riding lessons

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riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:03 pm

I started riding lessons again this morning, with a new trainer, Jason. He came highly recommended by a friend of mine. When she was about to give up hope that one of her horses was ever going to accept a saddle and rider, he saved the day. I had booked Fanny in for training next spring, and since Jason also gives riding lessons, I thought it would be good to take lessons from him as well.

I was very pleased with his riding philosophy. He says that we should use our voice, seat and legs to ask a horse to do something before we use our hands (reins). The horse I rode today is a champion barrel racer, and this morning she had a lot of "go", but was so nice and sensitive to subtle cues. She had a hackamore on (sorry, I don't know the difference between the different styles to know exactly what kind she had on), so I'm thinking that Jason will be open to using Fanny's bitless bridle in the spring.

We (another adult woman student and I) were discussing how easy it was for Jason to put the saddle on the horses, and how heavy Western saddles are, and I mentioned that I use a light treeless saddle. Jason asked what kind it was and then went on to say that he is a (or THE) Canadian rep for Bob Marshall treeless saddles. So...since he was open to treeless saddles, I asked him if it'd be okay if I brought my treeless saddle in for lessons, so that I can get used to riding in it. He said that'd be great!! Woo Hoo!!

When I was taking "riding" lessons from my Parelli coach, we didn't get past being led by someone else at a walk (mind you, we were riding bareback) in the three months that I'd been there. This morning we were trotting around the arena and learning how to post! This is just what I need - lots of practice in the saddle. He still teaches us things, but it's while we're on the horse. I must say, all the head knowledge I learned from my Parelli coach came in handy, so I don't at all regret going to her, but I am a "hands on" kind of person and love the type of lessons I'm doing now.

Jason just came back from a barrel racing competition of some sort, in Italy. He was one of two riders chosen to represent Canada.

In addition to the great first day of lessons I had, the icing on the cake is that Jason STRONGLY resembles Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) What a Face LOL
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Re: riding lessons

Post by mazrush on Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:56 pm

Hi Cyndi. Great that you have found the riding lessons you enjoy. Hope you aren't sore. Can you practise with Fanny between lessons? Has she recovered from her laminitis? Hope so
Maz
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Re: riding lessons

Post by FlorayG on Sun Nov 23, 2008 9:32 am

Hey Cyndi that sounds like a MUCH better teacher then the last one! Get him introduced to this forum. He also sounds like he won't get mad at you you if you disagree with something he tells you - let's hope so!
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:18 pm

Maz, I am quite sore!!! pale LOL It'll be interesting to see whether or not I'm sore after next week's lesson, because I've never been sore after using my treeless saddle. Mind you, I've never done any trotting in my treeless saddle, so...


Fanny has recovered nicely from her laminitis. According to the vet, I would've been able to ride her a couple of weeks after her diagnosis, but I haven't been on her at all. I don't have a safe place to ride her right now (the riding area has posts up, but the dirt hasn't yet been filled in around them, so the fence itself isn't up yet...plus the long grass is now covered with snow and I don't know how even the ground is underneath - one time when I was hand grazing Fanny out there she stepped in a bit of a hole), and since I haven't ridden her since July, I don't feel comfortable getting on her anyway. I am content to do what I can on the ground and wait until she goes for training before I attempt any more rides (unless my confidence grows by leaps and bounds before then, from taking riding lessons).

Floray, yes, this guy is a MUCH better teacher than the lady I had one lesson with a couple of months ago!!! He is the exact opposite of her. He tells us that as soon as the horse does what we ask, we are to immediately release the reins, pressure, whatever. Whereas that lady I went to stressed to me how I should pull back harder and harder when the horse starts to back up!!! Hmm...which one would I prefer?

I don't suppose Jason would get mad if I disagreed with him, but so far there is absolutely nothing I disagree with. Well, there is one thing that has nothing to do with lessons - he has shoes on his horses Rolling Eyes I'm guessing that a barrel horse can compete quite well without shoes, but I'm no expert so I don't know if I'll get into it with him. Hopefully Fanny will be a good ambassador of the treeless, bitless, shoeless movement cheers
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Sydney on Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:46 pm

Wow what a change in instructors. I am very glad you found another person.
The weight of a western saddle does not matter as much as the weight of an English saddle does. An average 16 seat western places 1/2 pound per square inch and an average 17 English places 1 1/2 pounds per square inch.

