Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hoping for a productive week

Got my video up of the cross country schooling at Chatt Hills. You know what? I am REALLY happy with my riding. I think I'm doing a better job at sitting up and supporting, and not chasing so much.

Had a really nice jump school on Friday. Set up small jumps; nothing over 2'6, and had mostly 2' and 2'3. I actually did set up the exercise I said I would:)

A 6 stride outside line; an offset vertical 3 strides after the 2nd jump in the line. Cav stack oxer (low) set dead center of the ring, parallel with the long sides. Single on the opposite outside, even with the first jump in the 6 stride line; that one had the barrel underneath it. Warmed up with some quiet trot and some spirals. He felt a little stiff today in the mouth and neck; I tried to stay really soft, and let go with my hands as much as possible. Concentrated on keeping my outside hand low and with a quiet, constant contact. Tried to focus on forward, but slow trot. Really sat the trot into my canter, focused on leading with my belly button. He felt good, but definitely a little bit on the resistive side! Goober.

Warmed up over the first jump in the outside line, a x rail. Cantered in. I didn't have the neck strap today, because I don't want to become dependant on it. It's supposed to be an "Oh Crap" handle on the xc course for my piece of mind, and for Tiki's mouth. I didn't have my stirrups tied or anything today; did have on spurs but no stick. Felt really good over the x. Did the circle exercise: Left lead to oxer in the center, reverse in the air and right circle, jump oxer and reverse in the air, left circle, jump oxer and reverse in the air, turn right then jump the 6 stride line. I didn't do too much over the oxer ... just looked and opened my rein on landing. He felt super. Jumped the barrel vert by itself since the last time I tortured him over the barrel, it was literally stand alone ( he REALLY prefers it paired with something ... a pole, some standards, etc). He was perfect over it:) Jumped the 3 stride offset line so it didn't take him by surprise; no problem whatsoever. Moved on to my next exercise:

Left lead to oxer, reverse to right lead, canter 3 stride offset line, continue right lead back to oxer in opposite direction, reverse and turn left, then jump the offset line the opposite direction, halt. That was absolutely super. His canter felt amazing. It was light, it was powerful, it was uphill ... I asked him to bend in the correct direction then totally softened and let GO, and he jumped beautifully. Distances felt just right; not perfect, but acceptable all around.

Last exercise was left lead to 2nd jump in the 6 stride line, a tight left 4 stride bending line to the oxer, then a tight right 4 stride bending line to the barrel vert. So, a serpentine. I felt just ok through it the first time. Made sure to get him to the jump correctly, and aggressively opened my rein in the air to make the turns, but I realized after jumping the 3rd jump that I had done my opening reins totally backwards, and his head had come up defensively after every jump.:( Sorry Tiki. Came again after a nice deep breath, and concentrated on keeping my body back, looking with my eyes, and a FORWARD opening rein in the air ... it felt GREAT. I mean, really really great.

Final exercise was the serpentine backwards starting with the barrel jump. This time, it was on him to not be perfect; at the last second, he made a bid and a hard jump at the barrel going in the opposite way. That caused us to stick in an extra, stabbing stride to the oxer, but the final vert coming out was good. Tried one more time, and sand my favorite "Row, Row, Row your boat" coming in. He still scrambled a little at the barrel, but the last 2 were super nice. Quit there. Good boy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

motoring along

We have FINALLY had a bit of a break in the opressive GA heat, thank goodness. I'd noticed after our xc schooling Saturday that Tiki's left front shoe had slid to the side a little bit. It was still tight, just off center a hair. He trailered home no problem, then Sunday I was back to Chatt Hills for my student to do some jumper classes. Monday I didn't go out to the barn because I had some stuff around the house to take care of, so Tiki man got 2 days off.

Tuesday the farrier was out for his normal shoeing visit ... good thing. Tiki's shoe was SERIOUSLY sideways. Eric shod him behind with clips, which seem to help. His front foot wasn't in horrible shape, thankfully. I had wanted to hack Tiki or something Wednesday, but just didn't have time because I had a few extra things on my list from Joyce to do. Sooo, today was the first time I've ridden him since Saturday. Not exactly ideal, but doing what I can!

Had a dressage lesson today. The boy was pretty decent; a *little* pissy at times, lol. He likes a day of light hacking after a few days off before I really ask for hard core flat work, but he needs to learn to deal! I was sitting up a little better, and Susan didn't harass me about my wrists or forearms, which means I'm doing better on those. She had us warm up with spirals in and out; shose were OK. I confess; I do practice lots of circles, but not so many spirals. Maybe we should spiral a little more;) Ran through our BN test B. Technically, the test was very correct. What I need to work on is really showing HIM off. His trot was a little choppy, our canter not pulled together, his body not perfectly straight. Let him drift through the final 10 meter half circle to the halt and salute. Practiced our canter transition on the circle, then downward to the trot, and got that looking super nice. Ran through the test again, and it was loads better. I need to remember NO hunter posing during the dressage test; I need to lead with my belly button and think about lots of half halts to keep him light and slow enough. Gee ... I was chasing him too much at the trot, imagine that.

