Wednesday, September 28, 2022

This and That

Little bit of this and that from the last couple of weeks.

My last few lessons have been flat rides, mainly staying on a 20m circle. Cinder kinda lost the ability to canter nicely on the right lead for both A and I. She really wanted to go around with her head in the air and was convinced she couldn't canter on the bit. A has had me really focus on getting her deep and low in the trot, imagining I had draw reins on as my visual. Once Cin was steady in the deeper trot, then I was to ask for the canter knowing she'd come up a bit, but since she was almost too deep she'd come up to where we wanted her. I definitely struggled a bit, but at one point A told me to two point the canter and I lost it completely, but we've gotten some really nice canter work out of it. 


When I got to the barn for my lesson on Friday, A was tacking up Metro for a quick trail ride before my lesson. I mentioned a trail ride sounded nice and A told me to tack up early and we'd do a trail instead of an arena lesson. The BO had a mini excavator clearing out the stream and an old bridge at the bottom of the first part of the trail and Cinder was not too sure about it. We could hear it, but not really see it through the trees and I started to get nervous, so obviously Cinder got more nervous. And then Altivo, A's doberman, came running up behind us and spooked Cinder more. Cin is totally used to the dogs running around during trail rides, but she can be a little spooky if they come up fast behind her. She jumped forward into Metro, but being the saint that he is, he didn't care. Once we were in the woods I started to relax and so did Cin. We ended up having a great ride and I'm glad I kept going even when I was sure Cinder was going to loose her mind. 


After the trail ride, I watched A school a client horse, while the client was riding her other horse. A got off and had the owner get on so she could explain a few things and asked me to hold Brownie. He is the sweetest, cuddliest horse ever, so I spent a very fun 15 minutes getting loved on. The owner's other horse is a little bit of a local celebrity, and I've admired him for years, doing the junior jumpers before a certain former Olympic trainer in the area took over the ride and did the 1.50m on him. G, the owner, does the 1.10m with him now and I told her if she wasn't careful I'd steal both of her horses. I also really enjoyed being a bit of a barn rat, hanging out watching other lessons/rides and then shooting the shit with people in the tack room.

It was stupid hot for the end of summer over the weekend, hitting 91 on Sunday. I wasn't going to ride, just lunge, but when I pulled Cinder out of the pasture she resembled the Peanuts cartoon character Pig-Pen. The dust coming off of her was disgusting, so she got a fully soapy bath with a deep tail conditioning. She was not amused.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Bucket List: Spruce Meadows

 If you follow me on IG/FB you probably already saw, but a week and a half ago, my parents and I went to Calgary and Spruce Meadows. I've always wanted to go to Spruce, and my parents love to travel and thankfully indulge me when I want to combine travel with horse shows. We got tickets for Saturday and Sunday at the Masters, watching the BMO Nations Cups on Saturday and the $3,000,000 CN International Grand Prix on Sunday. 

Spruce Meadows flags were everywhere

We spent the first couple days in Calgary exploring, and heading up to Banff. Downtown Calgary is really nice and we found some great Vietnamese food, as well as an awesome steak house. Banff and Lake Louise are absolutely stunning and totally worth the day trip to go see. 

Lake Louise

From where we were staying in downtown, it was about a half hour drive to Spruce Meadows. We didn't want to bother with renting a car, driving, and parking, so we took the light rail from downtown to the end of the line, where there was a free shuttle but that took about 5 minutes to drive to SM. 10/10 would recommend; we beat the horrible traffic leaving as the bus got priority over cars, the light rail was clean, easy to use, and only took a half hour. The only problem was Sunday the last shuttle bus was at 5, but the GP didn't finish till 5. We ended up missing the final jump off to be able to make the shuttle. 

 Obviously we were only able to see the spectator parts of the grounds, not the stabling/warm up areas, but the grounds were lovely. Definitely the nicest venue I've ever been to. They had a bunch of food vendors, shopping, and a lot of clean bathrooms. We did a little shopping on Saturday; I ended up with a hoodie and stickers. When we got to our seats, I noticed there were a lot of people walking the Nations Cup course, and most of them looked like regular people not riders or trainers. After overhearing someone else, we realized they had the International Ring open for everyone to walk so my mom and I headed out to walk the course. I'm still in shock that anyone could step out into the International Ring and walk a Nations Cup course. I can't remember any of the major US Grand Prixs that I've been to where they allowed that. 

I was unfortunately ill-prepared and didn't know the course, so I kinda stumbled around trying to figure things out, and then we ran out of time. But it was awesome to see those big fences up close and to walk some of the lines. The open water looks huge standing next to it. I also failed at taking pics, mostly just being too in awe of being on the course. 

