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!!:)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sad ...

Tiki man lost his first shoe:( Nearly a year of wearing shoes and this is the first one he's flung. He's only had 2 cycles on the back ones and that's one he lost ... left hind. Joyce had a boot to put on that was too small for the other horse that's also missing. It was a little on the big side, but it went on and then stayed on during the ride. I took him into the back pasture and trotted ... for 15 minutes non stop ... up and down hills, in a circle, around the whole perimeter, back and forth. WOW was that hard. After 5 minutes I was dying and he was sweating, but we both pushed through and kept going. Gave him a bath afterwards. REALLY hope the farrier will find the time to come out and tack it back on before Saturday, but if not I guess I'll be putting the boot on and working him tomorrow and Tuesday. Wednesday he's supposed to get adjusted by the chiro, yay, so giving him Thurs and Fri off shouldn't be a problem.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Counting down to Aug 23 ...

I'm excited about the show, I have to admit it. Dropped my boots back off to have the stitching around the elastic fixed then reinforced, and am finalizing plans for Nicole and Kyle to ride with me, then one of my students to ride with Becca. My stomach doesn't drop to the floor every time someone says the word "show" now, ha ha. I think my parents are going to drive out and watch ... they haven't seen me ride in about 15 years:)

Rode Thursday and Friday. Thursday I hacked in the ring for a few while Susan from across the street and one of her clients rode in our ring. We then set off on our usual solo ride in the 1000 acres. LOTS of briars, felt bad about that. He was really good this time; haven't trailed out since I went on the walking ride with Nancy right after my 'forcibly ripped off the horse' dismount. It's not that I've been scared, it's the timing of everything. We got into the meat of the trail, and I dropped my stirrups (was on the buckle the entire time up to this point). Was meandering with no reins, no stirrups, and then he almost stepped right on a bird that was nesting in the grass! That bird squawked and flew up, and Tiki bucked straight up in the air, lol. Fortunately, my new saddle holds me in nice and tight and is not in the least slippery. So, I didn't even bobble. Walked on for a bit, then picked the stirrups back up because we were getting into the 'looky' section of the trail. He doesn't spook or anything he is just much more alert. Up to this point, he'd been perfectly content to just mosey along; shortened my reins and he stuck his head up ... got up in 2-point and he happily stretched out in a gallop. That lovely little gallop gradually got longer and faster ... galloped over a little up and over hill and he practically flew over it. Sat up, leaned back on the reins and loudly voiced the "WHOA". It took us probably the length of a football field to finally stop. I wasn't wrestling him or anything, I was just being patient and gentle with him. He snorted happily and fell back into his ground eating walk on the buckle. Walked for a while, made him walk up a hill we've galloped up a few times, then decided to trot. The trot is the hardest gait for us on the trail. He either wants to walk or gallop, so when I try and trot, we end up in a teeny little race horse jiggy canter. I was persistant, though, and we trotted for about 5 minutes, until I got to the VERY overgrown section that looks like it's never been ridden through. It was a fast trot and not too relaxed, but at least it was a trot. Walked the rest of the way, and it was a HUGE walk. I stayed out of his face and let him walk fast, but did NOT allow any jigging.

Yesterday, rode in the ring. We had a little bit of a "Come to Jesus" meeting at one point, but it was needed. I had a bit of a revelation ... any bad habits this horse develops is MY fault. Yup, mine. I am the only one that rides him, so any things that I do, or behaviors I don't correct fall back on me. I rode with my crop and no spurs, so I could feel like I could really wrap my leg without worrying about the spur being in his side. He has a bad habit of NOT tracking up at the walk on contact, trying to trot off every time I shorten my reins, and suck back behind my leg when I try to trot on a circle. He also can be a pain after we've done a little work at the canter or jumped a jump or 2 if I want to walk again on contact ... he wants to do that dang racehorse JIG. So, I made him track up. If he lagged behind the leg, I smacked him with the crop. If he tried to jig, I did the Clinton Anderson one rein stop. If he sucked back at the walk, I used my crop. There was about 2 minutes total where we were just basically arm wrestling, but I got my point across, and he showed his sensible brain by giving in and giving me what I was asking for.

The nice thing is that after the flat work, which was pretty intense, he was good and sweaty, but not dripping. Trotted the cavs a few times, then got off and set my oxer as 2 single cavs on each diagonal, then raised up my crossrail to another 2'9 vertical. So, I had basically the same course from Wed, but had a 2 stride of 2'9 verticals, the center cav, then a 4 stride bending line to either cav single on the diagonal. Made up a course, then began. He got a little strong, was a little quick, got long to one, leaned in the corner a little, but overall not bad. I felt like I could have been a little better; got left a little bit on the one where he was long. Rested, regrouped, then went again. This one wasn't too good. He was deep to the cavs because I leaned forward and did nothing to help him, he got long to the 2 stride and dropped a pole, then got VERY deep to the 3' and I did not help him at ALL. Patted him in apology, walked for a minute, then went ONE more time so I could be more effective. I sat UP to everything. Still got a little quiet to the 2 cavs, but because I didn't lean forward and get in his way, it was fine. I could see we were very off coming into the 2 stride, so I REALLY sat and waited. Got a little deep, but I squeezed my legs to help him and he jumped very high up over the first, landed, and 2 was actually LONG for the first time. Luckily, I did realize this, and squeezed and was ready for the slightly long out. Finished with the 3', and I could see again the distance wasn't there, so I sat totally still and waited for the deep spot.

