Friday, April 29, 2011

Still standing ...

after all the horrifying tornados this past week. WOW, what a MESS. Thank God we and the horses were all fine. Our county schools have been closed for the past 2 days. Kody's play for this evening was cancelled since the kids haven't practiced since Monday night, but is on for tomorrow and Sunday. I hacked bareback Tuesday, and had PLANNED to ride in the ring Wednesday, but the wind ... WOW, the wind. It was positively scary! Thursday, got the Muffin out to groom/tack up, and discovered some pretty significant swelling on his right hock. There was a spot that looked like it may have been a little puncture, and the area around the inside of the hock area was very swollen and had a definite hot spot. I went ahead and took him up to the ring and got on to walk; closed my eyes and concentrated on his gait; not lame. Picked up a trot ( which actually felt REALLY nice ), and again ... not lame. So, I lightly worked him for about 15 minutes, thinking that may help the swelling go down. I then cold hosed for 20 minutes, then painted with DMSO/cortisone. Today, it looks MUCH better. Virtually no swelling, and no heat, phew:) Went ahead and cold hosed again for 10 mins, and applied the DMSO mixture again, just in case. Hopefully Monday I can get back on track with some sort of a riding schedule.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Advanced level events

(pic is of "Razz", a horse at IEA Zone Finals that reminded me SO much of the Squeaky Tiki!)

For anyone that's read my blog from the beginning, somewhere during the first year, I make some comment about finding the right job for my horse, and I mention something about maybe a "baby, amoeba level" horse trial. Well ... I have wondered lately what it would FEEL like to ride an advanced level course. Make no mistake ... I am a wimp. However ... one can always wonder!

I think for me, even PRETENDING to aim any higher than Training means that I have to buckle down and dedicate myself not only to getting fit, but losing weight, and finding ways to get some more meaningful competition. I have no illusions that Tiki will ever run a Prelim; I honestly don't feel that his front end is good enough. I've seen Ashdale Cruise Master hang his leg now in TWO 4* competitions and turn himself over. I have NO desire to ever experience that. But I can't lie and say that somewhere deep inside me, the urge to gallop out of the start box at an Advanced level event is never there.

ANYWAY! Rode the muffin man bareback (Fleece half pad and Thinline) around his pasture today ... in the halter and leadrope ... after he hadn't been ridden in 5 days ... on an eerily blustery day. Can't decide what I want to do this week. Considering taking the stirrups off my saddles and maybe doing 2 weeks with no stirrups? I need to do that again; even though I was MISERABLE riding sans stirrups for a whole month, that needs to be in my future some time soon.

Planning to FINALLY show my horse 3'; ME show him 3':) There's a farm about an hour from here putting on a hunter/jumper schooling show, and they're offering jumper classes from 18" up to 3'6. Since I haven't done straight jumpers in over a year, I thought this might be a fun thing to go to and take advantage of. That will be May 15, the Saturday before we leave for our yearly vacay. Heading north to Massanutten, VA! Scrapped our epic cross country drive because the gas prices are SO HIGH. So, we headed to our local travel agent and booked a week at a ski resort in the mountains of VA:) We've only stayed in VA once, when we took a 5 day vacay to Williamsburg. Good things, good things!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Hope all of my friends in Blogger Land have a wonderful easter! My son has his NINTH birthday party today. Wow. He's half way to an adult! I love my boy; he is an amazing kid. Next week, he debuts in his first "real" play. He was in his Christmas play at the elementary school as the lead, but he only had maybe 6 lines? This play, he is playing "Winthrop" from the musical, "The Music Man". It is the High school Spring production; he auditioned for it and was chosen! He has 2 solos to sing and WAY more than 6 lines:) Can't wait for it!

On the horsey front, Muffin had his butt handed to him on Thursday. Had a lesson with Susan; he came down BEAUTIFULLY into the bridle. She was SO excited. My trot/canter transitons were stellar. His right lead canter was LOVELY. So soft and balanced; it was just fantastically amazing:) My spiral in/out at the trot was actually very nice both directions, and he walked back and forth over a blue tarp without much of a fuss:) I wish I could go compete on him; our dressage test would probably be pretty damn good. There was a CT at Poplar Place today I would have loved to go to, but previously mentioned birthday party was a LEETLE more important.

