Thursday, May 13, 2021

Cinder Progress Report: Holy Cow

 I didn't blog about my past few lessons on Cinder, mainly because there wasn't much to tell. She was good, but it's still the baby basics. Walk, trot, canter, keep her balanced, half halt, more bend, don't let her get rushy....not exactly exciting stuff.  But this week's lesson, while still baby basics, was fantastic.


Both of my ponies got their teeth done last week by Trainer A's dentist, a friend of hers from college who flies out here twice a year to do horses. And I'm pretty sure she has magic hands because Cinder felt like a completely different horse after getting her teeth done. Peebs felt better as well, but not as dramatically different as Cinder. 

 I had gotten on a few minutes before my lesson and started our walk warm up while I waited for A. I immediately felt the difference. As soon as I closed my leg and picked up the contact, Cinder was right in my hand and with me. She still wants to giraffe around and gets distracted every 15 seconds, but comes back much easier and felt like an actual trained horse. She's obviously still a baby, but it's like we crossed the bridge from baby horse who I could get round for a step or two to trained horse who goes round for the majority of the ride. 


We did a little warm up trot and canter then went back to the trot and worked on a more hunter trot. Cinder wants to stretch down, and go in a more huntery way and for the first time I was really able to get her there, and keep it. I was also able to start floating the reins for a few strides and have her keep that frame. She still wants to pop out of it quickly, but I can feel that hack winning trot developing. 


We went back and did some more canter work, and while I can't quite get her as round and connected in the canter yet, we did manage a few strides each direction that felt great. I'm starting to figure out her tells, and when I need more leg vs more hand and when/how to half halt. 

At this point in the lesson one of A's junior riders was getting on for her lesson and Cinder was absolutely convinced she needed to go say hi, and kept trying to stare at them and break gait. I'm finally comfortable enough to pony kick her and tap her with the whip and know she's not going to bolt or freak out about it. And I consider that another big win. A did say that Cinder's one "bad habit" is getting very distracted about other horses in the ring with her. Last week she had a tantrum about not getting to say hi to another horse, but A said after a CTJ she was much better. When I bring her home I'm going to have to conscript friend A and my trainer to ride either Peebs or Scottie when I ride Cinder so we can keep working on this issue.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

GLEE Spring into Summer Show #2

 Peebs and I did our second show of the year last Sunday. It was the second show in the same series as the first one that we did. This time we did two equitation classes and two jumper rounds.

The show has a couple of $500 equitation challenge classes; a gymnastic class and a handy and dandy equitation class. Originally each class had a 2'6" and 3' section, but due to popular demand, they added a 2' section for this show. I didn't realize that till the morning of, and looked at the courses before deciding what to enter. The gymnastic class called for no stirrup work, and a trotting a fence without stirrups, so I decided to do the handy class instead. I have no shame pulling the weenie, flabby ammy card. 

There was a lot more space between 5 and 8 than 5 and the rail

Peebs was little more awake and distracted for the handy class than he normally is. Trainer and I talked about it, and decided to go for the inside turn from 1 to 2, as that turn also showed up in my jumper rounds and there wasn't a whole lot of space between the outside fence and the rail. I was to take fence 1 on a slight angle, as Trainer was afraid of me loosing the impulsion in squaring off the turn, and angling it would encourage Peebs to land on his left lead. I liked how I rode the turn, but I cut the turn to sharp to 2 and we ended up aimed at the inside standard. Peebs never felt like he locked onto the fence either, so I circled and re-approached. So much for winning a piece of the prize money. But the rest of the course rode well and I mainly wanted to use the class as a warm up for our medal round.

All I have are blurry screenshots, sorry

The medal round was at 2'3" and I don't think Peebs realized the fences had gone up a hole as he smacked the first fence pretty hard. It stayed in the cups, but since there were only 3 of us in the class and no one else hit poles, I knew we were going to be on the bottom. Peebs was more focused and with me for this round, but also strong and wanting to counter bend and motorcycle around the turns. He's earned himself some flat work boot camp, as well as halting straight after fences for a while. But overall I was happy with our two equitation rounds. None of the fences looked big or felt scary and I could see every distance and know when I needed to hold or move him up. 

