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Thread: Muscle Loss and Age

  1. #291
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Thank you :)

  2. #292
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    I found out on Friday that the stable I go to is going to be disbanded. Nadine, the owner, euphemistically told me that they were going to be moving. But I started to put two and two together and realized that the outfit is pretty much dissolving altogether.

    It's sad in an immediately obvious sense, because a place that I love is going to disappear, and the community along with it. But it's also sad in a couple of other ways.

    This stable has been around for 60 years. The woman who founded the stable, Ellie, lived on the farm all of her life. Ellie founded the stable in order to provide kids with an affordable way to ride horses. She was still answering the phone and scheduling lessons when I first started riding there, back in 2005. But she slowly stepped away from the business over the next 7 years. Ellie died in 2012, at the age of 88. Coincidentally, that was the year I stopped riding.

    To my great delight, Nadine purchased the outfit, including horses and equipment, and leased the property from Ellie's family. Nadine is about 26 now, but I remember back when she was 11 and had just started riding. She was a tiny little girl who loved horses but was afraid of them at the same time. I remember Nadine crying when Corky, the oldest, gentlest horse in the whole place, took a few steps in the canter while they were trotting. Our instructor, Sarah, lectured Nadine for letting Corky get the best of her. A lot of lessons consisted of Sarah lecturing Nadine.

    Over the years, Nadine evolved into an expert horsewoman without an ounce of fear. When she took over the outfit, she retired Corky and gave him his own big stall. Corky just died this past February, at 40 years old. I heard tears in Nadine's voice when she told me. She was very matter-of-fact about the dissolution if the outfit, but the thought of poor Corky broke her up.

    Nadine explained that the landlords weren't keeping up the property and it was becoming impossible to run the business. She said they were going to take most of their lesson horses to a new place and that Sarah would get a job teaching there. They were trying to find homes for the remaining lesson horses. Some were going to be retired. Some would be going to private homes.

    My initial impression was that the outfit would remain intact. But I was wrong.

    When I was at my lesson on Sunday, I found out more details about the 'move.' Basically, they sold most of their lesson horses to the other stable. And the fate of some of the horses was in limbo--Sarah and Nadine wanted the new place to take them, but the new place viewed these particular horses as liabilities due to their more spirited nature.

    After speaking with Sarah, it became clear that there was no place for Nadine in the new arrangement. So, I asked Nadine what she planned to do. She reminded me that for the past two years she'd been having seizures and could no longer drive. So, her options are severely limited. She is looking for work however, and has even had offers from other stables. But it's hard not to worry about her.

    My lesson on Sunday was atrocious. I couldn't get the horse (Van) to obey and Sarah ended up having someone else get on the horse and school him. I hate that, not being the best at something. But there's really no place for vanity in a sport like this. I have to get over it.

    Part of my problem was that a group of people showed up and began to film us riding. Sarah had just gotten done telling me that the new stable didn't want Van, and I was afraid these people were there to watch him and report back about his behavior. I wouldn't put it past Sarah to put me on him and expect me to ride him perfectly for a bunch of surprise judges. Her motto is "ride the place you're in." No mercy.

    So, I kind of had my own little mini panic attack going on, an imaginary situation in which I let Sarah down and more importantly let poor Van down. This poor attitude and my residual lack of practice and confidence inevitably lead to Van falling apart.

    It turned out the group of people was the family of one of the other riders in my class! Thank god, because otherwise poor Van could be on his way to the glue factory :((((((

    No.

    I hope none of the horses have that horrible fate. I hope they all get happy homes. The life of an animal can be so unfair.

  3. #293
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    I am so sorry about this situation!! I hope things work out better than you expect. Nadine has so many challenges and struggles!

  4. #294
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    I am so sorry about this situation!! I hope things work out better than you expect. Nadine has so many challenges and struggles!
    Thanks. I hope so, too.

    It really is a bummer. So many opportunities lost, now. They kept urging me to go out on the hunter paces with them. I had my choice of their horses to use, because they know me and trust me. I kept deferring because I wanted to practice more. I didn't realize that something like this would happen. Where am I going to find people to offer me their horses to ride now? LOL.

    Damnit!

    The person I may be most concerned for is my instructor. She's a pain in the ass and I worry that she will make things unnecessarily difficult for herself at the new place. I think she's a phenomenal teacher, but she is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. I hope she doesn't rock the boat too much at the new place, and rock herself right out of a job.

    The new place is 1h 20m away from me on a good day. I doubt I will be able to go very much. They do a group lesson-package thing there, where you have 11 weeks to use 10 lessons. I would probably go down there once or twice a month max, so I would lose money on that package. I'd have to do a private lesson.

