Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Ponies

I jumped both Buddy and Zoe Wednesday.  I realized that the Kevin Freeman clinic that I'm doing with Bud is just over two weeks away; and I don't feel ready.  It's been pouring down rain for the past few days, so I set up a single fence in the indoor.  Since I haven't jumped Bud in over a week I thought we would work on having a nice pace, rhythm, and straightness over the single.

I put Bud back in his normal standing martingale that I use when we jump.  I didn't want to use the German over fences, even though I'm sure it would have been fine.  After a light warm up we started trotting the little crossrail working on  stopping on a straight line after.  He was good, but really over bent left. We cantered it nicely a couple times, then I raised it to a vertical. 

Since our indoor is so small, it takes a lot of work to keep Buddy collected and put together to jump.  I was trying hard to sit down and keep my seat and leg on him to have a a nice forward canter to the fence.  The first time thru after I raised it, he was strung out and got deep to the fence.  He pulled the rail, but after that I really felt him start to sit back on his haunch and drive from behind.  It felt great!  It was like I finally had that nice canter that I could collect or extend as needed.  We did the vertical about 4-5 times each direction then called it good. 

With Zoe, I'm still working on getting her forward and into my hand.  I've started doing some bending lines and serpentines  at the trot to ask for flexion.  Her canter is starting to smooth out, but I think it will always feel somewhat choppy, at least to me.  I set the jump back down to an x and made sure we had a nice strong forward trot approaching it.  She  just trotted over it like no big deal.  We did it a few times each way, and every time she just trotted over it.  Good mare!  I'm going to start lunging her over some little verticals at the canter this weekend to see how she does.  Her owner told me that if I think Zoe's ready, that she would like me to take her in a couple trot-a-course classes at a show soon.  Exciting!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A few good rides

I didn't do much with the ponies this week.  It snowed (like 5inches!!!!) Wed/Thurs and I wasn't motivated enough to ride after dealing with having to make it into work both days.  I rode Bud on Friday and boy was he lazy!  He had a week off because of his eye, but it looks perfectly fine now!  The cavalettis were set up in the arena and I thought popping him over those would perk him up.  It didn't.  We hacked around for about 20 mins and called it a day.

I lunged both Phoenix and Zoe on Friday.  Zoe had a fit about being in side reins, but she got over it.  Watching her move is interesting.  She likes to throw her hip in and crossfire behind while cantering. It's a pleasure horse thing; cocking their hips in helps them slow down and get that herky-jerky lope.  Zoe has it, but hopefully we'll work that out of her.

Saturday the 4H girl rode Phoenix.  She's still trying to decide if she wants to lease him; she'll ride him a few more times this week and make a decision.  There were some trot poles and a tiny tiny x-rail set up and she took him over the poles.  He plodded over them without a problem!  I asked if she wanted to take him over the x, and she said she was too nervous so I hopped on him and did it.  He was perfect!  Trotted up to it quietly, and cantered away nicely.  It was his first jump in close to 2yrs. 

Today I rode Bud and Zoe.  I put Bud back in the German martingale and he had a lot more pep than he did on Friday!  We had a nice forward ride with some really good trot-canter-trot transitions.  We also did some nice counter canter and a flying change each direction. 
Such a cute pony!

With Zoe, I worked on getting her to go forward, and started asking for some bending.  She's not too happy with me having contact with her mouth; she's used to having a loose rein even going English. For her canter, I'm trying to keep my hands up and encourage her to drive from behind.  If I let her, she tends to 4 beat in the canter, and it feels like her hind end isn't connected to her front.  I had a couple good strides of canter today where she felt connected.  Since she's out of shape I'm only asking for a few strides at a time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Phoenix

Old man is 17 today!  To celebrate here are some of my favorite pics of him ove the years.
 My friend Marian holding him as I walked a course

His first jumper show

Little Nikki and Phoenix

Our ribbons at the last A rated show we did.  I won my eq. on the flat class!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pony Rides

I've decided to give Bud some time off till Ben gives the ok on his eye.  I don't want to do anything that could cause the ulcer to get worse, and damage the eye further.  It did look a lot better today, almost fully open with very little discharge.  He's getting better about having the meds put in; I was able to do it by myself this morning without having someone else hold him.

