Friday, December 19, 2014

Getting our dressage on - a partial update

The last time I took a real dressage lesson, from a real dressage instructor, was back around August. August of 2010.  The two instructors since have not been true dressage instructors and while they were okay, they weren't super great.  Neither was hard on my equitation and I didn't feel more dressage-ey at the end of the lesson. at the pushing of RB4, I set up a lesson with the dressage instructor from our spring clinic.

Last Saturday was our first lesson and wow it was a good one. We started the lesson as expected, with some background. The instructor, M, said that she remembered us after she saw Mia and again said how much she liked my mare.  Mia was nicely put together and moves very well.  M immediately had me lower my stirrups which made her happier and though didn't necessarily feel better, I am paying for her opinion so I sure in hell am going to try it out! She really liked my basic position.  My leg was nice, my hands were nice, my back was nice and straight.  But then she started to nit pick.  I need to close my hip angle, apparently I am slightly behind her motion right now which is fine for a more upper level horse but not for my green bean.  I FEEL like I am leaning way forward but she says I look perfect so I am working on it.  She also had me stop looking where I am going and, if anything, counter bed a little because I am turned too much to the inside.


Okay, so that was the write up I started 2 weeks ago and still haven't had time to finish.  Still.  So that is it for now, I have a lesson tomorrow again and I SHOULD have time to make a post about it because I am actually off of work until January starting tomorrow.  YAY!!!  Sorry for being such a bad blogger, I guess some update is better than none?  I have been practicing my new positions and they are coming along very well, hopefully M will see continued progress and I will be awesome come spring.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Equestrian Journey Blog Hops 1 and 2

Oh geez, I really don't have time to post, I haven't even written about my last lesson(!!), and yet here I am going to try to do a dang blog hop.  Well, hopefully it goes okay enough.

First - What Will You Not Do?  

Achieve1dream asks “We all like to share on our blogs what we do with our horses and what we would like to do, but I want to know what you will NOT do.”

Well, I won't do things that are not in the interest of the horse.  I will not overwork them, I will not be unreasonable in my expectation.  I will not use gimmicks to train my horses.  I will not teach them dangerous tricks like rearing or striking.  I will not allow my horses to be free of consequences of their actions :)  

Not super fun answers, I know.  I guess I don't have a list of things I won't do other than the obvious.  I won't neglect my horses.  I won't abuse my horses (even harsh correction is not always abuse!).  I won't ignore my horses.  I won't live without my horses :D

Second -  Winter Tips Blog Hop

Achieve1dream asks "Do you have any winter tips to share?"

I have tips, not sure how helpful they can be.  

I strongly recommend slow feed hay nets for feeding hay.  Why?  It eliminates 95% any and all waste that is attempted by Appy.  He has no reservations about peeing and pooping on the hay and then being hungry and threatening to lose weight.  The slow feed hay nets eliminated all of that. 

For pelleted bedding, fill a 2.5 or 5 gallon water jug that you find in water coolers (avail for under $10 at Walmart) with hot water.  Open a bag of pellets in a wheelbarrow by cutting 3 sides of the bag so that it becomes a sheet of plastic.    Dump 2-2.5 gallons of hot water over the pellets.  Cover the pellets with the bag/sheet of plastic and leave for 5 mins.  It will steam the pellets and within 5 mins you will have fluffy bedding and no pellets.

If you don't have a water heater, surround your tank with foam insulation (or any kind of insulation).  Then take an aquarium bubbler/air pump, attach an aquarium air hose to the bubbler and the other end to a rock or other piece of semi-heavy thing and place in the bucket.  The foam will reduce the time the ice forms on the side of the tank/bucket and the bubbler will keep the top from freezing over.  Note, bigger tank needs bigger bubbler.

Scoop as much frozen poo as possible, especially if it is on gravel.  What you may think is deep muck can very likely be 2-5 inches (or more) of poo slop and the gravel will still be hard packed and dry underneath.  The more poo you scoop, the less mud you will encounter.  

Hope this helps someone, those are the best winter tips I have!  Let's see how long I can keep up the blog hops :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Better efforts, better rides

Achieve1dream asked a question of my last post, since I love comments and don't want to discourage them, let me answer!

Weird! Has she ever cantered nicely bareback? Or has it always been hard? How did you use draw reins bareback anyway?? So confused lol. I hope your next ride goes better!! 

We have only cantered bareback once before and it was not nearly as hard as she made it this time.  I think it was a combination of weather, attitude and not having the saddle so I could fix the problem right then.  How did I use draw reins?  I was partially cheating, I was riding in my comfy bareback pad.

Borrowed pic, not my pad or horse.
I had bought it when it was advertised as a Thinline bareback pad and it turned out to not be but it IS still extremely comfy so I kept it.  I clipped the ends of the reins to the buckles on the girth and went with it.

Anyway, I rode Mia again on Friday with a saddle and she was MUCH better.  She started out fighting at the canter but I went back to the positive reinforcement training we did when I was breaking her out, as soon as she did what I wanted I would make a noise and give her a treat.  This gal is SO food motivated, it took only 4 times before she was cantering with her head below her chest.  HA!  Silly horse.  Definitely shows it wasn't a pain or training issue, dang baby horses.  The ride went fabulously so I kept it really short.  We did some shoulder in, haunches in, some baby half passes, lots of transitions and then called it a night.

On Sunday RB4 came out and I jumped Mia on a small grid and man that girl can jump.  I had 3 trot poles to a 2' placement jump and started by making the oxer wide.  We got the oxer to 2'6" high and almost 5' wide before we narrowed it and raised it up.  When we went to 2'6" to 2'9" I couldn't even tell there was a height change!  She is drifting to the right a lot, I am not sure if it is my leg (or lack there of) or her though.  I rode with a crop for most of the ride and only had to smack her a couple of times the entire ride to get more impulsion, one smack at a time is all she needs to wake up and go!  When we put it up to a 3' oxer I swear she was jumping a 2' jump, it felt SO easy and relaxed without any of the knocking down issues we were having this summer.  Mia only knocked the fence down a single time when she drifted to the right so far that she knocked the standard down with her front hoof, from there on I carried the whip in my right hand and used more leg and kept her semi-straight.  Go Mia!

Tuesday I rode the App for the first time in a while, he is just SO damn good when he wants to be.  I was showing K some of the training he actually has, she has heard me talk about some of the stuff we used to do and while I don't think she doubted me, I think she just couldn't imagine him actually doing anything fancy since he is such an out of shape old man.  BUT we were able to do full half passes, travers, renvers, 5 meter circles in the trot, half passes in the canter and he was even able to really sit down and do an almost 5 meter circle at the canter!  Awww Appy <3  We did 3 stride tempi changes, walk/canter/walk transitions and even halt/canter/walk transitions.  I really opened him up in the canter when K asked if he always cantered that slow (uhhhh, NO!) and was able to bring him back without too much of a fight.  It was obvious that App doesn't have the muscle anymore and I didn't make him do any one movement for more than a 30 seconds at a time.  It was so nice to ride him :D  K offered to ride him for extra exercise and I am gladly taking her up on it, maybe I can get his muscling back up and he will look like a young teenager again.  He certainly doesn't look like a 21 year old horse but he is certainly showing his age with his lack of muscling.

Finally, I have an update.  A fairly cool update.  Actually 2 of them!  First, I scheduled my first dressage lesson since last winter!  I am using someone else, not H, and she is 35% more expensive than H (YOWSERS!) but I rode with her in a clinic that I had brought Mia to in the spring and we had a really good ride so I am hoping I will get some serious progress.  This lady, M, is a dressage trainer that has a bunch of USDF certifications, I am hoping she can get my equitation fixed once and for all and Mia and I can move forward with a plan because I am currently stuck in a dressage rut.  My lesson is Saturday, wish me luck!  Secondly, my NEW TRUCK is going to be here the week before Christmas!! EEEEEE I am SO excited!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Not every ride is a good ride when you are training

Having a young horse that I am training myself can be often very boring as we are establishing and reestablishing basics and principles.  Other times, however, it can be difficult and frustrating as we fight to obtain or remember a principle or practice and one party doesn't seem to get it.  Or decides she wants her sass to shine through.  Mia is pretty smart and has picked stuff up pretty quickly and without much issue but she is young and she is feisty when she wants to be.  When RB4 was here, she was great.  Tonight, however, she was feisty.