Well, happy egg hunting tomorrow! I will update my horsey stuff as it happens:) Hug your ponies!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Love, love, love!

I am so happy:) I am the luckiest girl in the world to have my little muffin man. My boss (Janet) trains and deals with 6 figure horses every day. She actually LIKES my horse. I know for a fact she does, because I've seen her deal with ship in clients where she DOESN'T like the horse. She says he's a "neat little horse!" We discussed his way of going a bunch today. I worked for probably a year and a half on NO contact. I've read back in my blog where I did the loose rein/one rein stop schools. It took me a long time to get him to where I COULD actually ride him with a consistent rhythm and no contact. Janet says some trainers really do believe that philosophy, but she doesn't because it just takes too long.

I made my usual mistake of wiggling my reins back and forth. I didn't post a million miles an hour, but I was still too fast. I was using some of my dressage feedback, and posting higher to help regulate my pace. Janet had me soften up and post lower. Lol. Multi-discipline/Multi-trainer lessons CAN be a challenge, lol! Pitfall of being bound and determined to do this thing MYSELF and not rely on anyone to call my actual "trainer". Vowed to slow myself down and get him where I had him with Gigi last week. Got him there, and then Janet had me get him "3 notches lower" so he could just relax and release his back. It took me about half an hour, but I finally got him there ... on my own:) I actually used my leg effectively, and because I was maintaining a more consistent connection thanks to my Gigi lesson, he kept a great rhythm.

The trot right before my canter work was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. He was in a low, slow, ground covering trot, and it was LIGHT. WOW!!:) My canter work was GREAT. He felt much softer than he had during the dressage lesson, weirdly enough. My transitions were decent; Janet was having me work on keeping his topline round during the transition itself, which as y'all know, I've been working on for infinity;) I did an ok job, yay!

FINALLY got to jump around in the big ring! Haven't jumped around there since the lesson I took right before my horse trial in October. We warmed up over a box/gate set at 2'3. Cantered in on each lead, just working on consistency. Missed a few times, and Janet gave me some feedback. Did a little course of inside single oxer, outside line, inside single oxer set around 2'9. I specifically said how much I hated square oxers, especially ones over 2'6. He jumped the SNOT out of the jumps the first time through, lol! Janet wanted me to work on his rideability between the jumps. He was a little bit wild! Big, open ring, he was like WOO HOO!!! Also, I was sitting lightly vs. sitting down. After a little bit of experimenting, Janet determined she likes me best sitting to the jump. Keeps him the most organized and relaxed. She also gave me some great advice; don't let the "voices" in my head cause me to overanalyze. JUST RIDE, AND MAKE A DECISION. So, on my last time through, I moved up to the first oxer, nailed the line coming in, made sure I got the "step" (AND it wasn't too fast, yippee!), and rode a little deep spot to the final oxer, but all were good because I sat up and rode for each spot.

All in all, a GREAT day:) LOVE my boy! He is the bee's knees. No matter what the content of my lessons are, I always get something out of them to go home and work on. Lots and lots of tools for the toolbox:)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Random musings ...

Ya know ... to some people, a 3' jump is "small". I am NOT one of those people, lol! ESPECIALLY when that 3' jump is a substantial square oxer.

My horse is actually very lazy at home.

I have tied my stirrups to the girth often enough that I feel like maybe my leg doesn't slide back as much as it used to.

Now that I've learned the concept of contact and connection, my horse trots like a rockstar!

Yes, I CAN actually ride with a dressage whip!

I LOVE the smell of Vetrolin liniment.

My horse really enjoys scratching his head on a towel.

For a chestnut, he really is most excellent about NOT getting skin funk (knock on wood!).

I love my Thinline pad.

I love my T-boots.

I REALLY need a haircut so I can wear my 'nicer' helmet!

I wish I could figure out how I can compete more often.

