Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rain, rain, go away!

It seems like we get a day or two of nice weather, then it pours for 3-4 days then repeats.  It poured on and off all weekend, Monday and Tuesday.  Luckily, yesterday was bright and sunny for my lesson. Because of all the rain, I hadn't worked Buddy for a couple days so he was very forward at the start.  In our flat warm up we worked on trying to pull him together and try to have some bending.  We definetly need to work more on our dressage!

In our warm up over fences, it was the same thing. Trying to pull him together and get him straight to the fence.  We were working on a short approch to a left-to-right diagonal.  He really wanted to fall to the right, so Jen had me aim for the left side of the fence and think about having a counter bend in the turn.  Once we got it at the trot, we move to the canter.  It was actually easier at the canter; he seemed easier to package and had a much nicer flow than at the trot.

We then move to a couple bending lines.  The first had us coming off the left on a vertical bending right to an outside vertical.  By this time in the lesson, Bud had gotten tired, so I really had to push him to the first fence, then immedietly land and pick him for the second.  We had a couple oops first fences, but once I was able to get a balanced first fence we were able to just roll down the line. The second bending line gave us a lot more trouble.

It was  a short approch off the right bending left to an outside oxer.  He really wanted to lunge over the first fence, pulling me out of the tack.  I wasn't able to get him back in time for the second fence, so after a couple run outs to the right, Jen gave us a placing pole to help guide Buddy. We worked on getting a short, waiting distance to the first fence so it was easier for me to keep him packaged.  Since the placing pole had blocked his drifting right, he then decided to drop his left shoulder.  I tried to keep my left shoulder up and back.

We had a couple pretty ugly distances at the oxer (there was one where I was sure we were going to land in a heap on the offside), but once I got him (mostly) balance it was ok.  We decided to quit when we got a somewhat nice flow thru the line.  He was getting pretty tired and compared to what we started with we had a huge improvement.  He was still trying to pull me out of the tack, but I'll definetly be working on that line when I jump on my own.

It rained again today, and according to the weather forcast it will on Saturday too.  I'm hoping it doesn't, because the plan was to move jumps out to the grass field on Sunday.  Keeping my fingers crossed for sun!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Catching Up

I got back from San Diego on Monday, and stopped by the barn to check on the ponies on my way home.  I could tell that Buddy had gained weight from 6 days on pasture 24/7.  Some one's getting his grain cut!

My barn owners had mowed the field Tuesday morning, so I took Buddy out after I got off work.  Not the smartest idea, considering he hadn't been ridden in 6 days.  I did put the German martingale on, with his stronger bit, but after about 10 minutes of fast, rushy, high-headed trot I decided to go back to the sand arena.  He relaxed, but was still plenty forward.  We didn't really work on anything in particular, just tried to find a more relaxed, steady rhythm.

Wednesday I pulled Zoe out and set a couple fences for her. She too had enjoyed her week off, and every time we passed the doors to the barn (the outdoor is directly off the barn) she'd pop her shoulder and not want to go forward.  I really sat deep and drove her forward, and after a couple laps around the ring with a nice forward canter she quit protesting.  Jumping, she was better and we did another little oxer.

Buddy and Zoe in the pasture
Thursday I got on Bud again, and worked of the same fences I had set for Zoe.  I put them up, to 2'6", and made the oxer 2'9".  He was great!  His jump tends to be a bit flat, but over these bigger fence he's starting to sit back on his hind end more and has a much better arc over the fence.  It's easier to ride, I feel like I don't have to do as much over fence and can let his motion put me into position. 

Unfortunately it started raining again yesterday, and as the ponies were outside, they were too wet to ride.  I brought them and Phoenix in for the night and did quick rides with Bud and Zoe today.  Zoe's in heat, and was pretty cranky so we kept it light and worked on transitions.  Silly mares!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer is here!

It's finally stopped raining every other day, and Rick and Connie were able to get the last repairs done on the pasture fencing, so ponies are going out 24/7 now!  Buddy and Zoe seem to be in love, and are currently pasture mates.  Phoenix is going out with another gelding, but since Phoenix can be Houdini-like he's coming in to one of the all weather paddocks at night. Right now, there's enough grass so the ponies doesn't get fed hay (Phoenix does get a couple flakes at night) and for the moment, Buddy and Zoe have had their grain cut back to just enough to mix in their joint supplements. 

I jumped Bud tonight; just set up a couple fence and kept it simple.  I had one of the other girls video and was able to get a couple cute still shots from it.  Unfortunately we had a couple issues, as seen in the video, but I know what we did wrong and how to fix it.

We were a little behind the pace to the first fence, and I felt like I had to hold him to the short spot while keeping my leg on.  The second fence....oops.  I was thinking right leg, right leg, right leg and about two strides away remembered to pick up my left rein.  At least we still made it over!  The oxer was pretty nice.  We were a little short to it, but it felt good.