I rode bareback and that I think contributed to the issue.  Mia was actually being very good until the very end.  We had some nice w/t work and I was going to do a quick canter and call it a night.  Unfortunately, Mia decided that it was not in fact a night to canter nicely and thus a fight ensued.  It started with a simple canter transition to the right, Mia gave it to me but instead of holding herself she put her head way up and refused to bend.  I asked for her to put her head down and she refused.  I asked to slow down and she refused.  I asked for at trot transition and asked for the canter again.  Again she refused to put her head down or bend and now she was speeding up.  Great.

I tried making her just go forward while asking for her to soften and she would go faster but refused to drop her head or stop inverting her back.  At this point I should clarify this isn't a head up situation, this is a head in my lap situation.  We changed directions and she held her head slightly high but she was using her back to the left.  I switched directions again and Mia still refused to do as I asked and started jumping into the canter, almost rearing as she picked up her transition.  Getting fairly annoyed as we had been working on this simple transition for over 5 minutes now, I grabbed the draw reins and put them on.  If nothing else it might give me the leverage to help me get the head down or at least have her back not so hollow so we could end on a good note.

We picked up a trot and Mia held herself quite nicely without much tension but as soon as I picked up the canter she tried to have her head sky high and refused to give to the inside rein, bend or even sit on her butt.  Grrr!  We have been doing so well with this over the past 3-4 months, why are we reverting?  The more I fought the issue the more "up" Mia was getting in her canter transitions and not in a good way.  Twice I thought she was going to rear instead of go into a canter and she had zero desire to keep her head down out of my face.  She was pulling on the draw rein so hard she was wheezing.  Flashbacks to Jan-April!  I tried switching directions and cantering to the left but by this point Mia was quite pissy, hot and not at all interested in compromise.  While she was a bit fast and her head was out of my face (without activating the draw reins), you could tell she was not happy and just looking to fight.  Grrrr.

After I was able to get a lap to the left on a loose inside rein with Mia's head fairly down, I did several laps of trot and didn't stop until Mia stretched down and relaxed a little.  I tried doing some trot/canter/trot transitions where we canter only a stride or two before trotting again and that certainly didn't fix anything but she was also getting pretty tired and quite sweaty.  I picked up the right lead canter and while she didn't put her head where it should be (out of my face!) and was still pissy, she wasn't pulling on the draw rein (too much) and she kept her lead low enough for me to call it a night.  I had her trot around a couple of laps on a long rein before going back to the barn and parking her under a cooler.

I am very annoyed that this habit popped back up, especially that it came back this badly.  This is how she was cantering when we started and I thought we were over this.  Especially since we had just cantered with RB4 on Monday and it went so well!  I was, however, very impressed with my seat.  I rode a very hard ride with bad transitions, unsteady gaits, some spinning, some almost rearing and sudden stops and not once did I think I might fall and I was unsteady in my balance only a couple of times that were all quickly recovered.  Yay No Stirrup November!  My next ride, however, will definitely be in a saddle so I can have enough leverage to win the battle if she chooses to pick it.  But watch, next time she isn't going to fight me because that is how my luck goes.  If that is what she chooses, I will take it!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Progress? Why yes!

No Stirrup November is coming along quite nicely, while I haven't ridden in the bareback pad again, I can tell I am riding much better in the saddle.  My seat has relaxed and is more balanced, my legs hang straighter and, for some reason, my hands have come higher.  Overall?  Win!  AND I haven't even been sore the entire month, something I was sure was going to happen.  So yay me!

Do I have any awesome stories to tell about how No Stirrup November changed my riding and now Mia is doing first level movements?  Well, no.  Overall it's been pretty boring, what you might expect from someone who hasn't had a dressage lesson in almost a year and is putting the final polishes on the basics.  Yeah, boring.  My ride last night was cool because RB4 came out and she hasn't been out since October.  She watched me ride and I ride the dressage test, she looked surprised when I was done.  I asked what she thought and she said it looked great, actually.  She was quite surprised at the difference the month has made.  Huh, more no stirrup work more often?  Haha!  Mia was fairly soft in the bridle, she was fairly steady in the bridle and she didn't drop her shoulders much.  Progress indeed!  Now I need to get my butt in gear and take a lesson, if nothing else break down and call H if I can't haul anywhere for one since I don't have my new truck yet (being built this week!!!!).

I did jump a little though, and in true No Stirrup November fashion, it was sans stirrups.  And I didn't fall off!  I may have thought about it.... but didn't lol.  The first time over the little crossrail of a jump she jumped it awkwardly I wasn't prepared enough for it.  My vice grip thighs clamped down and I grabbed neck and pulled myself back on TOP of the horse, I have absolutely NO desire to fall from a 16.0h horse thank you.  The rest of the ride went well, I can feel myself jumping better thankfully.  If I keep feeling myself jumping like crap, I need to remind myself to get back to basics and jump cross rails with no stirrups.  Something I think H should have had me do when I was complaining about my position in the spring but hey, what is one to do.  We finished doing trot and canters up to the little 2' crossrail with no stirrups to work mostly on myself.  We did some jumping at angles too, introduce something different, and Mia didn't care.  So yeah, boring

So sorry for the lame update but it is better than nothing right?  This week will be hell, I have the next 3 nights booked with things that include me not riding.  Wednesday the in-laws and others come in, I will have an additional 7 people staying here for 3 days for Thanksgiving.  Everyone is leaving on Friday thankfully but man I think I am going to be wiped out.  I am planning on riding Friday, maybe an update then!  Happy Thanksgiving (US bloggers anyway)!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No Stirrup November

True, I may not be posting much (or riding much thanks to the weather and my schedule) but I am doing No Stirrup November.  I even rode Mia for the second time bareback, my first time actually doing something other than walking around.  She was pretty good, definitely not as easy to ride as TWH or App bareback though as she is inconsistent and wiggly but she is MUCH more comfortable with her tiny bounce trot hehe.  It is SO much easier to sit her trot than it is either of the boys trot, that makes it very easy to ride bareback in the trot :)

I rode a quick w/t/c bareback and it is very obvious that I needed No Stirrup November, my balance is not where it is supposed to be.  While I didn't try to fall off, really fall off anyway, I wasn't as secure in my seat as I should be.  I stick like glue still but the balance is just not as great.  The trot is good and even the canter is pretty good but the canter to trot transition is a little unbalanced and sharp turns leave me off-center.  I think I am just not adequately preparing and maybe muscle memory is rusty.  Nothing to really report though, Mia was behaving quite well and letting me work on myself without being too much of a sassy redhead.

Last weekend I rode Mia out on the road and ponied the App, the goal was to just trot forward and try to get her to stop shying at things while we are out and we were mildly successful.  K came with us on TWH and she laughed when Mia body bumped App because she shied away from a big stick on the side of the road.  SMH.  The horse lives in a pasture that is 1/2 wooded in an old growth forest.  Of course she would shy from a stick. At the last third of the ride, K and TWH cantered on ahead with Mia, App and I trotting behind.  Mia picked up a slow canter and so I allowed it and we were going along quite well for about 10 strides.  Then App decided it was time to take off and Mia didn't listen to my seat to stop so I could deal with him.  So here I am riding a horse who isn't stopping trying to hold onto another horse that is trying like hell to break free and gallop off because he is being an asshole.  It took almost an eighth of a mile to stop the two horses and I went off on App.  The asshole knows better and if it hadn't been for the fact that I had been holding the rope in both hands with Mia's reins, he would have successfully gotten free.  Grrr!!!!  I was ponying him in a rope halter (as it is more effective than a nylon halter) but now and thinking I need to have a damn chain over his nose if we go out again.  Stupid horse.  At least I felt better that he was tired when he got back from all of the trotting we did, he deserved to be tired.  Stupid horse.

Last night I rode Mia again while K rode TWH and it certainly went better than my last rides.  K was using the bareback pad so I rode in the (cold, COLD!) saddle and we had a pretty good dressage ride (sans stirrups).  I worked on sitting Mia on her butt so we could do some small circles and changes of direction.  Mia is doing much better of not dropping her left shoulder when we do a figure 8 and her transitions are nice and crisp.  Her right lead canter is still her harder one, she is often dropping her inside shoulder, giraffing her neck or going as fast as she can but we were successfully able to get a full circle of a good canter on 2 different occasions.  Yay!  Hopefully at the beginning of December I will take a lesson and get someone else's opinion and help me develop a road map of where to go from here.  Let No Stirrup November continue!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Old becomes new again or Blogger Family Love

Back in 2010, we moved to MI and Old Man Appy didn't approve.  He didn't tolerate the cold before and he certainly didn't tolerate it any more by moving north.  The first couple of years I used the Ohio blankets but I didn't like having to use a stable blanket with the medium weight t/o blanket to keep him from shivering so I ordered a new McAlister blanket.  It arrived and I was happy.

