Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy 250th blog post! Giveaway contest!

Bad blogger again, though this time I have a semi valid excuse.  I have seriously had no time whatsoever to write over the past week, between being super duper busy at work and having a commitment Every Single Night, there just hasn't been time to write anything down. No worries though, I have some updates.  First being, WOW!  I can't believe I have written 250 posts!  I really don't have a lot to say and I know I am not a fantastic writer so the fact that you are coming and reading my posts and writing a response to say hi is amazing.  Thank you so much!  I am really excited about this upcoming show season so hopefully you will stick with me as I muddle through progress and attempt to document it.  I should do a give away to celebrate, I have a new blue or black lycra helmet cover (your choice) that I will give to someone who responds to this post.  It will NOT fit a Tipperary or similar style helmet but fits nicely on a Troxel or similar style helmet.  Contest will end on Friday, 3/21 at 6p EST, tell your friends!

The horses are doing well, I have ridden 2-3 times each week for the past couple of weeks.  I rode Mia last Sunday in a lesson and we did fairly well, H gave us some tips to try to fix her right lead canter that we will try.  She said that her left lead canter isn't actually connected so she needs more power, so gotta work on powering it up a little bit.  Her trot is much better as is her steering and once I can figure out how to ride with my hands TOGETHER (grr!!) on a regular basis, it will be much better.   I need to work on keeping a solid outside rein to push her into and I should work on some spiraling out on a circle to really engage her hind end to work as she is still pulling with her shoulder.  All that in mind, she is still a very green horse and so I need to keep resetting my expectations.  I shouldn't expect top level work out of a horse with so little experience, even when she makes it so easy to raise the bar of expectations.  Again, stuff to me to work on lol.

On Sunday I hauled both Mia and TWH over to another farm to use their indoor arena.  I took a lesson on TWH with H and worked exclusively on my position.  I have been frustrated that my position isn't as good as it should be over fences, for whatever reason I am standing in the stirrups as I come to a fence and get left behind.  Despite knowing I am doing this, I keep doing it which adds to my extreme irritation at myself.  H again reminded me that I shouldn't be so high with my expectations.  I have only jumped 3, now 4, times since September and I am not in tip-top shape.  She also reminded me that I am voluntarily staying with low jumps as I am aware of an issue so I am not hurting anything or anyone.  She says most of my issue is being rusty, she expects with a dozen more sessions I will be much better as I didn't look like this last year when I rode.  She said my homework was to go over 3 bounces so I have time to mess up at the first jump, fix it at the second and be correct at the third.  I am also going to up the time I am doing two point to get my balance back to 100%, so I have some work to do.  Overall it was a really good lesson and it made me feel better by having someone tell me I am making a mountain out of a mole hill in regards to my position, I don't really suck, I just think I do.  She said even with my "bad" position, I am better than a lot of riders.  So there is that.

I hauled Mia over to the barn for exposure only, I wanted to get her out and let her see things with very low expectations.  She needs trailer loading/unloading work but I think one good session will fix the Stand And Stare issues.  She walked into the new barn like a dream and settled into the stall without any drama.  Win!  At home, when left alone, she tends to weave in the stall and screams for the boys.  There was a horse 2 stalls down, across the aisle that she could see so maybe that helped, but she only yelled once and behaved very nicely while I rode.  When I was done with the TWH I put him in the stall under a cooler and tacked Mia up.  She stood very well in the cross ties and didn't paw (WIN!), she even nickered at me when I walked back up to her after running back out to the trailer to grab her bridle.  Awww!  We walked into the arena and she took it very well.  She was very looky and had to inspect every single mirror in the place.  Of all of the new stuff she could see, she didn't spook a single time and was only extremely cautious of a jump that was set up that had pine limbs under it as a brush fence.  Once she realized she could eat the needles, she stopped caring and didn't have a care about anything else.  Awesome mare!

We finally loaded back up and headed home, she was a little worse loading on the way home.  I was ready to have someone stand behind her and smack her with a lead rope when she finally decided to hop in.  Even treats are not getting her in the trailer, yet anyway.  As soon as some of this ice is gone we are having a trailer loading session!  TWH now not only self loads, but also waits until he is asked and then self unloads.  Love that horse!  Going to ride tonight and work on my homework, happy 250th blog post everyone!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dressage progress

With it being in the teens on Tuesday evening, I ride Mia and had RB4 come over and join me.  I am really glad, it gave me instant feedback and made me really happy with how we are progressing.  I started the evening by brushing my yak AKA TWH.  He is super duper hairy and is now in full shedding mode, you can't get within 6 inches of him without hair jumping off of him and attaching itself to you.  Unfortunately I have almost 2 months of this to look forward to, since he has SO MUCH hair it takes FURever to come off.  When I was done with my quick 10 minute brushing, I had a pile of hair the size of a decent cat and it took 2 full scoops of the manure fork to pick it up.  Oh horse.

Mia, however, has not yet started to shed and doesn't have a huge coat so even when she does shed it shouldn't be that bad.  As a result, it took a quick 5 minute session to get her groomed and ready to be tacked up.  We started our ride nice and slow, working on changing the speed of the walk and doing some baby leg yields before picking up a trot.  She started out really, really heavy and fast, I felt like I was holding a good 15lbs in my hands in addition to having a very forward horse who had no desire to be balanced.  We worked on changing directions, figure 8's, rail-to-circle patterns and even some leg yields at the trot before she finally started coming back to me.  We took a walk break while I coached RB4 in some work on the TWH and when we started trotting the second time, Mia was much more relaxed and seemed to have her brains between her ears much better.

