Friday, December 31, 2010

It's that time again!

Another New Year:) So happy to have less than a week before my boy's break is over, yippee! He got new shoes today, so perfect timing for his return. Got a few goals to put out there; we'll see how many we achieve.

1. Monthly lessons. I want to do 6 with my boss (Janet), and 6 with her jumper trainer friend, Heather Ray. I want to throw a few additional in there when I can with Susan, Gigi, and Mary Bess as well. Those will happen as I have the time/$$. But I NEED to commit to a more regular program of lessons, and I'm figuring once a month can happen.

2. We need to improve our dressage. I will work harder and be more disciplined about making him keep his frame. I let him "bounce" around too much and not go on steady, consistent contact. I think I need to make sure I ride him with the dressage whip so he goes forward enough.

3. The BNT clinic I do this year needs to be a BN event trainer. I'm hoping I can find a Becky Holder clinic to go to. If not her, then maybe Stephen Bradley (or someone else super awesome that's clinicking not too far from me, lol!)

4. Want to go schooling at a few different farms; Poplar and Pine Top at the LEAST.

5. A recognized BN outing at Poplar.

6. A "schooling" series going out for POINTS, yay!:) (probably Oxer Farm)

7. A combined training event at Novice

8. Volunteer again for AEC's

So, that's it. I'd REALLY like to get the muffin on Adequan. Still haven't bitten the bullet and just BOUGHT it. It's just so pricey to get started; as soon as I have the disposable $$, I will go there.

Up top pic was taken the first week I owned Tiki. Look how SCRAWNEY he was! What a difference:)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Joining the fray ...

... of Christmas well wishers! Merry Christmas everyone! It has been a fantastic and beautiful Christmas. We are healthy, happy, and blessed to be able to provide our son with enough gifts to make his entire year:) Now just spending time with the family at our house, and staying bundled up against the possible GA snow!

My fabulous boss gave me "101 Dressage exercises". I've already thumbed through, and have found about 10 exercises I want to try during Tiki's first week back, lol;)

Nicole and Becca contributed and coordinated a gift from my IEA team; an Ovation 5 point breastplate! It is so beautiful:) Luckily, it fits him perfectly:) The sad thing is when I was trying it on him, and adjusting the buckles, when I pulled the strap through the keeper, the keeper broke! Bummer. Luckily, the bp came from SmartPak, so I will call them Monday and I'm sure they will just send me a label and have me ship it back so they can replace it. Super excited either to go schooling, or do a schooling show so I can use it!

Joyce gave me the halter I've been wanting for 2 years but have been too cheap to buy! A lovely Perri's leather black padded halter with silver chrome hardware. It looks fantastic on him; once the plate is put on, I need to take a super gorgeous pic of him before I really USE it on him, if ya know what I mean.

January ... my own trailer ... enough said!

Very blessed and happy. Just sitting around and eating lots and lots of food today. Probably the same tomorrow. Back at it Monday. Ride Tiki Jan 5th for the first time. Yay! Pic is of him modeling his new navajo pad and his breast plate. And yes ... I tacked up my horse FULLY so I could get a good pic of him. Too bad the pic is so bad! Again ... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y'all!:)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday time ...

Well, today I actually pulled my horse's blanket off for the first time in 2 weeks! Literally ALL I have done is pick his feet. Haven't even pulled him out at all. From Sunday through yesterday, the temps were down in the teens, with highs in the low 30's/high 20's. This is CRAZY for GA. It's still FALL, for goodness sakes! Last night, it took us 2 hours to make a 45 minute drive because of freezing rain. The roads were a MESS. I was glad to make it home in one piece! Then today, it got up to 60 ... so I took Tiki's blanket off.

I had PLANNED to ride the rest of December ... thinking maybe I'll take the rest of the month, then the first 2 weeks of January, and start riding again mid-January. It can't POSSIBLY be any colder then than it has been the last 2 weeks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

other video

Last half of our dressage test. Got a 43.4, so a definite improvement over Chatt Hills. I just need to get on a MINIMUM of 30 minutes before my test next time. 13-20 minutes isn't enough time for him to let loose and relax.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Video time:)

Our showjumping round. Totally missed our lead on the turn from 1 to 2, but I can't worry about that. We were CLEAR, that's all that matters!:)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sigh of relief ...

I'm so sad it's over! Had a GREAT time! Super excited. Got up at 4:00 to make the 2 1/2 drive up north. All 3 of us rode together with Joyce, and we had a good time conversing with each other the whole time. Weather was SUPPOSED to be partly cloudy and 61. Umm, we had RAIN, and 38. Wow. I was SO glad I'd put on plenty of clothes. Got on the Muffin about 20 minutes before I needed to ride. Warmed up in a field next to the xc ring. Sadly, he didn't really settle in too well. He was just interested in everything but paying attention! He was NOT bad, at ALL. In fact, I felt like we did a really good job. Again, if He'd had more time, he probably would have relaxed a little more. Ended up with a 43.4; better than dressage test numer one.

XC was a TOTALLY different experience than Chatt Hills. The jumps were a little more narrow and dark, and they were CLOSE. Maybe only 6 strides apart for the first part? He was a little bug eyed at the first, snorted and stuck off the ground at number 2, jumped 3 sort of "yahoo", 4 was up a hill; a brush box that was a little spooky looking. Back down a hill to a tire jump; ok over that. Then, it was the next one that he sort of went Uhh ... a stack of wood (like what he'd jumped at the hunter pace), but it was wide and tall; definitely the biggest jump on course. But the approach was tight, off a turn, into a tree, and pointed towards the little pond. He ALMOST stopped; I was about to pull out the crop and use it. But, he scrambled over it, then it was up to a coop, which he jumped big and caused me to land disorganized. Bumped up over a little candy cane mound from a stride away, so my helmet fell over my eyes as I hauled him around to the right up a hill in a switchback turn. We were TOTALLY disorganized, lol. He was pulling like a train, I was trying to fix my helmet, my armband had slid down around my wrist, and I was worried about the jump because it was coming uphill, it was tall, and it had large potted poinsettas under it. He jumped it super, though, then it was a left switchback over some sort of log that had walked big, but felt just fine, a long run down the hill to a tall rolltop, which felt amazing, an akward turn past a jump that was right in line with the rolltop , a right sweeping turn to a post and rail palisade jump uphill that was great, then another switchback hauling turn, past another jump to the final jump of pinestraw and flowers. He gave that one a bugeyed stare and jumped it sort of in a heap, but as we cantered through the finish, I gave him a huge 2 handed pat because we'd been CLEAR. Over a course he HADN'T schooled, YAY!:) It wasn't the most beautiful or graceful course we'd ever done, but I hadn't even grabbed my neckstrap over anything ... I was pleased.

Stadium was in the rain. Yuck. Luckily, the rain was light, but it WAS enough to get you wet and miserable. The course was simple enough, jumps were not bad looking. Walked in, saluted the ring steward, then began. First jump rode amazing! Left hand rollback to a natural vertical, 3 strides to a crossrail vertical. He hit the 2nd jump, then we did a nice 4 to the next. Sweeping right turn to an outside line of 4 strides. Jumped in beautiful, added in a perfect 5th stride, but he saw something he did NOT like about that oxer, and jumped it from a standstill after I dug in my spurs when I felt the hesitation. He jumped the SNOT out of it, and I got some MAJOR air! Landed super disorganized, so I trotted for a second to get my lead and once again fix my helmet. Jumped a diagonal single vertical well, got very organized and did another simple change to a left turn to a vertical on the end of the ring, then a final sort of tight left turn to another outside line of vertical 6 strides to an oxer. Jumped in perfect, got the striding this time, and I supported him to the oxer, and used a nice amount of leg at the base paired with a cluck to get him over much better than the other one.

