Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rest of month off

I've made the surprisingly difficult decision to give the Muffin Man/Squeaky boy the rest of this month off. It's certainly not going to HURT him, and with the overwhelming factors in my life right now, will just be easiest. He'll get regular grooming, a few baths, but no saddle for another 10 days:) We'll start back in July with hills and trot sets in the pasture, and bringing back jumping the 2nd week back. Mental health break, for all parties involved.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jeff Cook, part 2!

This is the recap from my COTH thread. I so enjoyed the clinic. Planning to do a dressage clinic with Gigi Nutter before my HT, and hopefully go to a Horse Show Ventures show AT the Chattahoochee Hills facility so my boy gets out there and jumps around. They have a jumper show there in August, so that would be perfect. Would love to school the course, but the American Eventing Championships are there in September, so not sure if the course will be open for schooling. Hopefully I'll get not only back to Calimar, but also to another inexpensive, local farm to go schooling before the big day. Anyway, here's day 2! Enjoy:)

Day 2 summary:Hmm, guess no ones really read my novel! I'll try to keep day 2 a little shorter.Missed most of the high group's flat work; I think they actually did drop stirrups for a minute or 2. They did a little work over a single pole; adding as MANY strides as possible down to the pole. Today, the 4 stride was a 3 stride, and there was now a triple combination set at 2 strides on the opposite long side.

He really liked the girls, as he should. They all are super good riders. As Relo said, he didn't have a whole lot of input on the HORSE, but he did have high praise for the ones he liked. He LOVED Lauren; must have told her a dozen times how wonderful she is! Despite that praise, though, he really wanted to impart little things to her, to help her be THAT much better. Again, he stressed the importance of jumping from your 2 point. With this group, the jumps made their way up He had them do a cool technical bending line that rode in a forward 6; the girls had trouble with this one a few times.

In the end, though, everyone managed to nail it.For that group, I thought the work was just a *hair* on the simple side with a few very fair challenges thrown in. Honestly, I thought I would have fit in very well in that group. My horse and I have jumped 3'6 at home, but since we had never cliniced, wanted to under shoot rather than over shoot. Jeff really had the horses jumping even better than they normally do because he stressed rider position, and canter flow so much. Threw in lots of random turns to help the horses learn to stop anticipating turns and lead changes

. Super cool!I was feeling fab as we walked out on the rail; I just felt so much more comfortable, and knew that our stuff would be less than what I'd just seen, and as I said, felt like I could have handled what I'd just seen. He had us do direction changes through a regular half turn, and the reverse turn (half turn IN reverse). No work in 2 point, no work with no stirrups, and no work off the rail. We did work the sitting trot a little more, and he stressed how working the sitting trot, and working your full seat can be beneficial for saving a horse's front end. He helped us understand how light sitting and 2 point helps a horse with back/hock/stifle problems. He asked us occasional questions, but not very many, and nothing too terribly complicated.We cantered in full seat, half seat, and 2 point. My horse wanted to get galloping a little in 2 point, and had me continue to slow down and STAY in a canter. All in all, pretty good. Not a lot of input on me, other than to watch that my thrumbs aren't TOO vertical. Technically, your thumbs should be just inside of the vertical to retain softness. I was what you would call a "solid citizen", I guess. I got some lovely, "Good Jen!" compliments, and the thumb input. Other than that, not much else on my flat work, which I took as a compliment.Warming up jump wise, we came in over a pole with our hands in a LONG release. My input, "Nailed it. Good!", and "Perfect! You're good at this, walk!" I was the first one to stop, and he made others keep going until they too nailed it. Changed to a short release and once again, he told me I was good at that, and to walk while he worked with the others. Again, did some long approaches, jumped the gallopy outside line, and had to be ready to turn whatever direction he yelled out.

He would yell at me "HALF SEAT!" "2 POINT!" and all my jumps felt super. He admonished me to not "chase" my horse to the jump. Added on the now double combination at the end, and was perfect going away. When he changed it and we came home, I alternately chased him too much, missed my distance then had a 2 and a chip, then finally got it right and galloped in my 2 point through the corners, then sank into half seat to balance and steady. He wanted me to really learn how to "build pace and scope in the corner so I can wait and be patient to the jumps. There's a fine line between chasing and supporting your horse to the jump, you need to feel the difference!"Overall, again, just so wonderful.

