Sunday, July 31, 2011

More riding needed

It seemed to me that I'd been riding more and feeling more confident, and therefore riding better. And maybe I actually am, but maybe it doesn't show so much to other people, yet. I heard via the grapevine that I still slide off to one side in the saddle and that it seems like I rode better when we first got to the barn -- nearly 6 years ago, now.


I'd say most of it is fear and the struggles I have now trying to relax in the saddle after all my spills. Telling myself to relax is apparently not quite enough. Sometimes, I actually manage it, though, and the difference is amazing. Especially when I remember to breathe!

The shift forward in the saddle (recommended by Ike) has also really seemed to help. I have so much further to go but that little bit gave me a better place to start from, so the rest of my body can start to fall into place. As long as my shoulders stay back (always an argument) my arms feel comfortable in that nice bent-elbow place, not like I'm too far back and trying to compensate by leaning my upper body forward and do who-knows-what with my arms.

So it was a little disheartening to hear that feedback, even though I'm sure it was well-intentioned. I may try riding Lena this week to see how much of a difference that makes and--if it is a positive switch--try to channel it when I ride Bar.

The bottom line is I need to ride more. Period. I will never teach my body what it needs to know, what it needs to do, unless we do it.

I am riding a little more than I had been, though not as much as we both need. Even if it's just tacking on a few more minutes here and there, the more I ride, the more I start to relax. The more I relax, the more peace and balance I find. The peace and balance lead to more enjoyment, which leads to riding more. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Bar has proven himself to be a worthy partner and has gone back to taking care of me after the last bit of we-don't-really-know-what-it-was. So. I just have to bring myself to trust him a little more--every day, every ride.

And breathe. Just breathe.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Braving the outdoor arena--to play

As my closest associates know, the outdoor arena and I have been at odds for some time now.

It's big. It's open. It's a little scary (though it turns out more scary for me than for Calabar), and the ground is really, really hard. (It's where I broke my arm in 2010.)

But I really wanted to play today. In particular, I wanted to try what Linda and Steve (and Rain and Lena) did up at Slide--practicing cutting with each other--only with Bar and Lena this time.

I had to breathe first, and that took awhile.

I warmed him up in the indoor arena first, then saddled and worked him a tiny bit more on the ground inside. Then I got on him--still inside--loped around the round pen, lost my left stirrup, stayed calm and in the saddle and decided we were ready to go outside. Well. He was ready all along. I had to buck up and join him in the readiness.

My heart was pounding as I led him out to the outdoor arena, so I sang to him. To both of us. In this case, it was "Angel from Montgomery" by Bonnie Raitt/John Prine. The line, "Just give me one thing/I can hold onto/To believe in this living/Is just a hard way to go" has resonated since Remy died and reminds me that life is what you choose to make of it, so make it good.

Today was good. We didn't get up over a walk with our mirroring, but he listened. When we wandered around the arena, he responded beautifully (and promptly) to light leg pressure and side-passed whichever way I asked. He walked through narrowly spaced barrels and chased down Lena when I asked him to. He never once acted up or challenged me, though he did ask for clarification a couple times.

I think this means I need to trust him just a tiny bit more. That's what he says anyway.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Real cow horses

Lena is cow-y. She reminded us of this when we were up at Slide. She is not afraid and can handle moving cows around as needed. She even likes chasing them.

But we got to see a real cow horse--Truly a Hot Pepper--give the cows (and her rider) a run for the money.

This here is a National Champion Cutting horse, and damned if she didn't prove it. She made all the youngsters look like, well, youngsters. She made Tiffany laugh the whole time. She made the ex-racehorse stand perfectly still and watch.

In other words, she was awesome--everything a real cow horse should be.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back home

Steve and I are relaxing in the living room and Calabar and Lena were last seen munching grain in a most contented manner. Calabar did have to do a corner-to-corner inspection of his pen ("Is this my poop?") and a good hearty roll, but all indications are that the normal accommodations are acceptable.

This trip was incredible. Not only because it gave me a much-needed mental break from work, but because it really showed me my horse. Cheri said the difference the work we have done together is obvious, which made the weekend complete. The best part was watching him absorbing the action--totally transfixed, very curious, but not really afraid. Okay, the really best part was watching him drop his pretty Thoroughbred head, pin his ears, and give cows the stink eye--just like a real (and really tall) cow horse.