We practiced leg yields from the quarter line to the wall and while she doesn't always get it, she is starting to and RB4 said that when she did it looked nice.  Mia's head is pretty high and she is trying to invert herself but the concept is being understood and RB4 said she can really move her legs underneath of herself when she wants to.  Gotta get this on film sometime!  When she was finally balanced enough to give some 10m circles without falling in or out I gave her another good walk break and coached RB4.  RB4 was just playing, giving TWH some exercise but when I was able to get her to position herself correctly and set her hands vs holding his face, TWH gave her some nice trotting circles.

I got Mia moving again and worked on the canter, the right lead canter is either pretty decent or pretty bad without too much in the middle.  Now that she isn't kicking out, bucking and veering into the middle of the circle, her current evasion is to simply trot faster instead of picking up the canter.  Oh mare.  We fix one problem to only encounter another, almost forgot what it was like training newbies.  Almost.  We got the right lead canter on the first try and I thought we would have an easy session.  So.  Wrong.  After the first canter she fought and either rushed, rushed rushed, didn't pick it up (most of the time) or picked up the wrong lead.  RB4 helped me by reminding me to stay super quiet before I ask for the C and to mix it up with walk/halt transitions.  After a good (long) while Mia finally gave us 3 good canter transitions and the canter was actually pretty decent so we gave her a good long break before switching directions, getting one good canter transition (since it is her good direction) and calling it a night.  We were both tired and sweaty but I hope Mia's lesson stuck.  RB4 did say, however, that I am looking like a professional rider on her and that Mia is looking great.  I am so excited about our progress!

In other news, our jumping lesson with H was moved to next weekend and we are now doing a dressage lesson with Mia on Sunday instead.  Keep our fingers crossed, I want to see what kind of help H can give us with this canter.  Last night was much too cold to ride again but hopefully I can ride a time or 2 before our lesson since it is going to be warmer.  Come on spring!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bad blogger doesn't give updates but bad blogger does jump!

So sorry for the lack of posting, I am a bad, bad blogger again.  I even have stuff to talk about and even had some time to blog but haven't had the drive to write it down.  I am still very much on the fence about showing on April 13th, I think the TWH could be ready but we have been having such cold weather that there isn't any riding going on.  I was riding when it was 10, when it was getting to be 6 and 2 in the evenings, I just couldn't bring myself to ride.  Top that off with the fact I was sick again, riding 5 days a week went away pretty quickly.  After today it is supposed to stay in the 20-30's for the next week (at least) so I am going to ride dang it!

I have successfully put both TWH and Mia over jumps and all in all it went well.  I rode the TWH first and he is such a gem.  I went only up to a 2' vertical as I found I really need to work on my position, apparently the time off since Sept has really affected my ability to jump?  I have taken a lot of video and I am throwing my upper body forward at the base of the jump, almost standing in the stirrups as his front legs are coming up off of the ground.  WHY?  Who knows!  Does the fact that I know I am doing it fix my doing it?  NOPE!  OMG I am so angry with myself over it, I have jumped him twice and each time I am doing the same thing despite knowing I am doing it and actively trying not to do it.  Grrrr.  As a result I have a lesson with H on Saturday, I told her I need the lesson completely dedicated to my position.  Hopefully she can fix me because obviously I am a dork who can't fix themselves.  On the plus side, at least my lower leg is 100% solid and doesn't move, even when I jump without stirrups.  Yay for the little wins at this point lol.

Mia is doing really well with jumping, I think she will move right along without too much problem.  The first session of jumping was having her trot over the poles until she didn't care and then trotting over the poles to a little 12" crossrail.  The first time over she launched herself over it but then she realized she could just trot over it and was content to do so.  I rose the jump to an 18" crossrail and my bad rider came into play as a funny story.  The first time I pointed her to the jump (4 trot poles to the jump), I was hanging back letting her figure it out and didn't really even have a hold of the reins.  She trotted over the poles and as she stepped over the last one she dropped to a walk and then very calmly walked around the jump.  Doh!  I had to correct her as she can't think that stopping is acceptable but I didn't give a hard correction because I was laughing too much and it was actually my fault.  It was just so dang funny as she went through, as if thinking "why step so high when I can walk around?".

She brought the jump down a couple of times as she figured out what to do but once she understood it I rose the jump to a 2' vertical.  She did quite well and despite knocking the pole down a couple of times, she understood the session.  When I jumped her the second time she did much, much better.  I went straight to an 18" crossrail to a 2' vertical and she didn't knock a pole over a single time.  Success!  We also worked on the canter and the right canter is actually coming along.  I have found the combination that makes her not drop her inside shoulder so badly and with her picking it up, the right canter isn't that bad. We were even able to make it all the way around the ring instead of staying on a 20m circle.  Success again!

After the last ride she was pretty pooped even though we hadn't ridden all that long so I took the opportunity to ride her out again.  I wanted to ride her away from the boys and out of the arena and see if she was going to try the buck/kick again.  I didn't think I would but you never know until you try so try I did.  We road down the road to the first intersection, it is .7 miles one way, and then came back.  She was a little suspicious of the plastic mailboxes (but okay with the metal ones) but didn't spook or shy at anything else.  Good girl!  She gave me no problems whatsoever and we made it back in one piece.  I need to get the nerve to bring her around the block and then start trailering her out so she realizes it isn't a big deal.  Preferably I won't have her first outing being a xc schooling but with the weather the way it is I may not have a choice.  Here is to keeping our fingers crossed!