Friday, July 30, 2010

First time using the dressage bridle today ...

It was Tiki-boy's 2nd time in the dresssage bridle, but my first time using it. While I was on vacay, Nicole used it on him. Awesome friend she is, she told me I can use it any time, so decided that if we're to do an entire test in it, I'd better get him used to it:)

I think his head looks really pretty in it, actually! It's a super nice bridle; Nicole has great taste in tack;) The bit is a Mikmar loose ring lozenge bit. I've used the D-ring version, and I wasn't that crazy about it. I have to say, I did like the loose ring version, though. You'd think I would have been smart and actually ridden him in the ring, but it was STILL TOO HOT.

We did 8 minutes of trot, 2 minutes of canter each way in the front pasture with the hills. There's the flat front pasture, that I always rode him in before. The other front pasture has some lovely trees in it (SHADE!), and has a nice up and down flow to it. A few things I did differently this time: THINLINE pad! Also, tied my stirrups to the girth. Unfortunately, I tied them just a hair too tight, lol. I actually made it through the first 10 minutes with NO problem. My back felt great this time. I felt super steady with my upper body since my legs were totally still. I made Tiki really stay straight with his shoulders and flex at the poll. It's weird how when you trot down a hill, you have to use a TON of leg. I'm going to be adding in a lot more canter when I do field work, because I really need him to be able to just CANTER, and not want to take off in a lovely gallop. I get up in 2 point, and aim him across a field, and he FLIES! After reversing and picking up a trot the other way, my thighs started to scream. Finished up with my back feeling GREAT, but my knees were a little stiff, and my thighs were pretty tired. Not sure if I'll ride this weekend; I need to to hit my goal of 3 rides this week. It was a scorcher:(

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yeah, it's STILL hot

Lol, I was reading some of my old blog entries and it seems as though I'm either b!tch&ng about how cold it is outside, or how hot it is outside! Wish I had a nice covered ring ... maybe once I win the lottery tonight;)

I did ride yesterday. Had planned to walk hills with the bridle on, but with the foam pad and the bareback pad ... but the bareback pad was mysteriously missing! So, I walked in his saddle pad and a foam pad. The foam pad actually worked; I could FEEL the fact that he HAS shark withers, but no pain:) It's just hard to mount and not shift the pads around, but we deal. Was walking up the first hill, and heard this awful noise off to the right, and Tiki just about lost his mind. Leaped sideways, snorted louder than I'd heard in FOREVER, and looked so hard I thought his body might shatter. Thank goodness he's so sensible, though, because I patted him, talked to him, and he made it up the hill without dumping me. Thank goodness he DOES have his shark withers, or I may have ended up on the ground when he did his nice little sideways leap. Worked up and down the steep hill on the other side of the pasture, and made him focus on bending and walking on the bit; that's why I put him in his bridle. Not because I need control, but because I need him to be soft in the jaw and poll if I want decent dressage scores in October.:)

Didn't ride today because I held horses for farrier for 5 hours, and by the time he was done it was Just. Miserable. My life will be easier when Kody starts school in 2 weeks because I'll have to get up to get him on the bus, so from there, I can just get ready and head straight to the barn to ride. I haven't been getting up early to head out because it is really tough to drag my 8 year old around with me from 6:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the afternoon, so I've tried NOT to do that.

Looking forward to team $700 Squeaky Alligators! Only 3 more weeks!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

WHY does it have to be triple digits???

Holy Moly, WHY is it SO hot outside??? This is on the heels of a FREEZING, COLD winter. Global warming, I suppose. Rode my boy 3 times last week ... REALLY wanted to make it 4 days, but Thursday I just could NOT make myself leave the AC and ride in the heat that literally the second I stepped outside, I broke a sweat. I think my poor boy gets mildly dehydrated in the summer; he gets very dark and sunken in under his eyes. Half the time in his stall in the afternoons, he's not eating, he's standing angled under the fans, haha. I am SO grateful he stays on his night turnout. Even on that, though, I'm really fighting the formation of crud since he sweats under his sheet and fly mask, and spends lots of quality time in the pond, lol. He gets electrolytes, and I change his water buckets every time I'm out, but you know that old saying about, "You can lead a horse to water ... "

So, y'all know about Monday. SO fun! Tuesday was a day off, Wednesday I longed him. He actually looked pretty good on the longeline, which is unusual for him. Typically, he is SO lazy on it! I actually got him going pretty forward ... he looked great. I was able to actually get some w/t/c/t/c/w/t transitions, which he's generally a lazy bum when doing that.