Tomorrow he'll feel like a different horse. Cowboy dragged the ring tonight, so tomorrow I will do some jumping exercises I've been doing at patchwork. Figure 8's over a single jump. 2 jumps 3 strides apart on an offset line, working on lining them up on an angle, and a serpentine of jumps on a tight 3-4 stride line. That's the plan; I'll report back on whether we stuck to that plan!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Just want to say ... home and safe and sound! Tiki was a ROCKSTAR, only had one stop at a jump where I rode like a total monkey. Finished 2 minutes off the optimum time for the HP, and nailed every jump in the xc schooling exactly like I wanted! Jumped SEVERAL jumps that scared the pee out of me, and had a WONDERUL, confidence building experience. Exhausted, so I'll just leave y'all with a couple of pics.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And the week continues to just improve ...

Sarcasm, unfortunately. Guess who only has 3 shoes. Ugh. And a farrier that really will make an effort to get out to us IF HE CAN. Joyce said he told her he'd be out before Saturday, so I'm praying like crazy he does.

I'm hoping that since the week leading up to this event I've been looking forward to for so long has been pretty crappy, that means Saturday will be the most awesome day EVER!!!!

I had a tough time sleeping the past 2 nights ... felt better today, though. Talked to the owner of the horse that passed in the fire, and she's doing ok. What a wonderful family; my thoughts and prayers are with them. The 14 year old boy that owned the horse is still shell shocked, but wants to continue with his riding, thank goodness.

On the up side, since Tiki was sans a hind shoe, I walked him around the pasture for a whole 10 minutes, then worked up to a full fledged sheath cleaning. I've cleaned him up a little here and there, but I got out the Excalibur and went to town. I cannot believe how nasty it is up in there. I cannot believe how much my horse enjoyed the cleaning, lol! I'm grateful he stood like a rock with a funny expression on his face the entire time. Then, when I grabbed the brush to brush off the saddle mark, he swished his tail and gave me the grumpy face complete with a half hearted cow kick. Muffin makes me smile; he's so quirky.

No matter how bad things have been this week, and how angry I was at trashing my $180 half chaps, I STILL HAVE MY HORSE. He is sound, he is beautiful, and he is his funny, quirky self, and I get to take him to Chattahoochee Hills this weekend and have a wonderful time with friends. I am so grateful for my life, and I just pray for the hearts of the K family to heal from this quick and terrible tragedy. Thank you to everyone that posted kind words on my blog; they're much appreciated.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Don't think this day could get much worse ...

Sigh. It's not been a good day today. What kills me is is STARTED out pretty good. Got to the barn, set up a course (1 stride on outside, 4 stride line with a cav and the barrel, 3' vert on the diagonal, and the cav stack on the other diagonal), and walked the Tiki muffin up to the ring. I'd seen when setting the course that the footing was still pretty nice, yay! Had a LOVELY warmup on the boy; great transitions, did some super lengthening and shortening at the trot, some great circles. Warmed up with the single cav and it felt great. Trotted up to the barrel, and a stop. Today I had a crop; came again, cropped him off the ground, and he jumped it big. I had to pat him and settle him back down, then came again. Didn't use the crop, and he stopped:( Hit him, came again, and he jumped. Now I wasn't so worrked about him; I could tell he'd gotten over himself. Trot/cantered the line starting with the cav; then inside, then 1 stride, then stack. Awesome! He made the 1 stride so easily, he almost ate the distance! This made me happy because it's a straight up 24' 1 stride. No more jump issues at all. Each time I hit the barrel, I had to really RIDE him, but he was fine. I found my distances pretty well, and felt lovely.:)

Then we went to leave. I opened the gate like I always do, and as he started to walk through, the wind blew the gate closed towards us. He scraped up against the gate latch, caught my right half chap on it, and kept running through the gate; I finally fell off since I wasn't coming with him.:( I was PISSED. My half chap ripped like crazy.:( So, I've officially fallen off my horse twice by being forcibly removed by an outside source (other than gravity!). Then, if that wasn't already enough ...