I free lunged Zoe today before I got on.  As soon as I let her loose in the arena she peed.  She must feel pretty comfy here.  She didn't seem phased by anything, so I took her to the cross ties to saddle up.  We had a good curry season; she's shedding in weird patches.
The darker hair is her winter coat.  In some places I was able to pull the hair out with my hands.  She's pretty tiny and petite.  Big change from both my large boys.  Height wise she's about 15-15.1, so same as Buddy, but she's a lot narrower and not nearly as heavily built.  I had to borrow a friend's 44in girth.  None of mine (48,50,52) fit her. 

She was bit lazy and I had to thump her pretty good with my heels to get her to trot.  I think I'll have to wear spurs with her.  She likes to travel downhill and be pretty heavy on her front end, but was surprisingly light in my hand.  We worked on walk/trot transitions trying to motivate her and get her to start using her hind end.  She's going to be good for my equitation; if I get too far forward with my upper body it feels like I'm going to fall down on her neck.  Good motivation to keep my shoulders back!

After I put her away, I decided to hop on Phoenix.  There was a showmanship lesson going on in the indoor, and while it's been cold and rainy the past week there was a nice sun break so I took Phoenix outside.  He felt a lot better, still stiff but coming forward nicely.  We did some light trot work then went into the canter.  I tried to stay in a light half seat to let him stretch out his back, and boy did he feel good!  This was our 4th ride in a year, and except for the stiffness, it felt like he hadn't had any time off.  He really wanted to work.

I decided to canter across the diagonal line and ask for a simple change.  I was curious to see if he would try a flying change, as his were almost automatic before he was retired.  Literally a stride after I turned him across the diagonal I felt him gather his haunches and he gave me the change.  He tried  to buck and take off (like I said before, he was feeling good!), but he's not quite that agile yet.  I stopped him and walked for a moment. It felt great to know that every thing's still there after all this time!  We ended our work by doing some shoulder in and leg yields at the trot.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Meet Zoe

A couple weeks ago while watching at a show Connie, Rick and I ran into a friend of theirs, Deb, who I've met a few times.  We ended up going for dinner together and of course the talk turned to horses.   Deb was an eventer in her younger days, but for the past few years has done the western all around stuff.  She has mentioned that she kinda wanted to get back into jumping, but her mare has never jumped and she doesn't have jumps.  I (somewhat jokingly) said that I would start her over fences.

After a bit of talk, we decided to bring Deb's mare down to our barn (she lives about 30mins north of us).  Zoe came in today.  She's a 7yr old solid bred APHA (like Buddy!) mare. She's done some dressage as a 3-4yr old, then mainly did English/Western pleasure.  She hasn't been in full work for about a year so we will work on her fitness at first.

She's a very cute mare.  I saw her showing a couple years ago and she has really filled out since then. I'll try to take more pics tomorrow when I work her.

Friday, March 16, 2012

No Go

When I went out to the barn today, the first thing I noticed was Buddy's left eye.  It was huge, swollen shut, and had discharge coming out.  I immediately called our vet, Ben, and took Bud up to to the wash rack to try and flush his eye.  He wasn't to pleased about it, and I wasn't able to see much.  As I'm cleaning his eye, Rick (Connie's husband) walked by and asked what was wrong.  I told him, and apparently this has happened to Bud before.  He had gotten a piece of hay stuck under his eyelid and scratched his eye.  I was praying that wasn't what happened this time...
Poor pony

