Canter & Candor

Canter and Candor; an honest account of an amateur equestrian and her life with an OTTB


Adverse Conditions…

…condition better riders.

I said this somewhere in a previous post (I was like, omg, quotable much? but now am too lazy to link) but it definitely applied today. It was chilly, a little windy, on-and-off rain, C was a little sore through his rear, and it was very busy at the barn. Perfect for a dressage lesson, right?

You know how some rides go really smoothly, and then the thing happens. Whatever the thing is, it’s usually something pretty inconspicuous, or if you know your horse well, you’ll look at the Silly Thing and think, “Oh, crap,” because you know what’s going to happen. So after a pretty ‘regular’ warm-up, we were just starting work on trot transitions.

Something N has been really working with me on is staying strong and tall instead of leaning or hovering forward. I am a chronic core-collapser, and we’ve definitely been working on that over fences, but it is equally important in dressage to not be angled like that. I bobbled back and forth between lean-y and semi-correct in the warmup, with N reminding me (very patiently) every couple of minutes. Shoulders back, let him carry me. It’s not hard for him to carry me at the walk. Basically, it was your average ‘this is hard so I’m half-assing it’ moment.

trot pic

close, but not quite… lean lean lean!

Aaaand then a horse being led to turnout starting making a fuss (read: rearing) right next to the arena we were working with, and C lost his goddamn mind.

In some fairness, there were also trailers going by, a horse working in the arena next door, a few cars driving past, and more horses being led to turnout. But that one horse opened the floodgates and off we went, with little rocking-horse rear-and-buck combinations, with N yelling “Forward, forward!” at me while my 4-year-old let out mare squeals.

I’m not going to lie, I was a tiiiny bit terrified. He was pulling out all the stops on this one, I swear, acrobatics he usually does once or twice, but all in a row, sometimes in combination, and some at high speeds. Every time something moved outside the arena he lost his composure again, shooting forward or sucking back; if he reared I pushed him forward (while clinging on for dear life) and sat. Hard.

My butt may as well have been glued to that saddle. I kept my shoulders back, my core strong, and my back straight not necessarily because I wanted to, but because if I didn’t, I was definitely coming off that horse. And I did come close once, having lost both stirrups and I started bobbling to the inside. N was like “Go forward!” because C was thinking about … doing things… again, and I was like “Okay, one sec!” while I scrambled to right myself and find the ultra-light Compositis I’ve been riding in (note to self– splurge on heavier stirrups).

I seriously wish there was video so I could see exactly what happened, because obviously I can only describe what I felt under me– which felt like air 50% of the ride, honestly.

eagle for blog

like dis

Here’s the kicker. Past all the naughty sillies, once I finally got my body into gear and got firmer and started really riding him like a dressage rider, I was able to channel all the energy he was pouring into those stupid airs-above-ground acts and put it towards a canter. If he wanted to use his body that badly, he was going to use it my way. If he wanted up-and-down, it would be in a round canter and not bunny hops. If he wanted to use his rear, it would be tucking it under himself instead of flinging it up. And it worked. By the end of the lesson, I felt so much more confident when the next truck rolled by, because it brought with it even more impulsion to work with.

Tomorrow, I predict a very sore and exhausted C, and honestly, he picked that route– we were planning to do whatever he told us he was capable of. N said if he was capable of flying, hell, let’s take it and run with it. When we finished, she said the end of that lesson was some of the best canter she’d seen out of C, and the first time she’d seen me actually ride like a dressage queen.

My core and arms hurt, my calves ache, and I am tired. N helped me turn what could well have been a very frustrating ride into a lesson that was productive and informative for both me and C. I realized the importance of what she’s been trying to teach me, and he found my boundaries firmly reinforced.


we’re both dweebs. it’s why we work

Guys, this horse makes me a better rider, every single day. Sillies and all!

— M



In Which M Gets a Job!

I know what you’re thinking– two C&C posts in a row?! What’s happening? Is the apocalypse happening right now and M is trying to crack out some posts before the world implodes?

I thought about scheduling this for tomorrow like a good blogger, to be published at ‘prime time’, but I am way, way too excited to hold off.

But before we get to the good stuff… some M riding history!

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2000, 2005, 2010, and 2016

I started my riding career doing summer camps, from 2000-2004, and then proceeded on to regular lessons when I was 11 or 12. Bartles, pictured second, was the spunkiest school pony so of course I had to ride him in my lessons (even better, I know the lady he retired with, and visit from time to time). Danny was the first horse I leased, as you know, and Cori is my first horse. So this picture set is basically a progression from summer camps to lessons to leases to my very own horse, all in all, 16 years of riding (3/4 of my life).

And today, I got hired as an instructor at the very same pony school that I started out at, teaching kids 6 – 10 the very basics of riding.

It’s so funny how things like this have a way of coming back around, and I know that the first 6-year-old Mia pictured never would’ve dreamed she’d be there. But I could not be more thrilled that I might be able to give these kids what the pony school gave to me back then– work ethic, determination, heels down, and a lifelong passion for riding.

Keeping this short and sweet. I am on cloud nine!

— M


Baby Horse Rollercoaster + Free Jumps!

I haven’t been riding/writing as much because my body decided that now is an excellent time to come down with the plague. And to be fair, it sort of is, since my area of California is getting a lovely rainstorm for the next week-ish.

sick dog days

upsides to sick days… Jack!

However, as most of you know, rain is never an excuse not to ride, and being the genius/masochist I am I scheduled a jump lesson for this morning’s rainstorm. Our footing is terrific, so it was outside, and we got soaked– but a few things finally clicked with both C and me, so definitely worth the next day or two of wheezing and red noses.

mom stop

“Stop watching me eat, crazy lady.”