Appy wore his medium weight when he started shivering when naked (around 15-20 degrees out) and wore this one when he started shivering in his medium weight (around 0 degrees).  It worked well enough until he had to wear it for almost a week, after 3 days I saw that it was rubbing his hair on his shoulders.  UGH.  It just wasn't fitting like I wanted.  Every time I would use the blanket, I added a shoulder sleezy.

Last year I used the blanket a few times but I kept getting frustrated at the rubbing when he would wear it for more than a few days.  When it gets cold here, it stays cold for DAYS/WEEKS.  I bought extra shoulder sleezys to help rotate and I would use the stable blanket with the medium weight a couple of times to give him a break.  If it is rubbing, it can't be comfortable.

Over the summer I went to a yard/moving sale and the people were having the "fire sale" for the last day.  Everything half off or make an offer, they wanted everything gone.  I got some cool stuff, Stubben irons for $5, Courbette side reins for $5, IRH helmet for $5, really nice dog nail clippers for $1, dog crate foam pad for $1, plush rocking horse for $25, etc.  The steals though were the blankets.  I got 3 rain sheets and one medium weight blanket for an absolute steal.  2 of the rain blankets fit Mia decently and have patches, one doesn't fit and is new condition so I will resell that one (84" if anyone is interested!).  The medium weight blanket was WAY too big but turned out to be a new, in package Rhino blanket, a $200 blanket!!  I sold it a couple of months ago and was able to buy a used HW Amigo with a hood with the funds so it was basically a trade.  WIN!!

I am really looking forward (well, not really) to using it, it looks like it fits Appy much better and I hope Appy appreciates all of the effort I put into this blanketing for him lol.  That left my old blanket, I washed it and just let it sit around until I read about Chrome needing a blanket.  A light went off in my head.  Last November (good lord has it been that long ago...) Gingham held a tack give away and sent me a truly hard to look at Sleazy, the pattern is pretty crazy but it fits Mia well and I have used it twice now.

Yes, this is the pattern.  Really!
I figured I could send the good Karma along and I sent achieve1dream a FB message telling her about my blanket and offering it to her at a really good price.  The fact that it was blue (ish purple) sealed the deal and I got a price quote.  UPS wanted $25 to ship and USPS wanted $30, that is way too expensive so I got my hands on a USPS board game flat rate box ($17.90!!) and made it my mission to stuff it in.  And stuff I did!  

After using almost a quarter of a roll of tape to ensure that if it exploded in transit, the tape would hold the blanket until it reached Chrome, it arrived.  Alas there was no explosion but apparently they had a time even getting it out of the box.  HA!

I am very glad I was able to pass on the blanket to someone that could use it.  Achieve1dream says it fits Chrome pretty well so I hope it works out for them.  Happy Blogger Karma being paid forward works out for everyone!

Monday, November 10, 2014

I won something!!

I say this because I rarely ever win anything so when I do, I get SUPER excited.  I have actually won a couple of things so it is even better to share with you!

Achieve1dream was holding a contest for some license plates she had and one of them was an eventing plate.  Well, we KNOW that I had to put my name in for that one haha.  I have an Appaloosa license plate and I need a 2nd one so both my car and truck will have a special plate.  Low and behold, I WON!  After confirming that she is not, in fact, an axe murderer, I sent her my address and this is what showed up!

Check out that awesome shag carpet.  You be jealous, I know.
This is so going on my truck :)  Speaking of truck, I did something I have never, ever done. I bought a new truck.  Like BRAND new!  I even ordered it so it has EXACTLY what I wanted!!
I am so excited it is hard to stand myself.  I am, however, really sad that I am not going to have the Silverado anymore.  I love that truck :(  It is a great truck, it just needs 2k of maintenance before the next show season and SO wanted to get something new for once.  EEEE!!!

What else have I won?  Well, TWH and I won a high point year end award for our Novice division!! GO TWH!!!!!!!  We are such a great team together, it makes me very happy that we won.  We also won an award for our cross country outfit, apparently his sparkling clean look with a "ground dragging tail" goes well with our "eye catching blue".  We won a bucket with grooming supplies in his colors!!

It has a bathing mitt, 2 brushes, green spot remover, ShowSheen, vetwrap and a sticker.  AWESOME!  The down side is that I won't be showing him next year, K will be so she will get to use this awesome stuff but it is still so awesome that we won something for our efforts.  It is even more amazing because it was an award done on a voting process so people actually VOTED FOR US!!  I am so, so happy with TWH and am so, so happy that I have found someone that wants to ride him regularly.  He totally could win more awards next year and he deserves all of the awards he wins.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Shoulders up, go straight

K is having a really good time with TWH, I am really happy that the lease situation seems to be working out so well with her.  It gives TWH a job and someone to love on him daily which is exactly what he wants.  So happy!  She has even ridden him bareback and loves my bareback pad.  She agreed he feels like a big ol couch!  Fluffy and comfy.

I have been working Mia on some basic dressage again, I am really trying to get her to keep her shoulders where I put them and keep her off of my legs.  When doing figure 8's, or even when making circles, she has a hard time going from the right to the left without dropping her shoulder and leaning to the inside.  That is something to work on so it has been hour homework for the past 2 rides.  She is getting there, during our last ride she was finally able to  make 2 full figure 8's without dropping her shoulder.  Yay!

I also rode Mia on a 3 hour trail ride with RB3, someone I haven't been hanging out with for a while.  It was a pretty good ride and visit, maybe we can start riding together occasionally again, we will see.  Mia was really good for the trail ride but it was funny how much RB3 laughed at us as Mia showed her green-ness.  Spooking at birds, spooking at rocks, spooking at sticks, the absolute inability to go in a straight line.  The sudden, veer that goes directly into the horse RB3 is riding because Mia shied away from something. Ah, green horses.  She even did really well at the bridges, we went over 2 of bridges twice and while she was very hesitant I was able to get her to go up to them without having someone else go first.  Yay!  She even held it together as we went under the interstate overpass even though someone else had to go first lol.

This upcoming week will involve no riding as I will be out of town on business, I am going to really need some horse time by the time I get back!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last show of the year!

Our last show of the year was this past weekend and man was this past weekend busy.  It was literally nonstop action from Friday at 6p until Sunday at 730p.  Friday night I had to go to a Halloween party and we didn't get home until 1130p.   Had to get up at 8a to get stuff packed up and ready for the show as K and I were hauling 1.5 hours away to school at the show grounds and we wouldn't have time to get ready by the time we returned.  Thanks to some frantic laundry being washed this past week, everything was clean and ready to go!

At noon we hauled out and went xc schooling.  Mia was super looky at everything and kept randomly stopping but jumped the xc jumps with ease.  The map was super confusing and it took a good 20 minutes before we figured out the start box was not the normal start box but instead a pile of hay bales.  Uhh, ok!  The first 4 jumps were stadium fences and Mia was convinced they were not okay.  I had to seriously kick her just to get her to walk up to them before she would even consider jumping them.  Oh mare!  After the first 4 jumps we went to xc fences which she was SO much better for, she didn't even look at xc fences but stadium fences she gives eyeballs to?  Weird mare.  Mia even was great for the water, no balking or much hesitation at all, go Mia!  She handled the baby ditch very well, the road crossing required a canter/trot/walk/stop/kick to get her to go over (smh) and a green flowerbox she literally climbed over from a standstill as she wasn't sure if she really wanted to jump it.  She jumped the rock pile without concern as well as the log to the down bank, yay!  The last 3 jumps were stadium jumps, however, and by golly they had high suspicion value and she knocked one of the poles over as she tried hard to not go over the fences.  Why are you so silly mare??  XC jumps should be spooky, not stadium jumps!

TWH was awesome and K had an absolute blast schooling him, we got back home at 5p and gave the horses a quick bath (Actually warm enough for it!!!!!!) before throwing them in a sleezy and blanket and kicking them out for the night.  4a was early but up I hopped and started Sunday in the dark.  The horses may have tried hard but they were still clean so no 2nd baths were required.  We hauled out at 615a and got to the show a little later than I hoped.  I got Mia all tacked up and over to the dressage ring in plenty of time but she was super looky.  Duper looky.  And stiff.  And inattentive.  And head tossy.  Very green horse like.  I worked at suppling her the best I could in the crowd I had around me and after some figure 8's she at least was moving fairly decently.

