Monday, May 30, 2011

Love my red head!

OK. My horse was SO good today. Wow, he was amazing. You would have had NO idea that he's had the last 2 weeks off. What a good little muffin! You'd have thought I'd just had a Gigi lesson, or something!:)

Last minute, threw on the dressage saddle. Let him walk on a loose rein both ways, then cantered in a light 2-point, then got to work. Made him walk on contact; turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, shoulder in, leg yield, and actually worked a little haunches in. He's very reactive to my outside leg, and when I ask him to move his haunches over, he usually tries to jolt into a canter. Since I was working on shoulder/haunches in, I tortured myself with a fair amount of sitting trot. He was SO good. I LOVE my horse. At this point, he was quite sweaty; it was about 90 degrees at 9:30 in the morning.

On the right lead upward transition, picked up the canter from a halt ... on the correct lead:) He did feel very strong at the canter, but not the least bit bucky or prone to airs above the ground. Worked the rein contact, kept my leg on and steady, and got a nice carriage. On the left lead, nailed a BEAUTIFUL walk/canter transition, rode a nice big circle, halted. On the halt, he did NOT yank or pull on me. He stopped with a nice, lovely uphill frame. Quit there. Don't know what I'll do tomorrow; possibly dressage saddle again, not sure! Didn't expect the boy's most excellent behavior today, it was a nice treat.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nothing to report

Haven't posted a blog in 2 weeks because I haven't ridden in 2 weeks! Last week, I had TONS to do to get ready for our vacation this past week. And, from Saturday to yesterday, was in Virginia on vacation. It was AMAZING. The Shennandoah Valley is absolutely freaking beautiful. We stayed in a ski resort in Massanutten, just outside of Elkton. Um ... I may have to abandon my dream of living in Tennessee, and move to the Shennandoah Valley instead! They even had sweet tea!;)

Miss my boy; haven't seen him since Friday a week ago. I'm hoping for some really big, life changing decisions to go well soon. I'm at a crossroads right now ... mid life crisis, maybe? I don't know. Not sure 32 counts as "mid life". All I know is a LOT of things in my life need to change, and I'm praying for the strength and wisdom to make the RIGHT decisions. Good thoughts (and prayers if you are so inclined) are appreciated. My vacation was a real, necessary break for me. Now it's back to reality; looking forward to getting my boy back to work this week!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Belts, bats, and other trinkets ...

When you go to a show where there's jumping involved, you imagine ALL the different ways you could get eliminated ...
-fall off
-go off course
-3 refusals
-missing the start timers
-missing the finish timers
-forget to buckle the chin strap on your helmet
These are all the things that can prevent you winning a coveted blue ribbon when you're the only person riding in the class. Thank goodness I didn't do any of those things, lol!;) Looks like my lucky belt is still holding strong!

Arrived bright and early so I could coach my kid in the hunters this morning. She took home Champion, which is a FAR cry from where she finished in her last show, so good for her. Tiki hung out tied to the trailer most of the day, except when I took pity on him and let him graze for a bit.

Didn't make my usual mistake and rush around. I got on in PLENTY of time and went into the field to warm up. Tiki was a POOP HEAD!:( AGH! He can be really frustrating sometimes. He was chill, chill, chill. Loaded great, unloaded sweat free, and as I said; just hanging around with no issues. As SOON as I set foot in the field, he wanted to start jigging, tail swishing, and shaking his head. Stayed relaxed and didn't pick a fight; just walked 2 laps around on a loose rein. Picked up contact at the walk, and he walked very slowly; the trot was decent, but maybe too slow I feel like. Rode it until he chilled and got a good rhythm. The canter was not as good; very strong, bouncy, and inverted. If/when I have to perform a dressage test in grass, don't look for a good score from us!:(

Cantered a TINY little half of a barrel jump. He jumped it awful; bounced my leg completely off the saddle. Ugh. Cantered into the little brush box; didn't feel too much better. Jumped both jumps as a line, and he literally cross cantered the entire time. AGH!! Lol. My friend Becca put a pole over both jumps (which made them about a whopping 2'), and he was mildly, sort of, a little bit better. Kept at it until he actually assessed the jump and did a good job, then set to walking around the property until it was jumper time! I didn't let him stop, just kept letting him toodle around on a loose rein. FINALLY! It was time.

