Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sports Psychology Tips

 I came across this article online today and thought it was really well phrased.   A quick summary:

Friday, September 25, 2020

2020 Stressors, Combating Them with Art

Everyone can agree that 2020 has been a disastrous year.  I recently came across a creepy meme that really spoke to me and I thought I'd create my own variation of it.  These two images are taken of Highboy going over the same jump just milliseconds apart from each other and I placed them side by side.  The expression on my face really says it all.  Getting through 2020 with clenched teeth.

Riding out 2020 feels very much like riding Highboy when he's messing around cross country.  I have to ride Highboy through the nonsense and bad stuff, and if I don't let it get to me then I can have an amazing actual jump.  Similarly, I just need to ride 2020 until it's done with it's nonsense and bad stuff and maybe I'll salvage something decent out of it. 

I came across another poignant cartoon on the internet today.  This is very much how I feel, like I'm being handed all these balls...  

So I keep my figurative hands at my side.  People and situations and politics can attempt to give me all these balls of anxiety, but they get put on the ground at my feet.  I choose not to pick them up.  The way I refuse to carry them is by not watching the news, not tolerating people treating me poorly because they're stressed by their anxiety balls, not taking on responsibility for others' emotions and anxieties.  I'm doing the best I can with the emotional reserves I have.  While I'm not capable of resolving society's issues myself, I can certainly decide not to contribute to them.

Kind of like I can't force Highboy to behave himself, but I can refuse to contribute to his drama by not fighting with him.  I just quietly do things my own way regardless of what's happening under me. 

One of my coping mechanisms is riding my own horses and taking care of things in the barn.  Organizing my tack room gives me peace of mind and a sense of quiet in a very loud world.  Over the past week I've been sick (tested negative for covid), and haven't been able to do my usual things outside because of feeling poorly and the smoke and asthma making it difficult for me to breathe.  So I've returned to my favorite indoor project:  drawing.

I found this photo online that I wanted to draw:


I struggle a little ethically with drawing other people's images, I'd rather draw from a photo I have the rights to instead of one I found online.  I then realized I have an extremely similar photo of Raven and me going over a cross country jump in very similar steeplechase form.

 So I printed it out and began drawing.

 The finished piece 18x24" and looks like this:

Other pieces I've worked on this week are this 8x10 of a front legs and jumping boots:

this 5x7 of a racehorse:

this 8x10 of Sam, my friend Joan's OTTB free jumping:

And this one was done months ago but I don't think I ever posted it online.  This is Bridger, my friend Kate's quarter horse gelding.

These drawings make me so happy. I wanted so badly to be able to draw as a kid, and even into high school and college I took classes trying desperately to draw well.  Despite all the effort, mostly I produced cartoon-ish images so I gave it up.

Years later , after the head injury resulting in brain damage, I decided to try again and discovered I can draw now.  Every time there's a large time gap between drawings I wonder if I can still do it, and it's so utterly satisfying to rediscover that I still can!  

This is Simon the corgi, who belongs to my friends Connie and Mike in Washington State.

This is Orzo, Jasi's little grey barn cat.

This is a commissioned piece I did for a childhood friend in Massachusetts a couple years ago.

This is a commissioned piece I did for the woman who won the silent auction with her bid on a custom drawing at the Black Dog Animal Rescue fundraiser last year.


I am taking orders again this year for drawings as gifts for the holidays.  Pricing starts at $200 for an 8x10, and I can do up to 3'x4'.  Drawings can be picked up in person or mailed to you rolled up safely in a cardboard shipping tube.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Raven at the Sunrise Mini-Trial

The smoke from the wildfires has been terrible at our place this week, but we were fortunately able to go into Fort Collins where the smoke wasn't so bad for the Sunrise Equestrian Mini-Trial on Saturday.  Due to one thing and another, Raven hasn't completed all three phases of a horse trial at one event in a couple years.  She does all three phases quite well in schooling, so I entered her at training level so I could ride first and get home early before the heat and too many people had arrived.  

Raven was definitely amped up for dressage, at a new location where she'd never been before.  I got a couple nice moments in the warmup in between her screams for friends (she didn't want to be the only horse in that field!)