I was the second to go so in we went.  Our test started well, she was forward and straight (and earned a 7!) and it went downhill from there.  Mia was looky, tense, didn't want contact and was pulling on the bridle.  Ah mare.

She considered not giving me the first canter transition but a good poke with the spur got her into it.  She wasn't super bent and was very much on the forehand but it was adequate.  Our free walk was decent and the rest of the test was okay.  Nothing special, but not too bad.  

This got a 5 for a free walk.  She was consistent, I thought it deserved higher!
The judge disagreed and hated it.  She commented that my hands were way too low for dressage (trying to fight a mare here lady!) and I got almost exclusive 5's.  Blech, it put is in 12th place.

We rushed back and got TWH ready for K, she was SUPER tense.  It was her first show outside, first show with jumps, first show being hauled out, first on lots of things and she was freezing up.  I coached her through and she finally was relaxing enough to get decent transitions.  She went into the ring, however, and just froze up.  Poor girl was so nervous she wasn't giving consistent queues.  TWH cantered a few times in her trot circle and up the center line to a halt.  They liked what they saw, however, and didn't put her last at least.

We rushed back to the trailer to get Mia ready for XC and she seemed a little more calm (finally, geez!).  I was SO glad we had jumped the course the day before, she was very behind my leg for the 3 stadium jumps and she put an extra stride in jumps 3 to 4 as she couldn't go straight but we made it over.

She jumped the XC jumps REALLY well, not backing off of any of them.  She had a momentary pause at the water but cantered in, yay mare!

Let's NOT "look" at the water, let's just go in
The rest of the XC jumps went perfectly.  She approached them all very well, she jumped them all very well and acted all grown up.   Getting TO the jumps was another matter, at one point I yelled at her "Just Go Straight Drunk Mare!!!".  She came to a walk going through one field as she had to go through a gate and she just Could Not Do It.  She shied pretty hard at a patch of yellowed grass where a jump used to live.  She was changing direction in her canter stride at almost every stride.  Some points in the ride had me looking like a bad barrel racer.  Ugh, green horses!

Just Can't Even.  I am sure I looked like this.
We finally went down the bank and went (kicked/trotted) over to the road to the last 3 stadium jumps.  They were on a bending line and she made it to the first one but I don't think I set her up nice enough for the 2nd one as she knocked the rail down.  Ugh!!  I just can't go double clear on you, can I mare?  The last fence was clear and we walked back to the trailer.

Yay water!
We got TWH ready for XC and, no surprise, he absolutely rocked the course.  K was a bundle of nerves but TWH didn't care and went over everything without even a glance.  He is such a good horse.

We finished up the day all ribbons, Mia got 8th out of 17 and TWH got 5th of 12.  Better than half the field for each of us, I would consider that a success!  Mia's homework is to get her OUT and get her cantering forward in as straight as a line as possible.  This girl needs a lot more exposure.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Riding success!

So who rode horses over the weekend?  Who made sure ALL horses were ridden over the weekend?  That would be me!  After the lapses I have been having, getting a leasee who is required to ride with me present for the first 30 days has rebooted my riding schedule and I have successfully ridden every day since Wednesday.  Yay me!  It is good timing too, as Mia's show is this upcoming weekend and I am not even close to stressing about it.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were dressage rides, Mia is doing SO much better than even at our last show.  As I was talking to RB4 I said I think that Mia plateaued around early summer where she "got it" but decided she didn't really want to do the work so she wasn't.  That was the timeframe that I finally broke down and put the draw reins on her to force her to submit, accept contact and cooperate better.  Once we got over that hump, things have been getting steadily better and I haven't used draw reins in months!  Mia is MUCH more consistent in the contact, especially at the trot and canter, she is MUCH more balanced in the canter and she isn't regularly fighting me.  Yay!

Saturday K and I went for K's first ride outside, we first rode around the pasture and then around the short loop.  TWH was, of course, awesome and Mia is doing better.  She is still very looky and spooked pretty hard at an empty trailer that rattled by us but I think TWH's calmness helped her and she quieted down quickly.  We rode most of the loop at a trot and I even cantered Mia a little and she was awesome.  She didn't try to run off, she kept the speed I asked and did well in her transitions.  My girl is growing up!  K was very impressed with TWH and loved that she still had as much control in the hackamore than she did with a bit, she had never ridden with a hackamore and was slightly nervous.  She said she is really falling for TWH, she talks about him nonstop apparently.  I am glad she is working out so well, TWH  really isn't ready for retirement and I think he will do well with her.

Before K left on Saturday K said she wanted to jump on Sunday, no problem.  Except I have 1 jumping saddle and am NOT ready to jump Mia bareback so we can't jump together.  I got up early and had RB4 come over and I jumped Mia.  We started out small and Mia is rocking jumps.  She is picking up her canter (with correct leads) effortlessly now and is starting to listen to my cues as we approach jumps.  In no time we bumped the jump up to a 2'6" oxer and Mia was doing good.  At one point Mia came at it and she wouldn't make the distance at a 3 stride.  I applied leg and Mia responded, she opened her stride and got it in 2.  That was amazing, it was the very first time she has responded to my request to change her striding before a jump!!

We bumped the oxer up to 3 foot, the second time she has ever gone that high under saddle.  The first time she jumped at that height had mixed success, she had a hard time not knocking poles down.  This time she brought the fence down a single time when we messed up the striding and couldn't get out of it but there was no refusal (YAY!) and once RB4 put it back up Mia went over it like it was a 2'6" jump.  It is amazing how small she makes the jumps feel, love!

Later in the day K came out to jump TWH so I hopped on my App to give him a workout.  I grabbed the dressage whip but apparently it wasn't needed.  App was very good and did really nice shoulders in/haunches in, 10m circles, serpentines and balanced canters without fighting.  It was so cool to ride him and not fight with him, I miss that.  App has so many talents that hasn't been used in a long while, if I keep this up maybe I can get him worked regularly again.  I even put him over the 18" crossrail and while he was way overjumping it, he still jumped and cleared it and seemed to enjoy it.

K jumped TWH and fell in love all over again.  She repeatedly missed her stride but the biggest jump was a little 2'3" vertical and TWH had absolutely no problem figuring out how to get over it no mater where he was placed.  He is SUCH a good horse :)  I will have her jump probably once more before the Saturday and on Saturday both K and I are going cross country schooling in preparation for our show on Sunday.

Such a long update, I haven't had this much to talk about and also time to write about it in a long time!  I am hoping for pics on Saturday, stay tuned.  Speaking of updates, have you seen achieve1dream's 5 year anniversary contest?  It is the 5 year anniversary of her getting Chrome and she is doing a giveaway.  Hoping to win the Eventing license plate!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Getting ready, more quick updates

So preparations for Mia's next show are not going as well as I would like, I have an alarmingly laid back attitude towards it.  Yikes?!?!  The show is a week and a half away and last night I just did some basic fitness and I rode her once 5 days prior in dressage?  I am putting my big girl cap on though and am planning on riding every day until the show.  SO is out of town this weekend which makes it much easier as well as I don't have him trying to lure me away with fun or work things to do.

Mia's dressage ride went pretty well, she is SO much more consistent in the bridle now!  We are working on trying to get true bend in the trot and it is much better.  I would really like to take a lesson before the show but I don't think it will happen, oh well.  Tonight I will ride her in dressage again and really buckle down to get things accomplished.

I had a really, really fun trip last weekend where I went to the Ohio Quarter Horse Congress and also visited all of my friends I left behind when I moved.  I really, really miss my network of people and I had the warm fuzzies when I thought about the sheer number of individual people that wanted me to visit them and made time out of their day for me to do so.  Awwww :)  I even went to a hunter pace, a friend brought a TB/Arab cross for me to ride.  Despite never having seen the horse before, his resfusal to stand still for mounting and his pulling dirty stops for the first 20 mins of the ride, I actually had a really, REALLY good time.  After he determined I was not going to just fall off and I WAS going to force him over the jumps, the gelding jumped everything and we had a fabulous ride.  It was a lot closer to a cross country ride versus a trail ride and it was awesome.  LOVED IT!!  It put me in such a good mood, added to the fact I was actually on vacation, I was floating on cloud 9 for the whole trip.

