Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not a bad week so far.

It's been an interesting week so far. Enjoyed a lazy day on Sunday because it was cold and rainy. Monday, held horses for the vet, and Tiki got his shots and his first ever tooth floating. Actually felt the rough edges on his teeth before she floated them, and they were SO much more smooth afterwards. Gave him Tuesday off since usually the horses are a little punky the day after shots, and was genuinely excited Wednesday to see just how much better he'd be.

Well ... NO better at ALL! Luckily, I can laugh about it. He was such a turd. Fresh, bulging, and very rude with his mouth and head. He was very resistive through his neck, very forceful with his shoulders, and quick with the legs. Trotted him over a low cav oxer, and he was quite good. Cantered in, and he tried to practically yank me over his head afterwards. He was just very frustrated with me; maybe he was still a little stiff, but he was definitely cranky:(

Today he was a different animal. Did some light flatwork, not flexing his neck all the way because I wasn't sure if maybe it was still sore. Tried a bridle of Nicole's with the copper roller D that has a figure 8, so he did feel a little better. Obviously, the gaping mouth is a learned behavior, and not pain related, so now I don't feel bad about strapping his mouth shut. Guess I'll save the regular cavesson for trail rides since I'm sure it's more comfortable. Going back to the Waterford, because he has really been falling in while using the copper roller D. Live and learn; so glad I was able to borrow it instead of actually buying it. Wanted to do one more day of the gymnastic I'd set up last week; a tall crossrail, 1 stride to a "big" jump, 2 strides to a 2'9 vertical. Set the "big" jump to 2'9 to warm up. My friends can laugh with me as I relate this fact; I literally sang "Row, row, row your boat" as I cantered into the gymnastic. He went through BEAUTIFULLY. Came into the 2 to the 1, and again, it was LOVELY. Raised up the "big" jump to 3'3. I actually walked him up to it and showed him so the extra 6 inches didn't surprise him too much. Came into the 1 to the 2 again (still singing), and perfect. Reversed, again, perfect. Before I could second guess myself, got off and raised the "big" jump one more hole to 3'6. Came in left lead, and it felt REALLY good. Again, and I finally missed the distance coming in; so crossrail wasn't great, but he jumped the 3'6 GREAT, and the 2 out over the 2'9 he put in a huge effort:) Decided to break my own rules, and do it One. More. Time. because I was convinced I could nail the distance coming in. Well. Yeah, NO. I missed even worse than the last time ... it was so bad, I grabbed my left rein and yanked him out of the gymnastic for fear of crashing the 3'6. He is such a good boy, he was locked on, so when pulling him out, he actually hit the standard, hit the pole, and knocked the jump down pretty good. STUPID me. I knew the 3'6 was done for the day, so I set the jump as a big crossrail, and came through on the left lead. Bless Tiki's heart, he went right on through without so much as a hiccup (I still missed). Came in one final time off the right lead since I'd already "blown it", and AGAIN I missed coming in. Grrr ... NEVER do it JUST ONE MORE TIME. He was good, though, and went through like a metronome, so I dismounted and ran my stirrups up.

Farrier's coming tomorrow, so I'm going to try and quickly hack the Tiki man lightly tomorrow. Heck, I may actually hack him in the pasture since I haven't done it in forever. He has 2 IEA shows this weekend, and I think he's ready:) LOVE my pony!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nothing to blog on, really!

Sorry for a bit of a "pointless" update, but nothing has gone on! It rained Thursday, walked hills Friday, was busy all day yesterday with lessons, and it's raining today. Unfortunately, I've been CLEANING all day, darn:(

Vet is visiting tomorrow, so Tiki boy will get his teeth done and his Coggins pulled. I will do his shots myself; I just get the vet to do the Rabies vacc. Didn't clip; temps are supposed to drop below freezing during the morning time around Thursday, or so. Will ride in the latter part of the week, and the Boy has IEA shows on both Saturday and Sunday. Later!:)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Yep. The pony (and I) sweated today!:) It is SO nice to be out of that horrid deep freeze. Like I said, I live in the balmy south for a reason! Tiki had Sunday and Monday off after working his tail off Saturday at the show. Yesterday was a longe day. I attempted to free jump his as well, but that didn't work out so well. That was a good use for the small grass ring, but since our nice big ring with footing has been available, the grass ring was obliterated. He did look pretty nice on the longe line. Cantered him both ways, and he didn't cross canter. He needs to learn to hold himself up well, so honestly, he should probably canter a small little circle like that every week! STILL doesn't want to go forward. GEEZ!

