Monday, November 23, 2015

Who Am I?

*Inspired by DIY Horsemanship's Non-Equestrian Activities Blog Hop
I've come to the realization that most of my readers do not much about me, except for my horse life and the things they have gathered throughout the voice of my writing, so I decided I want to change that by telling you about myself. I have added to my life story on my about me page if you want to check it out(bear with me, it is long), but I will write a brief summary, and much more about what I am like when not riding, right in this post.

My History

 I was born in Fairfield, California on April 8th, 2000. Throughout my life, my family moved and traveled a lot, so I have many memories of being in airports or train stations. I can never really say that I grew up in any one spot; it is always hard when someone asks where I grew up. My dad is an aerospace engineer, so we were always moving to different places depending on where the work was. Before I was nine, I had never lived in any one place for more than three years. Just when I was born, I lived in Vacaville for six weeks before moving to Hanover, Germany. Vacaville is a small town about one hundred miles from San Francisco. Hanover is located in Lower Saxony in northern Germany, and I lived there for a year. Shortly after my first birthday, I moved to Aschau im Chiemgau, another part of Germany that is near the Austrian border. Aschau im Chiemgau is a beautiful, picturesque Bavarian village surrounded by the Alps. While living there, I played in the snow and went up to the top of the mountains in a mountain lift. A year later, I moved to Vies, France, by the Mediterranean. I stayed there for several months before moving to Torrevieja, Spain, also near the Mediterranean. In December 2002, I moved to Clovis, California, the first place that I remember. Later on, I returned to Europe, living in Sweden, my mom's native country. After Sweden, I moved to Wales. We lived in a town called Tonteg, about fifteen minutes outside Cardiff. Wales was grey and rainy most of the time, but was still fun. I started school there. It was my first and only experience wearing a school uniform. There was a playground down the street that I walked to with my family, and we often visited the nearby town of Cardiff, as well as the Brecon National Forest. We took trips through Wales, as well as going to Bath and London. When in London, I traveled London Underground, or the “Tube” as locals call it. I also crossed the Tower Bridge by foot, saw the Parliament Building and the Big Ben.

The summer before starting first grade, when I was six, I returned to the United States. I lived in the small town of Coarsegold, nearby both Yosemite National Park and Clovis, the latter being the city I lived in when I was three. I lived in Coarsegold for three years, the most I had lived in any one place. Shortly after my ninth birthday, I moved to Canyon Lake, Texas, right in the heart of Hill Country. Canyon Lake is not far from San Antonio. My family often visited the historical Alamo, where the famous Alamo battle was fought for the independence of Texas long ago. It's a really amazing historical place. Closer to our home was the Madrone Trail and the Guadalupe River, which we also visited several times. Quite a few times during the summer, my family would take our mountain bikes and ride the trail. My family enjoyed riding our bikes together as my dad is a cyclist. The river was fun to swim in, and many people went river tubing there, although we never did. I also golfed for the first time while living in Texas. My family owned property near a golf course, and my younger brother and I took many lessons on golfing. Two years later, I returned to Coarsegold, where I now live.

Besides living in many places, I have also traveled a lot with my family. We visited Klamath Falls, Oregon many times, probably more than any other state, because me grandparents lived there. Sometimes we went there in the winter and played with their Golden Retriever in the snow. In the summer one time, we went fishing with my grandpa, an avid fisher, who taught me how to fish. We never caught anything, but it was fun. Another time we visited Crater Lake, which is not far from my grandparent's home. Crater Lake is a volcanic crater that is filled with clear, pristine water.
On another trip, we spent a week on the Big Island of Hawaii, where we swam at the beaches, seeing a variety of ocean life in the water–everything from colorful fish to sea turtles to bottle-nosed dolphins to black crabs. We even went to one beach with sand that was black because of the lava from the volcano on the island. Since most of the beaches had large waves that loomed above us, my younger brother and I were only allowed in the shallow water. While in Hawaii, my family visited the rainforest near the top of the volcano. It did actually rain while we were strolling through the forest. We even went to a real Hawaiian Luau, where the pig was roasted underground, cooked from hot volcanic ground. As is as tradition, we tossed our flower leis into the ocean before leaving. Hawaii was really fun; I loved being there because I got to swim at the beaches and see amazing tropical animal life. 

Another time, my family went on a rode trip to Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. In Nevada, we stopped in Vegas and saw many amazing sights, including the MGM building and the Egyptian museum. Inside the MGM building, we saw many lions with tawny hides and paws as big as my head. We could even stand underneath the lions, with only a thin sheet of glass stopping the lions from falling on top of us. In the Egyptian museum, which is a giant glass pyramid, we saw King Tut's golden coffin and other artifacts. Colorado was also exciting to visit. We visited a dinosaur museum in Woodland Park, seeing giant dinosaur statues and fossils. In Utah we saw the magnificent Zion National Park and the beautiful Temple Square. 