Hey look, the jump is a tall as I am

They didn't open the course up on Sunday, so no walking the GP course. But we were sitting close to the clocktower where riders enter/exit and a lot of riders/trainers/groms/owners were coming and going and I was able to hear a bit of what they were saying about the course. And watching some of the trainers and grooms while their riders were on course was almost better than watching the riders. There was a Belgium coach that almost fell over the railing while watching his rider. I was able to see Martin Fuchs, Jenn Gates, the Philippartes brothers, and Steve Guerdat up close. And those were just the riders I recognized. 

Captured the moment McLain had a rail on the double liverpools


It was an incredible experience and I'm so thanful for my parents for making it possible. I know I won't ever go to Spruce as a rider/owner, but hopefully I can make it back as a spectator again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Breathe like a Dressage Rider

 We had a bit of a breakthrough in our canter transitions in my lesson on Friday. While we've had slow by steady progress on them, the first one or two each ride are still a bit rough. And while Trainer A has managed to do walk-canters, I've had a lot of trouble managing them. 

Mya, the other chestnut mare, is a very, very expensive International Hunter Derby hopeful and I told Cinder to soak up all of her knowledge when they were in the cross ties together

It didn't help that on Friday Cinder was very not feeling it. It was hot and oddly humid, and there was no breeze moving the air around. When I went to get Cin she was in the middle of her afternoon nap and reluctantly got up when I opened her stall door. She was behind my leg the whole lesson, even when we started jumping. While maybe not the lesson I had been hoping for, I did learn a lot on how to ride "behind-the-leg-Cinder."

Will work for cookies

During our flat warm-up, I was struggling more than usual with the canter transitions when A stopped me and apologized. She asked if she had told me about the double breath inhale. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, and she explained that since you can't use your voice in dressage, a lot of dressage riders use breath cues with their horses. A does a quick double breath inhale, like two quick sniffs, as she's asking for the upward canter transition. She then sent us back out on our circle to try it, and what do you know, it worked wonders. Our transitions were much more prompt, and we even managed a decent walk-canter. 

Very happy with how she's looking right now

 As I said above, the jump portion of the lesson was a bit of train wreck. I kept seeing the long spot,  while Cinder, who has finally learned to wait and add the stride, kept seeing the short one. We had a couple spectacular chips, before I got after her and made her take the long ones. We ended with an outside line that was a long 5 or short 6 and since the jumps were 2' and Cinder was not inclined to go forward, A told me to do the 6. I came in thinking wait for the six, but we ended up waiting for the 7. Oops. The next time through I let her flow more, and even then on stride 4 I realized it was going to be long and I was determined we would not chip, so I sat down, dug my heels in and clucked like hell. We got the six and then did the line one last time to smooth things out. I still had to leg her down the line, but not nearly as much as the time before and we quit with that.  

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Can You Not?

 Following the show, Cinder got a couple of easy days. A took her out on the trails Tuesday and did a stretchy arena ride on Thursday. Apparently Cinder had more energy than we thought she would. When A was turning her out Thursday night (she was on night turnout till this week) Cinder decided to choose violence. 


The horses are usually led double with a pasture mate and A was taking Cin's current BFF Violet out with her. Cinder objected, tried to kick Violet and almost got A who was in the middle. A let go of Cinder, who then proceeded to take a jaunt around the parking lot till she somehow got her lead rope caught in her hind shoe. She yanked the crap out of her head and destroyed the rope, but then stood quietly till A could come rescue her. 

Then Saturday when I went up to ride I found the above on Cinder's right shoulder. She had been inside for a couple of hours and it looked fresh, so who knows what she did in her stall. I washed it and since she didn't seem bothered by it, decided to ride. She was having a total baby brain day, spooking at the new quads parked at the end of the arena (fair enough), spooking at a gate jump that was on the ground next to a cross rail (not fair as she's jumped that gate multiple times), forgetting she knows how to pick up the right lead, and being super distracted by two other horses who joined us half way through our ride. It was one of those rides that I was just happy we managed to w/t/c each way without dying.

Finally, when I went up on Monday to ride I was greeted with this. Super swollen left eyelid and weepy eye. My first thought was that her allergies were acting up, as it's been super smoggy/hazy/dusty and we've had poor air quality alerts all week. I put a compress on her eye, which she loved, and smeared some ophthalmic ointment on it before shoving some banamine in her mouth. I also put her on Platinum's Skin and Allergy supplement, which I used last year for some hives. She also has two fly masks she'll wear 24/7 and we can rotate and wash them every couple of days. A has been putting the ointment on for me and said it's looking back to normal, which is great.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Bedrock Finale Show: August 2022

 Cinder and I went to our second show of the year last weekend. We joined up with Trainer M and her clients and had a great time. We didn't get the results I wanted, but we learned a lot, had fun, made friends, and have a better idea of what I need to do to set Cinder up for success.

