Thursday, March 31, 2011


It was super wet again, so I went in and re-arranged the jumps. My honorary little sis, Nicole, would be proud of the fact that I actually did go in and set an oxer. Oxers are NOT my favorite jump ... don't know why, it's just a fact. Even at 2'6, it just looks MASSIVE:) Did exactly as I said; set a vertical, 9' to a pole, 9' to the oxer, 2 strides to the coop vertical. The plan was to do it once off each lead doing the 1 to the 2, then once off each lead doing the 2 to the 1.

Still, when I shortened my reins, the baby didn't try and jig off, yay!!:) Trot was nice; made sure he was nice and deep through his neck, and was really using that engine behind. Trotted through the cavs, and he was steady, but a little hollow. Went through a few more times and he kept his shape a little better. Picked up a lovely canter, then cantered into them ... YES! He was PERFECT:) ba bum, ba bum, ba bum, held the left lead and everything! Left lead was so good, I halted, patted him, and rewarded him with a long rein. Reversed, came through on the right, got a smidge long, so came through again, was a smidge short, so came in one more time and nailed it. It wasn't as beautiful as on the left, but it was still pretty damn good.

Cantered in on the left lead RIGHT next to the first half of the triple, and angled in to jump the coop. He felt nice and bold, but very rateable. Came in right lead, angled in, and he was perfect again:) So, no procrastinating! Picked up the left lead, cantered into the vertical, bounced over the pole and FLEW over the oxer, then 2 even strides and out over the coop. He was SO round, WOWZA! I popped up over all 3 jumps, but didn't hit him in the face or back. Patted, came in right, and he SNAPPED his knees over every jump again. Made myself stay down a little better this time, and it felt remarkably steady and even. Left lead into the coop; he was perfect. The 2 was RIGHT there, and of course the 1 was the littlest bit short, as to be expected. Last time off the right lead; he was bold and confident, and STILL jumped the snot out of every jump:) The pole did it's job, and held him off the vertical nicely, causing extreme roundness:)

So wish I'd had a camera person to snap some pics! He just felt like a rock star, and jumped really, really beautifully. I was most pleased that he stretched and made the stride without being quick. I feel like we made some excellent progress this week. The thing I love most about my boy is his capacity to learn and retain. I just hope I can continue to do the right thing and keep him moving forward all the way on up to Training level:):)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

State of mind

My pony has seriously helped get my head back on straight. Had a few nice rides this week; yesterday I jumped for the first time in a bit. Had a bit of an "all purpose" course set; outside line of cabinet to stack, 2 inside crossrails, outside coop with a placing pole. Coop was 2'3, stack is just under 3', and the cabinet I finally set my "scary" poles up:) I'm a big chicken, I think we've established that. The scary poles are 8' poles stacked in a crossrail on TOP of the cabinets. Measures just over 2'6, but jumps bigger since it's a crossrail. Ring was wet, but no puddles. He felt just SUPERB on the warm up! Trot was big and on the bit. My transitions were just LOVELY:) Through my reverses, really worked on using my legs and bending him; he didn't "motorcycle" a single turn. I worked SO hard on staying back, keeping my butt tucked under, and NOT getting leany or perchy. I am the QUEEN of FORWARD;)

Warmed up with trotting both inside x's, then cantered the coop, then halt. Trot jumps were perfect, distance to the placing pole was spot on, through the halt, he is still hollow and pulls me down. So that was yucky, but other stuff was GREAT. Decided not to procrastinate, and did that again, then added on trotting both x's again, then cantered the outside line in a 5. He did NOT care about my stupid scary jump; didn't even look at it. In fact, the 5 was a little tight because he jumped in well.

