Sunday, December 30, 2012

LR is riding!

Sigh.  Inevitably Muffin ends up getting this time of year off EVERY year, despite me NOT doing it on purpose!  I just have SO much going on, the weather is SO sucky, and time is always of the essence.  I had full on intentions of riding Thurs/Fri, but he got shoes on Thurs.  Tiki ALWAYS is a little tender after getting his pedicure, so I never ride him the day of unless I can get on beforehand.  Not to mention the whole having to stand in one place and hold horses for 6 hours:(  I was a verified human popsicle at the end of it!

LR is coming out to do some dressage work today.  Thursday we're heading up to Calimar to get in some xc schooling!  I am so bummed lol.  Wish it were me riding, but LR needs to get a feel for the machine in his favorite phase:)  I will show up in breeches and boots, though, so I MAY hop on at the end and do one or two; there's this double barrel wagon jump there I wanted to try this go round; I've never been brave enough to try it, but I think now I will be!!  After our trip at May-Daze, I feel invincible but we haven't set foot on a xc course since then.  If they're going well, I may just have LR try it so I can just snap a pic:)

Anyways!  That's all here.  I used my Dover gift cards to buy ME something this time instead of Tiki man.  I got some new half chaps, finally!  I've been riding in my tall boots since I've lost at least a full inch off each of my calves, and I've been getting horrible rubs from my old half chaps.  Even my tall boots have grown; I used to have to use hay string to wrestle up the zippers, but now I just pull them up smooth as butter!  I can feel the extra room I have in there, but they still look really good on me.  Since those run $350, I'd prefer to keep them for shows, and just wear paddock boots and half chaps.  I want to buy him a plain jane loose ring single jointed snaffle, but all Dover had there was 5 1/4 up to 5 3/4!  Tiki really measures a 4 3/4.  He can swing a 5, but it's just a hair too wide for his delicate little mouth.  The other lr snaffles were double jointed, and I can honestly say I don't believe he likes that.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  It was great to spend time with my family, have THREE whole days 100% OFF to just stay home, and lots of good food to eat.  Got one more week of the kidlet staying home, which means early teaching days, which means Thurs will probably be the first day Tiki gets ridden other than today.  I MAY go BACK to his barn tomorrow after I teach and ride tomorrow, will just have to see how that works out.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter break ...

Tiki says Merry Christmas!!

Haven't ridden my boy this week.  Had a lovely lesson with Paul, then have let him sit all week.  Actually WAS going to ride on Wednesday, but I got bitten by Evil Kitty on Tuesday just as I was finishing up.  I mean, BITTEN.  Today is the first day I have been able to type with minimal pain:(  It is the worst cat bite I've ever experienced ... lesson learned!  NO MORE touching Evil.

Today it rained heavily all day (GOOD!)  Tomorrow I have to finish up an IEA show that began last Sunday.  This weekend is getting all cleaned up and ready for our Christmas company, so Thursday is the first day I anticipate sitting on my boy again.

On the up side, I stood on a scale for the first time since I began my weight loss journey, and I'm down 40.5 pounds!  Tiki should feel super!  So happy for my boy's back, and so happy I actually look halfway decent in a pair of riding pants;)

Got a few Dover gift cards, so will be getting Muffin a plain jane single joint loose ring snaffle; just have to find one skinny enough.  Anything else will depend on the final gift card count!  Thankfully, there's not much else I NEED (except a saddle pad, right?  Never mind I have 22 saddle pads and one horse).

Merry Christmas everyone!  Probably won't blog again until after the holiday, so hope everyone stays safe and enjoy your ponies:)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

3 lessons in less than 6 months??

I have set some sort of world record here!  3 lessons in less than 6 months, woo hoo!!  I rode with Paul again today and it was a GREAT day.  I had a private lesson, which was awesome.  I showed up a little frazzled; left Joyce's at 10:30, but didn't arrive at MSF until 12, which is when I was supposed to be ON!  At least he's always groomed and ready to go when I arrive.  I yanked him off the trailer, tied him to the side, dressed myself (of course, I had a hairnet malfunction), threw the tack on, and made my way QUICKLY up to the ring.

