Tuesday, January 29, 2013


It's almost time!  And of COURSE the muffin decided to injure himself, he wouldn't be normal without maiming himself in some way days before a competition.  Ever since his splint injury, he has been turned out/ridden/longed in some sort of protective leg wear 100% of the time.  This bloody injury occurred outside of the protective boots, on the OUTSIDE of the pastern.  How???  Sigh.  Fortunately, no heat or swelling and he moved completely sound on it, so I will just keep an eye for the next few days.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a 100% chance of rain/thunder storms AND 70 degrees, so I'm planning to do his body clip tomorrow.  I've been doing the "grunt work" this week.  LR rode on Sunday and had a nice ride in the dressage tack.  Monday I spun him on the longe line.  Well, that's too light of a word.  I really worked him pretty good!  Lots of transitions, lots of swipes with the whip to get him walking ON, and back and forth between all 3 gaits.  I tightened up the side reins pretty good, and kept him working hard until he came down and settled into the contact.

Today I did trot sets, but because I was "interrupted" by a phone call, I trotted for 18 minutes straight, 9 tracking left, 9 tracking right.  At 18 mins on the dot my phone call ended, so I did my 2 mins of canter right, then turned around and went right back to it left.  He felt so amazing, it was a good day:)  I feel SO good being more fit.  If you read back through the blog, trot sets typically kill me!  Today, I didn't feel so much as a twinge in my back.  It was like I wasn't doing anything at all. Cold hosed that booboo and determined the wound to be about thumb sized, but NOT a puncture.  Poured some HP on it, then gooped it up with an antibiotic cream, and will prepare to bathe him first thing in the morning.

Tomorrow it will rain, Thursday I plan to hack him in the ring in draw reins.  Friday we ship south!  Ride times are 2 something and 4 something on Saturday, then 2:30ish on Sunday.  XC on Sunday.  Can't wait!  Check back in for the course walk!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rain, cold, and more rain

Exactly one year ago; popped splint.  Glad to not be dealing with THAT!

Well ... it's been a week since I've posted because I haven't sat on my boy AT ALL!  It's been raining all week long, MISERABLE:(  LR was able to ride Sunday and Monday, dressage of course.  He was super stiff on Sunday, no surprise.  LR worked him through it and ended up well.  Monday he was WAY better, and she had a nice, productive ride.  I hit him with 3 cc's of ace, and she pulled his mess of a mane, lol.  The weather is going to be HORRIBLE tomorrow and Friday, but I need to go ahead and fully body clip him because I'm not going to have time Mon-Wed of next week, and we leave to head south to PP on Friday.  Don't want to wait too long because I want to have time to touch stuff up if I need to.  I will just double up on the blankets if I need to.

He's ready.  She's ready.  Hopefully the weather cooperates SLIGHTLY this upcoming week so I can keep him loose and ready to go.  Already mentally packing the truck and trailer; dropped the trailer off yesterday to get some maintenance on it.  Picked it up today!  Excited about the horse trial, can't wait to see PP up close and to walk the xc course.  I know Muffin will rock it out!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Less than a month!

My little rock star and his LR:)

Tiki's big Poplar Place debut is coming up in about 3 weeks!  Very excited, can't wait to see Muffin and LR in action "for real".

It felt amazing to ride my boy this week.  It was SO hard to watch and NOT be riding schooling last weekend, but at the same time it is ALMOST as fun watching my boy:)

Monday I just spun him on the longe line both ways to make sure he was all good from his big day on Sunday.  He looked perfect and fresh, with nary a head bobble at all.

Tuesday I walked hills in draw reins.  Carried a dressage whip and made him march up, then halted and backed a few times backwards up the hill as I made my way down.  Did something a little different; After walking up the hill 3 times, I then trotted up and down 3 times.  I've actually never just trotted up and down the hills.  If you've never done it, trotting down a steep hill is HARD!  Lots of leg, lots of balance, and some good hard work.

I got on for a quick 5 minutes to force my student's horse into the water!

Thursday I jumped, whoo hoo!  Set up a super simple outside/inside/outside/inside.  One of the outsides was a tall crossrail bounce, the 2 insides were the coop and the cavaletti oxer, and the other outside was a square 2'6 tall, 3' wide oxer.  I simply lined them up along the center of the ring so that I had a nice long approach to each jump.  Tacked up in the 'wonder bit', and warmed up with a little bit of lengthening and shortening of the trot.  He felt super actually.  Kept my leg on and continuously sent him forward, but I worked on staying super quiet with my body.  Warmed up by trotting the coop back and forth and he was completely perfect.  I consciously softened my left hand and paid attention like crazy to that left shoulder.  I'm satisfied he was dead straight each time.  I began by halting straight then continuing on, just to keep him slow and soft.  I trotted the bounce and fought the urge to DO too much.  I HATE bounces lol!  As he jumped the jumps I concentrated like crazy on my position.  Ended up just going and going and going.  I concentrated on that rhythm, that left shoulder, and MY position.  He was GREAT.  My distances were all acceptable, he popped off a few easy and clean lead changes, and he stayed pretty huntery throughout.

