Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A whole lot of nothing going on

What a crazy few weeks.  The trip to visit family went actually much better than expected.  I had threatened them that I wouldn't go back if there were crazy dramas and it must have been taken to heart because no dramas happened whatsoever! 

No zooms here, but she moves so nicely
When I got back, the arena was super dusty again and has been like that ever since.  It was supposed to have been fixed last week but wasn't, now it is supposed to be fixed this week and we are still waiting.  It is now below freezing so they can't even sprinkle with water anymore.  Even walking makes a pretty good amount of dust so I haven't been doing much riding.  *sigh*  I get it, arenas are dusty but I am paying a lot of $$ to have a facility that I cannot use.  Grrr.  Winter blues are setting in.

Those who are not amused about their picture being taken
App is doing much better.  The farrier said she thought it may have been an abscess blow out.  I don't agree because I was treating it as thrush, but it doesn't really matter.  The frog was fully split and went up into his actual heel bulb causing him enough pain to crabwalk.  He is no longer thrushy and is walking fairly normal.  Most days he walks with just a very slight limp, other days he has a very noticable limp but he is still in great spirits.  

He will deny any extra weight
He has also gained a LOT of weight finally!  He is within 50lbs of his ideal winter weight.  I think it is a combination of the rice bran plus the barn keeping hay in front of him 24x7 that has done it.  Win!
Still looking good for a retired old man!
Mia is doing well too.  I am not quite sure how to blanket her this year, she is in a pasture without a lot of wind block, unlike last year.  She never acts cold and she doesn't really shiver, so she is capable, but still.  She was blanketed last night as it was super windy and super cold, single digits with wind chill.  Let's see if she maintains weight, starts shivering, etc.  She is in a lightweight blanket now and I have a mid/heavyweight one if she needs.

The "You haz carrot. Give me now" face
The in-laws are coming in for two weeks this weekend so I suspect I will be at the barn more.  Maybe the arena will be decent enough for me to ride in.  One can hope for the Christmas miracle right?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

No Saddle November

It is supposed to be No Stirrup November, but when the arena is really dusty and you can't do much of anything, why not just skip the saddle altogether?  That's what I've done anyway ha!  I am also horribly lazy and it is simply saving a step in the tack up process.  Both Mia and App have been quite muddy most of the week so I guess it works out.  The extra time I would usually spend riding hard is spent pulling crusted mud off of the horses so the stupid things can be warm. 

The horses get their feet done this weekend and we will see how the report goes.  App still has a crack in his left front but then also got really bad thrush in his right hind. I was treating both with Tea Tree oil per the recommendation of the farrier as I didn't have CleanTrax.  After almost 2 weeks though, the thrush split his frog clear into his heel and was super painful.  I broke out my big guns and the thrush is now gone, we are just waiting for things to grow back.  Things aren't worse, which is good, but they haven't fully resolved.  App is still pretty uncomfortable and walking stiffly.  The barn moved him into a different paddock that is not solid, wet "mud" (ie urine/manure mix) which helps the thrush issue as well.  One day at a time, one discussion at a time.

The arena dust issue SHOULD be being resolved next week.  They are adding a different sand and adding MAG flakes which will help.  I used MAG flakes in MI and they worked really well 85% of the year so I am hopeful it will make the arena ridable here in PA.  Fingers crossed, maybe we can actually start working again!  Right now you can't trot more than 5 minutes before it gets extremely dusty, let alone doing much canter or having a second horse in the arena.  Then the outdoor arena was closed off to night riding under the claim someone left the outside lights on all night, so it is closed off to everyone.  It is a really crappy rule, and I know for a fact none of us "night riders" did it, they only ride outside when I really push them to ride outside because it is cold!  To restrict the outdoor from the night riders is really unfair, IMO, but that is boarding life.  

The rides on Mia are going well, No Saddle November is doing great at really solidifying my seat and balance.  Despite my insistence that I wasn't going to do "fancy" work, we still ended up doing serpentines (which are DA BOMB), stretchy trots and walk/canter transitions.  HAHA!  The lady I ride with at night, MR, says she loves to watch me because it looks like I ride with a saddle but I don't.  Apparently, I don't move.  Aww <3 Way to give me a big ego :)  

I am off to visit family for 5 days, wish me luck!  It is a nice 9+ hour one way drive so it should be be long and tiring.  Here's to hoping it is uneventful.  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Moving right along, no lesson for us

A hectic couple of weeks isn't too bad when you consider all of the riding I have been doing.  Nothing blog worthy though, just dressage stuffs and who wants three blog posts over "Shoulder in, all the time" and "we are compressing the dressage canter to get Mia to tuck her pelvis", etc.  Boring.  Add to this the fact the indoor is SUPER dusty, outside has been SUPER cold and it gets dark at 5p, and while I have been riding, it is boring and I haven't been inspired to talk about it.