My horse makes me really, really happy:)

Jumped through the gymnastic today. Removed the pole from between the post and rail and the oxer. Jumped through at 2'6. Raised all to 2'9. He was so quiet coming in to the first vertical that the 18' between that and the oxer rode SO long:( He made a flying leap over the oxer, and I yanked him out so he didn't kill himself trying to jump out over the coop. Came through on the left lead instead of the right, and he was a little more forward. THAT time, it rode GREAT! Reversed and came into the coop first, off the right lead, and he felt amazing going through. Hopped off one more time and jacked them ALL up to 3'. I ALMOST had talked myself into leaving the oxer at 2'9 because I'm just a big weenie, but I didn't. I'm GLAD I didn't. Came in on the left lead the one to the two, and he jumped huge and lovely. Reversed one final time and came in right lead the two to the one, and he actually felt MUCH better that way today than he did last week when ALL I did was the triple at 2'6. So, other than the one incident when we came in quiet and he just didn't take me at ALL to the combo, he was a total superstar:) LOVE my boy! Thinking I will actually walk hills "bareback" (fleece half pad with the Thinline;)) tomorrow. Going to try and con a lesson from Janet on Monday, and then I've got a lesson with Susan set for next Thursday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

videos from yesterday

This is her initial evaluation. Some great pearls of wisdom there!

The "meaty" trot work. My videographer didn't get the canter work because she had to tack up that adorable gray for her own lesson!

Monday, April 11, 2011

"You have a nice horse"

Those 5 little words (4? Does 'a' count as a word?) made my entire day. Had my lesson with Gigi Nutter today, and despite my inability to keep my elbows bent, Tiki looked like a rockstar. For those of you that have watched the various videos I've posted over the last 2 years, y'all have NEVER seen him look this good:)

She taught me the REAL way to get a "frame", and gave me some very valuable insights. Timing wise, I have been VERY off. I was taught to hold the outside rein taught, then wiggle, wiggle, wiggle the inside rein to get the head down. I have been taught to spread my hands really wide and squeeze right, left, right, left, right, left, etc. I have been taught to squeeze inside rein when I'm down in my post, outside rein when I'm up. I have used all of these various techniques to get Tiki's head down, which is why 2 years later he still has no concept of really carrying himself and being "through". Because EVERY time he'd get the connection, I would drop it.

Gigi utilizes the 'flexion' rein (inside), where she wants me to use that to position his inside eye in line with the point of shoulder, then squeeze the ring fingers on the outside rein periodically at critical times. When I give, I tend to give TOO much. Even half an inch is too much. I need to SOFTEN, but NOT give him the rein because then he bobbles and loses that steadiness.

She said I have a nice seat, and I sit the canter well:) Yay, I CAN do something right! Definitely a breakthrough day, for sure. I have broken the video up into 2 segments; the "evaluation", and more of a consistent trot and contact. I will work hard and do my homework, and hopefully I can get to another of Gigi's clinics next month. I can't do a ton of them because they're not cheap, but they're absolutely a worthwhile investment! I will post a separate blog with the links to the videos because they're not finished uploading yet!!:)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ghetto longeing ...

(sorry for the bad pic!)

Wow. I am so ghetto, lol! Longed in the halter with the bridle sans noseband. Why Halter? So I could attach the longe line to it and not have to switch every time I changed direction, of course! Duh! Pic is terrible; he looks really fuzzy (he's not), and he looks like a monkey. Every time I whipped out the phone to snap a pic, he would slow down and shoot me a quizzical "Wha ...?"

I've been watching the Advanced dressage posted on Eventing Nation at the Fork. I figure Tiki ought to look like that, so I slapped on the side reins, cracked the whip, and sent him in a circle around me. Lol. He does look MUCH better, though. He comes into contact much more consistently, and doesn't get so behind the bit any more. I also don't have to nag the crap out of him to just go FORWARD. He gets it. I made him do lots of transitions both directions. Tightened the side reins 4 notches, watched him with a critical eye, then tightened 2 more notches the other way. Reversed ONE more time, because he appeared to really lay on his side tracking left. Tightened JUST the left side rein 2 additional notches, then made him w/t/w/t/c/t/c/w. He looked much better with that much contact; let him be done from there.

