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!