Did it again; trot jumps were again spot on. I made sure I SAT for my trot transitions; in my last lesson, I was so forward, I just wiggled and pulled on his face for the downwards. Came in a hair long to the placing pole, so I let go in front of the fence and he got a LITTLE quick. Was glad I had the trot transitions coming up so I could get him back to me. Did the outside line in the 4, and it WAS a little quick, darn. I need to figure out how to get the "step" without him being tense and quick. He HAS the step; I'm sure it's something I'm doing that's causing him to get fast. Went through one final time, and he got quick to the pole/coop:( Sat him on his butt for the line, but he got a little *too* deep and caught the pole on the cabinet. Added and did the 5, and he jumped out over the stack fine. Oh, and my stirrups were tied, than goodness!!

Today, I spent a little time walking on contact. Did shoulder in and leg yields BOTH off and back on the rail. There were TONS of puddles. His royal highness really wanted to suck back and get hollow through all the water, but I kept my leg on and rode FORWARD today:) We're eventers now, baby!:) He was lazy, wow! Some good news, though ... when I shorten my reins and put my leg on, NO JIG. I guess our little fight last week stuck in his head. He did NOT jig or anticipate ONCE today or yesterday, yay! I made SURE that before I did a single upward transition from a loose rein, I made him walk on contact first. He felt really good, despite all the water in the ring today.

What I changed was the outside line. Picked up the cabinets so I could just ride between them, and laid the stack jump down to low cavs 9' apart. Rode the walk through them nice and forward, then FINALLY achieved a few perfect trot throughs!!! What I mean by that, is his rhythm didn't change, his back stayed round, and I didn't move at ALL through them. When I reversed direction to the right, and went to trot the cavs, I was a little tired and allowed my shoulder to drop just a little. Total disaster for the Muffin! He tripped, whacked his legs, and tried to jump out of them. Came again, LEG, BREATHE, DONT MOVE THE SHOULDERS. Wow, what a difference! From then on, every time I came in, I stretched TALL and stayed BACK, and he didn't have a problem again the rest of the ride.

I worked on staying slow and rhythmic at the canter through them; that's hard for us. When I sat, it worked pretty well even though it just felt awkward. When I allowed myself to get in a little 2-point, he rushed through it. So, I sat a final time through, he was quiet, I asked for a change ... nothing. Circled, he sped up, got it, then I cantered until he was perfect, then quit there.

My head has been in a bad place now for about a week, and the boy is slowly bringing me back to my usual "happy place".:) I'm generally a very happy person, so I'm glad he's working his magic on me:) Would love to get outside the ring before Saturday, but it has been SO wet, I'm not sure the pastures can even stand me just walking some hills. If I'm in the ring again tomorrow, will set up a little combination down the center of the ring I think; just a one to a two, set ON the step, that I can do both ways. Probably vertical, oxer, vertical. Not too high; 2'6 I think. It's the mechanics of it, NOT the height. LOVE my boy! So proud of our progress; can't wait until we can get out and do a little show some time soon:)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rain, rain, and more rain ...

Total bummer ... hunter pace is postponed until next Saturday:( Which is definitely a pain because I successfully rescheduled all my people for Sunday, and the hippotherapy lady isn't doing any sessions this Sunday. Next weekend, I will have to attempt to reschedule ... again:( Supposedly there's rain coming in tonight around midnight, and there are awful T Storms supposed to come in tomorrow. I guess time will tell.

In the meantime, little muffin survived a solid week of dressage! Wednesday and Thursday were pretty good days:) Wednesday I kept pretty "easy" because my muscles were SORE from our ride on Tuesday! I figured if I was had worked so hard, I was sore, Tiki HAD to be sore, too. So I walked for a good, long time (yakking on the phone), then did some nice trot and canter, pretty much just straight around the ring. Trot felt great; big, forward ... upward transitions were awesome. Once again, the call of the lead change called to me, and I practiced some changes. He got every one clean; stayed MUCH slower this time. I didn't end up 'perching' this time; because his canter was so nice and light, I was able to keep my shoulders back, and my seat SITTING. I quit after he gave me a lovely, light right to left change BEFORE a corner:)

