Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I don't know what I've done right ...

Today was as wonderful as it possibly could have been! It started out not so great; managed to finally fall off Princess Audrey.:( I always knew she'd get me off eventually, but I always figured it would be because of a massive spook/spin/duck. Nope. She was DEAD quiet today ... so quiet I had to kick her! Yesterday was hills in the pasture and she was very good; FORWARD, though! Today she was just NOT forward at all. But she was good:) So, after the lovely canter both directions, I trotted into the cav both ways, and she was wonderful. So ... trotted up to a crossrail. She stopped. Kicked her hard and made her walk over. Came again; same thing. Grrr. Came again, and KICKED her hard. Stopped and leaped HUGE. Again, and AGAIN she stopped and launched herself over ... 4' over. Literally. So, yeah, I got super unbalanced and when she landed, she helped me on off by humping her back and crowhopping, so off I went. Went down pretty hard:( Hopped right back up and went right back to it, back and forth until finally she was quiet over it.

So, on to the Squeaky Tiki. He was AWESOME!!!! Wow. Compared to yesterday, today was "warm". About 46, but the sun was shining. The footing was good in the ring, he was wearing his new T-boots in front, his new elastic polos behind, and his super spiffy baby pad with the fleece half pad. I guess he just FELT like a rock star. Soft and supple through his neck and mouth, quiet with his trot, and willing off my leg. Picked up the canter and it was soft, slow, and light. Decided to try a little counter canter today and it was so good. H actually did a flying change to the RIGHT, ha ha. Didn't punish him because it was so nice. Reversed, counter cantered the other way, and he held it. Did one change across a diagonal and it was perfect. Trotted the low jumps today and GREAT. Did my 3' vertical and he was PERFECT!!!!! Slow feet, nice bascule, STRAIGHT. I don't know what I've done right with my horse, but I sure wish I had a barn full just like him ... :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I LOVE Christmas!

It is so awesome for me to experience Christmas through my son's eyes. He had an amazing Christmas this year, and it pleased me to no end to watch him APPRECIATE what he received, and appropriately thank each person. He really matured this year, and I'm so proud.

On a selfish note, this was probably MY best Christmas in quite awhile! Got enough gift certificates to Dover Saddlery to get something "big", and got Visa/Master card gift certificates that will add to the pot. One of my "big" gifts was given to me by Joyce! She gave me the T-boots I've been eyeing for about 6 or 7 months now. Now I can't decide what else to get! A5 clippers? Half chaps? Figure 8 bridle from Smartpak? Winter riding pants? I don't know, but I'm going to have fun trying to decide!!:)

Haven't ridden since Tuesday, so he was understandably a little stiff today. NOT bad at all, but definitely not supple. Also, he got new shoes Thursday, and Joyce said he seemed a little ouchy after again. Wonder what's up with that? I will buy his Adequan in January so I can keep up easily with when I started it. Hope to see a positive change with that. Did a few simple changes up the diagonal through the walk and he felt VERY nice. His right lead transition is really improving by leaps and bounds. He didn't want to bend today, so we did wrestle a little bit, but nothing NEAR as badly as a couple of weeks ago. Didn't trot any jumps at all. Came to a cav out of a LOVELY left lead canter. He landed right, so I walked a simple change. Cantered up the vertical on the diagonal, he landed right, turned up the other diagonal vertical, he landed right again. Walked another simple change and caught a few more of the cavs/verticals right out of stride. Really felt good. Came into the exercise from not too long ago; cav/3' vertical/cav 1 strides. He felt like a ROCKSTAR, woo hoo!:) Caught a few more low ones, then came into the big exercise again off the left lead; again, felt just incredible.:D. Let him be done there. After every jump, I came down to a walk for any lead changes. I just want him to go around a jump course and not lean/pull through any turns. It was an awesome day!:):)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Almost Christmas!

It turned out to be a LOVELY day today!:) By the way, I want to mention something. I just want to thank every one that posts comments on my blog. I really appreciate it:) I know I don't respond to every one of them, but I do really appreciate it when y'all take the time to comment.

Anyways, Tiki was marvelous again today! Haven't ridden since Thursday when he just felt like a rockstar. It rained cats and dogs Friday, and I spent the weekend with my family. My husband is a pretty understanding guy considering I spend 11+ hours a week working for my horse's well being, but he does get a little grumpy if we don't have enough family time.

Rode Mick and Audrey first, and both of them were quite good! By the time I got to the Muffin Man, it was cooling off and the light was fading. Warmed up pretty quick, and didn't work the flat excessively because I did want to jump around a little bit. Set 2 verticals on opposite diagonals, one 2'3 and one 2'6. Down the long side, set a cav 1 stride to a 3' vertical, one stride to a cav. Set them about 3' short. He felt pretty nice today; butt following his shoulders. I didn't work the neck a lot today because I was short on time. He really reached down into the bit and looked for my contact today; didn't get hollow or throw his head around once. Canters were great; he's starting to get his right lead off a more traditional bend rather than the counter-bend. Did a few simple changes across the diagonal and he was perfect. Trotted over the 2'3 vertical and trotted a single cav. I can always feel when my hips are going to get left, but I do give him a good release. Anyone have any foolproof tips for trotting jumps?;)

Cantered the diagonal jumps, focusing NOT on finding distances, but on keeping a smooth, consistent rhythm. Didn't miss once!:) For me, it's practice, practice, practice. I don't have any great riding gifts; just a work ethic. I practice and work hard to imrove, but don't have any sorts of natural talent or anything. I like to think I can ride anything on the flat; jumping I'm getting back to where I was 13 years ago, but I'm still not there yet. I'll get there, I think ... hope.

Cantered into the cav/vert/cav on the left lead. He was FABULOUS! Great, great, great. Gave him a big pat, reversed, then came in on the right lead. This time I worked on me, and he was great, great, great again! Woo Hoo! Slow, relaxed, and straight as an arrow. Probably won't ride him again until Saturday. Hope everyone has a WONDERFUL holiday!!! Love on your ponies:)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Progress, progress, progress

Well, gave the Tiki boy Monday and Tuesday off.:) Tuesday was yucky and rainy, but I probably could have squeezed in a ride. I just didn't WANT to:( Hey, I can take pleasure in the fact that this time last year I was literally getting in one ride every 2 weeks or so. Right now, I'm averaging 3 times a week, which considering the rain is pretty darn good. Today, the footing was really awesome; firm, but wet, so it had a really nice cushion to it. Supposed to start raining again either tonight or tomorrow morning around 6, and the high is around 43 or so. So ... not thinking I'll get in any riding time tomorrow. The weekend is supposed to be cold and miserable.

Anyway, rides this week! As y'all know, he was a total rockstar on Sunday. Yesterday went ahead and did butt work. Took him in the pasture and walked some nice, big hills. No trotting or anything; just march up the hills. He was fairly well behaved; tried to be a LITTLE fresh, but nothing extreme. By the end, his head was long and low and the reins were on the buckle.

Today, worked in the ring. Flexed left then right then left then right, etc. Did some nice transitions, and worked on that concept of bend then let go with the inside rein. He felt REALLY nice today. Very, very good. Had a NICE bend, his butt actually followed his front end, and had a lovely, quiet canter. Beginning to pick up the right lead on more of a straight approach as opposed to such an extreme counter-bend. Eventually I hope to actually get the right lead off of a right bend.:) Trotted to the base of a tall crossrail a few times; I was just ok. Got left a few times, but always gave a good release. Cantered into the oxer with the placing poles, and he was pretty decent. Got one or two yucky distances, but the rest were good. At one time he made a bid at it, and knocked down a pole when he rushed through it. Trotted the crossrail well again, then came into the oxer one last time, and it was good but he tried to be a little quick. I think he was bored. I need to switch things up! Next time I can ride and the rain stops I guess.:) But the boy felt really good today; it was fun:)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh. My. Gosh.

Y'all, I can't even express how proud I am of my horse. He is a ROCKSTAR!!! After he won his first blue ribbon on the flat last week, he didn't get ridden MUCH this week. Rain, rain, and more rain. So, Thursday and Friday were his only 'work' days, and Thursday wasn't *great. We were attempting to work on our Janet homework, and he was just RESISTING. He does NOT like to bend ... yet. He will, I'll get him there!:D So, I've been working his neck like crazy, bend, bend, bend. It's starting to get MUCH better. Been working on my outside rein connection and letting go with the inside, and it's really starting to work. He doesn't feel so stiff through the turns anymore. I've had a trot pole in front of a tall crossrail, and we've been working on trotting slowly to the base. Also set canter poles on either side of a 2'6 oxer, and been working on that too.