So how has our dressage been?  Shoulder in, all the time, in all gaits.  Mia is now doing shoulder in to the right much easier in the canter.  I have worked hard at not being so grabby with the right hand (Bad hand!) and I think it is working.  Shoulder in is still hard for Mia, but we are working on it every time we ride and every time it gets just a smidgen easier. 

Our serpentines have become super easy now, as long as I ride it properly go figure.  As soon as we pass center line and change the shoulder in direction, *boom* Mia does them easily and without falling in.  Good to know, shoulder in fixes all of Mia's problems haha!  Mia can go from straight, into a circle, and back again without real issues and our corners are usually superb.  I really enjoy our slower tempo, though would really like a little more push.  Baby steps I remind myself, baby steps. 

We have done a good bit of No Stirrup November, although not exclusive No Stirrup as I was working towards my lesson (that didn't happen).  The thing we have worked hardest on is canter.  We have worked almost exclusively along the rail, not doing many 20m circles, to really drive home the shoulder in aspect.  Mia is now doing a very clear, rhythmic 3 beat canter that is SO cool to listen to.  I didn't realize she didn't do it until she started doing it.  She sounds like a huge warmblood coming across the arena, with equal, heavy thud-thud-thud.  Love it! 

Going large in the arena is also super helpful in developing the super collected canter.  We are playing with getting Mia to tuck her pelvis and really sit, I work to get the good canter and then sit up, hold into a half halt and apply lots of leg (like we are in front of a jump).  Mia really sits down and lightens her front end and it is super cool.  She can do it pretty well to the left and only decent to the right but it is coming right along. 

What fun have we had outside of dressage?  Well...not a lot.  We were working hard to prepare for the lesson and I really wanted to show big progess.  And then the lesson was cancelled because it was in the low teens the night of the lesson and the instructor cancelled.  UGH.  Oh well, maybe she will come out next month.  Until then, we had some fun with a hunter pace last weekend.  It was FUN!  Mia hasn't been on many hunter paces, but she is finally a good trail horse so I was excited.  I went with 3 others from the barn and despite it being a walk ride, it was still fun.  I brought my dressage saddle as I didn't expect to be able to jump (expected objections from the others who were walking) however everyone was ok with it.  In the end, 3 of the 4 of us were jumping over things!  I passed over only one jump, that was 3ft, because I wasn't comfortable jumping higher in my dressage saddle.  It was hard enough already haha.  Everyone thought Mia was so cute jumping and they said it was very obvious Mia really enjoyed her job jumping.

She was awesome during the hunter pace and was a rockstar.  She threw not a single fit, loaded right up, she jumped everything, she didn't spook, she didn't avoid water/mud and walked in the front and rear without complaint.  What a huge improvement from 2 years ago <3 < 3 Nothing fun is scheduled for the rest of November, we have to travel for Thanksgiving (boo) so it is just steady building on dressage.  One day at a time!

Friday, October 27, 2017

A lesson recap

On Friday I had another lesson.  Two lessons in 30 days??  Say it isn't so!  And I also have another scheduled!  It was a good lesson, a very good lesson actually.  Not quite up to par with my lessons with M in Michigan, however, they are close!

The instructor, ML, was impressed with my progress over the last month.  Like, super impressed.  She said we had made 4 months of progress in a month's time??  Not sure I buy that, all we did was start to get into actual shape bc Mia wasn't lame/hurt and also work on our homework.  I'll take it though, everyone else said ML doesn't give compliments out lightly so I should really enjoy them.  Okay then.  We have really slowed Mia's tempo down this year, by over half in fact.  The theory is that Mia has long legs and she needs time to get her legs to really under herself.  With a quicker tempo, Mia doesn't have time to fully extend her legs as she is "rushing" to go faster.  With a slower tempo, she has time to really extend and "flick" her legs and to get her hind legs really underneath herself.  Alrighty then.  Sadly I don't have a SINGLE picture of any of my lessons since the beginning of the year so I simply have to trust her on this.  She says Mia looks amazing when doing it.