Yesterday, he was just a hair resistive. I had to work a little harder to get him to come down into the contact. He was just a little bit lazier, so I made sure to keep my leg on and my shoulders over my hips. He felt a little stiff in the bridle, so I worked the "thread the needle" exercise. Circle, reverse, circle, reverse. Repeat, repeat. I had to work extra hard to make sure that I didn't let him slow down since we were doing so much 'non forward' work. Stayed on some 20 m circles and did t/c/t/c transitions. Woo Hoo, they were awesome! I then did straightaway t/c transitions, and really watched his head. Occasionally he will hollow his back and give a little head toss during both the upward and downward transition. Tried to keep him between the hand and leg, and did a pretty good job. Worked my canter cues; picked up BOTH the lead and the counter lead. He had about a 90% success rate, which is pretty good! I was happy. Called it quits on a lovely, soft upward t/c transition, then came to a halt. He didn't try and yank me down, so I was super happy.

Today, I just longed because I FINALLY got to go to my chiro yesterday, YAY! My back was so seriously out, I've been sore, so I didn't want to jar things too much by riding today. Did things a little different; longed in a halter and his surcingle. He looked good. Made him do some t/c transitions, which is tough for him. I guess I'll put up the dressage saddle for a few days, and do some hacking out next week. I will probably jump on Monday (or the first day it quits raining!). Trot sets, and probably one day of "field dressage". Hills, then the hunter pace will be here for REAL!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I love my barn owner ...

I arrived at the barn today early enough to get the stalls done and hop on the muffin. When I walked in, Joyce was down at the end of the barn cleaning one of her horse's stalls, which is not unusual ... when the horse is IN it. The horses were all out, she was working on the stall, and as I walked into the barn, everything was CLEAN!:) I asked her what she was doing, and she said she'd wanted to surprise me and be gone before I got there, lol.

My back/neck/head have been really bothering me lately, so finding the gumption to ride and do stalls has been tough. Joyce did the stalls so I could ride in the beautiful 80 degree weather today:) So, got to ride, gave the pony an awesome bath, AND made an appointment with the chiropracter, woo hoo!

Sticking with the plan of riding in the dressage saddle all week; today was totally different from Friday. Walked on a loose rein like normal. Tightened the reins in inch sized increments. Kept my leg on, shoulders back. Slowly continued to shorten until he was WALKING on contact, yay! No jig at all; he even relaxed his back and seeked contact. Trotted, and it was the trot I had by the END of Friday. It's so weird feeling the contact in my hands, and seeing his head so low in front of me. It will become our "new" normal.

Alternated sitting and walk transitions. Did a shallow serpentine on one long side, then a shoulder in down the other. Worked those awesome upward transitions to the canter, and he just feels SO nice and light. Picked up the canter in the most akward places, and he never missed a lead:) Popped off a few "late" lead changes, then got a NICE one that was slow and right where I asked for, so let him quit there. He actually had sweat, and "mayonnaise" between his hind legs; usually when he IS sweaty, it's either 99 degrees, or he was stressed out. This was good, old fashioned "hard work" sweat:):)

Spent about an hour bathing him, then another hour cleaning tack outside while he wandered around the outside of the ring and grazed. Supposed to be mid 70's on Saturday with a chance of showers later, so hopefully the HP is finished before the rain comes. Very excited, can't wait for it!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

You know when ...

... you have a fight with someone you love? You may fight like cats and dogs for a little bit, but eventually you make up and it's all better. That's how it was today. I had high expectations today, I admit it. No matter that I was unable to ride Wed or Thurs. Threw on the dressage tack, headed up to the (rock hard) ring, picked up my contact and went to *march* forward.

Jig. Janet yelled in my head, "LEG! DON'T drop the contact! MORE LEG!!! HAND!!" Soooo ... I kept the contact, legged HARD with spurs, and what happened? He decided to try a levade. What did I do? Smacked the snot out of him between the ears. Back to contact. Leg. Jig. Rinse and repeat.