Thankfully, he was finishing up the group lesson before me, so I was able to hop on and breathe for a second.  Warmed him up on a loose rein, then as Paul came in I began some contact work.  He was moving all the jumps around and setting up exercises, so I tried to just work on being straight and on the aids.  He felt like crap!  In a never ending quest to fiddle around, I put on the xc bridle today with the waterford bit.  I think by now he equates that bit with XC!!!  So he was really all over the place and super fussy with his head and mouth.  I was NOT pleased with my little red head!

I warmed up for around 30 minutes while Paul got things set up, and finally he was ready for us!  First things first, we went on a 20 m circle like last time, but I had to go from a medium working trot/one or two steps of walk then RIGHT back to the working trot.  That was pretty tough and was an engraved invitation for me to throw him away in the contact (but I didn't!).  We then changed that to a working posting trot down to a sitting collected trot, and THEN it was canter/walk 1 or 2 steps ... that was ANOTHER invitation for me to make a mess of things but I did better than Paul thought I would lol.  I was pleased with both of us, we did good:)

He set up a pole exercise, a short one to a long one, 5 strides in between.  It was of COURSE off the right lead on the diagonal, therefore exposing that left bulge.  We cantered the long one first and of course I ran him at it and let him come in bulged.  We did just that one probably 5 or 6 times, just working on me straightening him with my left rein and slowing down everything!  When Paul was satisfied with our hunter-esque one stride, we moved to the short one which was very good.  The turn was much shorter so I worked on maintaining the rhythm through it; only had to do that one twice;)

Finally, we put them together.  Common sense said to do the short to the long; He was a little long in the 5 strides because I sat like a lump after the short, then chased him at the end.  Sigh.  Will I EVER learn??  Came a few more times until I SMOOTHLY opened him up RIGHT after the short and stayed steady.  He never struggled down the 5, it was always right there ... the long 1 ended up steady for me mostly:)  I think I surprised Paul again when I NAILED the long to the short.  I added a stride instead of trying to steady at the end; Paul agreed that was Tiki's best option.  I came into the long on a nice forward stride, then sat, "WHOA", and put in 6 perfect small strides.  I only had to go that direction 3 times, and Paul was happy:)

I feel bad, because he was building up some sort of line with an oxer with planks, and I mentioned I never do many lines, lots of singles and I struggle with his adjustability ... Oh Lord!  He stopped dead what he was doing, tore it all down, and rebuilt a new exercise:)  3 oxers, on a curve with a ground pole on both sides.  My job was to TROT in, canter out, downward to the trot, etc.  That was a HARD exercise.  Began to the right, and we did ok; he was a little bit all over, though.  Again and he was slightly straighter.  3rd time was the charm, we were very straight, prompt in the downward transition, and it flowed smoothly.  Paul was pleased!  Did it left twice and Paul went through and raised and widened all the oxers to a solid 2'6.  He also set a vertical about 2'9 in the canter of the ring and I had to canter that at the end.  Paul's corrections were to get him dead straight, be quicker in the downward transition, and HELP him more over the jumps.  He said Tiki jumped a little flat and weak; he was making it over them, but no thanks to me!  I put on my determined face, closed my leg and added a little cluck in there.  Tracking left was a little tough for us, but he finally finished satisfactorily.  I missed to the vertical a few times because I'd come out of the corner and get impatient OR I didn't have him straight.  I finally sat still, got him dead straight, and we nailed it a few times.  Paul let us finish through the oxers tracking right, and it was better.