Overall, not bad at all, but still not stellar. It was fine to stop with, though. NOW he was dripping. Hosed him with his warm bath water, then let him eat grass in the front yard for like 2 hours.:) Had planned to ride today, but my car thermometer said it was 97 degrees and plus it was 4:30 before I made it back to the house, so begged off going to the barn today. Unless I get bitten by the lazy bug, plan to go tomorrow and hack him in the pasture so he gets a nice change of scenery.:)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Breakin' in tall boots after 12 long years ...

It was so hot today. I really didn't want to subject Tiki to the heat at all, but I haven't ridden since ... Saturday. Didn't have time Monday, slept in Tuesday, so that left today. Wore my 12 year old tall boots for the first time in ... 12 years! I wore them ONE time back when I participated in my Instructor's Certification Clinic, then never again. I had a kid, gained weight ... let's just say they no longer fit. Well, when I decided to do this show I pulled them out and actually got the right one (my smaller leg) on with JUST a pair of pantyhose and NO pants. Yes, it was funny looking:) This was before zippers were the cool thing, so my boots were just, uh, boots. Took them to a local shoe repair and had elastic put in in the back. The cobbler had never done tall boots before, but did a good job. Unfortunately, after getting off Reley (my 2nd horse), the right boot's stitches had busted where he put in the elastic, so I need to take them back and get them fixed. Anyway, they were ok. I like my Ariat paddocks and half chaps better, of course;)

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about Tiki, not me, right?! He was a superstar. Trotted out well, cantered right away to loosen up, went back to trot and he felt good. Worked on the shallow serpentines again, and could feel them doing their magic, loosening up his muscles and getting a nice bend in his body. Didn't have a single lead issue today; my goal for the day had been to work on landing the leads after a single jump. Yeah ... so much for goals! I had a 3' vertical set up on it's usual side, and set up a 2 stride on the opposite side with a tall crossrail to what I THOUGHT was a 2'6 vertical. Had the cavelletti oxer set on one diagonal, and a single cav. set on the center line of the ring. Plan was to canter in to the single in the center of the ring, and ask for a certain lead. Well, the problem is there are STILL piles of footing on the ends of the ring, which makes doing anything up the middle a PROBLEM. So, we had a nice jumper turn in, then about 4 strides to get to the cav., then about 3 strides before having to turn. Yeah, there was no landing anything. So, instead, I popped off about 6 auto changes. If we landed left, I turned right, if we landed right, I turned left, etc. He changed promptly, cleanly, and by himself. Wow, color me surprised! We have issues when I try to ask for them across the diagonal, but he'll do them on a tight turn. Began cantering into the oxer. He was a little strong today ... there is no rhyme or reason for why he gets that way, but there it is. He does some days. Was PERFECT in the 2 stride ... had it set as usual on the horseshow stride, and it was actually SHORT. Rode into the 3' and it was picture perfect. Made me a little course of the cav bending to the cav oxer to the 2 stride to the 3' vert. After landing off the 2 stride, he was trucking a little bit, and didn't get a change since we were making a big sweeping turn. Did a simple, then continued to the big jump ... perfect. Walked, caught our breath, then did it again. By this time he was in his usual "worked hard" state and was literally dripping sweat. Coming into the 3', he was too strong, too flat, and got in long, so I waited for the add and he knocked it down in front. No problem. Went back and trotted the 2 cavs, then cantered in one more time to the 2 stride and he was good so I quit.

After I rode Reley and put the freshly bathed Tiki back in his stall, I found a tape measure and went back up to the ring because the heights were BUGGING me, lol. The holes on the standards were different, and I was totally guestimating that the top of one was 4'6, and the other was 4'9. Wasn't sure though. Measured the 3' and it was indeed. Measured the 2'6 and it was actually 2'9, yay! It's nice that a 2'9 jump, which has so recently instilled fear in my heart, is now not a big deal. I can jump it alone, I can jump it in a combo, or I could do it as an oxer. My horse rocks my world ... I could not have found a more perfect one if I'd tried 4 dozen of them. As an aside, the picture at the top of the post is the BEST I've ever seen him look at the trot, yay! This was taken today, by my 7 year old son.:)