Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Little Miss Zoe is coming back!

I'm more excited about her coming back than I thought I would be, but I've missed the little mare.  We've gotten a big influx of college girls (and 1 guy!) at the barn and are short horses. Jen, Connie and I were talking about how to make things work, and it was said that Zoe shouldn't have gone back to her owner's in Febuary. The lightbulb then went off and we talked about bringing her back to be a lesson/lease horse for the college kids.

I've know that her owner's husband has been really sick and I was sure Deb hasn't done anything with Zoe.  I emailed her this morning asking what her thoughts were, and she confired that Zoe's only been ridden twice sine Feb. But she's more than happy to have her come back and be used.  We're working out the details, but I'll probably go pick her up this weekend

Missed this bitchy little thing!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Control the Shoulders, Control the World

That was the theme for the dressage clinic yesterday.  I rode Buddy first and we mostly worked on the trot, getting him to yield the outside shoulder and working on lengthening.  We were riding outside and Mary had me stay on a 20 meter circle in the middle of the ring so Buddy couldn't lean on the walls.  I wasn't allowed to touch my inside rein; I had to turn him from my body and outside leg.  Man was it hard trying to keep him on the circle!

Once we had a few nice circles in a row and he had started to drop down and soften Mary had me start asking for lengthening on the circle.  We started for half a circle, then moved up to a few times around with the lengthened stride.  After we got that she had us go down the long side and ask for the lengthening.  The first few times I was too tentative and Mary kept saying "more, more, more!"  The third time through we got it!  Buddy really stepped out and it felt like his shoulders were dislocated from the way he was moving. 

After a walk break we went the other way and tried to replicate it.  He picked up the canter a couple times but had a couple decent tries.  We never got that same OMG feeling as we had the first way but it was still really nice work for the little cow pony!  Both Buddy and I were pretty tired so we quit with just trot work.

Luckily we had a lunch break and a couple other rides before I had to go again with Wednesday.  We decided to take her inside and I rode in the western saddle, just in case.  Mary had us start walking with small 10 meter circles thrown in whenever she felt tense or quick. Once she was somewhat relaxed we picked up the trot and she immediately zoomed off.  Mary told me to just stay with her and let her go.  I was to slowly pick up my outside rein and use my posting and the small circles to slow her down.  We had a couple minutes of borderline out of control trot before Wednesday started to calm down and relax.  Mary had me reach up with my inside hand and pet her neck and talk to her and that really helped, every time I said "good girl" I could feel he relax and slow down.

We took a walk break and Mary had me do small figure 8s, using my body and outside leg to turn her.  Wed would get very tense every time I touched the inside rein so I was under strict orders to leave a loop in it and ignore it.  Again, so much harder said than done!  At this point my thighs were staring to protest and I though we were going to run into a wall a couple of times. We ended with some trot-walk-trot transitions which were really nice.  I was actually having to put leg on her to keep her trotting by the end.  Mary said with a horse like Wed you have to be very deliberate and methodical, give her structure and be her alpha.  She also said that she couldn't have ridden Wed any better than I had and that made me feel great!  I'm always worried I'll screw up Wed even more, but its wonderful to hear that I'm not!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Back to Work

I had this whole post all ready on my phone,  but apparently it didn't post.  Grrr!  Buddy went back to work this week after his after show break.  He was cranky on Monday, it was windy and that always fires him up.  We worked in the draw reins and while he threw a major tantrum going left we ended on a good note.

Tuesday he got the day off as we were having a barn BBQ to celebrate my and one of the horse's birthdays.  Yesterday I set up a gymnastic, vertical bounce vertical one stride oxer, and had a blast.  He was rushy at first, just very excited to be jumping.  As long as I remembered to have a forward, active trot to the first fence it flowed very well.  My friend suggested cantering a large circle before coming back to the trot and going to the line and it helped a lot.  I can't let him sucker me into a slow trot; he then scrambles down the line and it gets a little dicey.

Our fire pit at the BBQ
Today he got lunged and I'll do a quick ride Friday in prep for a dressage clinic with Mary on Saturday.  I originally wasn't going to ride, but a spot opened up and I got some birthday money so we're doing it!  I hope we've improved since December when Mary saw us last.  I'm also going to do a ride on Connie's mare Wednesday, the one who was bucking people off.  She's had some time off as her back was pretty sore and we've been taking it slow trying to keep her relaxed under saddle. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Warning: Long Ranting Post

Anna had a 4H pre fair show this weekend, and it wasn't pretty.  Friday they had another lesson with Jen and it ended great!  They were able to do a line at 2', trotting in and trotting out with any drama.  I had high hopes for Saturday.

