Baby Kicks

I think I just saw the foal move in Valeria’s belly.

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Holiday Weekend

Rain, wind, and illness kept me from getting any rides in over the holiday weekend or going to a lesson but that will hopefully change this next weekend!

So, bundled up under blankets I spent the weekend watching Korean dramas and The Hateful Eight. My cats kept me company and provided their mini furnace services. While I demolished a few boxes of tissues.

My sister and I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. As expected, it was fantastic.

I did bundle up to feed the horses and make sure they were brushed free of all mud each evening. They were all perfectly well behaved, probably because they knew I was sick. I love them for being so considerate.

Overall it was a pretty quiet and nice holiday weekend. The festivities will ramp up this weekend with Hanukkah ending and New Year’s Eve. Hope everyone else has enjoyed their holiday so far.

Rainy Day Riding…

…yay or nay?

Now that the rainy season (if Southern California even has such a thing outside of El Niño) is here I plan on doing a lot less riding. Rain rolled in yesterday afternoon and is predicted to hang around until Saturday with hopes for a white Christmas.

It’s not even raining & they’re all being barn trolls.

I’ve noticed that everyone east of the Rockies seems to ride in the rain (and snow!!) and isn’t too concerned about riding the day after a storm. So I’m wondering how I can get more riding time in when the weather is crummy since we don’t really have covered arenas.

I wouldn’t ride in that but I’m also a pansy.

Obviously you have to factor in terrain. We have mostly clay down here and we flood a lot because of really shitty drainage. Mudslides and flash floods are common. Plus, my horses seem to lack any coordination if wet clay is involved. If they can’t even manage themselves, I have concerns about how they will manage with me on board. 

This barn boasts 3 arenas & a seasonal lake.

Okay but seriously, this is all of SoCal right now.

 
Additionally, I have born and bred SoCal horses. They are basically the stupid turkeys of the equine world when it comes to rain. They cannot handle water falling from the sky.  Not during bath time when they can shy away from it and certianly not when it’s coming down from every direction.

I almost drew a saddle & bridle on this turkey.

So, any tips about riding in non-ideal weather? Am I totally babying my horses and making a mountain out of a mole hill? Do I just need rain gear? 

Wind & Rain & Lesson

Sunday’s lesson felt like a bust. Usually I ride Saturdays but downpours on Thursday and Friday made the arena too wet. It was really windy out (Santa Ana winds are such a buzz kill) and I was and currently am sick with whatever bug is going around. I hadn’t ridden in over a week so I decided to tough it out anyway. Probably a mistake since I had to miss work yesterday and feel like death warmed over today.

Hail Mary spent a lot of the ride thinking about spooking and actually spooking. Luckily I’m used to spooks because of Ben so it wasn’t hard to ride but it totally killed my practice dressage tests. Not that I don’t kill them all on my own already. My geometry is kind of sad going right.

I managed to sit my canter again this lesson. Woo! I lost it a few times but when I was diligent about not squeezing my knees and sitting down it was pretty nice. We worked on my transitions (specifically walk>trot>walk) but with all the wind getting a consistent speed was difficult. Horses just love to get full of themselves when it’s windy.

When spooking happened too many times we started work on on lateral work. Turning on the forehand to half pass to backing up and making it all smooth (because Mary likes to be lazy and slowly methodical about it all). It was a great brain exercise and for once I’m not sore all over from posting or going stirrup less for an hour. Haha.

Ugh. Seriously, why am I at work? I’m like patient zero right now. I’m the zombie apocalypse waiting to happen. Deadlines > illness.

What’s In A Blog Name?

I haven’t read a ton of horse blogs but I’ve definitely found a few that I enjoy reading every time a new post goes up (like this one, this one, this one, and this one). Usually a blog name will grab my attention or I’ll find the post that explains why a blog has the name it does. It’s always really interesting to me.

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When I decided to make my own blog I spent a couple days thinking about what I would call it. Spanish Walk made a lot of sense to me. Both sides of my family are Castilian Spanish but neither of my parents were born in Spain. My dad is American and my mom is Israeli. I spent a lot of my summers in Israel when I was growing up because it was really cheap to fly across Asia while living in Japan.

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The sacred white horse at Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto. Believed to be the origin of horseback riding customs in Japan.