Yesterday, shipped him to Patchwork to prepare for the show today. He flatted GREAT! Felt soft and supple:) Janet saw and commented:) Trotted over a small brick wall to warm up, and fab! Jumped him around the entire course, which was BRAND NEW. He'd NEVER jumped it; and he was amazing. No peeks, no stop and leaps, just confidence. Jumped him a few times, then let my kid that lessoned on him the other night get on and jump him around. He looked so great; his knees are looking GREAT! His shoulder is starting to rotate properly now, so I think the trotting to the base is starting to pay off. He was picture perfect with my girl, so off to 'bed' he went.

Today, got in the warmup before the rain. Which maybe wasn't so great. Because the footing was absolutely perfect for him. My girl warmed him up for me, and they rocked. Not a single peek or head shake. Put him up, started the show about an hour and a half later, and let me tell you ... he BABYSAT his first rider. She was very obviously quite novice, and maybe reaching a little to be in the 2'6, but Tiki didn't put a hoof wrong. I almost cried, lol. And the footing was AWFUL. Sloppy, slippery, full of puddles:( It WAS safe; the horses were just adding because of all the puddles and then sliding into short spots at the fences. Tiki didn't bat an eye; just trucked around like a star. Added him into the 2', and MY kid had him! She's never sat on him, but I knew she'd do great. And she did; 2nd! She LOVED him, yay!:) For the flat, he was used twice, and his first kid missed a lead or something, but the 2nd one won! Yay!! So, another blue for my Muffin Man. It was such a GREAT education for him this weekend. These shows are really accomplishing my goals of getting a little mileage on him. SO GRATEFUL for my friend Nicole ... she warmed up horses, worked her tail off, and then announced for our show. I'm very lucky to have a great set of friends; it's a nice feeling.:):) Oh, and we were Champions again. Sorry eveyone else;)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tiki's first IEA blue ribbon!:)

I am so proud of the boy! Loaded quickly on the trailer this morning, and drove VERY slowly through the rain to the barn. Arrived fairly later than I wanted, then had to sit and wait on people to get parked. He warmed up just fantastic. NOT fresh at all, not a single head shake, nailed all his leads perfectly, and jumped every jump without a single stutter. I was so proud.

Several hours later, it was time to begin. I got back on Tiki again and hacked before things got started. All of a sudden, he was spooking in the back corner. The judge was sitting there now, and people were wandering that hadn't been there, and he was just ... skittering would be the word. Jumped him back and forth over the 'trot' jump about 6 times, then turned in .

His girl got on to warm up, and he stopped at the first warmup jump. 3 times. Grrr. He jumped it the 4th time, then trotted the trot jump fine. The show manager pulled him from over fences, but left him in the flat stuff. I could have taken 5 minutes and schooled him around the course again and he would have been fine, but we were already an hour behind.:( So ... in his first flat his kid got a 5th. Not too bad considering she over-compensated and missed the LEFT lead. Put him up for a bit, then his next kid was one of mine. She's a quiet, timid rider that's pretty novice, but he was just a rockstar for her. Nailed the leads, did great with her rhythm and pace, and she got a 3rd. Last kid was a crossrailer, and she did GREAT. He was just quiet and chill and she got a 1st!!! Who cares that it wasn't MY kid, MY HORSE was so good. We ended up Champions (for the third time this season, woo hoo!)

So proud. He totally retained what he "learned" Tuesday. Trotted to the base of each jump, cantered in quietly, and was slow off the ground. LOVE my boy! He'll have tomorrow off, then work, work, work on Monday:)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Always a breakthrough.:)

My boss is a great trainer. I took my 2nd lesson on Tiki from her, and it was great. She's totally a hunter trainer, and I want to do jumpers, but she's just so darn good at what she does. I have this vision of Tiki and I SLOWLY cantering a lovely course of jumps with lead changes and good distances, and Janet gave me the tools to do that yesterday. Our homework is to help the boy develop good jumping technique. No, form doesn't matter so much in the jumpers, but it certainly does if it causes rails. She MADE me TROT to the base of the jump. Yeah. I chase him to the base WAY too much. I need to chill, wait, and go SLOWER. I get so caught up in FORWARD, that I just get fast and flat.

We also need to work on getting him supple. His neck is SO stiff.:( I need to work him every single time I get on with unlocking and suppling his neck. Then I need to TROT jumps until I can do it without getting left behind. He jumped everything HUGE, which is not all that normal for him. Got me loose quite a few times. But we finished with a marked improvement in him waiting and rocking back to the jump, and Janet was happy. She says he's very cute:)

Let him rest for a bit, then gave a lesson on him to one of my IEA girls. Whether he just liked her ride, or the footing in the covered, or he retained what he learned, he was GREAT. Trotted quietly to the base of EVERY jump, NEVER got quick before or after, and acutally loped through a gymnastic. He's ALWAYS gone fairly forward thru the gymnastics, so to see him just lope through was awesome!!! Good boy! The distance was very short, too, and he always jumped well. Let her do a 3' oxer at the end; that's the pic at the top of this post. Isn't the muffin man cute?

It is a HORRIBLE day today; so bad I cancelled my afternoon lessons at Patchwork. The wind is gusting to 20 mph, and it is COLD and RAINING. About to go to Joyce's and do stalls; waited until late because all the horses will be in. I think I will go in Tiki's stall and do some neck stretches, though. At least work that neck today.:)

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Wow. Yesterday went AWESOME. Better than I could have hoped. Rode my boy at the end, after Mick and Audrey, and by the time I had him tacked and ready to go, C and Joyce were at the barn. That was a good thing because I DO prefer to have people around when I'm attempting something new.

Began by warming him up on the buckle, wtc. He was positively lovely; showing C how he will actually stretch his nose to the ground while I warm him up. Pulled him together at the trot and canter, pulled out a right to left lead change, then trotted over a cavelletti to warm up. I had a square 3' oxer set on one long side, my scary jump complete with his blanket draped over the pole and a pitchfork underneath on the other long side, and a 2 stride combination across the diagonal that was a single cav to the cav stack jump.

Jumped the 2 stride, and even though I set it short, it ended up long for him because he was a little crooked. I popped up a little, but did slip him the reins so I didn't hit him in the face. Came through again with a better canter, a straighter line, and more leg, and he jumped through flawlessly.

Next I approached the scary jump, used my crop behind my leg on approach, he bucked out a little bit, but didn't back off the jump at ALL. Yay! I came back on it the other way, no crop, and again ... perfect.:)

Finally, it was the 3' oxer. Haven't done one of those in ... 12 years or so. Cantered in on the left lead, saw it a tiny bit long, but closed my leg and sat up. Nailed it! He flew over, landed beautifully, and I whooped with happiness. He felt GREAT! Came again on the left lead and got a much better distance, and it was positively exhilirating. Did it one time off the right lead, got just a *hair* deep but it was still great. C was very complimentary, and it made me happy because it has been a while since she's seen him.

So excited; that was way fun. C worked on his muscles a little bit after untacking, and he is just so funny. He's a good boy. My little twit. Stopped by today and spent about 5 minutes just feeding him carrots. He liked it:) I'll flat a little bit Monday before hopefully shipping him out Tuesday to take a lesson with Janet.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

(pic is the one that I saw online that made me drive to Maryland to go get him)
About to go spend Black Friday with my pony! It's a chilly one today; it's 10:45 and the car has only just now thawed out.:) Rode my boy on the flat Monday, and tried the new Myler bit. It felt like too much for him at first. Mouth is still gaping open and the head goes sideways. In fact, in this bit, he did something he's never done; lifted his head *way* up and looked backwards at me out of his left eye. He sucked WAY back and nearly stopped. Twice. It was strange. When he did that, I really let go and gave him a loose rein. By the time I popped him over a few cavs, he seemed to have accepted the contact, and actually pulled his head down, trying to pull the reins through my fingers.

Rode him in the bit again Wednesday out in the pasture. No trotting or anything today, JUST walking hills. He was fine in it, but did the head up and stare at me with his left eye again. I'll be putting that 0ne away, I think. He's very good in the Waterford, but after the first 2 weeks or so, his mouth was back to being wide open. I ride him in the figure 8 again, and he feels GREAT ... to ME. It's at the point now that I know what he's going to do before he does it ... I can read his body language like the back of my hand. But for the IEA shows, he's a little more unpredictable. Of course, he's only done 2, so I'm probably not getting an accurate read. He was GREAT at the first one, with appropriate level riders. The 2nd one wasn't so good, but that was with BEGINNER riders. He's not chilled enough for beginners yet. I'm taking him next Saturday to his third one, and was just hoping to find somthing with a *little* more WHOA if needed. Oh well. Whatever happens happens.

Today we're working on a scary jump. It will be fairly small, but I plan to build it up with a blanket, some brush, and maybe a pitchfork or something underneath. Just STUFF to make him look at it so I can take the opportunity to school him with a crop at the base of the jump. This stop and leap stuff has got to stop. He's brave once he's seen stuff; now he needs to be brave before he's seen stuff. Also going to set the 3' oxer; maybe I'll do it, maybe I won't, but the option will be there.:)

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving; I have a LOT to be thankful for.:):)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shocked and Amazed.

