Friday, December 31, 2010

It's that time again!

Another New Year:) So happy to have less than a week before my boy's break is over, yippee! He got new shoes today, so perfect timing for his return. Got a few goals to put out there; we'll see how many we achieve.

1. Monthly lessons. I want to do 6 with my boss (Janet), and 6 with her jumper trainer friend, Heather Ray. I want to throw a few additional in there when I can with Susan, Gigi, and Mary Bess as well. Those will happen as I have the time/$$. But I NEED to commit to a more regular program of lessons, and I'm figuring once a month can happen.

2. We need to improve our dressage. I will work harder and be more disciplined about making him keep his frame. I let him "bounce" around too much and not go on steady, consistent contact. I think I need to make sure I ride him with the dressage whip so he goes forward enough.

3. The BNT clinic I do this year needs to be a BN event trainer. I'm hoping I can find a Becky Holder clinic to go to. If not her, then maybe Stephen Bradley (or someone else super awesome that's clinicking not too far from me, lol!)

4. Want to go schooling at a few different farms; Poplar and Pine Top at the LEAST.

5. A recognized BN outing at Poplar.

6. A "schooling" series going out for POINTS, yay!:) (probably Oxer Farm)

7. A combined training event at Novice

8. Volunteer again for AEC's

So, that's it. I'd REALLY like to get the muffin on Adequan. Still haven't bitten the bullet and just BOUGHT it. It's just so pricey to get started; as soon as I have the disposable $$, I will go there.

Up top pic was taken the first week I owned Tiki. Look how SCRAWNEY he was! What a difference:)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Joining the fray ...

... of Christmas well wishers! Merry Christmas everyone! It has been a fantastic and beautiful Christmas. We are healthy, happy, and blessed to be able to provide our son with enough gifts to make his entire year:) Now just spending time with the family at our house, and staying bundled up against the possible GA snow!

My fabulous boss gave me "101 Dressage exercises". I've already thumbed through, and have found about 10 exercises I want to try during Tiki's first week back, lol;)

Nicole and Becca contributed and coordinated a gift from my IEA team; an Ovation 5 point breastplate! It is so beautiful:) Luckily, it fits him perfectly:) The sad thing is when I was trying it on him, and adjusting the buckles, when I pulled the strap through the keeper, the keeper broke! Bummer. Luckily, the bp came from SmartPak, so I will call them Monday and I'm sure they will just send me a label and have me ship it back so they can replace it. Super excited either to go schooling, or do a schooling show so I can use it!

Joyce gave me the halter I've been wanting for 2 years but have been too cheap to buy! A lovely Perri's leather black padded halter with silver chrome hardware. It looks fantastic on him; once the plate is put on, I need to take a super gorgeous pic of him before I really USE it on him, if ya know what I mean.

January ... my own trailer ... enough said!

Very blessed and happy. Just sitting around and eating lots and lots of food today. Probably the same tomorrow. Back at it Monday. Ride Tiki Jan 5th for the first time. Yay! Pic is of him modeling his new navajo pad and his breast plate. And yes ... I tacked up my horse FULLY so I could get a good pic of him. Too bad the pic is so bad! Again ... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y'all!:)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday time ...

Well, today I actually pulled my horse's blanket off for the first time in 2 weeks! Literally ALL I have done is pick his feet. Haven't even pulled him out at all. From Sunday through yesterday, the temps were down in the teens, with highs in the low 30's/high 20's. This is CRAZY for GA. It's still FALL, for goodness sakes! Last night, it took us 2 hours to make a 45 minute drive because of freezing rain. The roads were a MESS. I was glad to make it home in one piece! Then today, it got up to 60 ... so I took Tiki's blanket off.

I had PLANNED to ride the rest of December ... thinking maybe I'll take the rest of the month, then the first 2 weeks of January, and start riding again mid-January. It can't POSSIBLY be any colder then than it has been the last 2 weeks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

other video

Last half of our dressage test. Got a 43.4, so a definite improvement over Chatt Hills. I just need to get on a MINIMUM of 30 minutes before my test next time. 13-20 minutes isn't enough time for him to let loose and relax.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Video time:)

Our showjumping round. Totally missed our lead on the turn from 1 to 2, but I can't worry about that. We were CLEAR, that's all that matters!:)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sigh of relief ...