The pony messed up when I took off the longe line and cracked the whip at him. He showed me he ACTUALLY has a hunter trot. Well knock me over with a feather. He was WAY forward, he arched his neck, he smoothed out his gait, and his hooves floated gently over the footing. Hmm. How in the H-E-double hockey sticks to I replicate that under saddle? A year and a half and this is the FIRST time I've ever seen so much as a HINT of that trot. Any words of wisdom are welcome!

Observed that with the copper roller bit/regular cavesson he didn't open his mouth at all until I hooked on the side reins. Once that contact was initiated, he started opening his mouth and showing his teeth:( Rode today, and he does FEEL pretty good in it. He rounds his neck, he felt very straight, and he doesn't feel tense or anything. At the canter, we wrestled a little bit. We've sort of achieved head down, flexed at the poll, and nice straight neck at the trot. Now to repeat that at the canter. I really used my inside spur, strong support with the outside rein, and TRIED not to use an indirect inside rein; tried to actually open the inside rein. He was decent; I think with lots of work it will get there.

Switched between the canter and the hand gallop. He came back to me VERY well. Not any fighting on that at all. Trotted back and forth over a little cav oxer, then proceeded to my gymnastic I'd set:)

A crossrail with the poles at 3'9, one stride to a 3' vert, two strides to a 2'9 vertical. Set to canter in and jump in from either side. I had PLANNED to raise the 3' center jump, but the gymnastic wasn't quite as seamless and perfect as I'd envisioned. Set both distances 3' short from "the step". I've been riding a lot of adds to get him to slow down and be more careful. The first time in over the crossrail, he backed off so much both distances were very long. Came in again, clucked and closed my leg, and the 2 stride was actually a one and a half. Ugh. Tried it off the right lead, and I saw a quiet distance but he didn't. I had to pull him out because the distance was So Bad. Came again, and he was very unsure since I'd just pulled him out. So it was a little crooked, but not bad. One more time on the right lead, and it felt pretty ok. Decided to do the left one more time, and it was ... perfect. Rhythmic, balanced, straight, and careful. Nice.

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain all day, so no riding. Friday may be butt work, not sure. Tentatively planning to do his 'chaser clip on Saturday because there was a goodly amount of SWEAT on the boy today, yay! He has chunked up so much I need new blankies for next year in a bigger size! He has rubs ALL over his coat from his current ones. He's been wearing both his t/o sheet and his blanket, and he has rubs on both shoulders and over his "point of buttocks":( Actually bathed him yesterday, and he looked fabulous; then, of course, he was turned out last night sans any sort of sheet or blanket, so I spent some quality time with the curry comb today:) I think he enjoyed a nice roll with no jammies on. LOVE my pony!!:)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Crazy realizations ...

Tiki hasn't been to a show since ... December 13th. Yesterday was January 16, so a little over a month. Went to put his sheet on him for shipping, and it was too small. No, I haven't washed it! He was chunked out/muscled up to the point that he is FINALLY up a blanket size. Hmm, guess that's why he has RUB marks all over his coat:( Nicole showed up at 6:30 in the morning of her own free will to help me load. She rocks. Had Star and Tiki up at the barn, fed them some breakfast, I wrapped Tiki while she wrapped Star, then went to load.

For anyone that hasn't read the mid part of this blog, I will quickly re-cap my loading "issues". When I got Tiki, he had only been on straight load trailers with ramps. He walked right up, no problem, could load him by myself with no issues. Loaded him a few times on step up slant load trailers, and while he still got on with no hesitation, by the time I unloaded him, he was REALLY sweaty. Then came Jen's Great Screwup. I borrowed a trailer from a client that was a step up straight load. It was a 2007 model trailer, but it was VERY small. Mangers in front, and very dark. For the first time, he did NOT want to load. Used a longe line to force him in, shut the doors, and it was done. I effectively ruined my horse's ability to load. For the next ... 8 months or so, we have had days of hour+ loading efforts, longe whips, longe lines, pitchforks, etc. I can read a horse; it was NOT fear. It was a stubborn "Yeah, NO." Ever since that one incident of the too small trailer, I have made sure that the trailers were PLENTY big enough, he's just carried one heck of a grudge at enduring 3 hours in a trailer that he HATED. FINALLY, he has decided to relent, and start getting on with no drama again. Whew. Yesterday, he was PERFECT getting on, unloaded with minimal sweat marks, and all is well with the world again.

