Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting ready for the end of the year ...

Sooo ... last week was pretty uneventful! All I did with Tiki man was longe him on Wednesday! Haven't sat on him since the hunter pace a week ago! Not good, haha. Despite the cold snap that's moved in to good 'ol GA, I will need to get out and ride Muffin every day this week except for Friday, probably. Like I mentioned, Cap and Tiki will have an IEA show on Sunday, so I don't want to go from zero to one hundred in a week's time! Need to brush back up on our dressage test (haven't ridden it since the trial), and probably hack one day in draw reins to get him to stretch across his spine. I haven't used them in several months, but I think he needs them 4-5 times a year to appreciate NOT having them, lol!:)

Gotten a few new pretties for the boy; got a cob sized figure 8 bridle off ebay that's now sporting the Beval loose ring (Christmas present from Becca!), and will become our Stadium bridle. Put the waterford back on the "ancient" bridle, and am heading out tonight to meet up with Marisa so I can buy her dressage saddle, yippee! Didn't think I would actually have my own dressage saddle before the schooling trial on Saturday; was planning to borrow the Wintec a/p from Patchwork since I can NOT use my cc saddle and my dressage bridle; they SO don't match.;) So anyway ... will try and post a riding update before Saturday, assuming I actually get out there and do what I'm planning:) Wish us luck for Saturday!!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Counting down to the final event of the year ...

literally! It's coming up on Thanksgiving, soon it will be January. Completed our 2nd hunter pace last Sunday, and will be competing in my first schooling 3 phase one day trial next weekend, woo hoo! Go figure, we do a schooling one day 3 phase AFTER we do a recognized full on Horse Trial, haha. The hunter pace was SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!! Wow, LOVED it. The weather was PERFECT, the horses were well behaved, the company was welcome and fun, and the terrain was just so beautiful. I used the Beval, and it was super nice to have some EASY brakes, for sure. Muffin was just as perfect as he could be. Walked on the buckle, cantered up to EVERY jump and hopped right over, no stutter, no look, no hesitation whatsoever. Jumped everything; highest was probably about 2'6 or so, haybales stacked on top of one another, I think. There was a hedge jump, stacks of logs, haybales, a coop, a stack of railroad ties, a hanging log, barrels, funky white gate, and funky gray gate. Becca and I flat out raced up a hill; Captain matched Tiki stride for stride. We both whooped and hollered out loud. SO FUN! Then, the pony and I raced ... and she beat us! Marisa took it quite seriously, lol. I think he's a late closer;) I LOVED it, and hope to go back to that farm and do a few more once we get through the winter.

TOTALLY looking forward to the schooling trial next weekend. Luckily, it's BN test B again, so no need to re-learn A. I'll be doing BN. Since we've never schooled, I'm glad to read that most of the jumps are NOT maxed out. Hopefully we'll end our season strongly; I'm SO not worried about getting eliminated this time. I KNOW that if I feel him suck back or try and say "No", I will absolutely pull out the crop and give him a little encouragement ... the FIRST time. The boys will have an IEA show on Sunday after the trial, so hopefully they're not too tired.

Sadly, my camera seems to be broken:( Took it along to get some awesome pics from the HP, but it seems the lens doesn't want to open up. Therefore, no pics:( Oh well. Hopefully I'll remember it forever!!!!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A week of thanks

As the holidays approach, I try and keep in perspective the whole point, for me, OF the holidays. It's family, thankfulness, and not getting sucked up into the whole whirlwind of Black Friday, 48 thousand things for the child for Christmas, malls, traffic, etc.

Good things are happening for me. I will be working extra days at Joyce's so that I can buy a trailer. I DESPERATELY need a trailer, and it's time to do whatever I need to do in order to get one. I FINALLY have a horse, after 29 years of waiting, sometimes not so patiently;) That horse is fit, sound (knock on wood), suitable for the job I'm asking of him, and oh so willing to always give me MORE. I'm able to scrape up enough money here and there to go do fun things like hunter paces (Sunday!), schooling shows (December 4th!), and clinics (February!). The weather has been absolutely BEAUTIFUL, and the ring is about to get a load of sand. So, yes, I have lots to be VERY thankful for.

Stil haven't really gotten back into the riding 4-5 days a week groove yet. I've been a little tired/lazy. I need to get out and start running again. I HATE to run, but it does get me to shake the slight little doldrums I seem to get this time of year. Tiki was a superstar at the IEA show on Saturday. I got to warm him up, and it was fun. Jumps were the same size as the ones at the trial, but he didn't touch a single one, and nor did he try and pull me around the course. He totally picks up on any tension I may carry! He got a nice compliment from one of the coaches that hadn't seen him for awhile. She commented on how nice he looked, and how much better he jumped around the course. Yay. His kids did great on him.