Becca did rock/paper/scissors with my other competitor, and LOST, so I had to go first:) I'm visual, so I really like to watch the course before I ride it, but I knew it, so in I went! A gray box, left turn to a green vertical, 6 strides sort of down the middle to a ONE STRIDE (that we did in ONE, woo hoo!!), tight right to a blue and white oxer, long bending to a white vertical, left turn to an "end" jump, continuing left to the outside line, finishing with the in green of the other outside line. I rode it JUST like I was warming up an IEA course. I really waited and sat back, and he felt good, normal, got the one, didn't jump HUGE over anything ... I know I missed 2 leads, but I didn't even THINK about them. The jumpoff, I went a LITTLE more forward, then galloped over the finish line, but it was clean:) My competitor had a stop, so blue ribbon #1.

2'9 was WEIRD! A green/green long bending, around the the blue and white oxer to the gray (jumped the gray VERY angled), to the outside line, to the one backwards, yank left and weave around some jumps, to the end jump, to the other in of the outside line going the other way. ALMOST fell off over the red oxer coming out of the outside line. It was a 4, he was forward enough I *thought* he was going, so I went, but he didn't, which resulted in a very ugly jump. Recovered, though, and he was clean. Was VERY forward in the jumpoff, and beat our time by .2 seconds, lol. Competitor had a rail, so we won again.

3'!!! FINALLY! I was nervous as heck!!! Back to course A again, which was definitely a better riding course. He jumped the one HUGE, and I got a little jumped out of the tack, but recovered nicely. Finished the last jump, and I threw my arms around his neck. WE DID IT!!! Even though it was me, my horse, and the jumps, I did the jumpoff anyway. Rode more conservatively, he was clean again, and I was THREE seconds slower than my 2'9 course. I jumped 14 jumps at 3'. I have not done that in 15 years. We did it! I was so proud of my boy:) Going on vacation not this coming week, but next week, and I think he will appreciate the time off. Will probably just goof around this week, then get back to it upon my arrival back home. LOVE my pony! My goal is if my Poplar HT goes well this September, to make the move to Novice next season. I think I won't even notice the change in terms of the xc, but I definitely notice in the stadium, so I will get some cheap mileage at the schooling shows whenever I can!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's here ... if the rain doesn't spoil it!

My horseshow, that is! FINALLY showing my own horse 3'. It's been roughly 15 years since I've shown 3' or above. Hopefully I won't make a fool of myself! Possibility of pop up showers tomorrow, but hopefully late enough that we'll be finished. This week has been GREAT.

After the fresh little bucky bucky episode on Monday, Tuesday was MUCH better. I did ride in the dressage saddle down in the front field by the road. Despite Susan working with a difficult horse trying to load right across the street, I would say I had my absolute BEST flatwork I've ever had in that field. He was consistent, soft, relaxed, and responsive. I was VERY pleased by how workmanlike he was about the whole thing.

Wednesday I waited and rode with honorary little sis at 8:30 in the evening. Wasn't sure how that would go, because as I got him out of his stall, he pulled me towards the gate going OUT to his pasture. When he realized I intended to put him in the washrack, he planted his feet and tried to be a turd about going in. I tacked him SUPER quick, and headed up to the ring. I was up there for about 15 minutes before Nicole and Sparky made it up, and we had some actual very nice trot work. The canter was so LIGHT. WOW! It felt absolutely amazing. LOVED IT! Went ahead and trotted an inside vertical single that about 2'. He felt totally DEAD to it. Trotted the other inside single that was now a crossrail. DEAD. Cantered into the bounce to the cabinet (low, no poles on top), and he broke to the trot right in front, which really is pretty rare for him. We made it through and did 4 strides down to the cabinet. By this time, Nicole had made it up and was warming up pretty quick. I went back to the flatwork, and he was not nearly as good with it getting pretty dark, and there being another horse in the ring. The canter was still super light, but the trot was much more stiff and choppy. I worked it until he loosened back up and strided out a bit more, then just jumped around the 2 outside lines and 2 inside singles like I did last week. This time, nothing was bigger than 2'; good thing since he jumped everything like it WAS 3'. FINALLY, he woke up, and took me down to the jumps. They all felt decent; like I said, he put in a little extra effort, but on the bright side, he didn't touch a pole! When I did the inside vertical, popped off a clean flying change, and jumped a nice crossrail, I let him be done.