    A private lesson would mean that I'd get stuck riding Merlot, this giant half-draft/half quarter horse mare that Nadine owns. I used to exercise Merlot twice a week when Nadine was away at college. It was a sweet deal, except that I hate Merlot.

    I hate to hate Merlot because I loved her when she was a baby and I love her owners. But she grew up to be a stubborn b*tch and she bucks like crazy and tailbone bruises take a LONG time to heal and they are very uncomfortable.

    Actually, I rode Merlot a couple of weeks ago, and I felt like we might be able to work out our differences. But the thought of riding her after that long drive is not appealing at all.

    This past week, I rode Eli. What a great horse. The very opposite of stubborn. He's another one that I know from years ago. A big, powerful standardbred. He came to us off the track and we basically had to teach him to canter again.

    I should explain about that.

    Horses have four natural gaits (five if you include backing up). They are: the walk, the trot (or jog), the canter (or lope), and the gallop. Standardbreds are harness racers. Harness racers use an artificial gait called a "pace." It's an ok gait, but I'm really not sure what the use of it is besides harness racing. I can't imagine getting over any kind of jump that way.

    So, being a harness racer, Eli was accustomed to pacing and reverted to pacing anytime we urged him past a trot. But we worked on him and got him to canter instead. He became my favorite horse, hands-down.

    I didn't have a chance to ride him since I started going back, and I didn't want to ask because I kind of like to be surprised with what I get. A lady named Tonya had been riding him all winter, bouncing around like crazy on his back. She had trouble rating his speed. Also, he looked sway-backed most of the time. I couldn't figure out what happened to him.

    But I think it was just the way that Tonya rode him. She is not a bad rider at all. I think I just know Eli better than she does. After about 20 minutes of getting used to him and the way he moved, he was a dream to ride. You just have to brace yourself against his strength. He is very strong. But that strength will work for you. He will work for you. He's such a dear.

    Fortunately, Eli will be going to a private home where he will be treated very well. I will miss the hell out of him, though.

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  6. #295
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    "The person I may be most concerned for is my instructor. She's a pain in the ass and I worry that she will make things unnecessarily difficult for herself at the new place. I think she's a phenomenal teacher, but she is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. I hope she doesn't rock the boat too much at the new place, and rock herself right out of a job."

    Do you think she would be open at all to constructive insights/input from you? I know so little about horseback riding (my husband had a serious girlfriend who was a serious rider and he tagged along to the distant stables regularly but didn't ride -he was exposed though to a lot of knowledge/information!).

    Are there resources where you can find another place? Meetup group type gatherings where you share info on where to ride?

  7. #296
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    Do you think she would be open at all to constructive insights/input from you?
    Ha! No, that will never happen. She's pretty set in her ways.

    Originally Posted by Batya33
    Are there resources where you can find another place? Meetup group type gatherings where you share info on where to ride?
    There are definitely other places around. And with these new interwebs, it is easier than ever to find them!

    A couple months ago, I learned from a client that there was a stable just a mile or two down the road from his business. I was surprised, because it was a pretty urban area. But cities do find ways to keep horses.

    On Monday, I looked up the place online and it seemed impressive, with a well-structured curriculum that I felt I could benefit from. I figured I'd try to get in at Level 2, which is where they start to introduce jumping. Level 1 was basically riding fundamentals (which I have in spades), and Level 3 is advanced jumping, which I don't feel ready for.

    Even though I am able to jump and did jump for years, I feel that I am lacking some important fundamental knowledge. For example, there is a way of counting strides between jumps that I never learned--I always wing it when I'm going between jumps, and I hate that. So, I thought joining an intermediate class would help to round out my knowledge in this area and in other areas as well.

    I called the place on Monday and kind of got the run-around from the lady on the other end of the phone. But then we talked briefly about jumping and I told her how I wanted to learn to count the strides. That seemed to change her tune a bit and she told me to call her the following morning and ask for her by name (Alice).

    I followed through yesterday, but couldn't get a hold of Alice. However, I managed to schedule an evaluation lesson for yesterday evening.

    When I got there, it seemed Alice was expecting me. She came out of her office as I was talking to the receptionist and said, "Based on what we talked about yesterday, and how you do at the evaluation today, I think we are going to put you in Patricia's class." I'm afraid I looked at her blankly because the name was meaningless to me. But I nodded in agreement anyway.

    I went to my evaluation lesson. The evaluation instructor (Cathy) was excellent. She had eagle eyes. She could pinpoint exactly what my hands were doing wrong when I was halfway around the ring. The horse was also good. Not a beginner horse, but not a jerk. He was peppy too, which is a plus. Makes things not boring.

