Thursday, April 29, 2010

A tale of 3 beasties ...

We were all worried I would be even worse today than I was yesterday, but actually, I felt pretty decent. Stayed in bed for awhile and just RELAXED, then got up and headed to the barn. Tacked the princess up with a standing martingale today, and had NO intention of doing ANY groundpoles. She still had a little spook in her today; upon getting to the gate of the ring, she pulled back and yanked the reins out of my hands. This one would be super easy to ruin. All it would take is a little rough treatment, and she would just lose her mind. I was very sweet and encouraging, patted and soothed. W/T/C on the rail. Whenever she caught sight of one of the poles, she actually hit the end of the martingale. Geez. I think she's coming into season, maybe? The old mare certainly is!

Next, rode one I've ridden a few times before. His owner is out of town and working for the next 2 weeks, and he needs to get worked. So; it's me! He is just ... a horse. His head goes so high, he feels like a Walking horse. His owner rides him western, but she has an english saddle for him as well, and that's what I rode him in. He doesn't bend, he doesn't stay consistent, and he likes to do whatever HE wants to do. I'm firm with him, but I don't fight with him, so he has a bit of grudging respect for me. It went well.

I groomed the Tiki man for quite awhile, painted his bare foot with some venice turpentine, tacked him up, then walked hills. He was so perfect. Didn't put a hoof wrong. I love that horse more than words can express. He is so incredibly awesome; I wouldn't trade him for anything. LOVE my boy! Looking forward to riding him next week for real.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yes, I'm fine:)

Phew. Woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by a truck, but my headache is gone, yay:) Very sore ... very, very. Did end up heading to the urgent care center to get checked out yesterday since I did get sick at one point, but my physical exam was "normal". Went to the barn today and cleaned stalls, but stayed on the ground:) Tomorrow I will ride the princess, ride another boarder's horse Sedona, then ride the Squeaky boy up some hills. He gets his new shoe put on Friday, and I intend to head to the barn Saturday after lessons (if the blasted rain stays away) and actually ride him. Finally. I've been taking it easy all day, and will continue to do so tomorrow; won't go within 10 feet of a ground pole, lol! I hate hitting the ground; I don't bounce like I used to.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Having a really bad day:(

I try to keep this blog really good and positive for the most part. Even if things aren't perfectly going my way, I try to pick out the good parts and focus on that. But this has just been a bad day, there's no way to sugarcoat it:(

Actually, there is a bright side. The bad day is partially because my horse has lost his third ever shoe in 2 years, and I won't get to do much with him this week because of that. Farrier comes Friday. So, it's the OTHER horse I ride that I had the bad day with. That's a bright side right? Right?

So, the princess is coming 4; she's a warmblood pony, and really a pretty amazing animal. We've had our moments when I wanted to just yell in sheer frustration at her stupid "dumbblood" antics, but I've always kept my cool, stayed really patient, and we've always worked through her stupid moments. Her biggest problem is that she has a spook from Hel!. For the most part, we deal pretty well with each other, and if she's too too incredibly spooky, I'll simplify the ride and end on a good note. Well, she felt OK today. It's only April, but the weather here has been mid to hight 80's all month. Today, it's a BEAUTIFUL 67ish with a pretty decent wind. All was fine, though, and she walk/trotted pretty well. I still have the jumps set across the middle of the ring; outside, diagonal, diagonal, outside. I set each one as a ground pole. Decided to go ahead and trot her once through the course; outside, inside, outside, inside, then be done since the ring is really hard today. I had already trotted on of the inside diagonal singles, and even though she gave me a little jump over it, she was fine. Trotted into the outside pole, and JUST as she would have trotted over, she FLUNG her head straight up; nearly backwards. Smacked me in the face, jerked me forward, spun and twisted; I hit my jaw hard on her neck, and hit the ground hard butt first, then smacked my head.:( It stunned me. I sat there for awhile before I was able to get up. I did, got back on, walked over the pole about 4 times, walked the other poles, walked over this pole again, trotted around, WALKED about 5 steps before it. She got half way over it, then JUMPED straight up, landed, and tried to yank and spin again. I lost both stirrups and barely stayed on, then decided to emergency dismount since she was attempting to buck and take off. This time, I managed to land on my feet, but she yanked away from me, and took off running like a maniac. She ran around so long, Susan from across the street drove over, and walked up to the ring asking if I was ok. I did the classic little kid thing, and burst into tears as I explanied what happened. Finally caught the mare, got back on again, and went straight up to that dang pole. NOW she was offering to want to just leap over it; I could feel it. Susan's student took her rein, and led her over the pole a few times until she chilled, then I did it alone, trotted around again, trotted another random pole, then came back to the booger pole and WALKED it one more time. I stayed on, she didn't freak, so I ended there. I think I have a mild consussion:(

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sorry ...