It wasn't too bad, temperature wise in the morning; low 40's and overcast. By the time I got to Wills Park, it was still low 40's, but you could feel the warmer, humid air was being replaced by cold air and a breeze:( Nicole surprised me with a beautiful wool dress sheet for the Tiki boy that actually FITS him, so after tacking him up, threw that on him to keep him from getting cold. My friend Becca met me at Wills to warm him up for me so I could do other "trainer" things. It was nice because she and Nicole were able to get on the horses, and go in an adjacent ring to just hack and stretch their legs, and let them have PLENTY of time to warm up. Becca let me know he felt like a different horse:) She hasn't ridden him since she showed him over crossrails in his very first show. That was a long time ago! He looked great over a few warm up jumps, and FINALLY it was time to go in the show ring to warm up. Jumped around the course perfectly, and it was time for the show to start!

I didn't have a complete team. We are overly qualified already, I'm just trying to get some individual girls qualified. Still, though, we finished like 4th out of 8 or 9 teams, so not bad. Star was her usual perfect self, and Tiki showed what a rock star he is. Flatted beautifully, jumped around without a hiccup, and with the exception of one flat class where the kid couldn't get his right lead, his "kids" finished in the top 3 every time. What made me feel SO good is the fact that Every. Single. Kid. got off, patted him, told him "Good Boy", then turned to their parents/friends/coach and said, "He was SO great/awesome/fun/cool".

This journey has been SO much fun. I am so proud of where we are, and I hope this year we just keep moving forward. I love my pony, he is such a rock star:)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finally; the temps made it out of the 30's!

Praise be! It got up to around 50 yesterday, yay yay!!:) Had no stalls to do, just the Princess and the Squeaky boy to ride. Rode Audrey first, and she was just a little rock star:) It was still a little chilly; barely 40. She was great, though. I've started riding her in spurs due to the fact that she has just SACKED OUT adding a 3rd day to the schedule. I was only riding her twice a week, but her owner bumped it up to 3 times a week and it's really made a positive difference with her. Cantered a smallish figure 8 and did simple changes through the walk, and she nailed it on the first try.

Tiki felt fabulous. I tried a single jointed D-ring with copper rollers with my regular noseband bridle. I'm seeking a bit I can use with a regular cavesson that my horse will not gape his mouth wide open with (that really sounds like bad english, yikes!). The trot felt amazing. He was forward but not fast, his butt followed his shoulders beautifully, his neck was soft and bendy, and he was nicely flexed at the poll without being overflexed. Yup, that's the way day 4 usually feels:) Circled, reversed several times, but didn't drill on anything since I planned to jump at height. He felt good in the bit. I cheated and looked at his shadow a few times, and his mouth was open and the jaw crossed a few times. He did NOT yank at me at all, and he never made me PULL on him. Sometimes while jumping, he gets a little bit like a freight train, and I have to PULL to slow him down. Not so on Thursday! Canter transitions were picture perfect both directions. I did feel as though I had to ride him a little more aggressively at the canter to keep that body correct; he did try to fall in a few times with his shoulders. Not sure if that was bit related, or if he just felt like falling in today!

