Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It was 63 degrees this morning ...

... and Tiki and I loved every second of it! The only bad thing is I don't "stick" to the saddle as well because I didn't sweat too much today, lol. Had a darn good ride today. I had 2 moments that I wanted to kick myself in the butt for, but overall a pretty good day. I left his bridle with the Waterford at the other barn because I'd cleaned it there during camp on Friday, so I had to use his "trail bridle" with the french link D-ring and the figure 8 noseband. He's definitely not as relaxed thru the jaw, which means his neck wasn't that relaxed, but he wasn't too bad. He does the head cocked to the outside while he grinds his jaw thing in a regular snaffle. Canters felt GREAT, I really had to push him forward; he was very SLOW today. Didn't miss a lead. Cantered the cavellettis again today, and he was fine. I need to go ahead and lengthen them to 9' because his stride is definitely NOT short. Cantered the pile of poles and nailed the distance. Trotted into the 2'3 vertical and he was perfect. Turned around and trotted the 2'6 vertical and he stalled out right before he jumped, so I got WAY left behind and got him in the mouth.:( Patted him, cantered the 2' cavelletti perfectly, then trotted into the 2'6 vertical again; perfect. Cantered the 2' cavelletti again, but was off on my landing track and ran him into the standard of the 'pole stack'.:( That was just a dumb blonde moment, grr. Did the cavelletti and STEERED him over the poles this time, and it was a perfect little bending line. Trotted into the line, and he made a little bid at the jump and cantered the last 2 strides, so I had to push for the 4 ... he got a little flat, but jumped out fine; I simply had no time to stop. I stayed on track and halted straight, but technically we were out of the ring, lol. Cantered the cav/pole bending line again, then went straight to the line; much better. Nailed both distances, and halted straight again ... out of the ring. Decided to cut my losses and trot/canter for the final time. Gave him a good verbal "whoa" coming into the line, and he responded BEAUTIFULLY, nearly slaming on the breaks. Added my leg, he trotted nicely, then I balanced up for the 5 strides, and he jumped out like a CHAMP; round and responsive. Let him finish there. I was just THRILLED to find a distance today, and he didn't drop a single rail. Hopefully I will do some long trot sets in the back pasture tomorrow.:)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Managed to ride all week:)

Had an interesting week this week. Managed to ride every day Tues-Fri at 6:00 in the morning. Monday I just couldn't make myself get up:( Had camp and lessons all week, so I HAD to ride early. I must say, it was significantly cooler (though I was still dripping afterwards). Rode both Tiki and Audrey all 4 days. I will give the "short" version of our rides.

Tuesday: worked hard on lateral stuff. Shoulder in, turn on the forehand, half turn in reverse, leg yields, flying changes across a diagonal. He got a full change right to left, but only a half change left to right. Both leads now feel exactly the same; good! Had a single 2'3 vertical set up, and trotted/cantered over a few times. It was good. My problems with jumping are: I pop up too soon, I don't release enough, I get left behind 85% of the time at trot fences, and I'm finding that I can't see a distance to save my life. My horse is a SAINT, and is jumping well DESPITE my riding.:(

Wednesday: longed in side reins. Really snapped the whip at him to get him tracking up behind so he would bend his neck. FINALLY got there at the end. He had a moment tracking right where he galloped, bucked, and squealed ... it was amusing!:) Overall, he DID work hard, though I feel it took about 20 minutes to get him where I wanted him.

Thursday: set up a "regulation" 4 stride line with 2'3 and 2'6 verticals. Not much room on the ends since the piles of footing are still there. Here's where my 2 frustrating days began. Flatted quickly with just a simple w/t/c (although, my horse can now trot on a LOOSE rein, FINALLY!!), then began jumping. Trotted into each fence singly before attempting the line. In fact, we have NEVER jumped a line at Joyce's barn at all; only single fences. Trotted into the 2'3, cantered out over the 2'6. The first line felt GREAT, but he knocked down the 2nd fence. Got off an reset it. Came again, got a little crooked. Came again, he got flat. Tried again, and he knocked down the first fence, but the line felt better. Cantered in, got deep to the first; added a stride and got deep. Cantered in, he did 4 perfect strides, dropped the 2nd pole. Got off, reset, jumped in the other way. Dropped the first pole. AGH!!!!!! Frustration was beginning to set in. Cantered again, came in long, was flat through the line, but made the strides. Finished with trotting in/cantering out, and it was OK, so I quit. Overall, I was dissatisfied with both my riding, and his laziness.

