Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yet another *amazing* day!

Look Ma! A big oxer with a little pony!  
The "box"

Gymnastic line

The 'out' oxer of the gymnastic

I tell ya ... I am loving this whole "take lessons" thing!  It has been a serious desire of mine to get back to receiving regular instruction, but it's definitely a difficult thing to get worked out.

I rode Jade this morning.  She was OK.  I have difficulty sometimes because she really can just be a witch with a capital "B".  It's frustrating because when I throw her in the roundpen to longe her, she canters BEAUTIFULLY.  Balanced, rhythmic, and easily.  When I longed Tiki, he would fight me every step of the way.  Jade is happy to oblige, all the time!  When I throw a leg over her, though, all that changes.  She gets tense, rushes, evades, and generally acts the part of a pissy mare.  I don't know if it's hormones, pain, general attitude, or learned actions.  Her saddle appears to fit EXTREMELY well, but the sweat patterns are a little wonky sometimes.  She sweats more on the left side of her body, it's weird.  I've tried using my Thinline pad instead of the fleece half pad, and it seemed to make a difference, but now she's just like she was before.  She just fluctuates like CRAZY!  I've had a few amazing rides on her, but lately I've been fairly unimpressed.  Maybe once the days get a little longer, S and I can alternate days and get her ridden 4-5 days a week instead of 1-3.  It may be that for her level right now, she just needs more consistency.  Were she mine, I honestly would probably start supplement tinkering, beginning with the U gard stuff by Cortaflex I had Tiki on for the first 2 years I had him.  She is an OTTB, it's not unreasonable to think she may have a little bit of an "ouchy" tummy.  I don't know.  I've never owned a mare, so suggestions are always welcome!

All that being said, she wasn't bad today.  I truly don't take any crap off her though, so when she experimented with trying to canter off and swishing her tail when I asked for a trot, I hauled off and yanked her up in a circle and paired that with growling at her in "angry voice".  As SOON as she gives me what I want, I release pressure and give lots of pats and sweet voice praise.  Switched up the bit today and used the mullen happy mouth loose ring.  Meh.  I like her better in the waterford.  S said she'd been heavy and curling up behind the bit her last few rides, so I was curious which mare I'd have today.  Heavy, yes, but I've also changed the way I've been riding her.  I feel like when they're learning, they do go through the "heavy" stage before they learn 'self carriage', and lightness.  She MUST learn to accept the leg contact, she MUST learn to be forward but not fast, and she has to figure out balance.  I've done the loose rein thing like I did with Tiki, but instead of that I've been focusing on accepting the aids.  She felt quite like she could be a bottle rocket if the circumstances warranted, so I didn't push my luck and jump.  I only did about 4 canter transitions, and literally cantered about 3 strides before pulling up.  Kept the ride to 20 minutes, and ended as SOON as I got some good, honest attempts to be submissive and have a good attitude about it.

At Eventing Barn, I got to ride my chestnut pony again.  I WANT TO WIN THE LOTTERY SO I CAN BUY KIARA!  She is my pony.  I love her.  And literally, she's a 14.2 hand pony :)  I got to join in with another person and jump her today.  Like, not just hop over a crossrail, I mean JUMP :)  Trainer had a "box" set up of 2 diagonal lines with 2' verticals; 30' between one line, and 40' between the other.  Exercise was to make a figure 8, doing 3 in the 30', and 4 in the 40'.  Holy hard exercise, Batman!  Lessoning again is a humbling experience.  That dang left bulge got me again, as every time I cantered over the single cav pole, I was too far left.  GRR!  Lol.  Finally got straight, and we moved on.  Thank the lord I had the awareness to NOT drop my leg at the base.  I kept my awareness at all times, and for the most part the leg was there.  My first few attempts at the exercise were a great big FAIL.  Kiara is a little bit "hard" and generally unsensitive through the bridle, so it became a challenge for me more about using my body instead of my hands.  After a few epic misses when she didn't quite add the step, she finally figured things out and added in.  Got a few GREAT trips through, and we were both pretty exhausted.

From there, Trainer had us canter a 2'3 square oxer.  Considering my pony has jumped only a hand full of times, I sighted in, CLOSED MY LEG, and had a few nice warm up jumps, yay.  The next exercise was to canter 4 placing poles, vertical, 4 more placing poles, oxer.  Um, the jumps looked HUGE, haha.  Honestly, I'm pretty sure they were just 2'6, but I haven't {bigger than crossrails}jumped since ... May or June, maybe?  And then it was my 15.2 hander!  I haven't jumped a jump of substance on a horse other than Tiki in 10-12 YEARS.  That's why I had all my "height" hangups at the beginning of my blog!  Too much teaching, not enough riding.  And Britain the lesson horse pretty much DESTROYED any confidence I had in my ability to jump unfamiliar horses when he stopped, propped, and popped a bunch of jumps until I finally had to jump off in humiliation ... in front of my peers and my students.

Anyway!  I went first, carried in a nice canter to the first pole, had a good vertical, but then pretty much lost it to the oxer.  I kicked my way through, and the distance was STEADY, not forward.  Ooops.  Despite my inadequacy, she managed to get over the jump and I stayed on, and when I came around again, it was MUCH better.  She jumps great, very cute and round.  I felt GOOD, Trainer said I was doing a good job letting her jump up to me.  There is video evidence of this ... it just hasn't been emailed to me yet!  Last part of the exercise was to do the gymnastic, then right lead around to a bending line of 2'9 oxers.  Square.  First time through, I did it directly and got an awkward 6 1/2 stride distance.  Tried again with a bend and got a 2nd awkward 6 1/2 stride distance.  Third time was a charm, and I put the bend in again AND gave her a nice little kick so she got there at 6 and just a smidge long.  She was exhausted, lol!

SO much fun.  SO glad I'm lessoning again.  SO glad to be "on the other side", it's enlightening and humbling all at the same time.  Thanks for reading "the Novel", stay tuned for the next chapter ...


  1. Phew sounds like a lot of learning!

  2. Good for you guys! PS It looks so nice and sunny there! jealous!