Overall, we finished 4th out of 6. Sadly, we had the worst dressage score until I noticed on my sheet that on my circle right 20m at the posting trot said "error, misplaced", and had no score. I took it to the office guy, he took it to the judge, they fixed it, and that improved my score from a 45.7 to a 43.4. Still, it was the 5th best score, but one person had gotten eliminated, so that moved me up to 4th. Everyone else in my division had also jumped clear, so bummer for us, haha. SO, SO proud of Becca and Nicole; they kept it together, had a GREAT experience as well, and finished 3rd and 1st in their respective divisions. We had such an amazing time; it was GREAT!!!!!!!! Looking forward to a little break. I will drop down to riding muffin 3 times a week for the rest of december; one jump school, one dressage school, then one day in the pasture doing something. January is going to be a month long hiatus, then in February I will look into some weekly dressage lessons from Susan. March, we will start looking at the calendar for some cheap schooling mileage to get, then May will be a recognized trial at Poplar Place farm. Looking forward to continuing our journey:)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Couldn't wait unti Friday ...

I REALLY wanted to brag on my Tiki man! Rode him Monday (in the almost rain, aren't y'all proud??) in the dressage bridle, cc saddle, and my ghetto drawreins (as an aside, I REALLY need to take a pic of him in his ghetto draw reins, lol!). Didn't use the new dressage saddle because it was super cold, and I didn't feel like switching out stirrups. I finally have stirrups and leathers now; will use them tomorrow! He was LOVELY in the drawreins. I stayed super light with them, and used my leg. I had spurs and the whip, and he felt nice and forward. Transitions were clean, circles felt beautifully balanced, and the trot never once felt quick or choppy. Ran through the dressage test for the first time since the horsetrial, and it wasn't bad. STILL, our weakest point is actually the WALK. He HATES to walk on contact. When he's on the buckle, he overtracks to the point that he kicks his front shoes with the hind legs. The SECOND I pick up the reins, he sucks back to the point that he's barely moving. As soon as I apply leg, he wants to jig off. We've been working on it ... but it's still a work in progress. The drawreins helped the boy to keep his topline round through the upward and downward transitions; that's our other weak point. He can keep his shape as long as he's in a constant gait, but through the transition, he wants to hollow his body. Ended GREAT.

Tuesday, it was 20 degrees warmer, but it RAINED all day long. It rained and stormed so much, I not only didn't go to Joyce's, I even cancelled my lessons at Patchwork. I RARELY do that. Today, it was colder than Monday. When I headed out to ride, it was 34 degrees, brrr! I had on plenty of layers, pulled Tiki out to groom him, and did the "blanket groom", in which I only brush the parts not covered by his blanket! Used my fleecy boots and polos in the interest of keeping the tendons warm. Used a navajo blanket AND a quarter sheet! It was COLD:) Decided to do a "stadium" hack, using techniques I'd watched the great George Morris do at a recent clinic. I watched him on a video. Obviously, I'm not even CLOSE to the caliber of GM, but I CAN imitate his training techniques;)

JUST as I was walking into the ring, my phone rang. I answered because it was a friend of mine. The phonecall had the unintended consequence of me hopping on and walking ... for significantly longer than I usually do. I could FEEL the switch in him; at first, he's locked up and short strided. Then, as if by magic, those shoulders free up, his back warms up, and his head drops down as he moves into his ground eating walk. It was awesome:) Started with a walk on contact; circles, figure 8's, shoulder-in, and leg yielding. I spent about 20 minutes total at the walk. Moved into a trot, and did the same sort of thing; circles, concentrating on that outside rein contact, soft arms, shoulders tall, legs still. Lots of walk/trot/walk/trot transitions, concentrating on riding the back end. Leg yield at the trot. Ran through the test One More Time. This time, not too bad other than a late trot/canter transition (hadn't cantered at all yet), and I over used my leg in the free walk, and he trotted a step or 2. Even though I will ride in my new dressage saddle for the first time tomorrow, I will not run through the test again. I will focus on those all important trot/canter transitions, and walking on contact.

Cantered on a big circle, and hit a pole. It felt SO nice, I continued cantering and hit it again ... and again. Felt so good, decided to just keep on ... cantered the cabinet ... then the coop, then the pole, then the cabinet, then the coop, then cirled. Came around to the "liverpool" oxer, popped off several lead changes. I just kept going. Everything was around 2', I sat lightly with a slightly forward shoulder, and focused on a COMPLETELY following hand in the air. It was Super Splendiferous. Felt GREAT:)

Found out there's only 6 in my division, so unless I get myself eliminated, I'm guaranteed a ribbon!:) I'm really looking forward to Saturday; hoping to get video from all three phases this time! Tomorrow I will school for about 20 minutes or so in the dressage tack, and Friday I will trot some hills. Then Saturday, it's showtime! Dressage ride time is 8:44. We should all be done around 1:30. Will report back!:)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting ready for the end of the year ...

Sooo ... last week was pretty uneventful! All I did with Tiki man was longe him on Wednesday! Haven't sat on him since the hunter pace a week ago! Not good, haha. Despite the cold snap that's moved in to good 'ol GA, I will need to get out and ride Muffin every day this week except for Friday, probably. Like I mentioned, Cap and Tiki will have an IEA show on Sunday, so I don't want to go from zero to one hundred in a week's time! Need to brush back up on our dressage test (haven't ridden it since the trial), and probably hack one day in draw reins to get him to stretch across his spine. I haven't used them in several months, but I think he needs them 4-5 times a year to appreciate NOT having them, lol!:)

Gotten a few new pretties for the boy; got a cob sized figure 8 bridle off ebay that's now sporting the Beval loose ring (Christmas present from Becca!), and will become our Stadium bridle. Put the waterford back on the "ancient" bridle, and am heading out tonight to meet up with Marisa so I can buy her dressage saddle, yippee! Didn't think I would actually have my own dressage saddle before the schooling trial on Saturday; was planning to borrow the Wintec a/p from Patchwork since I can NOT use my cc saddle and my dressage bridle; they SO don't match.;) So anyway ... will try and post a riding update before Saturday, assuming I actually get out there and do what I'm planning:) Wish us luck for Saturday!!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Counting down to the final event of the year ...

literally! It's coming up on Thanksgiving, soon it will be January. Completed our 2nd hunter pace last Sunday, and will be competing in my first schooling 3 phase one day trial next weekend, woo hoo! Go figure, we do a schooling one day 3 phase AFTER we do a recognized full on Horse Trial, haha. The hunter pace was SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!! Wow, LOVED it. The weather was PERFECT, the horses were well behaved, the company was welcome and fun, and the terrain was just so beautiful. I used the Beval, and it was super nice to have some EASY brakes, for sure. Muffin was just as perfect as he could be. Walked on the buckle, cantered up to EVERY jump and hopped right over, no stutter, no look, no hesitation whatsoever. Jumped everything; highest was probably about 2'6 or so, haybales stacked on top of one another, I think. There was a hedge jump, stacks of logs, haybales, a coop, a stack of railroad ties, a hanging log, barrels, funky white gate, and funky gray gate. Becca and I flat out raced up a hill; Captain matched Tiki stride for stride. We both whooped and hollered out loud. SO FUN! Then, the pony and I raced ... and she beat us! Marisa took it quite seriously, lol. I think he's a late closer;) I LOVED it, and hope to go back to that farm and do a few more once we get through the winter.

TOTALLY looking forward to the schooling trial next weekend. Luckily, it's BN test B again, so no need to re-learn A. I'll be doing BN. Since we've never schooled, I'm glad to read that most of the jumps are NOT maxed out. Hopefully we'll end our season strongly; I'm SO not worried about getting eliminated this time. I KNOW that if I feel him suck back or try and say "No", I will absolutely pull out the crop and give him a little encouragement ... the FIRST time. The boys will have an IEA show on Sunday after the trial, so hopefully they're not too tired.

Sadly, my camera seems to be broken:( Took it along to get some awesome pics from the HP, but it seems the lens doesn't want to open up. Therefore, no pics:( Oh well. Hopefully I'll remember it forever!!!!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A week of thanks

As the holidays approach, I try and keep in perspective the whole point, for me, OF the holidays. It's family, thankfulness, and not getting sucked up into the whole whirlwind of Black Friday, 48 thousand things for the child for Christmas, malls, traffic, etc.