Lucky boy got Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off. I had an IEA show for my school team I'm coaching this year on Sunday (Tiki won't be going to any of those), I stayed home and did housework on Monday, and the boy got new shoes on Tuesday. Finally rode him on Wednesday, and worked on precise transitions again. Tried out the Beval bit, and I do think I like it pretty well. Set up a little course of 2 inside cavalettis, the cabinet jump but with 2 poles propped up on it like a huge crossrail to make it bigger, and a cavaletti on the lowest setting then 7 stides to a 2'9 vertical. I cantered him around the cavs to warmup, and he felt nice. Came into the cabinet jump sitting back and supporting, and he hopped right over! Did the big vert, and it was lovely. I'm SO glad I'm seeing a distance more consistently; it's nice. I feel like I finally can adjust him, and not screw him up too badly.

Thursday I had to drive an hour and a half to Alpharetta to coach a kid at the local GHJA finals, so couldn't ride then. Today, I rode with Becca. Again with the Beval bit and the dressage whip. He was good. Worked on a working walk on contact, halt/trot/halt/trot/walk/canter/walk/canter. Then I had him move off my leg in some leg yields so he didn't anticipate and try and jig off. Finally got a couple of PERFECT walk/canter transitions, and patted him like crazy. Like I told Becca ... he may not be a sweet, warm and cuddly animal, but my boy tries SO HARD to please me and do what I ask.

Course was same as Wednesday, but Becca had added a low oxer with a liverpool (blue yoga mat), and the cav "pole" was now a 2' coop skinny that she had built herself. After each jump, I walked, leg yielded him over, and picked up the canter coming into each jump. Everything felt good except I was coming in long to the liverpool so I did what I always do; nothing. So he jumped it like a goober. Let Becca go, then went again and this time jumped everything great. Did the coop line by itself, and added a stride in the line. Came one more time, and did the "Jeff Cook". Built scope and pace in my corner by cantering in 2-point, then dropped my seat down in a half seat to the "easy" jumps, then brought my shoulders MORE back for the "scary" jumps. Hmm, wow. He was GREAT, and I nailed every distance. Nice!

Going on a hunter pace Sunday with Becca, Marisa, and hopefully our friend that owns Bob and Ducky at Patchwork, Kristin. I'll report back with pictures!:):)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Back to some semblance of normalcy

Well, this week has been pretty much a "normal" week. Monday I stayed home and slept after a marathon show weekend in Athens. Tuesday I rode in my huntseat tack and had a pretty nice flat school, then hopped over a couple of tiny fences. He still felt pretty forward to them. Tried out a new bit that Becca had ordered; a Beval loose ring. I liked it upon first use. Wednesday I put on the dressage bridle sans noseband and walked some hills in the boy's pasture. Thursday I had fully planned to go out and have Kody take some pics of us, but I ended up down for the count with a killer headache so he got another day off.

Today was a school in the dressage tack. Susan gave me a whip, so I rode him with a dressage whip and no spurs. It was an ok day. Started out pretty good; he had a nice stretch across his topline. Began working on tranisitions, and he started to lose the connection I'd started out with. Wanted to jig instead of walk FORWARD on contact. So we practiced. Spiraled at the trot, and that was decent. Fought with him a little bit at the canter with connection, and got to trying to muscle him around like I always do. Relaxed ... it got better. Did trot/canter transitions both directions on a 20m circle, and he felt halfway nice. Ended by REALLY working on the walk/canter transition. We get it every now and then, usually well into a jump session, or out in the field. When I SCHOOL the transition, he ALWAYS takes a step or 2 of disorganized trot. So ... used the whip in conjuntion with my leg, nailed a PERFECT transition twice, then quit there.

Then he wanted to be a jerk going out the gate, so we had a little "come to Jesus" for a second. Hacked out to the end of the driveway, then kicked him out in the pasture so he can stay in tonight in preparation for an IEA show tomorrow. He was GREAT the first one, so hopefully he will continue the trend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week off ...

Sorry for no blog since the trial ... Squeaky Muffin has had a week off! He deserved it. I longed him Wednesday to make sure he wasn't sore or anything, but other than that, he's been lounging around in his stall all week:) Becca said he was having a good old time running like a mad man out in his pasute the other night, so at least he's keeping himself exercised!