Friday: more of the same. Quick flat, then began jumping a modified course I'd set up. Moved the 4 stride line to the other side of the ring where there's a SMIDGEN more room. Set a LARGE pile of poles on the opposite long side. 3 cavelletti's on the diagonal set on a short 7 foot stride on the lowest setting, and a single cavelletti on the same diagonal set on the tallest setting. Trotted the poles, and he jumped. Stayed with him, yay! Cantered the cavelletti's, and they were short, but he felt balanced and good. Trotted in/cantered out of the line, and he felt decent. Cantered the poles, and the distance was good. Tried to canter into the line, got deep/crooked. Tried again ... deep. Reversed, tried again. Long, akward flyer and dropped the 2nd pole. Again ... long again. AGH!!! Cantered the single cavelletti across a long diagonal, and he/I were perfect. Nailed the distance, all was well. Cantered poles, all was good. Trotted/cantered the line, and it was much better. Felt good in the air. Should have stopped. But NOOOOO. Cantered in; LONG. Cantered in again; DEEP. Cantered in again; dropped the pole. Cantered the cavelletti and it was good, so I quit there.

Wow. My eye needs some serious work. After some brutally honest self evaluation, this is what I've come up with. My problem is the line is set close to the corner with virtually no time to canter straight on due to the footing piles. I have a weak canter coming in, then try to ride up to a distance that isn't there. I have to make a decision to either go long, or pull on his face and get deep. I usually end up pulling. OR, I try to "balance" in the corner, which means I pull on his face and get him slow, then try to find a distance out of a slow canter with no impulsion. Impressed yet? Don't be. I've only DIAGNOSED the problem ... now, I actually have to find a way to FIX the problem. I think another lesson with Susan is in order ...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Long trail today!

Went on a 3 1/2 hour trail ride with Wayne and Joyce today. We had a super time! The whole first part of the trail, we were on the BUCKLE, literally. He was just in that wonderful, ground eating walk. The only bad thing was he left Chester and Reley behind, lol. Those babies walk so SLOW. Wayne trained them that way so they wouldn't spill their beer, ha ha. Enjoyed a short trot, and one short gallop. When we're out there, we're enjoying ourselves, not running at full tilt. He was dripping 20 minutes into the ride, but he didn't seem anxious at all. He was much happier being on the trail with buddies; no trying to turn around on me this time:) Went up a hill that was SO steep, he literally lunged up it. It was L O N G, too. Once we got to the top, my saddle felt strange. Looked down and saw it had slipped back about 4 inches, so I had to get off and fix it. Really enjoyed the trails; many of them I'd never been on, so it was fun. Got back to the barn and gave him a warm bath. Hopefully, I can motivate myself to ride at 6:00 every morning this week, because we're going to Tennessee this weekend. That's my plan!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No escape from the heat ...

Rode this morning at 7:30. I was DRIPPING by the time I got up to the ring.:( Bent Tiki gently into my knee both directions to try and loosen up his neck; he felt good when I did that. Walked nice and forward and had a good outside rein connection. That head SHOT down, yay! I really felt him reach under himself, so asked for the trot. Spent about 20 minutes at the trot, just doing circles, squaring my turns, reversing across a diagonal, half turn in reverse, and the figure 8 with straight lines. He felt really good. I'm not fooling myself; he doesn't feel really soft and supple. He feels like he's really trying ... he feels like he's really improving ... but he doesn't feel like a 100k A/O hunter, either. I would LOVE it if he does by this time next year.:) Maybe, we'll see ...

Went directly into the canter (left lead); he felt great. Straight, balanced, and wanted to go forward. I had to half halt and balance, and I worked on keeping one rein on each side of his neck so I didn't actually CREATE a leaning/shoulder popping problem. Came down to a halt, reversed through a perfect totfh, then picked up the right lead from a trot. He felt the same on the right lead as he did on the left.:) Cantered a circle, and he just felt great; very balanced, and very straight through his shoulders. Cantered on the right lead across a diagonal; stepped out, squeezed with my right spur, and a head shake and a crow hop later, we were on the left lead cleanly. Cantered a lap then did a super clean simple change to the right lead again and he nailed it.

Let him relax for a few; we were both tired and swimming in sweat at this point. I patted his neck and sweat flew in the air. He has a pretty nasty spot on his neck that looks like maybe a small bite; Joyce had been keeping SWAT on it to keep flies off, but it was looking sort of pus-sy ... eeew. He was so sweaty, a flap of skin had just fallen off it. Trotted up to my jump. I had set the poles at 3', then made it into a crossrail. Felt GREAT! Nailed our distance, landed straight. I only popped up a little, not as much as I usually do. Kept the left lead canter, and cantered the jump. I let go to the jump, and got deep again. I think my problem is I've done so many poles that my eye has adjusted all the way to the base, so I'm seeing the distance too deep. Tried again, and took a very akward flyer.:( Came back to trot, and he cantered the last step, getting a good distance. Jumped off the right lead, and got a better distance. Ended by cantering a right lead circle and making sure his shoulders were perfectly straight. He was covered in foam, and I was just wilted. Planning to clean stalls at 6:00 in the morning, then go on a nice quiet walking trail ride across the street after camp's over. Hosed his head, and he was deleriously (sp?) happy; he likes to drink hose water. He stands like a statue when I hose him with luke warm water. When I'm in a hurry and just use cold, he HATES it, lol. My boy is such a diva.:)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