Thursday, I couldn't make myself get up and go out. Friday, I had a little gift on my tack trunk ... a Thinline pad! Nicole had left it for me to try out. She had said, "It's of the older variety, but I think it'll work for you". I was PRETTY sure it was a Thinline, but it didn't find the name on it. Put it on top of my square pad, led him up to the ring, and mounted. I was TRYING to keep a very open mind ... it's like the placebo affect. You THINK you're taking a weight loss pill; you lose weight, you credit the weight loss pill only to find out it was a sugar pill. I've read and heard so many good things about Thinline, I didn't want to imagine all these changes by sheer will, lol!

I started out TOTALLY different than I ever had. I dropped the reins, and stretched my arms over my head. Arms out to the side, rotate the torso inside and outside. Touch my toes, touch his ears, touch his tail with both hands. WOW. That felt so good. I mentioned how on Monday I felt REALLY crooked, right? I think I did. If I didn't, on Monday I felt REALLY crooked. Also, the stalls have been AWFUL lately (lots of drinking water = lots of peeing), so my back has just felt very cramped and stiff lately. So, doing these exercises were amazing. Tiki LOVED it. He had his wonderful, ground eating walk, and stayed nice and straight on the rail while I was doing this. Transitioned into standing straight up in my stirrups, hips over the pommel of the saddle, then 2-point with my arms out to the sides. Finally, settled back down in the tack, slowly shortened my reins (making sure he didn't trot off), and picked up my trot. I concentrated on his back end and asking for poll flexion. I've noticed he has been stiff through his poll, so I made sure he was properly bent.

Um, let me say that the Thinline pad felt GREAT! I could tell right away that my back felt better. I felt like I didn't have to nag Tiki to go forward, he felt like he was stepping under himself well, and he was bending ok. He just isn't a loose, swingy, relaxed horse. I'm trying to help him be that way ... I've put him on msm, I'm using the Thinline now, and I like to use his T-boots with the shock absorbing lining.

Long story short(er), he felt quite nice. Had some really nice canter transitions, cantered circles, half halted, let go, yay. Trotted through 3 cav bounces and he was actually nice and slow. Did them a few times, then trotted the 2'3 vertical. My hips fell back, but I released. Trotted the oxer, and it felt good. Cantered the vertical a few times, and I finally got some decent distances. On my last pass over the oxer, bending line to the vertical, my foot actually caught the standard on the oxer and pulled it down. OUCH! Kept going, though, and hit the vertical nicely. I had made a nice, tidy turn into the oxer and angled a little to the vertical, but I guess I had a little more of a slice than I'd thought.

This upcoming week will again be in the high 90's, so I guess I'll be lucky if I ride Tiki 3 times this week, again. When I do, you'll read about it here!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eventing = Love

I cannot express the FUN I am having with this whole eventing thing. I love how much I'm learning, I love getting out of the ring and experiencing new things, and I can't wait to just immerse myself in an entire weekend of the horse trial.:) Squeaky loaded up well and without incident on the trailer with Sparky, and we made it to Calimar Farm only an hour late and with just one missed turn. My student was already there with a friend, and we all tacked up and headed into the field.

Goofball Tiki decided that the mounting block next to a running lawn fountain was NOT cool, and actually reared up a little bit and yanked the reins out of my hands before I mounted. Ugh, not a great start! Got him to stand quietly, mounted, and in we went. He had one of those "fresh horsey" head shakes, and was walking with the snorts!