We had about a two hour break before my jumper classes.  Peebs paced a bit at the trailer and tired himself out, which was a good thing. I tried to focus on bending and moving his shoulders around in our warm up, but the arena wasn't that big and trying to work around other people was tough. He was more rideable and I was ready for our 2'3" jumper rounds. 

I never really got Peebs in front of my leg for our first round, and we never fell into a rhythm. I know we pulled a rail, but can't remember at which fence. We placed third out of three again. My instructions for going into the second round were to gallop him across the arena to the first fence, then settle a bit on the approach and keep that pace the whole way around. Peebs was definitely tired by this point and I had to help him a bit more, but we found our distances and I was really, really happy with the round. 

Till the second to last fence. It was the turn from jump 1 to 2 in the eq class above, now fences 8 and 9. I had dropped to the trot for a simple change coming up to fence 8 and Peebs thought we were done. He kept trying to drop his head and stick his front leg out. I was pulling his head up and kicking but he was determined to scratch his head while trotting. I realized there was no way we were making it over fence 8 and stopped him, where he immediately started rubbing his head on his leg. I had forgotten my crop at home so I couldn't whack him, but I booted him forward and circled back to 8. I did nail the inside turn from 8 to 9 so at least I redeemed myself there. 

I was pretty pissed at the time, but now I can look back and laugh. The day as a whole went really well, with just a few bobbles that can be fixed. I felt comfortable with the height, felt like the courses were within our capabilities and dare I say it, maybe ready to move up? Just next time I'll remember my crop in case Peebs decides he needs to itch again.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Scheduling for Two

 This is going to be a whiny, first world problems post so apologies in advance. Show season is staring to pick up here in the PNW and I've had a tentative schedule mapped out. 

And then the managers for our main local series announced today that they're changing dates. These are the USHJA Outreach shows that are normally held at the same time as our rated shows, so you get the rated show experience for a third of the price. But due to COVID regulations, and the fact that the Canadian border is closed and Thunderbird can't have their shows, a lot of people are going to be doing the Oregon rated shows this year. So show management decided to bump the Outreach shows to different weeks, and host them separately.

Peebs humoring me

I'm actually ok with the move, as far as it gives the Outreach shows more time and space. Usually the rated jumper classes go first and the Outreach jumpers have to wait to the very end of the day. But then I realized that for the first show in June, the date they bumped us to is the weekend after Cinder's second show. Trainer A's barn is doing a one day schooling horse trial and A is going to show her gelding in addition to Cinder. This will be the biggest group of students she's taken to a show, in addition to showing two horses herself and I know that in addition to grooming Cinder, I'll probably be helping to wrangle the kids.

"Just give me cookies already lady"


So, do I really want to spend one weekend as groom/owner on the ground, then show my own horse the following weekend, after working 40hrs during the week? There aren't any other local shows in June, so I would have to wait till July to show Peebs. Which isn't the end of the world, but I'm planning on bringing Cinder home in July and I know it'll take a bit to get into the swing of having two horses at home again. There are two local shows in July and two in August, and I'd like to do one or two of them if possible.  At least I'm not planning on showing Cinder this summer, maybe in the fall if we're ready. This scheduling shit isn't for the faint of heart!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Is There an Echo in Here?

Time to play a little bit of catch up! The day after my lesson on Cinder, I had a lesson on Peebs. Since it was almost two weeks ago (oops) I can't remember the full details, but it was a good lesson. We worked mostly on smoothing things out, mainly little tweaks to my turn or approach. Not necessarily a challenging lesson, but a good one nonetheless. 