The last piece of news I have is a biggie, I may have found a leasee for TWH!  I have really been at an impasse with him as I really don't want to sell him but as I show Mia next year, I really don't have a use for him.  He isn't quiet enough for lessons as he takes his confidence from his riders.  He isn't talented enough to move up through eventing due to his gaitedness.  I have been actively trying to find a leasee for him for a few months (remember, I even asked my readers!) and haven't had any real interest.  It is odd because where I used to live, finding someone to lease was super easy!  Anyway, I had placed as on Facebook, DreamHorse and Craigslist and I got a random email from Craigslist from a well spoken gal inquiring about TWH.  We emailed back and forth, had a quick phone call, she came out and fell in love with TWH.  I mean, everyone always does, but it was good she did too haha.

I told her I am looking for a long term lease and that she is able to show him if that what she wants to do.  I showed her TWH's basic movements and we went over a 2'6" jump before I had her ride.  It took her a few tries to get the trot and then a few more tries to get the canter but then was able to get his gaits without an issue. She then went over an 18" crossrail and said she loved his jump, he rocks back onto his haunches and is super round.  He doesn't run at the jump or run away afterwards and she was very happy.  So I sent her the lease agreement and she starts tonight actually!  She was a good rider with really quiet hands and seemed to know her way around.  I am requiring her to ride when I am there for the first 30 days so that we can work out any questions and she can get to know TWH before being "on her own".  She is also interested in coming to my show on the 26th with TWH and showing the greenie division, how cool!  Her name is K and I am excited to see how she works out :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bit of a lull so some quick updates

Things went from crazy busy before the Mia's show to insane.  I had to travel out of town for a wedding, we had to move half of our wood for the winter, change insurance companies thanks to yet another huge increase (now THAT will suck the life out of you) and general life getting in the way.  My intention was to show TWH at the last show of the season on Oct 4/5.  I was kind of excited about it too, it was at the same venue as the first show of the year and it was the last show we could earn points at and is possibly the last time I will be showing TWH in eventing (unless some magic pocketbook opens up and dumps some cash on me, I also take sponsors lol!).  Best laid plans, however, did not pull through.  I simply don't have the funds to go and even if I did, I haven't been riding him enough.  With 2 weeks before the show and I haven't ridden him more than a few times since Mia's show, it just wouldn't really be fair.  *insert sad face*

It is pretty disappointing but I am in a lull anyway so it is par for the course.  Interestingly enough, it seems that a lot of my blogger friends are experiencing the same so I don't feel *quite* as bad.  Hopefully I can snap the heck out of it.  Add to it that my blog has dropped in page hits to half of their paltry number, it is a little disappointing.  I was super excited to see I now have 25 followers (HEY ALL!!!) but I didn't even get 20 hits on my last post about Mia's show.  I guess I didn't realize how awesome it was to know that people actually read my crappy writing and how much it helped spur me forward.  Alas, it will get better soon, I have to ride before deathwinter 2014 comes along and I can't ride becase it won't get above 10 degrees.  I blog just to track my progress, not for anyone else (that's just a bonus), so I shouldn't care if anyone reads it.

I did ride Mia last, I hadn't ridden her in about a week and surprisingly enough she did not throw a marefit about it and rode quite nicely!  She has a very big tendency to be very consistent with consistent work but time off requires a good hard reminder that she should listen, this time I didn't get that attitude!  A bit heavy in the bridle, a little lax in her trot/canter transitions but overall it was quite nice.  I just bebopped around to get some saddle time in, I wasn't working on anything hard but was quite impressed with the mare's willingness.  I hope it sticks around!  We finished the ride with some basics, moving the quarters, sidepassing and backing.  She was quite happy to ignore my leg when asking to move her haunches but a quick tap with the whip reminded her that ignoring isn't the best option.  We finished on a good note and she got some carrots to help soothe her ego.

The App is doing really well, after he had his hocks injected (April? May? I can't keep track) he started moving really well.  Giving him an IV injection of polyglycan once a month and giving him Smartsox plus MSM daily has made him a very sound and happy old man!  He has lost a bit of weight as summer goes away, just like he has for the past 5 years, so he is now getting an alfalfa cube mush twice a day plus he is being left in overnight so he can be parked in front of a hay bag.  He is gaining what he lost pretty quickly, thankfully, and I am glad I noticed it at the beginning of Sept instead of now because the cooler it is, the harder it is to get the weight on.  Once it is on, however, we have to practically chisel it off, go figure!

I am seriously looking for people who would want to lease TWH next year to event with.  If you are in the MI region, aren't afraid of a crazy internet blogger and want a horse that will event straight out of the box, send me your email and, if you are serious, I may come out of hiding and meet someone!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mia's eventing debut Pt 2

Sunday I was up bright and early to get ready, well not bright.  I was again bathing a horse by a lightbulb.  Mia wasn't happy about a bath and wiggled a lot until she realized I would let her eat grass if she stood still.  Being as food motivated as she was, it didn't take her long to figure this out and our bath went well enough.  I brought her in to braid as the sun was coming up and Mia was bored.  She moved forward.  She moved back.  She moved away from me.  She put her head down.  She put her head up.  I spent over an hour braiding (or trying to) and I never even finished!  At the 75 minute mark, RB4 showed up and held her still while I tied up some of the braids, then and we had to wrap and load her up.  We finished her forelock at the show, it took almost 1.5 hours to braid the mare.  Grrr!!!!

Thankfully the rest of the day went much better.  I got changed while RB4 tacked Mia up and we went into warmup.  The grass was super wet so they were thankfully letting everyone warm up in the sand.  Mia was really good, like really, really good!  Nice and quiet in the bridle, prompt with transitions and not fussy at all!  Apparently dressage and running her cross country the day before so she was tired and agreeable was a great idea.  We finally went into the ring and showed our stuff.  Our first circle could have used a little more bend but was very consistent.  Our canter was nice (!!) though our free walk wasn't great, she had a good walk but wasn't consistent in her stretch down.  Our trot was nice and balanced, her right canter was a little quicker than I hoped but it is her bad direction so not unexpected.  Our final trot down centerline was a little wobbly and she wasn't square, but for our first BN test I was very happy!  We headed back to the trailer to wait 2 hours for cross country.

About 45 minutes prior to cross country, RB4 and I meandered over to see the scores.  Yep, there was our name, yep there was Mia, OMG our score was a 35.8!!  OMG we are in 3rd place!!  Not only did we have all 6's and 7's, we even got an 8 on our medium walk.  An 8!!!!  The judges comments said that she needed a little more bend, could reach more in the walk but she was prompt, balanced (4 times!) and "very accurate"!  The judge said "scores will greatly improve with more suppleness through her topline" and we were "headed in right direction".  Yay!!!

We tacked up 30 minutes prior to cross country, I wanted to give her plenty of time to be spooky, excited or weird during warmup but I was nervous for nothing.  Mia was a super chill mare and was practically snoozing as everyone was running around in the warmup ring.  The exact opposite from what I expected!  I let her stand around until we were 3 horses from our go time and then pushed her over the crossrail,then vertical and she was awesome.  I bopped her over the oxer and she knocked a rail down.  RB4 was right there and set it back up, I gave Mia a nice smack with the crop and then she sailed over it with no issues for 3 times so we walked over to the cross country warmup fence.  It was a BN barn but we had never jumped it before.  Mia didn't get her striding right and banged her leg pretty hard on it as we went over but she went over without stopping or refusing.  I set her up to it a second time and this time I think I saw her knees as we sailed over it, she did NOT want to do that again!

It was finally our time, after watching the previous horse freak going into the start box and have to be hand walked in, Mia decided it was a great place to nap lol.  I gave her a nudge 10 seconds out and tried to wake her up as we started out.  She headed to fence one and while she weaved approaching the jump, she went over it.  I made a sharp turn to the right so I had plenty of time to be straight for 2 since we had issues yesterday and she was again a little wiggly and jumped 2 at an angle but was clear.  Yay!  Jump 3 was easy and 4 went by with me barely knowing she jumped anything.  Jump 5 was a roll top into the woods and she got the striding wrong and hit her legs as we went over but was clear.  At this point we were barely at a minute and I had to burn up a lot of time so we trotted through the woods to fence 6, trotted very slowly but avoided the willful delay penalty haha!