Las Vegas

Since my family loves road trips we always drive everywhere, so we have gone through the lonely deserts of Arizona and New Mexico when first moving to Texas and when returning to California. When living in Texas, we drove through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky to reach the college town of Athens, Ohio. Athens is a charming town with lovely brick buildings. It is small enough that my family could walk everywhere we wanted to go, and the people were very friendly. When I was 11, my dad attended a conference at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. While there my family camped in a tent at a campground, which was really exciting. One night, a bear entered our camp. I didn't notice it because I was asleep, but my older said that bear walked right by his tent, and we noticed the footprints in the morning. Since we moved back to California, my family has traveled to Utah again. This time, we were dropping my older brother, Robin, off at college in Provo, Utah. It was the beginning of January, and there was snow on the ground. One memorable moment of the trip was when were passing Cedar City just after dawn and temperature dropped to -28 degree Fahrenheit. Later, when we picked Robin up from college in the summer, we drove on Highway 6, a desolate desert highway. After passing Las Vegas, we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere until we neared Provo.

Things I Love

What may not apparent from simply reading my blog posts, I am a huge geek/nerd and proud of it too.  Outside of my horses, most of interests are geeky things. They include board gaming, Star Trek, and much more.

Slytherins summed up in one quote.

Shows, Books, and Movies

One look at my Pinterest will show that I am obsessed with a variety of books, movies and TV shows–one may even consider me a fangirl(a girl obsessed with books, movies, shows, and such).  My favorite book series ever is Harry Potter; I've read it and seen the movies more times than I can count, and for me, it is a obsession that will never die.  I love the story, the magic, the themes, and everything about it.  As you probably know, at Hogwarts, there are four Houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff.  Personally, I see myself as a Slytherin because I am ambitious, competitive, determined, have a disregard for rules, and always have a desire to be the best.  Although I do consider myself brave–not much scares me–I do not see myself as a Gryffindor.  I don't really have the other Gryffindor traits of nobleness, chivalry, and desire to be hero.  I'm not a reckless brave like Gryffindors. I like to think situations through, though sometimes my stubbornness and determination does lead me to do stupid things.  The House I think I fit into the second best is Ravenclaw though, because I try to be smart and rational, and I get good grades, but those are not the only Ravenclaw traits, and my Slytherin traits outweigh them.  As for Hufflepuff...I don't think I really have any of those traits. 

My two favorite shows are The X-Files and Star Trek Deep Space Nine(though I like all the Treks I have seen).  The X-Files is an amazing show about two FBI agents who investigate paranormal activity and a government alien conspiracy.  It is a '90s show, but a new mini-season is coming out in January.  You probably know what Star Trek is an if you don't, then where have you been all your life? I have seen the Original Series, the Next Generation, and Deep Space, and the latter is my favorite. I really love the characters and the story in that one(though I love all the other Treks I have watched).
I really love dragons too. This is my artwork.

There are way too many movies I love to list, so I'll just say that I love movies with excitement and adventure. James Bond, the Matrix, and Planet of the Apes, some Marvel movies, and the Bourne movies are some examples. 
I love making fan art. This is Deep Space Nine

Board Gaming

Board gaming is another thing I really love, though I do not typically play the usually kinds, like Monopoly and such.  My favorites are Pandemic, Star Trek: Catan, Star Trek: Deck Building, and the X-Files.  They are all really fun games.


I don't play music, but I love to listen.  My taste in music is quite interesting for people my age; I love '80s and '90s alternative, mostly.  Some of my favorite bands include New Order, Depeche Mode, the Smiths, the Cure, REM, Talking Heads, and OMD.  There are also quite a few bands that only like a couple songs by.  Some such songs include I'll Melt with You(Modern English), the Funeral(Band of Horses), Iris(Goo Goo Dolls), Somebody that I Used to Know, some songs by Counting Crows and U2, and other similar songs. 

That's about it. If you any questions about me, please feel free to ask them.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Just Do It!

 No-Stirrup November continues, and I feel I have been improving a little bit each time I ride. I will likely continue no-stirrup work through December as well, because I hope that it can help me gain a more solid, independent seat, and to post without balancing on my hands or swinging my lower leg.  It's interesting how much more evident these problems become when I ride without stirrups.

I lunged Lucky just before I rode her last, and she was splendid!  She went the best I have ever seen her gone.  Interestingly enough, she worked much better to the right, which in the past has been her weaker side.  Normally, she leans excessively on her inside shoulder went going to the right, and consequently, I have to use a lot of inside leg(or point a dressage whip at her shoulder in this case).  This time, however, she did not lean nearly as much, and most importantly, actually began seeking the sweet spot(roundness/stretching) on her own, after I set her up correctly(Laura worked with her before I lunged).  She was able to stay round for several circles without me having to constantly correct her by squeezing on the line.  It was spectacular.  Unfortunately, she did not do as well to the left, which is usually her best side, but these things happen as horses are trained

After having ridden with no stirrups for several times, I am able to more easily lift myself out of the saddle when posting.  However, watching my video from my first no-stirrup ride has made it clear that I have been balancing on my hands while doing this.  Because of this, the foci of my ride was not using my hands to lift myself out of the saddle.  Instead, I should use my core strength.  To help me do this, I ditched my hands entirely, putting them on my hips or stretching them out to the side instead.  By doing this, I had no choice but to use my core.  However, this aggravated another problem at first: my lower legs swung back instead on staying I place.  Again, this is a problem that I am pretty sure I have had before; it just has been made more evident now that I am riding without stirrups.

