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.:)