Thursday, June 25, 2020

Lesson 12 - homework is assigned

I have been able to ride only 3 times since A rode 2 weeks ago, and the first time was super short as my back said "Nope!" and required a day to recover. Gah, it sucks to get old. On Tuesday I tried again and things went much better. We did a short walk ride, which wasn't entirely fun thanks to Mia insistence on turning around to go back to the barn. Eventually she got a pop on the nose when she tried to do a reining horse spin because that is not okay. She used to enjoy going out, I really don't know what changed. Does she want to work in the arena? No, she wants to just go to the barn aisle. Does she want to work hard? She will when she has to, but doesn't seem to. Ugh.

Thursday was a baby dressage day, with some light walk/trot/canter to see if my back would be upset, and it was not. Friday was a short, hard dressage ride outside followed by a short hack down the driveway, and a fight to get her head back towards the barn without jigging/trotting/spinning to head that way, and then straight back to the arena to work since she wanted to go to the barn so badly. *sigh*

Sunday was my lesson, and while I had a ton of homework I wasn't able to work on, I was ready to work. A immediately commented that Mia is using her hocks very nicely and evenly, the Legend is doing a very good job. So there is that. At one point A said "Man, she is really being a bitch today, look at that side eye!" Yeah, thanks. She definitely doesn't want to work today. Our ride was a lot of over flexion to work on getting Mia off of my leg right now. No more being nice, no more giving her the benefit of the doubt, if she doesn't move then she gets a smack with the whip. At one point, A walked next to us and smacked Mia for me when Mia wouldn't respect my leg.

We do have a lot of homework, which is good because it is going to be a few weeks before I can take a lesson again. Firstly, I am using too much aid for too long. When I apply my leg, I wait a stride or two before I remove it. She wants one ask to equal one try. Which means I am going to be applying my aids all of the time instead of asking and leaving it on until I don't want it anymore. I am also changing my rein aids to focus on the hind end. When I flex or overflex her, I am to give and soften when she yields her hindquarters instead of the yielding her hindquarters and softening at the poll. She wants me to wear the biggest spurs I have so that I can get Mia to respect my leg with minimal movement from my legs, I have to curl my leg up and in to use the spurs I wear 95% of the time.

She said we are solidly schooling 2-3 levels above where we are showing right now, and we were even able to get a few steps of piaffe (!!). She thinks that Mia will top out at 2nd/3rd level dressage which will equate to a Prelim horse, which is what I was aiming for anyway. She things we may be smacking against the petering factor, where Mia is petering out because she may not have more in her to give. Or at least if she does, she may not have it right now. Our goal is to change her response and my riding a bit to make her Training level tests be as perfect as possible and then move forward. Perhaps Mia needs a little more time to build muscle before we ask for more, not to mention 2020 has been one hell of a year.

My next lesson won't be until after July 6th, possibly not until July 13. I am excited to see if I can replicate some of the progress we made in the lesson during a regular training ride. Here's to finding some motivation, now to see if I can keep it!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lesson 11 - a short post

The past few weeks have been weird. Thanks to pulling a muscle in my back, and it not being better after 2 weeks, I was not able to ride. Sometimes I couldn't even walk! During this, I spent a lot of time and money trying to see if we could help identify the source of Mia's personality change. So far, I have cut back her way grain, removed the weight supplement (which was no longer needed anyway thanks to grass), removed the protein supplement, made horse crack cookies, tested her for lyme (which came back completely negative, something the vet said is uncommon around here), had her teeth done, dewormed her, got a massage therapist out, started her on Mare Magic, and had the vet out for a full eval with lameness.

The dental visit was interesting, as it was with power tools. 1cc of Dorm was not enough for Mia, I had to hold her head down so the dentist could work and even with that Mia lifted me off of the ground different times. Next time we are going to mix in something else! Her mouth was completely unremarkable, just some sharper points and basic maintenance. The vet visit was completely uninteresting, Mia isn't back or body sore. She is in excellent condition. The vet says sometimes she recommends hind shoes but Mia is barefoot her whole life and doesn't want me to change that. The only thing of note was Mia's left hock is a little stiff so we added in a loading dose of Legend to try to loosen her up a little.
Mia does not like the dentist, and needs a LOT of sedation
Since I couldn't ride, I offered let A ride Mia and she was more than happy to hop aboard and give her opinion on how Mia is doing.The part that made me laugh was A's agreement that while in the past she has said Mia could never be bad, she agrees that Mia can be difficult. Ha! Mia is a redhead Appy mare, of course she can be difficult sometimes. She also was difficult to work with at the start of the ride, though she came around towards the middle of the ride.

