Wednesday, November 22, 2017

No Saddle November

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Moving right along, no lesson for us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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