Thursday, October 18, 2012

And life goes on!

This has been a fairly busy week for me; lots of lessons which is SO GOOD:)  Maybe between the extra lessons and the IEA shows I can find a few extra dollars to do something horsey-fun:)  I'm going to have to spend a LITTLE money buying some new clothes.  I have lost more weight than I think I've really realized.  Looking at some pics from today vs exactly one year ago, it's quite apparent!

And back in May ...


As an aside, I TOTALLY hate that no release with the long reins thing I do sometimes.  I think this pic is much better!
My favorite cavaletti stack oxer!

For comparison's sake, this is the video of Tiki and I schooling at Patchwork about a week before May-Daze:

And this is he and I schooling at home!  I think this is the first video I actually have of us jumping at home:)  It rained a bit last night/early this morning, so the footing was pretty perfect:)

LR is to thank for the pics and video!  She actually rode him yesterday, and this is what she had to say:

"Tiki was SO good today!  I rode him in the close contact saddle and his hacking bridle.  I set up 2 "circles of death" that met over the same cavaletti in the middle and had 2 other cavs at either end of the ring so the circles alternated between cavs and poles.  We had a few REALLY good moments warming up where he really broke over nicely and was nice and soft everywhere else.  I started out just doing a circle of death to the left and did that a few times til he settled in and then did a few to the right.  It was either a short 6 or long 5 between elements.  I started out making him do the 6 since he wanted to dive and rush a bit for the 5.  The few times I let him go for the 5 early on, obviously set us up poorly for the turn, and his cute little head would get frustrated and then he would toss it a bit!  I then combined the 2 circles so I had him going on a figure 8.  The 6 started getting increasingly difficult for him, and all of a sudden we were doing 5's everywhere in the SAME RHYTHM as we had started with the 6's!  It was LOVELY!  I just sort of let him figure out the changes for the turns.  I would help him if we went around more than one turn on the wrong lead but at the end he threw some really nice changes when we changed direction!  Nice and challenging, but he worked well!"

Today was pretty dang good!  LR fit right into my lesson plan for the week, but when I had the opportunity to get some video/pics I couldn't resist a jump school!  I warmed up pretty quick; the only thing I did that was "tricky" was a leg yield:
This is the first time I've actually SEEN us do one.  I think for not being in a nice frame, not really all that supple yet, and me not really taking my time, they're not too bad!  I began to jump, and the first go round (which is where all the pics are from) was pretty lack luster.  I tried to keep a pretty slow "huntery" rhythm, and he got quite deep several times.  He just wasn't really going FORWARD.  I was riding him in the wonder bit today, and he just had no desire to really take me to the fence.  As a result, I felt pretty meh about our efforts.  After giving him a break, I went again with LEG this time.  That's the 2nd video I posted.  I'm pretty happy with it!  He was more forward, he was happier to take me when I revved him up a little, and all our distances were completely acceptable.  Let him rest again, then came around one more time and with the exception of the 3 stride line the first time, it wasn't bad.  I liked our other round better, though.

Muffin was wonderful, tomorrow we will do hills, and in about 3 weeks we're going to do a jumping lesson with Simon Eades!  My dressage trainer took a dressage clinic with him and REALLY enjoyed it.  He's coming back in Nov, and I can't resist the opportunity to take a jumping lesson with him.  It's even $20 cheaper than the dressage lesson!  Woo Hoo:)

Hope everyone has had a great week and you've all been ODing on the live feed of the National Horseshow from Harrisburg!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Hoping for a nice xc school soon ...