Her test went reasonably well considering the circumstances:  never been to this location, really needs a dental, one of the first horses to go so warming up solo, and there's always the circumstance of her being a very hot horse.  

The judge was very kind, and gave us some really great scores.  Raven got a 7 on her gaits, on her free walk, and her medium walk.  The comments at the end included "Very nice mare.  Tactful rider on extremely hot horse."

When we get shots like these dressage canter ones, I always want to caption them with "Ride and OTTB - get your dressage test done faster!"


Show jumping went really nicely.  Raven was very careful and didn't touch a thing.



After show jumping we headed over to the cross country course.  Raven excelled here, too.  She did look at a few fences, but never stopped.  It's interesting to see photos of 15.3h Raven with these jumps compared to 17h Highboy - he makes them look small but she has some serious spring!



I was so pleased with how Raven went today.  She's such a small athletic sports car of a horse, and she's so responsive to me and all business on course.  Kimberly Hale Photography got these incredible shots, and Sara took the videos.  All Raven needs is some more show mileage (she's already an old hand on trail rides and going schooling) and she'll really be on her way.  The icing on the cake this time was the matching yellow ribbon we took home.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Ferriana and the Walkover Exercise

Recently Ferriana and I did the walkover exercise.  This is the one where I set up two standards and a couple poles in the center of the arena, and I begin by walking over the ground poles once each direction.  I'm basically walking across the arena the short way, with a jump in the middle.  After the horse has gone over it once each direction, I have the jump raised a hole.  With Ferrriana we did this in three inch increments and slowly worked our way up the green jump standards.  Walk over the new height once each direction, then raise it one hole.  The green standards are approximately six feet tall, and we quit when Ferriana was clearing four feet in height out of the walk.  However, she has such thrust with her hind end that she ends up jumping higher with her hind feet than her front feet.  In some of the still photos her hooves are nearly as high as the top of the standards.

Here is the video of the final fence, set at 4' high:


 Here is video of the entire exercise:


It's interesting to watch the whole video and see how she thinks her way through the exercise.  She definitely takes off very close to the base of the jump, which is why she hit her front legs on it several times.  I don't mind this, because in an eventing horse I want them to get to the base of the fence.  Even though she's very athletic and could get over just about anything from a long distance, it's safer to have her take off from the base rather than take off too early and land in a solid fence.  She definitely figured out how to rock back on her haunches and spring up to get over the jump with very little speed.  As the jump got larger I did let her pick up impulsion on the approach, because she needed to have her hind legs "spring loaded" in order to get her body (and mine!) over.

This was a good point in her training to do the walkover exercise.  After the cross country school at Archer where she was a bit over-faced at the hanging log we needed to do something that would boost her confidence and help her feel like a flying superhero again.  During her ride prior to the walkover exercise she was rushing small fences, partly because she was a bit nervous.  The other part of rushing the fences was she thought she needed more speed to clear them.  

The walkover exercise taught Ferriana not only to rock back on her haunches and approach the jump in a very collected frame (which she created, not me), but it also taught her she can jump pretty much anything from a walk.  That gave her confidence and helped her realize she didn't need to rush.

Another interesting bit of information I discovered when analyzing the video in slow motion, she pops her back so significantly when jumping, that occasionally the saddle actually hits me in the butt when we land.  In this photo you can see that I land pretty well in a plumb line, so that if you erased the horse I would still be able to stand with my feet under me.  However, the saddle and her back are really high up under me even when she's landing.

Going back to some of the other photos, you can see the saddle pop up when she really rounds her back.

Raven really cracks her back over jumps, too.  I went back into her file on the computer and discovered some photos where this is happening on her as well.  It's not as obvious in her photos because she rides in a sheepskin saddle pad which takes up some of the space, but if you look closely you can see the cantle lifting up off her back.  It's not as pronounced on Raven so it doesn't cause me as many issues when I ride her, but I definitely am noticing the butt-slap with Ferriana.

My plan is to have the flocking in Ferriana's jump saddle altered slightly  to see if we can change the balance enough that I don't get popped in the buns over the larger jumps.  The saddle fits her nicely otherwise, and she certainly tells me if something is ill fitting with her tack.  It will be interesting to see what Ferriana thinks of the change and if we can get the saddle to quit popping me in the butt.