Friday, August 26, 2016

Schooling that was more lesson than schooling

On Saturday we went schooling and took a lesson for it.  I went with the other barn owner, MC, and it took ALL DAY.  I felt like it was an all day horse show, I left the house at 630a and didn't get back until 445p and I had only one 11a lesson!  Ugh.  I was SO exhausted.  I had a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats at 630a, 2 granola bars and nothing else until 5p.  My batteries were drained and I spent over an hour on the couch just trying to get some energy back.  I slept over 9 hours that night.  Seriously!
Happy Appys
The lesson went really well, I liked her teaching style.  The instructor immediately narrowed in on my lack of engagement of Mia's hind end and said I needed to work her harder.  Ugh, I am trying!  Apparently I am not doing a good enough job.  She also said I wrap my legs around my horse too much (????  I didn't think that was possible?) and my stirrups are shorter than she is usually comfortable with.  I didn't know having stirrups too short on XC was possible, I have a very solid bend in my leg and at times feel like they are still too long.  Michael Jung says you can't have stirrups too I am going to stick with that.  The other thing she got onto me about was releasing too much rein, I am dropping Mia when she needs me most.  I need to put her into a dressage type canter at, over and after the fence.  Right now I let her go at the base of the fence, let my reins slide all the way over the fence and then pick her up after.  She said that is the reason Mia is bolt-y after the fence, I have dropped her, she is now on her forehand and is having to use speed to get over the fences.  Hmmm....  I haven't heard this line of thinking before, interesting.

The instructor did a neat little rein exercise where she had me "ride" while the she held the reins by Mia's head.  She showed me how it felt as we were going up to and over a fence, both when I held contact and when I gave it away.  VERY interesting!  I have always given plenty of rein over the fence as to not jab the horse in the mouth, it feels much worse than keeping contact.  There is contact, then none, and then I have to pull over the fence to get the contact back.  Very cool exercise, I guess now I need work on that too.

I love the views from the oudoor arena
Sadly I didn't get to go over many fences as we spent the first part of the ride focusing on MC and her horse as it was throwing mini hissy fits (and bucked her off at one point).  I did get to play a lot with a down bank and got Mia to canter up to it and down it without pausing.  Win!  Apparently I need to go forward a little more over the drop instead of staying in the back seat the entire time.  It was very strange to do, and counter to what I have heard in the past, but it went well so....  We also went over a ditch.  It was kinda funny, there were some weeds in it and Mia just trotted it like it was trot poles and stepped down into the ditch.  Funny mare.  The instructor mushed down the weeds and when we went back over it, she jumped it without hesitation!!  That is so awesome, we have made such progress over these damn ditches.   I am tired of falling off over ditches.

I did good, yes?!  Treats please!
I had wanted to go over ALL of the jumps and it just didn't play out that way.  Oh well, I feel pretty comfortable with the facility now, it was a very nice facility and I am looking forward to going back to it on Sept 4th.  I gave Mia Sunday and Monday off and rode on Tuesday and she was good.  Her dressage is coming back nicely and her canter is starting to decompress again while she keeps her hind end engaged (I think anyway, geez).  Win!  In looking at the video I took, she is still very in front of the bit (despite feeling like my reins are SOOOOO short and I am yanking on her) and certainly not stretching down like it feels.  Disappointing for sure.  Just more to work towards before our show.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Forward and relaxation only in theory

I thought I had posted an update but apparently not?  Or blogger ate it when I hit Post and it is no longer in drafts.  Whomp whomp :(  Mia is recovered from her breathing issue (though she coughed a few times last night, so I am paying attention) and man was she fired up when I rode on Monday.  It was so hard to contain that much energy, every time I asked for something she would fight, resist, get tense, anything but be soft and forward.  I started the ride asking for just a walk and it started well but after I asked for some trot, it all went downhill.  And of course I was riding in the snaffle, not the pelham, so she was yanking the reins out of my hands by pulling as hard as she could.  Sigh.  No worries mare, no matter what you are throwing at me, App has done worse.

Tuesday we rode inside due to rain and she was lovely.  She is obviously a little out of shape after her almost 3 week vacation but overall she was very nice.  Bendy?  Check!  Change of direction?  Check!  Rather soft?  Check!  We even played with our new canter.  Though it isn't where it was 3 weeks ago, she is trying (when I insist she does).  And I got some video!  I mean, it is just cell phone video, but it is video AND my PA internet is now fast enough to upload it.  Love!

As you see, the video shows she is pretty restricted in the canter, though to the left is much better.  With a little more power, lift and forward, we will be back to where we were 3 weeks ago.

To the right was not nearly as nice, especially in the canter.  She is very jammed up, as I am trying to get her to engage her hindquarters.  Instead, she is just shortening her stride.  At least in this clip.

For that ride, I actually rode in a County Fusion saddle, borrowed of course.  I am not really looking for a dressage saddle as I really like my Isabel, but I am open to trying others so I took the opportunity.  Thoughts?  It fit Mia well enough though it needed a rear riser.  I felt like it was putting my lower leg forward and tilting me back, which could be due to needing even more of a rear riser.  It was okay, not enough for me to want to change saddles.  I have been invited to ride in it more so I may take that opportunity cause, you know, why not?