So ... I learned the feeling of watching my horse go for a nice little gallop ... down the driveway ... and out onto the main road:(  I was TERRIFIED.  I learned a valuable lesson though ... NO picture in the world is worth losing my horse permanently.  I had let go of the reins to snap a quick pic like I've done literally hundreds of times over the last 4 years and he decided to just mosey away.  When I walked after him to grab the rein, he decided to stick that tail up like an Arab and take off.  He made it as far as Susan the dressage trainer's driveway, then turned around and started to trot back towards me.  I am still thanking God that Tiki didn't continue on down the LONG rural highway lined with thousands of acres of land, AND that the normally busy road was quiet as a mouse for once.  When he realized I was trying to catch him, the sh!+ head tried to spin and bolt, but slipped on the slippery asphalt and I was able to reach out and grab that rein.

I marched his little red butt up to the ring, and whacked him with the longe whip to get him running.  Wanna run?  OK, you do it when I TELL you to do it.  I cracked the whip a few times to keep him going while I dragged out some poles to throw down for a quick pole course, and when he stopped to just stand like a statue, I ignored him while I walked some distances.  By that time my racing heart had calmed and my anger had subsided, leaving me with that desire once again to have that "Black Stallion" bond with my horse.  I've said it before; I wish Tiki and I had that fairy tale bond where he comes up and places his head on my shoulder and we communicate telepathically.  Lol.  At best, he is tolerant of attention lavished on him.  At worst, he's a downright prickly horse that would prefer to do his job, then just be left alone.  It hurt my feelings when I called him sweetly and walked up to him FULLY expecting him to stop and come to me and he DIDN'T.  Not only did he NOT come to me, he took off and ran up the $^*%^&^** road!  Oh well, at least we're pretty in sync most of the time when I ride him.  Despite his misadventures, he was good to ride.

The trot was pretty forward considering he'd been running for awhile; it felt really good.  I was using the Myler D with the plain cavesson (his old dressage bit) and he was perfectly lovely.  I did a "hunter hack" type ride using minimal contact and collection.  He was super soft, had an easy flexion at the poll, and I couldn't feel any of the usual tension across his topline.  The canter was lovely and I hadn't even broken a sweat trying to keep him slow and easy ... he was doing that all by himself!  Had 3 cavs on the tallest setting at 18' apart, 2 inside single poles, and a bounce to a 3 stride, poles on the ground.  I cantered around the poles in my 2-pt, keeping that hunter metronome rhythm every where.  I tried not to leave long anywhere, and I REALLY worked to keep the 18' one strides slow and rhythmic.  When I cantered into the first, he took the one stride over the second, then bounced the third!  I began to keep a feel on his mouth over the cavs and he finally took a SLOW one stride instead of getting tense and quick.  Quit there.

Yesterday I moved the cavs to 21', set the bounce/3 stride as offset single poles 9' apart (a little spooky looking), 3 quiet strides (6' short) to a 2'9 vertical, and the 2 inside poles each got half the coop.  I haven't done a "super skinny" in a while, figured it would be good for him!  Flatted him just like on Thursday, little contact, low frame, slow and easy.  Cantered all the jumps, and he looked hard at the first section of coop but jumped it fine, and jumped well through the spooky offset poles.  His canter was a little slower through the 21' one strides, but it still got flat and quick.  I attempted to go around with lead changes, but he either counter-cantered, or cross cantered, so I went back to walking every time I needed a change.  I went around and around until I was satisfied it was a hunter-worthy course.  The first few times he would get a little quick, a little long at some, deep at others ... found my consistency though, and he ended up quite well.

Only got in 2 days this week, and LR is home this weekend so NOT riding Muffin in other words;)  Will get in his 3 days next week, definitely a dressage school, definitely HILLS, probably a no stirrup day.  Doubtful I will jump next week, probably just do poles again when I do my no stirrup day.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Loving life!

Our group; 6 of us!
The requisite trailer pic

Long uphill

A JUMPIC pic?  It's bad, but it's real!