We fought for about 10 minutes straight. He was PISSED. It was coolish this morning; after 15 minutes, he was foamy. Picked up the trot and it was a million miles an hour. Imitated the "real" dressage riders I'd watched yesterday auditing a Gigi Nutter clinic, and kicked my legs. Me being a (former) hunter princess, I keep my leg quite still. From what I can gather, "real" dressage riders do NOT. Forced a slow(er) post, working against his rhythm, kicked hard, maintained contact, and FINALLY found an OK trot.

I re-evaluated my attitude. I got frustrated, I admit. At home, he does his little thing, I do my usual no contact thing, and I expect us to be as good as when I'm in a lesson. Isn't that the definition of insanity? So, I channeled my inner Janet/Lauren and just cooled down. Maintained that "heavier" contact with the reins, quieted my leg, but definitely USED it, tucked my butt under, sat back, relaxed my arms, breathed, and lo and behold ... the trot we'd achieved on Tuesday.:)

Random observation; the trot feels heavier to me when he's correct. I have more contact than I usually ride him with, I have to KEEP my leg on and NOT let the pace drop off, but I feel like I have much more horse in my hand than we just "go along". When it came time to canter, though, I had SUCH a light horse. The transition was stellar since he was in a correct trot, so our canter transition was very organized and clean. Once at the canter, he was so light and uphill; BOTH directions! Gave him a break, did some circles, leg yields, and shoulder in, then decided to try the whole walk thing again.

Loose rein walk=amazing.

Tiny contact=walk

Leg, little more contact=walk

More leg, more contact=hollow back, tense neck

MORE leg=little better than above

Correct contact, short reins, long arms, WRAPPED legs=jig Jen did NOT over-react. Began walking small figure 8 across the short side. Tiki eventually gives in and walks on contact. Not happily, but correctly. Baby steps, baby steps. Probably doing dressage all week long until next Saturday. What's happening then? HUNTER PACE, baby!!!!!!!!:):)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Continuing the trend ...

Of sheer awesomeness:) Took the muffin out to Patchwork yesterday. Again, he was quiet, quiet, quiet. Put him in the crossties, and he just stood there half asleep. ALMOST talked myself out of not taking the horses since it rained all night Monday night, and was raining Tuesday morning as well. I say horse(s) because I also took little sis' Star so I could give a kidlet a lesson on her.

Of course we had to lesson in the covered since the outdoor was a soupy mess. It was a little on the chilly side, but not too bad:) As per usual, Janet began with critiquing our trot. I feel like we ALWAYS get hung up on it, but the goal is always different. Janet's horses move BEAUTIFULLY. They all have huge, slow, sweeping gaits. My horse does NOT. He has short, quick gaits. Just the way he's built ... or so I thought. I FINALLY achieved the task of big and slow and in a frame. Wow.

WAY more leg (which I knew), and WAY more hand than what I have been riding him with. The contact is the crucial thing (after leg, of course). I just have NOT been riding him with nearly enough contact. Every time I'd be trotting around, Janet would holler "Shorten your reins!" Hmm. I was getting somewhere with him when Janet asked if her daughter, superstar pro rider Lauren, could hop on. In the earliest days, I did NOT want Lauren to ride him because I wanted to see what I could do with him, NOT professional riders/trainers. Where he is now, I'm seeking that consistency; that NEXT level. The clean upward transitions, the clean, precise lead changes. At this point, I would be EXCITED to see a pro on him, just to get some additional feedback.

