeks here, I know only a little german and it seems that english isn't as common around here as I thought, without a phone to call Matt and if I don't get a chance to meet up with Aaron this has the potential to be a lonely trip, however, I am in Germany, a place I've dreamed of going for a really really long time, so I'm determined to enjoy every moment of this.

Sunday: Haha so this is what jetlag feels like, sooooo tired, slept in til 12:30, could have been the nyquil i took though. There's a girl here named Jackie who doesn't speak much english, she's really funny, kind of crazy, and managed to find a way to introduce me to all the horses today. We managed to communicate through sentences of mixed german and english, where there's a will there's a way right? Oh and exciting news!! Aaron called this morning and woke me up! He got the message i left him on facebook from Matt's iPhone and called from a friend's house. Its reassuring to know that I'll get a chance to meet up with him after only staying in touch via Skype and Facebook for two years. Between he and Matt, I'll have a great time here!
The girls in the riding camp started arriving today, I now share a bathroom with two girls that don't speak english, but I move into the apartment tomorrow! I have a meeting to find out what the next week and a half will be like, then Aaron's coming to visit! I can't wait to find out what's in store for this next week!!

Monday: 6:30am work in the barn, pick stalls, put in fresh shavings and sweep, repeat at 11:30 and 1600 (4pm) ride at 9am and 1500 (3pm). I've been assigned to ride a horse named Pingu, ironically he's been my favorite since I got here (see previous post-he's the first horse with his head out the window). After our first ride he's solidified himself as my favorite here (no I don't need to ride other horses to know that haha), I can barely POST his trot its so big, you can really feel the moment of suspension! Also, I apparently am not as bad as I thought I was, since they have me working on flying changes, I should mention that all I have to do is change the bend and give with my new inside rein to get him to change...that's a new one for me! The girls don't talk to me much, one has a really good grasp of english and tells me that its because I'm older and they're embarrassed of their german accents. I told her I speak german with an english accent so they shouldn't be embarrassed! Her name is Lena, one of the interns here is named Marvin and he speaks great english also, and asks me to help him with riding terms in english when we both have free time. Daniela has been my instructor so far, her english isn't quite as good as Lena, Marvin and Gabi's, but we can figure out what each other is trying to say. Last night's visit from Aaron was nice, I was starting to get a little lonely again, so getting a chance to explore the town again with him was really good. Its too bad he and Matt live so far away, the evenings are looking like they might be a bit lonely. Since they are I visit the horses at night, I just need to get carrots or apples tomorrow when the stores open again (if I can find a store) and I need a cell phone (a Handy) that's based in Germany and an internet stick too!

I'll continue the other entries in another post! That's all for now!


Getting Aquainted

Hey Everybody!

If you're reading this then you probably know me pretty well and I don't have to explain the purpose of this blog to you, but I'm going to anyways.

Just in case you forgot, I recieved arguably one of the best gifts ever for my graduation and commissioning, a 4 week trip to Germany, of which three weeks will be spent at a riding school in Ansbach. The idea is that over the three weeks I'm here, I'll further refine my dressage and jumping skills and understand the German theory of riding just a little bit better.

I have two friends here that I've been able to see, one is Matt, he picked me up from the airport; the other is Aaron, who I've been talking to since his adventure with Ranger School, on his deployment, and then of course since he's been over here. These two friends have been a welcome break from my total immersion into German culture... that's not to say I mind being totally immersed, its just been so much of a culture shock that its nice to hang out with a couple Americans from time to time :)

As I write this I've been here for about 8 days, and its taken me about that long to find my way to a local Army Post and buy myself a transformer for my laptop, then there's buying a german cell phone and an internet stick so I can stay in touch with my parents and friends back in the States.

As I have free time I'll post daily updates and pictures, for now I'll leave you with these photos of the place that I'm staying. Miss y'all!