The only media from said lesson

I do remember I had one semi-bogey fence, a single on a short diagonal going right to left. The first couple of times we did it, the distance came up pretty well but I couldn't see it. I just kept my leg on and contact through my reins and let Peebs figure it out. It wasn't a bad fence but I felt like I couldn't commit to the distance. The second time we did it, my trainer had walked around the arena and saw our approach from a different angle and suggested I go a half a stride deeper before turning off the rail, and think about using more left leg to turn him instead of my right rein. I did what she said, and what do you know, it worked. I could see the distance (it was a touch long) and was able to close my leg and move Peebs up to it. We did it a second time and again, I was able to see my distance about three strides out and commit to it. 

She's slowly starting to fill out a bit

A few days later I had another lesson on Cinder. It was about 70* at 10am and Cinder was fairly certain it was too hot to work. Mare has a lazy streak. Like I actually had to sit deep and leg her on and go to my whip to keep her cantering. She's one wild and crazy 4 year old. 

In our trot work, Trainer A had me focus on keeping her shoulders in line. Cinder likes to pop her right shoulder going left and really drift out. I got called out a couple of times for being too handsy, and A told me to think about turning her more from my right leg and less left rein. Sound familiar? We also worked on spiraling in and out on a circle, then continuing down the long side keeping the feel of spiraling her out. Which is what my trainer (J) has me do with Peebs on the flat. A words it slightly differently than J does, but same concept. It's been really nice to hear the same things from both of them and to get it drilled into my head twice as often. Who knows, maybe it'll actually stick.


I have also ridden Cinder twice now outside of lessons. A was gone over the weekend at a show and Cinder was going to have four days off. I'm sure she would have been perfectly fine, but since I had the time, and I really, really like riding her, I figured I'd bop around on her. I was a little nervous when I got on the first time flying solo, but Cinder was great. We only did about 25 mins of walk trot both days, trying to work on spiraling in and out like we did in our lesson.  Don't get me wrong, lessoning on her is great, but having the time to play around a bit and figure her out on my own was really helpful. The honeymoon phase is in full effect and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Cinder Progress Report: Good Baby Brain

 I've had two lesson in the last two days, on two different horses with two different trainers. I'm exhausted.  


Her neck feels so long

Tuesday I had my second lesson on Cinder. It was a great lesson, especially because of the circumstances. It's been really, really windy and dry here; so windy I couldn't hear Trainer A unless I was within 10ft of her. And the footing in the indoor at Cinder's barn was pulled out last weekend and they're working on the base before putting in new footing. So we had to ride outside in the wind.  Thankfully Cinder didn't seem bothered by the wind at all, or the dressage letters and standards that had blown over. 


We started off walking and chatting with A for bit, then got down to work. We mostly stayed at one end of the ring so I could hear A. We worked on spiraling in and out on our circle, and not letting her get fast, or rushy. I want to push Cinder past her balance at this point, so A had me think about having more a western jog than a working trot for right now. Instead of adding more leg, I was to think about adding more half halts and balance. 

Her canter is freaking amazing

We also did our first canter together! A had me pick it up out of a trot, which threw me because I usually pick up the canter out of a walk. Hunters vs dressage I guess. It took me a minute to organize myself, and for Cinder to figure out what the heck I was asking her to do, but we got it. And holy crap, her canter is so, so nice. She's got a great natural rhythm, it felt pretty dang balanced, and it was so easy and comfortable to ride. The way it feels just screams HUNTER. We did a couple circles before A had me go down the rail and I was so in awe of Cinder that I kinda forgot to steer and we almost left the arena, and then did a little drunken weave down the second long side. Oops. I have to remember that the power steering isn't installed yet. 

Baby's first big spook

We took a walk break then tried cantering the other direction. And then the guy working on the indoor decided it was a good time to fire up the tractor and dump some rock. As you can see from the pic above, Cinder had some feelings about it. She spooked twice, but other than a stride or two of flailing, they weren't that bad. I was able to stay on, and bring her back down to the walk both times within a circle. We did get a little more cantering in between the first and second spooks, but both A and I could tell her baby brain was thisclose to being fried so we ended by walking some circle and figure 8s at the far end of the arena.