Growing up in Japan during my younger years I learned to appreciate other cultures and some of their culture rubbed off on me. I catch myself wanting to bow when I meet superiors (this gets awkward sometimes). I use head nods a lot. I don’t have issues with communal bathing. I think it’s weird to pee if there isn’t some kind of ambient noise to drown out the sound. I pay extra for the Japanese channel because hearing it is extremely soothing.

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My mom’s family, also Jewish, is very warm and loud. They’re always yelling even though they aren’t arguing. It’s something my dad has a hard time with because he’s totally Americanized. We learned to be ‘outgoing’ from my mom’s side when we visited Israel because if you didn’t yell you wouldn’t be heard. It’s a key method to success when you’re in a house with 75 people and need something.

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Wooden bridge obstacle in working equitation.

Open door policies were learned from my mom’s family too. No one knocks and everyone helps themselves. My friends (once we moved back to the States) learned very quickly that they were always welcomed but always had to serve themselves. We treated people like family and our house was always full.

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Garrocha exhibition.

In recent years I’ve tried to relearn Hebrew, Spanish, and Japanese because I used to be fluent but I’ve learned that my brain is just a complicated mess and I almost always confuse and eventually swap languages when I try to speak them. It’s disappointing because my mom can speak five languages fluently and I’m like: I have issues with English and it’s my native language. 😐

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Skewering a ring with a pole obstacle in working equitation. Originates from garrocha.

So I’m a weird mishmash of cultures. I’m proud of all of them because they make me who I am. BUT when it comes to riding my identity is 100% Spanish. I was trained classically with an emphasis in working equitation and a smattering of other Spanish styles.

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Spanish Walk has two meanings for this blog. One is the high stepping walk that baroque horses, like Aria and Valeria, are famous for and the other is my journey, my walk through life.

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This sums up my life.

I’d ask if anyone has a special meaning to their blog name but I don’t think more than a handful of people look at my blog and I kind of already know a few. 🙂

Almost Winter Blues

The closer to December 21st we get the more frustrated I feel about my riding habits. I live almost an hour away from my workplace. I’m up around 4:30am to make it to work by 6:00am and I get out of work at 3:00pm which gets me home sometime after 4:00pm. That leaves no time to ride since it’s dark before 5:00pm. It’s a serious downfall to having horses on your own property and not having arena lights (or a proper arena for that matter!). Especially since I have to use the remaining daylight to clean stalls and feed/water everyone.

I do have a 6 stall breeze way with lights but since I’m unable to ride Monday through Friday I feel bad shoving my horses into a 12’x24’ stall, so I prefer to keep them in the 24’x24’ outdoor stalls or if someone is feeling generous while I’m at work they might get turned out in our over glorified ‘arena’ that’s probably 72’x100’. Great for classical work, not so much for general riding or working with hot/green/fresh horses.

I’ve seen Ben’s muscle condition go from excellent this summer to sadly pathetic this winter. Which is a crime because he is a pretty sexy beast when he’s in fine form. My saddle doesn’t even fit him anymore and switching out pads and padding hasn’t done much to improve the fit. It stresses me out even though he doesn’t seem to care because I feel terrible after each ride when my pad combo for the ride still leaves uneven sweat marks. I’ve considered just doing line work or lunging him from now on until the days are longer in February. But he’s an older guy at 21 and I have concerns about joint health working in a circle all the time. At least my land hippo Valeria doesn’t also need working. Her only job right now is incubating a baby hippo foal.

I used to work from home which allowed me to do whatever I wanted with my horses during the day as long as I put in 8 hours of work. Now I’m thinking about moving closer to work and boarding my horses except that would require a job that makes a bit more than I currently do. So maybe that’s my 5 year plan. Until then I’m going to have to figure out a way to create some lighting. Is it too country bumpkin (I live in the ‘country’ area of San Diego) to use car headlights? Haha…

If Saddles Were Wishes…

I was feeling a little under the weather last week so I didn’t do much horsey stuff and I didn’t have a lesson over the weekend because of scheduling conflicts so I don’t have much to write about. Unless you want to listen to me regale you with cleaning corrals and scheduling vet appointments for vaccines.

However, my birthday rolled on by and a few people asked me what I wanted . Since none of my friends are rich, and I would never ask for or accept a gift as expensive as a saddle from any of them, I did a bunch of ‘window’ shopping over the past week (I ended up with a new pair of winter riding boots courtesy of my parents!). The following are a few saddles that I wouldn’t mind sitting in my tack room.