So, Superstar Lauren got on, took a feel of his mouth, put her leg on, asked for the trot, and WOW. I have NEVER seen a more beautiful trot out of this horse. Think reaching, slow, head down, mouth CLOSED, steady neck. She went both ways, cantered, jumped, popped off a few lead changes, and Janet told her to stop so I could get back on. Lauren then laughed, said how much fun she was having, then hopped off. Her input was that he is SUPER easy. She had thought he would fight her ... he didn't. She was pleasantly surprised that she could actually put her leg on him, and he simply ... went forward. Not jiggy, not unhappily; in fact, he was QUITE happy:)

The diagnosis? He is READY for the "next level". I have "done a beautiful job of doing the hard part; his foundation is fantastic". He's ready to be show ring 'finished' now. I have practically zero experience actually 'finishing' a horse. I have ridden tough ones, young ones, green ones ... all to the point that Tiki's at now. And then they've been sold, and I started over with another one. I learned that my idea of contact, and the REAL idea of contact are 2 totally different things. Janet and Lauren assured me that I will not get him behind the bit if I actually take a FEEL of his mouth. It's what he NEEDS. I need to quit being "wishy washy", sit UP, and tell him how I want him to go. Hacking around on a loose rein is great every once in a while ... not every day. I now feel how he is SUPPOSED to feel. I need to recreate yesterday; I KNOW I can! It was a fantastic day, and I'm so grateful for my wonderful boss and her superstar daughter. Worked for a solid hour and a half; the time just FLEW by!

As a total aside, I asked for the 2'6 vertical to go up to 3' for my 'last time' through the little course we did. As I cantered up to it, I literally thought how small it looked, lol. Guess that happens when you jump a solid 3'3 coop, and ramped stacked wood thing:) We missed just a hair to it, but I sat still, he stayed in a slow, beautiful rhythm, and caught just a slight deep spot to it. Janet was happy with it, though, so we quit there. Supposed to be beautiful the rest of the week, so I will be working to recreate my "real horse" gaits!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Holy smokes!!!

In the BEST way possible! Muffin has NEVER felt better than today on the xc field. We were in sync, he was BRAVE, he was QUIET ... it was flat out amazing. Usually we have a minimum of ONE jump where he stutters off the ground. NOT today, woo hoo! No stops, no stutters, no hiccups. Guess I'm doing SOMETHING right, lol;) He's well on his way to being a xc machine!

Started off in the stadium ring. He was super quiet and comfortable. Did a little w/t/c, then opened up to a gallop, then back to a canter. Trotted a crossrail twice, then came to the other side of the ring and did a little skinny x, to the one next to it. I then cantered into a jump with 4 blue barrels lying down, and quit with that. Nicole and Marisa jumped a few more, but I sat those out. Honorary little sis Nicole was kicking butt and taking names with Sparky! He jumped GREAT over a little bit of a spooky vert with a red gate, and then jumped a nice sized BN oxer. We made our usual way over to the lincoln logs, and hopped out over them. I went first, and Tiki was just perfect:)

Our normal hanging logs had been "fixed". They had new trees on them and had been cleaned out. Also, they seemed a *hair* bigger than before. He didn't even look. Came into the 2 stride planning on a 3, and he TOTALLY could have done the 2, no problem. Decided not to dwell, and made it over to the ditches. Um, ok. They had RUNNING WATER running through them, lol! As a result, weenie me decided to just do the little ditch, let him LOOK at the big one, then forget about it for the day:)

Strung together a funky Y-shaped log to the big bank going up, left hand turn to the bridge jump. Not even a hesitation. Reversed that; the bridge to the big bank going down, tight right turn to the funky Y-log. He SAILED off the bank, woo hoo! Guess he remembered that one from Chatt Hills. Came into the train barrels, and he actually cruised in and took a little long spot, WOW. He usually sits back, peeks, and gets the deep one. NOT today! Did the bridge to the barrels, and he was a perfect little rock star:)

Time to head over to the water. I started to come into the little open-faced coop. Um ... the hunter pace we're doing in 2 weeks said some of the jumps could be up to 3' coops. So ... I let him scratch his head on the massive 3' red coop, put on my big girl panties, and came into it! He was a ROCK STAR! Didn't look or hesitate; perfect! Decided instead of doing that one again to go to the ramped coop that looked around the same height as the red one. Let him see it, then came in ... not a problem in the LEAST. And it WAS big; the biggest solid jump we've done:)

