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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Long Arms, Short Reins

OUCH. "Ben Gay, Take Me Away"....

Yes, I know - I am mixing up some advertising slogans here, namely those of a certain strong-smelling human liniment and equally fragrant bath salts. I KNOW you all know what Ben-Gay is - as riders I think we are all in need of it at one time or another (I actually prefer some stuff called BioFreeze. Active ingredient is menthol, so you're quite minty-fresh, but it works great.).

I realize some of my readers probably weren't around during the era of the "Calgon, Take Me Away" commercials, so here is one for your viewing pleasure.

As a side note, I can practically tell the year this was made by mom's professional attire - remember when bows were in? I can also tell that the guys in the suits at the advertising agency were really pleased with themselves for paying tribute to Today's Working Woman. Of course I had to crack up at the actual bathing scene. Yep, all of us over-stressed moms have a swimming-pool sized tub surrounded by marble columns in a palatial bathroom, not to mention a hairdresser on call to arrange our luxurious locks in tasteful updos before we climb into the mountains of bubbles... *eyeroll*

I'm thinking about this ad right now because I wish I had a combo of the two products to relieve some of the muscle aches and pains I'm currently experiencing. However, they are not attributable to traffic, the boss, the kids or the dog: I'm sore for the best of reasons, because I made it to the barn for a lesson on Saturday! I'm not quite sure why I'm so uncomfortable this time, because I did my Gatorade/vitamin/Advil routine, but my inner thighs are killin' me.

Trainer M put me back on my friend Pebbles, which suited me fine. In my current state of un-fitness, I appreciate a horse I have to slow down versus one on which I have to use leg, leg, leg to get a decent trot. It's funny, I got used to my last trainer constantly telling us to go faster at the trot, so when Pebbles volunteered her speedy gait as soon as we set off on Saturday, I thought all was fine and dandy. I was literally brought up short when M told me to take it a little easier on P's short QH legs. I was thinking, "Hey, this really wasn't MY idea," but of course I obeyed!

I am very grateful to a poster on the COTH Hunter/Jumper forum, who asked the other day for suggestions on keeping her hands forward. I have continued to struggle with keeping mine forward as well as lower. The one thing that someone shared which really "clicked" for me was a piece of advice she'd gotten from Anne Kursinski, which was "Long arms, short reins." I needed a little phrase to keep in mind and this must have worked pretty well, because in this lesson instead of "Hands lower, reins shorter," I got "Bend your elbows when you're asking to slow down!" Sigh. It's always something, right? :-)

After the usual W/T/C warmup, I did a little two-jump course of diagonal gate to diagonal gate, trotting into the first jump and cantering to the second. I wasn't particularly thrilled to not be starting with a crossrail and got a bit nervous, which never helps my jumping form, but we did okay and I think only had one sticky fence the entire time we were jumping. It did help that the gates were almost on the ground, therefore not even 2,' and they were straight across, not curved. I've really had an issue with the latter kind ever since the lesson when good old chestnut mare Polly got it into her head that we needed to vault the side of one, nearly putting me into orbit (it was at least 3').
The jumps were just this kind of gate, no rail above.
At my last barn, the trainer wanted me to do a five-jump course after two lessons, and this was after a 10-year hiatus from riding. I gamely attempted to comply but finally had to tell her I just wasn't up to it, physically or mentally. So trainers obviously think I am capable enough to do what they're asking. I keep telling myself this, but it's still hard to psych myself up for jumping anything that's not a trot crossrail. Another "nervous factor" was Pebbles kept getting a little strong before and after the second fence. I know my braking afterwards was not very graceful (that's mostly when the "bend your elbows" comments were coming as well). Over the jumps, I did fairly well, but my legs were definitely flopping more than I'd like. Yeah, I don't think I'm quite ready for bigger fences! :-/

The leg-flopping was due to three factors: nerves, fatigue and worn out knee patches on my breeches. I wore my older pair and the synthetic suede is absolutely shot, cracking and missing entirely in some places. On the upside, these pants are not so tight around the waist that I can't actually tuck a shirt in, wear a belt and look a bit more tidy. My other pair give me a hideous muffin top that I am not about to have on display, so the polo shirts have been untucked. I really need to get some new breeches. There was another post on COTH last week discussing this very topic, specifically which breeches work best in hot weather, and I now know what kind would hopefully work on my shape. Unfortunately, they're Tailored Sportmans (Trophy Hunters, to be exact) and cost about three times more than I want to spend. But they come in low rise, side zip with a wide waistband and I'm pretty sure that's what I need. The local tack shop is having a sale this week so I might just wander on over. People think buying a bathing suit is bad - hah, they've never had to find breeches!

I guess I'm probably ouchy because I jumped a lot more in this lesson than I have in other ones (I went through the two-jump course about six times). I found out that I literally cannot maintain a 2-pt in canter, too; the 15 seconds I attempted of that might well be what's done me in. Prescription = more saddle time, of course - I'm working on it!


  1. I buy all my TS (the really expensive ones $250+) on ebay for like $20-$40. I won't spend more than $40 on a pair of breeches. I take them to a dry cleaner I know is awesome and $3 later I have breeches that look brand new. Check ebay!

  2. Thank you very much for the tip! A couple people have mentioned doing that on COTH, as well. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea of what will fit me/what fabric I need. I really have to go try some on first. The last time I went shopping was 1999, unfortunately, and things have changed! If I buy something else in the tack shop, maybe they won't mind not selling me any breeches... ;-)

  3. Hey, if they weren't constantly finding something to remind us about then we probably wouldn't need lessons in the first place right? ;-)

    If you will be riding a lot in the summer you might want to try on a pair of summer riding tights, they aren't as nice as regular breeches but they are cheaper and (I think) more comfortable.

    I've always been told that eating bananas helps with soreness because they are high in potassium.

  4. My riding teacher just gave me two pairs of gently used, good quality, full seat breeches. I think she must have been tired of me showing up for lessons in jeans and half chaps. In any event, I'm pleased to have them and really, really, REALLY pleased that I didn't have to go shopping for them!


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