I'm so sad it's over! Had a GREAT time! Super excited. Got up at 4:00 to make the 2 1/2 drive up north. All 3 of us rode together with Joyce, and we had a good time conversing with each other the whole time. Weather was SUPPOSED to be partly cloudy and 61. Umm, we had RAIN, and 38. Wow. I was SO glad I'd put on plenty of clothes. Got on the Muffin about 20 minutes before I needed to ride. Warmed up in a field next to the xc ring. Sadly, he didn't really settle in too well. He was just interested in everything but paying attention! He was NOT bad, at ALL. In fact, I felt like we did a really good job. Again, if He'd had more time, he probably would have relaxed a little more. Ended up with a 43.4; better than dressage test numer one.

XC was a TOTALLY different experience than Chatt Hills. The jumps were a little more narrow and dark, and they were CLOSE. Maybe only 6 strides apart for the first part? He was a little bug eyed at the first, snorted and stuck off the ground at number 2, jumped 3 sort of "yahoo", 4 was up a hill; a brush box that was a little spooky looking. Back down a hill to a tire jump; ok over that. Then, it was the next one that he sort of went Uhh ... a stack of wood (like what he'd jumped at the hunter pace), but it was wide and tall; definitely the biggest jump on course. But the approach was tight, off a turn, into a tree, and pointed towards the little pond. He ALMOST stopped; I was about to pull out the crop and use it. But, he scrambled over it, then it was up to a coop, which he jumped big and caused me to land disorganized. Bumped up over a little candy cane mound from a stride away, so my helmet fell over my eyes as I hauled him around to the right up a hill in a switchback turn. We were TOTALLY disorganized, lol. He was pulling like a train, I was trying to fix my helmet, my armband had slid down around my wrist, and I was worried about the jump because it was coming uphill, it was tall, and it had large potted poinsettas under it. He jumped it super, though, then it was a left switchback over some sort of log that had walked big, but felt just fine, a long run down the hill to a tall rolltop, which felt amazing, an akward turn past a jump that was right in line with the rolltop , a right sweeping turn to a post and rail palisade jump uphill that was great, then another switchback hauling turn, past another jump to the final jump of pinestraw and flowers. He gave that one a bugeyed stare and jumped it sort of in a heap, but as we cantered through the finish, I gave him a huge 2 handed pat because we'd been CLEAR. Over a course he HADN'T schooled, YAY!:) It wasn't the most beautiful or graceful course we'd ever done, but I hadn't even grabbed my neckstrap over anything ... I was pleased.

Stadium was in the rain. Yuck. Luckily, the rain was light, but it WAS enough to get you wet and miserable. The course was simple enough, jumps were not bad looking. Walked in, saluted the ring steward, then began. First jump rode amazing! Left hand rollback to a natural vertical, 3 strides to a crossrail vertical. He hit the 2nd jump, then we did a nice 4 to the next. Sweeping right turn to an outside line of 4 strides. Jumped in beautiful, added in a perfect 5th stride, but he saw something he did NOT like about that oxer, and jumped it from a standstill after I dug in my spurs when I felt the hesitation. He jumped the SNOT out of it, and I got some MAJOR air! Landed super disorganized, so I trotted for a second to get my lead and once again fix my helmet. Jumped a diagonal single vertical well, got very organized and did another simple change to a left turn to a vertical on the end of the ring, then a final sort of tight left turn to another outside line of vertical 6 strides to an oxer. Jumped in perfect, got the striding this time, and I supported him to the oxer, and used a nice amount of leg at the base paired with a cluck to get him over much better than the other one.

Overall, we finished 4th out of 6. Sadly, we had the worst dressage score until I noticed on my sheet that on my circle right 20m at the posting trot said "error, misplaced", and had no score. I took it to the office guy, he took it to the judge, they fixed it, and that improved my score from a 45.7 to a 43.4. Still, it was the 5th best score, but one person had gotten eliminated, so that moved me up to 4th. Everyone else in my division had also jumped clear, so bummer for us, haha. SO, SO proud of Becca and Nicole; they kept it together, had a GREAT experience as well, and finished 3rd and 1st in their respective divisions. We had such an amazing time; it was GREAT!!!!!!!! Looking forward to a little break. I will drop down to riding muffin 3 times a week for the rest of december; one jump school, one dressage school, then one day in the pasture doing something. January is going to be a month long hiatus, then in February I will look into some weekly dressage lessons from Susan. March, we will start looking at the calendar for some cheap schooling mileage to get, then May will be a recognized trial at Poplar Place farm. Looking forward to continuing our journey:)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Couldn't wait unti Friday ...