The week leading up to the show didn't go to plan, as I was supposed to have a lesson on Monday, followed by A schooling her Tues/Thurs, then shipping over to the show Friday. A's dog was pregnant and decided to have her puppies a week early, so my lesson on Monday turned into me just flatting her and A had to cancel her training rides. I unfortunately had other commitments and wasn't able to swing going up and riding, so Cinder had Tues/Wed/Thurs off. I did free lunge her on Friday before heading to the show, and that was a very wise idea. 

Not thrilled about the small tent stalls

Cinder actually settled in pretty well at the show. We let the horses chill in their stalls for about an hour before M had me and the two other hunter riders tack up to school in the hunter ring. I was a little nervous, as this was the first time I would be doing all the riding at the show, and not having a pro school her first. And this was her first time at this showground. 

We started in the warm up arena flatting, before moving into the hunter ring to jump. I let M school the other two first, letting Cinder take a nice long walk around the ring before we jumped. The two juniors were doing the cross rails while I had signed up for the 2' so after a couple times over an x to start, M raised the fences and had us do a course. Cinder was a little looky but jumped everything and I was really happy with her. 

Early morning walkies

There were three different 2' divisions (open, short/long stirrup, and an eq division. I just entered the short/long stirrup as I don't want to kill my horse with that many rounds) going first thing Saturday morning and we were scheduled to go middle of the order. I took Cin out for a long hand walk and watched some of the earlier rounds go. When we finally got on, she felt a little more up than she had on Friday. The schooling ring was a bit chaotic but she settled and I felt ready going into our two rounds. Cinder decided the far end of the arena was pretty scary, and stopped at fence two. I don't think she was scared of the jump, just the extra poles and gates stacked along the rail outside of the ring, plus whatever was in the trees behind them. I let the stop get to me and didn't ride her forward enough on the second attempt and she stopped again. 

One of the two 2' fences we made it over

I was determined to come into our second round and ride better. The first fence felt great, and as we were cantering to fence two I thought we had it. But we had to go past the in gate, and Cinder decided we were done. She popped her outside shoulder and tried to spin left and exit the ring. I managed to stop her before leaving, circled, and she pulled the same move. I did manage to get her away from the gate but my nerves were shot. M had us jump a few fences in the warm up, then we discussed our game plan. The cross rail classes were going later that afternoon and we decided to enter those. The goal at this point was to get her in the ring and just go around. If she still pulled crap with me, M would get on her, but M felt like with I could handle her, especially with smaller fences that we were planning on trotting. 

Unfortunately the hunter ring was moving slower than molasses, and the jumper ring finished early, so the cross rails and trot pole classes were moved to the jumper ring. I was disappointed we didn't school in the jumper ring on Friday, and that we wouldn't be able to try again in the hunter ring, but getting Cin in the ring and going around was the goal. When we came out hours later for the cross rails, Cinder felt much more settled and tired and warmed up really well. She was still a little wary going into the jumper ring, but didn't spook. We jumped everything even though she tried to run out the gate after our last line in our first round, which was an outside line heading directly towards the in gate, while I tried to do a nice courtesy circle. She got spanked on the shoulder and my outside heel shoved into her ribs plus some growling, but she didn't pull that move for the rest of the weekend, so lesson learned. Our second round was very nice and I was happy with how we ended the day. We placed 4th in both cross rail rounds out of about a dozen. 

Realizing horse show life is hard


We decided to scratch the 2' on Sunday, and stick with the cross rails. The cross rails were first thing on Sunday morning, back in the hunter ring, and I wanted to get some good, solid rounds in and felt like I was more comfortable doing that with the cross rails. Cinder came out tired and quiet in warm up, but I didn't let that fool me. When we went in for our first round I took a nice long tour of the ring to let her see everything. She spooked a bit on the far side, like I expected her to, but we were able to get around both our courses. I was still trotting everything, because I didn't trust her to not stop or try to run out the gate. I thought our rounds were decent, but we didn't place in either of them. I was still happy that we ended on a good note and got around the spooky hunter ring. 