I apologize for not having much to say lately. That's because nothing has been going on! Ended up just longeing Tiki boy on Friday because I ran out of time; had to get home and get the house ready for my son's 8th birthday party on Saturday! Spent Saturday teaching and partying, then spent Sunday at Wills Park at a horseshow with a few of my kids. Monday I cleaned stalls and slept, Tuesday I held horses for the farrier for 5 hours, then Wednesday I gave Audrey a great schooling, but again ran out of time, so I threw on the saddle, tied my leadrope into reins, and did the hill thing. Thursday and Friday I was volunteering my time at the GIHP for the IEA National finals. Even though my team missed qualifying by 1 point, I had one kid qualify over fences individually. Out of 19, she got a 3rd, YAY! I was proud.:) Today I would have LOVED to ride after teaching, but have been weathering thunderstorms all day, so no riding tomorrow either. Have to help the vet on Monday, but I'll get there extra early to get in a ride before she gets there. So, not much going on, but just wanted to let y'all know that!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Love it when I have a GREAT week:)

So, yeah, I know I said I'd update on Friday, but I just. couldn't. wait. What a rockstar my horse is! OH! And I am officially signed up for the Jeff Cook clinic, YIKES! I am partially terrified, but really excited. Plan to really continue to work on our canter work, and get things REALLY solid so we can deliver.

Sooo, Monday was a jump day. Used the 3 ring again, and I have to confess I had more love for it. Warmed up with the snaffle rein, primarily. Tied my stirrups a little tighter this time than I had on Friday, and I FELT it! My leg was tight as a tick! It was nice;) Kept my reins really soft and quiet, and really used my leg to ride him forward. Made sure I wasn't chasing him, though, just rode him nice and forward. Had my cav oxer stack jump set up, and just the 2 stride of tall crossrails again. Set a smaller warm up crossrail off to the side so I didn't have to get off to reset jumps. With my stirrups tied, I have to watch my canter transition. I have a habit of REALLY putting my outside leg back for the canter, but since both my legs only had the same amount of slack, I couldn't really do that. So, I concentrated on shifting my weight more for the transition. It worked well; he missed the lead a handfull of times, but nothing bad. Trotted into the small crossrail, and it just never felt good. I am NOT good at trotting jumps. I never have been. I have GOT to get better at it. Ugh. I'll figure it out one of these days. Could REALLY feel when my leg WOULD have slid back, but it couldn't, yay! Actually trotted into the 2 stride, and cantered out in a 3. That was actually pretty good. I trot a bigger jump better than a smaller one, because Tiki puts in more effort. Tried to really feel my leg close at the base of the jump, and actually LAND in my 2-point, because that is another weakness of mine. Cantered into the 3' cav stack. Nailed it. Cantered into the 2 stride. Could NOT see a distance, AGH!!!!!!!!! What IS it with that? Forward caneter, collected canter, singing my song, counting, I can NOT find it! So, I physically changed my ride. Lightened my seat, opened the canter, and came in in more of a modified 2-point. FINALLY, I found something. The problem is the jump is higher than teeny, but lower than big, so by cantering in with a light seat, I could ride him up to the forward spot. I sit deep to the 3', and nail it every time. Crazy. I could totally feel my leg wanting to swing backwards, but it was held nice and securely by the velcroe straps Nicole gave me. My overall position felt really nice about 60% of the time, the other 40%, it was OK. Really didn't have any BAD jumps, and once I changed my seat, FINALLY found a decent spot to the 2 stride more often than not.

Tuesday, I flatted. By this time, he was finally ok with the 3 ring. I remembered my spurs, and that was helpful. I didn't have to nag him so much with my leg. Trot work felt nice, so I worked a little more on the canter. Played around with my hands/legs, and actually felt the bit doing it's job. Tiki still wants to lean a bit at the canter, and fall in a little bit with the inside shoulder, so the bit really helped me keep him straight and not falling in at all. Cool. The boy worked really hard; he felt really good. Didn't do any "tricks", but worked on cantering straight, and circling at the canter. Used the leverage from the bit to help him FEEL what it's like to hold himself up. Did some nice lengthening/collecting at the trot, and also did some hand gallop/canter transitions. Ended on a great note.