Our entire theme of shoulder-in, all the time, carried over into this lesson and is my homework for the next lesson as well.  Mia naturally walks slightly haunches in so the nonstop shoulder-in is going to hopefully not only get her more balance and straightness, but also "even" out her natural way of moving.  ML said we have made excellent progress and she can see Mia is really starting to redevelop her muscling and is looking good.  Yay!  Just in time for winter to lose it all haha!

We did a lot of shoulder in (no surprise haha) at the trot and ML was impressed with Mia's ability to go straight, onto a circle and back on the straight without losing balance.  Our serpentines were pretty good as well, as long as *ahem* someone rode them properly.  She also had us work on spiraling in/out with the bigger goal as to bring Mia's head BACK up as she is staying in contact.  When she brings her head up, while doing shoulder in and being on contact, she engages her hind end and really looks wonderful.  If I let her keep her head stretched down (Where I have been working on putting it ALL YEAR), she trails her hocks.  Apparently, Mia got the memo during all of our training and now it is time to step up the requirements. 

We ended with some canter and, again, ML was blown away by our improvement in the canter.  I had someone tell me she hasn't heard ML give so many compliments in a long time.  Trying not to get a big head, I mean, all we have done is get back in shape and did our homework.  Mia's left lead canter is amazing, as always.  The shoulder in is easy enough for her and I was even able to really ask and get Mia to compact, tuck her pelvis and collect her canter for a few strides before relaxing it back out without a huge loss of balance.  It was awesome!  ML said Mia had real elevation going on.  Ugh, I really need pictures!!!  To the right wasn't as glamorous, obviously.  We were able to get the shoulder in, though it isn't as easy.  This is her weak side remember.  Mia will tuck her pelvis and rock back in the canter but loses her balance coming out of it and so it is something to work on.  All in good time.

The comments about me?  Pretty good.  I need to stop looking where I am going, apparently.  This works in jumping but not in dressage.  If Mia were a clock, I need to look at 11 and 1 and stop looking at 9 and 3.  I need to remember to actually RIDE my horse as I am struggling to fix my wayward head and not randomly stop riding when I remember my head is turned too much.  I need to stop being so grabby with my right hand when doing shoulder in in the canter to the right.  The right hand does not create the bend, so stop trying to make it.  Keep my hands together, continue to bridge my reins if needed.  My sitting trot looks really damn good!  Need more strength to sustain it, but apparently it looks really good. 

Lots of work to do before our next lesson (Nov 10!!!!).  Lots more shoulder in, esp to the right, work on encouraging Mia's head up, try to compact her strides to get her pelvis tucked and start some counter canter.  Yikes!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Another update? Say it isn't so!

I know, I was a bad blogger and didn't update for almost an entire month with the last post.  I am very sorry and hope to make it up here.  I don't know how other people do it, I seriously have so little time between my day job, riding the horse 4 days a week and taking care of the house.  Blah!

Can you tell she enjoys this?
It's okay though, I do have some updates AND I have a little time.  First, some pics from the show.  As mentioned, I volunteered and took pics with the good camera at the show.  That meant most competitors had 10+ pics of themselves.  Someone said they were going to video my dressage and when going jumping, I handed the camera off so pics could be taken of myself and others.  I never got the video, or any pics, of my dressage and I have exactly 3 pics of us jumping.  I guess better than nothing?  At least the pics came out okay.
Those knees though <3
Overall I am happy with the pics.  Mia is jumping well, she had no real issues with the course and except from the one pic of me jumping ahead *ahem below*, we look good.  This was the second element of the last 2 stride that came off of a very sharp 45 degree turn.  You were on the rail, you turn sharply off of the rail at apx 45 degrees and jump 9 of the combo is 3 strides away.  I *think* the course would have actually ridden better if you turned right vs left after jump 8 and rode around the arena to get to 9, but not a single person one did that and I didn't have my watch on to check time so I didn't want to risk it.  

Position, stop doing this please
Jump 9 came up quick, she jumped it well but flat and then was too forward to 9B (above).  She met it well but she was MOVING and my position isn't great.  The pic does not adequately convey the energy she was putting into the effort.  HA!

App is such a goof
Back in January, Alyssa needed some help and was offering commissioned artwork.  Well, who am I to pass up helping a blogger and getting my beloved App painted at the same time?  I already have him in pencil, I needed him in color!  I was beyond thrilled to get it last week in the mail, it is PERFECT!  It matches App so well!  I am beyond happy with how this turned out and I am so happy I was able to help Alyssa when she needed it.  This is going in my office so I can look at it all of the time.  Now I need to get my butt in gear and get some art done of neglected Mia, she has not a single piece of art ha!

