Monday, September 27, 2010

It's inevitible ...

that the horse trial is looming about a month away, and my horse injures himself. It doesn't look too serious, thank goodness. He chewed up the inside of his left front. That's the leg with the bowed tendon, so the swelling looks worse than it really is, I think. There was some heat and swelling about halfway down the inside of the left front, down to the side of the fetlock. I guess once it's healed up, it's back in turnout boots for the Muffin! Luckily, he trotted out sound, so hopefully after another day of cold hosing, he'll be good to go by Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday was regular training day; Thursday was hills, Friday was trot/canter sets. He was a super boy both days. Got the weekend off, then had planned to ride him today, but the swelling and booboo prevented that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Little over a month away ...

Can't even believe it. It's all I can THINK about. I keep picturing, over and over again, us having a solid dressage test in the 20's, double clean cross country, and showjumping. I just ordered 3 spools of waxed thread and some tapestry needles to practice braiding before the trial. Obsessed? Well, at over $400 for the entry fees, this one is the ONLY one I'm doing before the end of the year. I haven't even sent my entries yet, because I have to shake the couch cushions a little harder to try and find the money to even DO this thing. Ugh. I WILL, though!

Anyway, Monday I did a nice jump school. Becca loaned me her waterfod 3 ring elevator bit for awhile because her horse really doesn't care for it, so I've decided to jump in it for a few weeks. He felt REALLY nice. MUCH less stiff than the first time I rode him in it, and stayed very respectful of my aids.

Warmed up over a line of 2' verticals. Trotted in/cantered out. I can NOT trot a jump, UGH! I have the hardest time. The jumps were 5 strides apart set basically on "X". The cav stack oxer was just off to the side of the jump farthest from the gate. My concentration was on maintaining rhythm and not getting quick. He felt quite lovely. Cantered the oxer, and was again quite lovely. Hopped off, and raised them to 3'. Put the stack oxer back up to the highest setting, then remounted. Cantered the line; Squeaky knocked down the first pole, but jumped out nicely over the 2nd. Let's face it; moving a single vertical with no fill from 2' to 3' is HARD. Made up a little course of line, right turn to the bottom vertical on a diagonal, left turn to top vertical on a diagonal, canter a short turn through the center to the oxer. NICE. He felt GREAT. I felt pretty darn nice. Rested, went again, and got a long spot to one of the jumps. I kept going after the oxer, and did the 2 verts one more time to try and get better spots. It worked, and I stopped there. What a good boy, he felt amazing.

Yesterday, I had to CLEAN HOUSE, UGH!!! My grandparents came in for literally a few hours, but hey ... my house is as dog hair free as it can get right now, lol! Today I almost didn't ride since it rained just enough to knock off the nice "fluffiness" to the ring footing and make it hard as a rock by tomorrow. I'd decided to do hills today, but wanted to go ahead and flat since I felt like the ring was going to be basically unrideable until it gets dragged again.:( It was JUST wet enough that the dust was manageable, and things weren't hard yet. I used the fat snaffle with the ball again, and DAMN did he feel good. Beautiful flexation to the poll, quiet gaits, lightness in his front end. As good of a bend as Tiki usually gives me, which is still a work in progress. Practiced the canter transition on a 20 m circle, "approaching X" from the trot. Lovely, both times. Decided to try something ... cantered a circle right, circled left on the counter lead, circled right again, then circled left with a flying change. The change was late, but he DID it! Let him walk, did it again the opposite lead, got the change clean, then let him quit.

Wow. I had a super fantastic horse today. I've had my script for Adequan since November of last year, and hadn't made the commitment yet to put him on it. On of my priorities before the end of the year is to start him on Adequan; maybe that will be the key to make him totally, 100% comfortable. The fact that his changes aren't clean tells me that maybe Tiki is a little bit "squeaky" in the joints too. Since he's only 7, with only 7 race starts, I just don't think he needs anything injected yet. Love my boy; he was GREAT today. Hills tomorrow, then not sure what for Friday. Toying with the idea of dragging out some of the "crappy" jump poles to a well defined ground indention to make a more concrete ditch, and find some stuff in the big pasture to hop over.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Where did Fall go, again?

So, wishing it was about 84 outside instead of 94. Oh well, can't have it all!

