Sunday, August 24, 2014

Busy, busy, busy!

Love my smile here.  This was the first time I REALLY felt her trot to the base and rock back nice and easy:)
Life has been a little busy!  I've been working some overtime hours at work, and for Eventing Barn, we're about to put on our very first Recognized Event!  We've done several schooling shows successfully, now it's time to put our organizing skills to the test:)  As a result, my weekly Wednesday Eventing Barn trips have been show planning sessions vs. riding lessons which is a bummer.  I DID get to ride little baby adorableness Connor.  You have to scroll down the page a little bit to see his little grid video.  He is a lazy son of a gun!  I love his size though, exactly what I prefer.  He was the last one I rode, about 3 weeks ago.

Rode Ms. Jade last Sat.  She was pretty much a rock star.  She's been on the back burner as well until after the show b/c all my free time is spent planning, writing emails, trying to coordinate EVERYTHING on my one day off, but I have ridden her on my off Saturdays.  A few weeks ago, we did the grid and she was so amazing.  Last week, I decided to mix things up and canter.  A LOT!  I haven't been doing a LOT of canter with her, really it's been a lot of trot.  And her trot is MUCH better than Tiki's was.  (I say WAS b/c his new kidlet is out there scoring 32's in dressage, woot woot!!!)  She CAN get on the strong, quick side, but lately that tendency has been pretty much non-existent.

Anyway, I w/t her and she was good, so I picked up the canter.  All was well; her bulging and dragging on the flat has gotten WAY better, and she's learned how to respond reasonably well to a half halt.  So ... I cantered her to a jump!  Landed, circled, cantered some more.  She was so shocked, she backed herself off, lol :)  All in all, I spent about 12 minutes (I checked my watch) just cantering different jumps.  I cantered tall crossrails, the red box w/ a pole, a small brush box, a gate w/ a pole, and a vertical sitting about 2'3.  There was even a crossrail/vertical/vertical combo.  1 stride to a 3-4 stride.  Eh, that was just OK.  It was set heading STRAIGHT to the barn, and in the area where she likes to pop that shoulder at the last second and DRAG to the rail.  She quickened a few times through it, but also had a few really good moments. I had the 2nd vertical up at 2'3, the 1st crossrail was TINY, and the 3rd element was a 3'3 crossrail.  A little awkward, but overall not too bad.

Not going to lie, there were a few moments where I had to literally stick my right spur in her on landing, and I did have to really haul her around a few times turning left (that RIGHT bulge, ugh!), but for the most part I was very excited.  The jumps weren't an issue at ALL, it's now just working to improve the overall quality of the canter and eliminate that drag to the right once and for all.  The spooking has become very much a non-issue, and her work ethic has improved tremendously.  Very proud of the mare!  S will be taking her to her very first OFF grounds show next weekend :)  I'm very sad I'll miss it since I'll be working my tail off all weekend at Event Barn.  Until next time!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On horses maturing

First grid!

I went through it with Tiki, and now I'm goin through it with Jade ... maturing :)  I believe maturity has nothing to do with age; it has everthing to do with "getting with the program".  When I first sat on Jade last year, the thought of jumping never even crossed my mind.  I remember vividly with Tiki watching a friend jump a haybale at Joyce's and wondering if we would ever get to that point.  When the horse underneath you is so inconsistent on the flat, it's hard to think about all 4 feet off the ground, but when you're an eventer that thought eventually crosses your mind!

I'm not afraid of flatting horses.  Unless they're flat out dangerous, I feel as though I can ride through most anything.  So over the past months, Jade has pulled every evasive trick in the book; spooking, bulging, above the bit, behind the bit, under the bit, fast, slow, jigging, etc.  But through it all, I've remained consistent in my treatment of her.  Leg on, insist she take the contact, don't take "no" for an answer ... and it's paid off!  S can comfortably w/t/c/jump her now, and when we first began this journey, she was actually riding her in a western saddle for security!  I think it's been a combination of consistent riding, warmer weather, and supplements.

When I get on her, I put on my leg and push her up into my hand.  No jigging, no curling behind the bit, and a MUCH improved work ethic :)  I wear my spurs now to help really fine-tune control that right shoulder and it's certainly helping.  Now that S and I have been able to get her back in work, the bulging is beginning to minimize again.  That is always going to be her achilles heel, for sure.  This past week, I continued the idea of ramping up her jump work and jumping more "real" jumps vs just puttering over 18".  I actually cantered figure 8's over a crossrail, and she was super, even offering up a few flying changes.  I rode the canter to the crossrail trying to think about which lead I wanted to land, but she is still pretty strong at the canter, so just focusing on a rhythm was my primary objective.

There was another person in the ring with me, so I could only have 2 jumps "up".  I made one of the brush boxes a tall crossrail, and I put a pole over the brick.  I also dropped a trot pole in front of the little gray box to work on her trotting to the base.  I still don't do much jump cantering, that will come with time.  After cantering the crossrail in the figure 8 pattern, I moved on to flatwork, trot a jump, flatwork, trot a jump.  After every jump, I halted straight then flexed her right and moved her off my right leg.  All was pretty good until I was trotting the little box and I felt it; the right bulge.  She landed and DRAGGED me to the rail, nearly running into the other horse in the ring.  It has been MONTHS since she pulled that little trick so I jumped her case HARD.  I circled, growled, and gave her nice bump with the spur.  We then proceeded to jump that jump 5 times, with slight improvement each time.  I gave her a break, then did a little course involving a right hand turn after EVERY jump.  She did that well, I was proud.  Not a bulge to be found!

Today, she did her VERY FIRST grid :)  Yay!  It went much better than I even could have hoped.  I set a trot pole, crossrail, 9' to a brush box w/ no standards, 9' to a pole, 9' to a crossrail, 9' to a brushbox, 9' to a pole, 9' to a final crossrail.  S helped me, and we built it gradually.  She took everything in stride, pardon the pun.   I even approached in my 2 point, which I have NEVER done w/ her before.  The distances were actually more like 8'; I'd set everything short w/ the hope of making her wait.  Predictably, by the last she got a little on the quick side, but I chose not to jack the final jump up to back her off.  That will come next time ;)  I was so pleased with her understanding of how to handle it; there was no stops/bulges/runouts/bids/awkward moments.  Once or twice she was so nice and light and foot perfect I was just thrilled.  I believe she has really gained confidence, which is translating into maturity ... I'm excited to see how she does once the days get shorter and the winds kick up.  I hope we continue to move forward and progress; she's turned into quite the fun horse to ride!