Friday, September 28, 2012

Fairly boring week

Well, Muffin's feet looked like this all week:

Lost shoe

shoes slipped off and slid back

So he has been standing (and sleeping) in his stall all week:(  I had scheduled a lesson with Susan the dressage trainer for today, and it seemed as though all the stars were aligning to STOP me!  But I persevered and took that lesson:)  I had to hold horses for the farrier, Tiki needed his shoes done obviously, and I hadn't ridden him in a week, but overall we had a most excellent go round.

I requested some canter work today vs. so much trot work.  He was extremely tight and noticeably tender on the LF that had the missing shoe.  Susan worked on getting me to close my leg, keep my hand soft and still, and slow him down.  I worked on keeping contact even from a back/trot transition (where if I don't give with my hand we wants to just keep backing up), and eventually we did pretty well.  On the halt/back/canter transitions, I worked on keeping my shoulders back and using my seat in the upward transition so he didn't take any quick steps, and we cleaned up the downward transitions so he went from trot HALT and canter HALT with no messy steps in between.

The canter was good, very light and easy.  We worked on the 20m circle doing canter/halt/back/canter and after doing it about 10 times got it down pretty nice!  Finished up with shoulder-in and haunches-in down the longside and down the centerline.  He did GREAT!  We FINALLY have a real haunches-in!  All my hard work has been paying off because last time she worked those with me, I was probably about 60% good on the shoulder-in and about 40% good on the haunches-in.  This time we were 99.9%.  Next time we will learn how to do a half pass, woo hoo!

So for a pony that hadn't been ridden in a week, had a lost shoe for 4 days, and had 2 rear shoes slipped back and slid to the side, PLUS a tendency to be tight and not 100% after shoeing anyway ... it was a fantastic lesson.  I'm glad I pushed through and went for it even though the stars were not aligning to actually ride.  We needed a boost I think, and this was it!  Lovely Rider is supposed to hop on him this weekend, so hope he behaves for her!

Friday, September 21, 2012


Rode the Tiki Muffin 3 days this week, like usual.  Tuesday I wanted to ride, but it actually RAINED, hooray!  So I rode Wed-Fri.  Wed I decided to do a jump school since the footing would be nice and soft from the 2 previous days of rain.  Dragged out the middle jumps from the gymnastics and set them up as an outside single swedish oxer, and an inside 2 stride line with the coop.  Left the 2 tall crossrails as a 7 stride line.  I still had the oxer set around 2'9ish in the middle, and the other one at 3'.  I warmed up with just some simple w/t/c.  I've totally subscribed to the Jim Woffard's idea of when you're jumping ... JUMP!  Otherwise, do dressage.  I just did the usual trot into a tall cav, then just keep jumping.  I worked on staying out of his way and feeling his mouth to the jumps so he doesn't blow past the distance and get too deep.  He likes to either gallop up and jump out of stride, or get quick in the last step to get too close.  We did pretty well:)  Once he did the line a few times, he wanted to lengthen and do 6 in the line, but I held him off the jump and maintained our rhythm.  Did pretty well at the oxer (I mean come on ... how many of us do well on a long approach to a single SWEDISH oxer?  By ourselves?)  We really only had one tragically deep distance, and one "miscue" where he was a hair long and I went for it ... but forgot to close my leg.  'Doh!  All the other jumps were fine.

Yesterday was a dressage school.  I began with walking on contact.  Progressed to shoulder-in/haunches-in at the walk.  He is doing SO well with the haunches-in!  So proud of my red head.  Lateral work is super easy for him, I just have to ask him correctly:)  The trot felt pretty good; I did some dramatic long side lengthening to some super slow sitting trot.  I then moved from the super lengthened trot to a more correct "collected" trot at the sitting trot.  He just felt so tight in the jaw!  I wish I could find that "magical" bit that helps him stay soft and relaxed.  I made sure I was soft and relaxed in the arms and hands, and I tried to avoid fighting with him.  I'm experimenting with using my seat a little more for transitions, and made sure to transition to the walk or halt after cantering.  I did my "thread the needle" exercise at the canter today.  When I came in on the shallow diagonal to do my half turn in reverse, I did a simple change through the walk.  He gets SO hollow in that downward transition, sheesh.:(  I lamented my woes to a friend of mine, and she suggested a trick to try next week.

Today was a longe session over a low cavaletti.  Tiki dork tries SO hard to not pick his feet up over it; he jumps with his front end and kind of heaves the rest of his body over half the time.  It's crazy.  He was lazy on the longe as usual; I actually had to pop him on the butt with the whip to get him to move.  I've been slowly shortening up the side reins each time I longe him, trying to achieve that elusive dressage frame.  When we do our Training debut, I want the test in the sand box to be up to snuff, which means that nose needs to be IN.  So, I scheduled a dressage lesson with Susan next Friday, woo hoo!  I'm long overdue for a good butt kicking, so will see what she has to say.  He was so preoccupied with trying to get the reins in his mouth at the canter that he forgot to try and cross canter, but it is so hard to get it and keep it on the longe line.  He also does not look at the cav and adjust himself at all; he just trots if he gets a bad distance.  Lol, today was good for him.  It's like a no stirrup day for me.  Not all that fun, but sometimes necessary.:)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weird feeling!