Any horse can compete without shoes. However if the feet wear faster than they grow shoes or boots are necessary.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by FlorayG on Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:28 pm

Cyndi why are you going to waste money sending Fanny 'for training'? She already knows how to walk, trot, canter, turn, stop what else do you want her to learn?
You know what I'm trying to say - YOU need training, and maybe this guy can HELP you with learning how to communicate what you want to Fanny. If she goes for any lesson without you being right there, then that lesson will be a total waste of money. All you need now is the confidence to get on with it - I hope you have explained this to your new trainer and he understands - this time next year you will be doing the silly things I do out on a ride (like getting my horse stuck under a fallen tree... Rolling Eyes )
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Sydney on Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:58 pm

A horse can know walk, trot and canter and need more training. Things like spooking, bucking, breaks and gas are something worth training for too. Though when I train a horse for someone regardless of their experience I try and include them. I think you could really benefit from some riding/training lessons on fanny. After all it's far more productive to train the handler than the horse. If the owner doesn't know how and what the trainer did with the horse when it was in training, the horse will go back to being it's regular old (sometimes nasty) self. I've seen it done so many times that is why I teach lessons.
For instance my pony can be the biggest pain to catch in the paddock. He would gallop around just out of arms reach. I taught him how to come to me and he does so every single time. The lady that line drives him just ends up chasing him around the paddock and gets frustrated. She asked me one day "why does he do everything for you and not for me" and so I gave her a few lessons on what I do and now she has absolutely no problem with him because she was taught the right signals and pony responds because thats what I trained him to respond to.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:11 pm

That's interesting about the ppsi of the saddles. My biggest problem with a Western saddle is just lifting it up on a horse's back. I don't think my lower back could take it. I put the Western saddle on the horse when I had my one and only riding lesson with that lady, and ended up having to go to the chiropractor a few days later because I threw my back out.

I am thrilled with being able to take riding lessons all winter, and I certainly hope that I am able to do some lessons on Fanny in the spring. Yes, she does know how to walk and trot, but I'm not sure about cantering. I've never cantered on her (an experienced friend cantered her), and could barely get her to trot. She seems off balance, so I'm hoping that Jason can help her in that area. Fanny needs more confidence too, and I'm just not experienced enough to know how to help her properly, because I don't really know what I'm doing. Once I see Jason making progress with her, I'll know better what to do. He has seen all types of horses and will know what methods work best for her.

Fanny is still rather spooky at times, but even if she's loose in her field, she won't run far if something startles her. She'll run a few steps and then stop. At the old barn she was the first to walk over to investigate something, while the other horses just looked on and watched her.

I want to make sure she has some 'go' and yet will also 'whoa'. A trainer will be better at teaching her that, as well as teaching her leg cues and so on. When I work with her on the ground there are times that she still won't listen to me (doesn't respect me? doesn't trust me?), so I need to take these riding lessons to build up my confidence both in the saddle and on the ground. I plan to attend as many of Fanny's training sessions as I can. She'll be in training five days a week, which will be great. I don't know how much he does in each session, but I'll find out.

Fanny's been rather sheltered for the past six years, living with the same herd, so being out in new surroundings with new horses and new people might be a good thing. Actually, in a perfect world, I'd bring Fanny home for the summers and keep her at the trainers for the winter, so that I would have an indoor arena to use, plus he could use her for lessons and she'd get some mileage on her. The trainer is almost an hour away though, so I don't know how well that'd work. I'd like to do it for one summer/winter.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by bohohorse on Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:36 pm

He sounds great Very Happy and cute too! Wink what a bonus!

Makes ALL the difference having a good instructor - you can teach yourself so much but it really does help to have a decent pair of eyes on the ground...