One of the other this-will-hopefully-stick-in-my-memory-forever was watching Lena and Bar move in tandem in the big arena. I caught just a snippet on video, but they are so lovely together. Like four-legged figure skaters, matched in movement, balance and cadence. She does, however, stop better than he does. (The video may not work, but I'll try and if not, try again later.)

Such a great trip, such a needed break for all four of us.

And tomorrow, it's back to the grind. I guess I'm ready, though the temptation to run off and be a cowgirl is awfully strong.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lazy last day

After yesterday's excitement, all four of us were moving a little slow today, so we all relaxed. Ike, Cheri, Dave and Linda were back down at the other property, so the ranch was quiet and we were lazy, lazy humans and horses. Calabar and Lena ate breakfast and promptly headed to the back of their paddocks for naps. Contrary to all the other days we've been here, they were not hanging out at their gates looking for the day's next activity.

Steve and I did rouse ourselves finally, after noticing some movement in the paddocks outside. We thought it was only fair to give them some down time after all we did yesterday, but when the pacing started, we knew we needed to get them out for a little work.

So we saddled and headed down to the covered arena--which has had some major engineering after this year's record snowfall--and did some very slow, very simple work. Walking, trotting, side passing into the corners, and the laziest loping I think I've ever seen either one of them do.(Why, yes, I did ask my horse for a lope--and he gave it to me. Grudgingly, but he gave it to me.)

And then came the best part as far as they were concerned. Rolling. Rolling a lot. The paddocks are on a slope and so rolling is a bit challenging, though Bar has managed. But the ground is a little hard, too, so the arena dirt was like heaven for both of them. I know Bar is a roller. It is his favorite thing next to carrots and a huge part of the reason he puts up with me--I always let him roll. Always. Lena must be, too, though I don't handle her enough to know how much she does or doesn't roll. Today it was a lot. Both sides, several times. Bar, too.

After we rode, we unsaddled and it took all of about 4 seconds for both of them to drop down and start the chiropractic process. I could almost here their spines realign. Not to mention the ecstatic groaning and full body shaking. No, there was no camera again, sorry.

Steve just did the same thing with his back using a step-down, and I'll probably do a little more yoga here in just a minute. I'm finding my body is not quite as supple as it once was. Drat.

However, despite the aches and pains, I'm actually not sure I wouldn't run away from work and become a ranch hand up here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cow horses

Can't I go in there?

We had an awesome day today. Lena got to help with real cows and Calabar got to show people even crazy ex-racehorses can stare down a cow or two. Or seven. Maybe more, I lost count.

Getting the two of them in the trailer this morning was a bit of a challenge, but we prevailed. ("Why are we leaving? We like it here??")

Then we rolled down the road about an hour to the other property in Jamestown to see if Lena remembered cows and if Calabar could deal with cows. (Racetracks, after all, don't have a lot of cows wandering around.)

I was only a tiny bit nervous. I mean, what could go wrong besides everything?

It turns out my horse is a budding cow horse in racehorse clothing. Who knew? Oh, right. He did.

The first thing they got to do is run loose in the huge, round custom arena Ike had built specifically for cow work. The outer arena (all welded pipe) is 150 feet across, with the cattle pens attached to the back side. The cattle pens then open directly into the inner arena, which is 80 x 100 feet, and can be closed off to work cattle inside.

It's awesome. The footing is deep sand and the big sprinkler was going around overhead like a big, soggy, automatic lunge whip. Lena and Bar took off together racing each other and the sprinkler. They were beautiful and graceful, breathtaking to watch. Did I have my camera? No. I did go back down to the truck to get it, but by then they were mostly done blowing off steam and rolling, except for one full speed dash by the ex-racehorse that I was too slow to catch. Besides, I think that would be akin to stealing his spirit and the photo would never have done it justice in any case. Or so I tell myself, anyway.

Then Ike had us take them up to where they could see the cows from the other side of the fence. Bar blew a little, but didn't spook or move away, so the next step was to take them in with the cows--all still with Steve and I on the ground leading our respective equines. Lena went right in, of course, and headed right to the middle of the herd without batting an eye. Bar walked in with me fine, and the cows obligingly moved away from the big, brown horse. He and I stopped and watched Lena, then Ike had Steve and Lena push a couple cows towards us to see what Bar would do. Stood like a rock, did he, and so he and I walked forward driving the cows back to the herd.