Good things are happening for me. I will be working extra days at Joyce's so that I can buy a trailer. I DESPERATELY need a trailer, and it's time to do whatever I need to do in order to get one. I FINALLY have a horse, after 29 years of waiting, sometimes not so patiently;) That horse is fit, sound (knock on wood), suitable for the job I'm asking of him, and oh so willing to always give me MORE. I'm able to scrape up enough money here and there to go do fun things like hunter paces (Sunday!), schooling shows (December 4th!), and clinics (February!). The weather has been absolutely BEAUTIFUL, and the ring is about to get a load of sand. So, yes, I have lots to be VERY thankful for.

Stil haven't really gotten back into the riding 4-5 days a week groove yet. I've been a little tired/lazy. I need to get out and start running again. I HATE to run, but it does get me to shake the slight little doldrums I seem to get this time of year. Tiki was a superstar at the IEA show on Saturday. I got to warm him up, and it was fun. Jumps were the same size as the ones at the trial, but he didn't touch a single one, and nor did he try and pull me around the course. He totally picks up on any tension I may carry! He got a nice compliment from one of the coaches that hadn't seen him for awhile. She commented on how nice he looked, and how much better he jumped around the course. Yay. His kids did great on him.

Lucky boy got Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off. I had an IEA show for my school team I'm coaching this year on Sunday (Tiki won't be going to any of those), I stayed home and did housework on Monday, and the boy got new shoes on Tuesday. Finally rode him on Wednesday, and worked on precise transitions again. Tried out the Beval bit, and I do think I like it pretty well. Set up a little course of 2 inside cavalettis, the cabinet jump but with 2 poles propped up on it like a huge crossrail to make it bigger, and a cavaletti on the lowest setting then 7 stides to a 2'9 vertical. I cantered him around the cavs to warmup, and he felt nice. Came into the cabinet jump sitting back and supporting, and he hopped right over! Did the big vert, and it was lovely. I'm SO glad I'm seeing a distance more consistently; it's nice. I feel like I finally can adjust him, and not screw him up too badly.

Thursday I had to drive an hour and a half to Alpharetta to coach a kid at the local GHJA finals, so couldn't ride then. Today, I rode with Becca. Again with the Beval bit and the dressage whip. He was good. Worked on a working walk on contact, halt/trot/halt/trot/walk/canter/walk/canter. Then I had him move off my leg in some leg yields so he didn't anticipate and try and jig off. Finally got a couple of PERFECT walk/canter transitions, and patted him like crazy. Like I told Becca ... he may not be a sweet, warm and cuddly animal, but my boy tries SO HARD to please me and do what I ask.

Course was same as Wednesday, but Becca had added a low oxer with a liverpool (blue yoga mat), and the cav "pole" was now a 2' coop skinny that she had built herself. After each jump, I walked, leg yielded him over, and picked up the canter coming into each jump. Everything felt good except I was coming in long to the liverpool so I did what I always do; nothing. So he jumped it like a goober. Let Becca go, then went again and this time jumped everything great. Did the coop line by itself, and added a stride in the line. Came one more time, and did the "Jeff Cook". Built scope and pace in my corner by cantering in 2-point, then dropped my seat down in a half seat to the "easy" jumps, then brought my shoulders MORE back for the "scary" jumps. Hmm, wow. He was GREAT, and I nailed every distance. Nice!

Going on a hunter pace Sunday with Becca, Marisa, and hopefully our friend that owns Bob and Ducky at Patchwork, Kristin. I'll report back with pictures!:):)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Back to some semblance of normalcy

Well, this week has been pretty much a "normal" week. Monday I stayed home and slept after a marathon show weekend in Athens. Tuesday I rode in my huntseat tack and had a pretty nice flat school, then hopped over a couple of tiny fences. He still felt pretty forward to them. Tried out a new bit that Becca had ordered; a Beval loose ring. I liked it upon first use. Wednesday I put on the dressage bridle sans noseband and walked some hills in the boy's pasture. Thursday I had fully planned to go out and have Kody take some pics of us, but I ended up down for the count with a killer headache so he got another day off.

Today was a school in the dressage tack. Susan gave me a whip, so I rode him with a dressage whip and no spurs. It was an ok day. Started out pretty good; he had a nice stretch across his topline. Began working on tranisitions, and he started to lose the connection I'd started out with. Wanted to jig instead of walk FORWARD on contact. So we practiced. Spiraled at the trot, and that was decent. Fought with him a little bit at the canter with connection, and got to trying to muscle him around like I always do. Relaxed ... it got better. Did trot/canter transitions both directions on a 20m circle, and he felt halfway nice. Ended by REALLY working on the walk/canter transition. We get it every now and then, usually well into a jump session, or out in the field. When I SCHOOL the transition, he ALWAYS takes a step or 2 of disorganized trot. So ... used the whip in conjuntion with my leg, nailed a PERFECT transition twice, then quit there.

Then he wanted to be a jerk going out the gate, so we had a little "come to Jesus" for a second. Hacked out to the end of the driveway, then kicked him out in the pasture so he can stay in tonight in preparation for an IEA show tomorrow. He was GREAT the first one, so hopefully he will continue the trend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week off ...

Sorry for no blog since the trial ... Squeaky Muffin has had a week off! He deserved it. I longed him Wednesday to make sure he wasn't sore or anything, but other than that, he's been lounging around in his stall all week:) Becca said he was having a good old time running like a mad man out in his pasute the other night, so at least he's keeping himself exercised!

Planning to ride the little man a bunch this week; probably a dressage school tomorrow, jump a little Wednesday, draw reins and the dressage tack Thurs, some sort of hill work/pasture stuff on Fri, and IEA show on Saturday. Will update later!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

AND ... it's over.

After MONTHS of anticipation, it's over. I feel relief that our first outing was a success. I'm so happy with the outcome (details to follow:)) I feel a TINY touch of disappointment in myself that in every phase I could have made an improvement to improve HIM. Our test could have been better if we'd warmed up longer. Our xc run would have been clear had I proactively used my crop the FIRST time over the kennel. Our sj round would have been clear had I not jumped up his neck. You get the picture.

So, for the jumping phase, BN went first thing at 8 am. We had walked the course the night before, and I was happy. It was a lovely, flowing course with a generous time allowed and nothing tricky. I was most worried about the first jump (big oxer with LARGE flowers), the panel jump (he's just never jumped one of those), and the final jump (a maxed oxer). Nothing was particularly scary looking, but it was a different TYPE of course for him. Everything looked stark and big because compared to hunter jumps, and even the "jumper" jumps at a local h/j show, they all looked very airy. Which should be GOOD for him.:) These jumps looked like the 2'9 ones at a local show. Which would be FINE if we'd either A.) schooled them, or B.) jumped them at a lower height:) But, I guess it's time for me to put my big girl panties on and learn to do it the "hard" way.

In warmup, he felt yuck. His flatwork was terrible. He was a total rubber ball, NOT striding out at all. At the slightest touch of leg, he wanted to break into a canter. His trot was tiny and stabbing. I got up in my 2-point and cantered. After THAT, he felt super.

Left the ring to watch Marisa and Zoe ride ( each had one rail), then went back in to keep moving. Once I went BACK into the ring, he just felt pissy. I decided to go ahead and jump. Coming into the crossrail, he didn't back off at ALL. He was saying, "See mom, I REMEMBER. You want FORWARD." Came to that again, then around to the vertical. Same thing at both. Came into the oxer, which, again ... jumping "cold", it just looked really BIG.:) Cantered up to it, tried to wait because there was NOTHING, and he went. Soooo, got a little left, but there was no "EEK" and stutter. Hacked another minute or 2, jumped the oxer and vertical again, then the oxer one more time and it felt GREAT. So I stopped there. Walked until I got the on deck call (about 6 minutes), so I schooled ONE more oxer, and again, it was perfect. Waited calmly, walked in, and felt excited.