So happy to have a ring!:)

Rode the boy today. I LOVE having a ring with footing to ride in. It's close by, there's no pastures to hike through to get there, and you don't have to go out in it, move a horse, then finally get to ride in it:) Moved the jump from its akward not anywhere near the center position, and put it on the outside track, in the center. That way, it's easy to get to off either lead, and you're not diving into a pile of footing upon landing. Let Tiki warm up on a loose rein. He seems very stiff to me. Did some carrot stretches today, and usually his neck pops, but he seemed to have difficulty bending his neck to get the carrot; no pops. I think Joyce is going to get the chiro out soon, and Tiki will definitely be on the list.

Anyway, he was quite good. No antics at all today; just focus. I cleaned his nose out really well with a baby wipe, and I think his head shaking was just a little bit better. He shook once or twice, but not on a constant basis. The trot felt really good, and I alternated lots of half turn in reverse; circle; serpentine; and figure 8. Cantered both leads beautifully, and did a bit of circle work at the canter. Came down to a trot and headed to the vertical. I guess it was about 2'. He felt GREAT over it. Went over a few more times, then cantered in. I made a conscious decision to let go of his face and see how it went with me NOT holding him down to the jump. It was a little too fast. I feel like Tiki rushed it and wasn't patient. So, I came in again and really balanced through the corner, THEN let go. That was much better. Got off, raised the jump one hole, then reversed to the right. Trotted in once perfectly, then cantered in on the right lead. Nailed the distance, landed left, so I let him finish there.

Things I'm trying to perfect:

1. Always ride into and square up my corners

2. Make sure my circles and half circles look like circles

3. When I serpentine, make sure my lines are straight and my loops are even

4. When cantering, make sure I'm not bracing my inside rein against his neck

5. When reversing, I always try to BEND the opposite direction before changing diagonals.

6. When jumping, I try to approach and leave STRAIGHT, and make sure he's not bulging through the turns

7. Above all, I try not to get stale and do the same things ride after ride.

My friend Becca and I are thinking of going on a poker ride. She'll have to see if her horse that she's leasing will be good for that, and I have to see about cancelling lessons on a Saturday. If those things happen, we WILL go, yay! So for now, LATER Y'ALL!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fun with other horses!:)

Tiki man was a BRAT today, for sure! Rode in the new ring for the first time with a)other horses; b)after dinner; c)since a big pile of footing has been spread. He was full fledged coming off the ground. His head was shaking, he tried to wheel around and follow his trail buddy, Star, and he was having definite "airs above the ground". I hate to call them "bucks", because to me, a buck is when a horse's head is between his knees and one way or another wants you OFF. These were not that. I would say more than a "crow hop", but less than a "buck". He was just acting pissy. I ignored him, though, and worked through the antics. Asked him to come down, flex, etc. He finally did but he wasn't happy about it. Cantered beautifully; no lead issues, and even performed his first full flying change on purpose! It was a right to left after the little 2' vertical we did. Trotted into that several times and he was quite nice. Cantered in a few times and got deep, but I'd rather be deep than long. Quit on a deep one because he was DRIPPING and it was getting late. Hosed him, tried on a new kind of fly sheet that Joyce had just lying around, and turned him out.

Stayed around and ate some food with everyone, then it started to RAIN and LIGHTNING. So, decided I'd go out to Tiki's pasture and help bring them in. Had a big bucket of food and a halter. Went to catch Tiki, but Chester bit him, In his blind panic to run from Chester, Tiki planted his toe right on the top of my foot and used that as a starting block for his sprint. I'm pretty damn sure there's a little bone or 2 broken. My foot is aching like a sore tooth, and driving the 10 minutes to the house sucked. It will be interesting to see how it feels tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First week of camp

Yesterday and today I actually got up at 6 am to ride Tiki before I left for camp. Yesterday was not so good. He was fresh and very ... bull dog like. Got a little bucky, which hasn't happened for quite some time. Really wanted to lean in at the canter; cross cantered a few times. If there's anyone out there close to Cartersville, GA that knows of an equine chiro, please leave a comment and let me know. I KNOW my guy can really use a good adjustment. PWF has gone almost exclusively to an equine massage therapist, and I'm just not sure that would do him any good.

