Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Blankie

During my dressage lesson Nancy suggested seeing if Annie would be less grumpy with a thicker blanket, she felt that some horses were less tense in the winter when blanketed.  I've just kept a sheet on Annie since she's hardly clipped at all but I decided to give it a try.  I used to blanket Nikki in the winter (mostly to keep her clean) and I think it helped her spooking a bit.

Friday night was the first night I rode her after adding her blanket, she was less of a steam engine and seemed slightly more willing to work, although she may have run herself tired in the field as a new horse was added to the herd that day as well.  I also felt like I felt a tad bit of offness in front, maybe due to her running around?  Or my imagination?  Cathy didn't see anything so I decided to look at her again on Monday.

I'd like to schedule a jumping lesson for next weekend, it's been AGES since I've visited LAZ between the weather, the holidays, and my ride being unavailable. However, it seems that the high next Friday is going to be 20 and the low is going to be 7.  Which should be illegal. 

So I'm going to wait until Monday or Tuesday at the latest, see if Annie's sound, if she's grumpy, and if I really feel that a lesson would be worth it/productive in low temps. 

Here's a pic of Annie wearing her new winter blanket.  It's not the Horze one I got her because that one was scheduled to be delivered Friday but is now scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday.  What the heck?  This one comes from  via Tack of The Day.  It's a 72 but it seems to fit her pretty good.  The belly straps run through the blanket in slots so it lets the bottom of the blanket hang down.  I'm not sure if that is better, or if wrapping her tummy up is better.  Either way it certainly covers enough of her!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Xmas dressage lesson

I'm not really sure that getting yourself a dressage lesson is really a present but it'll have to do!

I got on Annie about 15 minutes early, I wanted to make sure that her back was warmed up and she was done snorting!  She only looked at a few things but quickly ignored them.  While we talked about what I'd been working on and having problems with Nancy noted what a lovely freewalk that Annie had, she was reaching down almost to the ground for the bit.  Yayyy!!!!

We talked a good deal about her being balky and bucking when I asked her to go forward.  Nancy has a very specific instruction style that is very rider position focused, down to each heel being exactly the same and the arms held at a specific angle.  It was her belief that when Annie gets balky I need to make sure that my body isn't telling her to stay that way by being clampy and crooked.  She said that Annie is naturally a centered horse, very straight, so when she gets off balance she gets irritated. 

She noticed that when my shoulders get ahead that is when Annie tries to stop.  She asked me to stay very relaxed and loose with my legs and aids and to gently "twhap" my legs against her sides when she stopped going forward enough instead of clamping down or kicking. 

Annie doesn't like to be through on her right side so one of the body exercises was to imagine that I was sitting on a swivel bar stool when I needed to bend her.  It took me several tries to figure out what the heck that meant!!!! but when I did it I noticed a big difference in how I could control her right side around a corner.

Right lead canter was difficult to get, and I must confess that I am STILL not demanding or even asking for her to canter, I'm sort of quietly hoping that she does it.  However, Nancy felt that her right lead was loads better then the last time she'd seen her go.

Left lead was much easier and once we got rolling Annie remembered how much she loved to canter.  In the canter Nancy continued to ask me to stay loose and drappy with my legs, lightly bumping them against her sides to ask her to stand up on the left instead of clamping down.  I was able to really and truly sit on her at the canter and I felt like I was able to dictate what I wanted her to do with her parts. 

Nancy said that she thought my dressage saddle was perfect for me, which is great news!  I bought it brand new for less then $300 off of Ebay, it sells here at This tack store for over $1,000! Everybody must have been asleep when the auction ended!  I've grown to not hate the deep seat and exposed blocks as well!

We finished up the ride with some voluntary sitting trot work.  I came down from the canter and for some reason I felt like sitting so I got a good lesson in all the things my body ISN'T supposed to do in the sitting trot.  Keeping most of the lower body almost like jello to absorb the motion while staying upright with my torso and yielding yet firm with my abs.  Urghh.  I was able to sit Annie's full working trot which was really quite neat, and it wasn't so bad that she didn't feel like doing some stretchy trot work while I was sitting. 

Nancy ended the lesson by saying what a lovely mover Annie is, she looks kind of plain standing still but when she's going right she really does look fancy.