As I walked in, I tried to allow him to pass in close proximity to the jumps. The whistle blew, and I cut across the ring and picked up my canter. Coming into the first jump, I slipped a finger under my neck strap, sat back, and legged. He jumped it great, but landed a little disorganized. Bending line to 2, a red and white post and rail vertical. He drifted left to it, and knocked it pretty hard. 3 was a dark green oxer; I waited, and it was good. Left hand turn to a yellow and red vertical. He drifted left again, and I had to use leg pretty hard. Bending line to a yellow 2 stride, vertical to oxer. He was super sticky at the vertical, so I purposely rode it in 3; the oxer felt fine coming out. Left hand turn to the panel jump, and that felt good. Straight ahead to a black and white oxer, and he AGAIN drifted left and looked hard. I STAYED BACK, and it worked out well. Right hand turn to another red and yellow vertical, and I saw a forward spot. Clucked, legged, and *I* went, but he chipped, then completely fell over his front end and knocked down the rail. Got myself together and rode the final oxer like it was the giant coop I'd been afraid of, and he ended GREAT.

So, yeah. I was bummed. The spot was RIGHT there, and I RODE for it. I was a little disappointed in him, that he didn't really rise to the occasion there. Then I shifted the disappointment to me, in that I allowed my body to get faster than my brain, and if only I'd come out of the corner and WAITED, he would have been clear. I figured we'd dropped out of ribbon contention because I had been in 6th coming in. NOT the case. We moved up again, and finished 5th overall.

I was ECSTATIC!!! You know who won my division? Becky Holder, that's who! So, 5th out of 10 in a class with 5 or 6 seasoned professionals isn't too shabby. As we walked to the awards ceremony, the announcer said something cute. "This is Jen Bishop and Ricochet. Sadly, they had an unfortunate ricochet off jump 2 in the cross country" ... Lol, it was great. LOVE my pink ribbon, and I had the most AWESOME time in the victory gallop. Can't wait to do it again:):):)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sweet relief:)

OK, on to phase 2! I was FINE with my dressage test. I knew it was absolutely as good as it possibly could have been at that time; we've NEVER performed a dressage test in public. So, was feeling pretty good about it.

Booked it back to the barn, cut out the braids I'd worked so hard for, wet his mane down to straighten it, and ran to the port o potty to change.My fantabulous support for the weekend, Becca, tacked my horse up for me. Zipped myself into my life jacket, I mean vest, and even remembered my armband. Climbed aboard and headed down to the warmup. He was UP. He was ALERT. He was shaking. He stopped and stared. I was thinking in my head ... "LOOK at the jumps. LOOK at the jumps. Over there, THAT'S where you're going!"

Considering I've never even done so much as a schooling show, I wasn't positive what technique I was going to use. Once I got into the field, there were only 2 other horses in there, so I decided to R E L A X. Held the reins on the buckle, kicked my feet out of the stirrups, and walked for about 20 minutes. Lots of patting, lots of talking, and lots of breathing. I'd learned, and left myself TONS of time for my xc warmup. Shortened my reins, cantered both ways, then cantered into the crossrail. He backed himself up, I sat BACK, supported, and OVER he went! He felt good; nice and forward, but a little hesitant.I was SO happy to see 2 solid warmup fences ... I had NO idea what to expect. He jumped both well (I'd schooled both before at the hunter pace back in August) so I decided to run with that. Got a sip of water, Becca talked me down, and got the 4 minutes to go, so I headed to the start box.

After the horse in front of me went, I felt on the verge of tears with panic, so I PRAYED. Like, prayed for real. We got the countdown, and off we went! Had planned to trot ... straightaway to the canter ... ok! First jump was a hard look, but a good one. Second jump was a kennel ... we'd never schooled it ... the cabin type jumps are a sticky point. I thought it was TOUGH for a second jump on course. He said, "Um, no". I stayed BACK, used my spur, he ALMOST said "OK", but then changed his mind. So, a stop, I used my crop, circled, re-presented, and cropped twice behind my leg at the jump. He landed, took 2 strides, then said, "OK!!! I'm now going FORWARD!" Up to another scary palisade jump, which was great, then straightaway to the bank complex. Big square oxer, up the ramp, off a drop. We'd never schooled that particular type of drop. I stayed back, looked up, used leg, and he sailed off perfectly. From there, he was a MACHINE. Holy cow, it was AMAZING. Every jump was right out of stride, I rode the HECK out of the remaining "scary" jumps, and even though he jumped the cabin framed by trees from a virtual standstill, and I totally ate the tree, he was SUPER brave off the ski jump, and perfect to the last 2.

As we crossed the finish line, I had tears in my eyes. I patted Tiki, good boy'd him to death, and jumped off. Ran up the stirrups, loosened the girth and noseband, gave him the peppermint out of my pocked, and walked back to the barn. He was PUMPED full of adrenaline. I felt lightheaded ... we'd DONE it! Never strung together more than 6 in a row, and never without looking at/jumping at LEAST one of them first. Despite our 20 penalties, we had moved up from 7th to 6th.

A good start ...

Wow. I almost have no words. I am so relieved and happy. I am OFFICIALLY no longer a "Hunter princess playing at being an eventer". I am NOW "A former Hunter princess turned eventer"

What an amazing weekend. It rained Mon-Wed like CRAZY, then had 2 good days of sun; footing on Saturday was magnificent. I was SO nervous. I TRIED to stay as cool and calm as I could, but all I could think about was getting eliminated xc. Walked the course Friday when I arrived, and was really nervous about MANY of the questions. My issue with my boy is I get fixated on what makes me nervous, and don't always give him a confident ride. When he's going in "cold" to jump a course, he MUST have a good, confident ride.So ... I was just so nervous that I would let him down and lean forward, let him get too fast, etc.

Had ALL day Saturday to get ready for dressage (2:45), and SOMEHOW ended up in the warmup ring only about 13 minutes before I needed to lay down my test. I wanted a SOLID 30 minutes to help him get relaxed, because he HATES crowds ... and horses passing him ... and horses coming at him ... and ... you get the picture. So after 13 minutes, he was short strided, tense, and certainly NOT anywhere close to being "on the bit".The test went OK. The Myler D-ring is legal by the way. I entered the ring and did the best I could. Problems I could identify was that I was tense and nervous, HE was a little unsettled and tense, and coming from the free walk to the collected walk, he jigged. Overall, score was a little disappointing. I got straight 5's with a few 4's thrown in. Yikes! 53.4 was my score. The judges card showed pretty much nothing but "collection", and "topline". So, we have homework. That's all I can think of. XC description in a little bit!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


It's here!!! Leaving tomorrow:) I'm as ready as I can possibly be. Had a totally super lesson on Monday from Janet, had a totally super lesson today with Susan ... hoping that means the show will be good too:)

I LOVE it when the hunter trainer remarks how much better he looks after the dressage lessons, and the dressage trainer remarks how much better he looks after the hunter lesson. That means I'm doing SOMETHING right. Yay:)

Well, not going to wax poetic about what went on; Janet had me work on slowing my body down all over and not jump ahead, and Susan and Janet both had me work on really riding THROUGH my downward transitions. Panicked and changed Squeaky's bit because I'm afraid the waterford ball bit wouldn't be legal. He was just GREAT today; felt fantastic in it! Haha, go figure.

I'll be coming home each night, so I'll post a new blog for the next 3 nights.:)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Well, one week exactly. I think I'm about ready. Had a pretty good dressage lesson. Here's my run through of our dressage test:

Consensus is that I need to carry my hands quieter, and do a better job of maintaining outside rein contact. I've shortened up my stirrups by one hole since then, and my leg feels much better.

