Friday, February 24, 2012

Moments of Greatness

And moments of "You little sh*t!" pretty much sums up my lesson yesterday.  We warmed up trotting a couple x's, working on having him straight and asking for a the correct lead over the fence.  Bud's not impressed by trot fences, so after jumping the first few he just started trotting over them.  I started using my crop at the base of the fence, but even then he put minimal effort into it.

Jen had me do a figure 8 over two diagonal fences, again working on having him move forward to the fence.  I had to nail Bud pretty good with my spur once as he tried to break to the trot in front of the gate.  Once I had him convinced he could go forward, we had a pretty nice rhythm and were finding our distance well.  We were still having some trouble with lead changes, and Jen told me to open my inside rein over the fence.  It worked wonders!  We did a little mini course with the two diagonal fences and an outside line (the one that gave us issues in our last lesson) and we nailed every lead!  I still had to really ride him forward to every fence, as he wasn't going to give me a break.

After a walk break we started doing a bending line.  It was a short approach on the right to a diagonal fence with a  left bend to a vertical on the outside.  Once again the dreaded right-to-left lead change was our nemesis.  Buddy was convinced that is was easier to counter canter than switch his lead over the first fence.  While we did the line a couple times in counter canter (and pretty nicely too), Jen really wanted me to get after him about the lead.  She had me do a tight left roll back after the first fence to get him thinking left over the jump.  It worked, but by then he was definitely tired.  We tried again, and no left lead. I had him perfectly set up for the left lead, and stubborn jack*ss that he is still wouldn't give it to me.  Eventually Jen had me trot the first fence and ask hard for the left lead then do the roll back on the landing.  We got it twice in a row, then  went on to do the line.  We did it, and quit on that note. 

Its funny how at the time I was so mad at him, and calling him bad names, but now looking back it was a great lesson.  We didn't have any major issues till he got tired at the end and we were asking him to do something that's hard for him.  I have to give Bud credit for that.  We had some great fences, and I felt like we have defiantly made improvements from where we were last fall.  I guess we just need to work on more bending lines!

There's a little hunter schooling show in three weeks that I think we'll go to.  We'll do the 2'3" hunter/eq classes and maybe a flat class or two.  It's on St. Patrick's Day, so I'm trying to think of something green to wear. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Busy couple of days

Since my mom's been here, I haven't out at the barn as much. I did get a nice ride in on Wednesday. I put the spurs on and we had some great flat work. We warmed up with shoulder in and some lengthening at the trot. He had a couple moments of crankiness at the spurs, but I tried hard to really stretch down thru my heel, and he got over it.

We did a lot of transitions and had some of our best yet. I was trying to keep him nice and soft in the bridle, but still forward in front of my leg. The spurs really helped with that. He was a lot more balanced in the downward transitions, and not plowing on his front end.

Nik rode him on Friday and did her first set of trot poles! Jen lead her thru a couple times, then she did them on her own twice. She was very excited. She also told us that she wants to show him this summer. Look for her in a trot-a-pole class soon!

Today the chiropractor was out to do a couple horses do I had her check Bud. She said he felt great and didn't need an adjustment. Yay for my checkbook and Buddy!! Then mom and I went up to Portland to do some shopping. We stopped at the nice tack store up there for a new mane pulling comb as mine has disappeared. I found $230 Ariat show breeches on sale for $100! Mega score!! Didn't get the mane comb though....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To Lease or Not To Lease

That is the question.  My barn owner asked me yesterday if I would be interested in part leasing Buddy out to the daughter of a woman that takes lessons/part leases a horse of theirs.  The daughter (who I think is an adult, or at least a teenager) wants to ride western and I know the mom really likes Buddy (but then who wouldn't?).

My gut instinct is to say no; that I want to focus on our jumping and get ready for show season.  But, I could use the money. I currently have my retired TB, Phoenix, on my trainer Jen's pasture but will probably be bringing him back to the barn this summer. For more info on Phoenix, see the new page tab I made for him up above.  I won't be able to afford board for both boys and showing.

If I was to lease him out, it would only be for a couple days a week.  Buddy likes his days off, and I want to ride at least 4 days a week.  I want to meet the girl, and see how she does with him before I agree to anything.  And I think she would be taking lessons from Connie, which would be good since he can take advantage of beginners.

Happy Valentine's.  Go kiss your pony!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


After three days off, Buddy was pretty lazy when I rode Saturday.  We just hacked around, didn't really work on much except getting him forward and off my leg.  He did start anticipating the upwards canter transitions, so we did some serpentines and figure 8s at the walk. Once he was quiet and walking forward into the contact we did some canter transitions.  They were really nice.  I need to remember to not let him rush into the transitions and make him wait.

Today I set up a little gymnastic; a bounce to one stride.  I started with an cross rail to a couple ground poles.  We did it a few times to warm up, then I dropped my stirrups and we did it a few more times.  I definitely need to keep doing that! 

I put up a vertical, so it was the x bounce to the vertical.  This was little tough for Bud.  He tend to get lazy after a few trot fences, so the first time he just trotted the x and kinda fell over the vertical.  I tried to stay neutral and let him figure it out.  The next time, I gave him a tap with my crop at the base of the x.  Worked much better!

Once I had the second vertical up, and Buddy was going forward, I tried to stay up with chest and stretch down thru my heels.  That's the thing I love about gymnastics; I just have to get Bud to the first fence and then just focus on me.  At the end, for fun I tied my reins in my knot and did it once with no hands.  SO MUCH FUN!!
Buddy says Hi!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Well earned rest

Buddy is getting today, tomorrow, and Friday off.  We had a couple nice flat work ride Sunday and Monday and a great jump school yesterday. I didn't wear spurs for our flat work, but he remembered them!  We had some of our best leg yields yet, and some decent shoulder in. Our counter canter still needs work, but we did manage to go once around the ring tracking left on the right lead.  It's a start! Monday we went without stirrups and while the arena was busy, we had a decent ride.