Jeff is kind, patient, talented, and a pleasure to ride with. I HIGHLY recommend a clinic with him, for ALL types of rider. I was a TINY bit bummed that OUR jumps never went beyond 2'6. I would have liked some bigger stuff, because I feel my eye improves and I support more and chase less down to bigger jumps, oddly enough. Everything was around 2'3 or so, with our final 2 stride combo at 2'6. Oh well, it was a lot of fun, and I would probably shoot for a higher group next time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bittersweet; it's over.

After all the anticipation, the worrying, the sweating it ... it's over. And I'm oddly melancholy about it, haha. Jeff Cook was so wonderful. He had some great praise for me. I was a solid citizen this weekend; not good enough to warrant gushing praise, but did the exercises well enough that I pretty much earned a "Good, Jen", and that was about it. Here's a write up I did on COTH; will make another blog entry tomorrow describing day 2. It's my bedtime!

Well. Jeff Cook came to our farm to do a clinic. I'd never so much as seen a Youtube video of him, so really had no idea what to expect. I actually rode in this one for several reasons; it's at my barn, and I felt like I was finally ready. Audited George, Anne, Linda, and several other smaller name trainers, but never ridden in one. Felt like horsey and I both were ready, so threw him on the trailer and shipped him out to Patchwork!

My re-cap is mostly my group, which was 2'6-3'. The 2' group I didn't see a ton of, and the 3'-3'6 group I missed some today due to bathing, cleaning tack, etc.General impressions? Riding in a Jeff Cook clinic is like riding in a George Morris clinic without fear of scathing comments. Make a mistake? "Forget about it, it's ancient history! Nothing you can do about it now! Keep riding!"He gives such wonderful, insightful constructive criticism without making you feel stupid. The groups were 6 riders each, and had a mixture of pony kids, juniors, and adults.

I was flat out SCARED. I have been riding primarily on my own for the entire time I've owned my horse. I've brought him from the racetrack to where we are now. I've had a grand total of 2 jumping lessons from my boss, and 3 dressage lessons from the dressage trainer across the street from where my horse lives. I wasn't entirely sure we were ready, but here it is!We began by standing around Jeff in a semi-circle. Thanks to previous JC threads here on COTH, I had already switched out my stirrup irons for ones that DON'T have the black sure grip pads. He talked about how dangerous it is to have the martingales adjusted too short, and commented that we all had excellent length martingales. I should add that our clinic was comprised ENTIRELY of Patchwork Farm clients with the exception of one professional that shipped all the way down from VA because she really enjoys Jeff. She rode 2 horses; one in my group, and one in the highest group. I was the only "jumper", but it didn't bother him. He commented on how well we were all turned out. Went on his story about how he doesn't prefer the sure grip pads, and pointed out my plain ones. Then he went into another story about how he doesn't prefer plastic roller spurs (we ALL had those, except for one person), boo! Also mentioned how he prefers the buckles on the spur straps adjusted to the outside of the foot rather than in the center (guess who had painstakingly adjusted her outside centered spur buckles exactly to the center of the foot!).

Hmm, what else? No questions about our horses other than what divisions we usually show, which actually surprised me a little. I assume he wanted to come to his own conclusions about them.Off we went on the rail, and he stressed a forward, working walk, CORRECT hand position, and stirrup twisted correctly with outside branch forward. He picked on me about having too much foot in the stirrup until I finally told him my boots are too big for me in the foot! He wanted a "bright" posting trot, and picked on carrying the hands, thumbs up, wrists straight, shoulders tall, and head not poking forward. He was very exacting about wrists, and carrying the crop across the THIGH. He absolutely did comment that all riders should ride with a crop, and all horses should accept that crop. "If you carry your crop correctly, it should never bother your horse that you have it!"

One quote he said that I LOVED:

"We want our horses to be soft and bend and be correct. More often than not, they don't do it. But when they do, it's those MOMENTS we ride for! We must be satisfied with moments of greatness, and then we try again!"