A year ago today, my horse had been ridden in various pastures, had done 'mini' trail rides at the park next to Crazy Lady's farm, and had taken his first trip to Patchwork where he "jumped" a single crossrail (actually knocked down the pole).

Friday, I rode him in the ring, and cantered back and forth over 2'9 and 3' verticals like they were cavelletti's. He was just wonderful; so relaxed and "whatever" about our ride. I was very happy and proud of him. Experimenting with bits right now so that when he participates in the next IEA show the girls can stop him easily. I borrowed a Myler bit with a low port that I'll try on him tomorrow if it's not raining. I'm still looking for something he likes enough to go in quietly without cranking his neck sideways or opening and gaping his mouth. I'm convinced he can get there, I just have to find the 'magic key' ... or in this case, the 'magic bit'.

Next on the agenda (hopefully this week) is to build me a super scary jump to school him over. Blankets, flowers, brush, etc. The other jump is to tackle a 3' oxer. I've done one at 2'9, and he was easily over it. Didn't look/back off/etc. So ... if we're ever going to do the level 2 jumpers, I've got to canter down to a 'big one'. He'll be fine, I know it.

Looking forward to continuing our journey together this year. My "big" goal is the George Morris clinic next October at Black Jack Farm in Birmingham. There. I've put it out there in more ways than just words. Now I need to continue to lose weight and tone up, find a bit my horse is truly happy in, and conquer the height obstacles that are in my head. We'll get there.:)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


My boy is sound. Phew. Gave him the weekend off, C came and massaged him Sunday, and I took him up to the ring Monday to longe him on the end of his lead rope and see how he looked. He looked about 99% on that teeny circle. Let him off the lead and ran him a little and he looked just fine. Gave him an extra day on Tuesday, then rode yesterday and today. I'm trying a different bit because I think he needs more brakes for the kids at the IEA shows. Tried a mullen happy mouth 2 ring elevator, and he went fine in it. I do think he had more brakes in it. Flat work felt good, the canter was good, cantered the cavs on the low setting, and cantered a small crossrail. The boy felt nice and relaxed.

Today was "butt Thursday", and I rode him in the pasture to walk hills. He was GREAT until I made him walk a particularily difficult hill. At that point, he got an attitude on him, but was doing fine. As a reward, I let him canter to the top of the pasture, and he threw a few pretty big bucks, the little turd. Yanked him up, and he rewarded me by shaking his head all around. Asked him to trot around in the flat area up top, and he was just fresh and bucky. Hacked until he settled in a bit, then cantered and cantered, and cantered. Then cantered again. Then trotted some more, and he was a little more willing to do that. Let him end there. Plan to try and jump around a little tomorrow; we'll see how the booger is feeling.

Friday, November 13, 2009

First lame steps:(

Well, the muffin man stepped up to the farrier stand sound, and walked away lame:( Farrier swears up and down the horse looks fine, but Joyce and I both noticed right away as he walked away that he was walking stiff legged. Doesn't appear to have a hot nail or anything, but maybe he was trimmed a little too short? Or maybe he jammed his shoulder on the hoof stand because he was acting up while the farrier did the front feet. I don't know. Got on and walked some hills Thursday, and he felt pretty ok, but didn't ride today since Joyce had commented he still didn't look 100%. Oh well, show this weekend, so I'll re-evaluate him Monday. Keep yur hooves crossed for him!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lots of rides

Had a great few days with my boy. Rode Friday and worked him in my 'ghetto' draw reins (they consist of bright yellow boat rope, ha ha). He knows what those are about, and works very hard. Cantered on a 20 meter circle each direction, and did lots of trotting and direction changes. He really felt great. I massaged in Sore no More into his lower back area, because that's where he holds in a lot of pain and tension.

Gave him the absolutely beautiful weekend OFF, then worked today on prompt transitions and going back and forth over the jumps. Had my tall cav 'stack' jump set up again, and jumped a lot of jumps on the diagonal line; sometimes going right, and sometimes going left. Set my long side jump as a very tall crossrail to encourage him to rock back and jump square. He felt very good again today, but my back was VERY tired for some reason:( Untacked and rubbed in some more Sore No More, then turned him out because it's supposed to storm tonight. A hurricane is passing through tomorrow, so I'm sure I won't be leaving the house unless I absolutely HAVE to. Will update at the end of the week!:)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gorgeous week!

My little corner of GA has been blessed with some BEAUTIFUL weather this week! Rode Tiki yesterday in the field, working on that butt, always the butt.:) He was so much better this time. Walked a large hill 5 times, then hacked on the level area by the road. No gallop today; I don't want him to get it in his little TB pea brain that pasture=RUN. He was quite good. Rode in the ring today, and worked on my little course I had set up from last week. He felt pretty decent. Had a day today where he knocked off a pole twice. Ugh. Such a pain; it's just him being lazy with his front legs; that's why I like him to jump the solid cavellettis because if he hits it, it HURTS. He was good; felt very relaxed today. Warmed up with his nose on the ground, which is wonderful to feel:) He worked hard and got a bath at the end. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow ... whatever strikes my fancy, I guess:)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This weekend

The weekend dawned MISERABLE and cold. Taught lessons in the rain under the covered, then headed to the barn to get the ponie's stuff to load in the trailer. Patted my Squeaky Tiki, then it was home to the hacienda to get ready for Halloween and trick or treating. Sunday morning came way too early despite the fact that we "fell" back an hour. I got the trailer turned around, loaded Star and Tiki with no problems whatsoever, then made the hour and a half drive to Ballground to the horseshow. Saw where we had to park and was SUPER gun shy about parking in the grass since I'd gotten stuck for over 2 hours 2 weeks ago at Patchwork. Backed into the last "good" looking spot, and proceeded to unload both horses by myself since every one of the girls were late. Star did well, but crashed into the butt bar and scraped herself. Tiki came off like he usually does; slightly looky and wanting to longe himself on the end of the lead line. Tied them both to the trailer, and did some serious grooming. Did I mention it's rained ... a LOT? They were both muddy and dirty, and they both have winter coats, so by serious I mean SERIOUS, ha ha.

The overall show is a LONG story, but it ended with Star being perfect for all her flat classes and Tiki getting "excused". What happened is the genuises in charge of horse assignments decided to NOT use my horse at ALL. He was an alternate for 6 classes, but not used in a single one. I was MAD, because when a horse is an alternate, they have to stand there fully tacked up but doing nothing. And he did this all day. And it made him angry. So when they finally decided they HAD to use him, rather than use him in the advanced 2'6, 2' classes, they decided to use him for crossrails, and BEGINNER. He did well for the 2 crossrail riders, but the beginner rider started on a loose rein. I TOLD her to shorten, shorten, shorten, told her trainer to tell her to say "Whoa", but none of those things happended. The end result is during the trot of the class, Tiki got quicker and quicker, and when the canter was called for, he got pretty quick, and then wouldn't stop. Kid lost her stirrup, but stayed on, and we got him whoaed up, and he was done for the day. Threw one of my kids up on him to do a quick trot and canter and make sure he knew he wasn't going home acting like a turd, and he threw a few crow hops on her, but she kicked his butt a little and made him listen to her.

On the bright side, the judge had agreed to discuss a particular student's ride with me, and we got to talking about the fact that Tiki had kind of run off. She asked if the "little chestnut" was mine, and I said that's him, and she said she had really liked him! He was the winner in both of the crossrail classes, but the kids didn't ask correctly for the right lead, and he missed it the first time with both kids, so they dropped lower in the placings. So, a lone bright spot in a pretty, but dismal day.

The loading process took an hour. Tiki got himself all worked up, decided not to load, and made us all wait until it was fully dark before he decided to grace the trailer with his presence.:( That will teach me to DOUBLE CHECK and make sure that after I load him in the morning with the longe line, I make sure the line is back in the trailer before I leave the barn so I can load him to come home. Ugh. A fitting end to a yucky day, for sure:(

Had yesterday off, held horses for the farrier all day today, so I'll ride him the rest of the week.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yay, something to blog about!:)

Oh, it's just my favorite time of the year ... rain, rain, and more rain. It's so hard to ride consistently without the luxury of a covered ring. I've done better than this time last year, since we DO at least have a ring, but I'm riding an average of 3 days a week vs 5 days a week which I'd prefer. This time last year, I'd go as long as 2 weeks and not ride at ALL so I wouldn't make huge holes in the grass. Longed him yesterday for the first time in awhile, and he was pretty good. For some reason the goober likes to cross canter in the back. Oh well!

Today, I set up an exercise that's been set at Patchwork for the last week. I have been dying to try it, but I was afraid the footing piles would get in my way; fortunately, that was not the case. Had to spend about 20 minutes moving jumps and cavs around, but it was worth it! Tiki warmed up VERY well (had a huge cold snap, and now we're back to the warm 70's again); his canter transitions are getting SO much better. He didn't miss a lead today at all, yay! Trotted beautifully over a cav both ways, then I began the exercise.