Planning to ride the little man a bunch this week; probably a dressage school tomorrow, jump a little Wednesday, draw reins and the dressage tack Thurs, some sort of hill work/pasture stuff on Fri, and IEA show on Saturday. Will update later!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

AND ... it's over.

After MONTHS of anticipation, it's over. I feel relief that our first outing was a success. I'm so happy with the outcome (details to follow:)) I feel a TINY touch of disappointment in myself that in every phase I could have made an improvement to improve HIM. Our test could have been better if we'd warmed up longer. Our xc run would have been clear had I proactively used my crop the FIRST time over the kennel. Our sj round would have been clear had I not jumped up his neck. You get the picture.

So, for the jumping phase, BN went first thing at 8 am. We had walked the course the night before, and I was happy. It was a lovely, flowing course with a generous time allowed and nothing tricky. I was most worried about the first jump (big oxer with LARGE flowers), the panel jump (he's just never jumped one of those), and the final jump (a maxed oxer). Nothing was particularly scary looking, but it was a different TYPE of course for him. Everything looked stark and big because compared to hunter jumps, and even the "jumper" jumps at a local h/j show, they all looked very airy. Which should be GOOD for him.:) These jumps looked like the 2'9 ones at a local show. Which would be FINE if we'd either A.) schooled them, or B.) jumped them at a lower height:) But, I guess it's time for me to put my big girl panties on and learn to do it the "hard" way.

In warmup, he felt yuck. His flatwork was terrible. He was a total rubber ball, NOT striding out at all. At the slightest touch of leg, he wanted to break into a canter. His trot was tiny and stabbing. I got up in my 2-point and cantered. After THAT, he felt super.

Left the ring to watch Marisa and Zoe ride ( each had one rail), then went back in to keep moving. Once I went BACK into the ring, he just felt pissy. I decided to go ahead and jump. Coming into the crossrail, he didn't back off at ALL. He was saying, "See mom, I REMEMBER. You want FORWARD." Came to that again, then around to the vertical. Same thing at both. Came into the oxer, which, again ... jumping "cold", it just looked really BIG.:) Cantered up to it, tried to wait because there was NOTHING, and he went. Soooo, got a little left, but there was no "EEK" and stutter. Hacked another minute or 2, jumped the oxer and vertical again, then the oxer one more time and it felt GREAT. So I stopped there. Walked until I got the on deck call (about 6 minutes), so I schooled ONE more oxer, and again, it was perfect. Waited calmly, walked in, and felt excited.

As I walked in, I tried to allow him to pass in close proximity to the jumps. The whistle blew, and I cut across the ring and picked up my canter. Coming into the first jump, I slipped a finger under my neck strap, sat back, and legged. He jumped it great, but landed a little disorganized. Bending line to 2, a red and white post and rail vertical. He drifted left to it, and knocked it pretty hard. 3 was a dark green oxer; I waited, and it was good. Left hand turn to a yellow and red vertical. He drifted left again, and I had to use leg pretty hard. Bending line to a yellow 2 stride, vertical to oxer. He was super sticky at the vertical, so I purposely rode it in 3; the oxer felt fine coming out. Left hand turn to the panel jump, and that felt good. Straight ahead to a black and white oxer, and he AGAIN drifted left and looked hard. I STAYED BACK, and it worked out well. Right hand turn to another red and yellow vertical, and I saw a forward spot. Clucked, legged, and *I* went, but he chipped, then completely fell over his front end and knocked down the rail. Got myself together and rode the final oxer like it was the giant coop I'd been afraid of, and he ended GREAT.

So, yeah. I was bummed. The spot was RIGHT there, and I RODE for it. I was a little disappointed in him, that he didn't really rise to the occasion there. Then I shifted the disappointment to me, in that I allowed my body to get faster than my brain, and if only I'd come out of the corner and WAITED, he would have been clear. I figured we'd dropped out of ribbon contention because I had been in 6th coming in. NOT the case. We moved up again, and finished 5th overall.

I was ECSTATIC!!! You know who won my division? Becky Holder, that's who! So, 5th out of 10 in a class with 5 or 6 seasoned professionals isn't too shabby. As we walked to the awards ceremony, the announcer said something cute. "This is Jen Bishop and Ricochet. Sadly, they had an unfortunate ricochet off jump 2 in the cross country" ... Lol, it was great. LOVE my pink ribbon, and I had the most AWESOME time in the victory gallop. Can't wait to do it again:):):)