Fence 6 was on the top of a hill and the stride immediately following the landing was on a hill, Mia LOVED that jump on Saturday and today was no exception.  She really seemed to enjoy being able to run down the hill after landing, silly horse.  Jump 7 was an ascending oxer which posed no problem.  Jump 8 wasn't an issue but right before 8 was a truck holding the volunteers.  Mia thought we should pay attention to them more and I had to tug on her to remind her to look for a jump!!  We trotted slowly down a small hill to get to 9 and saw we still had over a minute to burn up, damn!  If I finished RIGHT NOW I would be too fast.  We went over 9 and slowly trotted to 10.  Even though we were trotting slowly, it did not help her steering and she was SO wiggly and drifted all over the place.  10 was uneventful and we trotted over to the bank up to the water.  On Saturday she tried to jump over the water, again almost helping me fall off.  This time I sat way up and back and Mia trotted into the water like she never thought to do anything different.  Geez mare.  We cantered through the water but trotted over to 13.  13 was a max height/width table so I gave her a good boot into a canter before the jump and she was perfect.  14 was a stadium oxer which posed no problem and we approached the final jump.  15 was a vertical that sat on the top of a hill, you had to jump up hill to get over it.  Mia was pretty tired at this point and wasn't careful, she knocked the top rail of 15 off as we went over it and cantered into the finish 15 seconds before optimum time.

I was really disappointed about the rail but was SO happy with her behavior.  She was obviously very green but she handled all that I threw at her with such maturity, regardless of the placing the show was a success!  Not to worry though, even with pulling a rail she still placed 3rd out of 9.  And if she hadn't pulled a rail?  She would have placed 2nd.  OMG that is awesome!  Mia got a good rubdown with liniment and then some poultice, she will now have a good week off.  Her next show won't be until the end of October, I am excited to see how she progresses!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mia's eventing debut Pt 1

With Mia's 1 year anniversary coming up, I wanted to see how she looked compared to how I got her. Her feet are now 100% mine and while there is still a single crack in her right front that has never gone away, her feet look awesome.  I loaded up the camera and got some pictures.  It wasn't until I made comparison shots that I was blown away!  Left pic 9.6.14, right pic 10.3.13

Funny, her neck looked SO long and now looks SO short!
Click to view large :)
I just can't even!  The amount of muscle is super impressive.  Her neck looks to be doubled in size!  She holds it much nicer now and it isn't very ewe-necky at all!  Her topline has filled out significantly and her build is much thicker.  Go Mia!  The only thing that would have been better is if I had some actually GOOD lighting, this was taken in the shade as the afternoon sun was way too harsh for any decent pics, this girl is super shiny!

Saturday was finally here, time to go cross country schooling before the big day!  Eventually, anyway.  I decided it was probably a good idea to ride dressage first since I hadn't been able to ride in a couple of days (BAD, BAD, BAD RIDER!) so I hopped on and was so glad I did, Mia was HORRIBLE.  I rode outside in the pasture so I could simulate the conditions for Sunday and she just couldn't function.  Bolting into trot transitions.  Refusing to bend At All.  No consistent contact.  If I gave her a correction, she would double her efforts in offence of the correction.  A solid 30 minutes of fighting went on before she finally decided to give a half rear in defiance.  I absolutely flipped my lid, absolutely not mare!  By this time I had a dressage whip and I put her nose to my knee while I smacked her with the whip on the haunches and forced her to spin a few times.  I then made her stand there as I made her bend her nose to touch each of my toes.  I walked her forward again, asking for simple bend and she threw her head up and around in defiance so I planted her nose to my knee again and smacked her again, hard.  Girl, you need to stop being so much of a redhead!  That seemed to do it, as soon as I let go of her nose her attitude was different.  She stopped fighting and was agreeable.  We did not only some walk/trot but was even able to get a canter transition that was good!  We finished by going in the arena and riding the test twice (just to be sure lol) and had not a single argument.  Phew!  I untacked her and let her back out into the pasture so she could relax for the 5 hours before cross country schooling.  Hopefully that would go better than dressage!

Mia was easy to catch and loaded right up into the trailer and we made it to the farm with no difficulties.  We tacked up and started the course, she was a cool cucumber.  Mia didn't scream for the other horses milling around and wasn't at all hot and excited, win!!  We started out introducing the start box and Mia didn't care.  We walked over to the first fence, a cross rail sitting between to 2 pine trees.  It was a little dark over the jump and Mia stopped at the fence so I gave her a good smack and she stepped over it.  I rode her to it again, this time at a canter, and she almost stopped in front of the jump before jumping it.  This, of course, threw me way forward and if she had stopped I would have come off.  Ride defensive silly!!!  I made her go over it about 6 times before being happy that Mia wouldn't stop and we went to fence 2, a vertical.  It was another one that she came up to before she stopped.  Uh, mare?  These are little stadium fences, you shouldn't be stopping!  She got a hard smack with a crop for refusing and I circled her around again.  This time I sat WAY back and she jumped over it without looking at it.  Silly mare!  Fence 3 was a stadium oxer and she hopped over it like it was nothing.  Yay no refusal!  Fence 4 was our first cross country fence and not only did Mia not refuse, she took it in stride and was awesome!  The rest of the ride, actually, was awesome!  I went over everything 2-3 times and at the end I rode the entire course from start to finish and she was perfect.  Yay!!  In other news, a Beginner Novice course feels SO slow and short compared to a Novice course HAHA!!  I guess all that time with TWH is paying off, when I was done with Mia's course I was thinking, Gee, that's it??

Time to get a good night sleep and go to our first eventing show in the morning!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mia'a afterburners are currently cooling off

With our first eventing derby in a week and a half (!!!!) I figured it was high time to get back to jumping since we are going Beginner Novice instead of starter.  Funny enough, the dressage is the scary part with TWH.  So far, I am completely not stressed about the dressage test with Mia.  Ha!  I am sure that will change as the date draws near but it is how I feel right now.  A very pleasant change.

I rode Mia in dressage on Monday and we ended up doing 20 mins of walk work reminding Mia that she is not allowed to keep 40 pounds of pressure on each rein as we walk around, that she cannot drift her shoulders, that she should not bump her outside shoulder out so that she runs my leg into the wall, that she should not drift her hindquarters out on a circle instead of bending and that she should halt and then stay still when she does so.  For whatever reason Mia decided some of the basics had escaped her!  After some arguing and redhead attitude being flung around, she settled down and decided that she might as well see what I do if she listened.  Ah, mares!

After the walk work fixed most of the attitude issues, we actually had a spectacular ride!  She is so consistent in the bridle now which resolves most of the issues we have been fighting so we may actually make some real training progress.  Her canter required a little work to remind her that her head should not be in my lap but I am feeling good about the dressage work.  I am going to ride her again this weekend a few times and introduce the dressage test, wish us luck!

Yesterday I figured it was time to start jumping so I brought RB4 over and we set up 2 small jumps on each side of my arena, one a 2' vertical that had 4 trot poles and one an 18" cross rail.  Mia took the first time over as a warmup before settling into a nice rhythm and was jumping things nicely.  My habit of slipping the reins over the jump is currently a really bad idea for Mia, she really needs the support after the fence and giving her free rein makes her either really speed up and take off or stumble and practically drag her nose on the ground after the fence.  I am working on it, habits are hard and this one is actually a good one mostly.

After bumping her up to 2'6" over the trot poles, I had RB4 move the vertical up to a 2'6" oxer  which seemed to surprise Mia but she handled it quite well.  No poles being knocked down and no real rushing.  Success!  After a few times over that, I had RB4 move the trot pole jump up to 2'9", the highest we have ever jumped under saddle!  Unfortunately it was too hard for Mia, she kept bringing the fence down until RB4 suggested removing 2 of the trot poles to give her more time to be ready.  That seemed to do the trick as Mia then stopped knocking it over and would alternate between jumping it really nicely and jumping it with her hoof rockets being on full power.  She would get in front of the jump and at the tiniest, slightest bump of the leg she would accelerate and try to canter the trot poles and then leap over the jump.  We gotta fix that!

After finding the combo of absolutely no leg, lots of rein to balance on each side of the jump and staying slightly behind the motion, we were finally able to go over the 2'9" without knocking it down or letting the hoof rockets stay at full power.  Feeling brave and having no value to my life, I had RB4 go ahead and raise the (super skinny) ascending oxer fence to 3 foot.  Yes, 3 foot high!  The highest we would have jumped by 6 inches!  There was a ground line but no trot poles, it was all me to get her ready before and after the fence.  The first time over she cleared it and jumped it like it was a little 2'6" jump!!  I was very excited but the next time over she knocked the top rail.  And the next time.  And the subsequent 3 times.  I decided to change it up and instead of riding her to the fence like the 2'9" fence, I would apply leg and see if that extra push would get her over.  Well, that was apparently the right answer to clear the jump.  RB4 said Mia lifted her knees so high they were above the horizontal and her hocks went almost in line to her stifles she was trying so hard to clear the fence.  She also was in a flat hand gallop when we landed and it took me half of my arena to get her back to a trot!  We walked around and told her what a good girl she was before trying again, again with lots of leg.  She again took down the top rail of the oxer, hmmm she is going to be tricky as we learn this huh?  I went one last time and didn't apply as much leg and and she did very well and cleared the what I determined was the last jump of the night.

