Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's PAST time for a little update!

Well.  Sorry for the lapse in coverage lately!  I've been travelling to FL for work, and the time change has had me all tired as soon as I get off work.  I'm sure the time change hasn't been helping things either!  I've ridden a few tricky horses at Event Barn that a year ago, I would NOT have achieved good results on.  Still to this day I tend to go to my hands before I go to my seat, but thanks to Trainer, I've begun to slowly back away from pulling so much.  I rode a tricky dressage pony last week that kicked my butt!  He picks up this AWFUL half tranter thing that feels so yucky.  And when I put my leg on he just wants to canter.  And when I tried to hold contact, he just stiffened his jaw against me and went around like a 16.1 hand moose.  Ugh.  After about 10 minutes, I was actually really frustrated and questioning my ability to "ride ANYTHING on the flat".  These dressage horses really are MUCH different than the hunter rides I'm more used to.

Trainer was finally able to turn her attention to me and help me, so after about 15 more minutes, I was FINALLY able to get some semblance of a nice, round trot.  LOW hands, but still have elbows bent, shoulders back, LOTS of half halting, but NO pulling.  Wow.  I actually felt like how it feels to physically push a wheel barrow uphill while riding this horse.  I thought the feeling of PUSHING a wheel barrow on a horse was impossible.  Nope, in fact, when you're properly riding a dressage horse, you should ALWAYS feel like you're pushing a wheel barrow!  His canter was actually quite lovely, I had no problems with that; it's always that trot work that's hard for me to REALLY nail and do it perfectly correctly.  At the end, I felt like a tired, sore wet noodle, but I got pony going nice and forward and round, so it was all good:)

I've had some LOVELY rides on the mare, most notably after switching up her bit.  S ordered a litle 2 ring gag bit, and I slapped that puppy on my bridle ASAP.  Switched her from a running martingale to a standing with the gag because I've always thought pressure on a gag rein to bring a head down is silly.  Yes, I know you're supposed to thread just the snaffle rein through the ring, but with a 2 ring elevator, you ALWAYS have some gag action; it's not like a normal snaffle gag.  The standing has done it's job perfectly.  The one or two times she threw her head in my face, it kept her from smashing it, so I'm happy :)

Last week, I worked with Jade on counter canter for the first time.  I only did it on the long sides.  I practiced picking up correct lead/counter lead on the long side, switching up which one I wanted.  She got it 90% of the time, I was very happy with her.  I think her LH is getting stronger, because I used to have problems picking up her right lead.  I still do on occasion, but she's gotten better.  Got in some VERY good lateral work from her, as well as a bit of shoulder in.  I decided to break down the jump work for her and trotted virtually everything, circling inside the lines so we didn't have the shoulder bulge and drag, and EVERY jump was 2'6/2'9.  Height is NO problem for her, and the jumps don't bother her.  If I could just FIX her in between bulge and run off crap she'd be AMAZING to jump around.  Little gag bit worked GREAT and when she decided to land and bolt, I sat her on her BUTT so fast it made her head spin.  Finished up with a lovely track with good approaches, quiet landings and a great attitude.

Most recently, she flatted up nice and quiet so I threw in a few crossrails, which she took to beautifully.  Did NOT canter on the flat, just gradually progressed from random x's to a full course.  I cantered EVERYTHING.  We had one issue where we often have issues, coming left lead away from the in gate.  She bulges and drags right to the rail.  It's dangerous, it's stupid, I don't know WHY she does that.  So I kicked her butt to the point that she got upset every time we came around the corner and began hopping up and down so I just patted her, walked until she chilled, then jumped the jump  out of a trot.  I didn't venture to that spot any more, but I did have a few issues with jumping a line or 2 once she got tired.  Jumps the first jump great, just hauls and drags right on landing, never sighting in on the 2nd jump in the line.  So, I trotted in, cantered out after jumping in, circling right, jumping in, circling left, etc about 5 times so when I went straight ahead it surprised her and she was beautifully straight so I quit there.  LOVE the brakes, speed was not ever an issue.  Even though she can still frustrate the heck out of me, she is 148% improved over the mare she was a year ago.  I would LOVE to run her xc, I think she will LOVE it because at the BN/N level there's no need to worry about lines.  She can gallop in, gallop away, no worries.  It's currently on the bucket list :)

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