I felt ... off, I guess. No surprise considering my lack of intense riding and the no jumping thing for 5 weeks. I felt VERY crooked.:( Again, no surprise. I actually have a pair of 30 degree curves in my spine. It's definitely time to get my butt in gear and get our training back on! Lol. !ithis life, and nothing solid at all. Nicole impresses the hell out of me. Sparky was jumping HUGE, cracking his back, then bucking in glee afterwards. She kept her stuff together, and kept pushing forward. Wow.

Tried to put a 2 in the 2 stride hanging log combo, but I grabbed his face and caused him to chip in a 3rd stride when he over jumped the first one and landed a little deep. Sure pray and hope I win the lottery tonight so I can get myself in front of a TRAINER before October, haha!

Ambled over to the ditches. Sparky walked over the narrow one ... Britain walked over the narrow one ... Tiki stopped dead and SNORTED at it, so I wimped out because I didn't want to get jumped out of the tack from a walk ... we trotted it a few times, and while it never felt GOOD, it didn't feel awful every time. That's SOMETHING, right? Stood him in front of the wider ditch a dozen times, and admitted defeat before I even actually tried it. Nicole jumped Sparky over it! Damn. Britain loped over it. DOUBLE DAMN. I got Nicole to jump it 2 more times so I could just follow her over it, and the Muffin jumped it, YAY!!!!!!!! I praised, patted, breathed, and moved on.;)

Jumped the cedar rail he'd stopped at no problem. Did the down bank without a single hiccup. Bridge and train jumps were lovely. He'd finally relaxed and we'd found SOME type of rhythm, and he wasn't jumping everything so big. Yay. I was finally relaxing as well.

Stood him in front of the cabin for about 15 minutes. No joke. He got close enough to scratch his head on it a few times ... yay me. Played in the water so Brit would get in; Tiki was PERFECT. Didn't even HESITATE at the water. Super pony! Trottted in and jumped out of a bank ... perfect, yay! Stood by the cabin again. Scratched his head on it. Trotted in, leaned forward, dropped my leg ... he stopped. I let him. Circled, scratched his head again, went into the water again, procrastinated ... attempted to follow Britain over it, but I was too slow. Finally just cantered in, and he jumped it GREAT. Huge, yes, but great.:) Came in again and chipped. Again, and he chipped again. Again, and Nicole YELLED at me to slow down and quit chasing him. Whew. Supported his pace, SLOWED DOWN, sat up, looked up, counted down, and nailed it. I patted him like crazy. It was just finally no big deal. Cantered into the water for the first time, and nailed the bank coming out, so I quit there. You get water in your face when you canter through it, lol! Wasn't expecting that.

Had a GREAT time! Hunter pace and jumper show August 21 and 22 at Chattahoochee Hills is the next item on the agenda. I plan to actually RIDE between now and then, haha.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Breeches for the Horse Trial:)

Went to Dover today, and walked out with a new pair of Ariat breeches! I have NEVER bought anything nicer than On Course cotton naturals, and I scored a pair of Ariat low rises for $40!!! They're black, which is what I want for my xc "outfit". Black breeches, black helmet, royal blue polo shirt, black vest. Black boots on the boy, white saddle pad. Would LOVE to score me a square Eco Gold pad for xc, but I have to juggle my $$ so there's enough to show with AND pick up a few new things here and there. XC schooling day after tomorrow, then next outing is tentatively just over a month from now; hunter pace at Chattahoochee Hills on August 21st, then a few jumper classes at an HSV show on Sunday. That way, I score big! We get to get out on the xc course and jump, AND we get to do some jumper classes in the ring. My goal is to do one class at 2'6, one at 2'9, and one at 3'0. 3 classes is about our limit, and I WANT to show him at 3' before we debut at BN.

Yesterday was the first time I've jumped Muffin since the clinic. He was ... good. Could have been better, but certainly could have been worse! Changed my pasture plan, and ended up hacking in the ring. A light hack turned into leg yielding, and TOTH, trot; TOTH, trot; TOTH, canter; TOTH, canter. He wanted to get pretty strong at the canter. I was riding in the low ported Myler bit on my hunter bridle, and he was NOT happy about it. He was pulling so hard on me, you would have thought I had a string in his mouth. Half halted him pretty hard a few times, making sure to let GO, and he was pretty good. Trotted in/cantered out of a long 1 stride in 2; single cav to a double cav. When he's fresh, he wants to land and GO. Definitely wants to get into jumper mode. Which ... I suppose is good, haha! I'm just really picky with the WAY he goes. Even though he doesn't move like a hunter, a hunter course is my ultimate goal. Slow, rhythmic, straight ... from there, you build on jumper elements, such as lengthening, tight turns, turning in the air, etc. When a horse's feet are moving fast, his brain isn't functioning properly, haha.