A riding
The takeaways was that I am doing a pretty good job of riding Mia, as A couldn't tell just how little Mia was respecting my right leg (bad leg). She also couldn't tell just how much Mia pulls on the left rein, so I do a good job of making it look effortless. A spent most of the time getting Mia flexed, counter flexed, and over flexed to get her hind end working. She confirmed that Mia does take a good while to get warmed up, and that her first right lead canter is pretty bad although it does get better.

Mia is difficult to stay consistent in the bridle, even with A, so that is homework with some new tricks. I am also now supposed to start wearing spurs again to really get Mia to respect my leg. She said Mia's canter may not get much better than where we have made it due to Mia's confirmation but we can give Mia all of the tools we can so she stops fighting herself.

A riding, engaging those hocks
It took another 9 days after the lesson for my back to release and for me to start riding again. Unfortunately I had this post all typed up and Blogger ate it which set me back and I didn't recreate it until I had my lesson today. So....lesson 12 is coming right up! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Lesson 10!

The good news? We FINALLY had a lesson! My calendar says March 10th was our last one, so long ago! It is no secret that we (and everyone, actually) have had some great progress and major lack of motivation in the quarantine time frame, I was super curious how the lesson would go. To top it off, Mia's personality still has not returned to normal. She is still barn sour, not cooperative, happy to refuse treats, and is just off. On Monday I had her tested for Lyme and I should have those results by Friday. I also cut her grain back, took her off of the protein/muscle supplement, added Mare Magic, and increased her Pentosan injections. Does she have too much energy? Possibly, our ride last Weds was insane. Is she in heat? She doesn't seem to be, esp for this long of a period of time. Does she hurt somewhere? Maybe left hock? Ovarian cyst? *sigh* She won't tell me.

If her Lyme comes back negative, we are going to to check her hocks. The vet couldn't squeeze an exam in during her drop-in to the barn on Monday so she just grabbed blood. She will come back if Lyme is negative, since Lyme can present as weird lameness she wanted to rule that out first. If the hocks aren't an issue, we will test for ovarian cysts. At least we have a plan in place and are ready to move forward

Fencing fixed for unappreciative mares
Last Weds I rode "baby dressage", I was looking for a good, positive ride on Mia and got it so I called it quits after about 25 mins. As I tried to cool her off in the outdoor, she kept veering to the barn. I took her out of the outdoor and walked her in the grass field next to the outdoor and Mia immediately turned her ass around and marched to the barn. The first time I said no and turned her back around. The second time I let her walk all the way back before saying "No", we were not going in the aisle. Needless to say, she wasn't happy.

Hurrying back to the barn means more work, so I started doing some fitness work to help really drive home that going back to the barn does not equal rest. After about 15 mins, she still wouldn't just relax when heading in the general direction of the barn so I started some gallop sets. The only real place to do gallop sets is a quarter mile area that runs from the road, up a big hill, and to the pastures (or continue up the hill to the outdoor). Usually after 2-3 gallop sets, she is pooped. We did six and she was still fighting me to A. Go faster or B. Go to the barn at the first opportunity. It was a miserable ride and it took forever for her to turn as directed vs turning to the barn which was my milestone to stop. I won the battle, but at a great cost.

Very large rubs after not being prepared for fitness runs... Ouch
On Sunday, we had lesson 10 and I was super excited. Not only do we get a lesson, but A gets to see Mia's naughty self. In the past A has said repeatedly that Mia is so agreeable, she has a hard time imaging Mia being difficult. Ha! She is a red head appaloosa, of course she can be occasionally difficult!

The lesson highlights? A could tell we did work on our homework. Mia is naturally carrying herself more straight and is much, much more fluid in her lateral movements. We had several moments where Mia was her old self and worked beautifully. A missed my snarky, sarcastic self and my commitment to our homework. She wants me to change my half halts, I use my seat exclusively for them. She wants me to use rein/leg at the same time instead because Mia isn't always listening to my seat when things are hard. She agreed Mia isn't her normal self, and is the one who thinks the left hind hock may be bother her. She got to see Mia's barn sour self, and also Mia being a freight train.

Pasture size doubled, now with grass!
Our homework was only to work on the new half halt cue, which then went awry as I tweaked my back pretty badly by moving rocks and I haven't been able to ride since Sun pm. Here's to hoping tomorrow I can ride, I have homework to work on!