Arrived to teach lessons tonight. Didn't have a 4:30, so was sitting by the big ring shooting the breeze with one of my kids, and another mom. Suddenly, we heard a sound like an engine backfiring behind us, and we looked, and the huge storage barn with 2 outside stalls attached was on fire! I mean, fire like the type you see on TV. It was so fast, so sudden:( A horse perished in the fire:( It was a horrible, senseless, unpreventable tragedy. It was incredibly surreal. Needless to say, everyone was sent home for tonight, and when I left, the 7 or so fire trucks were still there spraying the barn, making sure there wasn't so much as a hint of an ember left. My heart is just broken for the family that lost their horse, for the BO that lost his property, and for my boss and her daughter to come home from Pony Finals to this. Reminds us all that tragedy strikes fast, suddenly, and with no care in the world as to whose life it touches.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sometimes things go as planned ...

... and sometimes they don't:) I'm proud of myself; I've stuck to the plan this week! Monday was a no stirrups day. It was once again hard ... I felt pretty solid and decent, but my legs were sore Tuesday. I feel like I had a lot of roll to my leg; like they wanted to turn out like a ballet dancer's. Just rotation in my hips I suppose. Had a fairly decent w/t/c, practiced some no stirrups posting trot, and did set up a line with 2 poles; 6 strides apart. I trotted through, both adding and leaving out steps. Cantered the line both ways, and did it in a 5, a 6, and a 7. Overall, I was very happy.

Tuesday I had some adult type stuff to go do, so no Tiki time. Wednesday, I hacked in the hilly front pasture. He felt GREAT. It was such a nice ride. There was a little bit of SHADE, I had my crop, and my feet were tied.:) I focused completely on his hind end, making sure he was working and pushing. TONS of leg on the downhill, working trot up the hill, flexing at the poll and trying to ask him to stretch into the bridle and stretch that back. Did some halt/back on the downhill sides, and he was marvelous:) VERY light, very stretchy, and very elastic.

The ring got drug yesterday, YAY! So, decided to do some gymnastics today. Nothing too terribly difficult, just a single cav, 1 stride to a cav stack (2'3), one stride to a vert (2'3), one stride to an oxer(2'6). So ... not super difficult or anything. During warmup, I worked him through the jumps so he saw everything. Can I just say that he felt like a rockstar today? Well, he did:) Just lovely. Very light, very soft, halted and backed with NO yanking on me. Dare I say, I think that maybe the boy is figuring out how to halt with his butt under him! As per usual, I dont' like to overwork him on the flat when I plan to do gyms, so I didn't. Jumped the single barrel with no training wheels (guiding poles;)) today. He actually jumped it straight, OVER the barrel, and never ran out! He did jump it funky a few times, though, like he wasn't really making an effort to jump it. Just weird. So, I decided to go ahead into the gym. Grabbed the neck strap, and trotted in. He backed off, like he normally does ... then it was just, STOP.:( He jumped the single cav, then stopped dead at the stack. What the ... ? Hit him behind my leg, came again. Again, same thing. Came again, and AGAIN, same thing; by this point, he's jumping like a freaking monkey over the first cav, and I can feel how upset he's getting. I stood and we both caught our breath, and tried one more time. Just DISASTROUS; got him over the first cav, got him over the stack, then NO prayer for getting over the vertical. I walked him for a few minutes, wondering what to do. I hopped off, dropped the stack to an oxer, dropped the vert to a crossrail, and dropped the front rail to the oxer.

That was the key. He made it through this time. Jerky, quick, and a little frantic, but he did it. Came again, twice more, and he'd figured it out and got his confidence back. Put it back up where it was. Now, no problem. Did that twice, then raised the vert and oxer up one hole, making them 2'6 and 2'9. He went through NO problem. On the 2nd pass through, he drifted a little left (which is where our issues LAST time through a gym were). It wasn't a bad drift, so I came again with a little opening right rein, and he stayed nice and straight. Got off and put the oxer up one more hole to 3'. I was now having to whoa through the whole first part, and then closed my leg at the base of the oxer. He jumped it big. One final time, and he was perfect through it. Quit there. I HONESTLY didn't think the gym as it sat would cause him to react like that. I guess he just needs me to set it super low the first time through every time; I do NOT want to zap his confidence. Ended strong and well though:) Walking hills tomorrow:)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My baby's back to school this week

Since my little guy is starting school this week, my plan is to show up and ride nice and early every day week! I've already got a tentative week's schedule planned out for my little muffin; tomorrow will be a no stirrups day for me.

Friday, I had a great day. I'd assumed that since it had poured at my house Thurs night, it also would have rained at Joyce's, and the ring would be soft enough to jump in fairly guilt free ... I was wrong:( It was as dry and as hard as ever. The good news is Cowboy Wayne stopped in and gave his opinion that maybe we'd have sand in about a month:) I'm just praying this is true.