    When the lesson was over, I returned to the main office. Alice asked, "How did it go?" and I said, "It was great." She asked what what did we do in the evaluation and I said, "Walk/trot/canter." The receptionist looked surprised at this, and it also seemed to cement Alice's decision that I be in Patricia's class.

    Alice and the receptionist then looked over their lesson schedule to find a good time for me to come in. I heard them repeating the word "specialty," and I remembered that I wanted to be in Level 2. So, I pointed to a flier that had information about the levels and said, "So, I see there is this level structure...."

    But Alice said, "We're going to put you in a specialty lesson. It's more of what you want to be doing."

    I said, "What will we be doing?"

    She said, "Walk, trot, canter, jumping courses."

    I was like, "Are you sure I should be doing that?"

    Alice said, "Don't worry. She's great." The receptionist nodded enthusiastically behind her.

    I made a worried face. "But I haven't really jumped in so long."

    Alice said, "She'll probably have you back jumping in one lesson."

    And when I continued to look worried, they They both said, almost in unison, "Don't be scared! It'll be great!"

    So, I'm going with it. What the hell.

  8. #297
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    I'm glad you found this place!

  9. #298
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jibralta
    And when I continued to look worried, they They both said, almost in unison, "Don't be scared! It'll be great!"

    So, I'm going with it. What the hell.
    Yeah, so that class was DEFINITELY WAY over my head. But I think the teacher (Patricia) is really good. Now I have to decide if I want to pay all that money to stick with her, or go with a cheaper instructor to build strength and muscle memory.

    When I left last night, I thought I should definitely go with the cheaper instructor.

    But after a day of thinking about it, I'm leaning more towards Patricia.

    It's funny, she's a lot like my current instructor: zero nonsense entertained. She doesn't care if you live or die. She doesn't want to hear anything you have to say. She just wants you to listen and obey.

    I like that in a teacher.

    In some ways, Patricia's instruction was consistent with my instructor's. But sometimes Patricia had me do the exact opposite of what my instructor has me do.

    For example: My instructor tells me to keep my toes turned in. Patricia tells me to turn them out.

    My instructor says my knees should be making contact with the knee pad. Patricia says my knees are turned in too much and that my calves should be making the contact, not my knees.

    My instructor says I should have my elbows locked to my rib cage. Patricia says I should keep them forward, so that my hands are in front of the martingale.

    Half of me wants to take another lesson just to see if I can get it all right!

    Another thing that is interesting is that Patricia rides the rich people's horses before the rich people get on them. I know this because my two classmates were said rich people. To each of them in turn, Patricia said something like: "Oh, I rode <your horse's name> already today, so he'll go well for you."

    My instructor makes fun of people like this (the rich people, not Patricia (we have no shi-shi foo-foo rich at our barn)). She said to me one day, "You should see the very high-end stables with the $100K horses: the trainer schools the horse each time before the imbecile gets on. That way, they just have to sit there while the horse does everything."

    She said that word, "imbecile." Obviously, she doesn't have a lot of respect for that sort of thing!

    I do see where she's coming from: Learning to manage a difficult horse does makes you a better rider. And it makes you tougher, and more resilient in general.

    On the other hand, there's something to be said for a well-trained horse! It's such a pleasure, really.

    So, I don't know what's right. And I wouldn't say that either of my two classmates from last night were bad riders or imbeciles just because Patricia schooled their horses before they got on.

    What I think is interesting (to get back to the point) is that Patricia is still actively riding and training horses. My instructor is not and has not been for many years. This was her side-job. It is Patricia's full-time job. I find that very appealing.

    Man, I didn't mean to write so much about this!

  10. #299
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Last night, I had my second lesson with Patty.

    There were three other people in my class this time. Two were in my class last time. I rode out to the ring with the third, a young girl in her late teens/early 20s. She made some pleasant chit chat with me, and eventually asked me how old I was.

    I found myself sort of reeling at the question, like I was pulling in yards and yards of years to count. When I said, "42," it almost felt like a weight. It was such an odd, surreal moment.

    To my great delight, the girl was flabbergasted and said, "What?! Are you kidding? I thought you were going to say something like nineteen!"

    Needless to say, I feel pretty awesome right now. I don't know how good her eyesight actually is, but I'm not going to worry about that

    The lesson was really good. Patty had me ride one of her horses. Since she knew the horse, she was able to gauge how much I knew and didn't know in terms of riding. She also asked me if I used to do eventing, which I found awesomely flattering even though she was really just trying to pinpoint why my two-point was so fcked up.

    After the lesson, she explained why it was useful to learn on a well-trained horse, like the one I rode yesterday. You as the rider learn from them as much as they learn from you. I really do see the wisdom in it.

  11. #300
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    Sounds like a great lesson and experience!


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