Left lead over a bounce to a 2 stride with the cavs. Circle left thru the center of the ring. Trot a 3 loop serpentine, focusing of course on bending and straightness. Trot left up the long side, then turn sharply to a 2'3 vertical set on the diagonal. 4 stride bending line to a 2'6 vertical on the long side, then 4 stride continuing left bending line to another 2'6 vertical. Right hand turn at the trot back to the vertical on the long side, back to bending 4 stride, keep RIGHT lead, circle through the center of the ring, then back the cavs backward: 2 stride to a bounce. He felt rock solid through that. Let him catch his breath, then did it again at the canter all the way this time. The simple changes during the serpentine were perfect, and the bending lines felt good, but over one of them, he jumped with his head straight up in the air for some reason. Finished the exercise, then did just the jumps one more time, and he was so good. Felt AWESOME! Taking him and his buddy Star to our IEA show on Sunday; I'm looking forward to it:) Hope he's as good as he was at the last one; it will be about 20 degrees warmer:)

Friday, October 23, 2009

A good week:)

Well, it's time to start weather-dodging here in GA. It has been *exceptionally wet and rainy here lately; the lake that literally experts were counting down the days until it went dry a year ago is at it's highest levels in YEARS. The news people literally were counting down the days until our drinking water ran dry, and now the lake that's closest to me is almost 10 feet above full pool. Amazing how things change! Rode Tiki Friday, then he got Saturday off, then showed like a champ Sunday. Gave him Monday off, and that turned into a Tuesday off as well since my son had his fall break Mon-Wed, and that meant I could sleep IN! Rode him Wednesday, and he was AWESOME. He felt so good I smiled the entire time I was on his back. He's much more easily coming underneath me and staying straight. He's light off my leg, and quiet during our rides. The canter felt very light and rhythmical, and I worked over some more small jumps. I have 3 jumps set parallel with the long side. Since there's still large piles of footing on the ends of the ring, I jumped the center jump off both diagonals. One side has a tall crossrail, and the other side I piled the cavelletti's on top of each other. He's starting to really listen and wait to the base of each jump. That's what I wanted! I cantered right lead over the caveletti, right lead over the vertical, left lead over the crossrail, left lead over the vertical. Rinse, repeat about 3 more times. I halted each time after the jumps so he stayed straight and listened to me.

Thursday I did butt work in his pasture. The baby was in a BAD mood for some reason. It started when a lone horse took off at a gallop across the pasture to join his herd mates. Tiki tried to take off as well, and didn't take it well when I told him NO. From then on, even though we were walking hills, he kept startling, trying to trot up the hills, and doing his level best to evade my leg. Let him finish with a FAST gallop through the pasture, and it felt ... angry. Sorry, Bud.

Today I managed to get in a ride before the rain; Warmed up fully in my 2-point, then sat and pulled him together. He felt great. Worked trot/canter transitions, and walk/canter transitions. Those are getting MUCH better! Schooled a few changes (which were OK), then cantered him 3 times over a TINY crossrail, asking for a flying change after each time. His canter coming into it was like a metronome, which is EXACTLY what I want:) Much better than yesterday. He'll have the weekend off because I'm training at a horseshow that he won't be at.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tiki update

It's been quite a good few weeks. The weather has jumped from HOT to COLD. It's only October 19, but last night I had to put Tiki's winter blanket on because it got down to 36 degrees. I've been doing the usual stuff with Tiki. I've averaged riding him about 4 days a week; 2 days flat and 2 days jumping. I've been concentrating on smaller jumps (nothing over 2'6) to try and get him to improve his form and his way of going. I've been working on landing and getting him back and straight rather than bicycling through the turns. Been working on jumping UP and OVER from the base of the jump rather than standing off and jumping flat. He's had a few more massages, and I do think he's moving a little more freely. Still, every single time C massages him, she says he REALLY needed it. Considering putting him on Adequan. It's expensive, but would probably be worth it. Don't know. Depends on how the money flows.

I took a BIG, BIG leap yesterday, and let Tiki participate in his first IEA show. For anyone new to this blog, I coach an IEA equestrian team. I have both highschool and middleschool, and these shows work by several teams converging on a show venue. The 'host' school is responsible for making sure there is enough horses for everyone (the teams each bring as many horses as they can). The kids 'draw' horses for each event and compete in equitation classes ranging from 2'6 all the way down to beginner flat. Our team had 3 horses to take; we needed a 4th ... I decided to try Tiki in that roll. I let him jump 2'6, the most advanced kids, and let him flat 2'6 as well. He was a rockstar ... he did 3 classes total and his kids finished 3rd in every one. That means the judge liked him fairly well! I may take him again in 2 weeks ... depends on what kind of trailer arrangements I can make. He's a big boy now:)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wowzers ...

Yesterday was so much fun! I rode Audrey (total spook baby, ugh!), then Mick (good, but spooky too, double ugh!), then K and B showed up. Their horses unloaded like angels, and we all tacked up. Hacked up in the ring for a few, and I tried something totally off the wall. Trotted on a TOTALLY loose rein; I mean, NO contact at all. Went both ways, and he was officially lazy. Then decided I'd try the canter. It felt so weird! It was slow and quiet, and he tried to lean in through the turn, but really couldn't because he had NO support whatsoever. Interesting! B and K were impressed at how quiet my little muffin is, ha ha. Headed out the pulp wood forest with me in the lead, scary! Just did the usual loop, though, since I WILL get lost if I attempt any more navigation than that. We walked the whole way with the exception of jumping the little log at the beginning of the trail. Since B was wanting to gallop, I took them across the street by the powerlines; there's a nice little field there perfect for galloping 3 beautiful Thoroughbreds!:) So, we did! I love it when Tiki kicks it into that extra gear; it's so exhilirating! Took them to the pond where Star got Tiki in that one time, and I managed to get him in again, ha ha. Our ponies splashed up a storm and got all of us wet, so we then wandered in the woods for a few minutes and out to the power lines, then back to the field for one more teeny tiny gallop, ha ha. Good times!

Today, I set up a cav triple bar on one outside line, a 2'9 swedish oxer on the other outside line, and a 3' vertical down the center line. Warmed up like I did yesterday, on a loose rein, but I had a crop today, and he just isn't crazy about those, so he really was a little bit of a goober. Put it down, and he relaxed. He kept missing his leads! I think he was just distracted and a little stiff, though. It is time for Celeste to give him another massage; maybe this weekend. Jumped everything like a champ; didn't touch a thing!

Here is almost the last video. This is the exact same course from the last post, but at 2'6 instead of 2'3. This is the one where he rolled the pole off the oxer, but we still managed to win the class:)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Loving the Fall weather!!!

This weather makes me so happy:) I rode 2 horses yesterday and today, and didn't even sweat, ha ha!:) Had a lovely ride on the Tiki boy yesterday ... set up a 3 jump gymnastic with progressively larger crossrails with quiet distances and a placing pole in between. I then set up an outside line with a normal cavelletti and a "tall" cavelletti stack jump. I set it up a little bigger then last time; I'd guess it was about 2'9 or so. Set that on a normal 5 stride line. I've put him back in the figure 8 with the Waterford bit, and it seems to be working fairly well. It was suggested to me at the last show to get him to close his mouth a bit:( Sooo, I'm back to strapping his mouth closed. He flatted nicely, and I worked on making my canter transitions more prompt. I think he did well. Warmed him up over the small cavelletti a few times, then trotted in/cantered out of the line. He jumped out well, even adding a stride! Trotted into the gymnastic, and he jumped through it with no problems. Just kept him quiet and trotted into everything everytime, and he felt great.

Today I did hill sets and trot sets. It was fun to have my fresh, "snorty" horse back, lol. He snorted and snuffled in time to his trotting:) It was such a LOVELY, cool day, and the wind was blowing a little bit, and he liked it! Tomorrow, I'm trail riding with 2 of my friends that are trailering out. I'm SO looking forward to it! Until then ... the firstvideo from day two at the show:)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No ride, but another video!

Had a baby shower to go to today, so Tiki enjoyed yet another Jen-less day; here is the next video for your viewing and critiquing pleasure!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Next video installment:)

Next installment! Again with the 2'3 jumpers; this time it's the course then the 2nd video is the jump off. My boy was quite awesome!:)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lesson today!

Haven't sat on my boy all week, and Nicole and I decided to take a lesson today. Probably not the GREATEST idea, but it was an idea all the same:) He came out SUPER stiff. And as usual, he was lazy, lazy, lazy. All the babies are growing their coats in, and it's been hot and humid, so that didn't help the laziness issue. Susan said he's stepping under himself better, AND he looked like his butt was muscling up, yay! Apparently I need to cut off my arms.:) I'm way over using my inside rein, and keep dropping the outside. I don't know why this is a problem with me riding him, because I don't feel like I do that on Mick and Audrey. Maybe it's because I'm so focused on THEM, and trying to be perfect that on Tiki I relax try to stay out of his face.