I've had a tire with a slow leak for several months now, and the slow leak finally turned into a fast one! Haha, so Thursday I had to got sit and wait for a tire to get put on instead of ride my boy.

Friday, I decided to go ahead and flat instead of do hills. I'm trying to get my dressage bridle broken in, and STILL trying to figure out which bit I'm going to use. AGH! So frustrating. Since my goal is to finish the horse trial on my dressage score, the dressage score needs to be a competitive one. My friend Becca has a thick mouthed loose ring with a waterford ball in the center. His little head is SO small, that I didn't know how he would like that bit; it is REALLY thick compared to others I've used. He felt ... good. What I've decided is I'm going to take 2 more dressage lessons before the show, and let Susan tell me which one to use. He did FEEL really nice in it, but I can't see his mouth from on top of his back.

Anyway, tried to work on trot lengthening, precise trot/canter transitions, turns on the forehand, spirals at the trot and walk, and canter circles. It was a really lovely school; pulling was VERY minimal, and he was back to his usual Squeaky self. No lookey-loo/spooky nonsense. Worked on not chasing him, keeping my shoulders back, and letting GO. Felt pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My horse gave me goosebumps today ...

... and NOT because I was cold, haha!

Kept with the plan and headed into the front pasture to do trot/canter sets. 8 mins of trot, 2 mins canter, reverse and repeat. Started out normally; a little quick and choppy ... lowered my hands and took contact and put leg on; he started to slow down and equalize a bit. By the time I got to minute number 8, he felt pretty damn good. Picked up the canter, and he has NEVER felt that good. I assumed my "balanced" position; light seat, but shoulders back. I consciously half halted and let go, kept him straight and true, and he stretched into the most BEAUTIFUL hand gallop at some point. I literally got goosebumps at how wonderful and magical it was. When I went to do my downward walk transition, I barely touched his face ... "Whoa", close the fingers, and he was right down to the walk without a single pull or tug.

And yes, I yanked off all cavessons today. He felt great.:)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shooting for AEC's next year!

So. I've got my next year's goal set. Achieved my one for this year (clinic with a BNT; NOT George Morris, but Jeff Cook!) My goal for next year is to qualify and compete at the AEC's. What a FUN time I had volunteering! I thought BN was awesome; the bank was HARD. A big square table top oxer landing on an up ramp, 4 strides off a HUGE drop.

Novice had a TOUGH ramp jump into water; most of the falls were at this jump. Training looked INTENSE. The water complex was a mound with a rolltop on top, a big drop into the water, then a squirrely line out to a skinny. A jump off a big bank, then a TIGHT turn to offset skinny "barns". That's my FIVE year goal:)

Not much happened last week. Monday and Tuesday I did some dressage flatwork. Tuesday he was nuts. Like snorty, spooky, NOT happy at ALL. I was a little disturbed; wish I could have talked to him to find out what was going on. Wednesday I stuck him in the surcingle and side reins, and he seemed just fine. Worked some nice transitions on the longe line. Good boy! Thurs and Fri I volunteered at the AEC's, and Saturday I was BUSY.

Sunday, we had our second PWF schooling show. I threw him on the trailer with Nicole's Star, and her friend Debbie's Kelly. My plan was for him to get in some pre-IEA stuff going. A novice kid of mine was doing him 2', one of my stronger kids was doing him 2'6, then my right hand teenager (the same one as last show) did him 3'. He was definitely tired by the end. Started off pretty darn fresh; the kid is quite novice, and had NEVER ridden him ... all that being what it was, they did pretty OK. He was definitely lit up, but never threatened to run away or anything.

My stronger kid did a better job. Still had a few moments where he saw his spot to a jump and ran a little, but was overall much steadier. The 3' he looked GREAT. Settled in beautifully, and jumped around no problem. I love my little muffin!

Gave him today and he will have tomorrow off (he worked HARD Sunday), then Wed I'll do trot sets. Thurs will most likely be a flat day, then Friday hills. We'll jump again next Monday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I just love lessoning ...

I highly recommend Mary Bess Sigman to anyone in GA or surrounding areas. She is great! Love her style; encouraging, easy to get along with, knowelageable (sp?), funny, and tough. I had a GREAT time! I was nervous; hadn't had any sort of a "jumping lesson" since my Jeff Cook clinic back in early June.