Compare knees here to knees of the big jumps:)

All in all, a successful jump school, it felt great.  He felt very adjustable throughout and he was pretty careful about not touching any poles.  I felt pretty good myself; I think I stayed with him well and didn't interfere at all which is really all you can ask for!

Tomorrow LR is going to do some dressage boot camp.  Next week I plan to jump at least once and do hills in the draw reins at least once.  A dressage school of course.  That's all I'm committing to; anything else will be a bonus!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Couldn't have been any better ...

LR and proud mama!

As I went to sleep last night, the patter of rain hit my roof ... WHAT???  RAIN???  Where's The Fruitbat???  We put off until today to give the footing plenty of time to dry out.  Woke up to soggy grass and wet roads, but there was never a question as to whether we were going!  Upon arriving at Calimar, it was pretty overcast, but the footing seemed pretty solid.  The great thing about that farm is the terrain is very rolling with an awesome clay base, so the rain really rolls right off.  There was water in all the ditches, but everything seemed jumpable.

Tiki warmed up well, and we did the same warm-up out of the ring we pretty much always do.  Lincoln logs to single hanging log to funky log.  He did his usual lock on and powered out of the ring first.  Marty built a new N table jump made out of split logs; Tiki jumped it like a frigging rock star:

Made our way to the ditch and he actually slammed on the breaks upon seeing the water flowing through.  After a re-present, he jumped it in his typical stuttering way which was oddly reassuring to me considering that's EXACTLY how he jumps them with me!  At least I know his 'ditchiness' isn't 100% me;)

Made our way to "mid field", and gave LR her first downhill task, again over a NEW jump!

She rode it beautifully and he jumped it like a heat seeking missle.  Had her hop up and down the banks for the first time, plus tackle the train jump.  He doesn't even think about those now.

Also threw the corner jump in there, and this time there was no awkward putter to a stop.

This is the bigger side; last time he did the smaller side:)

Headed over to the water complex area, and in the interest of wanting him to do some of the bigger stuff, I didn't have her do any of the coop jumps; I KNOW he will jump those.  I wanted to challenge him and see how far her comfort zone extended.  Didn't even touch the BN cabin, went straight to the N one.
See why this young lady's nick name is "Lovely Rider?";)

Then decided why not go ahead and tackle the Prelim cabin ... might as well!

After that, it was the double barrel jump that I wanted to try this go round; I'd already decided to tackle this one next time we were out:
Um, scope to spare?

Had her JUST do a quick canter pass through the water; no sense in using him up schooling stuff she won't have to worry about at the HT.  On the way back to the front side of the field, we planned to jump back into the stadium arena so we could walk it out and untack.  There is this table thing ... I've been eyeballing it since the first time I ever went, wanting to jump it but never being brave enough.  I'd already decided LR was going to jump it.  However, on the way over there, we encountered the trakehner.  The trakehner is large ... it's over a ditch ... I've wanted to do THAT for a while too, but never quite been brave enough.  LR said she was game.  Picked up a nice rolling canter (after standing around for awhile), he got to the perfect spot ... and stopped pretty violently.  He was right on top of it before realizing it had that ditch underneath.  She came at it twice more and he was looking like *maybe* he'd do it each time, but losing heart at the last minute.  I told her to stick him on takeoff ... so she did.

I then made her do it again while it was still fresh in his mind:)

We then finished it up with the huge table thing I've been eyeballing ...

I cannot even express how proud I am.  They will soar through the course at Poplar, I KNOW it.  Tiki has really grown up ... he showed his amazing heart and talent today and it nearly brought me to tears:)  I KNOW he can rock it out at Training, can't wait to do it!  What a horse; I am the luckiest girl in the world:):D

Friday, January 4, 2013

Leading up to XC!!!

Lol, look at that face!  First time over the big ditch.
Muffin's very first time over the train

Lol, the FIRST(and only) time I fell off my boy!

Even though I'm not going to be the one riding, I'm super excited for Sunday!  One of my former kids will ride up there with us and hang for a bit:)  I'm looking forward to seeing LR jump the boy over his favorite phase!  He will love it, it will be a nice break from all the dressage boot camp he's been subjected to lately;)