Worked on leg yielding and shoulder-in today. This is where the way over bending with the inside rein occured. His body should be straighter during BOTH exercises. It was so fabulous because I've NEVER been taught either of those moves. After trying a few times, he really started to get them well. I had been doing them, but they were just too bent and not angled properly.

Cantered, and he felt good, but our transitions need work ... which I'm fully aware of. I just NEED to make him do them well without trying to do all the work for him. That was mostly my problem today; I was WAY over riding and trying to literally hold him up with my hands, and muscle him around with my legs. When I just let go and sat straight and put my leg on, he was so much better. I need that now and again; I know I'm on the right track with my boy, but it is SO helpful to have eyes on me to help me not ride like a monkey, ha ha!:)

OK, first course of the weekend! This is the 2'3 jumpers, table 2.21, which was simply one course ridden on time and faults. We were clear, and he felt good. Put 3 in the 2 stride the first time, but I was expecting that and was ready for it. I think there's one or 2 akward jumps in this one, but nothing tragic or awful. Lead changes were THERE!

Monday, September 21, 2009

5 blue ribbons later ...

What an incredible weekend! I had more fun than I've had in quite awhile! Tiki was like night and day different. He was forward, he was confident, and he was a superstar!!! It certainly helped that I actually sat up and rode well, if I do say so myself! We did 6 jumping classes over 2 days ... and the schooling Friday night was so much better than it had been at Conyers. Really, he flatted very forward and bucky and fresh, ha ha. He'd just gotten his massage Thursday morning, and I hacked him in a saddle and his halter afterwards. Then Friday it was over to Wills Park, and in the covered ring. He was head shaking a little bit, stretched low through his neck, and felt very loose and light. Schooled over all the fences in the ring, and while he may have looked at a few and jumped a few pretty big, there wasn't a SINGLE stop and leap at all. Put him away, plyed with peppermints, and prepared for Saturday morning.

We were pretty much first thing at 8:30 in the morning. It was a rainy, miserable excuse for a day. It picked that time to chill and stop raining for a few minutes, so I quickly hacked and warmed up in the outside ring, then darted under the shelter of the covered ring just as the skies opened up again. Went in for my first class, which was at 2'3 and was simply a timed/fault course. It was fairly simple, and he jumped around clean and forward. First! Second course was a class, then the jumpoff, still at 2'3. Another good course, and we were first again! Last course was a 2'6 class, and even though he touched a few, jumped around clean again, but we were second to a horse that definitely looked as though he'd done a few jumper classes! By the end of the course, both of us were tired! Both of us hold our breath while we're in there, lol. Hopped off, put him away with peppermints, carrots, and hay, then did my coaching thing for the rest of the day.

Sunday dawned rainy and miserable. Managed to get all my kids taken care of before my classes came up, and I got pretty soaked even with a poncho! Tacked the boy back up, and once again, the rain stopped long enough for us to go in the sloppy, rain soaked schooling ring to loosen up and jump a few warmup jumps before heading in the ring for our ONE 2'3 class! Sunday was a much tougher course than Saturday, WOW! An in and out identical to the one at Conyers; an airy oxer to a vertical. A jump right on the end of the bottom of the ring, an akward corner jump, and several long bending lines. First course was course then jumpoff, and we were clear and SO fast that Becca said we were getting too flat. I could feel that; I was a little more forward with my shoulders because I just felt so. darn. comfortable! Tiki was so good; those jumps down on the end and in the corner were awkwardly placed, and he DID give them a good look, but I really sat back and closed my leg. Never put 2 in the in and out, he got the step each time, yay! We were clean and fast, but we were also the only ones in that class, so of COURSE we got a blue, ha ha!;) Next, back up to 2'6. Same identical course. This time it did feel better than before, but on the final oxer of the course, he touched it with his foot just right and rolled it off, so no jumpoff. Despite that, we still managed to win the class, yay! Final course was also at 2'6, and it was terrible. Not from Tiki, but from a design standpoint, yuck! First part was ok, but then there was a tough turn from 2 jumps set on identical diagonals; for instance, they were set like this:


Had to do a left hand rollback from the top jump to the bottom jump, set on that diagonal. It was weird, but he did it! That was the "power" portion of the class, then the "speed" final turn was this:


We had to go from the top diagonal jump towards the bottom of the screen, then the straight jump underneath back towards the top of the screen. I had to angle the diagonal jump the wrong way, pulled him right so I could spin him on his butt to get to the straight quarter line jump. We were clear with good time. One of the other girls was clear also, but jumped the diagonal, then looped around to get to the quarter line jump, and was counted as a refusal. I'm so thankful Becca was there to remind me you can NOT cross your path in the jumpers! So, bad course design in my opinion, but we won that one as well, so it wasn't THAT bad!

What an amazing weekend. I have videos from all of our rounds, so I will post each one one at a time again like I did last time. No hunter rounds this time; concentrating on the jumpers exclusively. We were such a great team; I am proud, proud, proud!!! And the best part is we've done it on our own; I haven't spent oodles of money on training rides, lessons, and pros horseshowing him for me. It's been just me, with 3 lessons in a whole year, and occasional input from my awesome friends that have helped me find a direction and stay on it. He may have the entire week off, if the weather forecasts are accurate for this week. Rain, rain, and more rain. In Austell and Douglasville, (where we lived before we moved to Cartersville) there is some crazy, amazing flooding! Creeks are high, homes are destroyed, and horses are having to be rescued and evacuated. I am thankful and grateful that my house is at the top of a hill, as is the barn I teach at, and is the barn my horse lives at! No worries there, but if you can spare some prayers, please pray for the families and animals that are dealing with the scary realites of real life flooding! It's almost unreal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Once again, T-3 days and counting ...

Well, it's almost upon us. Our second show. Probably the last one this season, I'm thinking. I've got IEA shows coming up, and I'd like to put a little money towards some clinics or lessons. I think I'd like to hold off until maybe March or so before we venture into the ring again, maybe get solid at 3' and do the level 1/2 jumpers. Anyway! Gave my boy Sunday off and rode yesterday bareback and with a halter. He was good! It was the first time I've *really ridden him bareback. Spent tons of time moving him off my leg at the walk. Did a bunch of leg yields, turns on the forehand, and halts. He was GOOD! Spiraled again, but at the walk.:) Leg yielded out of the circle. Trotted nice and slow and worked on my balance. Canter wanted to get rolling a bit, and I had to nip that in the bud! Trotted into a pole line and halted in the center. He felt great! I had to do some housework today, sadly, so Tiki didn't even lay eyes on me today ... he was probably happy about that! No ride tomorrow because he's getting his second massage; will flat him pretty well on Thursday and then it's Friday; schooling day! I'm excited; I plan to ride like my usual self and not drop him at the base of every fence, so hopefully we'll have a great weekend. Later y'all!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Final video!

Well. Had a super awesome day today, despite the fact that it began by my literally getting kicked in the head:( I swear, 13 years ago when I was in my riding heyday, I never got hurt on the ground. I did, however, fall off pretty much every single time I had a lesson and jumped a fence. So, on average, I would fall about twice a week. Fortunately, since having my son, I've scaled back on my "crazy" factor, and don't ride the 'wild childs' any more, and since I don't do ballet any more, I can actually keep my heel down and my leg under my hip. All good things! But in the last year, it seems as though I'm bound and determined to break something or put myself out of comission on the ground! Just today, I was bent over taking Tiki's leg wraps off from his trailer ride this morning, and he lifted his foot to stomp off a fly, and the back edge of his shoe caught me on the temple. Broke my sunglasses and everything! Then, after an awesome lesson, I was loading him on the trailer, and he stepped off the ramp, crowded me against the fence and stomped the he&& out of my little toe!! GRRRRR ...

Anyway, had two good days in a row. Yesterday, we flatted pretty intensely. I worked on ME; dropped my stirrups and worked on my sitting trot and canter with no stirrups. Worked on HIM, with lots of halts, transitions, shoulder-in, and lead changes. They're getting a LITTLE better; he will do them when I ask now, but tends to pull my arms out afterwards. Baby steps, baby steps ...

Had dropped my jumps down to poles, and worked on precision. Cantered 2 in a one stride, did 4 in a 3, cantered into the one, circled, then did the 2nd in the line. Halted in between the poles of the 3 stride. Lined up poles and cavs on a TIGHT "slice" diagonal, and worked on cantering those. Ended up very well; he was an excellent boy; did want to pull a little, but overall he was awesome.

