Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Horsepower

Since my truck has been slowly dying electrical part by electrical part, with some random overheating and falling off of mirrors thrown in for fun, I'm proud to finally say I've upgraded!
Go home rear view mirror, you're drunk

Welcome to the family big blue!! She's a 2012 Dodge Ram 2500 5.7 liter Hemi with all the bells and whistles.

Bluetooth, navigation system, and best of all a backup camera! It took me about two seconds to back up to the trailer using it! I'm sure I'll love it even more (if that's possible) when I'm trying to hook up in the dark on early horse show mornings. 
I do want to give a huge THANK YOU to my parents for helping me afford this beauty. You guys are seriously the best!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jump ALL the Things

I think McKenna's latest meltdowns have been in part because I'm asking her to work harder like a grown up pony and adulting is hard, and that we've been focusing on dressage and haven't done any poles/jumping in I can't remember when.  The mare's brain has been slightly fried so this past week was focusing on jumping all the things.

Last Monday I decided to lunge her first in the vienna reins then over a cavalletti. I started it small, about 6", then moved it up to 18" then 2'.  Back and forth each way trotting and cantering at each height till she was able to chill and do it nicely.  I then adjusted it to make an oxer, going right since that's her easier direction.  She didn't bat an eye at it and while she tends to go from the long spots, she had no trouble over the baby 2'3" fence.
I like this one because it looks like she's doing some fancy jazz dance step with her hind end.

Tuesday was our now weekly jump lesson.  I'm committing to at least one lesson a week thru the summer.  I definitely realize that I need help figuring out a well rounded riding plan for Miss McKenna and in the two I've already had there's been great improvement.  Like last time we started inside with some w-t-c.  She was a bit strong in the canter but really turning my body to the inside and lots of little half halts helped.  We then went outside and trainer had me immediately go over the little crossrails set up from the previous lesson.

The first time McKenna didn't know what was coming and trotted over them no problem. But once she realized what we were doing she promptly ignored me and attempted to run at the fences.  We did some circling before the fences to make her think we weren't jumping and it kinda worked.  Trainer then had me walk down the rain and start trotting once we turned onto our approach.  The mare was still strong, but waited for the most part. 

McKenna got Wednesday and Thursday off and Friday I set some poles up in the indoor since it was raining.  We trotted back and forth and she was great so I added a crossrail after the poles.  Again the first time she was caught unaware by the jump and hopped over it no problem.  The following times she wanted to get strong and stumbled a bit through the poles.  She ended up figuring it out and I think I'll continue with the placing poles before the fences.  The more I can get her thinking about her feet and slowing her down, the better!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Kick On

McKenna and I had a lesson Tuesday night with our jump trainer that was a continuation of McKenna's current "I don't wanna, I don't like it" trend.  Poor mare seems to be going through some teenage rebellion and growing pains. 

We were put right to work on a circle asking for a forward trot.  Trainer thinks I've gotten too worried about where her head is and getting her round, and that we need to take a step back and get our flow back.  The trot was actually pretty decent, she was just a bit harder to get going and soft tracking left than right.  The training wheel really came off in our canter work.  We'd canter a circle or two then McKenna decided she was done and would break to the trot.  Being the nice mom that I am, I would let her, then trot around till we had a nice soft trot and ask for the canter again.  Trainer said McKenna was very easily taking advantage and I needed to nip it in the bud.  As soon as I started to feel her break in the canter I was to kick on and boot her forward.  Forget about it being pretty, or soft, or where her head was, she needed to go until I said stop.

But she's too cute to get mad at
It's not like she's out of shape or unconditioned to canter more than two circles in a row.  She just doesn't want to.  She did protest with some head flinging and a couple little hops the first time I got after her, but got over much better than she did her tantrum on Sunday.  Baby steps for the teenager.

We had been riding inside (and sharing the ring with a western pleasure rider) but trainer wanted to see how she'd be outside and work on some trot poles.  It had been raining off and on all day but was currently not raining so we headed out.  The ring was wet, with some little puddles but McKenna's a PNW born-n-bred pony so she didn't care at all. We started trotting around and of course it starts sprinkling but trainer made us stay out there.  McKenna was more up and alert outside but I was told to not worry about it, just get her going forward and focus on the trot poles.  The poles were set at about a stride and half and my job was make her wait and add for the two.
Gimme cookies

It for sure wasn't our prettiest trips through poles but that wasn't the goal.  We did four or five trips through the poles, fitting in the two steps, and each time got better.  McKenna was still not as round and soft as she could have been but she was listening and not taking off or being naughty, even when it started raining harder and we were going directly into it.  She did lay her ears flat back and hump her back up but I kicked on, and she went through the poles and halted nicely after. Yay mare! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy F-ing Mother's Day

I find it fitting that I so completely pissed of my pony on Mother's Day she had a tantrum of epic proportions.  She was acting like a total teenager and was in a snit our whole ride but instead of making me upset I was able to laugh it off.
We attempted to canter but it was more flailing and leaping
I haven't done much with McKenna this week.  We were supposed to have a lesson on Tuesday but she was just so slightly off.  The inside of her left front shoe had slipped a little, creating a tiny gap between it and her hoof.  Trainer thought that there were some pebbles/sand stuck in the crack making her sore.  The farrier was already scheduled for Thursday so the mare got a few days off till her shoe could get reset. Just to be safe the farrier took the hoof testers to her, but she didn't react at all and when I lunged her afterwards she looked normal.