Yesterday, it was hills. Decided to bareback it with a halter and lead rope again. He was perfect again, yay! Quiet, happy, and worked that butt:)

Today, I moved the jumps around. Set 4 jumps across the center of the ring; 2 outside singles, 2 inside diagonal singles, all lined up in a row. Had my 3' cav stack oxer, an 18" vertical, a 3'3 vertical, and a 2'6 vertical. Wanted to work on "flow", and NOT leaning, and adjusting my eye. Warmup went well; he was a little lazy today. I had to nag a little with my spur, but by today, he felt AWESOME in the 3 ring. Soft acceptance is what I felt, YAY! Had some really nice halt/trot transitions, and had some nice canter circles. His neck felt nice and flexible, and his jaw was very soft. Rocked the canter transitons, then finally trotted into the 18" vertical. Yuck. Did NOT feel good. He was LAZY coming in, and my shoulders popped up in the air, boo.:( Came about 4 more times, and it never felt GOOD. The jump was so low, he just didn't come in with any oomph, and since my stirrups were tied, I couldn't really kick him at the base. I guess that's why I should ride with a crop, haha! Finally gave up on that one, and cantered into the 2'6. That felt good. Came back and trotted the 18", and NOW he finally took me to it a little bit, and it felt good. Jumped a few of the jumps just random, and then put my little course of outside 2'6, inside 3'3, outside 3', inside 18". It felt SO good, I kept going back to the inside 3'3, outside 3', inside 18", outside 2'6. He felt SO good I came to the 3'3 just one more time (which usually is a recipe for disaster for ME), and got a hair deep, but felt great over. I sat tall to every jump, focused on closing my leg, concentrated on a following, automatic release, and stayed in my 2-point on landing. I literally felt like we just NAILED the 9 jumps, so he was done, done, done. It was awesome, today felt GREAT!

Took my bridle apart and cleaned it really well, and put the snaffle back on. I'll definitely be buying one of the 3 ring waterfords. It will be great for a big group trail ride or hunter pace or cross country schooling, and also for a periodic schooling at home. I belive it's good for the horses to switch the equipment up now and again, keeps them on their toes.;) Tomorrow will be another hack day ... considering maybe hacking in the pasture, since I haven't done that in awhile.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A beautiful week coming up:)

Looks like GA is back in a dry pattern for awhile. Weather looks good for this week; dry and 80's. Friday I tried Tiki in his first big boy bit; a 3 ring elevator with a waterford mouthpiece. I'll be honest; I didn't love it. Tiki has such a gentle mouth; he CAN get a little strong if I get him hyped up, but he ALWAYS comes back. I've decided to continue experimenting with stronger bits now and again because I AM doing some poker rides, hunter paces, and cross country schoolings. Didn't do a single one last year, but I have made a commitment to myself and my friends to take a few Saturdays off and have a good time. In order for us to be SAFE, I do need brakes. And I DID have that with the bit, I'll give it that. But in terms of asking the boy to come into the bridle, he resisted for ALL he was worth. I used 2 reins, and only put the 2nd rein in the middle ring, but still, he was quite resistant. Turning, he felt like a brick. His mouth was so stiff and locked he did NOT want to loosen up:( I don't need more bit on a daily basis; I only need to find one for our "outings". I will not have one or both of us get hurt because he gets too "up" and fast.

I'll use it again tomorrow for our flat ride, because I always try a new bit twice so I can really get a good feel. On Friday, after I circled, and circled, and circled, he did start to feel better. Did some lengthening and shortening at the trot, then did some hand gallop to slow, collected canter and he felt great. Moved the gymnastic stuff around, and left just the 2 big crossrails with 2 strides in between. Planned to canter in, and then alternate turning left/right after so we could do a little lead change schooling as well.

You know, it is SO frustrating not to be able to find a distance. I'm TRYING to really ride him in with a nice, forward canter, but then it works best to move up to the jump, but when we do, his feet get FAST, and he jumps quickly. Honestly, you'd think that for a jumper, that would be good, but the problem is that when he jumps so fast he's more likely to knock a rail down out of carelessness. I can find a better distance out of a slow, collected canter, but we usually get a deep spot and the add. I guess the solution is lots of what I'm doing. Singles and small gymnastics set in the center of the ring, and canter, canter, canter in until I can find the ever elusive sweet spot.

The 2 stride I was doing was the one that was a little long, and the first time through, it WAS long. I focused SO hard on my position. I didn't feel like a rock star, I'll admit it.:( The lead changes were perfect, though. Went through maybe ... 5 times before I FINALLY nailed it. Once the spot was there, I quit on that note.