Took Tiki with me to PW for my Saturday lessons. Let a friend hack him for me. She started out with my group of kids in the big ring, but recognized how tense he was, so she went to the covered ring by herself. He relaxed beautifully, and she had a great time:) He was light and soft, and came into the bridle without her having to take ANY contact on him at all. She was very complimentary, which of course made me super happy. He stood in a standing stall with a full net of hay, and a water bucket close at hand for hay dunking; he was happy as a pig in mud!

After a full day of teaching, changed my clothes, packed up all my stuff, loaded the Squeaky, then plugged the address into the GPS and freaked a little; 3:19 was the estimated arrival time. My ride time was at 4. The arrival time does NOT take into account traffic lights, etc. Plus, I was just a *little* distrustful that the GPS actually knew the address; Calimar is WAY off the beaten path, lol. Fortunately, I got there with NO problem, and was able to cruise along at about 70 mph since Becca's trailer is so awesomely light:) The truck pulled it like a CHAMP:)

Arrived at Calimar at precisely 3:20. Had plenty of time to get the boy off, run a brush over his (sweaty) coat, wipe his nose and eye boogers, tack him up, get my boots/half chaps on, and mount up with 6 minutes to spare. Phew! MB actually did what I had hoped for. Asked me to tell her about myself; goals, etc. She took the time to go over what happens at a HT, and some general rules. Most of that I knew already, but I was appreciative of her taking the time to talk to me. I was riding with a lady on a large pony that was SUPER brave; the lady was very obviously a BTDT sort of eventing rider, and was very nice and encouraging. We warmed up with a quick trot/canter both ways, and MB just watched. She then explained how she wanted the course ridden; galloping position in between the jumps, sit up and prepare TO the jump, then getting away from the jump. I practiced the gallop position (picture perfect), and then the preparation position. Basically, it's lift MY shoulder to get him to lift HIS shoulder. That's what she focused on; his shoulder. She wanted his head to come up, his shoulder to lift, and his hind end to sit down. Makes perfect sense. So, like Marisa said, get a little in the "backseat", but she wanted my seat light, not in a driving position. Fun. Warmed up over a crossrail, then it was time to get to work!

First exercise was the lincoln logs out of the arena to an inviting hanging log, to a low but spooky log. I picked up my neck strap, got in my "shoulder lifting" position, put my leg on, and he jumped all 3 jumps beautifully. I felt solid, secure, and even though he peeked at the spooky log, because his shoulder was up, and I was supporting and not chasing, it worked out great. MB had nothing but praise.

Next was the little ditch. Pony walked it with absolutely no problem; K cantered her in to the bigger ditch, and ALMOST fell in it! Needless to say, pony was NOT happy about the wider expanse of nothingness, so Tiki and I walked around a little bit while K and MB worked on getting over it. Finally, it was my turn. MB MADE me walk the little one. We went back and forth over it until Tiki finally quietly hopped over. It was my turn now for the wider one ... gulp! She wanted me to go SLOW and walk over it. I was like, "huh?" MB was like, "Yep, WALK IT". OK. We walked to the edge, he stopped. We trotted up, I leaned forward, his front feet went IN the ditch. We walked again, trotted at the last minute, MB hollered that he was going, I held tight to the strap and closed my eyes as Squeaky boy launched over it. I lost my stirrup on landing, but we were over in one piece.:) Came other way, leaned forward, he stopped. Came again, stayed back, clucked and legged, and he launched. Let's say MB made us do it literally a dozen times. I KEPT on leaning forward, and she KEPT on telling me to STAY BACK. Also, as he started to "get it", he wanted to run to it a little, then stop and launch. THAT'S why MB wanted me to go slow to it, so he would stay consistent. Finally, towards the end, he was a little bit better to it, so we moved on.

Jumped up and down the small bank a few times, and he was a rock star. To my amazement, he trotted right to the edge of the bank and bounced down without even a hiccup. Did a combo of bank up, bank down, hanging log. It was perfect, no problems. Then it was time for bank down, big training level cedar log (the one he's always sticky at), larger bank up (which we'd never done) to train barrels (yikes). Let me say, we've never jumped the train without a nice little sniff and look. This was to be the first "Just go JUMP it!". Down bank was great, stop at the log. I should have used my crop on approach, and maybe he would have gone. MB let him look at it, then we tried again. He went this time, albeit a bit awkwardly, and we continued to the bank. A big leap up after he bobbled and broke to the trot in front of it, then on to the train. I sat BACK, clucked, supported, and he went over! I patted him and exclaimed how the bank was much bigger than what I was expecting! MB was pleased with our performance. We then had to reverse that and do the train to the bank down to the cedar log the other way. Better this time. The bank was so huge my hand came off the neck strap because he had to stretch so much. Did something similar to that one more time, and we had no issues.