I had a GREAT ride on Squeaky today:)  I had a GREAT ride on Squeaky yesterday:)  I almost had to create a blog post yesterday just to brag on how awesome he was.  Thursday was a very average day.  He didn't feel awful, but he never felt good either.  It was just average.  Yesterday I had planned to ride in the dressage tack and I did, but I took him to the flat front pasture to school him.  He was AMAZING!!  So light and fluid and forward and happy:)

I kept my hands and arms SO light and soft.  He stayed nice and round in the bridle with hardly any effort on my part.  His feet positively floated across the pasture.  He did the nicest spirals I've ever gotten out of him, both directions; good bend through the body, excellent responsiveness, and always an ear flicking back towards me.  Canter transitions were decent, and the downwards were EXCELLENT.  He went canter/walk with zero trot steps between.  He halt was balanced, he backed on contact AND went back forward again on contact rather than running backwards.  I was pleased beyond words.

Today was the third time we've done the Kingston Downs hunter pace.  It is always a good time.  GORGEOUS scenery, big coops, and sketchy stone walls:)  The track was a totally new one we'd never done before, and it avoided any water crossings this time.  There were less jumps, though:(  Only 5 coops and 2 rock walls, one of which I didn't do because I just didn't trust the footing.  It's not worth it to me for my horse to hurt himself for .2 seconds of fun!  Only the first jump "sucked", the other 4 were super.  I gave him about 100' to get to it, I had his wonder bit in and I was holding his face, and of course we came into an iffy distance.  He opted for deep since I didn't have him very forward, and he popped my leg off pretty good but I didn't jam my finger, woo hoo!

I grabbed my trusty neck strap at each jump because he has a history of giving me a HUGE jump over at least one of them because of the orientation of the coops to the landscape; for instance, at one of them there was a low hanging tree branch and you had about 3' to get a decent approach to it ... AND the left side was completely open, almost like a corner jump.  He was perfect.  Didn't hesitate or peek just flew over in perfect stride:)  The rest of the jumps were great, it was only the first one that wasn't too good.  We did quite a lot of walking on a loose rein (no jigging, yay!), quite a lot of trotting ( he didn't fight me to canter, yay!), and quite a few flat out race horse gallops.

There were NO kickouts, no ill behavior, no refusals, and lots of easy willingness:)  LOVE it when that happens!  Muffin is the 4 legged love of my life:)  I cut 6" off his tail yesterday to get a good bang on it; it grows REALLY fast because I had it that short for the May-Daze HT.  It looked fabulous, if I do say so myself:)  LR comes tomorrow to hack him around in a pasture, and I'm happy he will have the opportunity to stretch out and work out any kinks from today.  As for next week's schedule, it's as always!  TBD:)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall hunter pace!

I love Fall.  It's my FAVORITE time of the year:)  Super excited to be going back to Kingston Downs to do the same Hunter Pace as March.  It's the one with the big coops and sketchy stone walls but GORGEOUS scenery:)  AND it's 20 min from my house, EVEN BETTER!  Can't wait, muffin hasn't set hoof on a trailer since May-Daze so we're long overdue for some fun time:)

The bummer thing is this is ALSO the time of year that the Squeakster decides to try REALLY hard to maim and maul himself:(  Of course last week is was a lost shoe and 2 slid back shoes.  This week it is his annual neck boo boo:

And a lovely looking slice on his thigh above the hock.  It looks as though he was lying down and tried to get up and his leg strap from his fly sheet sliced through the leg.  LOVELY!

Sigh.  He was SUPER fresh today, no surprise since it's been Sunday since he got ridden.  He felt fine throughout the warm up, but the left lead canter felt VERY strange.  Not necessarily off, but definitely not right.  Today was nothing but transitions.  I didn't push too much flexion because of that nice neck hematoma, but I did not accept any short quick steps at ALL.  Rode for about 35 mins, and roughly half that time I spent cantering.  At the end of it, I felt like he was working nice and hard, and that's really all I can ask!  Tomorrow will be more of the same, and then Saturday we will be chillin' on our first outing in 4 months!  Woo HOO!!!  I will leave y'all with a few pics of the gorgeousness that we will be exposed to in T-2 days ...
Wait!  That's not scenery!