When I haven't worked him in a while, he wants to cross canter a lot. It is SUCH a pain! Hoping I don't have to deal with that a ton Monday; maybe I'll longe him in the morning before he gets on the trailer ... depends on how fresh he looks. Anyway, there was a low oxer set up to a fairly tight bending line to a vertical. Both jumps were 2'3. I cantered in/cantered out. That was REALLY where he wanted to land and scoot. I half halted so hard at one point, he flung his head up, hollowed his back, and made MY back hurt. Ugh. Will school him in his normal jumping bridle Monday, with the waterford and the figure 8. Seems like no matter what other bits I try, he just goes the BEST in the waterford.

Finished up well. He still felt a little fresh, and my leg felt a little loose, but overall not bad at all. Just praying I stay on track financially so I can stick to my goals I've set. I don't want to light up the world with my brilliance, I just want to have fun and be moderately successful at what I do. I am just so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to FINALLY own a horse, and to have the ability to train, teach, show, and just ride. I love my life, and wouldn't want to change a thing:)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wussed out today ... but found my next racehorse!

Haha, that title is a little deceptive. I sure wish I could hurry up and win the lottery so that I could have my barn full of OTTBs. I found the one I would LOVE to have:

She sure is a cutie. For me, personality is one of the biggest factors in deciding whether or not I like a horse. The other is a well put together body. Don't like anything excessively long or short; just like them nicely balanced.

Did trot sets yesterday, and for some reason it about killed me! Lol, Nicole was riding with me and I'm sure she was just like, "Shut up already!". Trotting across a pasture just makes my back hurt! On the hunt for a Thinline Trifecta pad, just don't want to pay full price;) Muffin was good; a little fresh and sewing machine-like, but I think he should be good tomorrow. Adding in some lateral work so he remembers how to NOT trot like a sewing machine;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Raced the rain ... and the rain won!

Had a mildly amusing afternoon. Taught lessons this morning, then rushed to Joyce's to hold horses for the farrier. Farrier was being helped by the cowboy, and only had my horse and one other left. So, held the final 2 horses, then proceeded to clean all the stalls. By this time, the skies were looking QUITE threatening. I practically ran out to Audrey's paddock, grabbed her, THREW her tack on, then jumped on sans boots or half chaps, and hacked her in the front pasture, where I've never ridden her before. This was VERY close to a trail ride. She spooked about 2 dozen times, but was overall very brave and not too stupid, yay! I patted her like crazy and talked to her as I hacked her around. She really was a good girl.

Finished up and grabbed Tiki as fast as possible. Pulled off his fly sheet, observed HUGE shoulder rub from said new sheet, and put on Audrey's saddle pad, his foam back pad, then the fleece bareback pad. Tied his lead rope to his halter, and led him to the back pasture to walk hills. It has cooled off dramatically at this point. Had a slight downhill disadvantage on the mount, and I had barely gotten my leg over the bareback pad when he proceeded to trot, then canter away and up the hill. I got myself up, and yanked his little red butt HARD. I then went and walked the hill, and he didn't seem that happy with me. Trotted down the hill, then went back up again, and what had been a mild shower turned into a downpour. Tiki began jigging sideways. Have I mentioned my little red head is sensitive? Went about half way up again, and then it thundered and he nearly spooked out from under me. Lightning soon followed, so I gave up and trotted back to the gate, then went into the barn, completely and thoroughly soaked.