Last, we moved into the water complex (gee, just like I've done it on my own, lol!). We walked into the water, and he was happy to do it. Let him take a peek at the cabin; this time we were jumping it opposite the way I had last time. Did a combo of a natural log triple bar, canter into the water, jump a crossrail out, then around to the cabin. Great at the triple, perfect canter and hop over the crossrail, then I rode him well to the cabin and he jumped it. I had used my spur on takeoff, and MB said I rode it perfectly. Finished with a bounce down into the water, then back out. I had jumped out of it last time, but not in. Going towards the barn, he was pretty good. Going away, he got a little too fast and frantic, then nearly tripped coming out because it's only 3 strides before the out. MB wasn't happy with how he was dropping in; she said he was a little unsure and needed to figure it out, so we came a few times until I stayed back on coming in, whoa'd through the water, then WAITED on the bank out. Once we got it, she wanted us to quit there.

K asked if we could go back over to the ditch one more time. MB said that we could, and if the pony had trouble, we could give her a lead. Walked back over there, and I watched the pony jump it just fine. Then K asked me if I wanted to do it ... not really, but I knew it wouldn't hurt. Tried to stay back and remember what MB had said, and he launched. Back again, and he launched again. Again, and a little better. Once more, and it was decent, so we quit for good.

What a great experience! The biggest compliment to me was that MB said she would LOVE to work with us, would include me on her e-mail list for when she was xc schooling, and would be perfectly happy to help us at the HT. I mentioned our 5 year goal was to make it to Training level, and her response was that she would have NO problem getting us there.:) Awesome. I sure wish I'd hurry up and win the lottery so I could lesson like that every week instead of once every 3 months!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tired of fire trucks!

From having NEVER been exposed to a fire, to being exposed to it twice in 3 weeks ... our next door neighbor's house burned last night. His grill somehow caught the house on fire. No people/animals were injured this time, but we have some pretty major damage to the siding on OUR house from the extreme heat, yikes! What a devastating loss to our neighbors ... it's just so scary and random.:(

A tiny bit of news on the horsey front: I'm taking my first ever xc lesson tomorrow, yipee! I will be riding in a small group with Mary Bess Sigman at Calimar Farm tomorrow:) I can't wait; SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gave Muffin a bath and clipped his muzzle/bridle path in preparation.

Nothing terribly exciting on the riding front this week. Monday I didn't ride for some reason ... laziness, I think it was.;) Tuesday, had plans for another jump school since the footing would still be good. Led him up, and realized Nicole had jacked up some of the jumps ... hmmmm ... left them. The highest was 3', looked like the others were 2'9. I won't lie; they looked BIG, haha. Especially since I still planned my tight turns/crazy lines type course. For some odd reason, Tiki warmed up GREAT. Wow, he felt frickin' amazing. Soft, floaty, bendy, supple. I was floored. Jumping was just as fab. He was straight, responsive, and really really good. LOVE my Muffin!

Wednesday, I planned an intensive flat (dressage) day. He REALLY wasn't feeling the love as much. I had in a dressage legal Mikmar loose ring, and he was just super fussy with his head/neck/mouth. VERY mouth gaping, very herky-jerky:( He was just a little bit pissy in general. Worked through the nonsense; did trot spirals, leg yields, LOTS of working walk on contact, trot/canter transitions, walk/canter transitions, trot down the center line and halt ... canter/halt transitions. Worked for about 40 minutes, which for us, is a pretty long time for a flat school.

Thursday had planned trot sets, but I felt AWFUL. Had bad gas pains in my gut, as well as aches and chills:( Spent pretty much most of the day in bed.

Today I skipped over the trot sets and worked hills since I knew he'd get in lots of trotting/cantering/jumping tomorrow. Taking him with me to PW, then leaving from there to head to Calimar. Will report back with how it goes! Volunteering for the AEC's Thurs and Fri of next week; can't wait!:)