Friday, July 31, 2009

We did it!

It was raining today, and wasn't sure I'd get a ride in. I'm super conscious about the footing in the ring, and wasn't sure if it would be too wet since it's rained several days in a row. Got there and one of my friends had finished riding, so I assumed the footing was fine. Tacked up my boy, and went up to examine the jump she and her lovely mare Star had jumped. A nice, solid 3'3 vertical. I moved around a few cavellettis so I would have something to warm up over, then dropped the jump 2 holes down to 2'9. No placing poles this time.:) Did a nice, easy trot and canter both ways and he felt pretty good. A little stiff, but then I haven't ridden him since Tuesday. After the light warm up, worked him pretty good at the trot, used some of the exercises I observed at the PWF dressage clinic from Wednesday. We did a shallow serpentine, really working on bending and flexing. Alternated that with a 5 loop serpentine, and by the time I'd done it several times arond the ring, he really did feel more supple and responsive. Cantered again; this time on the bit and me sitting down, and he felt really good. I didn't have to haul on the reins at all today ... on days when he pulls, I give him a HUGE half halt, then let go completely so I don't teach him to hang on me. It doesn't LOOK pretty, but it gets the job done. Anyway, he felt nice and light today; no need to hugely half halt. Trotted over a cavelletti; good. Trotted over a cavelletti oxer; good. Rinsed and repeated. Cantered in to both and he felt great. Without giving myself time to think, turned and cantered left lead to the Jump. A little longer than I would have liked, but not bad. Reversed, cantered down to an identical distance. Reversed and changed my ride a little bit; steadied more in the corner and closed my leg down to the jump. That was the ticket; nailed the distance. Reversed, rinsed and repeated. Perfect. Without allowing myself to think, got off and raised the jump to 3'. Got back on, cantered in left lead and nailed it PERFECTLY. I jumped off while he was walking and loosened the girth, praising and scratching his head. Not too shabby for someone that hasn't jumped 3' in literally I can't even REMEMBER how long! Tiki was brave and bold; didn't even hesitate. We've hit our height goal. I want him to be a 3' horse for me. If we ever get higher, great! If not, I'm FINE with that. 3' is big enough to be exhillirating, but not so big that if you miss a distance you meet with tragedy. Plus, he has an old bowed tendon, so I don't want to jump him 5' or anything like that. I am SO PROUD of both of us ... it was a big day for me to try that by myself.:)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Practicing what I've seen ...

Went with Susan today and audited a Gigi Nutter clinic today. Gigi is a fairly big name local dressage trainer ... she was fantastic! I must admit, I was a little intimidated when we walked up and the first thing I hear is, "Remember, your longitudinal flexion affects your vertical flexion!" I went, "Uh, NO!" But, that first lady was doing passage, tempis, etc. I'm NO WHERE NEAR that, lol. Saw some great displays of things I have no idea how to do; shoulder-right, shoulder-fore, haunches in, half pass, tempis. I watched, and I listened, and I drooled. Then I decided there was NO good reason why my horse doesn't have a decent bend in his neck and a stellar walk to canter transition. So, went home and worked on it, lol!

Put him back in the draw reins for the 2nd time in his life; he worked HARD! Felt good; nice flexion in his neck, and didn't lean in at the canter. He did, however, lean on my hands and get a little "pulley" on me. Worked on flying changes with limited success ... before those will get easy, he needs to get his hind end underneath him. He has a HARD time WALKING on contact. Wants to lag behind my leg, and when I get after him, jig. Attempted the walk to canter transition both ways and while it was BETTER, it still wasn't perfect. He DID do a beautiful trot to canter transition both ways, though:) He has a lovely leg yield and shoulder-in. Attempted haunches-in, but not sure we got it since no one has ever taught it to me. I worked on sitting BACK, and sitting DOWN at the canter ... there's probably some no stirrup work in my future. Currently breaking in my 12 year old tall boots, and might ride in them tomorrow, yay! (insert extreme sarcasm here) More than likely will go out on a hack tomorrow since I worked him pretty hard in the draw reins today. Good boy, though!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

jumping video!!!!!