I'm going out of town till Monday, so both Bud and Zoe will just hang out in the pasture till then.  It's perfect timing!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Weekend Fun

When I went out to the barn last night, one of the western trainers that comes out, Sandy, was there doing lessons.  Connie was going to ride, but had to go out of town for work, and by the time she got back she was too tired so I took her lesson. She started out by asking me what I and Buddy had done, and what I wanted to work on.  I told her that Bud had been a western horse, but I has having problems slowing his canter down and riding one handed. 

She had me start out by really exaggerating moving my hips to Bud's walk rhythm.  He didn't had a great rhythm to start, but after a few minutes we had a nice rolling forward walk.  Sandy also had me work on using my seat to turn and stop.  We did some nice walk/halt transitions where Buddy was really sitting back on his hind end. 

In the trot, she had me start two handed and we worked mostly on my equitation...trying to keep my legs forward, with my heels down and toes turned out and sitting very deep, on the pockets of my jeans.  It felt so weird!  Again, we worked on trot/walk and trot/halt transitions using my seat.  Once we were warmed up, she had me go one handed, then do more transitions. My balance was defiantly off with my right arm down by my side.  Our transitions were not nearly as nice one handed, but they got better as I figured out my new balance points.

I went back to two hands for the canter.  It was ugly.  Sandy had to keep that deep seat with my legs forward.  It felt like I was water skiing. I was to keep my legs off him, and only give a slight squeeze as I half halted him to keep him going.  Buddy was pretty strung out and unbalanced, and I really wanted to pick up my reins and balance him off the bit but Sandy kept telling me to leave my reins long and just keep half halting him.  By the end he was starting to get it, but it was really hard.  We definitely need to work on that.

Today at the barn, Anna rode Phoenix western for her 4H lesson.  I only saw the very end, but they looked good.  Phoenix seemed fine having a shanked bit in his mouth, but was a little confused when Anna tried to neck rein. 

Anna is also working with a mini that's at the barn, Rosy.  She's been ground driving her and today a friend of Connie's brought a cart over for Anna to try.  Rosy did great!  She hasn't been driven in over 9yrs, and after a little attitude at first, she acted like she's done it yesterday.  A few of us got to practice driving, and it was SO.MUCH.FUN!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good ponies

Both Buddy and Zoe made up for naughty behavior!

I rode Zoe on Tuesday, and she was a little full of herself during our flat work. Every time I tried to do a downward transition, she would bring her head up and shake it. I have her in a plain loose ring snaffle, but might try her in a French link. Since I had a motivated pony, we jumped a bit. We warmed up over a couple x-rails then moved to a line. It was an x with flower boxes to a vertical. She looked at the flowers the first time thru but after that she didn't care. After a few times thru I made the vertical into an oxer (her first!). She did great! She had a nice round jump over it and it was very fun to ride.

I jumped Bud last night and he was great. He was a little on the lazy side warming up. I worked thru a course Jen had some of the other girls do and it went better than I thought! There were some tight rollbacks, a Swedish oxer, and a bending line. Surprisingly the bending line gave us the most trouble. After about 4 times thru it occurred to me to sit down and send him forward. Success! Suddenly our icky 5.5 stride line became a nice 5.

As we were cooling down it occurred to me that I'm comfortable jumping 2'6" on my own, and doing scary fences (the Swedish oxer) and lines. I am so thankful for Buddy and the confidence he's given me!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Naughty, naughty ponies

I haven't ridden much in the past few barn owners were out of town last week and I was picking up afternoon chores.  And thanks to Murphy's Law, I was slammed at my regular job, so by the time I did chores I was too exhausted to do much with Buddy or Zoe.

They both got turned out Saturday and Sunday in the grass pastures. I've turned them out together, and so far they seem to get along fine. Since they haven't been out much yet this year, I only put them out for a couple hours.  Both days they were pretty easy to catch to bring back in, but I could tell they weren't happy about it.  Yesterday I grabbed Zoe and started walking both ponies in.  She stopped, and I when I gave her lead rope a yank, she walked forward and bit the back of my arm.  Man did it hurt!

I smacked her with the end of the rope, and we had a long discussion about proper behavior.  All the way into the barn I had her head right by me, with a hard  hold on the lead.  I have a faint bruise on my arm, but its swollen and every time I touch it it hurts.

Today I put Connie's dressage saddle on Buddy, along with a different bit.  I usually ride him in a slow twist bit, but since that's not legal for dressage I put him in a french link. I've ridden him in a french link before and it worked fine for flat work, but didn't give me enough brakes for jumping. He threw a major tantrum.  I don't know if he didnt' like the saddle (Connie used to ride him in it all the time, and it seems to fit fine) or the bit.  I ended up getting off about half way thru the ride and putting the German martingale on. It helped, but he was still pretty hot.  Nik is going to ride him tomorrow, and I'm going to try to lunge him first.