Thursday, I had an appointment for a haircut (FINALLY! My helmet fits!!:D), so I just cleaned stalls and left. Today, I rode again in the dressage tack. He was a ROCK. STAR. I didn't recognize my horse. He came RIGHT into the contact, he was stretching, he was forward, he was relaxed. I did the shallow serpentine exercise, and he was lovely. Worked on extended trot down the long side, and it felt good. Did a few turns-on-the-haunches, and I *think* they're not bad. Worked some w/t/w/t/halt transitions, and he maintained his topline beautifully, not getting flat and hollow at ALL!:) The canter transitions were prompt and lovely. Did a really nice reverse across a diagonal at the canter with a simple change through the walk, and it was perfect. Tried something I've never asked him for. A halt/canter transition. It was almost a perfect 10. Came down to the trot, worked it for a second, then let him be done. He was SO wonderful today, he earned the stop.

Loading up and leaving out at 6:30 am, wish us luck!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fresh pony lately!

I don't know what's been in the air lately, but Muffin has been a FRESH pony! I know he's been going out regularly because there has been NO rain the past week or so, so I'm a bit befuddled. After my "wild ride" on Wednesday, I longed him Thursday in the sidereins. He was good; I worked transitions, which is always a challenge on the longe. No fireworks; he was pretty steady. Friday, I rode in the dressage saddle. He wasn't bad; he felt a little resistant at first, but worked in pretty nicely. Did one lead change, and it wasn't very good. After working some lateral stuff, I gave him a break, then decided to ride my beginner novice test B, which I haven't done since the December Oxer Farm show. He was a little bit of a turd! He totally changed! Whether it was the fact that he felt he should be done, or whether he KNEW what we were doing, I don't know. He was a little crooked down the centerline, got a little quick across the diagonals, got stiff in the neck and shook his head in the corners. TOTALLY bombed the right lead trot/canter transition in the 20m circle. Did that transition again, and it was better. Finished with the 10m half circle to the halt, and that was ok. Let him be done. It was an ok day.

Had the weekend off, of course, then today I decided to take a page from honorary little sis' book, and hacked in the boy's pasture. It is MUCH bigger than the front pasture I usually do my trot sets in, with much bigger hills. That is the pasture I usually walk hills in. Walked one lap; other than being slow, that was fine. Then went to trot; he wasn't GOING anywhere, so I tapped him with the dressage whip I was carrying to ward off other horses. WHA BAM!!! Full on BUCK. TURD! I jammed my finger in his neck and bent my fingernail back, ow!! When I recovered my wits, I shortened my reins, then WHACKED him once really good with the whip, and all he did was go forward, so I patted him and went on. Of course, the first lap was a little rough, since he was still kind of pissy. Reversed and trotted around the other way; better. Reversed again, and he felt strong and did NOT want to round his back up and stretch into the contact. On the last trot lap, he felt marginally better, but really wanted to yank me down and pop the right shoulder out.

For the canter, I actually bridged my reins. Hmmm. That's a pain in the butt, so I just let them go back to normal! The canter was uneventful; the downhills are tough, but he held it together. The other direction, he wanted to get a little bit "flat out" gallopy, but he came back to me when I sat up and half halted pretty hard. Finished up and patted him. He was TIRED. Definitely a big pant going on.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring. This Saturday, I am showing him 3' for the FIRST time! Super excited:) Haven't shown at ALL since December 4, so just happy to be getting "out". I may throw the dressage saddle on again and just try to get him soft and relaxed. I only want to jump once since I will be jumping Saturday, and there will be rain probably at SOME point. Maybe I'll do dressage in the field where I used to flat all the time, by the road. I don't know; just depends on what I feel like tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Just sittin' on a firecracker!

Well. A week of spotty turnout has definitely affected the Tiki muffin! Wow, that's all I have to say! Groomed/tacked him up ... he was a total turd, kicking his hind legs like he thought he was a ballet dancer doing a grand battement. He was all wound up like he thought he was going somewhere. Probably not a bad assumption since Joyce had the trailer pulled up to the barn because she was taking my friend's horse to a show today.