I had to hold Buddy for the farrier Saturday morning and I missed Anna's showmanship class. I heard they did well and they got a red.  Anna had a big break before her English eq class while the other two girls from our club did their western eq.  When Anna got on to warm up she was nervous but did ok.  I had her run through the pattern a couple times.  It was pretty easy, posting trot on a straight line, a sitting trot circle, a right lead canter circle, then posting trot with a halt and back. Somehow in the two minutes it took to do the pattern she freaked herself out.  She kept saying she couldn't do it (even though she just did) and was almost shaking.  She asked if I could lead her around. I told her no; if I had to lead her around like a beginner I wasn't going to let her show.  She got over it and we headed out to the ring.

They had to do rail work (walk trot canter each way) before they did their pattern  Anna's rail worked look fine.  Phoenix was a little disjointed and slow but looked fine.  Anna was first to do the pattern and didn't canter in the pattern.  After she said he felt high.  I told her that he looked like half asleep.  At that point she said she didn't want to do hunter hack, even if it meant that she couldn't show over fences at fair.

The other girl from our club convinced Anna to do hunter hack with her.  They had a quick warm up, with a 4 stride cross rail line set up.   Anna and Phoenix were great!  Trotted over both with no fuss or any problems.  Anna was hunched and obviously nervous but I told her as they walked past that Phoenix was the only horse out of the 6 that didn't refuse the jumps. She seemed happy and I figured everything would be ok.

Again, they had to do rail work before jumping. She was fine till the judge asked for a hand gallop.  She freaked and brought him back to trot and refused to even do a regular canter.  She lined up to go last over fences and that wasn't a good idea.  By the time she went she was picking on Phoenix, causing him to fidget and not stand still. They trotted around to the line and about 10 strides out Anna locked up and pulled Phoenix to stop.  She was shaking her head and backing him as I motioned to her to circle around and come back.  She looked at the judge then walked back to the line up.  I was livid.

Once she came out of the ring I told her to get off and proceeded to tear into her a bit.  I asked if she knew what she had just taught Phoenix.  She said no, and I told her that it not acceptable to take a horse up the jump then back them away from it and not jump it.  That it taugh them its ok not to jump.  Obviously I know that in some circumstances it ok, but I had to get through to Anna that it wasn't.  I told her that she was completely fine in warm up, and that I was disappointed in her for not even trying.

I felt bad after for getting on Anna, but I feel like we've been coddling her and Phoenix has been great since he bucked her off. It's hard to know when to support them and when to push. When we got back to the barn she looked like she had cried a bit and asked when she should ride and jump again and I told her Monday so we'll see what happens.  Her mom and I talked today and she agreed with me about trying to push her.  Her mom doesn't know what happened either but wants her to push through. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Pony

I was going to ride today, but did this instead.

 Connie has started putting one of her horses out and I asked if I could put Buddy out for a bit. This is the earliest in the year we've started putting horses out. The pastures are still pretty wet, so as long as they don't go tearing around we'll keep putting them out.  Bud was out for only 30 mins, since I didn't want to upset his tummy. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

3 Horses, 2 Days

Yesterday Amy did a light flat hack with Buddy, so I hopped on Leo to see how he would be in an English saddle.  I switched his bit from a plain loose ring snaffle to a kimberwicke w/ a plain snaffle mouth piece and added a running martingale.  Both were very helpful!  He wasn't hanging on my hands or doing his best giraffe impersonation.

We worked on having a nice, soft, relaxed walk.  He wants to go, go, go and will jig a bit after about 10 steps of walk.  Luckily he's very smooth so his jigging isn't too bad.  I was able to get a nice, soft, and somewhat round walk before we moved to trot. I schooled transitions too, getting him to back off my hand in the downwards and to relax before asking for an upward transition.  Going to the left is much easier for him and we were able to get pretty decent trot and canter.  He'll pick up the left lead form the walk but I had to do a trot to canter to get the right lead.  Going right he likes to flip his head and bulge out and it's easier to contain him at the trot than walk.  Considering how much better he was with a bit/martingale change I don't think it will take too much work to get him going nicely.