That isn't exact, because I couldn't exactly write down notes, but that was the gist of it. I run Patchwork's lesson program, and Jeff knew it. He addressed me several times telling me things I should be stressing and emphasizing to my students. It was GREAT! He was very focused on the position of the ingate, and wanted us to THINK about that and use it to our advantage, turning before it, and constantly working AWAY from it.He complimented us on our steady hands. He went on a tear about riders that see saw, and was super happy that we all were able to maintain a nice, steady contact. He differentiated between full seat, half seat, and 2 point, and had us work in between the 3. We did the "zig zag" exercise, and he really was super picky about our horse's bend, and when he wanted us to change our posting diagonals. Always, he wanted our trot to be forward.Honestly, he was VERY kind during the day 1 flat work. We did NO no stirrups work, no lateral work, no 2 point at the trot, very minimal sitting trot, and no poles. We spent a good amout of time at the canter, just a plain 'ol regular canter. Lots of walk breaks, because we were blessed with the HOTTEST weekend of the year, yay.We warmed up with a canter into a crossrail in the center of the ring, focusing on STRAIGHT. That was all he wanted. Turn in straight, halt straight. We did that a few times, then added on a TIGHT turn in front of a jump down to a single diagonal jump. His focus was STRAIGHT, and pace. He did NOT care about flying changes; told us we could simple any time (and insisted to change through the SITTING TROT). Wanted us to turn away from ingate upon finishing. Wanted us to carry enough pace in. Did a LOT of single jumps, and one line with a "gallopy" 4 strides away from the ingate.Impressions from the day 1 jumping. Surprisingly easy; as I said, it was the ONE tight turn (which half the horses nailed, and half the horses had trouble with), lots of long approaches, and the one long gallopy line. NO lines of any sort other than the one. Things he helped us with, for ME, was to get up OUT of my full seat. My horse is still green to the jumps sometimes, and I tend to sit very deep and "chase" him. He had me come in in my 2- point, and drop down in half seat to organize and balance. Never had me full seat while jumping. Horsey never missed a beat; he was pretty perfect day one. For the other horses, he wanted them to be STRAIGHT, not be swappy, and carry enough pace. A few of the horses had trouble with the 4 strides because the rider just needed to make a decision and "stay on it!". Day 1 over, for me! I felt super confident. Was a LITTLE sad that I didn't get a TON of feedback. All of the riders in our group were capable, wonderful riders. Some had a few more issues and problems, and he addressed those problems, and had the riders repeat the exercises. I guess I was *just* good enough for him to give me a, "GOOD, Jen!", but not brilliant enough to earn more than that, lol. He wanted me to understand how my 2 point affects my horse's stride; it really lengthens it!

Geez, any one still reading, lol?

The higher group came in after the lunch break. This group was made up of the pro from my group, Janet's daughter, and 4 very talented juniors from our barn. Flat work began with a simple trot on the rail, again focusing on steady hands. They did a little more sitting trot than we did, but not by a whole lot. They stayed on half the ring most of the time, and eventually moved into a little haunches in. He talked about direct and indirect reins, and was very picky about the kids NOT using the indirect rein so much.

Talked about lateral aids vs diagonal aids, and had them apply those aids. Their warmup was a variation of jump the center crossrail, canter in a diagonal away from the ingate, and come back to the jump on a STRAIGHT line, NOT a slice. Worked with the individual horses on not anticipating their lead changes. Threw in some random turns and halts depending on what each horse needed. Actually really worked with Lauren and had her change a few things in the interest of REALLY helping her horse jump better, which was awesome. She is such a talented rider, it's amazing he could pick up ANY bad habits, lol!From what my exhausted brain can recall, the jumping wasn't MUCH different than what we did, once they'd warmed up with the back and forth over the crossrail. Long approaches, the gallopy 4 stride, and turning AWAY from the ingate.In each of our divisions, the jumps didn't get very big at all. The oxers had the front rails dropped to make them ramped and inviting, and the verticals were on the small side.