Friday she got lunged as I was completely exhausted after a long work week and barely had the energy to clean my stall and feed. We did have a pretty decent ride Saturday considering she hadn't been ridden since Monday.  McKenna was full of energy, but it was controllable.  Lots of transitions, lots of circles, lots of keeping my calm and focus and riding her through it.
The dressage bridle I ordered came this week so I decided to test it out today.  I really just wanted to try the flash, as McKenna like to grab anything that comes into range of her mouth and stick her tongue out when she's upset or doesn't like something.  When I first got on I could feel her confusion about the flash; she attempted some head tossing and shaking but seemed ok with it.  During our trot work she would get upset mostly during changes of direction/bend and try to open her mouth, hit the flash, and then fling her head.  She wasn't super bad and it was easy to ride past it so I kept going. 

About five strides into our first canter she gave me the equine middle finger and took off. Her head was as high as my martingale would allow, she had the bit between her teeth, and I had very little brakes.  I pretty much had to run her into the wall to get her to stop.  She's taken off with me before, but it's always been an "I'm so full of energy and baby OTTB" explosion involving some bucks and/or leaps. This was an "I'm pissed off and f-you bitch" type of take off. She had let her inner witchy mare come out to play and she's never done that with me.  I got off and took of the flash and she immediately rubbed her nose on the wall of the arena. 

I got back on but she was having none of it. She would hop up and down in the canter, try to take off in the trot, way over bend and go sideways when I asked for leg yield, and almost ran my leg into the wall multiple times.  We did another 20minutes or so and I just asked for some nice, soft work but she was beyond reason.  We finally quit with some somewhat relaxed walk leg yields.  So note to self: The mare does not like flashes and we'll probably never rock a figure 8 in the jumper ring.

Monday, May 4, 2015

To the Left, to the Left

Sorry if that song is now stuck in your head but it's been stuck in mine all weekend so I thought I'd share the wealth!  I had a last minute dressage lesson Friday night where we focused on all things left.  Mainly getting McKenna off my left leg and moving more into my right rein.

Looks almost like a legit dressage pony
I might have had an impulse eBay buy that came Friday morning.  I found a good deal on a barely used Collegiate dressage saddle that I put a low ball offer in that won. TS checked the fit of it before my lesson and it actually fits McKenna pretty darn well.  TS recommended some reflocking in the future, after the mare finishes growing/filling out but the Ogilvy helps for now. I did have to punch a couple holes in the stirrup leathers it came with, but being a shorty I'm used to it.  I do have a black dressage bridle on the way because I hate mixing brown and black tack.

As for the lesson, we only did walk-trot but it was some of the best and hardest work we've had yet.  TS was really getting after me about not getting after McKenna.   I'm being too easy on the mare and it's time to up the ante. We really focused on our leg yields going left.  The mare absolutely doesn't want to move off my left leg, or will move her shoulders but not her hind end.  I was given a dressage whip and told to lightly tap her with it.  McKenna had the predicted melt down, "OH MY GOD MOM IS BEATING ME!!!!!!!!" but after a couple half hearted hops up and down she gave it up and went back to work. I was really happy with the fact that she could come back to work after losing her little pony brain. That almost felt better than the leg yields we ended with!
Nom nom time
She got the day off Saturday to think about what she learned, then we went right back to it on Sunday.  I didn't drill the leg yields as much as we had in the lesson, and I didn't get the whip out, but we still had some good work.  I also cantered in the dressage saddle for the first time and holy crap do I love it!  I could actually SIT ON MY HORSE during our canter, wrap my legs around her, and not perch on her back.  It felt like I was cantering bareback.  I am so so so happy with my impulse buy!

Friday, May 1, 2015

I Need Another Hole in my Head

You know the saying "I need a (fill in the blank....in this case it would be horse) like I need another hole in my head"? Well I need another hole in my head.  For the next month I'm going to be working with a friend's mare.  BB had shoulder surgery a year ago, and then again two weeks ago, and hasn't been able to work with her 6yr old QH mare much.  They were able to do some trail rides over the fall and winter but BB was pretty upset that she still can't ride.  I'm not exactly sure how it came about that I'd ride the mare, I seem to remember a BBQ and lots of wine, but it did so here we go!

Meet Dally
Dally's a well started rope and mounted shooting horse, but BB says she gets strong and needs to learn to give to the bit.  She moved in last night and I've just lunged her so far.  She seems nervous and worried, but not naughty.  Her one big quirk is that she's majorly ear shy, but we'll work on that. Since she hasn't worked much in the past year she's pretty out of shape and needs to go on a diet.

It's hare to get pics of her, she keeps following me around
I figure the plan is to start slow with some walk-trot till she gets more in shape and we get used to each other. I get the sense that she's a tryer and wants to please so hopefully once she knows me she'll relax and soften.  She's a very cute mover, lofty floaty trot that looks super smooth. Even though she's a western pony I'm pretty sure I'll have to put my jump saddle on her and see what she's like as a hunter pony. And I think she's very close to being an actual pony; she's maybe 15 hands.

She has the prettiest mane.  Blond, gray, and liver chestnut all mixed in.