Friday I didn't ride, and Saturday I rode with Becca. I practiced my corners, and then cantered a low vertical and a small square oxer several times. He was a rockstar. Sunday at the IEA show, he was GREAT!!!!! Great, I tell you! I couldn't have wished for him to be more perfect; I was super happy. Incidintely (sp?), we won our first show of the season! Go PWF:)

Monday off, hills in the halter Tuesday, dressage school Wednesday, and trot/canter sets today. He was so lazy today, lol. I actually had to kick him at the canter, and allowed him to open up into a gallop, but he didn't really care that much to gallop today. He is so quiet when he's at home. Barely touched his face at all today! Tomorrow a light flat with a single vertical to hop over both ways, weekend off. Monday a jump lesson, Tuesday and Wednesday hills/hack in the pasture, Thursday dressage lesson, Friday CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS! Woo Hoo! Dressage and xc will be Saturday and showjumping Sunday.

My goals are as follows:

1. Not get eliminated

2. Stadium and xc no refusals

3. Finish on my dressage score

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OMGosh. 2 weeks!

So, was planning my weekends ... this weekend, IEA show. Next weekend, nothing. The next weekend ... HORSE TRIAL!!! I realize that for those of you that do this all the time, it's not a big a deal. For me, I am SO STOKED!!!!!!!!! Never done anything like this before, and I am just SO excited.

Monday, I went with Marisa to go xc schooling at Calimar. It was ALL because Becca had her trailer parked at Joyce's, and was happy to let me steal it for the morning.:) The muffin had seemingly forgiven me for the body clip from Hell, and self loaded on the trailer on the 3rd attempt. An uneventful hour and a half later, I arrived a few minutes before Marisa. Unloaded the boy, unwrapped his legs, and saw the wound had opened up a little bit due to the wraps. The spot is RIGHT where the edge of his open fronts are, so for the first time I schooled with naked front legs. Still put the Woof boots on the hind, and let Marisa talk me into riding in my tall boots.:) We mounted up and headed to the usual side where I always start on.

Warmed up on the flat ... Muffin was quite fresh! He kept tucking his head down and stretching to his knees. Weird; he's never done that before! He got a little swishy swishy bucky bucky, but felt really good. Hopped over a hanging log; NO hesitation. Did hanging log to funky log; NO hesitation. Wow, he felt pretty good. Walked over to baby ditch; stop and leap. Again, and again. Again, and better. Walked over to big ditch. Stop, back rapidly. Crop, re-present, back rapidly. Crop, get ON to him, trot a little, and he jumped. I only did it the one time, lol! Chatt Hills doesn't have a ditch like that at all, so no sense in making the both of us miserable by continuing to drill.

Took a walk over to the water complex; splashed around and he was great. Went to drop in, and he pitched a little fit, again with the rapid backing. Hmmm, not a big fan of this. Came back to it, got onto him again, and he finally squirted in. Didn't mess with this a bunch either because again, nothing like it will be a question in the HT. Jumped a tall x rail towards the water on an angle; no surprise, he stopped. I took the blame for that one since he's never jumped towards the water so close to it, and I didn't even bother to get straight or give him a good approach. Cropped him anyway because he needs to learn at some point to get a little more brave and bail me out every once in a while. Came in straight and really rode it; he landed DEAD, but went through the water and out the other side. Fortunately, I was READY for the dead landing and didn't fall on his neck, haha.

Strung together a pretty tough line of a hanging log, big curvy approach to a y-shaped log, about 8 strides on a L bending line to a big up bank, then about 8 more strides on a R bending line to the train barrel jump. He handled it all like a champ!:)

Another string we did was the hanging log around to the y-log, long gallop to the "wavy rails" open coop, into the water via the ramp, then out the bank. He was a total rockstar; I had a miss at the wavy rails, but that was just because he was seriously on a gallop, and I whoaed a little too late, and rather than jumping out of stride, I tried to get to the base of it, and it was just too deep.

Finally, I put quite a few together. Tiny down bank straight ahead to the hanging log, long gallop to teeny ditch, about a 10 stride R bending line to the 2 stride of hanging logs, lincoln logs into the showjumping ring, around the dressage ring, out the (massive) bench, LONG gallop to the y-log, to the wavy rails, into the water, then out the bank. He'd never jumped the bench; I was afraid of it. Didn't let him get a good look at it because I wanted to do it "cold". All was GREAT until the 2 stride; did 2 and a chip as usual. Awesome over the lincoln logs and then ... cantered around the corner TOTALLY on the forehand, NOT sitting up, leaning forward, holding my neck strap, and crooked. Pulled my right rein and steered to the bench ... when Tiki realized what I meant to jump, he SLAMMED on the brakes a good 5 strides out. Since I had NO canter, NO seat, and NO shoulders, I had no recourse. Opted NOT to push it because I was afraid, and it was a lot bigger than the one I'd already jumped at Chatt Hills. Backtracked to the lincoln logs again, then finished the course on a GREAT note. NAILED the wavy rails this time.

Finished by doing the start again, but adding on the little down bank at the beginning. No hesitation at all off the bank, down to the Cedar Rail this time that he never jumps well. STILL didn't jump it well, but this was the FIRST time he actually jumped it without a 2nd thought. Continued to the ditch, and it was the BEST ditch we'd ever done. To the 2 stride, and I galloped in, landed, galloped, and jumped out in the TWO, WOO HOO! First time, lol. Finished with LL into the ring, schooled the dressage test, then headed home.

Overall, he was just amazing. I'm still nervous, but I DO feel better. Gave him Tuesday off, longed him today (over trot poles), and having a dressage lesson tomorrow. Will probably jump small stuff (under 2'6) Friday, Saturday off, then IEA show Sunday.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Can I just say ...

that body clipping a chestnut horse that wrings his tail and kicks out with simple BRUSHING is a death defying act. He was a ROCKSTAR 2 years ago when I did a trace clip using my friend's Wahl Stable Pro clippers. Stood quiet as a mouse while I clipped him up. This weekend, I did a full body clip with big body clippers, and he tried to kill me on multiple occasions. My horse has never grunted so many times in 3 hours. It was pathetic; HE was pathetic. I feel like it was a total waste of time, too ... he just did NOT hardly have a coat at ALL to clip off. Oh well. At least he'll be naked for the HT. I'm indifferent about the tiki ... my husband says it doesn't look good and I should shave it off. I'll think on it; I may.

SO! Where did I leave off? Oh yeah, Friday! Well, I ended up jumping again since I hadn't done much of that lately. I thought it would be a good idea since Tiki hangs his knees sometimes to jump a low, wide square oxer. I'm not a huge oxer fan ... ESPECIALLY wide ones, lol. But I sucked it up, and set a 2' tall 3' wide square oxer. The others were 2'9. Jumped a hunter course first, and he was perfect up to the oxer ... and then he got in long, so I added ... he jumped ... then looked down and went, "OH CRAP!".:) Bent my fingernail back, owww! He cleared the jump no problem, and heart pounding, I came in again. Got a better distance this time, clucked, leg, and he JUMPED. Did an easy course, and this time got in long again, but went. Ugh, it felt AWFUL. Jumped the oxer again alone, and it was decent. Decided my final course would be jumper-ish, so I planned the cav stack oxer (high), inside turn to a vert, tight turn to the outside vert/cabinet line, then finishing with oxer. Got in fine to the cav oxer, but he knocked it so hard, he landed 3 legged. Walked him until his back ankle stopped stinging, then tried one more time. He jumped the cav oxer so hard I could NOT make the inside turn. Jumped everything else fine, then really NAILED the wide oxer perfectly, so I quit there.

Actually rode Saturday with my friend Becca. Warmed him up on a TOTALLY loose rein, w/t/c. Did a little leg yielding, a little canter circling, a little toth, then warmed up over the cabinet a few times in my 2-point. Jumps were down to 2'6, and the wide oxer was now a fan jump (which I haven't done with Tiki yet). Becca jumped, then I jumped an easy hunter course. Didn't let him see the fan ahead of time, and he was great to it. Looked at it as he jumped it, but didn't stutter. Decided to try my jumper course from Friday one more time with the inside turn(cav oxer was low now). Made the turn, but he didn't land his lead, so I did a simple change on the rollback. Finished with the vert of the outside line, bending line to the fan jump. He was a rockstar, so quit.

