Monday, March 10, 2014

First riding lesson in over 2 months

Finally I had my first riding lesson. The lesson was half flat, half jumping. To my surprise, the jumping was sorta? fun. I rode a gigantic horse named Pedro who had the sweetest facial expression. I suppose I should have taken a picture, but I don't think of these things. The riding went well, I wasn't as rusty as I thought I would be. The adjusting to a new instructor always takes some getting used to. But in principal, every instructor tells you the same, but describes it very different. Once you get what they mean and can translate it to what you already know, it all flows easy.

The instructor today was very nice, I liked her way of teaching. She was patient with me, noticed I was a little insecure about the jumping and thus made sure the jumps weren't too challenging. We were supposed to be with 3 riders (including me) but one girl didn't show up. Pretty much a private lesson I'd say!

We started out just riding around warming up, just like I'm used to. Only less focused on the figures. Direction and figures are up to the rider, but I think - not sure about this - that the pace is determined by the instructor. She made sure I was riding like a frog, perching on top of my saddle. I felt ridiculous, but I suppose that's normal in the jumping world.

Right off the bat I did a double jump. Not having successfully done a double jump yet, I was a little nervous. You had to stop (halt) at the end of the jumps to make sure you have the horse under control. The arena looked like this:
blue = water (it had been raining) brown is other jumps we didn't use
So the first one was a horizontal jump of maybe up to my knees and the second one a cross. The first time I went over it I was a little wobbly but it went well. I went 3 times total. After that a third jump was added.
And it wasn't even that difficult. Apparently the key to jumping is the horse. You need to have a horse that wants to jump and is build for it. Then all you have to do it stay out of it's way! That makes jumping a whole lot more fun in my opinion. There is a lot to work on though. My balance could be better, I don't put enough pressure on my stirrups and as a result my heels are not low enough. And once I start jumping higher I need to crouch down lower.

A very successful day. I still have a big preference for dressage though. The jumping is fun, but I rather work on the horse. Have the focus on it's body and what's happening underneath me. Hopefully the dressage lessons will start soon, they are working on it!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Updates with a little more detail


A lot has been going on lately. I got married, Michael's best friend died and my volunteer work finally got rolling. Obviously some things have more of an impact on my life than others, but I feel that I shouldn't neglect writing about the other sides of my life.

First of all, I don't like to wear rings for long periods of time. I'm not a ring person. Unfortunately, when you get married, you are supposed to wear that ring forever. The fact that it scares away harassing males is the best thing about the ring, but it being on my finger is the worst. It gives me calluses when I shovel, it makes loud noises when I put my hand on things and when Michael is holding my hand and squeezes it, it hurts like hell.

My last name is still Planken. I planned to have it as Planken-Reeves. But when Michael said he wouldn't (hypothetically) be willing to take my name and understand if I didn't want to change mine, I decided to keep my own. Marriage is not something I put a lot of value in, and frankly, I find it a little archaic that women still change their name. It is annoying that everyone assumes I'm now Doni Reeves though. Do I correct them, or just let them think it and hope they don't feel deceived if they find out I'm still Planken?

For Michael marriage seems to make a big difference. His whole attitude slightly changed toward more serious and husbandly. Not a bad change, but a surprising one for sure. We'll see if it stays. I have my doubts.

I have volunteered 3 times this week (and 2 times in the other weeks) at the horse farm. My training is now complete and I can start reaping the benefits. The owner actually didn't need more volunteers at the barn I was trained, but she has 3 "barns" total and her breeding/quality horse facility needed one. She said Wednesday morning and Friday evening were open. I am hesitant to sacrifice a Friday evening, I told her Wednesday was not a problem but Friday I would have to discuss at home. She ended up switching a girl from the Riding Barn to the Breeding Barn (she wanted that anyway) and I'll take her shift on Tuesday from 3 to 7. Sounds perfect to me together with the Wed. morning one in the Breeding Barn. Furthermore, I now get 2 free riding lessons a week. There are 4 options throughout the week, she signed me up for all of them so I can see which ones suits me best.

4 lessons next week, I'm going to feel so violated.

The Breeding Barn has different tasks than the Riding Barn. For one, you work alone (that's a plus for me). Second, you feed them, bring the horses who were on the pastures at night in the stalls, and those who were in the stalls at night out to the pastures (but the horses do all have their own stall, they don't share). Then you clean out the stables of the horses who are now in the pastures and refill them. Put some hay in the stalls and then put all the mucked out manure in a sort cart that you drive with a mini/4 quad car and spread out over the terrain.

It doesn't sound much, but we were with 3 people and it took 2.5h! I can imagine I will take 4-5 hours the first time I will do it by myself. But on the bright side, when you are done you are done. The Riding Barn needs you to stay from x to x time, for children need supervision, so this is a big difference.




Concerning the demise of Michael's best friend; it has been in the news. However, the story doesn't quite add up and everyone is trying to figure out what really happened. I ask you to remain sceptical and draw your own conclusions. Please accept that his friend was a highly intelligent and rational person who always has been very empathetic towards others. Do not blindly believe what the media/government tells you and keep your eyes open. I doubt the full truth will ever be known about what really happened that day. But I know this story has too many holes to bring anyone closure.

And that doesn't make it any easier.

Initial article: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20140303/ARTICLES/140309941?tc=cr
Update: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20140306/ARTICLES/140309747

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dark grey

Yes, I got married Friday. Unfortunately, that is the last thing on the minds of me, Michael and his friends and family. Yesterday Michael's best friend died. Enough to say this is a tough and trying time. I'm just glad I can be there for him.

So although I wanted to write an update about the happy things in my life, that will have to wait. Someone died who was only 28 years old. Who had his whole life ahead of him. A mother lost a son, 2 brothers lost their brother and Michael lost his best friend who he grew up with. The injustice of it is not something anyone can put into words.

I don't like to write about things that I don't really have a right to, so I will not say anything further about this subject. Just enough to let everyone know that we are going through a difficult time right now.
Michael and his best friend