Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting back to it

Buddy and I have our first lesson over fences in months on Thursday!  We jumped a little on Sunday, and Buddy was great.  I can tell he's missed jumping; he was in front of my leg from the moment I got on. 

After my ride, Bud had a few hours off then Nik rode.  He was better for her than he's ever been.  She was able to get him to trot by herself for the first time.  Since she was doing better, I put her on the lunge line and let her do a little canter.  She's cantered another horse once and was bucked off, and then a different horse took off with her and she fell.  She's understandably nervous about cantering.  Bud was a little pissy at first; he shook his head and Nik got unseated, but stayed on.  When we tried again, he picked it right up and was perfect for her.  She loved it!

Bud had Monday off, then today we did a flat hack.  We had some really nice extension in our trot work.  While he's getting better at extending then coming back, I would still like him to be a little more balanced.  I'm trying to stay tall with my body, and not let him drag me down. Bud had a little meltdown over counter canter.  He wouldn't pick it up, then got cranky when I got after him with my crop.  When he gets mad, he flips his head and tries to pull the reins away.  I'm trying to make a big effort to keep my hands low and still during his tantrum. It seems to be working.  After his tantrum our counter canter was ok, but not great.  We'll keep working on it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Going in Circles

After lunging three horses today I felt a little dizzy.  Unfortunately, I've fallen a little behind this week.  I got the stomach flu on Tuesday, and didn't do anything for a couple days.  I did manage to get out to the barn Thursday and did quick little ride with Buddy.  We just trotted around the outdoor for 15 mins, but at least I got him out. Yesterday I attempted to ride Blue, but after he reared up and spun with me I decided to lunge him instead.

Today I wanted to lunge Blue again, this time in side reins.  He wasn't as hot today, but had a tantrum when I put the side reins on.  At the end of the session, he was relaxing into them and moving really well for him. Since I had them out, I put the side reins on Buddy next. He always acts like he can't go forward with the side reins on, but I go him to move out pretty well.

After those two I took out Pippin, a slightly spastic Arab/QH whose owner is away for a year long internship.  My barn owner has been working with him, but while she's out of town I said I would do some ground work with him.  Pip tends to be scared of his own shadow and needs a calm, but forceful handler.  We lunged for a few minutes until someone else needed the indoor.  I decided to take him for a walk outside to get him out and despook him.  I snapped the picture and sent it to his mommy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hit the ground running

I got back from San Diego yesterday, and after a full day of work today I had barn chores tonight.  My barn owners are on vacation, so a few of us boarders are splitting chores.  I rode Buddy first, then did the evening feed.  Buddy was very lazy, I think he enjoyed his week off!  We didn't do too much, just a little walk-trot-canter.

The rest of my week is jammed packed as well.  I have stalls to clean tomorrow and Thursday as well as feeding again tomorrow.  I'm hoping to make time on Thursday to ride Blue.  He's a 11ish OTTB that my barn's owner owns.  I was riding him a few days a week over the summer to exercise him for her.  He's being part leased now, but the girl leasing him doesn't work him hard and he's very high energy.  He's still greenish, but tries very hard.  This summer we worked on going forward quietly, softening to my aids, and keeping him calm.  He tends to get nervous, and needs a quiet confident rider.  I'll hopefully be riding him 2-3 times a week for a while.
Blue last summer

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Western weekend

I was feeling lazy yesterday and decided to ride Bud western. For some reason riding western seems easier than English to me. I guess it's because we just go along and I usually don't have big goals when we go western.

I borrowed Connie's saddle and a bit. I have a head stall and reins, but never got around to getting a western bit. The one I use on him is a plain snaffle mouth piece with shanks. No big port for Buddy!!

We just jogged along, not working on much. Mostly I try to relax and work on riding one handed. It's hard to let go and not have contact with their mouth.

I'm going out of town next week to help take care of my dad who had surgery. Bud will have the week off, and Nik might ride.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jump for Joy

I set up a few small fences today; a couple cross-rails and the cavalettis.  After a light warm up where we worked on transitions and getting Buddy to really move off my leg, we started trotting the fences.  Since we haven't been jumping regularly, Buddy was pretty forward (for him) at first.  He likes to drag me down to the fence when he's excited, so I tried to stay still and tall with  my body and keep a steady rhythm.  After about 4 or 5 trot fences, he got tired and was quieter and not rushing to the fence.