Today as I was getting ready to head out to the barn I got a text from Anna saying Phoenix had dumped her and her hip hurt.  I immediately imagined the worse and told her I'd be there ASAP.  When I got there she was sitting in a chair and said that he had spooked and jumped sideways.  Luckily Connie was there and heard it, and helped Anna. We have a little storage shed attached to the barn right next to the arena that we store the jumps in.  One of the barn cats had been back there and knocked over a sprinkler and a couple of standards.  Anna was just trotting past and Phoenix caught it out of the corner of his eye and spooked.  She was caught of guard and fell off.

I'm glad that he hadn't been naughty, but upset for Anna.  Her confidence hasn't bounced back from when he dumped her a couple months ago and this didn't help.  She had gotten back on and walked around but I told her I'd get on and school him.  He felt lazy which is good because in the past he'll spook at nothing when he's got too much energy. 

Buddy's stall is at the end of the barn aisle, right next to the arena and he was very pissed that I had ridden Phoenix first.  He kicked the wall every time I went past and finally I had enough and yelled at him.  After that he just made angry faces, including this gem.

It's a good thing Phoenix doesn't care about other horses lunging at him.

After a quick flat school with Phoenix I jumped on Bud bareback and trotted around for maybe 10 minutes.  He felt good, but lazy.  He'll have an easy week this week, and next week we'll start jumping again.  I was thinking about taking him to a jumper show the college girls are putting on, but I'm going to be helping them run it and I don't want to have to worry about my rounds or horse.  I'm hoping our next show will be May 19.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Arbor Grove Show

Great first show of the season!  We started early, left the barn by 6:30am and got to the show about 7:30.  Two of the college girls were showing, and they both ride the same horse so we loaded Tia and Buddy up and off we went.  My truck is having some battery problems so Rick and Connie were nice enough to let us use their dually to haul, and all we had to do was pay for diesel.  I had hooked up Saturday afternoon so we would be all set Sunday.

I always feel like a badass driving this monster.
It was colder than I though when we got there, but luckily the rain held off all day.  We walked the ponies around a bit before tacking up and warming up. Buddy was really high during warm up and we had a couple discussions about striding in the lines.  The outside lines were a three and a four, both a little long for us.  We could get them, but Buddy was flat and strong on the landing so Jen had us wait and add.  There was also an end fence on the far side of the arena that was just a brick wall box with two tall potted shrubs as standards that we did a few times. Buddy didn't look twice at it but Tia, who is a been, there, done that ex A-circuit hunter spooked at.  Once Buddy had quieted down Nik and I switched so she could get ready for her trot a pole classes.

Luckily Nik was able to school some poles and Bud was nice and quiet for her.  Their rounds went well and they ended up with a 1st and 2nd! 
The ribbons were the size of her torso.
Buddy then got a couple hour break while we waited for my classes. I untacked him and put his sheet back on and brought him to the arena to watch. He literally fell asleep standing up and didn't move for about and hour. While we waited one of the college girls had her rounds.  They did ok, but this was her first show in a few years, and first real show (she had only done shows at her old barn) and she was really nervous.  They ended up going off course in the last round and Katie was pretty disappointed.

They had a schooling break before my classes (the 2'6" pre-adult hunter, eq and mini medal) so I got Buddy re-warmed up and popped over a couple fences.  He was a lot quieter than in the morning which was nice.  We schooled a bending line that we would have to do in our eq and medal classes and called it good.    Our first round was pretty nice, except I had to move him up to the first fence in the one outside line and ended up going for a long three instead of our plan for four.  We did manage to get all our leads and changes. We ended up getting a 4th for that round.

The second hunter round and our eq rounds were a bit of a disaster.  The last stride before the first fence in the hunter round Buddy tripped and we ended up taking the entire fence down. He was a bit discombobulated but luckily we had a long ride to a single diagonal to regroup.  He did jump the rest of the course a lot higher and scopier than normal.  Then in the eq class he ran out of gas and stopped at a fence.  It wasn't a dirty stop, but a slow stop.  I smacked him with my crop then circled back to it.  We made it around the rest of the course but I could tell he was done.  Even with our mini meltdowns we still placed in both classes with a 6th and 4th respectively.  I will say that there were only 6 in all of our classes.