During the next trot set, I tried my hardest to keep my legs steady.  This time, I succeeded.  Afterward, I spent a few moments trying to memorizing exactly how that felt, so I could repeat it. Solid is really the only way I can think of to explain it.  It made glancing while posting much easier, and I felt much more steady.

Next, I held my arms out to me side, like an airplane, as I trotted quite a few circles around the round pen, posting in short intervals.   I could feel the burning in my inner thighs as I did this, but wanted to push myself just enough that increased my strength and endurance, but not enough to overdo it and get fatigued. Before long, though, I could even feel my arm strength begin to flag, and was relieved to to them on my hips and walk for a bit.  I worked like this for a it, sitting and rising the trot, and walking in intervals.  When I was done, I tried a two-point at the halt, because that is what Laura plans for me to work on next: two-point without stirrups.  It may be difficult, but it will be infinitely useful.  It will not only increase my strength and balance, but will also prepare me for accidents that can happen when riding a jump course.  I cannot count the number of times I've seen pictures of jumpers losing or breaking stirrups(or even bridles–yikes) while on a course. At any rate, it will be a great thing to learn.

To finish, I took a trail ride around the property to cool out.

Friday, November 6, 2015

No-Stirrup November!

I've been riding for two years now, and decided to start the third off by participating in No-Stirrup November for the first time.  Although I have ridden stirrup-less at the walk a couple times, and bareback at the trot, this will be my first time riding without stirrups for extended periods of time.  Riding western trail has really improved my ability to use my legs for steering; I am much less reliant on my hands than I have been in the past, and I know that I can ride on a loose rein without using it for turning now.   Now it is time to solidify my seat.  I will do that through riding without stirrups.  I am starting slow,  but I'm hoping to work up to riding longer and to riding the canter.


 Since Lucky has been on a mini-hiatus these past couple months and the whether has finally turned cold, and I lunged her before both rides.  It's part of my routine anyways, and besides allowing to let Lucky buck her crazies out, it gives me the opportunity to work her and prepare her for being ridden. When I lunged, I worked on flexing her head to the inside, bending her body, keeping her in an even rhythm, and making her become round.  With Lucky, getting roundness and bend often takes many repetitive light squeezes because she often looks to the outside.  I tried to catch her before she looked to the outside.  The lungeing on the second day was more successful than the first.  Laura lunged Lucky for a bit before me, showing me how to keep Lucky's head bent to the inside by squeezing the line just before Lucky looked to the outside.  She also showed me how to keep Lucky's body bent and how to prevent her from leaning, which she did by pointing the whip at Lucky's girth, using it as an inside leg.  Ideally, a horse she be flexed to inside, bend along their ribcage, and round, what Laura calls "the sweet spot."  She always waits until this moment before making any transition. After a while she handed the line over to me.  Under her guidance, I worked on the same things at the walk, trot, and canter.

No-Stirrup November

The improved seat, increased strength, and yes suffering(no pain, no gain, right?) of No-Stirrup November begins for me.  The first day, I only rode for twenty minutes or so.  Laura lunged me so I could focus on my position as I rode, although I did work on spiraling the circle in and out, so I did control Lucky in some respects.  

The stirrups come off for the month! No turning back now. ;)
The walk was not too taxing, though I could still feel my thigh muscles working.  It was the trot that was the real killer.  Although I was riding without stirrups, Laura wanted me to rise at the trot rather than sit, which proved quite strenuous to say the least.  My lower leg swing and I could barely rise out of the saddle.  What Laura was discovered is that I have been bracing against the stirrups and using them to rise out of the saddle, rather than supporting myself with my calves and only moving my knee and thigh to post.  My legs are also often far behind me, but that is something I've known for a while. More no-stirrup work should fix both of those things! My thighs were like jello afterward; it is strenuous work.

Click here for video.  I'll have a comparison video next month.
I would say that I did better the second day.  Again, I was lunged and focused on getting my position correct: my legs at the girth, my elbows at a 90 degree angle, my upper body straight, and my inside shoulder bent slightly back.  I was successful at the walk.  However, it was more difficult at the trot.  During the trot, I sat for a circle before posting, and posted in short burst of a few strides at a time. When I did this, I felt I bit more solid, but my hands, which held the reins with no contact, were not as still as they should be.  Still, I worked on it and did quite of bit of trotting, but only for several times around the round pen at time, as I did not want to get fatigued.  

Afterward, I rode around the ranch on my own for several minutes, trying my best to not use my hands to turn Lucky.  I was able to turn Lucky in the trail and on twenty meter circles with just my legs!  

The no-stirrup work will continue throughout November, and maybe even through December.  I'm hoping that I can try cantering without stirrups by the end of the month; I'm sure the work will greatly improve my canter.  That's the goal anyways!  It will be tough, but it will be worth it! Is any one else doing No-Stirrup November?