Mia is doing well, she is finally sound and injury free which is fabulous.  Last week we did some gallops because I was in a funk.  Mia can fly, like seriously fly.  And flying really helps break me out of funks.  I used to do it semi-regularly on App when we were both younger.  It was awesome, you have his walk, trot, canter and gallop.  And then he had this 5th gear, he would literally drop his body down and accelerate through the gallop.  You could actually feel him lowering himself and then the extra power coming from behind, it was sooo cool.  Alas, he is now permanently broken and there are no gallops in his future with me so I do it occasionally on Mia.  Rarely though, only about once a year.  Last week I did it and brought my phone with me to record our speed because this is stuff I need to know.  Mia is certainly faster than App, but how fast can she actually go?

We had a 15 min w/t warmup before trotting down to the road and galloped through the hay field and up the big ass hill.  It is probably a half mile from point A to B?  OMG She galloped almost 38 miles per hour!  That is FAST.  A quick google search shows the fastest racehorse went almost 44 MPH, not sure if that is sustained or not though. And it was SO cool to ride.  We went down and did a gallop a second time but Mia slowed down as we started going up the hill, she had no more gallops left in her and went into a canter so we called it a day and cooled out.  The speedometer app is cool, and pretty accurate when testing in my car.  I strap it to my hand via a armband phone holder when I use it (fitness) and while it doesn't show meters per minute, it works out as I know I need apx 12 MPH for BN, 14 for N, 16 for T and 19 for P.  There are actual ranges, but these are the numbers I remember and gets us close for conditioning.  I confirmed that fast mare is fast!

This Friday I have another dressage lesson, I know OMG!!  A second lesson with a month?!  I am excited to see how it goes and HOPE that it becomes slightly more regular.  Regular lessons would be FABULOUS.  I hope to get a recap of it posted before weeks go by this time too!  Fingers crossed :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lesson and CT recap!

Man things are really busy over here, so busy.  So, so busy.  Where were things?  So TWO WEEKS ago I had a lesson.  It was a pretty good lesson, she confirmed my (slower) trotting pace is the correct one for Mia right now.  She confirmed I am riding better (yay) but that I need to do shoulder in.  When?  All the times.  When I think I am done with shoulder in?  Do more.  Yay!  Right?  HA!  So why so much shoulder in?  Mia is unbalanced and is falling on her forehand, especially in corners, and riding the shoulder in before, through and after the corners are going to help her stay balanced and seamless.  Interesting.  We also looked at her canter and while Mia is leaning/falling in, the suggestion was for Mia to simply go faster and with more outside rein.  Did it help?  Eh, kinda.  Baby steps and all.  Not super confident but it can't really hurt with where we are now.

That lesson prepared us for our little CT.  Overall it was a good show.  It was held at my barn and I volunteered to take pictures of most competitors so there was that complication.  It also meant I have virtually no pics of myself.  And then when I was done with my ride, I was asked to stay at the ring with Mia because another horse was freaking out when Mia tried to leave.  Herd bound horses.....ugh.  The dressage went pretty well and we scored a 35%.  The judge wanted more leap in the canter (Baby steps judge, baby steps!) and a little more bend in said canter but she did NOT say we were falling in. To the left.  We did get that comment to the right, but to the right is Mia's hard direction and I don't think I pushed her fast enough to help straighten her out.  Again, baby steps!

The stadium portion was a huge cluster, I was supposed to ride at 1p but they didn't even start any jump division until 1p AND they were letting people school in the arena over the jumps we were supposed to go over.  I know it was a schooling show, but wth?!? It made for a HUGE time waste.  I didn't get in the arena until 145p and by that time I had been on since 1240p, it was hot, we were hot and tired and ready to be DONE.  The other Novice competitor was just as annoyed as I was and it was so frustrating.  ARGH!!  If it wasn't at my own barn, I would have scratched and left.  It was almost 90 degrees, almost no shade and no one knew what was going on.  We did finally get in for our jumping class and went double clear to finish on our dressage score.  I got 2nd (of 2) with a 35% and the other competitor got a 33%.  The other competitor is also a former 1* horse being leased out to a 19yr old kid, so there is that.  Overal, I thought the scoring was not too shabby for having virtually no preparation for the show nor being anywhere close to competition fit ha!