Yay!  A good trot pic!

I have always loved to share my horse, but have NEVER had a desire to sell or lease him out.  He's a pretty big financial/physical/emotional drain, but I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING.  I've offered several times to good riding kids the opportunity to come and ride my horse.  No strings, no charge, just a nice ride.  I've been taken up on it a hand full of times, but it's not usually a repeat performance.  The barn is just too far out for most of the riders I know, and he isn't necessarily the easiest ride on the planet ... plus, I'm a bit of a control freak, and there are very few riders I'm comfortable with actually messing around/riding my horse while I'm not there.  If I'm watching, SURE!  I'll let pretty much anyone try him.  But alone?  Only if you pass muster;)

Yesterday, I finally got a young lady out to the barn I've known for about ... 7 years? now.  She goes to a local college that is NOT far from the barn, and finally all the offerings of a free ride were taken seriously, and she came out yesterday to try him out.  This girl is GOOD.  She has had several ponies she's taken from pretty rank to hunter machines, and on her most recent guy has competed in the Jr/AO hunters.  She's horseless at the moment while she finishes college, so I offered up Tiki as just a fun little distraction.  Not only did she ride him beautifully, she loved him:)  She picked RIGHT up on my eternal issue with him; those downward transitions without yanking the head down.  She popped off a few picture perfect flying changes, just further reiterating that his half change is probably 99% MY fault, and even took him through the gymnastics I did Friday.

She genuinely thought he was so cute and fun which is EXACTLY what I think:)  She also confirmed that even though he isn't EASY, he is very simple and easy to figure out his buttons.  Yesterday, he was steady in the contact (on a really soft rein), he wasn't chewing hard and crossing his jaw (normal cavesson/D-ring), and that rhythm was slow and forward.  I dropped the jumps to poles again since Lovely Rider hadn't taken him through gymnastics before, just leaving both xr's.  His rhythm was SO nice ... AND she trotted him in each time.  He totally adjusted himself, and stayed in a VERY nice rhythm once I got the 2 askew poles set as well.  I was right; his front end was up and very careful looking.  Over the oxer he jumped it super:  still tracking left through it, he touched the front poles for some reason, but didn't whack it like Friday.  I raised the low ends of the oxer 2 holes, bringing the height of the oxer up to more like 2'9ish, and he didn't bat an eye.

The day ended with me showing Lovely Rider where all his stuff was in case she ever felt like coming out to ride him.  I only sit on the booger 3 times a week, average.  4 if he's LUCKY.  And never on weekends unless I'm doing some sort of activity with him.  This morning, Lovely Rider went back out to ride him again this morning:)  I'm so happy that she liked him!  She will go out and ride him periodically when she is at school on the weekends and can't ride at school.  It's such a weird feeling knowing Muffin is getting ridden without me:)  I KNOW he will only benefit from having her on him ... she had some good ideas to get him off the hand in the downwards, so I'm happy.  LOVE IT when other people love my horse ... he is my heart horse <3 p="p">

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rides rides rides ...

This week has been great!  Tuesday began with a nice dressage school.  I warmed him up as I have been lately, walking over the medium cavs until I felt that back loosen and engage.  I circled him with his nose to my knee both directions a few times to stretch out those side muscles, then picked up contact at the walk.  There was no beating around the bush; as soon as I shortened those reins I marched him forward.  At the trot I kept that slow forward rhythm and did lots of 20m circles both directions.  Sitting trot and shoulder-in was pretty good both ways.  I did leg yield, catch him and go straight, then leg yield to the rail.  Practiced canter from walk/change to counter lead on straightaway, counter canter corner, then switch back to correct lead on other straightaway.  No flying changes; don't like it when he anticipates it, so I kept him calm and relaxed.  Ended great!

Wed was bareback hack through his pasture in the halter.  Can I just say ... my horse is STILL the most uncomfortable horse I've ever ridden bareback?  Gah!  If he was to buck, I would break my pubic bone, 'nuff said!

Today we did gymnastics!  It's been awhile since he's done them, and I got some inspiration from the latest issue of Eventing magazine.