Today, trailered in to Patchwork so my friend Becca could torture, I mean help, us.;) Began with some bending and softening at the trot, did some nice transitions, cantered a little to loosen up, and then did the Spirals of Death. I mean, I've practiced spirals ... at the trot. We spiraled All. The. Way. In. (at the canter!) It was WILD! Did both directions, and it was HARD. Afterwards though, his trot was simply amazing. Balanced, on the bit, forward, and ALL I was doing was closing my leg! Trotted a pole to a crossrail/halted. His mouth gaped, his neck pulled me forward, and he reluctantly geared down. Trotted out of the line over a nicely substantial tall crossrail. Halted. Rinse, reapeat. Rinse, repeat. He was getting better and better, and more responsive. Cantered into the arch jump. No hesitation what so ever. Halted. Added on a rollback to a gate. Halted. Hey, he was starting to get the idea!

It is so funny; Becca was having me work on sitting down and back at the canter ... which I CAN do, no problem! As I cantered into the jump, I could feel my shoulders wanting so badly to creep forward:( Strung a few together without the halts, and he felt simply amazing. I only jumped up his neck on one, and it was the trot crossrail. She raised a few up to 2'9 and 3', and we jumped this great course of a tall green gate, rollback to the arch. This was GOOD! My rollback was tight, neat, and he felt very handy. Went to the skinny that she'd jacked up, and he bunny hopped over it. From there to the massive Auburn oxer; I've done a 2'9 oxer, but not 3'. This one was 3'! Our distance wasn't there, he petered out, and I think my brain might have sent subliminal signals to make him stop. I half heartedly popped him with my hand, then went to the skinny again. It was better, but still not good. Stopped. I knew then that I wasn't brave enough to help him over it, so she dropped the oxer rail. Did the skinny one more time, and he finally got over it well. Stopped like a GOOB at the former oxer again, and this time I got onto him hard; he was just being a sh%^ head. Circled, and squeezed a little spur in him this time, and he cleared it by about 2' ... which sucks when the jump is already 2'9! From there to the outside line where we had a 3' vertical, and he was AWESOME, then to the other outside line where we finished with another 3' vertical, and he jumped it well, but stalled a little once he'd already left the ground, so he felt ROUND. Came around again to the Auburn former oxer, and he jumped it well this time ... had Becca put the oxer pole back up, and we tried again. Cleared it perfectly, so I let him be done.

He was DRIPPING. Also, had a little gash on his hind leg *under* his polo wrap, and had some weird bumps under his girth right behind his elbow?? Question for y'all that have actually made it to the end of this novel: Does anyone stretch their horse's front legs out after tightening the girth? I did this today just for the heck of it, and now I'm thinking those yucky bumps were a result of his skin getting pinched. I'm almost thinking I shouldn't stretch the legs out anymore. Opinions? Maybe I should park the fleecy girth for awhile, and use the anatomical girth at home and see if that makes a difference. Poor baby! Overall, I think we got a LOT out of our first ever jumper lesson today, and I'm so thankful Becca took the time to work with us today; it was GREAT!!!!!:)

OK, final video. This one is the flat (undersaddle). I thought he was a superstar, but I guess none of the other horses made any mistakes because he was 4th again. Oh well, won't have to worry about it this time since we're only doing jumper classes!:)
(BTW, sorry about the fact that my mom is yapping on the phone the whole time here. Just ignore her!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Video number 3!:)

Did some butt work today, yay! My boy was awesome:) It is so interesting ... at the base of EVERY hill, he tried to stick his head up and trot. I used my voice and reins and asked for the walk; at that point, his ENTIRE topline changed ... the head dropped and stretched, and I could feel his hind end powering his body up the hill. I think it was literally the first time I could REALLY feel his back literally come up underneath me. He was more or less on the buckle the whole time; I had just enough contact to not have swinging reins. The trot was relaxed and soft, and I didn't touch his face hardly at all. After a nice workout for about half an hour, I let him gallop up one of the more gradual hills; WOW! That feeling of near out of control power is incredible. I let him jump our little log jump twice, and ended with another *teeny* gallop.:) After that, he even came back down to the buckle and didn't try to jig or run off. I LOVE my pony!

OK, hunter round number 2 ... this one was better up until the LAST line where I had NO idea where I was in my line, and in my determination to not chip that stupid jump I'd chipped twice already, I left out a full stride and instead of a 5 and a chip, I did 4 and a chip, and he ended up taking out the entire jump. I was proud because we GOT our changes this time, and I felt it was overall the best jumping round despite the final "oops".

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The next video!

Rode my pumpkin today. He flatted well; I worked on slipping him the reins a little more, like Janet had me do with Audrey yesterday. I'm looking forward to his next massage; he still feels so stiff to me. He's just not getting supple at ALL, and I work so much on extending, collecting, bending, etc. He's so much better than he WAS, but it still just isn't GREAT, you know? Oh well, I'll keep working and asking and trying and maybe this time next year I'll be posting about how we're planning to attend the George Morris clinic in Birmingham in October.;) Anyway, I have video number 2 to post; this was our first hunter round. Not HORRIBLE, but we do miss 2 lead changes, rightfully earning our 4th out of 4.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More videos!

Took Audrey for a lesson with Janet today; what a GOOD GIRL!!! I have NEVER in all the months I've ridden her kicked her. Ever. Never ridden in a crop, and only rode in spurs once, and that was on accident. Today, she was quiet enough that I had to cluck AND kick. She was SO good today. Just really sacked out and went on a pretty loose rein; canter work was just fantabulous. She just has the best, most naturally balanced canter I've felt, probably ever. Jumped her first crossrail and didn't stop or jump 3' over it. I was quite proud.

OK, here's the vidoe of our fateful jumper round. Constructive criticism is always welcome. It looks bad enough, but it felt WAY worse than it actually looks. Love how I canter into the jump on the wrong lead (not). Ugh ... oh well, hopefully in 2 weeks I can't be any worse ... right???!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Updating ...

Just updating a bit. Been a quiet week again. After Wednesday, longed Tiki boy Thurday; he was good; lazy as usual. Cantered right lead and he did cross canter a little, so he probably needs to learn to pick up his right lead on a proper bend. Usually, we get the right lead from a counter bend ... bad Jen! Now that he can actually canter equally on both leads, there's no excuse for not getting him set up properly.

Friday, I rode 4. Started with Chester, and he was so good! Just a nice, easy trot for about 20 mins, then worked his good (right) lead, which has REALLY improved. For a time, his canter was SO bad, I only worked the trot for a few weeks, to try and get him balanced and bent. For a time, his left lead has been non-existant. The cowboy worked on simply cantering, NOT leads. So, getting him to realize he has a left lead is HARD. I've been working my tail off to reinforce left lead = ending work, and he's finally getting it! Got the left lead after only 2 tries, which was a record for him:)

Then rode Audrey. I tell you, when did she get fun?? It's crazy; I used to feel so horrible on her, and I was terrified of screwing her up. Now, I really look forward to riding her. I've gotten used to her bouncy little trot, and we have a bond now. Her canter is just a dream. She's got a natural, easy lead change that I WISH I could package up and put on Tiki. She moves off my leg, does TOTFH easily, makes the step over POLES, can also add the step over poles, and moves consistently forward with virtually no leg from me. I've actually been working on PUTTING my leg on her, since she's so sensitive to it. She's just a good girl!

Mick is my newest ride, and he's only hard because he's so big. His trot is CRAZY! His canter is just lovely, and his attitude is great. He's just so "Whatever", lol. He's taken Audrey's place as my challenging ride; I have to fight every step to keep my body in position, so for the most part, I just work on being EFFECTIVE, NOT pretty. The whole package will get there, it just takes time. Currently just working on asking him to hold himself up, and keeping his butt under his body.

Tiki was good. Rode in draw reins today; I decided that his neck needs to bend, and his butt needs to work twice as hard as it has been, so he can build muscle along his back and topline. The only reason his back is still undermuscled is because I'm obviously lacking in the "getting Tiki to use his ENGINE" department. I will probably only jump once this week, because I won't get to ride until Wednesday. Stayed home today to rest up from the NASCAR race yesterday, and will be riding Audrey in a lesson with Janet tomorrow. Joyce will ship her out, I'll lesson, then Joyce will take her home. I'll stay in Canton and teach my usual lessons, then I have a meeting later for my IEA team. So ... no riding the Tiki boy until mid-week. I'll try and get the mares down front, and do some more hill work this week. 2 more weeks until our 2nd jumper debut!:)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Good ride today.

Today actually felt really good. It was sort of 'rinse and repeat' from Monday. Today I woke up with a bad runny nose, so that explains why I stayed in bed all day instead of riding yesterday! Rode Mick first, and let me tell you ... he is HARD. That trot is absolutely unreal. Plus, he's so wide he literally hurts my right hip ... I rode Tiki right after him, and he felt SO tiny, lol. Warmed up with my usual exercise; circle, reverse across a pole, circle, reverse across a pole, repeat indefinitely until horse seems to supple up. Cantered both leads, no issues with the right one. Had my identical jump course set still from Monday, and mixed things up a little.