Successfully tacked up the boy and took him up to the ring. Mounted with no difficulty and walked on a loose rein for a few laps. Shortened and picked up contact ... a squeal, tail swish, and a back humping. OK, I'm no dummy. Jumped off, tied the reins up in the throatlatch, and sent him on his way. I stood and watched with amusement as the fat little pony grunted and bucked, galloped as fast as he could, and did switchback turns worthy of a top of the line reining horse. At one point, he was galloping so fast, he almost missed a turn, and took down one of the cabinets. I waited him out, and he finally stopped to snack on a mouthfull of beautiful green grass.

Rinse and repeat. Let him walk on a loose rein for a few laps, then shortened my reins experimentally. No squeal, so swish. Score! Of course, the trot was a million miles an hour, would we expect any different? This time though, I kept my cool, kept the contact, and thought about posting my hips through my hands, which worked beautifully. Circled, reversed, and worked! I had set my course from the gymnastics I had set a few weeks back. Did my old standby of 2 outside lines and 2 inside singles. Tried to mix things up a little; removed the standards from the coop, so it was JUST the coop. The other outside line was 3 bounces, 3 strides to the cabinet jump with the poles on TOP of it in a tall crossrail. The inside singles were a post and rail, and a vertical with a diagonal "filler" pole. Go me, I set every jump I could at 3'. Actually planning to SHOW at 3' next Saturday, so guess I'd better be able to jump more than one jump set at 3' without my heart feeling like it is going to pound out of my chest.

I nearly scrapped my plans to jump. He was still feeling like he could explode any minute, and I was using the hunter bridle again ... that is NOT hardly any brakes, for sure! After the successful canter, however, I was thinking we could probably survive a few jumps. Opted to trot into the coop back and forth. The first one wasn't so good, but coming back it was better ... then better ... then flat out GOOD. I worked on the contact, maintaining the good rhythm, and not changing in front of the jump. Randomly decided to land off the coop and keep cantering the 6 strides to the 2nd jump in the line. The 6 was EASY. Kept going to the inside post and rail ... woo hoo! 3' FINALLY looks small, yay:) I think it was the fact that I jumped the HUGE training level solid jumps last time I was at Calimar, AND the massive coops on the hunter pace at the racetrack. A 3' vertical just isn't that big of deal after all that:)

I just kept on going, again and again. I made DECISIONS. If it was short, I sat and stayed back. If I saw it long, I lightened my seat and closed my leg. He got the actual striding in both outside lines with no issues. No, it wasn't huntery. He was STRONG. But the lines doing the step wasn't fast or frantic at all; it was FORWARD, but not fast. Yay!!! He was a machine. Jumped every jump clean and well, and felt like a barely contained hurricane.

I am just so safe on him. Even though we started out a bit like a bottle rocket, we ended as jumpers. I was very pleased with the work; he was SO good. Gave him an anti fungal bath because his hindquarters are shedding like no one's business, but he's not HAIRY, so I'm not sure what's going on there. As I sponged the water over him, noticed an angry red cut (about 6 inches long) on his shoulder, at the base of where his neck meets his shoulder. Must have been when he took out the cabinet jump. I washed it well, followed up with a vinegar rinse, and tossed the boy out into the area by the ring to mow some tall grass. Will ride in the dressage saddle tomorrow!:)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So, so, so happy

I'm SO glad my horse loads now with no problems (knock on wood). I went with Susan today, and she took her horse that had a trailer issue 2 years ago, and hadn't hauled anywhere since. She had been working with him on loading, but hadn't taken him anywhere. Today, we loaded him up with minimal fuss, then hauled the hour over to Gigi. I watched her AWESOME lesson, then we went to load him back up to come home. 3 hours later, we had to leave the horse and the trailer and finally go home.:( Wow, it was a frustrating ordeal to have the horse just plant his feet and say "Eff you. Not going on".

Anyway, I rode my boy yesterday. The hock looks perfect, no swelling or heat or anything at ALL. Phew:) He was perfectly sound, as usual, and I simply w/t/c for about 20 minutes. I went back to my hunter roots, and used my old, hollow mouth single jointed D-ring snaffle on my 'hunter bridle'. He was good:) He felt really strong at the canter, but I'm not sure how many nights he's been out because of the pop up showers that have been happening. He is so secure in the contact now. I am SO grateful for my opportunity to ride with Gigi because I have a different horse now, literally. I really need to get to a dressage show soon so we can strut our stuff and see how much we've improved!