Bathed him, and started clipping, expecting full cooperation like last time; he HATED the vibration and the loudness of the huge clippers. His skin was twitching like he was being attacked by bees; he was dancing around, kicking out, trying to bite me. Broke the crossties twice. NOT a happy camper. I will be investing in some SUPER quiet, smaller clippers for next year. This was NOT a fun weekend.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Great week:)

My boy has been super this week! I love the little muffin brain; he is so much fun!

Monday I jumped again. Had the same course from Sunday set up. Flatted him fairly lightly, always practicing picking up my canter on an open 20 m circle since that seems to be our biggest dressage test weakness. The 3 ring waterford really feels like almost too much bit on the flat, but I'm using the oppourtunity to really get him in front of my hand and into the bit. Set every jump at 2'6 (except for the new, teeny cabinet jump). Made one of the diagonal singles a square oxer. I'd decided to jump the same course 3 times; at 2'6, 2'9, and 3'. First course felt really nice. He backed off the oxer a little, but jumped it well. Hopped off, raised everything to 2'9; ramped the oxer this time. Jumped everything well; I really worked hard at "building scope and stride in the corner", then steadying (and adding leg) to the jump. All but the oxer was fab; I was just a little long to it, but not bad. Raised up the jumps one more time ... I wimped out and didn't jack up the oxer; just sqauared it up :) He jumped everything well except for one of the singles; he knocked it down, and the oxer ... we were coming in long, so I pulled on his face and he chipped in a stride. Kept cantering around, and came up to it one more time. NAILED it perfectly, so we quit there.

Tuesday, I held horses for the farrier. True story: Pulled Tiki out to get his shoes. Eric picked up his left front; Tiki started shaking like crazy, and breathing like a maniac. Since he's known to be a little bit of a spaz, Eric and I figured he was having a neurotic moment. Dealt with it for about 2 minutes, and finally Eric decided to go ahead and pull the other front shoe in case something was amiss ... he had a GIANT rock in that shoe that was pressing painfully against his sole. AGH! Poor baby. I felt so bad. Eric knocked the rock out, and Tiki was perfect.

Wednesday I opted for a dressage school again. Put on Nicole's dressage saddle, padded it up, and strapped on the dressage bridle. He was good until I started the canter; I need to put in the med gullet; it has the extra wide gullet in now, and I think at the canter, it was sitting on his shoulder too hard core. Nicole said I could swap it, so I think I will:) Transitions were fair; it wasn't a telling ride since the saddle wasn't sitting perfect.

Today I worked a combo hills and hack. Walked the less steep hill on the opposite side of the pasture from where I've been working him lately. Did that 3 times, then hacked the flat spot up by the road. I'd taken off the noseband, and was in the loose ring; he was a little bit of a jerk. Decent at the trot, really tried to pull and lay on me in the canter. Mouth was GAPING open, and he was "voicing" his displeasure at being made to w/t/c in his pasture. Circled a few times at the canter and held him up HARD with my inside leg. Ended on a good note.

Haven't decided yet on what tomorrow will bring. Whatever it is, I'll make sure he works hard! Body clipping this weekend; pics to follow!:)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Can't wait to win the lottery!

So I can spend every weekend doing some horsey activity, haha! Had a great time today riding with my friend Becca. She has just moved her horse to Tiki's barn, and I'm super excited to have another friend there. Next Saturday is a hunter pace; the following Saturday is a Mary Bess Sigman clinic; that Sunday is a show at Chatt Hills; the next weekend is ... you get the idea. I just don't have the resources to do all that I so desperately want to. Oh well, at least I get to RIDE my OWN horse, and not make do with everyone else's. I've waited a really long time for this reality, and now that I have it, I will NOT ruin it by wishing for more than I have.

Jumped for the first time in 2 weeks. Set up a course with 2 outside lines and 2 inside singles. Added a new jump; Becca gave me some cabinets to use as a jump, and they look/work great! Mark dragged the ring, so the footing was excellent. Gave Muffin a nice, long grooming, then tacked him up with the usual. Still have the 3 ring on the jumping bridle. Wore my new boots, and tied my feet to the girth. He felt a little stiff today; not TERRIBLY surprising considering he had yesterday off, and what was really just a hack on Friday. Normally, his first day of really WORKING is just OK; he "warms up" well in subsequent days as we work consistently.

When I flatted, I did the circle/counter canter/circle/flying change exercise again. Lead changes weren't as clean as they had been last time I did that. Honestly, I think my stirrups were a little too tight! Ooops, haha. Warm up felt GREAT. Trot into a small crossrail, canter out in 6 to the new cabinet jump. He could have cared less. Did again, and again, pretty perfect. Did outside/inside/outside/inside. The first outside was 5 strides with a low crossrail/low cabinet. Inside was a tall x rail. Other outside was stack oxer (low) to a 2'6 single, and final inside was a 2'6 single. Nothing big; they didn't need to be. First course was pretty ok. Didn't MISS any distances, but did have to make some last minute adjustments. Tried to work on building pace in the corners so I can sit up and balance to the jump. We both felt pretty decently good; I got him a little too forward, which flattened him out and caused some leaning in the corners. He was SO forward, he was just about leaving a stride out! Re grouped, and got him a little more under control. Again, and it wasn't bad at all. Did it a final time, and missed to the long approach to the big crossrail, then the outside low line just didn't click well. Finished by approaching the tall x rail off a long canter one more time, and NAILED it. I did what I had forgotten almost every time. 2-point, build pace in the corner. Sit up as soon as I sight in on jump. About 10 strides away, start to half halt and balance with reins ... ADD LEG. That's what I forgot, the leg. He balanced right up, lifted that shoulder, and nailed the distance perfectly. Quit there.

Becca and I finished with a little trail walk through the big pasture. Both boys were picture perfect; great way to spend a BEAUTIFUL Sunday afternoon!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Good things happening ...

Fortunately, the "injury" wasn't too significant. Cold hosed for 2 days, then proceeded to hack lightly in the ring and cold hose again. Thursday was an off day because of a little field trip to Dover to get new field boots! Woo Hoo!! Today I decided to practice 16 year old rusty braiding skills; not to mention I've NEVER sewn in/braided button braids before. I think considering his mane hasn't been pulled in 2 years, and I've been scissor cutting it, the braiding went fairly well.:) Took me a solid hour and a half to put them in.

Rode in Nicole's dressage saddle today. I havent' ridden in one in FOREVER, and it was cool to feel how it immediately opened up my hip angle, and helped me sit up. My stirrups were a hair too long, and the new boots squeaked against the Wintec pleather like crazy, but the ride was pretty good. The little booger REALLY wants to miss his left lead (the GOOD one) on the 20m circle approaching X. It's quite annoying. Thank goodness I have a month to DRILL that little exercise. Good boy today, 100% sound, and getting ready for Halloween!!!:)

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's inevitible ...

that the horse trial is looming about a month away, and my horse injures himself. It doesn't look too serious, thank goodness. He chewed up the inside of his left front. That's the leg with the bowed tendon, so the swelling looks worse than it really is, I think. There was some heat and swelling about halfway down the inside of the left front, down to the side of the fetlock. I guess once it's healed up, it's back in turnout boots for the Muffin! Luckily, he trotted out sound, so hopefully after another day of cold hosing, he'll be good to go by Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday was regular training day; Thursday was hills, Friday was trot/canter sets. He was a super boy both days. Got the weekend off, then had planned to ride him today, but the swelling and booboo prevented that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Little over a month away ...

Can't even believe it. It's all I can THINK about. I keep picturing, over and over again, us having a solid dressage test in the 20's, double clean cross country, and showjumping. I just ordered 3 spools of waxed thread and some tapestry needles to practice braiding before the trial. Obsessed? Well, at over $400 for the entry fees, this one is the ONLY one I'm doing before the end of the year. I haven't even sent my entries yet, because I have to shake the couch cushions a little harder to try and find the money to even DO this thing. Ugh. I WILL, though!