Trotted into a single cav. Good. Landed right lead for a left turn, so halted and backed. Trotted across the pole and reversed; REALLY worked on the proper bends. Trotted the cav 'stack' jump ... he did bang it, but didn't knock it down. Landed left lead for a right turn so halted and backed. Walked for a second, then did it again. This time after the stack, he jumped that SO much better, and landed on a LOVELY, soft right lead canter. Kept going to the oxer line. Got a great distance, but dumbbutt me didn't support with enough leg, so he overjumped the oxer from a bit of a stutter. Did the 3 easy, then stuttered off at the vertical as well because I hadn't recovered yet. AGH! Patted his neck in apology, then repeated the exercise with the trotting in. Much better! Nailed the oxer line nicely, but I was unsatisfied with my release. Did the course ONE more time, asking for flying changes over the pole this time and got them! Asked him to leave WAY long for the oxer, and he did as I asked. Knocked the jump hard, and I pulled him out of the line because I didn't think we'd make it. Let him recover for a second, then did JUST the 3 stride again; got it good! Focused HARD on making sure I gave him a GREAT auto release. Felt like I did. Had a good distance, gave him plenty of leg, and made sure my hand dropped low on the neck so I could maintain a straight line from bit to elbow. AWESOME! Felt as though he was really good today. I felt good, too, so hopefully tomorrow will continue that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another show ... what am I thinking?!;)

Sooo, looks like we'll be doing another show in 3 weeks. This time, I'll stick 100% with the jumpers. That's what I want to do with my boy, so why torture him with the hunters? Haven't done much with him this week. Rode yesterday and jumped him for the first time since the show. He felt GREAT! Willing, forward, and just like normal.:) Set up a nice sized 2'9 oxer to a 3' vertical, and had set up 2 cavellettis on TOP of each other, making a sort of scary looking 2'6ish jump. Had 2 poles set to practice lead changes over. Interestingly, he had right lead issues.:( He'd had his massage Saturday afternoon, and I rode him Monday after he had Sunday off. Felt good; nice and loose, but when I asked for the right lead, he had trouble. Celeste did tell me he felt sore on the right side, and Tiki let her really get into the muscle deep on that side. She said he did not let her really mess with the left side too much, and obviously, that's the side where he has to start his right lead. Overall, he felt pretty much the same to me; his right lead issues are certainly nothing new. Riding the rest of this week! The weather is COOL for a few days, yay!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tiki ought to be feeling good soon ...

Not much going on this week. Gave the boy Monday off, hacked him Tuesday and schooled lead changes over poles (nailed them!). Procrastinated and didn't have time to ride Wednesday, and had full plans to ride him today. Had him groomed and everything, but another horse slipped on the wet grass at a full out gallop and went through the fence while I was riding Mick, so I had to put him up and go tend to the horse's wounds. He did cut himself up fairly badly, so that took up the rest of my riding time. He's supposed to get his first massage tomorrow, I'm looking forward to seeing if there's a change!

Monday, August 24, 2009

We're home, and we survived!

It really was a lovely weekend; could NOT have custom ordered better weather, yay! Sunny, in the 80's, and at the GIHP.:) Arrived Saturday afternoon and all was well. Got stalls set up, unloaded Becca's horses, waited on Joyce to arrive with Tiki and friends. They pulled in about an hour after us, so we put them in their stalls to chill/drink/eat hay since the show was still going, anyway. Some time around 6, the ring FINALLY finished, so we all tacked up and walked into the massive grand prix ring. It is beautiful, huge, and nearly overwhelming. Both the hunter ring and the jumper ring were set in the one ring. And there was STILL plenty of room ... that's how massive this thing was. Walked in and he was definitely bright eyed and bushy tailed ... remember how I was going to hack him Friday after the farrier? Yeah, didn't happen. So, this was the first time I've sat on my boy's back in a solid week. No longeing or anything. So, we just walked the entire perimeter, ALL the way around both rings. The hunter ring was pretty standard; 2', no oxers, inviting jumps. The jumper ring was only 2'3, but MAN those jumps looked twice as big. We are talking a fill layer, then flowers, then a box, then a pole, then the oxer rail. Tiki (and I) has NEVER jumped such elaborate jumps. I won't lie, it was intimidating. The course was more oxer than vertical. And there were a LOT of jumps in there. Plus, there was an in and out and a 2 stride (glad we've been practicing those!). I let him canter around the whole ring a few times; he was VERY fresh. Kept cantering until he finally dropped down a gear. Trotted a bit, then cantered into the jumps on the hunter side. He was great; his usualy Tiki self!:) Came over to the jumper side, picked out a course to do, and began. I don't know if it was me, or him, or both. Every single jump, he stalled out, leaped over from a dead standstill, and of COURSE I hit him everywhere but in between the ears in the process. That certainly didn't help his confidence. Apparently I was leaning forward and dropping my leg, so tried again ... a teeny bit better, but still a HUGE hesitation at the base of every single jump. Wow, that was NOT helping my nerves, lol. Tried the 2 stride ... did 2 and a chip. Came again; same. Came again with a forward canter, body back, and a loud voice; got the 2. Did the in and out; got the one, but it was long. Again, and he got it. Wasn't making the step down any of the lines, but we did finally finish with a course that felt RELATIVELY hesitation free. Quit there.

Sunday rolled around early and beautiful:) He looked fantabulous; glossy, happy, and jumper-y. He was SO much more relaxed; he'd eaten all his food, dove into his hay, and had lovely, solid poop. Pulled on my boots last minute, put on his bridle, and we began to walk down about a half hour before the start of the show. Becca talked to me and calmed me down, and I took him in the ring to see every single jump. We could hack, but not jump that morning. I let him walk up and sniff every jump. Lots of pats, and he felt fine. Did a little trot and canter, then came the all clear call, so we went into the schooling ring to jump a few. I felt pretty good since we'd ended on a good note, so trotted into the little pvc pole crossrail with my body up, leg on ... and he stopped dead and leaped over. Holy cow! What the heck!? THAT had never happened.:( Again, the same; again, the same. Finally kicked him hard, and he went over smoothly. She raised it to a vertical, and he was sticky off the ground, but he made it. Did the oxer, and it felt ok, so we quit. Great, now the nerves were back full force. Watched one go, then we went in. Walked until the whistle, then picked up a trot. Cantered by the in and out (on the WRONG LEAD) and headed to the first outside line. OK first jump, then a chip, then a few ok with lots of hesitation jumps, then to the in and out. He wanted so badly to run out, but I did NOT let him; he put 2 in there, but stayed clear. Continued to the final line and he was clean, but stopped and leaped at the final. Now, it was time to continue on for the speed portion ... something clicked in his head at this point, and the boy totally changed. I FELT it. We cantered into the fence, nailed it; bending line, nailed it. Around to the in and out, I growled loudly, and it was MUCH better. Finished with a big oxer to oxer bending that wasn't in the first round. I had my leg on tight and rode down to the base; he finished up clear and NO more stop/jumps. It was SO much better. We ended up 6th out of 10; yipee! I was SO proud; it was a HUGE course, a first for both of us, and he made me so proud. Back in his stall for a few hours, then back out for the hunters.

I changed into my hunt coat, tacked him up sans ear bonnet and boots, and we went back down to the jumper ring again. He felt wonderful jumping; much more like my Tiki boy. Our worst bobble was coming into a 5 stride line, he backed off and chipped the whole thing, and I don't think he got a single change. Went back in for 2nd trip, and he got 2 lead changes this time, and felt GREAT! Came back to the line we'd chipped, and I rode him up to it pretty hard ... nailed the first, then trucked down the line so hard he got a 4 and a half this time. Oh well, at least he tried! Was picture perfect in the hack, but he's just NOT a hunter. We got all 4ths out of 4 and we deserved that, but gained some valuable experience. Next time, we'll do all jumper classes, and in the mean time, I'll work on building up some jumps at home so we're both not so taken aback by REAL horse show jumps:) All in all, a hugely successful weekend.:)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

T minus 3 days and counting ...

As if I needed to add to my anxiety level ... went to the barn to ride Monday and guess who's other rear shoe was hanging on my a single nail ... wow. Sucks for me! Groomed him really well, cut his mane (he HATES to have it pulled), and hoped that night he'd go ahead and pull it off. I looked at it, but that one stinking litle nail was TIGHT, ha ha. Tuesday am, the shoe was gone and fortunately his foot is in pretty decent shape. Figured now was as good a time as any, and proceeded to pour Sore no More on his lower back, rub it in really well, and put the heating pad on. I almost had figured that since he's so sensitive and touchy, he would shake the pad right off but surprisingly he stands quietly. I guess it does feel pretty good to him; he likes warm things. His bath water is borderline as warm as mine ... litte prince.:) Took that opportunity to go ahead and get him clipped up ... muzzle, goat hairs, bridle path ... ears. Got them about half way done, and I realized that despite frequent applications of Kool Lube, the clippers were getting a little warm. Put them up, gave him lunch, and went to work. Yesterday was a bit of a "rinse and repeat". Sore no More, heating pad, then JUST ears. Tried a twitch ... the first time it fell off. Tightened it up, and that allowed enough distraction for me to QUICKLY finish the ears off. They look pretty decent! I will clip up his fetlocks today as a finishing touch while the heating pad rests on his back, and then practice the quarter marks I've been trying to learn. Tried them a bit yesterday, but he was a little dirty. Plus, I really had no idea what I was doing! I've since watched a video, so I am a little bit better prepared.