We took them back down to the trailer and saddled up, then went back up to the nifty arena, working alongside Cheri, Tiffany, and Linda (another Slide devotee) as they warmed up the other horses.

The other new thing for Bar (besides the bovine component) was being around this many new horses all at once and not being on the racetrack. Surely the various spotted horses gave him some comfort, and I was able to keep him mellow and trotting even when other horses came loping up behind him. We only had a couple minor arguments about it--particularly when Lena would lope on around him--but I wanted him to listen to me instead of going along with the crowd and he did.

Ike on Tango

Then it was time to work cows. Calabar, Lena, Steve, and me were initially relegated to the outside of the inner arena and I took a few pictures before nervous glances from Cheri and Steve made me put away the camera so I could be sure to hold on if anything happened. Safety before journalism, I guess.

The very first time a cow came close to us on the other side of the fence, Calabar proved I didn't have to worry. He arched his neck, dropped his head, and stared that cow right in the eye. He blew a little too, just for emphasis. The cow chose to go the other direction.

Lena just wanted to get into the action, and got to the next set of cows.

Cowboy Steve and Lena on the other side of the fence

While Steve held the right corner and Cheri held the left, Calabar and I worked the railing from our side. He never once stepped away, he never once spooked. Every time a cow came close, that big neck arched, that head dropped, and the cow went the other way. The ear pinning came next. I think he was watching the cutting horses and saw he was missing that part. He even banged himself on the fence once going for a cow.

At one point, while I was still in the saddle, he started to twitch and shiver. I got worried he wasn't feeling well and immediately got off to check him. He was fine and the general consensus was he'd built up a lot of nervous energy from so much new stuff and it had to go somewhere. I'm awfully glad it didn't go into bucking or spooking, but I opted to stay on the ground as his cow back-up after that. (Besides, then I could take pictures.)

Calabar after the energy release with me on the ground at the end of his lead rope

After the trained horses had worked, Lena and Rain got their chance. Rain is owned by long-time Slide friends Dave and Linda. Linda and Steve started out cutting each other, which involved what would have been impressive horse ballet if it were planned as well as much laughter. Calabar was dozing a little at this point, since there were no scary cows to worry about.

Cow horse ballet by Lena and Rain

Then Lena and Steve got to work a real cow all by themselves. As long a day as it had been for us so far, Lena and Steve did a great job and learned a lot about working together mentally as well as physically.

Lena Rey the fierce. "Run, cow, run!"

What an amazing day. Lena had so much fun and Calabar proved with a cow-horse worthy glint in his eye that ex-racehorses can do more than just run fast.

So proud of Lena. So proud of Bar. So proud of Steve and me, too.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Photos and an update from Slide

Calabar blocking Lena from the carrot delivery person

This may not be my most coherent blog post ever, so I apologize in advance for rambling or any nonsensical phrasing. Well, more nonsensical than normal. I am barely awake and Steve is "deep breathing" on the sofa across from me, but here is an update of our trip so far.

"I cannot reach the carrots from here, so come closer."

It is beyond wonderful to be here. The horses are happy, the weather is fantastic (low-80s!), and I have fairly successfully ignored work for an entire day so far. This is a very good thing.

Calabar was far less excitable than the last time were here and we accomplished a nice working trot. Well, maybe not a technical working trot, but a trot that worked for both of us. I moved my seat much more forward and lo and behold, my balance improved. I'm not sure how this will play out with the work I'm doing with Peter, but my legs ended up in the right position, didn't swing forward, and Calabar was much happier with my position overall. Perhaps because it was familiar to him, perhaps because I wasn't bouncing around and swinging my legs to and fro.

We worked on side-passing at the walk and trot and, after I asked him in the same spot too many times, Bar proceeded to anticipate my request. After that, he just moved to the left whenever we got to that spot. So then I had to move him over in other places, but he still insisted that this one place was "the" side pass area. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the gate being in the same vicinity. Surely not.

Lena and Steve also worked on side passing and balance, and both came out of the lesson happier and more comfortable. Steve used the cutting saddle for the first time in a long time and remembered how much he liked it.