Mia had an easy couple of rides Tues/Weds and then got almost a full week off as I had an auto race to compete in which took our Thur-Monday.  I went out last night and bebopped around bareback.  I am not in shape enough to do two pointober officially so I am just competing with myself.  I did two laps of bareback two point last night and feel it today (HA!) but my balance and muscle strength were on par.  It's the little wins.  Time to get back into the swing of things!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lesson prep, show prep!

Ah....yes.  When we last left off, Mia had finally recovered from her knee injury and abscess and we were finally ready to move forward.  I had bought a tub of KrudZapper per Carly's review of it and was using it to remove the last bits of "crud" on her legs, it wasn't really cruddy but the areas have been discolored all year.  I made a comment to the barn owner that I was using it for her scratches and it was working great around the time the abcess was an issue.  The weekend after Labor Day, she came in with a huge hind leg, she had a cut on the inside hind leg that got infected and her whole leg was swollen and hot.  Seriously!  I was really annoyed because the previous weekend, she had a half dozen hairless scrapes on her hock areas.  On that Tuesday she had a small cut on the inside of her left hind and another on the outside of her right hind, but neither was sore or swollen.  I doctored them up, rode, all was fine.  I got a text on Friday that her leg was swollen and they thought she had issues from her "scratches".

First, she does NOT HAVE actual scratches.  She hasn't had actual scratches since I have owned her.  The fact the barn is telling people the leg swelling was a result of her tendency to have scratches really pisses me off.  Second, the "scratches" had zero to do with her leg being swollen.  A 5 second look at her showed the reason her leg was swollen was a pretty big cut/puncture on the inside of her leg, halfway between her stifle and hock.  OMFG.  The entire leg was huge and quite hot and she was lame on it.  I was so angry because the barn staff didn't actually look at her leg, they just threw this random "scratches" claim around.

Saturday she barely let me touch her leg and she proved her saint-ness as she tolerated an iodine wash/cold hose/Neosporin treatment without totally flipping her lid.  She came really close to flipping it though, she was really at her patience breaking point when I finally gave up.  She hadn't kicked out, just held her leg way up/out/away.  She hadn't reared, really, and hadn't bitten anyone (lol) but she could not stand still and was very angrily shaking her head/neck/body so I called it a day after working on it for about 15 minutes.  We repeated the ordeal on Sunday and on Sunday she at least let me touch/handle the cut and leg.  The leg was still huge, but the entire leg wasn't hot, just the area around the cut, so that was progress.  We did this routine every day until Tuesday, in addition to SMZ's and bute, before her leg finally came down in size.  Phew.

I rode her last Wednesday for the first time and her scab came off while we were riding (likely from her tail bag) but she was fine with me putting (even) more Neosporin on it.  It was big and looks ugly, but much better.  Saturday I rode a quick dressage ride and the scab stayed on.  She was a very good mare for our ride.  She is really out of shape, a 30 minute medium/high intensity workout was a bit much for her, but tried everything I asked and wasn't super sassy.  We finished with our dressage test and while it isn't great, she did a good job with it considering her time off.

Yesterday we went on a 2+ hour trail ride with some barn ladies and it was a really nice ride.  Mia is such a rockstar on trails anymore, I so vividly remember barely being able to get her to walk a straight line without spooking and now she doesn't care while everyone else is super looky.  Yay Mia!  She was very hot and sweaty, much more than everyone else, despite it being a 98% walk ride.  She got a good hosing and thrown outside to relax.  Tonight I have a dressage rider coming to look at Mia for a possible lease situation.  Apparently she rides 2-3rd level and is looking for something to toodle around on.  Mia has never had anyone else ever seriously ride her, if I could have some dressage training put on her?  Hmm, that would be awesome.  It would only be for 1-2 days a week and I'm not even sure if I will go through with it, but it is intriguing enough that I am contemplating it.

This Friday I have my first lessons since January?  February?  I am really excited for it, I want to really work on Mia's canter, my position and getting relaxation.  This weekend we have a small fun show, a Novice CT.  We aren't really ready for it, but we can get around a stadium course without being fit so I entered.  Let's hope she can stay sound until next weekend.  I did tell the barn that if she gets hurt again, I am putting her and App back together and they will have to figure something out in regards to their herds.  She never got hurt with App and this is her 3rd injury so far this summer and no one ever knows how it happens.  I am tired of having an injured horse.