We started cantering single fences, working on having a nice forward rhythm, bending in the corners, and having nice lines to the jump.  I tend to get nervous when I can't "see" a distance, and will lock my elbows and take my leg off my horse.  Buddy is good at ignoring me and finding his own way to the fence.  Today, I tried to stay relaxed and let the jump come to me. 

On the landing side of the jumps, we worked on staying straight and using our space in the corners.  Buddy likes to dive on his front end and fall into the turn.  He was good today, and we were able to work on our lead changes.  We would put a few fences together, then I'd give him a walk break.  Since he's out of shape jumping wise, I didn't do too much.  For not jumping consistently since September, I was happy at how good he was today and that we haven't lost much of what we had been working on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Massage and Lesson

No, not a lesson for me.  My trainer's 8yr old daughter Nik is just starting to ride, and she's using Buddy.  He's a good for kids because he's bombproof, has a smooth trot, and can put up with kids kicking and pulling on his mouth.  He does take advantage of beginners because he's lazy and can have questionable steering.  Nik has to really work to keep him on the rail without him trying to stop or come into the middle.  She got him to trot tonight, with only a minimum amount of help from Jen and I.  Since he's so lazy we've been trotting along side to keep him going, but tonight Nik got him to go with Jen just waving a dressage whip at him.
She's riding in a western saddle for now, but soon she'll switch to an English.  For now, she feels more comfortable in the western. 

Rachael was able to make it out today to work on Bud.  She said he was sore in his hind end, but not too bad.  He also has a rib out but she was able to get it back in. She worked on him for about 45 minutes, and he seemed a lot more relaxed after.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dressage Pony

One of the nice things of buying a horse from a friend, is that they have tack that fits the horse that I don't!  I borrowed Connie's dressage saddle today for Bud.  He's hard to fit; he's pretty wide and has a callous on his left shoulder from years of people getting on from the ground.  It's only noticeable when you stand behind him, but it plays havoc with saddle fitting. 

He was a little slow to warm up, but was pretty good.  We had some decent leg yields and shoulder in.  Our canter was ok.  It's hard for me to keep my seat in the saddle when cantering, especially in the dressage saddle.  I have a bad habit of perching in the cater, and need to remember to sit down and bring my shoulders back.  The dressage saddle is great at reminding me of this; you get seriously out of balance if you try to perch in it.  We did some trot-canter-trot transitions, working on keeping him in front of my leg in the downward transitions, but not going into a running trot.

My friend texted me today and we have an appointment for Tuesday for Buddy to get his massage.  He needs it; he's been a little grumpy when I've tacked up the past few days.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


My friend wasn't able to come out this week, so Buddy didn't get his massage.  He had Thursday off, and I only had time to do a light lunge on Friday.  He looked pretty good, and played on the lunge.  I rode in the outdoor today.  It was a little wet, but the footing felt good. We did a light warm up doing an exercise my old trainer in CA used to have us do.  It's called the momentum pattern.  You trot across the diagonal line and pick up the canter at the end. Canter around the short end and down the long side.  As you approach the next short end, come back to the trot and go across the other diagonal line.  Repeat.  This exercise really helps their trot, using the momentum from the canter to have a nice forward trot across the diagonal.

After we warmed up, I set a cavaletti on the center line and we trotted it, alternating directions on the landing side.  He was pretty good, but we kept landing on the right lead.  It's his stronger lead, and I really have to make sure to have him bending left (without over bending him and loosing his shoulder) and remember to look left over the fence.  When he landed on the wrong lead, I would halt him, then ask for the correct lead.