Exciting day! Hauled Tiki man to PWF Friday to ride with my friend Mitzi and school around solid jumps so we don't die at the show! He was FRESH! It was funny ... he hasn't felt like that in quite some time:) First thing in the morning, we 'competed' in the flat eq challenge with my girls that did Advanced Horsemanship Camp that week with me. I was expecting on of my girls to beat me ... they're all very lovely riders. They're young, they've got stamina, and they've been riding CONSISTENTLY for years ... they let their trainer (me) beat them! My young, green horse managed to be good for a sitting trot, canter to a halt, totfh, canter again, simple change to the counter lead on his BAD (right) lead, working walk, turn on the haunches (which we've never schooled), then a right lead canter to a hand gallop down the center line. He was a SUPERSTAR!!! Nailed every lead, nailed every halt, and listened very well. That was in the morning ... put him up for an hour or 2 and let him drink/eat hay, then pulled him back out to school around over fences. Let him toodle around on a loose rein to loosen up, cantered him through the cavelletti exercise (uneventfully this time;)) then warmed up jumping.

I won't lie. My heart was in my throat. The things we had to conquer today:

1. Roll Top; I HATE roll tops. They're my 'booger' jump.

2. Solid 2'3 aqueduct box with arches; this one is scary because you never know how the horse will react to seeing daylight at the bottom of the jump

3. Skinny single; we've had steering challenges to narrow obstacles

4. Solid 2'3 oxer with a big gate; I would have felt better with just the GATE, but it had an oxer pole behind it!

5. Regulation stride 2 stride; I'm still paranoid that my teeny horse won't make the step (which he does effortlessly), AND remember those steering challenges ...

6. Nice solid outside line set at around 2'6 with little gates; this one I was actually confident with

7. 2'3 solid coop; this one I was ok with as well because the front side looks like stacked logs ... but again, you never know how a horse will react to it

Soooo ... we had a lot of things to conquer today! Began with a trot over a crossrail to warmup ... I did too much, so we did it again and was better.:) My friend began, and started off with a full course of a small gate to the roll top ... that did NOT help my nerves, lol! Anywayhe strung together a whole nice course and did very well ... didn't miss a beat! Then, it was my turn. Trotted into the gate (even though it was small, it was our first gate, too!) NO PROBLEM. Circled, then trotted down to the roll top; he did sort of leap over it, and I jumped up his neck. I PERSONALLY have not jumped a horse over a roll top in 10 years or more. Came around and cantered into the outside gate line and he was perfect.

Bottom line, my boy did not LOOK at ANYTHING! He was bold, and confident, and I think there's MORE than enough jump in there for anything I will ever want to do. I won't go down the list of every single jump because the video speaks for itself. Compare to the previous video a few posts down ... BIG difference in my pony, huh?? Our only bobbles were the roll top the first time, the tall green gate bending line the first time because I neglected to close my leg, and the short bending line from the brush to the white gate because he left out a stride and I didn't help him there at all. Everything else had a nice distance and felt GREAT!

Repeated again yesterday ... wish I'd had a video then as well because he was MUCH more relaxed. Mitzi wasn't there this time, so Becca kicked my butt for me.:) We jumped MOST of the jumps again, and he didn't bobble one time. It was better because I had the confidence that he was GOING, so I was better mentally prepared to sit up and ride in BETWEEN the jumps. Sat up better, slowed him down more effectively, and felt 10 times more confident over the jumps. Our biggest issues from Friday was that our pace built throughout the course. Yesterday, I rode him INTO the lines slower, and gave a good half halt in the center to simply keep his pace at a more reasonable speed. He wasn't tearing around out of control, he simply was jumping like ... a jumper instead of a hunter! Yesterday definitely felt more hunter like. Good day, good day!

BTW, the video here at the bottom of the post is my friend so she can see it. The file is too big to e-mail or post on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Great ride after giving the boy a few days off ...

Spent this weekend with my hubby. We went kayaking for the first time Sunday and had a BLAST, so didn't go to the barn at all until today. Planned to go out yesterday but I just could NOT make myself get up at 5:15. I will tomorrow, but I'm riding Audrey and not Tiki:( So he'll have tomorrow off too, but I will ride him Thurs, Fri, and Sun. If I can borrow Janet's trailer, I will take him to PWF Friday and my friend Mitzi will school us around the jump course ... must jump all the bigger solid fences in preparation for our show soon ... :) As for today ...