Yesterday I set up three fences to school over.  I set up the vertical going up on the left that caused us trouble in our lesson.  The other two fences were diagonal fences.  I started with an "x" and low verticals then put the two diagonal fences up to 2'3".  The outside vertical was still giving us trouble, and Buddy was really tired and not helping me out.  I had the spurs, but he was pretty pissy with them.  Our diagonal fences were really nice.  I schooled them on a short turn out of the corner, working on keeping him square to the fence and coming forward out of the corner.  We nailed everyone of them!  While we still have issues going forward to the outside fences, I was really happy with the diagonals, so I didn't push it since he was tired. You really learn how to pick your battles with Buddy!

Now he has three days to recuperate.  I was pretty tired after work today so I just turned him out in the indoor and let him roll. Tomorrow I have a 2hr workshop for my job, after I put in a full day so I probably won't have the energy to ride.  Friday my mom flys in from San Diego and we are going to the Brad Paisley concert!  I won't be able to make it out to the barn, but Bud will go back to work on Saturday.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Goals and Plans

Let's see how we did for the January goals:

  • Ride at least once a week on the flat without stirrups. As in take my stirrups off the saddle once I have gotten on and still do all our normal flat work. (A miss, but only because I was gone for a week taking care of Dad. When we did do stirrup-less, we did most our normal flat work; leg yields, shoulder in, and counter canter.  I was too timid to try flying changes)

  • Jump once a week, getting up to 2'3" by the end of the month. We haven't been jumping regularly for the past few months due to a variety of reasons, and we need to get back into shape for show season. Depending on weather, if our outdoor arena is usable I would like to be doing small courses by the end of the month. Our indoor arena is only large enough for a couple fences, so if the outdoor is out, I'll be ok with cantering single fences inside. (So we did a small 2'3" course in Feb.  Due to me being gone, then the massive flooding that had both our indoor and outdoor arenas flooded we couldn't jump the last big of January.  But if Mother Nature had cooperated, we would have been ready)

  • Continue working on our dressage-y flat work; leg yields, shoulder in, lengthening and collecting.

  • (We did the leg yields and shoulder in, but kinda failed on the lengthening and collecting.  Hopefully the addition of spurs will help us with this one in Feb.)
  • Work on our flying changes, both across the diagonal and along the long side. Our changes across the diagonal are almost there, but he hasn't quite gotten the concept of doing them in a straight line. (Our changes on the diagonal have gotten much better, but we only schooled the ones on the long side a time or two.  They were better than they have been, so I'll take it)

  • For February:
    • Continue the no stirrup work.  On days we jump, start doing some small trot fences with no irons.
    • Start schooling single fences at 2'6".  Continue course work at 2'3" adding in more technical aspects like rollbacks and bending lines.
    • Again, focus on dressage for flat work.  As stated above, I hope the spurs will help make our leg yields nicer and I know they will help with the lengthening.

    Our local show association is staring to put out this years show dates,and I've started tentatively planning our schedule. If I can afford it, and if we keep jumping regularly, I want to take Bud to a little jumper show on March 3.  They have x-rail classes on up, with a relatively small entry fee. 

    A big barn in Portland, that my friend (and the girl who started Buddy over fences) manages is having a one day clinic with three time Olympian Kevin Freeman in April.  While I'm mainly a h/j rider, and Kevin Freeman is an eventer, I'm really excited for the clinic.  It's being billed as a fundamentals of jumping clinic for all disciplines. It's right before my birthday and my mom agreed to pay for it as my present.  We will be riding in the 2'3"-2'6" group, so we really have to be coursing 2'6" by then!

    Friday, February 3, 2012


    Both Jen and I had scheduling conflicts with our planned Thursday afternoon lesson, so we moved it to this morning.  Since I haven't been jumping Buddy a lot, I was a little nervous about his lack of conditioning and energy level before the lesson.  He was lazy in warm-up so Jen suggested putting a spur on.  I haven't been using spurs on him for almost a year; I did use them at a show last summer since it's frowned upon to smack your horse with a crop in the show ring.  Buddy tends to get sour with spurs, so I only use them when really needed. What a difference they made!  He was much more inclined to move off my leg and go forward.  I think I'll slowly start using them again during lessons or if he's really not listening to my leg.

    We were schooling a right-to-left diagonal fence with a kind of tight turn to a short 4 stride outside line going up hill (for drainage reasons our outdoor arena is on a little bit of a slope).  The footing at that end of the arena is a little deep, and Buddy takes great exception in having to work through it.  Add in the fact that the left is his harder direction, and we were going up hill, and you get one hard exercise for us. 

    Jen had me angle the diagonal fence to get more room on the landing, and to help set us up for the lead change.  It helped, but Buddy was trying to move around the deep spots and wasn't too inclined to give me the change.  I really had to sit down and ride him forward up to the first fence in the line, then steady for the 4.  It was tough, and Buddy showed his displeasure by flipping his head.  He can be such a little drama king sometimes!

    While that exercise was hard, other parts of the lesson were great.  Jen said Bud's much straighter than he used to be, and we had a lot less falling in and over bending than we used to have.  Once the spurs were on, our pace was nice and we had a decent flow.  I'm glad our flat work over the past few months has paid off!  I'm very happy with the lesson and  can't wait to start doing them regularly.