We had done the cavaletti maybe 5 times and trotting back around to it when Buddy tripped and almost went down to his knees.  Once he righted himself, I hopped off to check for damages.  Besides being muddy, his legs looked fine.  I walked him back to the mounting block then saw this:
He tripped so hard he hit his nose on the ground.  Graceful pony, graceful.  Once I was back on we walked around till the adrenaline stopped pumping thru my veins.  We trotted around for a couple minutes, then I decided to call it a day.  I didn't want to jump him anymore just in case he had hurt himself while tripping. His legs felt good when I untacked him, so hopefully he'll be ok tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rides and Massage

We had a pretty good ride yesterday.  I rushed out to the barn after work to ride while it was still light and the footing in the outdoor was good.  We just did some flat work, schooling leg yields and transitions within the trot and canter.  In my haste to get on, I forgot to grab a crop.  Buddy is pretty lazy, especially warming up.  He doesn't like spurs, and using them can actually make him stop and root without moving at all.  I usually use a crop for a little encouragement. I had to really use my seat and legs to get him to go forward and then collect again.

Today I rode without stirrups in the indoor.  We didn't really do much, just played around for 20mins or so.  We did some transition work; both upwards and down canter transitions.  Being a rope horse, Buddy was trained to go from a canter to the halt. RIGHT. NOW.  Cow horses don't do canter-trot or canter-walk transitions.  They canter then plant their butt in the dirt.  Buddy still wants to slam down on his front end during our downward transitions.  We've been working on canter-trots, and had some nice ones today.

Buddy is probably getting a massage tomorrow, so he'll have the day off.  My friend is a certified human and equine massage therapist, and I asked if she could come out and work on Bud.  He tends to get sore in his lower back and hips, and I want to make sure he's feeling the best he can.

Monday, January 2, 2012


For our yearly goals, I'm keeping it pretty simple.
  • Be showing 2'6" (hunters, jumper, or eq doesn't matter) and be schooling higher
  • Attend as many schooling shows as we can, and $$ allowing, one A rated show
  • Be schooling 1st level dressage movements, and if $$ allows show at 1st level
  • For fun, go XC schooling at least one, hopefully twice, and take Bud to the beach
  • Be comfortable doing a 2' course without my stirrups
I have our monthly goals at little more planned out. For January:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Continue working on our dressage-y flat work; leg yields, shoulder in, lengthening and collecting. 
  • 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.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


So before I jump in and start listing my goals for 2012, I think a little background on myself and Buddy is in order. 
  Here he is as a yearling.  He's so awkward its cute!

I bough Buddy in August 2010, after riding him for a few months.  My TB Phoenix had developed ringbone in his right front, and after taking him to a lameness expert, I decided to semi-retire him.  He was sound for walk/trot work, but I still wanted to jump and show, so I began the search for a new project.

 During the months when we tried to rehab Phoenix I had been riding Buddy.  He was owned by my barn owner, Connie, who had bought him as a head horse for team roping a few years earlier.  She has a strong dressage background, and had ridden Buddy both western and english with dressage basics.  Another boarder at the barn had also been ridding Buddy, and had started him over fences just for fun.  He loved it!  When I started with Buddy, he hadn't jumped in a year, and I hadn't for about 4 months.  We were both rusty, but he was a great confidence boost for me.
August 2010 schooling show

I had asked Connie if I could take Buddy to a little hunter schooling show right before I started my horse search. We did the 2' long stirrup division, and came home with three blues and a second!  It was a very small show, but I couldn't have been happier of Buddy!  Due to finances, my budget for a new horse was quite low, and I was looking at a lot of young, green horses.  None of the really stood out. 

Connie texted me one day, asking if she made me a deal, if I would want Buddy.  I immediately answered "YES!!"  I know she could have gotten three times what I paid for him, if she has listed him. She had always said that he was the one horse she would never sell; she has quite a few.  He's as bombproof as a horse can be, quiet on the ground and undersaddle, no vices, and can jump a course one day then go move cows the next. I must have asked her a thousand times if she was sure she wanted to sell him to me.  She kept saying yes, and that if I ever had to sell him, she will take him back.

Since then, Buddy and I have been figuring each other out.  I'm having to adapt to a horse who has mostly western training, and he's having to get used to my hunter-jumper ways.  We've done a couple little jumper shows, coming home with blues at each, as well as taking a few western lessons including one on cows.  This year, I really want to buckle down and focus on our work over fences and be more comfortable doing bigger fences.  Hopefully, depending on money, I want to be able to do 2'6" at an A rated show this summer.
I know, I know....Helmet!