Speaking of, had another great ride today.  I realized I forgot to mention how he went in his bit yesterday; I really liked him in it actually.  I'm not sure it will be great for any sort of jumping, but he felt pretty nice in his dressage work.  Used it again today and went straight to 'Gigi' contact which is the most effective way of getting Tiki on the bit.  I keep a steady, bending contact with the inside hand, then close the outside hand actively to get him to stretch down into it.  I didn't give him any time at all to be above the bit today, I put him right in the contact.  A'la Anne Kursinski (courtesy of www.usefnetwork.com), I moved him back and forth off both legs before I even shortened my reins.  Once I picked up contact at the walk, I went immediately into shoulder-fore both directions.  Walked the poles and cavs again, then went to the trot on the 20m circle.  Today was very similar to yesterday except that I cantered on the straighaways, I worked shoulder-in/haunches-in both directions, AND did a distinct lengthen/shorten at the trot.  I tried to make it a REAL collection; not SLOWER, SMALLER.  Then for the extension, I concentrated on keeping the same rhythm, but asking him to reach through the shoulder like crazy.  It was decent.  That's now what I need to work on; LOTS of adjustability within the gaits.  I do work on that, but not all that often.  At the end, I couldn't stand it and tried to pop off a few lead changes.  UGH!  I SUCK at those.  I just need to give up:(  He can do them on course when needed, I just need to quit mucking things up.  I will never be able to get a nice, balanced tempi type change, I fear.  My timing is just BAD.  And Tiki gets anxious about it.  Whatevs!   Even if we DO go Prelim some day, the dressage test will have a counter-canter, not a flying change.  Don't want to mess up something he CAN do well (counter-canter).

It was a great day, he felt super.  Very responsive in the bridle, very light off the leg, happy to move laterally, and NO mini geyser eruptions, lol.  I will report back after Sunday's schooling, super excited!:)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First ride of the New Year!

Looking a little alfalfa like with that silly mane!

Well, didn't go xc schooling today, but I did get to ride my boy:)  It rained ALL day on Tuesday ... like, it was raining when I woke up and it was raining when I went to bed.  Honestly, we can't complain about that, GA is so dry right now.  Makes for some miserable teaching/stall cleaning, but good for the footing!

Speaking of footing, it was picture perfect today.  Wet, soggy, and SOFT.  It was like a little slice of heaven as I swung a leg over Tiki's back; I always feel my tensions/worry just melt away as I wrap down and around and close my leg to go forward.  I love him so much, I feel SO blessed to have that little red headed muffin in my life.

I was watching the live feed of the GHM clinic in Wellington (find it here at www.usefnetwork.com), and of course I wanted to try what they were doing on Day 1.  It was all flat work, and involved shoulder-fore, shoulder-in, counter canter, and lifting your hands up to chest height to get your horse to stretch down into the contact.  Since I've been dying to ride in a simple loose ring snaffle, I put on his old happy mouth mullen loose ring that I retired 3 1/2 years ago.  It's literally been that long since I've used it!

Put it on the dressage bridle and headed up!  Tiki had his brat on a little bit, lol!  He pinned his ears at me and gave me "grumpy face" as I adjusted a line of cavalettis ... he can be a turd;)  I let him walk a good bit before shortening my reins because it was a yucky day; chilly, overcast, and windy.  After walking over cavs and poles and changing bend across a diagonal with my leg, I picked up the contact.  Longish reins, hands up around chest height, thumbs touching.  It was weird!  I've never ridden like that on purpose.  He was going forward very nicely; good marching rhythm with no hint of quickness.  I held the contact and didn't manipulate the bit in his mouth at all; just tried to leg up into the contact and let him flex at the poll by himself.

It didn't work any kind of miracles; he didn't fuss at all but he didn't magically come down into contact either.  I could feel a touch of tension in his neck and back, and he stayed pretty much NOT anywhere near a "frame" of any sort.  Decided to go ahead and pick up a trot since he can be slow coming into the contact anyway, and it did get slightly better but again, not magically 'on the bit'.  I just kept my leg on, alternated between tracking on the rail and on a 20m circle, and trotted poles on one side a cav line on the other.  Lots of back and forth and not staying the same.

After a good 15 minutes of this, I gave up and lowered my hands a fair amount.  I still had a nice bend in my elbow though ... I made sure to carry my hands a LITTLE higher than normal, and did the Gigi 'ask' for the 'frame' and THAT worked.  He finally flexed at the poll, reached down into the contact, and got swingier in the back.  I did the Paul counter-bend on a spiral exercise both ways, the GHM shoulder-fore down the longside, and the Susan leg yield back to the rail spiral out exercise.  He was game for all of them!  He was beginning to feel much more loose and happy, and he didn't touch a pole or cavaletti:)  At one point, all 4 feet came off the ground; it was like a geyser erupting, so weird!  Like I said, just a touch of brattiness today!

On the 20m circle before the canter, I did another Paul exercise; posting trot to 1 or 2 steps of walk, back to trot.  It went well, I was happy with him.  The canter felt super both ways; I SAT, kept my hands higher than normal, and pushed hard to keep his 'frame'.  I didn't do any cantering other than on a 20m circle since he'd only been ridden once in the 2 weeks prior.  Went back to trot and trotted the poles and cavs again, being SUPER vigilant about that subtle left bulge.  Kept contact with the left rein, slightly softened the right one, and made sure he was absolutely 100% straight.  Ended there.

The good news is I'm riding again tomorrow (in the dressage saddle), AND we're still going schooling:)  We'll head out Sunday morning to Calimar, hopefully to nicer weather and picture perfect footing.  Love my boy, glad he's getting a couple of days to work before just going out and running around the field jumping.