Rode with a crop for the first time in about 6 months. Had my spurs on, too. He has gotten SO quiet that I had to constantly use the spurs and nag him during my lesson with Susan. Today, if he ignored my leg I gave him a firm smack behind my leg. That' worked! Only had to do it twice, lol! He got the gist of what I wanted. Repeated the exercises from my lesson the other day ... walk/trot/walk/trot/walk/trot. Worked on my body so that I didn't drop my shoulder and lean forward at all. Worked on my trot/canter transition, and it was good today, yay! Did no lead changes today since my goal was to challenge ourselves jumping. Yup, I bumped up my "big" jump. From 2'6 to 2'9. Laid out some placing poles. Set up a 1 stride to a bounce to a 1 stride with the cavellettis on the medium setting. Then set up a 2'3 square oxer off to the other side. I had my heart in my throat all the way through the flat work. I was afraid he would overjump the oxer in a big way. I was afraid we would crash the 'big' jump. I was NOT afraid of the combination. And the combo is what we had problems with! The only semblence of gymnastics I've done with him is 3 bounces on the lowest setting, and a small vertical with a pole in the front, and 2 bounce poles on landing. I just figured we'd canter right on through, no problem ... forgetting that my goofy horse REALLY is not a big fan of these cavellettis. They're narrow, old, and rickety. Anyway cantered in to warm up and he LEAPED over the first pole, then ran all over the 'X' part of the cavelletti trying to run out. Circled, tried again, repeat. UGH! Circled, trotted in, jumped the first then stopped flat out at the 2nd. Finally just WALKED through the combo. Then trotted in and he did it right. Did it about 3 more times, and by the time I quit that, he was sort of over it. I tell y'all ... for a 15.2 hand horse, he has a HUGE stride. Had the distances set at a fairly standard 18' to 9' to 18' ... should have ridden steady. Rode SHORT, lol. Finally stopped that and bit the bullet and trotted to the oxer. I was ready to GRAB mane, but he cantered the last 3 steps and jumped over perfectly. Huh? Came at it the other way and perfect. Wow. I was really, honestly suprised. No look, no stop, no bobble. Just canter up and hop over.

Now ... it was time. The 2'9. Tiki's highest jump to date and the highest I've jumped in ... 10 years or so. I debated getting off and lowering the jump 10 times. My heart was beating so loudly, I was sure he could hear it. "Just find a distance to the pole, just find a distance to the pole". So, I looked for a distance to the pole ... found it ... and we were up and over! I patted his neck and praised him loudly. Reversed, looked for a distance to the pole ... another perfect jump! The best part; it felt exactly the same as the 2'6 jump. He was willing, he was forward, and showed NO signs being scared about the height. Decided to try ONE more time, and leg go of his mouth completely in the air ... I jump with an automatic release, following his mouth in the air. I usually can't crest release with a loopy rein unless I come in in my 2-point holding mane. So, decided to come in ONE more time, and make an effort to really just RELEASE. Well, I did, and he hit the pole. So I came to the decision of "why fix it if it ain't broke?" SO happy, great day! He will enjoy tomorrow off, then hopefully I'll get to school him around PWF Friday.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Interesting day today ...

Took a lesson today from Susan across the street. She came over to the farm and gave me the lesson there. It was good. She kicked my BUTT, lol. He is SO lazy right now ... may try riding him with a dressage whip. It's tough to get much accomplished when he just won't go forward. Anyway, worked on getting him to track up through the trot/walk/trot transitions. I'm guilty of "throwing him away" in the upward transition, and dropping my leg during the downward transition. He wasn't bending as well as he had in the past, and Susan had me change my wrist and hands a little bit. It helped once we had cantered, and she suggested warming up with a little canter right in the beginning. Will be interesting to try it and see if he wakes up a little. Worked on balancing and slowing the canter a little more, and practiced some flying changes. All in all, quite good, and once again gave me some great homework to work on.

The funny part was after the lesson. I gave Tiki a jolly ball with a rope through it, then sat in a corner of his stall and watched him. He was SO funny, lol. Picked it up by the rope, banged it against the wall, spun it around, dropped it, bit the ball ... then he came over to me. He stuck his tongue out, twisted it up, pulled it back into his mouth. I stood and looked out the window of his stall, and he thoroughly sniffed every inch of me. It was so strange! He is just such a funny personality. We have definitely bonded now; he used to not like me messing with him at all. Now, he stands still as a statue while I spend 45 minutes fussing over his grooming, then just plays and noses and nudges while I sit in his stall with him for half an hour. He has no toys; I guess I'll look tomorrow when I go to the tack store and see if I can find him something.:) May do a little easy solo trail across the street tomorrow.
ETA: Here is the video from where Celeste and I trailered to that arena. You can see how slow his trot is and how NOT on the bit he is:) Hopefully Hubby will come out soon and video us jumping a little bit so y'all can have the 'before' and 'after'.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Got some GREAT pics today! and a Thanks!

First off, huge thanks to Stephanie at for giving me an award called the Honest Scrap award.