Had the same little "course" set up from Wednesday. Stack oxer on the outside, 2 inside diagonal verticals, one outside vertical. Jumped a crossrail 4 times and he was slow, jumped from the base, didn't miss a beat. Hopped off, raised the crossrail to 3'3. Everything else was 3'. I've never jumped him 3'3 outside of a gymnastic. This was just a plain, big 'ol vetical with no placing poles, cavs, etc. Since I'm a big chicken, warmed up a figure 8 pattern over the 2 inside diagonals, and it felt OK. He was a little lazy once with one of them, and I saw my distance short 3 out of 4 times. Ugh. I hate that. I think I just needed a little more canter; we were too slow. Did my outside/inside/outside/inside course; was a little nervous to the 3'3, but went for it; too short, and he rolled the pole off. It really was MY fault, not his. Reset it, then tried again. The 2nd time, I was WAY off to the 3'3, and even though he cleared it, I got way left behind and hit him in the mouth:( Regrouped, and went around a final time, twice. That was better. I critiqued myself as I went along, and picked up more canter, kept my canter rhythm by counting out loud, concentrated on closing my leg at the base and following his mouth, and not letting that shoulder dip in the corners. FINALLY nailed the distance to the 3'3 the 4th time I jumped it, so quit there. 4 jumps, 8 jumping efforts, and only 1 short distance; to the stack oxer. That's progress!

IEA show tomorrow at the local show grounds; this is a makeup show for last Sunday. It's in the large covered ring, and the temp's supposed to be in the 50's, but rain will be coming in. Will let y'all know how it goes!:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Todays adventures:)

Nothing crazy today:) Yes, it was warmer ... and yes, I still had to break ice from all the water buckets. I am SO ready for winter to be OVER!!! I think Alaska is one of the most beautiful states in this country, but there's a reason I don't live there;)

Anyway, warmed up with contact again today. He felt much better; flexed through the poll, walked forward (for him), and didn't jig. We did a bunch of small circles both directions, and I did flex him into my knee both ways. He felt really stiff LEFT today, oddly. I wish my poor boy wasn't so tight through his body ... I'll be interested to see how relaxed he is Saturday after actually going 5 days in a row riding him. He is definitely a horse that excels with plenty of work; he likes to have a job.

He was bummed because I actually brushed him today, lol. For the past 2 weeks, I've been doing the "blanket" groom, which translates to "It's freezing, I really want to get warm, you're wearing a blanket and can't possibly be dirty under there. So, I'm picking your feet, knocking the dirt off the visible body parts, and rolling with it. M'kay?" So, when I pulled his blankets and began with the curry comb, he kept biting air.:)

Anyway, sorry for the segue, back to today! Really worked hard on not over using my inside rein, and used my outside leg through our turns to keep his haunches from swinging. Did several large circles, some nice leg yields, and nailed a couple of BEAUTIFUL turn on the haunches. Had a nice left lead canter, reversed across a diagonal, and cantered right off the straightaway. I didn't counter bend him at all; just stepped out and he was lovely.

Trotted into a crossrail, and he almost stuttered in shock, ha ha! Came back the other way; great. Made up a little course of trot into crossrail, trot across diagonal over another crossrail, canter a 2'6 vertical, canter a NEW cav stack jump. This one is an oxer with a 3rd cav stacked on top. So, this one I can jump both ways, yay! It stands about 3'. Did it the first time trotting the crossrails and cantering the verticals, then kept going one more time, and cantered everything. He felt fabulous. Really focused on MY position; concentrated on landing in my 2-point and having a following, automatic release. I felt great, too. Ended fantastic!

Tomorrow should REALLY be nicer. Looking forward to it! The pic up top is one that one of the girls from Patchwork made for me. The longeing pic is from June in '08 when I got him, and the other one is from Monday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yes. It was cold today.

Really, really cold:( The wind was just BITING, ugh. Can't wait for the end of this week to get here; it will be about 20 degrees warmer. Yay! Tiki was much better today. Still not GREAT, but all 4 feet stayed on the ground:) Footing wasn't too bad, but you could feel how hard the ground was, so we didn't appproach anything resembling a jump. Started with some bending to my knee. I've been watching some video clips from the George Morris Horsemastership Clinic this week, and one of the things he laments on is how people ride with their hands way too low. So, I REALLY focused on keeping my hands UP. He just does NOT love contact. His mouth is really soft, and he's really soft in his neck, but he gets jiggy and ornery when he is so behind the bit. For a while, he was WAY better in the waterford bit, but now he feels pretty much like he did in every other bit I've tried him in. About to try a new one tomorrow; just to see if he will accept contact and not open his mouth so much. It's a simple D-ring with copper rollers all along the mouthpiece. We'll see!