Tall crossrail, 21' to a single askew pole, 21' to a swedish oxer (2'6ish), 21' to another askew pole, opposite the first one, 21' to another tall crossrail.  Having learned my lesson about setting a big gymnastic line and asking him to go through cold turkey, I set the first xr then put the rest down as poles.  The oxer I actually laid down the poles wide, then placed a pole diagonally across it to simulate a "ditch".  I was SOOOO glad I set them like that, because first time thru off the right lead was a little rough.  He jumped HARD at the xr, then fell through the rest of the poles.  Came in off the left lead, and he placed his feet MUCH better, still jumping the snot out of the xr ... this time when he landed, he got a little bucky bucky.  Turd!  Set the next element, and now he was going through fine.  The 21' distance was getting a little tight, and I started to keep a feel of his mouth and whoa him a bit.  I set the other askew pole, then came thru both leads again.  Good!  Finally set the oxer ... I'm an oxer wimp, and he is historically very overly ambitious over oxers in gymnastic lines.  He came thru GREAT off the right lead, but off the left he actually backed off the line and had down the front pole on the oxer.  I reset it and went ahead and set the final xr, then came thru right lead.  He felt VERY round and didn't get fast because I kept a feel with a following hand.  He landed pretty fresh again, though!  Double Turd!  Left lead was better, but he felt like he struggled a little.  Came thru left one more time and it was better, so I quit.  This grid was SPECIFICALLY for squaring up that front end.  I could feel him study it and really try, so even though I couldn't see him, I'm sure it helped that slightly hanging front end. Interestingly, I rode him in his xc bridle; a figure 8 and the Waterford bit.  The minimal flat work I did in it wasn't all that amazing; he was all like, "HEY!  Where's the FIELD???"  

I was going to be finished for the week, but sounds like a friend I have been trying to get on him FOREVER is finally coming out tomorrow, so I will hop on him so she can see him, and then she'll ride him!  Woo hoo!  I love to see my pony get ridden by most excellent riders.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Minor rant

I'm not the type of person to rant on Facebook, and I try to simply not post anything on pictures that bother me.  I've been noticing a disturbing trend lately, and it BOTHERS me.  I haven't said anything there, but I'm saying it HERE!

Riding at a WALK in the field ... notice that helmeted silhouette?

WEAR YOUR HELMETS, PEOPLE.  There, I said it.  I'm noticing it mainly in my "friends" that are the 20-somethings ... you know the feeling.  Turn 18 and now you have all that glorious freedom to go bare-headed.  I understand the temptation to let those luscious locks fly free as you canter around the ring.  I'm not so sanctimonious as to say I've NEVER done it.  I have w/t/c and even jumped a small crossrail with a bare head, and I'm dang lucky I stayed on.  Think about it:  HOW many times have you been on your horse, then BAM!  On the ground wondering what the he!! just happened.  My fall off Audrey Pony a few year ago; I was DONE.  All I had planned to do was trot over ONE more pole, then call it quits.  Well, as I trotted to it (the one she'd trotted a dozen times already that day), she suddenly gathered her hind end under her, leapt over it like it was a 3'6 jump, slammed me in the face with her head, then spun around and dumped me so hardcore I got a concussion ... WEARING my helmet.

You know ... you've all got LOTS of friends.  And those friends are mostly horsey friends, MANY of those teenagers.  When you post pics of you riding your lovely horse sans helmet, you're sending a message that it's cool and normal to ride without one.  Even if you think you're invincible ... be a role model.  Ask Courtney King-Dye if she would have made the decision to wear her helmet the day she fell and suffered a traumatic brain injury.  She was just out hacking ... WALKING.  Her horse either spooked or fell or something and off she went.  That's the argument for wearing helmets.  Horses are ANIMALS.  They can fall in a hole, trip over their feet, accidentally run you into a tree branch, or get scared enough to temporarily lose their mind.  WHY risk your health?  I just don't get it.  The argument against helmets is the age old "Well, if it's my time to go, it's my time".  OK.  It obviously wasn't CKD's time to go ... now she gets to live life as a handicapped person and can barely talk coherently.

Anyway, that's my Rant of the Day.  Posting pics on Facebook of you riding in your ballcap doesn't amuse me, it infuriates me!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

End of the week already!

Sweaty Muffin!

I totally had a "brain booboo" and forgot that tomorrow I'm volunteering at the AEC's!  Which means Muffin once again only has a '2 day' week, riding wise.  Yesterday was a dressage school and he was quite lovely.  I've been warming up by walking over the medium cavalettis before trotting.  As he trotted, I focused on some long and low stuff vs. up in a tight frame.  After feeling his overall tightness last week, I wanted some supple.  He felt SO nice.  I threw in some t/w/t/w transitions, and he didn't hollow his back out at all.  I made sure to keep my hands up, floating, and forearms soft.  I always try to have a plan before I ride, but I end up doing exercises to help out whatever I FEEL, whether I've made a plan or not.  I spent a good bit of time trotting serpentines across the ring, focusing on the bend and keeping him long and low ... at the short ends of the ring, I cantered an 8m circle, trying to keep that feeling of softness and lightness.  A few halts, a change of lead on the long side, counter canter, then flying change ... on BOTH leads.  Success!