The new saddle pads are working very well for both horses, both for the arena work and for trail rides. We took a brief trail ride up behind the property and with the new pads and new balance, downhill went much better for Calabar than it ever has. Of course, good footing helped, too.

Slide Mountain Ranch is truly one of my favorite places on earth and the horses seem to agree. Both are calm, but curious, eating, drinking, eliminating nicely and dozing quietly. One tiny glitch, though. We had them out in the same pen, but it appears my brown horse is a little too dominant. When Steve went out to feed this morning, Lena wouldn't come down to the front, so he separated them. We'll try again if other horses show up, or after they've had a few good days of work.

Calabar also discovered a new favorite activity--splashing in his water trough. Not sure if he was investigating the gold fish or just cooling off, but I don't think I've ever seen him with his leg in his water before. New pastime? I hope not!

"There's fish in here! I sees them!"

And here he is after I caught him. Luckily, he didn't do any damage to the tank, the pump, or himself. Dork.

"What? I'm hot."

Tomorrow, we are going down to work cows. Lena should be fine, but I told Calabar I don't expect him to turn into a ranch horse overnight just because Seabiscuit did. I'll just be glad if I can get some good pictures of real cow horses and introduce the ex-racehorse to real cows without any major mishaps.

More later, when I can keep my blasted eyes open!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Off to Slide for a break

Katie and Remy, on one of our last walks to the River

After the last few days, our much-anticipated trip to Slide Mountain Ranch is even more welcome.

It's just Steve and me, Lena and Calabar. After Remy died (I really hate saying that), I asked Katie if she wanted to come with us, but she decided to stay home.

I've tied up as much as I can at work. We have hay and grain in the truck. Steve has loaded the trailer, including the new saddle pads that arrived just in time today. The snacks and books are sitting at the top of the stairs and the load of horse clothes is fluffing in the drier.

My eyes are still puffy from two days of crying. My morning yoga routine has been disrupted, partly because downward dog is lacking the ever-helpful face licks it used to have. Not to mention missing the face licks fills up the downward facing nose with tears and snot. Most distracting, as well as making deep breathing a challenge.

But we're headed out in the morning to one of my favorite places in the world and maybe I can start missing the little dog less--at least for a couple days.

Maybe, but no promises.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Life is short, sometimes too short

This morning was a long time ago, our house is quieter and emptier than it was just yesterday, and there is suddenly a smallish-sized, dog-shaped hole in our family.

Remy the wonder-dog--Katie's 4-month old mutt--was a happy, bouncy pup just yesterday morning. He tore around the house, chased a ball up and down the stairs, tormented the cats, nosed around the backyard, ate, drank, did his duties outside and never once hinted at the malaise inside him.

By the time he showed symptoms last evening, the vet told us it was likely already too late to have done any good. This morning, despite the valiant efforts of the team of vets and techs at Pet Care in Santa Rosa, Remy went to that place all good dogs go when their time with us is done.

I wish we had more say in that because two months was not nearly enough time with the pup who managed to weasel his way into my "no dogs allowed" heart.

He somehow got into poison--probably rat poison--though it seems unlikely it was around here since all our neighbors have dogs and/or cats. The vet said it could even have been up to two weeks ago, so there is really no way to know where it came from for sure. He bled out into his chest and abdomen, possibly even into his brain and spinal chord, causing fluid build-up around his heart. His heart stopped twice and he was revived twice, but the third time they couldn't get him back.

I keep thinking I hear the tag on his collar, and sometimes I do because Katie is carrying it around. Katie's boyfriend's dog not only spent a half hour looking for Remy, when he found the new pile of dirt in the backyard, he started to dig there. Thankfully, we had placed lots of rocks on top to prevent Dax (or other, wilder creatures) from doing just that.

My heart hurts, more than I thought it would, and not just for Katie. I miss that floppy-eared little dog and his fine spirit, good manners and funny little voice.

For as short a time as he bounced through our lives, Remington has left a mighty large hole in this family.

Rest in Peace, my little Booza-Dog. I miss you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Calabar putting up with post-lesson silliness

Jessica Boyd
Spotty Horse News

Our lesson today came with some illumination for the rider. Peter was looking at my legs today, and noticed that at the walk, both legs were in the proper position. It is the trot-- and as always, going to the left is worse--where things start to really go astray.