Wore my boots around the house. I've been slowly packing things up; show pads are clean, black polos are clean (for the jumper class), bridle is not yet clean because I am planning to give him a nice hack tomorrow after the farrier visits.:) Won't worry about the jumps because he's proven that he WILL go over them. I'll just rely on our Saturday schooling. May set up a little bending line with poles to work on a short, direct distance. Need to go today for a new polo shirt (HOPING jackets are waived ... PLEASE!;)) and a belt. I have several belts because glory be, I've lost about 25 lbs recently, so all my jeans literally fall off me once they're all sweaty and stretched out (such a nice visual, huh), but the belts are all like 3 inches wide so they don't fit in the belt loop of my breeches. I have washed my gloves and my helmet. Yes, you read that right ... my helmet. It is REALLY getting time to replace it since it's out of that 5 year window now, so it has a large layer of dirt, dust, and grime on it. I filled the sink with hot water, added a little laundry detergent, and scrubbed thoroughly with a sponge. Soaked the helmet pretty well, just didn't dunk it all the way. Rinsed with the spray, then laid it out on a towel to try. Pulled out my old trusty Troxel schooling helmet and put on my helmet cover with the jumping horses ... might as well have fun with it, right?? I'll have to post a pic of that for your laughing pleasure at a later date; the helmet's at the barn right now;) Riding Reley, Audrey, and Mick today. Giving Tiki man another spa day, then holding horses for the farrier tomorrow. Sunday ... today is Thursday ... ok butterflies, you can settle down now!:)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back in the saddle again ...

Hey everyone! Gave Tiki man a few days off after his epic gymnastic exercise:) I'm a little sad to report that Wednesday I had the chiro out to give the boy an adjustment, but she was REALLY late and I couldn't stay. Susan was very gracious and came out and held him for her while she was SUPPOSED to adjust him ... yes, I say SUPPOSED to. She calls me and says she isn't even going to touch him because his tense, tight muscles would just pull it right back out of place:( $85 later, I'm supposed to buy some Sore no More and a heating pad, and regularly do that for him until I can afford the exorbinant fee to have some sort of electric stimulation for the muscles treatment, and THEN she can adjust him. Of course, everyone at the barn is all mad on my behalf, but I do see the chiro's point. I guess I'll do the heating pads, have Celeste work on him and massage him in exchange for me riding Mick for her during the week, and see if I can save up a little money to have the treatment done on him. She appeased me by telling me she'd throw in A, B, and C for free next time she comes out; I guess that's my incentive to make sure and get her back out again. After that treatment, we'll see how he feels.

Gave him Thurs and Fri off because that was the original plan, and rode him today after work. He didn't feel super sore to me; he did feel a HAIR off when I first started, but that may be because he's due for shoes today, but got put off until Friday because technically Wednesday is 6 weeks, and a few of the other horses were in worse shape. Hacked him lightly, then cantered around a little course; he gave me a few changes; he did buck through one or 2, but he tried! Warmed up over the cavs, then cantered into a 2'9 3 stride ... he jumped the SNOT out of the jumps, Holy Cow! I actually exclaimed an expletive while he was jerking his knees to his eyeballs. Good boy today ... can't belive the show is only a week away now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So NOT sad, lol!

Wow, what a day. Let's see. After mine and Tiki's torturous trot Sunday, I decided to longe him Monday since I had NO idea when farrier would make it out again. He doesn't tend to make any promises when it comes to tacking shoes back on. Soooo, looked high and low for the borrowed boot from Sunday, but could NOT find it. That reinforced the idea that longeing was a good idea so I wouldn't tear his foot up. I used a whole roll of vetwrap on his foot and realized something weird: the nails were still in the foot. The shoe was ripped off, but the nails were still there. Huh. Led him up to the ring and warmed him up before slowly tightening the side reins. Dang, my boy is L.A.Z.Y. on the longe. I wear myself out trying to keep him going and tracking up! Anyway, 20 mins later I was fairly satisfied he'd worked hard. Hosed, gave him lunch, commenced to cleaning stalls and guess who shows up! Yup, our wonderful, fabulous farrier. Told me that probably my riding him so much on that DRY m10 had worn down the nail heads a bit, and when he and his pasture buddies were wrestling each other in the pond, one of the buddies probably stepped on his shoe and yanked it off. He tacked it back on and I was happy.

So, today. Nicole and I planned to ride together and do gymnastics. I arrived and procrastinated a little waiting on her, but she wasn't at the barn yet, so I decided to go ahead and just set what I thought. Set up a trot in bounce with the cavellettis, a one stride to a tall crossrail, another one stride to a taller crossrail, then a final one stride to The Jump, which was at 2'6. My goal for the day was to get through the gymnastics, first and foremost ... he's been known to stop and attempt to run out when I set gymnastics with cavs. He's never done regulation gymnastics with the jumps set up and poles everywhere. Once again, I was nervous, lol! Decided to set a pole between the last 2 jumps to encourage him to back off and round his neck and back since he can get fast and flat through the cav gyms. Nicole's mare is quite well versed in the gymnastic exercise; she is full Morgan and has a super athletic jump. I set the jumps all at regulation full stride length, then second-guessed myself. They just LOOKED super long to me, but then, I'm SO used to setting all the stride lengths short because school horses do NOT have a horseshow stride. I HAVE to remember that Tiki and Star are NOT school horses, and they CAN make the step easily. But still ... those distances looked SO long ... so I moved everything in about a foot and a half.

My second goal was to up our height again and jump 3'3. I wanted to save him from my unreliable eye, and jump him over The Jump with the distance there and set ... all I would have to do is release and stay out of his way. I was very gracious and let Nicole go first, ha ha. Seriously, I wanted to make sure the distances were good. It was perfect through the final distance, and that one was a teeny bit long and she chipped in an extra step. I had Nicole go again and close her leg more, and it was good. Just a HAIR long for Star, but would probably work for Tiki. I took a deep, shaky breath and began. Warmed up over a single, then trotted into the cav bounce ... and a stop. DAMN! I knew it was going to happen; at least I was ready for it. I let him stand there and eye the line, which IS a little intimidating. When I build gyms for my kids, I always do it an element at a time. Didn't really to have that option this time since the both of us were on our horses and it was 90+ degrees outside in the blazing sun. So, I put my heels down, shortenend my reins, and came again with my voice ready to encourage. I have the "Goldstein Growl" (for those of you that have seen Margie Goldstein-Engle compete in Grand Prix competition), and used that growl coming into the bounce. Got through that, and he bravely felt his way through the grid, carefully lifting his legs over the poles correctly. Big praise, and I could almost feel his cockeyness as he cantered away from the exercise ... my little punk was proud of himself, I could totally tell:) Nicole went through again and was perfect, so we went through again ... perfect. We took turns raising The Jump at the end, and got through 3', which he whacked pretty good. Didn't knock it down, but was just a little careless with his feet. Raised it to 3'3, and also raised the 2 crossrails to set him up for the higher jump at the end. Perfect. Put it up to 3'6 for Nicole ... and decided to go for it. He didn't touch the 3'3 ... I didn't feel like he put in a huge effort, he didn't jump me out of the tack, it just felt ... good. Watched her go through first and Star did knock the pole, so I fixed it and she went again. Picture perfect and Nicole proclaimed she was done. We went for the last time and he was tired ... very tired. He faced the grid one final time and began jumping through; the 3'6 was perfect. I felt SO good! I didn't get left behind, or lose form, or not release ... I felt like I was just as good as my punk! I mean, punkin;) I jumped off while he was still walking and loosened the girth, and realized Nicole was dismantling the gymnastic and bumping up The Jump to 3'9. She removed the middle X, removed the poles, and remounted. Tried to canter in and jump it by cutting into the former gymnastic, and it didn't quite work out as planned. Star jumped through the jump instead of over it. I reset it for her and Nicole came through the bounce to the crossrail, then straight ahead to The Jump. That crazy mare hopped right over it ... very astonishing. She is ATHLETIC like CRAZY. I was happy for her ... maybe the Tiki man will do 3'9 some day, but for now I'll be happy with jumping around a full 3' course with a couple of bigger ones thrown in there for fun.:) GREAT DAY, the only thing that would have made it better would be video, or even just pics. We've already decided next time we do this, we will be video taping our rides next time. THANK YOU, NICOLE!!:)