One thing we’ve been working on is getting C to understand placement poles to trot jumps. He likes to throw an extra half-step in there, just for poops and giggles, but today he was really understanding the point of the pole and putting some real effort behind the trot jumps.

I started out a bit poorly, which I will happily blame on my cold even with the knowledge it’s just, you know, me. But anyway, I kept letting my core collapse over the fences. So if I had a less game/honest/confident baby horse, I probably would’ve found myself face-down in that lovely arena footing, more than once. During the lesson N kept saying, strong through your core, and because I’m a chronic leaner/floater in the saddle, she chose the opposite direction. Basically, she told me to let myself get left a little behind.

And because human brains are funny little things, my body sort of met me in the middle, and although we never got a perfect distance… I didn’t lean or get left behind. Sorcery!

washrack cori

wistful Wednesday — where’s my sunshine?


I’ve been trying to cope with some of my huntery feels at missing distances. I think once C figures his legs out more it’ll be easier, but the hunter in me gets so mad every time I chip in short. They aren’t even bad chip-ins, and still I grit my teeth or make “ugh” or “oh jesus” exclamations. And N is like “That wasn’t an oh jesus moment!” and then I just have to deal with a lot of my feels. Look, I even made a rhyme: Short spots are good, short spots are fine, short spots > long spots unless you’re left far behind. And sometimes even then.

Anyway, on one of the days I felt particularly crappy and C had many energies to give because currently, he’s not getting turned out much, I popped a couple of small crossrails on each long side of the indoor and let him get some sillies out. He was a cheater-cheater and chose to go around them most of the time, and other times forgot there was a jump there until it was literally under his feet:

cori free jump fail.gif

it r hard being uncoordinate

But other times…

cori free jump 2

who need xrail when u can jump standerd??!1?/ and hit it wif hind feets?!1

cori free jump 1

majestic liek unicorn

Aside from the shoddy videographer, look at his kneeeees!

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going to pretend the silhouette thing was on purpose

I think under saddle we’ve just not jumped anything big enough to encourage him to pick his feet up that much, but hopefully that’s an idea of what he’ll look like over bigger fences, whenever it is that we get there! Right now for free longing I’m not planning to do anything bigger than crossrails on my own (and because obviously he doesn’t need much encouragement) but maybe one day I can snag N and do it The French Way. I’m curious, what can I say?

And because I promised a feed update, we’re reducing his grain in a few more ways because, well. N called him fat the other day. Possibly one of few scenarios where that’s cause for celebration! Yay, pudge!

pudge controls the weather

definitely haven’t been looking for an excuse to use this gif.

He was starting to get less spooky in the warm weather after nixing the rolled barley, but with the current decline in temperature and near-constant mist or drizzle, well… we’re back to our old ways. That’s okay, though, I can sit whatever he throws at me while it warms up again!

If this were a very lengthy, picture-heavy Facebook status, I’d probably set it to “feeling optimistic” with that big-chinned smiley*.

And I do have a pending exciting announcement re:job hunting, but that’s for next time!

— M

*Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.47.39 PM


Boots (and Bank Accounts)

I may have mentioned in my last post that I spent an alarming amount of money on horsey items recently. I think there was a lull in my spending where I was like, “Oh, crap, I am running low on savings. I should probably stop spending it before I have a solid job lined up.” And then I was like, “Oh, crap, I really don’t have all the things that I need/want one/two/three versions of for my not at all spoiled horse, right?! Another bill won’t hurt!”


Anyway, for some odd reason I’ve convinced myself that having white boots is an excellent idea, and have purchased both white XC and white open front boots for princess C. Of course, the white open fronts need matching white fetlock boots, and they have to be the same heinously expensive brand because I can’t have black-lined white boots because they won’t match the fronts and everyone will know I’m a boot heretic.

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also Riding Warehouse is the best and I love them forever and ever so I didn’t bother finding an image without a watermark.

BUT SERIOUSLY. Look how pretty! And they’ve got the snap-latches. So shiny and white. And they’re breathable and shit. And they’re ALL MINE. The hinds match (price and otherwise).

So now I have a growing collection of boots (doesn’t include polos, eek):

  • Pink splint/brushing boots
  • Pink open fronts w/ fetlock boots
  • Black open fronts w/ fetlock boots
  • White open fronts w/ fetlock boots
  • Black XC boots (Dalmar)
  • White XC boots (Majyk Equipe)

I think I may sell the black XC boots to subsidize the cost of the whites but also they’re pretty and what happens if the white ones get too dirty? Then what?!

Princess looks awesome in the open fronts though, and I’m sure even moreso when his whites are less… yellow.

The other thing I splurged on last week was a FITS Zephyr II mesh show coat, which I snagged for a real deal off Tack of the Day. Since they don’t ship out for a good while, I probably won’t see it for a bit, but I’m stoked to get it! I’ve heard great reviews about these things and they are awfully pretty and lightweight. At $125, it was a huge discount from Dover’s $230 price tag and since I was coat shopping already… well…

My credit card took a hit last week, and I have so few regrets, it’s a little frightening.

I think a fourth bridle might be a good idea?

As a side note, C looks more and more like a real horse every day… N and I think he’s put on 50-70 lbs just in the past month, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how his body condition has changed and improved!

cori March 2

At awkward stages of shedding, but all the same…

Sept 2015

September of last year.

I love progress shots, as you can tell! But it’s so satisfying to see the hard work pay off in muscling and weight in general.

This month I’m hoping to post at least twice a week, since I only got one a week done in February. Jump lesson recap is pending for Saturday!

— M