When Ben made it out he tried to look into and flush the eye.  Buddy was having none of it, so Ben had to sedate him.  He had a piece of hay embedded in his eyelid.  Ben had to pull it out and flushed the eye really well.  He stained the eye and unfortunately the hay rubbed and caused an ulcer on the eye.  Exercise and high blood pressure can make ulcers worse, so no work for Bud for a few days...which means no show tomorrow.  I have ointment to put in it twice a day and Ben will be back out Tuesday or Wednesday to recheck it. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Show Prep

Our prep for the show on Saturday  has been sadly lacking.  I've been sick this week, a nasty cold that has left me with a hacking cough and no voice.  I did ride on Monday in the German martingale again, but it wasn't a great ride.  We had very strong winds, up to 50mph, on Monday and that's the one thing that sets Buddy off.  He hates the wind.  He was fighting me the whole time, but we did work on the shoulder in and canter transitions from Saturday.  We had a couple decent transitions, and since I wasn't feeling 100% we did a short ride.  I lunged in side reins on Tuesday, and he was a lot quieter. We'll ride today and do a touch up clip and mane pull.  Tomorrow he'll get a bath and I'll finish cleaning tack.

I rode Phoenix for the second time yesterday.  He feels stiff, but eager.  Connie watched both of our rides, and said that he from last week to yesterday he already looked better.  I started him on the BL pellets and have been giving him a gram of bute a day. We'll keep taking it slow, with a couple rides a week till he starts building some muscles and the BL pellets kick in.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dressage Clinic

Was awesome!  We started by schooling shoulders in and leg yield at the walk.  Buddy would hold the shoulder in for 3-4 strides, then slowly bring his haunches in against my inside leg and straighten up.  Tina had me increase the angle in his body, then thump him with my inside leg and/or whip every stride to keep his haunches on the wall.   Didn't take him  long to figure it out.  In the leg yield, it was the same thing; hold his shoulder with my outside rein and tap every stride with my inside leg and whip.

We then went on to do the same thing in the trot and it took a little longer (and me being more forceful) to get a nice shoulder in.  Buddy would keep flipping his head or trying to yank the reins from me when I would get after him.  Tina had me grab the front of my edge of my saddle pad to anchor my hand so he couldn't get the rein. While it worked, it really pissed him off! 

After a walk break in which we worked on going from a free walk to a medium walk without his head shooting up or him anticipating we went to canter.  We worked on the trot-canter-trot transitions.  His upwards weren't bad, and Tina said they had improved since we last rode with her (which was last summer).  For the downwards, she had me do a one rein half halt in a one, two rhythm.  Basically I was supposed the mimic the trot rhythm by half halting on my inside rein, then my outside rein.  As long as I kept my leg on, it worked nicely.  He would come down into the trot forward without feeling like he was diving on to his front end.

During the transitions he was holding his head up, and not really listening to me asking him to keep it down.  Tina suggested a German martingale, and asked if I had one.  I don't, but Connie was right there and she does. We put it on, and what a difference!!  He was much lighter in my hand, and our transitions felt 100% better.  The canter was much rounder and it felt like he was floating.  I'm going the keep using the martingale and hopefully by next month when Tina comes back we'll have a much nice, rounder pony!

I asked Tina to check Phoenix for me to see if he needed an adjustment.  He didn't, yay!  She's know him as long as I've had him, and said that he felt great for being turned out for a year.  She suggested I start him on B-L Solution, which is an anti-inflammatory.  Our local feed store has it, so I'm going to pick some up on Monday.  She agreed with me about putting shoes on, but said his feet looked great.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Poor, poor Buddy

Not only did I ignore him for a couple days while I brought Phoenix back, but then he goes right into show prep for next weekend.  I had a good lesson yesterday, and then today we have a dressage clinic at our barn.  I originally wasn't going to ride, (its a clinic put on for OSU's dressage team) but one of the girls had to back out so there was an empty spot. The clinic is with Dr. Tina Steward, who has ridden and trained thru Grand Prix (and rode hunters as a kid) and who also happens to be a fully licensed/certified DVM who specialised in chiropractics. She's been our chiropractor for years, and this is the 4th (I think) clinic she's had at our barn.