"When you receive The Honest Scrap award you must stick to some rules: Recognize your award presenter and link back to their blog in your post. List 10 honest things about yourself that others might not know. Present this award to 10 admirable bloggers and link to their blogs. Leave a comment on your recipients' blogs to let them know to visit your post to retrieve their award."

10) I just got an animal called a Sugar Glider. Her name is JJ and she is so cool!

9) I've lost about 25 lbs, and hoping to lose about 25 more!

8) Just went white water rafting for the first time up in Tennessee and it was WAY fun!

7) I have played the lottery in some form or fashion every single week since I turned 18 ... and I'm 30 now!

6) I plan to scrapbook every year of my son's life until he gets married ... and I'm about 4 years behind on it right now!

5) We have now done 4 cruises together as a family, and plan to do one every year indefinitely!

4) I love Disney movies, but not crazy about all the teen junk that's on Disney Channel that my son insists is "so cool".

3) I did NOT want to see the first Transformers movie. Now I think it's safe to say that both of them are on my top 5 list of all time GREAT movies!

2) I haven't ridden a 4 wheeler in 7 years and I MISS it like crazy:(

1) I have 4 fairly large tattoos and am currently planning a 5th!

I really enjoy Stephanie's blog because Fawkes is a big chestnut ottb like my boy (although, mine's not that big, lol)! I hope to be able to get my boy the type of lessons/training she's done with Fawkes here in the near future, and hope her ankle heals up quickly.:)

I'll have to post my own list of awards in a different post because Hubby's waiting me to finish up this current on! Today was good. A friend from the barn I teach at came out to Tiki's barn with me today. She watched me ride the boy and took some good pictures of us, yay! I am happy that I feel so strong ... a pic that a student of me took right at a year ago showed me jumping ahead, leg turned way too far out, leg slipped way back, hands planted and rigid in the horse's neck, and my elbows flapping out. The pic took today showed my leg right in place, seat out of the saddle according perfectly to his thrust, heels down, back flat, hands in an automatic release and following his neck. Yay! Tiki was a good boy; did a few of his "tricks". Missed the right lead twice ... not sure what was up with that. Maybe since I had an audience I wasn't setting him up perfectly. Went fairly quickly through the warmup, then jumped around a little bit. Jumps were good; no knockdowns!! I'll post pics now.:) My friend confirmed that the trot looks way better; bigger and slower, just as I've been working for.:)
For the first time ever in his life, Tiki was actually ridden by "little kids". My friend has 3 kids; ages 9, 6, and 2. The 9 and 6 year old take lessons from me, and were able to actually get him to trot around. He was reluctant ... he kept looking at me to make sure that was what he was supposed to do. Then my friend got on him; Tiki was definitely the most horse she's ever ridden. She would get him to trot, say "Good Boy", and he would stop. Lol, I had to get her to quit telling him "good", ha ha. Once she did, he trotted around a few times for her. They even cantered, and he didn't get fast at all, YAY!! All in all, it was a GREAT day!:)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New saddles help you see distances ... ;)

It's been so interesting. I'm sure if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I've had trouble with my trot rhythm, have a hard time seeing a distance, and tend to get left behind fairly often. Thursday, saddle trial day, was a decent day. Tiki was just OK due to the fact that it had been a whole week since I'd ridden in the ring, and it had stormed Wed night, so he didn't go out at all. Our flat work was so so, and the jumping was good in the sense that I didn't get left behind at all. Friday, however, was a different story all together. He came out with a good attitude! I walked 2 laps on a loose rein, then slowly shortened them as I asked for a trot. At that point, Tiki did something he's never done before ... stretched his neck ALL the way out and trotted with his nose on the ground. Tells me his back was happy!:) Let him warm up on a pretty loose rein, then began to shorten and ask for flexion. Had to use a LOT of leg, some spur, and a little bit of clucking to get him forward enough, but at least his rhythm was a good one; he was just too slow. Did shoulder in today, and he felt good ... he is starting to feel slightly more bendable because I've started doing carrot stretches every day. Y'all should hear his neck pop as he reaches around for those carrots!

Canter felt awesome both ways; seems like our lead problems are mostly a thing of the past. My leg felt SO tight; no swinging at ALL. I have a good tight leg, it just swings at the canter, and 95% of the time, swings back over fences ... always has. Friday, it didn't. Trotted into a tall cavelletti, and he was perfect. Just kept going. Came down to a trot, turned a corner, trotted another cavelletti, trotted, turned, trotted another cavelletti, trotted in/cantered out of the crossrail line, etc. Just kept going for about 3 minutes until he felt like butter. Didn't miss a single distance. Our only faux pas was when I cantered into the "big" vertical, and it sort of took him by suprise so he tried to skitter out on the left, but I used my eye, left leg, grabbed mane, and he went over. It wasn't pretty, but he did it. Cantered another cavelletti and he nailed it, so cantered to the "big" jump again. Absolutely, positively, nailed it. Quit there.