Anyway, Monday I did a nice jump school. Becca loaned me her waterfod 3 ring elevator bit for awhile because her horse really doesn't care for it, so I've decided to jump in it for a few weeks. He felt REALLY nice. MUCH less stiff than the first time I rode him in it, and stayed very respectful of my aids.

Warmed up over a line of 2' verticals. Trotted in/cantered out. I can NOT trot a jump, UGH! I have the hardest time. The jumps were 5 strides apart set basically on "X". The cav stack oxer was just off to the side of the jump farthest from the gate. My concentration was on maintaining rhythm and not getting quick. He felt quite lovely. Cantered the oxer, and was again quite lovely. Hopped off, and raised them to 3'. Put the stack oxer back up to the highest setting, then remounted. Cantered the line; Squeaky knocked down the first pole, but jumped out nicely over the 2nd. Let's face it; moving a single vertical with no fill from 2' to 3' is HARD. Made up a little course of line, right turn to the bottom vertical on a diagonal, left turn to top vertical on a diagonal, canter a short turn through the center to the oxer. NICE. He felt GREAT. I felt pretty darn nice. Rested, went again, and got a long spot to one of the jumps. I kept going after the oxer, and did the 2 verts one more time to try and get better spots. It worked, and I stopped there. What a good boy, he felt amazing.

Yesterday, I had to CLEAN HOUSE, UGH!!! My grandparents came in for literally a few hours, but hey ... my house is as dog hair free as it can get right now, lol! Today I almost didn't ride since it rained just enough to knock off the nice "fluffiness" to the ring footing and make it hard as a rock by tomorrow. I'd decided to do hills today, but wanted to go ahead and flat since I felt like the ring was going to be basically unrideable until it gets dragged again.:( It was JUST wet enough that the dust was manageable, and things weren't hard yet. I used the fat snaffle with the ball again, and DAMN did he feel good. Beautiful flexation to the poll, quiet gaits, lightness in his front end. As good of a bend as Tiki usually gives me, which is still a work in progress. Practiced the canter transition on a 20 m circle, "approaching X" from the trot. Lovely, both times. Decided to try something ... cantered a circle right, circled left on the counter lead, circled right again, then circled left with a flying change. The change was late, but he DID it! Let him walk, did it again the opposite lead, got the change clean, then let him quit.

Wow. I had a super fantastic horse today. I've had my script for Adequan since November of last year, and hadn't made the commitment yet to put him on it. On of my priorities before the end of the year is to start him on Adequan; maybe that will be the key to make him totally, 100% comfortable. The fact that his changes aren't clean tells me that maybe Tiki is a little bit "squeaky" in the joints too. Since he's only 7, with only 7 race starts, I just don't think he needs anything injected yet. Love my boy; he was GREAT today. Hills tomorrow, then not sure what for Friday. Toying with the idea of dragging out some of the "crappy" jump poles to a well defined ground indention to make a more concrete ditch, and find some stuff in the big pasture to hop over.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Where did Fall go, again?

So, wishing it was about 84 outside instead of 94. Oh well, can't have it all!

I've had a tire with a slow leak for several months now, and the slow leak finally turned into a fast one! Haha, so Thursday I had to got sit and wait for a tire to get put on instead of ride my boy.

Friday, I decided to go ahead and flat instead of do hills. I'm trying to get my dressage bridle broken in, and STILL trying to figure out which bit I'm going to use. AGH! So frustrating. Since my goal is to finish the horse trial on my dressage score, the dressage score needs to be a competitive one. My friend Becca has a thick mouthed loose ring with a waterford ball in the center. His little head is SO small, that I didn't know how he would like that bit; it is REALLY thick compared to others I've used. He felt ... good. What I've decided is I'm going to take 2 more dressage lessons before the show, and let Susan tell me which one to use. He did FEEL really nice in it, but I can't see his mouth from on top of his back.

Anyway, tried to work on trot lengthening, precise trot/canter transitions, turns on the forehand, spirals at the trot and walk, and canter circles. It was a really lovely school; pulling was VERY minimal, and he was back to his usual Squeaky self. No lookey-loo/spooky nonsense. Worked on not chasing him, keeping my shoulders back, and letting GO. Felt pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My horse gave me goosebumps today ...

... and NOT because I was cold, haha!

Kept with the plan and headed into the front pasture to do trot/canter sets. 8 mins of trot, 2 mins canter, reverse and repeat. Started out normally; a little quick and choppy ... lowered my hands and took contact and put leg on; he started to slow down and equalize a bit. By the time I got to minute number 8, he felt pretty damn good. Picked up the canter, and he has NEVER felt that good. I assumed my "balanced" position; light seat, but shoulders back. I consciously half halted and let go, kept him straight and true, and he stretched into the most BEAUTIFUL hand gallop at some point. I literally got goosebumps at how wonderful and magical it was. When I went to do my downward walk transition, I barely touched his face ... "Whoa", close the fingers, and he was right down to the walk without a single pull or tug.

And yes, I yanked off all cavessons today. He felt great.:)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shooting for AEC's next year!

So. I've got my next year's goal set. Achieved my one for this year (clinic with a BNT; NOT George Morris, but Jeff Cook!) My goal for next year is to qualify and compete at the AEC's. What a FUN time I had volunteering! I thought BN was awesome; the bank was HARD. A big square table top oxer landing on an up ramp, 4 strides off a HUGE drop.

Novice had a TOUGH ramp jump into water; most of the falls were at this jump. Training looked INTENSE. The water complex was a mound with a rolltop on top, a big drop into the water, then a squirrely line out to a skinny. A jump off a big bank, then a TIGHT turn to offset skinny "barns". That's my FIVE year goal:)

Not much happened last week. Monday and Tuesday I did some dressage flatwork. Tuesday he was nuts. Like snorty, spooky, NOT happy at ALL. I was a little disturbed; wish I could have talked to him to find out what was going on. Wednesday I stuck him in the surcingle and side reins, and he seemed just fine. Worked some nice transitions on the longe line. Good boy! Thurs and Fri I volunteered at the AEC's, and Saturday I was BUSY.

Sunday, we had our second PWF schooling show. I threw him on the trailer with Nicole's Star, and her friend Debbie's Kelly. My plan was for him to get in some pre-IEA stuff going. A novice kid of mine was doing him 2', one of my stronger kids was doing him 2'6, then my right hand teenager (the same one as last show) did him 3'. He was definitely tired by the end. Started off pretty darn fresh; the kid is quite novice, and had NEVER ridden him ... all that being what it was, they did pretty OK. He was definitely lit up, but never threatened to run away or anything.

My stronger kid did a better job. Still had a few moments where he saw his spot to a jump and ran a little, but was overall much steadier. The 3' he looked GREAT. Settled in beautifully, and jumped around no problem. I love my little muffin!

Gave him today and he will have tomorrow off (he worked HARD Sunday), then Wed I'll do trot sets. Thurs will most likely be a flat day, then Friday hills. We'll jump again next Monday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I just love lessoning ...

I highly recommend Mary Bess Sigman to anyone in GA or surrounding areas. She is great! Love her style; encouraging, easy to get along with, knowelageable (sp?), funny, and tough. I had a GREAT time! I was nervous; hadn't had any sort of a "jumping lesson" since my Jeff Cook clinic back in early June.

Took Tiki with me to PW for my Saturday lessons. Let a friend hack him for me. She started out with my group of kids in the big ring, but recognized how tense he was, so she went to the covered ring by herself. He relaxed beautifully, and she had a great time:) He was light and soft, and came into the bridle without her having to take ANY contact on him at all. She was very complimentary, which of course made me super happy. He stood in a standing stall with a full net of hay, and a water bucket close at hand for hay dunking; he was happy as a pig in mud!