I REALLY wanted to brag on my Tiki man! Rode him Monday (in the almost rain, aren't y'all proud??) in the dressage bridle, cc saddle, and my ghetto drawreins (as an aside, I REALLY need to take a pic of him in his ghetto draw reins, lol!). Didn't use the new dressage saddle because it was super cold, and I didn't feel like switching out stirrups. I finally have stirrups and leathers now; will use them tomorrow! He was LOVELY in the drawreins. I stayed super light with them, and used my leg. I had spurs and the whip, and he felt nice and forward. Transitions were clean, circles felt beautifully balanced, and the trot never once felt quick or choppy. Ran through the dressage test for the first time since the horsetrial, and it wasn't bad. STILL, our weakest point is actually the WALK. He HATES to walk on contact. When he's on the buckle, he overtracks to the point that he kicks his front shoes with the hind legs. The SECOND I pick up the reins, he sucks back to the point that he's barely moving. As soon as I apply leg, he wants to jig off. We've been working on it ... but it's still a work in progress. The drawreins helped the boy to keep his topline round through the upward and downward transitions; that's our other weak point. He can keep his shape as long as he's in a constant gait, but through the transition, he wants to hollow his body. Ended GREAT.

Tuesday, it was 20 degrees warmer, but it RAINED all day long. It rained and stormed so much, I not only didn't go to Joyce's, I even cancelled my lessons at Patchwork. I RARELY do that. Today, it was colder than Monday. When I headed out to ride, it was 34 degrees, brrr! I had on plenty of layers, pulled Tiki out to groom him, and did the "blanket groom", in which I only brush the parts not covered by his blanket! Used my fleecy boots and polos in the interest of keeping the tendons warm. Used a navajo blanket AND a quarter sheet! It was COLD:) Decided to do a "stadium" hack, using techniques I'd watched the great George Morris do at a recent clinic. I watched him on a video. Obviously, I'm not even CLOSE to the caliber of GM, but I CAN imitate his training techniques;)

JUST as I was walking into the ring, my phone rang. I answered because it was a friend of mine. The phonecall had the unintended consequence of me hopping on and walking ... for significantly longer than I usually do. I could FEEL the switch in him; at first, he's locked up and short strided. Then, as if by magic, those shoulders free up, his back warms up, and his head drops down as he moves into his ground eating walk. It was awesome:) Started with a walk on contact; circles, figure 8's, shoulder-in, and leg yielding. I spent about 20 minutes total at the walk. Moved into a trot, and did the same sort of thing; circles, concentrating on that outside rein contact, soft arms, shoulders tall, legs still. Lots of walk/trot/walk/trot transitions, concentrating on riding the back end. Leg yield at the trot. Ran through the test One More Time. This time, not too bad other than a late trot/canter transition (hadn't cantered at all yet), and I over used my leg in the free walk, and he trotted a step or 2. Even though I will ride in my new dressage saddle for the first time tomorrow, I will not run through the test again. I will focus on those all important trot/canter transitions, and walking on contact.

Cantered on a big circle, and hit a pole. It felt SO nice, I continued cantering and hit it again ... and again. Felt so good, decided to just keep on ... cantered the cabinet ... then the coop, then the pole, then the cabinet, then the coop, then cirled. Came around to the "liverpool" oxer, popped off several lead changes. I just kept going. Everything was around 2', I sat lightly with a slightly forward shoulder, and focused on a COMPLETELY following hand in the air. It was Super Splendiferous. Felt GREAT:)

Found out there's only 6 in my division, so unless I get myself eliminated, I'm guaranteed a ribbon!:) I'm really looking forward to Saturday; hoping to get video from all three phases this time! Tomorrow I will school for about 20 minutes or so in the dressage tack, and Friday I will trot some hills. Then Saturday, it's showtime! Dressage ride time is 8:44. We should all be done around 1:30. Will report back!:)