learning to hurry up and wait

I know if I had had a pro get on her and school her we probably could have gotten over the spookiness faster, but I want to show my horse so I have to learn how to ride her through it. This show had the biggest atmosphere of any show she's been to, and she's still a baby, so it makes sense she'd be a little wary. I'm still getting comfortable riding her through naughtiness and riding her away from home, so hopefully next year we'll come out better prepared and ready.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Cinder DGAF

 In continuing with our good lesson vibes, we had another great lesson last week. It's been my first jumping lesson since Cinder has been up at SF and much needed, since we're showing this weekend. I have jumped her a little on my own, and A has been jumping Cin once a week or so and has said she's been great. Cinder really doesn't care about what you put in front of her or what the distance is. She's gonna jump it, and continue on like nbd. 

sorry for repeating myself, but this horse is amazing

We did a quick warm-up on the flat before starting over some crossrails. A wanted me to figure 8 two single fences on the diagonals and gave me the option of the short approaches or the long approaches. In an uncharacteristic move, I chose the long approaches since those tend to be the hardest on course. And what do you know, they were the easiest. Cinder has a really nice natural rhythm, and has finally started to find a nice balance, so all I really had to do was keep her straight and find our line and the distances were there. I do need to work on holding her out a bit on the landing side corners, especially if she switched her lead over the fence, but I think part of that issue was me being so happy about the approach and distance I forgot to ride the landing a bit. 

We then picked up an outside line that was a three to a one. There were placing poles down for the horse in the lesson before me, and A decided to leave them to see what Cinder did with them. Not going to lie, I was quaking in my boots approaching the line. I did let Cin get a little behind my leg coming in and didn't really help her out in the line, so we messed up the three and the poles kinda caught Cinder off guard a bit. But she gamely kept going and tried to figure out where to put her feet. Never felt like she was going to stop, or run out, or do anything naughty. And after we made it out of the line, she kept going like it was nothing. We came back around to it, after A pulled the poles, and she went down the line like we hadn't just royally screwed it up. I know A has told me before that Cinder DGAF, but this was my first time really experiencing it. 

Went up to ride Sunday but didn't feel like doing a hard ride, so we took a half hour walk around the property

 A then put the fences up a bit and gave me a little course. I had a brief existential crisis about it, but once again, Cinder DGAF. The fences rode the same as they did when they were crossrails. I just need to get out of my head and ride the rhythm and keep my leg on. Cinder feels much more solid and easy than I ever expected and I'm still in awe of her. Fingers crossed we can keep this feeling at our show this weekend!

Friday, August 5, 2022

That Good Lesson Feeling

 I know I'm a little behind in posting, but there hasn't been much riding going on for the past couple of weeks. I had a lesson two weeks ago that was great, and one on Wednesday that was also great. During the time in between we had a heat wave and Trainer A rode Cin as by the time I would get to barn after work it would be 95-105. I don't ride in those conditions for my own health, and A was coming out early to beat the heat, so trainer rides it was. Also, for the first time in my life, I'm at a barn that puts up fans in each stall and multiple big fans in the aisles when it gets hot. It's really nice.

Neither lesson has been groundbreaking in terms of what we focused on; it's been the basics. In my lesson two weeks ago A had me ride in her knock off Equibands. She has used them on Cin a few times, but wanted me to feel what they were like. Part of how Cinder's lameness was diagnosed, was that she likes to push her haunches sideways instead of sitting on her hocks/stifles, so the vet recommended the bands to help keep her haunches straight. And if the hill work/band work made Cinder lamer we would know we needed to do more for her. But thankfully Cinder has been feeling really good. 

We also switched her bit to a Myler and despite her face in this pic, she goes really well in it

 For that first lesson, we focused on getting her in front of my leg, then me doing nothing. She's getting strong enough now to carry herself without my constant input; I just need to learn when to let go and when to help her out. We worked over raised trot poles and my instructions were to support with my leg and hand, but let her do the rest. The first couple times through she hit the poles and got a little quick, but by the third time she nailed it. 

I showed up one Sunday before she got turned out and she was upset I wanted to lunge her before playtime

My lesson this week was a continuation of the same theme. We started by working on a large circle in the middle of the ring spiraling in and out at the trot. We then moved on to the same thing at the canter and while we struggled a bit, I felt like I was actually riding and correcting her instead of being a passenger. I tend to forget about my left hand in the canter and it became very apparent in our right lead circles. But, when we fixed it and left the circle to go around the whole arena, we had a lovely canter. 

Obviously not Cinder, but look how adorable Trainer A's new foal is

I'm really happy with how Cinder's coming back into work and how she's feeling. If she feels like this after only a month back into work, I'm excited to see what the future is like!