After a full day of teaching, changed my clothes, packed up all my stuff, loaded the Squeaky, then plugged the address into the GPS and freaked a little; 3:19 was the estimated arrival time. My ride time was at 4. The arrival time does NOT take into account traffic lights, etc. Plus, I was just a *little* distrustful that the GPS actually knew the address; Calimar is WAY off the beaten path, lol. Fortunately, I got there with NO problem, and was able to cruise along at about 70 mph since Becca's trailer is so awesomely light:) The truck pulled it like a CHAMP:)

Arrived at Calimar at precisely 3:20. Had plenty of time to get the boy off, run a brush over his (sweaty) coat, wipe his nose and eye boogers, tack him up, get my boots/half chaps on, and mount up with 6 minutes to spare. Phew! MB actually did what I had hoped for. Asked me to tell her about myself; goals, etc. She took the time to go over what happens at a HT, and some general rules. Most of that I knew already, but I was appreciative of her taking the time to talk to me. I was riding with a lady on a large pony that was SUPER brave; the lady was very obviously a BTDT sort of eventing rider, and was very nice and encouraging. We warmed up with a quick trot/canter both ways, and MB just watched. She then explained how she wanted the course ridden; galloping position in between the jumps, sit up and prepare TO the jump, then getting away from the jump. I practiced the gallop position (picture perfect), and then the preparation position. Basically, it's lift MY shoulder to get him to lift HIS shoulder. That's what she focused on; his shoulder. She wanted his head to come up, his shoulder to lift, and his hind end to sit down. Makes perfect sense. So, like Marisa said, get a little in the "backseat", but she wanted my seat light, not in a driving position. Fun. Warmed up over a crossrail, then it was time to get to work!

First exercise was the lincoln logs out of the arena to an inviting hanging log, to a low but spooky log. I picked up my neck strap, got in my "shoulder lifting" position, put my leg on, and he jumped all 3 jumps beautifully. I felt solid, secure, and even though he peeked at the spooky log, because his shoulder was up, and I was supporting and not chasing, it worked out great. MB had nothing but praise.

Next was the little ditch. Pony walked it with absolutely no problem; K cantered her in to the bigger ditch, and ALMOST fell in it! Needless to say, pony was NOT happy about the wider expanse of nothingness, so Tiki and I walked around a little bit while K and MB worked on getting over it. Finally, it was my turn. MB MADE me walk the little one. We went back and forth over it until Tiki finally quietly hopped over. It was my turn now for the wider one ... gulp! She wanted me to go SLOW and walk over it. I was like, "huh?" MB was like, "Yep, WALK IT". OK. We walked to the edge, he stopped. We trotted up, I leaned forward, his front feet went IN the ditch. We walked again, trotted at the last minute, MB hollered that he was going, I held tight to the strap and closed my eyes as Squeaky boy launched over it. I lost my stirrup on landing, but we were over in one piece.:) Came other way, leaned forward, he stopped. Came again, stayed back, clucked and legged, and he launched. Let's say MB made us do it literally a dozen times. I KEPT on leaning forward, and she KEPT on telling me to STAY BACK. Also, as he started to "get it", he wanted to run to it a little, then stop and launch. THAT'S why MB wanted me to go slow to it, so he would stay consistent. Finally, towards the end, he was a little bit better to it, so we moved on.

Jumped up and down the small bank a few times, and he was a rock star. To my amazement, he trotted right to the edge of the bank and bounced down without even a hiccup. Did a combo of bank up, bank down, hanging log. It was perfect, no problems. Then it was time for bank down, big training level cedar log (the one he's always sticky at), larger bank up (which we'd never done) to train barrels (yikes). Let me say, we've never jumped the train without a nice little sniff and look. This was to be the first "Just go JUMP it!". Down bank was great, stop at the log. I should have used my crop on approach, and maybe he would have gone. MB let him look at it, then we tried again. He went this time, albeit a bit awkwardly, and we continued to the bank. A big leap up after he bobbled and broke to the trot in front of it, then on to the train. I sat BACK, clucked, supported, and he went over! I patted him and exclaimed how the bank was much bigger than what I was expecting! MB was pleased with our performance. We then had to reverse that and do the train to the bank down to the cedar log the other way. Better this time. The bank was so huge my hand came off the neck strap because he had to stretch so much. Did something similar to that one more time, and we had no issues.

Last, we moved into the water complex (gee, just like I've done it on my own, lol!). We walked into the water, and he was happy to do it. Let him take a peek at the cabin; this time we were jumping it opposite the way I had last time. Did a combo of a natural log triple bar, canter into the water, jump a crossrail out, then around to the cabin. Great at the triple, perfect canter and hop over the crossrail, then I rode him well to the cabin and he jumped it. I had used my spur on takeoff, and MB said I rode it perfectly. Finished with a bounce down into the water, then back out. I had jumped out of it last time, but not in. Going towards the barn, he was pretty good. Going away, he got a little too fast and frantic, then nearly tripped coming out because it's only 3 strides before the out. MB wasn't happy with how he was dropping in; she said he was a little unsure and needed to figure it out, so we came a few times until I stayed back on coming in, whoa'd through the water, then WAITED on the bank out. Once we got it, she wanted us to quit there.

K asked if we could go back over to the ditch one more time. MB said that we could, and if the pony had trouble, we could give her a lead. Walked back over there, and I watched the pony jump it just fine. Then K asked me if I wanted to do it ... not really, but I knew it wouldn't hurt. Tried to stay back and remember what MB had said, and he launched. Back again, and he launched again. Again, and a little better. Once more, and it was decent, so we quit for good.

What a great experience! The biggest compliment to me was that MB said she would LOVE to work with us, would include me on her e-mail list for when she was xc schooling, and would be perfectly happy to help us at the HT. I mentioned our 5 year goal was to make it to Training level, and her response was that she would have NO problem getting us there.:) Awesome. I sure wish I'd hurry up and win the lottery so I could lesson like that every week instead of once every 3 months!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tired of fire trucks!

From having NEVER been exposed to a fire, to being exposed to it twice in 3 weeks ... our next door neighbor's house burned last night. His grill somehow caught the house on fire. No people/animals were injured this time, but we have some pretty major damage to the siding on OUR house from the extreme heat, yikes! What a devastating loss to our neighbors ... it's just so scary and random.:(

A tiny bit of news on the horsey front: I'm taking my first ever xc lesson tomorrow, yipee! I will be riding in a small group with Mary Bess Sigman at Calimar Farm tomorrow:) I can't wait; SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gave Muffin a bath and clipped his muzzle/bridle path in preparation.

Nothing terribly exciting on the riding front this week. Monday I didn't ride for some reason ... laziness, I think it was.;) Tuesday, had plans for another jump school since the footing would still be good. Led him up, and realized Nicole had jacked up some of the jumps ... hmmmm ... left them. The highest was 3', looked like the others were 2'9. I won't lie; they looked BIG, haha. Especially since I still planned my tight turns/crazy lines type course. For some odd reason, Tiki warmed up GREAT. Wow, he felt frickin' amazing. Soft, floaty, bendy, supple. I was floored. Jumping was just as fab. He was straight, responsive, and really really good. LOVE my Muffin!

Wednesday, I planned an intensive flat (dressage) day. He REALLY wasn't feeling the love as much. I had in a dressage legal Mikmar loose ring, and he was just super fussy with his head/neck/mouth. VERY mouth gaping, very herky-jerky:( He was just a little bit pissy in general. Worked through the nonsense; did trot spirals, leg yields, LOTS of working walk on contact, trot/canter transitions, walk/canter transitions, trot down the center line and halt ... canter/halt transitions. Worked for about 40 minutes, which for us, is a pretty long time for a flat school.

Thursday had planned trot sets, but I felt AWFUL. Had bad gas pains in my gut, as well as aches and chills:( Spent pretty much most of the day in bed.

Today I skipped over the trot sets and worked hills since I knew he'd get in lots of trotting/cantering/jumping tomorrow. Taking him with me to PW, then leaving from there to head to Calimar. Will report back with how it goes! Volunteering for the AEC's Thurs and Fri of next week; can't wait!:)