What a difference a properly fitted/balanced saddle makes. I've been one of those riders that's pretty much always had some sort of saddle that I've simply used on everything, and that's worked out fine for me. Never had a saddle that put me in such a nice position, despite the fact that my seat bones are a little tender! The seat is a completely different shape than what I'm used to, and even though it's comfortable, it's not cushy. I will be investing in one of those fleece seat savers for my bootie for when I trail ride in the new saddle. Taking the weekend off, then riding every day next week!:)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We've got a SADDLE!!!!

FINALLY. How long has it been since I began the search for a saddle? I've tried about a dozen ones on him. Finally, found an off the shelf saddle that fits him fabulously. It's the BdH regular tree from Dover. Rode in it this morning after determining last night that it fit well enough to try ... ended up taking off the half pad because the saddle fits so well he just doesn't need it. I'd never ridden in one, so I had no idea if I would like it at all. Something interesting occured ... when I got to the jumping phase of our ride, I did NOT get left behind. I have a getting left behind problem; probably 50% of the time, I get left behind, either a teeny little bit, or pretty dramatically. I jumped probably ... 10 times total, and got left behind once ... and I knew it was going to happen. My conclusion is that I'm much more balanced in this saddle that ACTUALLY fits! It fits so well I can see now how badly the Wintec was really fitting him. After our ride, checked out the sweat marks, and they were uniform, with no strange dry marks anywhere (like with the Wintec). So, keeping it and trying to get it broken in before I show him in 7 weeks ... :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sore, very sore

Sooo ... had my first fall off my boy. We went for a super fun trail Friday. His cut was looking pretty good, so figured there would be no problems riding. It was a few of us girls plus the Cowboy. Whenever the Cowboy is involved, there's some great trail blazing going on. We went up and down some HUGE hills, that I had NO idea were even there. I mean, these hills were so huge, going down I was just about lying on his butt. Going up, he was literally lungeing up these hills. Fun! Then it got a little scary ... going up one big and long and steep hill, Tiki slipped on some rocks and went DOWN on his knees. I didn't even have time to think. Dropped my reins and stirrups and just grabbed mane. Fortunately, he was able to get back up and it was no harm, no foul. Once we got to the top of the hill, we stopped to rest and I patted the heck out of him! Once that was over, it was over. We continuted to ride, and on the "downside" when we were getting close to being done, we decided it would be a GREAT idea to finally canter. The canter, however, was on a twisty, windy, tree laden part of the trail. As I was cantering, I saw a vine. I ducked the vine, however the vine managed to get around my neck anyway. It RIPPED me off his back. Forcibly. Yeah, it hurt a lot. My neck is super sore and has a lovely welt all the way around it. I did ride today, though, on the trail ... in the rain ... with just me and Nancy ... at a walk ... no cantering or trail blazing.:) I'm going to attempt to load the video from when Celeste and I trailered out to that covered arena and rode. Tiki has changed SO much since then ... can't wait for a new video to show the "after" some good training. OK, video didn't work; will have to try again later.:(

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Minor setback ...

Had a pretty darn good ride Tuesday. Went out Wednesday afternoon planning to ride in the back pasture. Took Audrey back there and managed to survive, so started grooming my boy ... and found a baseball sized lump behind his right elbow. There was a large gash there, and I thought for a minute it was a puncture. Thank GOD it was just a cut. A slightly deep one, but still not a puncture. Cold hosed, cleaned with Betadine, and applied some SWAT. Vet came out today for spring shots and took a look at it. He said it looked OK, but if it swelled up again to call him. Looked MUCH better today; almost no swelling at all. Cold hosed again, rubbed it lightly with my bathing loofah (gave him a bath), and put some Tri Care ointment on it. I'm not in love with SWAT. It does have its uses, but I don't like it long term. The cut today was pretty crusted over, so there really wasn't much to "clean". He got 2 grams of bute last night, and 1 gram tonight as a 'just in case'. Planning a trail ride tomorrow so long as it looks good. He did look sound; Tiki got turned out in the big pasture tonight with the 5 boys that have always gone out there. He did very well, but there was a little bit of trotting/cantering going on, and he looked beautimous.:) Oh well, still about 7 weeks until our debut show together! Dropped my tall boots off at the cobbler to have some elastic gussetts put in ... Lord, help me!!