I am not quite sure how to take her jumping, we obviously need more grid work to get her solid but at least she is jumping, not refusing, not ducking out and is ok with bringing the fence down instead.  I would much, much rather have a horse bring a fence down than refuse.  And the extra bursts of (extreme) speed she likes to give will do well on cross country.  I am really looking forward to schooling cross country the day before the show, I think it will do us both really well and will be good confidence booster for her.  This week is a good mix of dressage and jumping, so little time before our first jumping show!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

TWH kicks butt

Pissed.  I was so pissed at myself for ruining the dressage ride, why, why, why!?!  TWH absolutely cannot have a rider check out, you have to be there for him and he will be there for you and I failed him.  I mumbled and grumbled until it was time to get ready for stadium, I think RB4 wanted to smack me lol.  Maybe I could still pull a decent placing, I mean I heard a lot of people were having issues and several had been eliminated.  Maybe they had been ahead of me?  

Looking like a pro going XC!
The announcer said it was time to walk the Novice course and that jackets were also waived.  Wahoo!  I HATE wearing the jacket when it is hot and it was getting steamy!  I started riding over when someone reminded me that even with jackets waived, you have to wear a white shirt.  Damn it!  There was no way I was wearing my skin tight dressage shirt, back to the trailer I went and put the damn coat on.  No worries, I just needed to sweat off a few more pounds anyway.  

Good pic to show the height we were jumping.  BIG!
The course walk was uneventful, nothing was particularly difficult except jump 4, it was literally jumping up a decent hill on a max height/width oxer.  Note to self, LOTS of leg at jump four!!  5 was a bending 4 stride and nothing else was of a concern so we settled in for our wait.  5 riders out I warmed up and had to wake TWH up as he was snoozing.  The first jump he knocked over before I gave him a good boot and made him pick up speed at which point he started jumping nicely.

We went into the ring without knowing the optimum time so that added pressure was gone, if I don't know what I have to hit, I don't have to worry about timing ourselves.  Just gotta go fast!  

Look, no grabbing poor TWH's face!
Jump one rode very well in fact!  A recently discovered "trick" I have learned is to not look at the pole at all.  Apparently I can't actually function like a normal person and will micromanage if I think the striding is even a little off.  This makes me jump ahead or behind, all while grabbing onto TWH's face and looking like a fool who needs to go back to crossrails.  By not looking at the fence at all, AT ALL, TWH is finding his spot and and is jumping much, much better.  Rider fault, who would have thought.  Ha!  Jump 2 and 3 were unremarkable though I really put on the afterburners up to fence 4.

Fence 4.  On a hill, max height, max width.  
TWH made fence 4 seem super easy, no reason I should have even cared!  Aside from my stirrup being "home" instead of at the ball of my foot, it made for an awesome picture.  Fence 5, 6 and 7 were easy

Ugh, equitation fail
Fence 8a rode nicely but apparently I blanked out at 8b (or something) b/c TWH met it wrong and we had a quite awkward jump that had me out of the saddle but I stayed on and shouted at him to GO as we sailed over nine to the finish.  I was so happy with TWH, not only was he double clear, he also jumped one of the best stadium rides ever.  YAY!!  My little gaited man is all grown up into an eventing horse.  I watched the rest of the class and rail after rail was falling, sitting there waiting I started to get my hopes up.  Maybe?

They finally called the riders back into the ring and they CALLED OUR NUMBER!  I was so excited, out of a class of 17 I was in the ribbons!  I didn't have to wait long before I was called, despite a horrible dressage score TWH jumped double clear in both XC and stadium and we took home 6th place ribbon.  While obviously I would have liked to have gotten higher, the fact that I went from 13th to 6th on jumping alone shows how much of a awesome horse TWH is.  And now that we seem to have stadium figured out, we actually look like we know what we are doing which is even better!  HA!

TWH got lots of treats and attention before being kicked out in a pasture for a week for his R&R.  Mia's first eventing show is Sept 7th and possibly Sept 21st, let's see what we can get done!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No love from dressage judges

The time finally came, time for our Horse Trial!  Saturday was a combination of relaxing and hectic, while I wasn't super duper busy, my time was fully occupied and I wasn't able to do what I really wanted which was walk the cross country course.  As we went out to dinner with a group of people, my stomach started doing twists.  What if they had changed the cross country course from the prior weekend?   I had walked the course last weekend and knew it but surely they did, they changed the course from last weekend and I won't know where my fences are!  I stressed about it all night and debated about calling RB4 to see if she would come over an hour earlier so we could get there in time for me to walk the course but SO kept telling me it would be fine. Even if they HAD moved the course, I knew the property inside and out so stop stressing!

Sunday morning didn't go much better, I was super stressed and aiming to be there an hour before my ride time wasn't working out like I wanted.  TWH needs so little warmup I had figured I would reduce my time at the show.  I got TWH bathed and wrapped as RB4 showed up, I shared my stress and she scolded me for not calling her and having her come over earlier.  We got to the show and the show secretary made my day by saying the course was identical to the prior weekend.  PHEW!!!!!!!!!!

Alas I didn't have as much time as I wanted, however, the dressage rings were running a little ahead and I was behind.  Never again will I only leave an hour of time between arriving and showing!  I decided not to braid and instead got tacked up and hustled to the warm up.  TWH was doing pretty well overall, he was giving me pretty consistent transitions (yay!) and was fairly relaxed despite my uptight riding.  The more I tried to relax with breathing, the worse I was getting.  Great, BAD RIDER!!!!  Be all stressed when you have a horse that needs a calm, confident rider, this can't possibly go wrong?  We finally up next and the surprisingly test started out pretty good!  He was a bit more behind my leg than we had been in warmup but he was consistent.  Our free walk wasn't as good as we had been practicing but was decent.  Our first canter circle, however, something happened.  I still don't know what happened as the video doesn't show it but TWH spooked at something.  His head went WAY up and his back end went WAY down and he almost took off before getting back together and a stride later he was pretty composed.  RB4 says it was over in almost a blink of an eye, the entire episode had the time span of 2 canter strides.

The down side?  The test went downhill from there.  TWH was quite upset over whatever it was and didn't give me a good canter/trot transition.  He was tight and nervous over the diagonal and hesitant to pick up the opposite canter lead, it took almost 3 trot strides before he picked it up!  That isn't a lot for a lot of people, but it is a lot for TWH as he always picks it right up.  Immediately.  Our last canter/trot transition wasn't good either, he gaited for 2-3 steps before trotting up the centerline.  Damn.

We walked back to the trailer, I had only 60 minutes before cross country.  We sat him in front of the hay bag while I looked at the video and kicked myself ruining the ride for him.  Stupid stressed rider didn't help him in the test.  Bad, bad rider.  We got him ready for cross country and I was finally not stressed, dressage is our hardest part of eventing!!  We warmed up and he did great, before we knew it we were on course.  Fence 1, 2 and 3 were easy fences (even though 3 was awfully big haha!).  4 required a trip up a BIG ass hill to a set of barrels at the top and you can't really see the landing side.  It had given a ton of refusals at the previous show held there and apparently quite a few refusals at this show.  TWH sucked behind my leg but a good strong leg urged him forward and over we went :)  We went DOWN the BIG ass hill to immediately go up another BIG ASS hill and went to 5.  6 went better than expected, it was a ditch and TWH didn't come to a COMPLETE stop (although it was damn close lol) and the 3 stride after the ditch rode well.  Damn ditches.  7, 8a and b, 9 and 10 were all easy but by this time we were getting tired.  Should have gotten 2 point up to 6 mins, bad rider!  11 was a the bottom of a big hill and then a U turn to go up a small hill to bop up a bank.  12 was into water and 13 was a jump out of water, easy peasy.  14 was funny b/c TWH approached it like he was drunk, he was locked onto the beginner novice fence and I had to keep putting and repointing him to the novice jump!  Finally 15 came and went and we were double clear in cross country.  Yahoo!