There were two flat classes between my eq round and the mini medal so I got off to walk him out.  Jen and I talked about if I should scratch and she told me as long I was prepared to ride every fence fairly aggressively we could still do it.  Luckily Buddy regained some energy in his 20 minute break and we went first into the medal.  We were a bit slow and conservative in our lines, and I stared down the end box fence getting a funky distance to it, but overall it was a nice round and we got a 3rd.  They had the top two come back for the test and I was disappointed to be one place away from it.

Our loot for the day
I was very happy with how we did.  So we had a few oops and mistakes but I wasn't nervous with the fence height or trying too hard to find my distances.  I felt in control (minus the fence demolishing) during all of our rounds and we nailed almost every lead change.  We didn't place the highest, but we placed well and I'm proud of Buddy.  Now he gets today off with his BoT sheet and an easy flat hack tomorrow.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pre-show prep

We had our pre show lesson yesterday and Buddy was very good.  We really didn't work on too much hunter type fences, instead we did a lot of turns, rollbacks and bending lines.  We nailed almost everything, with just a few tiny fixes and were able to have a nice rhythm and flow.

Today Buddy got the day off, and I pulled him mane and clipped him up.  I still have to clip his back legs, my clippers died before I could get them done.  Tomorrow will be bath day and tack cleaning.  I got most of my stuff together already so it should be pretty easy to load up Sunday morning.

Yesterday I also rode Leo, one of the other horses in the barn I occasionally school.  One of the college girls might start riding him and maybe jump him, but he hasn't been worked in a few months and she's more of a beginner so I wanted to see how he was before she rode him. We had been told he had jumped in 4H years ago, but who knows what that means. I put the western saddle on him just to be safe and hacked him while Jen was giving a little kid lesson.  He was ok at the trot, but was horrible at the canter.  Head up, running like a freight train, and wouldn't pick up his right lead.

Once he calmed down a bit I took him over some poles Jen had out and he did good, went right over them.  Jen then told me to take him over a crossrail to see what he did, and he shocked me by being great! Jumped it like he's done it a million times.  I was then told to do a full course with him and he was amazing.  Cantered nice and quietly after the jumps, took everything in stride and was so calm.  He was a bit wiggly and crooked but that's easily fixed. Rick managed to take a video, but hasn't sent it to me yet. I was so proud of him!

He was pretty proud of himself too

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Coming Together

Getting excited for our first show on Sunday!  Buddy got clipped, his mane pulled, and a mini bath today.  I washed his socks and his tail since they were gross, but he'll get a full bath on Saturday.  It's also been decided last minute that Nik will take him in a couple trot a pole classes. She hasn't been riding much lately, and when she does she's been on another horse but they had a lesson today and did good.  I did hear today that Jen's friend will be there to take pictures too and I'm hoping to find a new battery for my video camera so we'll hopefully have both pics and video!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A complete 180

We had a lesson on Thursday, and Buddy was awesome!  He was listening, not fighting me, had a great rhythm and was for the most part getting his lead changes.  Compared to how he was the day and week before, it's a complete 180.  The day before my lesson he was pushy and fighitng me; flipping his head every time I asked for him to collect or a downward transition.  I was trying very hard to keep my cool and not pick on him but it was so frustrating.  I didn't have high hopes going into the lesson.

I talked with Jen before I got on and decided to do our flat warm up in the draw reins.  He was convinced he couldn't move out in them, but was soft in my hand and didn't protest.  When we were ready to jump I took them off and put his martingale on.  Jen had us start by trotting in and out of a line, going downhill.  The first time thru we had to stop and back up in the middle, but after that he was good and even a bit lazy.  From there we went to doing a left to right diagonal off a short approach.  As long as I was sitting down and kept my leg on him it flowed well.  We then added a second fence, making it a bending line in an easy 4. I had given my phone to Anna so we have video evidence!

Then we moved on to a different bending line, a vertical to an oxer in 5.  He didn't get the lead change as easy this way, but it was still very nice for us. After schooling both lines a couple times we tried to put together a little course, but I had run out of pony.  Going to the second bending line I felt like I had no pony power and couldn't see the distance to the oxer and pulled him out.  We did school the oxer by itself then worked on getting Buddy forward to the black fence and getting our left lead after before we called it a day. 

Considering how naughty and tempermental Buddy has been the past week or so, I was beyond thrilled with how good he was for the lesson.  Untill he got tired, it felt like we could go do whatever Jen asked and it was easy, no holding him back or trying to push him forward.  Let's hope he stays this way since we are going to our first show of the year next weekend!