BUT! Today we had an epiphany of sorts. First, I tried to drop my left heel down further and Peter told me my left foot wasn't the issue, my right foot was. Then, as we trotted around and I worked on my posting, I realized (gasp!) 90% of my weight was in my left foot, leaving the right foot to flounce about out of position.

One of those Aha! moments in riding, actually.

And afterwards, Calabar allowed a bit of silliness from his owner. Of course, for some reason, there was some dancing (okay, spinning) on the way past the outdoor arena. So we went up and down the hill a few times just to be sure the scary imaginary beast was conquered. The second trip did it, but I did it one more time to be sure. Yep. Beast conquered. Short owner victorious.

We'll count today a win, thank you very much.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Nostalgia strikes

I had a nostalgic moment earlier today--actually, a sad moment if you want the truth.

My golf (yes, I did say golf) instructor--after finding out I really am that crazy horse person in the group--wanted to know good places to take her nephew and daughter to ride and/or learn to ride.

Well. My favorite place is Slide Mountain, of course, and (as I've often said) we wouldn't be where we are today without our early adventures at the best horse ranch in Gold Country.

Unfortunately, they don't offer lessons or trail rides on their horses anymore, so I have to come up with some local ideas for Helena (the aforementioned golf instructor). Stop laughing! Golf is good for me! It teaches me focus and control--both of which Bar agrees I need. It all eventually comes back to horses, after all.

At any rate.

I am looking for a riding instructor in Sonoma County, reasonable rates, well rounded, no specific discipline. I'll give her Peter's name, of course, as well as Annika at Wine Country Sporthorse for Dressage.

For trail riding, I'll recommend the Point Reyes outfit, as well as Jonathan Ayers in Armstrong Woods.

Any other Sonoma County recommendations are welcome, folks! Thanks!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th and goodnight

Jessica Boyd
Spotty Horse News

Lesson while melting

My big brown muse--musing

Bar and I did have our lesson yesterday, despite the fact that both of us needed much hydration after it was over.

Peter kept us at a walk and a trot within the round pen again, working on my center--just like I wanted to do. I felt better, more relaxed, more centered. Hot and sweaty, but more centered and less collapsed on my left side. Woo for progress!

We worked a lot on posting because apparently when I start to post, I fling my legs forward. Well, fling is a strong word, but they edge forward with every stride until we are completely out of position. And by we I mean me. Then I apparently use the reins to pull myself forward. And my "crazy" OTTB tolerates all of this! Yes, he's used to having people hang on his mouth, but that doesn't mean he has to like it. Or put up with it while I bounce around up there.

And yet he does.

Granted it was hot. But he went past his six-furlong-length attention span without any fuss, though he did try to go to the middle a few times. Still not sure that wasn't me misdirecting, though.

All in all, it was a low energy lesson, but a good one nonetheless. I will try to work on my posting and seat this week (maybe posting without stirrups would help?) so next week we can perhaps venture out of the round pen. Bar has the bend right at this point, he's just waiting for me to catch up with the rest of it all.

Back to why I do this

Found this lovely post about the "Heart" of a horse on Horse Junkies United and it made me smile. Zulu sounds like a certain OTTB I know, and--now that you mention it--a Paint Horse, too.

This is what makes me stick with Calabar. I know if I can just figure out how to ask him, or rather how to ask him so he knows what I'm asking, he'll do anything for me. That means I have a certain responsibility, of course, not to ask him to do something that is too hard on him or that over-reaches what he's ready for.

Trust. That's what it all comes down to, really. And he does trust me--even when he's not sure why on earth we're doing something.

He trusts me enough to let me hang on his mouth while I figure out this whole posting thing and not object too much. (Peter did point out that he is used to that from the track, but still.)

He trusts me enough to chase a moving fake cow on a string even though he's never done that before, and don't I know racehorses don't chase cows?

And it's not that he doesn't occasionally insert his own opinion into the conversation, he does. But when he does, there is usually a good reason--even if I don't know what it is. "Figure it out, then let's discuss," he says.

But this is a horse who looks to me first and is always willing to put his head in the halter.

This is a horse that two weeks after a hard fall in the arena, carried me up and over a mountain, through a swarm of yellow jackets, and down a truly difficult trail without a whimper.