Today I rode in the evening with honorary little sis.  As I groomed him, he was shaking that head like crazy, so I braided his forelock and slapped on the goofy green ear net.  Again I put on the snaffle and regular cavesson, and up we went.  For being with another horse, he was pretty good!  Didn't do the pissy head shake once, which is a first when he's with another horse.  I didn't ask very much of him; I'd had to down 800mg of ibuprofen just to manage to even ride, so my expectations were pretty low, really.  Before hopping on, I raised one of the 2'6 verticals to 3'3.  Yep.  Go me!  The footing was really nice tonight, and shade was creeping in, so it wasn't too bad riding at all!

After cantering a few times over the low cavalettis, I trotted into a 'tall' cav, circled around and trotted the coop, then came across a diagonal and cantered the 2'6 vert.  Pretty much perfect!  Kept a perfect rhythm, kept my hands up, and he jumped like a gentleman.  In the corners, I tried to "stand him up" and bend in really well, and he fought a little bit, but  was ok.  Nicole jumped the Spark Plug over a few (he was HAPPY!), then I trotted the coop/cantered the 2'6 vert again, and he felt quite lovely again.  After Nicole did a few more, I did coop to outside x-rail one stride to 3' vert, inside 2'6, outside 3'3.  He was nice and forward to the one stride, jumped the 3' super, easy and soft over the 2'6, then came up perfectly to the 3'3, but just got in a hair too deep.  I could feel him jump UP over it, but it didn't feel bad.  Rested, then did the course ONE more time.  Again, all were pretty much perfect, but this time he got in just right to the 3'3, but in the last stride ran past the distance, pulling it down hard with his hind end.  Nicole reset it for us, then pulled it with the FRONT because again he came in too deep.  I tried taking a slightly different track, jumped WAY off to the right, and too deep but it stayed up, then tried once more.  I allowed him to have more canter this time, and he I nailed the spot, but AGAIN, he dragged me past it to jump deep, but he didn't touch it so I let him quit.  He really was quite tired; I haven't jumped much since May as you all know.

I got off, loosened the girth, and measured the jump before I lowered it for Sparky.  Um, it was 3'6, NOT 3'3.  Lol.  I thought that sucker looked big when I set it, but tried to just ignore it and go with the flow.  I'm so proud; that is the FIRST time I've ever jumped him 3'6 without a gymnastic to set him up for it.  Go me!  I'm not such a chicken any more!  Probably explains partially why Muffin scooted past the distance a little; it's BIG for him!  A rolled out groundpole probably would have helped, but he was just tired, so I will save that for another day.  Next week, I WILL ride him 3 days!  He is such an awesome horse, I'm a VERY lucky girl:)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fabulous Friday jump school

Friday became a bit of an impromptu jump school.  I had my 2'6 inside verticals set at 2'6, and the cavaletti had been moved from in between the one stride, so I now had a crossrail to a 3' vertical, 18' between the 2.

I'm letting someone borrow Tiki's stadium wonder bit, so I had to ride him in the regular cavesson bridle with the Myler D-ring.  Usually, he is very heavy and hard to rate in that set-up, so I wasn't super excited to be without my little wonder bit.  I again worked on the "leg into resistance" method of getting him on the bit and he was definitely better than in the pasture, but I'm not sure that's a good technique for getting him to soften and come onto the contact.  I had warmed him up on the buckle w/t/c both ways; it is so awesome that I can get him to come down to a HALT from the canter with the reins on the buckle.  I literally didn't TOUCH them:)

The canter felt really nice.  I sat lightly in the saddle and did a couple of circles.  Came across a diagonal with  a pretty soft halt and switch to the right lead, then cantered into the cavalettis on the ends of the ring.  He had the nicest, slow rhythm.  I threw in some circles, a few simple changes, and then kept on going over the course.  Even through the one stride with the 3' vertical, he was slow and fabulous.  He didn't touch a rail, didn't change his rhythm, and stayed pretty much on the bit the entire time, woo hoo!  I even came into the one stride vertical first, and with the exception of one colossal missed distance (he went when I asked for a WAIT), all was pretty much perfect:)  I kept him soft in my hands and asked for a slight over bend in each direction just to keep his neck from locking up, and it was literally the softest, nicest jump school I've had in a snaffle and a normal noseband.  Go Muffin!!

Riding tomorrow and Thursday.  NO idea what we will do!  Volunteering for the AEC's on Friday, can't wait!  Going to meet (hopefully) 2 fellow bloggers for the first time.  Friday is all the big xc stuff, which is super fun for me to watch.  Looking forward to it!