Jumped the cabin next to the water wheel; NO issue, overjump, look, anything. THEN Nicole decided she and Sparky were doing the Novice cabin with the hole and the doggy. He was SO good! Little Napolean Dynamite. What an awesome boy! So then Marisa and Pony did it. That pair is so dynamite:) So, due to Peer Pressure, I let him see it, then headed in to the Novice cabin ... and he did NOT CARE. AT ALL. Hot damn! Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finished up in the water. He walked in with no hesitation. Then dropped in and cantered out, no problem. Then trotted in, and jumped out of the BIG drop, yay!!!!! It was about the same size as the "dry" big bank, but it rode so much bigger because of the water; and after all the rain we've had, the complex was, uh, full lol:)

The final jump we did was the BENCH. The one I ran him at last time, and he slammed on the brakes 5 strides away. Let him see it, watched the Pony do it twice, then swallowed my nerves and picked up my canter. NO PROBLEM. NO hesitation, no fear. Just a nice forward canter, and a lovely hop over it. Came back on it, same. Jumped it one final time back into the stadium arena, and again, he was just perfect. Patted the heck out of him, hopped off, and tied him to the trailer.

SO MAD!!!!!!!!!!!! Took 29 pics; most of them non action shots. But did make sure to get one of all of us holding our babies, and sitting on our babies. Nicole and I then walked around the course and took pics of the "big jumps" we did. I then put the card in the drive, re-named them, then deleted them ... BEFORE I MOVED them. UGH!!!!!!! How stupid can I be????? Tried as hard as I could to "undo" the delete, but they're gone. I am pissed beyond belief. All I have is a 6 second video of the bench which is better than NOTHING, but not by much. Oh well, nothing I can do! Will just have to get some good pics next time we head out:(

Friday, March 11, 2011

Trying to transition from wanna be ...

... to the "real thing"! Super excited to be just one beautiful day away from our first xc outing since Dec 5th:) Looking forward to seeing my gal pals Marisa and Nicole; I need some friend time! Hoping I can get a little bit of Nicole's bravery and get Muffin over the bench jump. I will hop over the dreaded wide ditch several times ... HATE that thing! But maybe if I can finally get over my dislike of it, Tiki will too. One can always hope:)

Did a little dressage school yesterday and ended up schooling some lead changes. His first one was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I think he surprised himself by how good it was! Kept going, and ended up popping off somewhere around 6 changes. They were *good*, but he DID get fast and try to run through them. Finished up by doing a pair of simple changes through a walk and a big pat on the neck. For the work before I did the changes, I kept him pretty much on a 20 m circle. Worked on transitioning from a SLOW sitting trot to the canter. He was NOT too happy about that, and did try and get heavy on me, but I kept at it until he relaxed and got happier:)

I seriously need a chiro adjustment, so today I swallowed down 800 mg of ibuprofen and worked on some "being seen in public" grooming necessities;) Clipped his ears with scissors, trimmed his mane, clipped his bridle path, clipped his whiskers, cleaned up the underside of his jaw, trimmed the fetlock feathers, and tried my hand at "eventerizing" his tail. I banged it ... then banged it some more. I then took the clippers to the sides of his tail until the clippers were so bogged down with hair they basically quit on me. I will NOT pull his tail; but I WILL mess with the clip thing until I get it right. I think I made a good start today, and will continue to work on it this week.

It's going to be a spectacular weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Half way through the week ...

Well, we're at Wednesday. I'm not heading into work tonight because we had some torrential downpours this morning. Yes, we have a covered ring ... however, that does NOT keep out mud, wind, lightning, and wet horses. Considering I only had 3 people today ... I rescheduled for Saturday! Also, with gas prices over $3.50 a gallon, it's nice to save my hour long one-way trip.