I'm so lucky at the moment, got a great place to go for schoolmaster lunge lessons, plus a good instructor at home to school me on Z - and another niceteacher who takes gridwork sessions at a nearly yard Very Happy
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Re: riding lessons

Post by FlorayG on Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:10 pm

Charlotte have you seen a pic of this 'hunk' then?
Cyndi you seem to have landed on your feet at last, thank god, you were having a rough time at the other place!
You and Fanny have such a close relationship I bet I could put a better interpretation on ' she still won't listen to me'
here's the conversation;
Cyndi "I'm really not quite sure what I'm wanting here..."
Fanny " Well, you think about it, when you're sure I'll be over here doing my own thing, you let me know and we'll do it" Wink
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:38 pm

Floray, you hit the nail on the head!!! You must be watching us. lol!
That is probably my biggest challenge - knowing how to ask her to do things. It's much like my husband and I taking our ballroom dance lessons. If he's not clear on leading me into different steps, I am lost. Thankfully, he remembers the moves better than I do, so it's not very often that I don't know what he wants me to do. I have to do my part too, though, by maintaining a strong frame and paying attention to him. So I need to be focused on what I want to do with Fanny, so that she can be my responsive dance partner Very Happy

I need guidance with the day-to-day stuff that arises, such as what happened today. I wanted to take Fanny out for a walk along a field (the place where she gets nervous and trots in circles around me), and we just got started when something caught her eye. There was a man in the ravine that is beyond a paddock, walking around looking for dead trees to cut down, or something like that. Fanny got all nervous and wanted to run back to the barn area, but I stood my ground and waited for her to calm down before we headed back, and then I asked her to stop whenever she'd try to pick up the pace and walk ahead of me. My Parelli instructor once said that if your horse freaks out, you are to immitate it and freak out more...but I never quite understood that. I lean towards trying to be a calm leader and showing my horse that I'm not afraid of the scary thing. My issue with what happened today is that some trainers might say to let go of the rope and let her run back to the barn (you can't win a physical struggle with a horse). Some trainers would say to stand your ground and give the lead rope a good tug to get the horse's attention. Still others might say to give the horse it's space and move along with it, not letting the lead rope get tight at all. Those are the things that confuse me. I need a trainer to come out and see the things I'm dealing with, and give me advice...but then I could have three trainers come out and they might give me three different answers!!! Sigh. I'd still like to use the hands off approach that Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling uses.

One cool story about today. I took Fanny out to the field I've been hand grazing her in (I've been taking her there every time I go see her, as a way to end our time on a positive note), and started jogging. She began to trot along (she was still on the lead rope). I kept my eyes ahead of me, and when I stopped, I tucked my bum under me and 'squatted' a bit and she immediately slid to a stop beside me! She didn't take a few extra steps, she absolutely put the brakes on and slid to a stop. It was awesome.

By the way, Charlotte hasn't seen my riding instructor, but he looks like Matt Damon, the actor who plays Jason Bourne in the "Bourne Identity" and "Bourne Ultimatum" movies, as well as others Cool
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Sydney on Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:23 pm

ooh good one on the instructor lol!

My Parelli instructor once said that if your horse freaks out, you are to immitate it and freak out more
This does, believe it or not, work on a lot of horses. Some it doesn't. For instance my pony is flighty. If you freak, he freaks. If you are calm, he is calm. What it does is take their attention off the scary thing and put it on you. If you are truely dominant/intimidating/using assertive body language it would be like the head mare of a herd coming up to a young horse and saying MOVE IT NOW! with really aggressive body language. Of course the young horse would take it's attention off the scary object and pay attention to the possibly hostile head mare.
It works well on Indigo. I did it the other day when there was a hunter walking in the field she was convinced was going to eat her. I started making her move out of my space with a lot of enthusiasm and moving her hips left and right and making her back up real quick. Every time she would look back to see where the man had walked I would do it again until both eyes were on me.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by bohohorse on Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:45 am

Charlotte have you seen a pic of this 'hunk' then?

Cyndi, that's an idea - you are more than welcome to post a pic (without freaking the poor guy out of course Shocked Laughing )
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Re: riding lessons

Post by FlorayG on Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:06 pm

Yeah Cyndi post a pic.
I got good advice from Leslie Desmond about the stuff you are having a problem with: first, be sure what you want. It doesn't matter if you don't know how to get it, because you can get your horses trust and attention - for instance, you want your horse to lift up both legs on one side (yes, I know, impossible). You fix the thing you want in your mind and do something to ask the horse to do it. You KNOW what you want, and you know this signal is clear. So the horse lifts one front leg and takes a step back. Whooppeee! you say - that was fantastic! So the horse is happy, she understood you (she believes), and tries even harder to understand you next time. And also, you have learned how to ask her to lift a front leg and step back. Success on both sides. Does that make sense?
As regards the spooking and circling you, the Kitten used to do this. Leslie again - do something the horse doesn't expect. trot round her in a circle as well, snorting - but in your case, it's a game, a laugh, she will pick up on this and turn her fear into fun too. or when she tries to run, do something unexpected - run into her? Jump up and down on the spot? get her attention, then make the fear a joke. After a while it becomes a joke - when the Kitten spooks now I laugh. You train yourself this way as well as the horse! Now when the Kitten spooks I feel her saying "Am I being daft here?" and then she calms and carries on quietly
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:11 pm