He was really good. He was a little bit perturbed to be using more bit, but I think they all need to adjust to different things. Will ride him in the 3 ring flatting tomorrow, working on more lengthening/collecting at the trot and canter, then I'll give it back to my friend. More than likely will use it when we do a big trail ride at Foxhall Farm in June, unless I borrow one I like better.:) Plan is to ride every day, only jumping 2. I want to hack 2 days, jump 2 days, then do hills one day. Guess I'll update Friday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Having a nice week ... :)

Sooo ... Friday was the final day of no stirrups for me! Yay, ha ha. Ended it with a great lesson on Star; was a little sore Saturday, but not fatally so. Monday rolled around, and I had to take my son to meet up with his grandfather so he could spend his Spring Break with the grand parents. Got to the barn, cleaned the stalls, and Nicole came up. We rode our "Ricky Martin" babies together in the ring, then tacked up our actual ponies for a little trail ride. I didn't have to teach because my kidlets were all out of town, so it was nice spending a lot of time grooming my boy again. He's lost pretty much ALL the hair he had, which is SO nice. My friend gave me a Kensington fly sheet, and it's time to put it on him already. It's crazy. The trail was nice; even though Tiki and I can go alone, he prefers having a buddy.

Tuesday, I showed up early, grabbed Audrey first, got her fully tacked up, and got a phone call from a client asking if the lesson was at 11 ... uh, well, yeah, I guess.:( Really, I had only been planning one at 12, but I'm not one to turn down money, so I jumped on the mare, hacked fairly quickly, and scooted on out of there. Boo!

Wednesday, arrived at 8:00 so I could ride before cleaning. Again, did Audrey first, then hopped on the Tiki boy. He was GREAT. Felt amazing. Nice bend, nice rhythm, good attitude; yay! Reset the gymnastics from a week ago with strictly crossrails. They were pretty big, substantial crossrails. Did a bounce to a 1, which was tight, then an easy 2, then the last 2 was a hair long since the crossrails did their job and backed him off the jumps. He was so good that I was able to really focus and work on me; when I focused on staying in my 2-point, the last 2 stride worked out much easier. Gave him a leisurly bath, let him graze for a few hours to fully dry, then headed out to teach.

Today, the rain is washing away a lot of the pollen, YAY, and the ring should be great tomorrow. Will plan to ride tomorrow; not sure what the plan is yet. Guess I'll figure it out once I've tacked him up!:)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fighting off a cold:(

I am doing everything I can to fight off a cold! Agh! I hate colds:( Felt like crap yesterday, but went out and rode anyway. 2nd to last day with no stirrups, and Tiki boy felt amazing. Had a lovely walk on contact, he felt very nice and supple in my hands, and he was super good and quiet (of course, temps have been in the 80's too!). Tracking left at the trot, he felt a little locked up in the jaw. I sacrificed equitation and tried to soften up his mouth a bit, but he still just felt really locked in the jaw that way. His left side is his stronger side, but his right is his more flexible side; it's interesting. Canter felt super splendiferous:) Lovely leads, nice soft and quiet rhythm, and I felt GOOD. I guess the no stirrups has really made a difference, yay! Ended by trotting through the gym poles that had been set up. That was tough at first because it's easier for him to just canter over that stuff. But, I insisted, and BREATHED so I didn't stiffen up, and by the 3rd time, he was trotting through like a rockstar.:) Yay.

Today, Nicole gave me a lesson on Star; it was my first time on the flying couch, and I must say, it was an adventure! She was great; she's an awesome personality in a small package.:) I haven't been on a Morgan in a LONG time, so it was a treat to ride her:) First off, her barrel is twice the size of Tiki's. Secondly, I was riding her in a pelham, which makes it SO easy to get a nice break at the poll. Thirdly, I was in my spurs, and I USED them, haha! By the time I trotted once around the ring, my legs were tired. That is so what I needed. BTW, did I mention this was a stirrupless lesson? On a horse I've never ridden? Yeah!

Anyway, the great part is she is super, super comfy. Nicole had me pick my hands up, and sit back even more than I had been; that's tough for me. I LIKE to sit like a hunter princess, lol. She also nailed me on losing my left thumb; I let it turn over and drop too low, and she made me conscious of that left hand, always.

Had a nice breakthrough during my final phase of torture; I jumped the last part of the gymnastics; the final 2 stride. I was a wimp and wouldn't do the whole thing because I knew the distance would be a hair long for her, and I wasn't feeling aggressive enough to ride her up to the spot, so I only trotted through the poles, and trotted into the final 2 jumps so I could easily fit in an extra stride. It felt OK. I haven't jumped without stirrups on purpose for about 13 years now, and I FELT it! She put the 2nd crossrail up to about a 2'3 vertical, and had me REALLY think about even distribution of pressure through my entire leg. I did OK, and was ready to quit. She made me go through ONE more time, lol. I did it, REALLY supported with my leg, and it felt MUCH better, so I was glad she kicked my butt. Won't be able to walk tomorrow, but it's all worth it!

Hope y'all have a HAPPY EASTER, and I'll post another riding update after I ride Monday ... with my stirrups tied to the girth ... :)