That was the end.  I rode for an HOUR and a HALF:)  I feel like we worked harder today than last time, and last time we rode for 2 hours.  I enjoyed the challenge, I feel like Paul helped us a bunch, and overall I know I need to focus on straight and smooth.  Lots more changes within the gaits, and lots more adding and leaving out strides while keeping him rideable.  Love my boy, he was a rock star!  Wish I could ride with Paul on a weekly basis, I've REALLY had fun the last 2 times.  Oh well, got lottery tickets for tomorrow and Saturday;)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

SO glad the Muffin got a hair cut ...

LOVE his beautiful face!

3'3, perfect distance, perfect form from both of us!

Tiny fence, just cantering over

I really like this one too:)

For the last week, it's been 60's -70's.  This type of weather is not conducive to feeling the "Christmas Spirit", but it has been lovely riding/running weather!

Rode Muffin Man today for the first time since Sunday.  LR rode him on Sunday and did some good dressage stuff in the pasture.  She's been working on helping him to unlock through his back and really reach and stretch down into contact, but in a LIGHT way.  She's helped SO much on my downward transitions, Tiki really feels GOOD now and doesn't bear down so much on my hands when I ask him to come back to me.  He still doesn't stay round and connected through his poll, but that WILL come, I know it!

Today I slapped on the cc saddle and the "hacking" bridle, and up we went!  I was feeling ambitious, so I set up a cav line at a "normal" 5 strides (which would ride long for the teeny little 12" cavs), and a gymnastic down the center of the ring.  I set 3 trot poles, a bounce with 2 tall crossrails, a pole, and a wide oxer.  To begin with, it was just the trot poles, one crossrail, and the rest were poles on the ground to start.  I didn't realize it, but the "wide" oxer I had set on the ground was actually 4' wide!

I decided NOT to do the Jimmy Wofford warm up, and I actually did spend some time flatting.  What I took away mostly from riding with Paul MacRae is that I always need to make sure he's going forward, and I need to watch that subtle left bulge.  So, I spent some quality time walking on contact, reversed through a turn on the forehand (totfh).  Once I picked up the trot, I just shot him out in front of my leg, then worked on steadying and lengthening the stride.  I went a few laps, then worked a 20m circle at the center of each side; both the long and short sides.  I then halted, totfh, same thing the other way.  Halt/totfh, canter ... canter the 20m circles like I did at the trot both directions.

Holy smokes, the entire last half of this post got eaten:(  OMG, I don't want to type it all out again!!!

To paraphrase a little bit, I alternated 6, 5, and 7 strides in the cav line.  I was careful of the left bulge, and even though he DID it, it wasn't perfect any of the times I did it in terms of softness and obedience.  He did the 7's off both leads, but it was a resistant feeling 7.  The 5 was a 4 1/2 at one point because he got SO flat, but then I did the 7's to get him bouncy again.

The gymnastic, I alternated coming in left then right each time.  I approached in 2 pt each time, and he was not bad.  Stayed pretty straight, kept a good rhythm, and he didn't let me down.  I could feel him reach big time over the "ditch"!  That was a good challenge for him:)  I set the gymnastic gradually, doing first the other crossrail, then the oxer.  The oxer I wimped out on and moved it in 1'!  It was too wide; I was afraid that without a 3rd pole on there, he would put a leg down and "swim" through it.  Coming in, he tried to canter, got tangled up in the trot poles, and took out a crossrail with a hind leg hard enough to land 3 legged.  Good pony though, he didn't try to stop or run out!  I let him walk off the sting, then came again.  He surprisingly came in very well, and bounced his little red butt through no problem!  The last time through, I concentrated on ALL things I've been working on.  Heels DOWN/following hand (per Paul)/body controlled (per Simon)/ no bulge (P) no drift (S) ... felt super!  I could feel him really jump UP over the oxer and use himself, so for that I was happy.

LR will ride this weekend, I will do hills in the draw reins tomorrow, and life is good!  Thank heavens for clipped ponies!  He would have been a disgusting mess otherwise:)