Now that you explained things, Sydney, I understand it better. Thanks, as usual! Very Happy

Hmm...a pic of my instructor. With taking lessons all winter (Lord willing), I'll get to know him better. Perhaps once he's done working with Fanny next spring I'll innocently take a pic of the two of them together. Wink

Thanks for your advice too Jackie!!
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:35 pm

I am slowly discovering things about my body as my riding lessons progress.

Remember the issue I was having with balance, how I kept falling to the side? Last Saturday we were doing a bit of trotting as well as loping. Without fail, when I started to lope, I'd lean to the right and my left foot would pop out of the stirrup and I'd have to stop the horse before I fell off completely. Thankfully, these horses have a very good "Whoa". Jason was wondering if it was my saddle, then one of the girls that helps out with lessons suggested that I try going the opposite direction in the arena. Wouldn't you know, I didn't lean nearly as badly!! That got me thinking...for years I have always felt that my right shoulder is lower than my left...but it is something that I have "accepted" and lived with and forgot about (until Saturday as I pondered why I kept leaning in the saddle). My head has a natural slight tilt to the left. I was at my chiropractor's this morning and asked him about it, if my spine looked crooked, etc., and he said that it was minimal and wouldn't make a difference. He said that my shoulders are straight, even when it doesn't feel so to me.

Hmmm. I bought myself a 75cm exercise ball this morning and will do some of the exercises that were wonderfully suggested to me earlier in this forum. I need to work on balancing myself better and getting the right feel. Any further suggestions or tweaking would be greatly appreciated!!
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Sydney on Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:44 pm

A thought being an equine massage therapist: if you have injured yourself or were off for a time muscles can remember that. Try going to a massage therapist instead. Your muscles may be remembering something your bones/you no longer do.

An example in horsey terms I see a lot is racehorses. They primarily run on the left lead. An ottb I knew and worked on had been adjusted by a chyro and his owner just brushed off him favoring the left lead to being trained on the track. Three massages and a different training routine hes as even as ever. Even though they practiced going both ways his muscles remembered the strenuous training on the track.
Another example is my friends standardbred. When he was being driven he constantly wanted to pull with his head up. They wanted him to be a pleasure driving horse. They tried everything from driving him without a check to different harness, lighter carts etc. Finally massage, a chyropractor and a running martingale re-trained his muscles and hes become a superb driving horse without any checks or martingales to hold his head where it is. When they rode him he could put his head down. Because of the way his muscles had been trained he didn't know how to use himself and found it difficult to get his head down when pulling.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:16 pm

Good thoughts, Sydney.

I can't remember really hurting myself, because I can't really remember how long I've been this way. I was thinking that it could've been from a neck injury I had about sixteen years ago, but that can't be, because I know I was aware of it before then. I have no idea where this stems from. Probably some childhood/teenage tomfoolery that I've forgotten about.

My chiropractor practices the "non-force" technique (a really interesting and non-traditional form of chiropractic), and he works with muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc., so I would think that if there was something that could be done for me, he would've done it by now. He's the one who fixed up my neck injury that I'd suffered with for eight years before I found him. Who would've thought that lifting a toddler above you while lying on the floor could do so much damage?!

There is a lady I know of who does the Bowen method. I wonder if she might help. I've been to massage therapists in the past and found that they never helped the problems I was dealing with (their work never helped my neck injury, that's why I searched until I found my chiropractor). I'll call up this other lady and see what happens.

I just found out last month that one of Fanny's vets does animal chiropractic. I'd like him to work on her as well as my dogs, or at least check them out. The initial treatment is over $200 though, then I think each one after that is around $100. Probably worth it though.

Sorry, I'm rambling again. Embarassed
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Re: riding lessons

Post by FlorayG on Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:13 pm

Ramble on, Cyndi, that's how we all learn new stuff!
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:33 pm

Okay, today at riding lessons we did a lot more trotting and loping than we have before. Part of that was because it was so stinking cold in the arena, we had to do something to keep warm!! Come on spring!!!