Despite the hard footing, I decided to do a tiny bit of jumping anyway; he had on his Thinline pad and his T-boots, and the surface was a little bit loose. I set up the blue barrel all by itself on one long side with guide poles propped up on it, the 3 cavs on the other long side, a 2'6 vertical on one diagonal, and a 2'9 swedish oxer on the other diagonal. I had 3 poles on the vert arranged in a fan pattern (to give him something different to look at). I was equipped with no spurs, no stick, but a neck strap. It's funny; I haven't REALLY jumped him since we went xc schooling at Calimar because of the footing, so the 2 center jumps looked huge. Warmed up VERY well on the flat, doing some TOTF, some leg yielding, some prompt canter transitions. Made sure I kept my leg on and supporting the whole time, and made sure that even though I was asking him to stretch into the bit, my forearms were soft and quiet the whole time.

Did a quick runthrough of BN test B, and it was tons better than the other day. He felt very nice. Trotted back and forth through the cavs again as a warmup, halting on a straight line. Added more leg to my halt so he kept his head up and didn't try to yank the reins through my fingers. Trotted into the blue barrel with my shoulders back, leg on, left hand on the neckstrap, and READY to kick him over it. Uh, he could have cared less! Hopped right over, no problem. Next step will be to do it without the guide poles:) Started a course beginning with the right outside (barrel), inside, outside, inside. Did pretty well with distances; grabbed the strap coming into oxer since it got bigger and bigger the closer we got to it; he was SO perfect over it. Jumped the snot out of it, but he felt really nice. Reversed it and started with the left outside, and again, was ok on my distances. Ran him a little bit at the barrel because we were coming in long. Kept cantering, and came down to the vert one more time. OF COURSE knocked it down because I ran completely through the distance. Continued to the oxer one more time, and we nailed it beautifully. Finished over the cavs one more time, trotting in, so I could do that halt without being yanked down. He did it super, so we quit there.

Stirrupless tomorrow; I may set a few poles to work on lengthening and collecting the trot and canter. No rain, so the ring will be hard again, but again, I'll have his T-boots on to absorb as much shock as possible. Hoping to beg the cowboy to drag the ring this week.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

PLEASE let cooler weather be on the way soon ...

Wow ... I am just melting away, I think! My feel so bad for Tiki; he's such a sweaty horse. We ride for about 10 minutes, and he literally drips sweat. I worry about dehydration, but he gets electrolytes, and drinks plenty of water. His stall is always got lots of wet spots, so I guess I'm not too worried yet.:) At least he DOES sweat ... one of the ponies at Patchwork has anhydrosis, and Janet worries about him like CRAZY.

Well ... last week I could only do the boy twice. I could NOT make myself ride in the extreme heat for a third time:( At the moment, I'm also fighting with guilt, because last week and this week are my son's final 2 weeks before starting the third grade ... which means his (and mine!) final opportunity to do a little bit of sleeping in. If we sleep in until 9 and don't get to the barn around 11, it's already a literal oven, and I have NO desire to do ANY more than I have to.

So anyway, rode yesterday for the first time since Thursday. I've decided to get back in the ring and do some really good flatwork. Tiki needs to really work on maintaining a nice topline, stepping UNDER himself at the trot, clean upward transitions in general, and on his downward transitions, NOT yanking his head down. Nicole actually came up with me, and provided me with a bit of input; he needed a brighter trot all around, and our upward canter transitions from the trot were too "runny". I realized after talking to our third HP rider, Marisa, that the correct dressage test for the Halloween HT is BN test B, NOT BN test A:( Darn it! I really like test, and we'd been practicing! I think what happened is I'd decided on the September HT at Poplar for our first outing, and THERE is the test A. Then I went to the Area III championships at Chatt Hills, and totally changed my mind:) So, I digress ... rode the test after warming up fairly lightly, and made all of the aforementioned mistakes. Sooo ... that gave me homework for today!

Today, I had a GREAT day! My boy felt like a wonderful rockstar. 2 things were different; I used the dressage bridle again, and I had my spurs on. I concentrated on pushing him forward, keeping my leg on and useful, my left wrist straight, and my forearms soft. He felt SO good.:) Very soft, he really held his topline nicely, the trot FELT like he was forward and slow, and we stayed on a 20 m circle pretty much the entire time, so he maintaine a nice inside bend. Concentrated on sitting the trot going into my canter, and that helped a TON. Trotted back and forth thru the 3 cav bounces about 6 times, working on my halt each time. Tiki wants to just yank his head down so hard after doing a downward transition after a jump ... I did it over and over until he halted softly and with his hind end underneath himself. Quit on a good note:) We got some decent rain here, so hopefully the ring will soften up a little bit, and I can jump him some tomorrow.