I have come back to that one episode in my darkest moments, recalling the way he decided not to panic, dump me, and take off--even when being stung by multiple yellow jackets. The way he picked his way slowly and carefully down 18" drop-offs with his long, Thoroughbred legs--even though he was hurting and exhausted. And the way he nuzzled me when I realized he was too sore to carry me any more and got off to walk beside him.

He has already taught me a lot, and we have a lot more to learn together. He's willing, I'm willing, and we have miles yet to travel with one another. His heart--extra heartbeat and all--is only part of it. My heart plays a small part in this funny journey, too.

Dog training

Remy--back when he was even cuter than he is now

Ever since Katie brought home Remy the wonder-dog, we've all been exposed to various dog training methodologies. Mostly, Remy is in the right place to become a well-trained dog. We are pretty clear with the rules and cuteness is not a hall pass for bad behaviour. (Not that he doesn't totally try to work the cuteness angle, of course.)

As it turns out, horse training is good practice for dog training. The dynamics are a little different--being that dogs are hunters and horses are prey--but the fundamentals are essentially the same. You need to go into it with confidence and consistency, as well as leadership, and anything a dog can do a horse can do bigger.

In our case, it is very important to have Remy well trained because he will be a big dog and has the looks of an aggressive breed. Unfortunately, not all dog owners seem to follow this philosophy, and while the big dogs are, well, bigger, the little dogs seem to get away with worse behaviour. Steve and I had the chance to experience both this morning when we took Remy out on a walk--it's a good thing he's well trained, at least.

We live above the Russian River and even off-season, there are lots of dogs out here. During the summer months, we get lots of "foreigners" added to the mix as well.

On his walks, Remy is allowed to notice other dogs--usually behind fences--but to keep moving along on our way. Depending on the demeanour of the owner/dog combination we encounter outside the fences, there can sometimes be introductions.

Of all the dogs we ran into today, the worst was a Pomeranian who is a local. She made demonic noises and charged poor Remy, who had the good sense to give her wide berth. Her owner said, "Oh, she's the pack leader," as if that made it okay to have this evil presence living at the end of her leash. Personally, I don't care how "cute" your dog is, it needs to have manners. And the reason the little fanged cotton ball is the "pack-leader" is that her owner isn't, so she has to step in and take over. That is never good for the dog's well-being, and that little fluffy devil will hurt someone someday. The only thing that will save her from being put down is that she isn't considered one of the larger, "bully" breeds and so she'll probably get away with it.

I think that's wrong.

Case in point was one of the other dogs we met this morning--a Pit Bull (or mix) out with his two humans and their two smaller dogs. His owner at least had the good sense to wrap him in a bear hug when he charged at us, but again--wrong message for that dog. I have no issues with any of the "bully" breed dogs and in fact think they can make great pets--as long as their owners get the right training to be responsible caretakers for them. This dog got the message that he gets restrained (which is claustrophobic) whenever another dog comes into the picture, so therefore any other dog is a threat. It's either that or he receives physical attention when he acts aggressive, which is also not the right message. However, had that dog been allowed the lee-way and lack of discipline of the Pomeranian, he'd have been locked up or put down.

Whatever training method resonates with you--be it dog, horse, or cat (and good luck with that)--your job as their owner is to keep them safe. Part of keeping them safe is training them to be part of society--other dogs, other humans, cats, horses, whatever their environment is. You keep them safe by teaching them manners, how you expect them to behave, and correcting them when they overstep the boundaries. If you think it's too "mean" to discipline your dog, think of how it will feel to put down a dog you love because you couldn't control it enough to keep it from hurting someone else.

And that's enough heaviness and lecturing for one day, folks. Thanks for reading and--as always--your comments are appreciated.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Goals for today's lesson

Despite the fact that it's hotter than I think is necessary here today (94 degrees is hot for this area), I am going to go for my lesson today. Probably no photos today, though. Steve will either be running errands or hiding at home under the redwoods in an attempt to stay cool.

My main goal today is to relax more. I would also like to see if Peter and I can figure out how to correct the way my body twists--at least the physical aspect--and start to fix it.

But that won't happen if I can't relax a little more, and in fact Cheri (of Slide Mountain fame) said that is the biggest key. If I can do that, everything else will fall into place.

Since I'm more relaxed on the trail, maybe Peter and I should try a lesson there instead!