Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Strapping on the life preserver

Wow, can't believe it's been almost 2 months since I updated the blog!  I've had QUITE a few good rides, I'm still riding Kiara every Wednesday and LOVING it.  I got to ride Trainer's CCI3* horse a few weeks ago ... NOT at the walk for an hour, but for an hour w/t/c.  He's coming back from an injury and has a very specific regimen of dressage stuff he's supposed to engage in on a daily basis, and I learned what it felt like to REALLY get a 17.1 hand horse trotting forward enough to a good dressage test.  Let's just say it's NOT Like hacking a hunter ;)

Did a few gymnastics over the last few weeks.  Cantered through 5 one strides with a placing pole; that was FUN, and good.  The jumps ended up around 3', so a fun ride.  Another gymnastic I did was trot a vertical with 5 placing poles; it began as 2', ended up at 3'6.  WOW!  She was amazing through it, as the jump got higher, I found I could really just sit still and she was right there for me.  The cantering gymnastic was trotting in; a placing pole to an x, one stride to a vertical, one stride to a TALL crossrail, 2 strides to another TALL crossrail.  She was actually pretty spooky, and I really had to work to help her make it through the distance AND keep her from getting wiggly.  Trainer didn't make the last big X an oxer since Kiara is a little ... um, FAT right now.  Besides, she was pretty looky-loo with those tall crossrails.

I titled my blog post "Strapping on the life preserver" because today I FINALLY zipped myself into my xc vest!  It has a belt that clicks in the front, and I always feel like I'm putting on a life vest, lol.  I've been riding for a year and a half at a fabulous facility with a FULL xc course, Intro to Prelim, but I've never ridden out on it.  I had a chance once, but it was knowing full well I'd have to be "beating" the horse over every jump, so I bowed out of that one.

2 weeks ago, I hacked Kiara down the course and rode her on the tracks between fences at a walk.  Holy heck, she felt like she'd spook and spin right out from under me pretty much every second of the ride.  She spooked at the tall mustard growing, the tall grass, the jumps, the wind, the rustling of leaves ... she felt VERY tense.  I kept at it until she FINALLY stretched down into my hands and took a deep breath.  Back to the barn we went.

Today, I showed up when trainer said to, only to be told I was supposed to be ON at that time, not just arriving.  Grrrr. So I had to run to the pasture, grab Kiara, knock the dirt off, and rush rush rush.  I worked myself up a little bit, because I'd hoped to somewhat zen out, but it was not to be.  To top things off, I could NOT find my neck strap, so I grabbed a loose stirrup leather and put it on, but it was much tighter that I typically like; however, it was better than nothing.

As we walked down, she was working HERSELF up, head up and snorting.  We made our way down, and she spooked at the other horse that was already down there throwing a hissy fit.  We made our way past the other horse, found a track that wound through the mustard, and picked up a trot.  We approached a series of jumps, and she spooked.  Approached more jumps, another spook.  Kept going, and she finally began to focus on the job at hand.  I made it all the way to the end of that particular lane, and had some room to work back and forth a little.  There was an Intro log right by the start box.  VERY tiny.  Walkable in fact.  So, we walked over it both ways.  She relaxed a little more.  Trotted back the other way with MUCH less spooking this time, turned around, and walked the log again.  No biggie!  Trotted over it both ways.  I snagged the neck strap just in case, but she hopped over with no drama.  Landed with a bit of a head shake and a crow hop, but came right back to me.  Walked over 2 more Intro logs on the way back, and she was starting to feel pretty good.

Made it back to Trainer who was at the smaller water complex.  She went over my position at the canter.  I had to bridge my reins, lean INTO her neck, move my stirrups more towards "home" position, and stand straight up to stop.  I felt VERY awkward leaning on her neck, but Trainer insisted this way allows the horse to just fall into rhythm and YOU not to pick and pull on the way to the jump.  Makes sense to me!  There was another tiny Intro log that we trotted over, and I worked on keeping my knuckles in her neck the whole time.  Strung together a baby hanging log, canter thru the water.  She CHARGED into the water w/out a single hesitation.  Trainer told me to go trot an Intro Palisade jump on a path we hadn't gone down and gave me the "rules" on the course for when a horse stops.  You clear it 3 times, and you GET THE JOB DONE.  I gulped a little, headed to the jump, and she was so busy spooking at the mustard that upon arrival at the jump, she popped her shoulder and attempted to canter right by it.  I pulled her up, put her nose right on the middle of it, and reapproached.  She hopped over it big and crow hopped on the landing side, but we were over.  Came again and it was better.  Came the 3rd time and no problem.

Strung together log at the water, turn and go thru water, over hanging log, then down over an arched Intro log about half way down my warm up lane.  She ate the distance to the log and b/c it was so small practically tripped over it.  After the hanging log, she tried to crow hop so hard that Trainer hollered at me to fix it, but I was so busy laughing I couldn't do anything about it.  Finished up by doing the hanging log into the water to a BN coop, then on around to a BN green painted roll top type jump.  Coming to the coop, I sat down, got in the "back seat", pressed my knuckles in her her neck, and she jumped it well despite being a little surprised.  The turn to the rolltop was a PERFECT spot for her to duck out to the right b/c it was off a left hand turn, but I sat back, growled, closed my leg, and OVER she went!  I walked her back to Trainer on a loose rein w/ LOTS of pats and praise, then we did that one more time for good measure.  The 2nd time, she was like a BEAST.  Flew over the hanging log, charged through the water, took the coop like a star, and was looking for the center of the rolltop.  GOOD GIRL! I had SO much fun, she was GREAT.  Pleased, proud, and excited to go out again soon!

1 comment:

  1. Sound like a productive time with all things xc. Interesting about the position changes and digging knuckles makes sense.