Super exciting news. I'm going with Susan on Monday to RIDE in a Gigi Nutter clinic, woo hoo! This is thanks to my wonderful, fabulous, incredible barn owner. She is the best. I hope that some day I can win the lottery and shower her with lots and lots of fun stuff:) I'm super nervous, but super excited too. I think Tiki and I both will really benefit from her input, and continue to progress forward.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Breakin' it

Wow, my thumb hurts SOOO bad. I jammed it over a particularly ... enthusiastic jump over a large-ish coop on the hunter pace. My general muscle soreness is abating, thank goodness. I didn't ride the muffin man yesterday, but I did palpate his back and he was pretty perfect. I was concerned that if I was so sore I could barely walk, he may have some soreness as well. If he did, it was not apparent.:)

Did a quick, light hack in the dressage tack today. He actually was nicely forward (I would hope so, since he stayed in his stall last night due to bad T-storms), but very agreeable and ungrouchy. The trot is starting to lighten up, but I am still really making sure I sit UP, use lots of leg, and drive him forward all the time into the bridle. I think maybe he's just learning to carry himself better. After trotting and cantering both directions pretty much just around the ring, I put my (almost) 9 year old up there and let him cool Tiki out. The muffin is so awesome; he was a perfect gentleman as he carted around my precious cargo. It was in the upper 50's today, while it had been mid 80's yesterday! Holy cold front, Batman! Fun day, though. I had a semi-day off because my kidlets are on spring break, so even though I did stalls, I didn't have to drive the hour into Canton to teach.

Not sure what I'm doing this week since the son will be with me every day. Probably won't jump much, if at all, since he had a big day Saturday. I may go through the gymnastic once or twice since it's still set. Guess we'll see what the week brings!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Horse Trial

Just a quick note. Firstly, I wanted to post the link to the pro pics from the Chatt Hills ht. I never posted it here on the blog!
Secondly, I wanted to put it out there that I've decided my one recognized ht this year will be Poplar Place in September. LOVE me some Chatt Hills, but if I can only afford to do one ht, I want to do a different one. GORGEOUS day today! I am SO STINKING SORE today, lol:)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

AND ... it happened:)

The hunter pace, that is! Wow. What a BEAUTIFUL track it was! 8 miles of old hunt country on the property of the steeplechase racetrack. I managed to convince honorary little sis to come with me since poor Becca's bun is seriously causing her some back/hip pain. Yesterday I finally got out of the ring and walked hills in the mare's back pasture. He did great until the FINAL one, and he decided to throw a little hissy and kick up a little bit. He was NOT happy that I was making him march up and down on contact. So, since he decided to be a twit, made him do an extra:)

Nicole and I were the 2nd team to head out. The grass felt absolutely amazing; soft and squishy but not too wet. Started with a nice, leisurely walk up and down hills in beautiful, wide open fields. N and I caught up on life and chatted until we got through the woods and sighted in on our first jump! A nice, stout coop with sort of a sketchy takeoff out of the woods. Star tried to be a spook monster and stopped at it at first, but then N circled and she went. Thank GOD I'd put Muffin's neck strap on; grabbed it, and he jumped the coop so huge I got jumped out of the tack. No stop and leap, no stutter, just WAY overjump!

We kept walking and chatting until we found the 2nd coop; it was a little MORE stout, but in a more friendly location. Cantered up, found a decent spot, and he still jumped out of his skin. Weaved in and out of the woods, carried a nice xc type gallop, and came upon a wall of stacked up boulders. It was not hugely TALL, but it was kind of wide with a lot of weeds, and this one had a sketchy landing. Found an ok spot, and he jumped the snot out of it! Rode for about an hour and 40 mins; had a couple of FLAT OUT (my favorite!) gallops, showed off our new and improved trot to little sis, and hung on his face most of the time while he tried to pull my arms out! I will be SORE tomorrow, no doubt:) Found a few excellent distances to the coops, found one AWFUL distance that resulted in a colossal crash on his neck so hard I jammed my thumb pretty badly. All the stone walls felt good (about 4 total), and even one of them had a drop on the back side:) Crossed a few small creeks, trotted in and out of puddles and he could have cared less.

There will be another hp on the steeplechase land in October; I would LOVE to do it again. Really enjoyed myself:) Took the ponies back to the barn, hosed them both, put them away, and headed to PWF to teach lessons. Finally home and fed, and I am EXHAUSTED. What an amazing day!!!!