I was riding the little Quarter Horse mare again today, and I'm still using the treed Western saddle - ouch, my bum! I feel I made real progress today, not only in riding, but also in 'leadership'. I was able to get the horse to trot without much leg action, and I was also able to get her to lope without help from the people on the ground! The biggest thing I noticed - I rode the lope much better when it was ME who initiated it, not the people on the ground. When you ask a horse to lope and it responds, you are building up for it and are more prepared for it. When someone else encourages the horse to lope from the ground, I'm not quite ready for it and that's when I fumble around.

I am much more comfortable in the trot than when I first started - I don't have issues of leaning over at all anymore!! cheers cheers cheers I still have to work on the lope, but it'll come eventually. I loped quite a bit today, and although it wasn't perfect, I wasn't leaning as much. I've been having some Bowen therapy done, so that's supposed to help my balance, but I think that just getting out there and riding is helping a lot.

Today we also focused more on the "rise and fall with the leg on the wall" (did I get that phrase right?). While trotting, we were supposed to look down at the front shoulder, to know when to rise, but I found that that was a distraction. I could feel my way around better than looking, and the instructor said I was doing it right, so I will just keep at it.

In regards to the lope, I have to learn how to move my hips/pelvis better, with the movement of the horse, rather than just bouncing up and down. I have incentive to learn this - the treed saddle hurts my bum when I bounce!!! LOL Because the seat is deeper and more secure than my treeless saddle, the instructor still wants me to use the treed saddle. When I learn to quit bouncing in it, then maybe I'll be ready to move back to my saddle. I sure hope so.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by fin on Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:24 am

The most important thing you said was "but I think that just getting out there and riding is helping a lot. " It's great to hear about your activities and listen to your confidence grow.
When I was teaching my kids to ride we had no arena so we had to ride in the fields and me and my husband used to stand about 30 yards apart and get the children to walk away from one and trot to the other. With 3 kids and one frisky little pony there was a lot of 'me next' 'my turn now', but they did get to initiate the pace and as you so rightly said it's easier if you ask for a pace rather than being a passenger. We incrased the distance as the kids got better and pretty soon they were galloping back to us. Kept the pony fit too. Maybe this is something that would work with Fanny when you want to progress with her.

About the saddle. I have a torsion treeless which is very similar to your barefoot and a total saddle solutions saddle (which cost more than my pony even though I got it half price off ebay) and though I love my Torsion it doesn't support your leg as well as a treed saddle. Tthe solutions saddle with it's knee and thigh blocks makes a hughe difference to my leg position and after years of riding in the Torsion I have al last been able to improve my leg position for dressage. Keep up the bulletins

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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:34 pm

Hi Fin.

I've never heard of the total saddle solutions saddle. There sure are a lot of treeless saddles out there these days, aren't there? I just noticed in an e-flyer that I got from a tack store close by that she has Cashel soft saddles on sale. I wonder if she has any "for hire" that I could try.

My Barefoot saddle is very soft and comfy, but we (my husband and I) are thinking that it's the wrong size. I wanted to be safe and ordered the size 2, but I really should've ordered the size 1. We rode Fanny today and when she trotted I was feeling like I was going to fall off again. I've been fine with the treed saddles at my lessons, so I'm thinking that my saddle is the issue. That makes me very sad.

I like what you and your husband did with your kids, to help them learn to ride. I can feel my confidence growing, and that is such a good feeling.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Sydney on Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:29 pm

Is it a western? A good way to tell if it's too big. Put a hand between the swells and your thigh when you are sitting normally. If you can fit a hand or more you could use a smaller seat size.
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Re: riding lessons

Post by Cyndi on Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:36 am

It's kind of an endurance-style saddle. Here's a website for a Canadian dealer (there are only two dealers in Canada) http://www.happyhorsebacksaddles.ca/ My saddle is the Cheyenne model.

I just sat on the saddle, which is sitting on top of a tote, so I don't know how accurate my measurements are. When I sit with my bum snug against the cantle, I have about five inches between my crotch and the pommel. However, the way I was sitting, my thighs were only about a finger's width away from the pommel's lower edge. I need to open up my pelvis more...I'm working on it!!
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Re: riding lessons

Post by lightertouch on Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:07 am

Sounds like you're getting there Cyndi, keep up the good work! cheers
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