Today was like night and day. He was VERY good. Relaxed, forward, bent nicely around my leg, and didn't lean through the turns in the canter. Cantered a pole and he was very adjustable ... trotted over very well with no problems. Probably won't have time to ride tomorrow, but I will Thurs and Fri.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Braved the rain:)

So yesterday, went to the barn to ride. JUST as I arrived, the rain came ... and stayed around.:( I cleaned a few stalls just because, brought in the 2 mares outside, and left. Today, I wanted to try again, but it wasn't looking too good. Began to clean stalls, and it started to look like things were drying up. About that time, Cowboy Wayne called and re-scheduled our trail ride that had originally been scheduled. I was a little bummed I wasn't taking Tiki (was riding Joyce's babies), but that turned out to be a GOOD thing. I rode Chester, the paint, and he was SO GOOD. I swear, those babies do NOT have the minds of 3 year olds. Wayne was schooling a new boarder's horse, and the horse was great heading out. Brave, alert, and didn't look at a thing. The problems began upon turning towards home, though. He decided to be a BUTT, spinning around, jigging, and generally not wanting to walk calmly. Chester on the other hand, just moseyed along like he had NO care in the world. The other horse was snorting, spinning, backing into trees, running into his butt, and he just took it all in stride without so much as a wide-eyed look. Tiki would have gotten upset, I believe.

After a little over 2 hours, we were back at the barn, and I decided to go ahead and ride Tiki man before finishing the few stalls I had left. Gave him a good grooming, then took him and Kody (my son) down to the grass ring because I don't want to mess up the footing before it's all settled in the ring. Just as I put my foot in the stirrup and swung up, a VERY unwelcome visitor slithered in the ring and through the grass. In a mild panic, I jumped off and threw rocks at the huge gray and black snake, but it just calmly and slowly creeped its way across the ring and out the opposite side. Tiki didn't care, and Kody was trying to take pics of it, but I was thoroughly unsure as to how to handle it! In the end, I just waited until I was sure it wouldn't strike us, then got back up on the Tiki boy. Rode quickly, as Kody had been waiting around ALL day at the barn, and the boy was good. A little grumpy at being on the grass instead of his ring with the lovely footing (spoiled boy!), but I feel as though we got some nice gaits. Kody didn't get stellar pics this time, as I feel he took all the pics before we warmed up and Tiki started to drop and round his neck. I think there's a good pic or 2 of how much bigger our trot has gotten:) Got a cool one of us on the RIGHT lead, yay. Didn't miss a lead today:) He felt not too bad; he's DEFINITELY getting stronger and more balanced. Hopefully I'll have time to ride in the ring tomorrow, and if not, maybe across the street on a trail. No video, will have to try again soon once the rain is GONE. Till later!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"He looks like a different horse!"

Happy, happy. Y'all may remember a few weeks ago I posted about trailering with Celeste to a covered arena. The footing was just ok, and my hubby came out to video me and Tiki. Upon watching the video, I was disappointed in how we looked. Even Celeste said to me I'd probably not be completely happy with what I saw on the video. She was right. He was moving too quick, but going too slow, and his neck was pretty inverted with his butt trailing out behind him.:(

Well, today was the first time Celeste had seen me ride him since that day. The prognosis was, "He looks like a completely different horse!" We LOVE the waterford, he's loving his back shoes, and I think his back feels pretty good under the good 'ol Wintec I've been using. I still didn't ride terribly long today due to the HEAT, but he was reaching down into the bit, he was using and stretching his back, and he performed a LOVELY simple change from left lead to right lead. I schooled the shoulder-in for the first time in awhile, and he was perfect! Trotted a little vertical, and he rapped it with the front feet, which is why I now use open front boots for jumping. Came back on it, and he rounded his neck, used his back, and picked his little footsies up.:) We stopped with that becaus he and I were both dripping. I put my pride and joy, the love of my life ... my son on Tiki's back. Let Kody steer at the walk, then grabbed Tiki's bridle and trotted him down the long side of the ring; my boys were just perfect! I'm so happy right now.:)

Monday, June 1, 2009

What it's like to have a buttery horse ...

Lol, rode in a Waterford bit today. Holy smokes, Tiki just melted into it! Kept his shoulders straight, stretched down and round, and felt very forward with his new shoes! He actually did feel as though he was stepping under himself and reaching out at the trot. He didn't feel gimpy or tentative at ALL, yay!:) The right lead felt just as good as the left lead, and on the straightaway they felt GREAT. He leaned in both directions, and I pushed down my inside hip, and it helped immensely. He felt great in the bit; very soft and willing to bend and round. Only rode for about 20 quick mins today; plan to set up a little jump tomorrow. Yay for finding bits that work!:)