Gave him a bath, SCRUBBED his sweaty face where his fly mask had gathered sweaty crusties, and scrubbed his back legs where the tiniest patch of rain rot was trying to form. Rinsed him with a water/vinegar rinse, and put him in front of the huge fan to dry while I went to work on him with the clippers. Cleaned up his face, clipped the bridle path, then tortured him with a little bit of ear clipping. I didn't really want to clip his ears, but I DID want to work on his acceptance of me clipping his ears. I'd say it wasn't THAT successful. I think I need to try some target/tweet training with him. I haven't yet, and I just need to do it. I HATE fighting him to get his ears clipped all the time. By this time, he was dry, so I put his sheet back on after loosening up the neck a little bit, put his fly mask back on, and doused him with some fly spray. Plan to hack in the front pasture tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting back ON track!

Today was my LAST day of camp, yay! While I'll miss the extra $$, I will NOT miss the extra hours:) Rode my muffin man for the first time in 2 solid weeks yesterday:D. Nicole and I went on a trail ride. I haven't done a "long" trail in almost a YEAR, since the time I got "hung". Rode Sedona first, then spent a nice long time grooming the Tiki boy. I can tell I haven't been grooming him 4-5 times a week like usual, because he has crusted over sweat marks that are next to impossible to get off with a brush. Observed that he needs to have the clippers ran over him, and the scissors to the mane, but other than that he's none the worse for the wear. Coat looks shiny and glossy, muscle tone looks good. Our trail was 2 hours WITH some trotting and cantering, so it was a nice workout. Nicole rode her ADORABLE future event pony, Sparky. He is the type of horse you want to put in your pocket and take home with you:). He's the one that will be going cross country schooling with me next week; the 19th! Woo Hoo! I have 2 goals; jump the cabin, and jump the wider ditch. Will ride him most ever day this upcoming week to make sure he's not too out of condition for the schooling. He felt GREAT on the trail; very strong and ready to get back to work:)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sigh ...

Sure am missing my muffin man. He's fat and sassy, though, enjoying his time off. He hasn't had the ENTIRE time off so far. He's been ridden once a week since the clinic. I did hills bareback (with my fleece half pad and a bareback pad) with the halter. Last week I gave a student of mine a lesson the Tiki boy. He was SUCH a rockstar:) Should have taken pics of them! It was her first time on him, and I had her do all his 'tricks'. They were great:)

I am just working like a DOG. 6:00 in the morning, to the barn to do stalls, ride Audrey and Sedona, to PWF for an early lesson, then summer camp, then more lessons, then BACK to Joyce's to finish up my "time". Sometimes I'm too tired to get up in the morning, so I have to ride AFTER camp when it's literally 98 degrees outside ... that's the biggest reason I've chosen to just let Tiki sit around for a few weeks. Next week is my last week of camp, so it's at that point that the muffin and I will start back to work:) Planning to go back to Calimar to go xc schooling the 19th of July, so I have that to look forward to.

Actually gave Nicole her first "real" Jen lesson:) She wanted her butt kicked, so I kicked it! Star is a game little mare; tried to give her ideas to keep her rocked back on her hind end a little more, because Star can be a little lazy and tend to run a little bit instead of canter with impulsion. Made her jump the blue barrel with NO standards or anything. It took a couple of times, but Nicole got her over it. At the end, raised the jump to 3'6 or so, and they were good. I'm still too chicken to actually canter up to a free standing 3'6 jump, but Nicole is way more brave than I. Anyway, it was fun, hope SHE had fun, and I can't wait for us to go play xc together!!!

One more week! Muffin will get a bath and a nice graze tomorrow morning. Probably next Saturday or so, I'll start him back with hills, then trot sets in the pasture, then ring work the following week. He looks great; doesn't seem to have lost any condition. I've switched his SmartPak and will be taking him off the U-guard, and putting him on MSM. Still haven't gotten Adequan yet because that stuff is SO expensive. Maybe I can start him on that in the Fall. I'll let y'all know if I see any difference at the end of the month from the MSM.

Excited about the AEC's in September. I'll hopefully be volunteering for them, but if not, will definitely be spectating. Maybe Tiki and I will be competing in those in September 2011. All it takes is hard work and a little extra $$. The hard work part is no problem ... the $$ part not so easy. Oh well, if it's meant to be, then it's meant to be!