Last night we rode outside and the weather was so good but Mia just could not focus.  She is in heat and she was obsessed with the mare in the field next to her pasture, she was focused on the pony that was participating in some back-to-school pics, she was worried about the flag panel jump that was leaning against the arena fence, she was certain I wanted her to leap forward and just refused to just relax.  I was able to get some walk/trot/canter that was decent enough to be a compromise before I decided, Fine.  If you have THIS much energy, why don't we just go ahead and do some fitness work. We cantered the trails and after a 4 minute canter set, she still had gas in the tank so we cantered (no gallops, use that booty) back up all of the hills before she was happy to just walk.  Geez mare.

Tonight is another dressage night to ensure we have a listening mare for tomorrow when we go xc schooling.  Apparently we are taking the truck/trailer of the other barn owner, which sucks for me because I have my trailer 100% set up for total independence.  Now I need to get a box and move my stuff into her trailer, ugh.  While I will be busy over the weekend, I should have time for a write up.  Let's see how it goes!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Getting back to it

Last night marked a full 2 weeks since Mia was sick and she has recovered quite nicely.  On Monday she still had a small cough still so I didn't ride.  Tuesday I was going to hop on but there were a bunch of people at the barn (PEOPLE!!!) so I ended up chatting for about 90 minutes and did not ride.  Last night I went out and hopped on.  Hop on a fairly fit horse who hasn't been ridden in 2 full weeks and go on a trail ride in the snaffle bridle?  Eh, it's Mia.  It's all good.

We are going to ride???  Are you sure?
We started in the arena because I wanted to see what I had, breathing wise.  Mia did great at the walk and I focused on getting her to stretch forward and down to work her back muscles again.  At the trot she was also good, with not a throat tickle in sight, though she seemed to have "forgotten" what seat cues meant.  Uh, mare, that butt of mine is asking for you to stop trotting.  Stop trotting please.  It took several "reminders" but then we could walk/trot around with Mia stretching forward and down, without being totally on the forehand, and do down transitions with just my seat.  Win!

Haha!  Funny. There are no pony rides on spotted ponies
After we trotted on and off for about 15 minutes, without a single cough or snuffle I might add, we went on a trail ride.  We walked down the big hill towards the road and then took the steeper path back up the hill.  I made her walk and use her butt, I wanted to see if the extra work would make her cough.  Nope!

I then rode around with another boarder who has a new horse.  She is older, a fairly fearful rider, but does things I don't get.  For example she lunges in really small circles in all 4 corners of the arena "so there aren't surprises" when/if she gets on. She also would only ride if I stayed on my horse out with her.  *sigh*  Her horse kept walking off as soon as it halted, making it difficult for the her to adjust/swap the lunge line. When the boarder made a comment about it was annoying, I made a comment back that she should try making the horse stand still when it moved, instead of following the mare all over.  Boarder says "I don't want to be harsh with her, I just got her".  Uh....  I made the point that she was setting the precedent in this new relationship and if she says it is okay to walk around, the mare will.  It would likely be less confusing for the horse if she laid the ground rules now.  Boarder said that made a lot of sense and the mare seemed content to adhere to the new rules.  The horse was a good mare and was obviously bored, exactly what I think the boarder is looking for.
Oh, wait, cookies?  I can give pony rides for cookies.
I am super happy that Mia seems recovered and didn't require additional drugs.  The horses get their feet done on Friday and then all next week I am working on Mia's fitness as next weekend I am planning on going XC schooling offsite (!!).  It is yet another really busy weekend this weekend, I am about to tip into the "free weekend" category and I am really excited about it.  I sure am a busy person for still not knowing many people here in PA!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Quick update and helping others

Thankfully Mia is already feeling better, her snotty nose is already clearing up.  Yay!  We monitored her temperature since Thursday and it has gone consistently down and she is now in her "normal" 99.7 range.  So the risk of this turning into pneumonia is, thankfully, really small.  I am still waiting until Wednesday before deciding if I will do steroids or not, she still had her cough and I want to make sure it is gone before I write off the addition of steroids.  Woohoo!

Tonight I will go out and play with the ponies, chat with people at the barn (Because there will be PEOPLE there!!), prepare a few more days of SMZs and maybe walk Appy around.  Going to keep it low key because I am exhausted, 2 says in a row of getting apx 5 hours of sleep is not good when you are getting old!  My hope is to go to bed by 9p, so let's see if I can hit that goal.

Are you interested in helping a fellow blogger?  I mean, I don't have the mass following of most blogs.  I have on 31 (THIRTY ONE!!!) followers and what not, so not a whole lot of people, but hey, if just one person sees this here and nowhere else, maybe it would make a difference.  Emma at Fraidycat Eventing  is hosting a safety survey in horses.  If you were interested in taking it, she is offering an incentive of a chance at a $25 gift card to RidingWarehouse!  Hey, you never know, you could get free stuff for just taking about 4 minutes of your time.

Go to the survey:

I hope Emma gets the kind of data she is looking for, I have submitted my opinion in the name of SCIENCE.