I am sore from not riding for a week! Monday, I had a nice hack in the ring; used his waterford, and rode a lovely w/t/c. Tracking right, I actually dropped my stirrups and did a nice collected sitting trot to a canter. His upward transitions are feeling SO nice; much more organized. Ended up popping over the outside line of cabinet to small cav stack jump. Trotted in/cantered out in a 5. Actually felt GREAT over the trot jump (since we ALL know Jen can NOT trot jumps;)), and the 5 felt super. Decided to canter in and get the step. He got it, but he got REALLY fast. Which ... he IS a jumper, so where do you draw the line? I feel like he needs to be SLOW and CONSISTENT before I "allow" him to be "fast".

Cantered in again with the intention of getting the stride, and he basically RAN through my aids; so I snatched him up and circled him. Came again, moved up early so the 4 was there, and it felt much better. Kept cantering, and cantered the add, he got it well, so let him quit.

Yesterday, I did my 8/2 trot/canter sets. He was a little bit spooky. In his defense, it was SUPER windy, cloudy, and fairly brisk. Even when he is a little spook monster, I always feel so safe on him. I never worry about him spinning out from under me. LOVE my little muffin:)

As above mentioned, today has been a total deluge with flash floods and a bit of thunder, so I just cleaned stalls, bought groceries, and came home. The rest of the week is supposed to have a warming trend with BEAUTIFUL weather this weekend, which is good because I'm planning to bring Nicole and meet up with Marisa at the LOVELY Calimar Farm on Sunday, woo hoo! It will be our first xc outing since the Oxer Farm show in December. Yay! SO happy:) Planning to do a dressage school tomorrow, maybe a little jumping on Friday in prep for Sunday. Super excited, can't wait!!!:)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Not a whole lot going on

I have been sick. Yucky, uber, awful, stomach virus sick:( Therefore, my pony has done pretty much ... yep, NOTHING this week.

Tuesday I rode in the dressage tack in the ring. I thought about LOW frame. Something the judge from our IEA show said about one of the horses in the ring, "He needs to learn to seek the earth". Hmm, got me thinking. Tiki gets very upright, behind the bit, and tense. Seems to me that "seeking the earth" might be a good thing for his royal highness. So, I began the ride on basicaly no contact. Within minutes, Tiki was trotting with his nose on the ground. Interesting! He's never done that before. I rode the whole ride like that; encouraging him to reach down and stretch and go forward. It was a cool ride, I feel like I found another tool in my toolbox.

Wednesday, I tacked in his "cross country" stuff, and we made our way to the front pasture I always used to ride in before the ring was finished. It was an interesting ride. He was a little fresh, a little distracted. No headshaking and leaping in the air, like he did 2 years ago! Eventually, he did settle. I had to work really hard to get him to stretch and reach; he gets in the field and wants to be quick and choppy. Lots of circles, lots of leg, and lots of no-nonsense forwardness. Ended up well. He didn't feel soft and stretchy, but I was satisfied with the horse I had at the end of the ride.

Thursday was my birthday, and I jumped on for 4.8 seconds with his halter to walk hills. Friday, I woke up with The Bug. I couldn't even get out of bed. Every time I rolled over, I threw up; it was HORRIBLE! I had SO much to do since our IEA Regionals were on Saturday. My friend Becca called me, realized how bad off I was, and took care of my entire day for me. I did have to call in sick to Joyce, but Becca drove an hour and a half out to me, picked up Star and Tiki, got them to Rising Fawn, got on and rode them, then her own Captain. Saturday, she got on him again and warmed him up, and he had reached rockstar status. I managed to somehow get through Saturday, phew. My team ONCE AGAIN made it forward on to Zones. We managed to pull a Reserve Champion out of our rear ends, so it's on to Sewanee, TN and the University of the South.

Since then, I've been off and on. I'll feel better one day, then crappy the next. I haven't ridden all week. Hopefully I can get on tomorrow and Friday, then get back in a good place next week. Got a date for a xc schooling at Calimar with my friend Marissa, woo hoo! March 13 is that date. Hunter pace on March 26, then vacay, then who knows???!