His main problem right now is his butt doesn't connect to his front end. He'll go around a turn, but then let the butt just drift. I've been working on BENDING his BODY, not just his neck, and using my legs to keep his haunches on the correct track. He wasn't bad today. Not as good as a few weeks ago, but the weather hasn't cooperated as much as it could have. I plan to ride him every day this week, and we have the postponed show from Sunday coming up this Saturday. I feel confident by then he'll feel really, really nice.:) I'll hop over a few small jumps tomorrow since I'm sure the ground will still be pretty hard, and jump height on Thursday. Friday we'll be back to flatwork, and then show on Saturday. Sunday off of course. Will post an update tomorrow!:)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Whelp. It was an interesting day today ...

So, haven't ridden my horse since Wednesday. FORTUNATELY, our show Sunday was cancelled; my horse for sure would have been pulled due to mis-behavior! He was fresh, fresh, fresh. Head shaking, leaping up in the air, and general pissy antics were the name of the game today. My friend Nicole was riding in the ring with me today, and we happened to be going in opposite directions. I was walking, she was trotting. No big deal, right? I was on the rail, and she went to pass with a perfectly resonable amount of space. Well, Mr. Muffin Man decided that was BAD, and he proceeded to leap, back, and panic. Geez. Freak out much? Nicole was understandable horrified, and I begged her to do it again, and again, and again ... yes, I'm glutton for punishment;) So, we spent my whole riding time pretty much working on passing. Yes, Turd man did get better, but I had to end because I had to go get my Little Man off the bus. Tiki probably could have stood about another half hour of riding, but I have other obligations in life, sadly;) We ended OK. The canter felt great. The trot was just too fresh to really be good. His head was shaking, and he was trying to be a turd and yank on me, and his butt was very freely swinging in the breeze. I lauged, I admit it. He hasn't felt that ... bad in about 6 months or so. It's ok. He's a horse. I still love him. Looking forward to tomorrow (sort of; it's supposed to be a high in the 30's again. REALLY looking forward to Wed/Thurs! Highs to almost 60). THANKS to Nicole for risking her horse and her life to give mine a little "pass" training. I'm thankful for my friends:)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I was right ...

Did nothing other than walk hills this week. Got up beyond a trot once. For the Tiki pony, went to a different side of the pasture where the hill is a LEETLE more steep, lol. It's a shorter physical distance, but he had to push harder to get up. For Mick, I stayed on his usual side because he's FINALLY walking up the hill without trying to spook and spin, yay! Monday and Tuesday I tacked everybody up. Wednesday, I rode just Tiki and Audrey, but I rode them bareback with their winter blankets on. That was an interesting experience:) Tiki felt very fresh, the little punk. Even with TWO blankets on, his spine still was quite painful. He would be SUPER comfy bareback if he wasn't so bony, haha. We're having our first snow of the season right now; last year we didn't get ANY. We should get an inch or two total. Spent all day inside today, YAY! It was a nice break. Will clean stalls tomorrow, but probably not ride. Tiki and Star have an IEA show Sunday:( Was really hoping it would be cancelled, but looks like it won't. At least it will be under a covered ring ... but it's still going to be COLD. I live in GA for a reason, I don't like the cold! Hopefully this deep freeze of 24 degree daytime highs will go AWAY next week!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year:)

Another year, new goals:) Had a great week last week. Have a feeling I'll be walking a LOT of hills this week with all the ponies; the warmest day is supposed to be Wednesday at a whopping 36 degrees:( Not sure if the footing in the ring will be thawed at all. Oh well, hills are good for them:) Rode the Squeaky Wednesday after the AWESOME Tuesday in just his halter/lead rope. He was quite nice. Very quiet and good; not very "bendy" or supple, though, since he didn't HAVE to be. I was just doing a light hack with him anyway, so I wasn't too bothered by that fact. Trotted the crossrail and a small vertical back and forth on a figure 8 and worked on waiting to the base, and having him come right back to me after. Didn't canter into anything since I was working on getting that front end up and square. He felt good. It's nice to know I can literally jump my horse around in a halter and he doesn't offer to get fast/buck/ignore me at all. Gave him Thurs-Sun off, and starting in new tomorrow! Like I said, probably will do hills, but that's just fine.
Pic is of me and Hubby on our last cruise ... we're wanting to start thinking about our next vacation soon; hopefully to Cancun!