Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lesson 17 - Soften your GD hands!

Yes, an update already! I want to get this down before I forget my lesson again. As said in my last entry, Mia had her hocks done so she was off until this past Monday. Getting her hocks done was an interesting endeavor, Mia is really hard to sedate! She ended up with Dorm and Torb, double what everyone else got, AND was very awake well before the horse that went an hour before her who had much less than she did. The vet said she was happy with the sedation level to get Mia done for hocks, but she would need more if they did much else.  Even with the heavy sedation and a twitch, Mia was still flinching and jerking when getting poked. Sheesh!! The vet did say that Mia's right hock, the one that doesn't really flex, had really good joint space and no real arthritis, but that the joint was really dry. She couldn't even get any fluid to come to the end of her needle hub like she could on the left hock so injections are definitely something that will help.

She is looking good!

Since I wasn't able to have a lesson this past Sunday, I asked for the first possible lesson and Tuesday was available. Mia definitely has springs now, and is challenging to ride at times! She felt as bouncy as she does when she is a firecracker ready to go, except that she wasn't happy going back to work and had no energy. Was definitely a weird feeling! We started the lesson with one plan but immediately scrapped it to work on frame. Mia was all kinds of unhappy about getting back to work and so we spent the entire lesson trying to re-engage her. Transitions (about 1000 of them lol), more transitions, transitions in gait, transitions up, down. Walk/canter. Canter/halt. Halt/back. Halt/trot, so many transitions. 

Favorite view

About halfway through the ride, Mia started really working and being happy again. Her movement is so big now! A said she was striding well under her saddle pad in the back, which rarely happened before. The big takeaways from the lesson were that Mia is absolutely not listening to my leg/spur and that I have regressed and am pulling with my hands again. I need to soften my hands and stop letting her bait me into pulling on her. Ugh, always something to work on! 
You haz treatz for me? I like treatz!

When I flex her, I am also not keeping an even pressure on both reins, I am losing my outside rein and flexing her only with my inside so I need to fix that. I need to remember to ride with my hands forward and push her up to my hands, not pulling on her. The answer is always more leg. Speaking of leg, my homework is to get her OFF OF MY LEG. A was amazed that she saw me using my spur on Mia and Mia was still not moving off of my leg. Either I am not using it hard enough or Mia needs to "remember" how to listen to my leg. 
Big fat eye :( While still weepy, it isn't swollen and the vet didn't see anything wrong

Last night I rode again and the focus of 75% of the ride was getting off of my leg. If I applied it and she didn't move, she got a smack with the whip. It took more than I expected to get her to move every time, especially off of my bad, right leg, but at the end she moved off as soon as I put my leg on in the walk and trot. She also kept her haunches behind her in the canter, something she had been adamant couldn't happen anymore. She is getting today and tomorrow off, as she has now had 3 dressage rides in a row after 2 weeks off (she also had a weird eye problem before her hocks were done) but we ride again on Saturday AND possibly Sunday on group trail ride! Fingers crossed Hurricane Laura isn't too bad for us or anyone else? 

OH! And I bit the bullet and bought myself a Pivo. I love seeing videos to self-critique and after reading posts by others, I am going to try it! Let's hope it works for me?!?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Well hell - Where is the time going?

I had every intention of fully documenting each of my lessons and I am not sure what happened. Let's do a short and quick review to get caught up and then I will try to be better.  Lesson 14 was a dressage ride which went well, but short and easy. Mia was a bit stiff/sore and A was sick. She didn't even charge me for the lesson, despite my insistence to pay her, because it was such a short lesson. 

Lesson 15 was a very good ride, we did some stadium jumping for A to see how we go. She loves Mia's jumping and she loves my jumping position. She had us do some super tight and controlled turns to test our abilities over height (3') and while it wasn't perfect, I was able to do everything she asked. Mia is also one of the most balanced, unbalanced horse A knows, apparently. We found the weaker areas are my not having flying changes over fences (worked on it), Mia can be heavy and fast at times, and A thinks I am using a slight crest release over larger fences versus an automatic release. The last one was surprising and I think I want some pics, as I haven't done crest releases in I don't know how long. I have always done automatic releases with Mia, so I am not sure.

Lesson 16 was the following week and we did some XC jumping around the farm. A really, really likes Mia's jumping and loves her "get it done" attitude. A had me practice "hailing the taxi" when going over a jump with a drop to really think about sitting back. We don't have any jumps with a serious drop, but by practicing over a jump with a small drop will help build muscle memory for when I face a jump that does. The other take away was A seeing Mia freight-training it. I am not sure if A had really ever seen Mia really freight train until that day! There was a lot of water-skiing as I fought for control, especially at the start of the ride lol. 

A recommended doing more canter fitness with gallop sets to help remind Mia to come back when I ask without having to yank on her. She also wants me to change up Mia's bitting for cross country for extra brakes. I do have the wonder bit I used last year, however am trying a pelham bit for now so I still have the basic snaffle. The first day I did the gallop sets, Mia took off and wouldn't come back so I kept going around and around and around the hay field. After the 5th gallop set, Mia was absolutely exhausted so for the 6th lap I had her canter it. I had to really force her to canter, as she was begging to stop, but that is the risk one takes when wanting to take off. When I rode her a few days later in a a field, we cantered and the second I sat up, Mia dropped into a trot. Ha! I did it three times and each time Mia let me know that she will gladly stop when I ask, as she now remembers we may not stop.

The other takeaway we had in lesson 16 was that A agrees it may be time to do her hocks. We tried a round of Legend as a passive approach and while it worked, it only worked for about a month and now Mia is barely flexing her right hock. While I try to put off hock injections as long as possible, she is 13, we work regularly, and if it makes her comfortable, I will do it. Those happened last Tuesday and Mia had the week off. The vet confirmed while Mia had good joint space, her upper right hock joints were super dry so it was the right move. We went on a short, flat trail ride on Sunday and last night we did a short dressage ride. I may have to re-learn how to ride my horse, she has SPRINGS now! She felt like she had the bounce of when she is super geared up, but she was being incredibly lazy and uninterested in working after a full week off. I have a lesson tonight, I'm super excited to see how Mia performs with eyes on the ground!