I was so impressed with how well Cinder handled everything. When I had ridden Peebs the day before in the wind, he was good but obviously not happy about it. And since tractors are his biggest fear, I know he would have noped out the situation as fast as he could, and his brain would have been fried long before Cinder's was. I told A I was more worried about the tractor due to Peebs' trauma than Cinder was and kept anticipating her to be worse. She has such a good brain on her!

Monday, April 12, 2021

From Halter to the Olympics

 I don't think I ever did an in-depth post on Cinder's bloodlines. She's not registered, her dad isn't registered and he's wasn't approved as a stallion before he was gelded, so I'm pretty much out of luck getting her registered. I'm trying to get her approved ISR/Oldenburg NA. Since they're not having inspections I can get her into the premare book and if/when she's inspected she can be moved into one of the other books. 

One Heinz 57 mutt of a horse right here

In my quest to document her lineage I was able to get more info on each of her parents. Sire Chancellor is by Cord (Swedish) out of Imprint (ISR). I had been told that Imprint was by Ideal and out of a QH mare, which is where Rogue's palomino coloring came from. But one of the pics that was sent to me a few weeks ago was of Imprint's ISR paperwork, and she was out of a Paint mare, not QH. And I was able to look up Imprint's bloodlines. 


Far Ute Keno (palomino) is Cinder's 3rd great grandsire

Imprint's mom and APHA grandparent's didn't really do a whole lot, from what I can find. But her two grandsires did. Far Ute Keno was a Superior All Around horse, as well as a leading sire for many years, winning a Lifetime Leading Sire award. Scribbles also won the APHA Superior All Around and Lifetime Leading Sire awards, and was inducted into the APHA Hall of Fame in 2018. Both stallions won a lot of halter awards, so maybe Cinder winning her halter class at 2 shouldn't have been such a surprise. I mean she obviously takes after the APHA part of her pedigree hahahaha.


On the dam side, I knew Abby (registered as Brenna) was by Bolero out of St Pr H Goldlady. I could trace the Bolero side back but was stumped with Goldlady. I still don't know what the St Pr H means, but I was able to find out that Goldlady was by the Olympic dressage stallion Goldstern. Goldstern was bought by the Dusseldorf Police Force as a young horse, and in between winning two Olympic team gold and an individual bronze medals, as well as many European championships, he patrolled the streets of Dusseldorf for two hours a day. I can't even imagine if any current Olympic horses had to be used as police horses today. 

I haven't been able to find much on Goldlady's dam side, mostly because the one Goldlady I found wasn't born on the same year as what I have in the records. I'm sure the records could be off, or it could be a different Goldlady. I'm going to keep digging to see what I can find. I love looking back and seeing all the different horses that make Cinder who she is.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Cinder Progress Report: Our first lesson!

 I had my first real lesson on Cinder this week. Trainer A thinks she's far enough along to swap out one trainer ride for a lesson per week, so we've got our weekly lesson time set. I got no media from the first lesson, but hopefully I'll remember to ask A to take some videos.

We did about 45mins of walk trot, mainly just me getting used to her, and her to me. A is a touch shorter than I am (and I'm 5'3" so having a trainer that's shorter than me is weird) so at least Cinder is used to having a leg being on her where mine hits. But A uses her leg more effectively than me, and I'm used to riding a sluggish Peebs, so we had a couple excitable upward transitions. I just need to calibrate my leg to Cinder, and work on not nagging her with it. 

sweaty post ride selfie


Most of the lesson focused on my position and hands, and using them effectively. Once I was able to keep my reins short (so hard to do) and my core engaged (also very hard) we got some very nice connected trot. I can't remember to hold that position very long, and Cinder tends to get distracted and pop above the contact, but we'll get there. She also likes to over bend left, so I got lots of reminders to have a strong right leg. 

Cinder, only with people walking by the arena

For being about three months under saddle, she's so much farther along that I thought she would be. She didn't feel like a neon green baby, just a little green and easily distracted. But not in a spooky way; more of a "what's going on over there way", and she was always willing to get back to work with a little reminder. She never felt like being naughty, or saying no. I'm sure those days will come but for now she seems just as easy going under saddle as she is on the ground.