We wandered back to the trailer and settled in for a 2.5 hour wait for stadium, time to recharge and get the dressage score!  Walking up to the scoring trailer I shook my head.  Damn it, we were 13th out of 17 with a dressage score of 44.  44!  That is our worst score yet!  Damn it, my bad riding done screwed us up and this judge did NOT seem to like TWH.  The best I could hope for is people to have issues with jumping.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Getting ready

These last 2 weeks have been super, duper busy.  Both weekend days since Mia's show have been stuffed full of stuff that doesn't involve riding my own horse and week nights have not been much better.  The only option? Getting up and riding at 615a.  Very unfun to ride your horse AS the sun is coming up, and riding alone, since it is the only option for one to actually be able to ride.  But as a result TWH has been ridden 5 days a week since Mia's show and I think we are ready for our show on Sunday!

Our first few rides back worked only on transitions.  The month (plus?) that TWH didn't have me riding him as I got Mia ready did no favors with his non-gaited-ness.  His trot was fine but his walk/trot transition was sluggish and had several sluggish steps before he picked up the trot.  His canter was fine but his canter/trot transition had several pacing steps in there.  His trot/walk transition was loose and sloppy, yeah we had a lot to fine tune.  Thankfully a few rides tightened his responses right back up and he is doing quite well.  He still isn't as snappy into the trot from a relaxed walk as I would like, I have to really get his attention before I can get a good, clean trot transition, but it should be more than sufficient.  His canter/trot transition is back to where it needs to be as well has his trot/walk transition.  Something that seems to have helped is to significantly increase the tempo, getting more speed is working for him so that is what I am going to ask for.  Yay us!  Tonight I am riding dressage again and am going to actually attempt the test, something I haven't yet done as I have been working on the individual pieces instead.

Jumping is going very well!  We had a couple of small jump schools outside where I worked more on me than him.  I really, really want to stop jumping ahead/being left behind and I really, really want to stop the practice of grabbing the reins over the fence.  I NEED to fix myself and if H isn't doing it in my lessons, well damn it I am going to figure it out somehow.  And I need pictures to prove it, but OMG I think I may have fixed it???  When cantering up to a jump, one should look at the jump until you can't see it between the ears and then look at your next fence.  That is all fine and dandy except my brain refuses to do that.  I have a tendency to look at the jump AT. ALL. TIMES.  Because, you know, it might disappear.  I tried not looking at the jump at all, whatsoever, and guess what happened?  I started jumping better.  Doh.

I jumped inside this week thanks to the 5+ inches of rain we got, everything is nice and saturated which makes for iffy footing when you are riding in a pasture.  On the plus side, however, some improvements to my arena worked and my arena had so minimal flooding that I would consider it a non-issue.  YAY!!!!!!!!!  On Tuesday I set up 2 jumps and threw a tarp over each so they appeared to be solid jumps and started off at 2'3", TWH didn't care.  2'6", TWH didn't care.  2'9", TWH didn't care.  Finally at 3' TWH sank behind my leg as we came up to the jump but I gave a good kick and TWH touched it.  Good Boy!  It was very apparent during that schooling that NOT looking at the jump whatsoever is really working for me, even at the 3' jump it felt like TWH was giving me an extended canter stride instead of trying like hell to get over.  This AM I jumped again, this time with an oxer and a vertical.  The vertical started at 2'3" before jumping straight up to 3' (jumping the 2'6" oxer in between) and while TWH knocked the pole down the first time over 3', he then cleared each of the subsequent 4 times.  He feels SO much better with my not looking at the jump, apparently I have been the problem all along!  I am really, really looking forward to pictures of our stadium course.  If not looking at the jump will fix the problems at home, can we actually pull in a stadium round that looks decent?!?!?!

We are now up to par on conditioning, I feel confident we can do our course.  We are up to 5 minutes of cantering/two point and I will be adding the 6th minute tomorrow morning.  I have been doing conditioning on our (dirt) road this week thanks to the rain and it is actually working out quite well for us.  It doesn't have the hills that I want to have like my pasture does but it does have a decent surface to go on with definite markers so I can tell how far I have gone.  One more minute and we are show ready!  I don't know if I will have pictures of our show on Sunday as SO isn't planning on coming and RB4 hates to take pictures but hopefully we will get some from the official photographer if not.  Updates to come after our show!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mia's first show Pt 2

When we finally got to the showgrounds, we had 40 minutes before our first class.  Considering it is just dressage and I am not showing the App?  That is pretty good time!  The App always required a full hour of riding allotted before a class in case he was a firecracker on a pogo stick, which was half of the time.  I got my back number and RB4 set to unwrapping and tacking Mia up.  I got changed into dressage attire and swung aboard, let's see what kind of mare I will have today!

Aside from being convinced a gravel patch would swallow a horse hoof, Mia was very good.  I walked her around for 5 solid minutes to loosen her up and picked up a trot.  She was a little looky but not bad and her trot wasn't rushed.  Good mare!  Our first class was a walk/trot class only so I didn't work on any canter but worked on our transitions.  When I saw the judge take a break for lunch, I meandered over and let Mia inspect the judges booth.  She was very hesitant to walk up to it and when she finally put her nose on it, she left it there for about 3 seconds before she teleported to the left.  I came *THIS* close to biting it and was barely able to grab the saddle pad to help keep myself upright.  Ugh, we love our baby horses.  We love our baby horses.  We love our baby horses... keep telling myself this.

I made her walk back up to it and when she finally relaxed we walked off.  It seemed like no time at all before the judge came back and we were up.  Mia went into the arena very straight and even had a good halt!  The turn left at C had a little bobble but then she was fine.  She did a nice circle to the left that did not have her drifting her haunches out (yay!!) and her transition to medium walk was a little abrupt but not bad.  Everything else rode very nicely!  We walked out of the ring and I felt really good about our effort.

An hour later we tacked back up and warmed up.  Mia was a little sticky in the canter transition but a quick smack with the dressage whip reminded her she needed to canter with her rear legs at the same time as her front legs and one reminder was all she needed.

Whose swanky van in the background?  OURS!  Cause
only cool people haul to a horse show in a van.
The show was little hectic and no one was running in order which was confusing, but soon enough the steward said it was my turn even though I was supposed to warm up for 10 more minutes.  No problem!

I glanced at the test and reminded myself I had to turn right at C.  We trotted in and had a decent halt even though she took a step backwards when I went to proceed forward.  I trotted around and had our canter transition which went really well, I then dropped into my walk when the bell rang.  Oh crap, now what?  The judge walked out and told me I had ridden the whole thing backwards, which was why my diagonal I needed didn't work out.  He was waiting to see how I handled it lol!  I COULD NOT believe I did that, in the 10 years of showing this is only the 2nd time I have EVER been off course!    The judge was very nice and said this was a fun show, so why don't we just leave the arena and we will start from scratch?  Great idea OMG!

The second ride went much, much better however when I got to C, I ALMOST turned fricken left AGAIN.  What the heck brain???  When we went for our right canter transition Mia actually gave me the wrong lead?  She hasn't done that in a long time!!  I quickly took her out of it and fixed it, technically we were still in the first quarter of our circle, maybe it wouldn't be too bad?  After our free walk Mia was a slug, she was hot and tired and she definitely didn't have the energy for that last trot but we finished the test.

Right after our last test they read the results of our first class, I listen for my name and  nope, not 8th, that was good.  Not 7th.  Not 6th.  Not 5th.  Wow, not even 4th?  NOT 3rd???  Mia got 2nd at her first ever class!!  We brought her back to the trailer and untacked her, pulled her braids and rinsed her off while we waited for our results.  The second results came really fast, we hadn't even wrapped her up and they called out the results, 2nd again!  My Mia who was virtually unbroken 10 months ago got 2nd in both of her first dressage classes!  I am so happy and excited!  She was such a good mare and is getting much better about being hauled places.  She didn't holler for other horses the entire time, she didn't spook at everything, she was the same horse that she is at home.  That is AWESOME.

Oh and our tests?  Intro B was a 68.750%.  We got an 8, AN 8(!!!) on our freewalk!  We got 7's on everything except our medium walk which was a 6.5 because she likes to come to an almost halt out of the trot.  Go Mia!  Intro C was a 66.250% with more 6.5's but 2 7.5's on our medium and free walk!!!  We did get a 6 on our canter transition where she got the wrong lead first but a 6 still isn't bad at all.  This mare and I, we are going to go places :-D