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The standard marjoman Spanish saddle. This one is suede which is a total deal breaker but this exact saddle comes in 12 different colors and your choice of smooth leather or suede.

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An Iberian dressage saddle. I would actually pick black on black instead of black with brown accents or go totally brown but I like how discreet the stirrup fasteners (the loop on the back of the saddle) are. Side note: the stirrup fasteners are for doing ground or stirrup-less work so that they don’t bang the horse’s sides when working them. All the saddles in this post have them!

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A potrera saddle. I really love the color of this saddle. I also like how the stirrup leathers attach like an English saddle for easier adjustments. Not a feature I’m used to seeing on Spanish/Portuguese saddles that have the built in seat flare.

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A marjoman relvas saddle. This one makes my heart go pitter patter. I really covet this style saddle, in this exactly leather combo, and hope to own one eventually.

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This two-tone Portuguese relvas saddle is beautiful and so simple. I’d like to pretend I’d keep that white leather clean.

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An alta escuela saddle. The work horse of Spanish saddles. I’d only need one but I’d want it customized to my butt.

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A Portuguese Riaño saddle. This is definitely one of my ‘if I won the lotto’ saddles. I may never own one but I adore these. The blue looks pretty hot but I have a grey mare that would look like a million bucks if the blue velvet was actually burgundy. This is really similar to a Portuguese bullfighting saddle which is what I rode in with my old trainer.

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And then of course the final saddle is literally a reproduction of the Prince of Persia potrera saddle. Because why not?

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I mean, come on, that shit is hot. If I had the money, I’d get that custom fit for Aria right now. Your choice of green, royal blue, navy, or black with English tan or black leather accents.

All this saddle shopping just leads to stirrup shopping. Which is a whole other post in the making.

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Princess Diaries II

Aria is an Andalusian. That means she’s suppose to be magnificent in all her dreamy baroque glory. Unfortunately for the princess, while she has many qualities I love, being a photogenic vision isn’t one of them.

Being a lanky 3 year old isn’t helping either.

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I don’t recall buying a dairy cow. Those hip bones.

At least her lankiness shows off all her angles…The above picture was back in July just before she went into training. Much different than the picture below when I first got her September 2015.

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Look at how great I am at making my head and neck look huge.

Bonus, she prefers to stand squared. This should make my dressage life easy.

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I wear it this way so my ears can breathe.

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And now I will make my neck disappear! Cheese.

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Long face is long.

This horse doesn’t have a good camera angle. lol.

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I’m busy pretending to be a puddle. Saw the cat doing it. You can clean corrals later.

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Uncertainty and displeasure bring out her helicopter ears. Fwoop fwoop fwoop fwoop fwoop.

She’s so majestical.

I’ll try to get some current pictures to compare her last 4 months of growth. She’s filling out just a bit now that she’s 4.

“It’s Like Sitting In A Chair”…Right.

I found my canter seat. Sweet fat baby Jesus, I found my canter seat. It really was my knees that were the culprit. I swear, the worst thing I ever did was stop going to the gym. I have no self-awareness of my body anymore…

Relaxing my knees was all it took and suddenly I was cantering around the arena without much issue. It wasn’t super pretty or perfect but at least I wasn’t getting thrown around in the saddle. I rode Hail Mary, again. Decided to forego gloves, which was a good and bad thing. I was able to control my reins better (adding my pinkie on the snaffle helped a lot too) but on the flip side they really dug into my hands. Note to self: take off ring when riding. Guess I had a bit of a death grip trying to get a collected canter out of a really fresh horse. Haha…omg. Seriously. I’m the worst re-rider ever.

How did I lose everything!? I was working on my transitions and in an effort to get a perfect downward transition from the canter to a working trot I literally forgot to steer the horse. Working on lateral movements, the hindquarters were trailing, so I applied outside rein but then also increased inside leg for some reason?? So our angle wasn’t changing at all. I couldn’t remember to change my diagonals so I was posting around like a beginner. I was such a hot mess. My brain was not working.

 

I felt bad for P. I try not to be That Rider. You know, the one that doesn’t take instruction well and just can’t get their act together when it requires doing more than one thing at a time. At one point she told me “Not bad…Not great either. Haha…” That pretty much summed up the whole lesson. A less that mediocre performance from me.

 

But you know what? Doesn’t even matter because I sat my canter.