Our lesson last night was really pretty good.  Buddy was back to his normal tricks of over bending on our approach to the fences, then falling in on the landing side.  Jen had me pick up and hold a counter bend to fence, and while he wasn't perfectly straight, it helped a lot.  I'm hoping Tina can give me some pointers today to help with that. 

Jen had put a couple of the fences up to 2'9" and Buddy jumped really big over them.  He tends to have a flatter jump, because A) he's lazy and B) confirmationaly he's not designed to have a lot of scope.  It took me by surprise a couple times how round he jumped last night.  At one point we were doing a 5 stride bending line and he jumped really big over the first fence.  I lost my reins, cantered two strides, picked one back up and somehow managed to steer him to the second fence.  We jumped the second fence one handed and the distance was actually pretty nice; and on the off side he gave me a flying change!  Seriously, I couldn't ask for a better pony!

Thursday the horse in the stall next to Bud moved out, so I was able to move Phoenix into it.  The boys sniffed noses, then promptly ignored each other.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Phoenix is home!

And settled in very well.  I was a little nervous about loading him at Jen's....he can be a little difficult to load by himself and seeing as he would be leaving his only buddy Sun out there I was prepared for a battle.  But he surprised me by jumping right in the trailer.  He was a wound up unloading at the barn, but I walked him around the indoor for a minute and he settled right in.  I gave him a big pile of hay and he was nice and cozy for the night.

Today our farrier was out and both Phoenix and Buddy got trimmed.  I only put fronts on Buddy in the summer since he get a little foot sore when we jump out on the grass.  The next time they're due he'll get his.  For now, we are going to leave Phoenix barefoot and see how he does.  I figured that his feet will go thru a big change going from the wet, muddy pasture to a dry stall and I don't want shoes on during it.  Depending on how he does, we'll either leave him barefoot or put shoes on.

While Steve was doing Phoenix's left hind he tore a bit of the frog.  It spurted blood and we had to wash it with Betadine and we ended up putting a rolled cotton/vet wrap bandage on it.  Steve said it should be fine, but to wash it again tomorrow and probably rewrap it.
Buddy in the crossties with Phoenix's blood.  Do you know how hard it is to get blood off of mats?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Coming Home

Phoenix is coming back to the barn tomorrow!!  There's a 4H group that rides out of our barn.  One of the girls, Anna, is leasing a 20something year old TB whose owner is currently in Kentucky doing an internship. The owner has been trying to micromanage her horse while she's away, and has made it very difficult for anyone to help Anna.  The 4H leaders talked to me and asked if I would be willing to bring Phoenix back for Anna.  So as long as Anna's parents are ok with leasing Phoenix instead of Freeway, he'll come back to be a walk/trot 4H pony!  I'm so excited to have him back!  He is my heart horse, and while Buddy is a better match for me, Phoenix will always be my baby.
Love my old man!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Same old, same old

Not much new to report.  Nik's ridden Buddy twice in the past week, and moved back to the English saddle.  Last Sunday she and my barn owner's 9yr old granddaughter, Anna, had a lesson together.  Anna's been taking lessons for a little over a year, so she's a bit more advanced than Nik but the two of them did great together. Nik's been able to get Bud to trot by herself now, and is doing a much better job of steering.

There's a ABRA (Buckskin) show in town this weekend and last night a couple of us from the barn went to watch.  They have Buckskin and Open classes in reining, working cow, English pleasure, and western.  Last night was reining and working cow.  Every time I watch, I want to do reining!  Buddy knows how to do everything they ask.  Today I borrowed Connie's saddle again and we attempted to do the pattern at home.  Our spins need work, and he won't slide because A) he's lazy, and B)I'm not putting sliders on him.  I'm getting more comfortable riding one handed, but I had to two hand him to ask for the lead changes.  But on the plus side, he gave me both of them pretty nicely!

Isn't he cute?!