Day 2's recap will come tomorrow, after I've had some sleep, lol! 5 COTHers participated in it, other than me, so maybe some of them will chime in with anything I may have missed. Suffice it to say, I WILL hunt him down and clinic with him again; he was WONDERFUL. VERY kind, very correct and classical, and if we made a mistake he had us repeat it. Stressed NOT to "overdo" a "punishment". If the horse ran through a halt, he did NOT want to see ripping the horse up. No one used their crop the entire time, and wanted us to USE the spur once, then sit quietly and still so as not to make the horse dull. He had no problem with simple changes, and insisted on proper hands and legs at all times. Loves the half seat and 2 point for jumping, and likes the rider to switch in between the 2. He prefers the rider to carry a little pace to the jump, and not ride for the add all the time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jeff Cook clinic in T-5 days and counting ...

I'm so excited nervous I can't stand it! Have my first week of summer camp this coming week, so not sure how much riding on my boy I'm going to get. I need at least 3 GOOD flat schools this week. Not really planning to jump; maybe I'll pop over a small single one day, but I want to save his legs for this weekend. Speaking of, thinking maybe I should go ahead and pop my tall boots on and wear them around, haha:)

Rode my boy Friday on the flat, and he worked super hard. I used the Mikmar, and definitely decided to switch back to the waterford for the clinic. He was FINE, but stiff. I could feel he really likes his waterford better, so why mess with what we've been using for almost a year. Plan to go full out jumper garb; T-boots, running martingale, and the figure 8. I'll have to drug him at some point this week and clip his ears and PULL his mane some. I've been just using scissors on it for quite awhile. I at least need to make the effort to pull it a little bit, just to show respect. Also need to switch out my stirrup irons for ones that have regular pads because I've read he doesn't like the black wraparound ones I happen to have. I just hope we learn something, and I don't get yelled at for anything.

The benefit ride was fun yesterday. Got there really early, Tiki and Bob hauled great. Stood tied to the trailer like champs, eating hay and grass and drinking water. After more than an hour, saddled up and rode out. He was dripping sweat 10 minutes into the ride, and he jigged pretty much the entire time. It doesn't bug me because it's comfortable and he doesn't pull on me, but I WOULD like him to just relax and walk. If I'd let him long rein and power walk he probably would have been ok, but he was just leaving Cap and Bob behind; there were about 70 or so horses in our section, and he wanted to keep up with the crowd and get to the front. He actually peed and pooped with me ON him! Why is this momentous? Ive owned him nearly 2 years, and it's the FIRST time he's ever done that, lol. Fun was had by all, and it's definitely something I'd do again. Will update sometime this week, then give a nice, full write-up about the clinic after Sunday:)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Shoe finally back on.

Well ... Monday I got see my sweet boy. Cleaned the (super nasty/disgusting) stalls, and hung in his pasture with him petting on him and stuffing him with treats. He actually came up to me, and didn't try to run away, yay! He was out because all the rain kept him in his stall the night before which is why they were all so disgusting.

Tuesday was a typical farrier day; 5 hours of holding horses. I pulled out Tiki 4th, and he had to go ahead and do a whole new set since he was due in a week. That left hind that he lost really chewed up his foot. It is OBVIOUS that someone stepped on it and yanked it off because all the nails were still in his foot! The entire time he was doing that foot, the farrier was grumbling and muttering "this isn't good". Gee, just what every horse owner wants to hear! He used shoes with clips and nailed it on as tight as he could:)

Yesterday I was super busy with lessons and more filthy stalls, so I didn't attempt to ride anybody; I knew his foot might be a little sore, so I didn't worry about it.

Today I decided to longe. Tried a new bit; a D-ring Mikmar cupreon mouth with a lozenge. He seemed pretty normal in it.:) Did the normal thing with the surcingle and side reins, and he was his usual good self. A little fresh at first; did the buck and squeal, haha. Lots of cross cantering, which he does when he's totally fresh. I'll do a nice flat school tomorrow, and then it's our first hauling out to a trail ride. We've done plenty of trail rides, but never hauled out to an organized one.:) It's going to be huge, so hope it's fun! Leaving super early to get a good parking space. Very excited; will get plenty of pics.