Annie ended up wearing her cooler home as she was sweaty again over her shoulders.  I think I've made up my mind to clip her a little bit more, I think she'd be more willing to work if she didn't get so sweaty. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Tonight is an unriding night.  With the huge temperature drop, rain, thunder, snow, and wind advisory I decided that Annie can have a night off.  I left her with instructions to think about forward and contact.

I managed to get a dressage lesson with Nancy Saturday evening.  I'm kind of waffling on it though, it'll be my 6th day in a row at work and I'll have to drive from Fishers to Thorntown to meet Annie (My BO is loading and hauling her for me!). 

I want a dressage lesson, I NEED a dressage lesson,  but not if Annie is going to be bucky (who wants to pay that much money for a remedial lesson?) and not if I'm going to be pooped.

Friday I need to make her presentable, she's extra hairy and dirty right now.  I need to at least trim the hair up on her legs, cut a bridlepath, and I was considering clipping her more.  Knowing that my clipping requires a several day fixing process she might have to wait until next week!

I've been thinking about buying a pair of polos for our dressage lesson so we can look fancy.  These are combi wraps from Horze. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rainy day ride

I tend to avoid riding Annie on rainy days when she's been indoors because she's extra spooky and hard to manage.  Not "I'm going to die" just "I don't want to deal with this."

Since we had officially entered bootcamp after last week's rodeo lesson I decided that I wad darn well going to ride!

First I put Annie in the arena alone while I hand watered it.  She snorted and snorted at the hose but eventually decided that she wasn't going to move out of the protective "safe bubble" of being near the gate and I ended up hosing off her blanket with her in it.

Next I tacked her up and took her down to the spooky end to lunge her.  Which was more of a Annie runs flat out while snorting, falling, then bucking session.  Eventually she wore herself out and trotted nicely on the lunge doing some licking and chewing. 

I went ahead and got on and firmly put my legs on, asking her to go into the bridle almost right away and using my whip if she balked.  She only tried a half hearted buck once, and really it was some of the best work she's given me in the last month.  YAYY!!!!!

I left her in her stall wearing a cooler because she got herself all steamy and sweaty. 

Hoping that she'll continue to improve and I'll get "Summer Annie" back soon.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rodeo/jumping lesson

Continuing with my Annie is being awful grumpy observation I think I've gotten to the bottom of it. 

I believe that when I was asking her to maintain her contact going into the canter I made a fatal error of not being firm enough when she'd buck into the canter.  Yes, it was her expressing her confusion and displeasure for the task, but I let it go along too far.  I started trying to avoid her bucking by watching her for "mare face" and then not pressing the issue.  Slaps self.  It moved to not cantering at all, going forward, or going on the bit.  Any kind of forward I've asked for recently has resulted in snarky mare ears and really asking has gotten me some bucking. 

I have learned that once a bad habit always a bad habit.  Annie came with the baggage of bucking and sulking to get out of bad riding and that is the bad habit she will fall back on when she is allowed. When I was restarting her last winter she bucked A LOT but I stayed with it and she got over it.   The real break through then was a winter jumping lesson with LAZ where I had to incur the wrath of my instructor or put my leg on no matter how hard she bucked.  I learned that I could stay on AND she'd get over herself and go forward.  I guess this was a lesson I needed to relearn because when I started backing off insisting she go forward a month ago she totally had my number.  It's not like she WANTS to unload me, but being knocked around in the saddle doesn't exactly make one feel safe.

I decided to have a jumping lesson on Thursday to see if all the flat work was part of the issue, and if she'd go more forward jumping.  The answer was....yes and sort of.

She was quite fresh and spooky but she knew what was going on so she was well behaved.   She warmed up really well over a single fence and over a one stride.  She happily went forward in the canter and was working on contact. Then we started to work on a gymnastic which we had to canter in around the corner, over a placing pole, over the fence, then over another placing pole.  Annie's steering at the canter isn't the best so I was having a hard time keeping her cantering especially having to steer after the fence on the diagonal and then come off the rail sort of straight to make the fence.  Rachel got firm with me and I really had to put my leg on and steer hard.   Combined with the jump being set out of her new "in this corner if you ask me to go forward I shall buck" and me backing off my leg to prevent her from bucking in that corner it got a little dicey.  I think that we were very entertaining to watch.

We got it done, and by got it done I mean that Annie can buck all the way to a fence, jump it in good form, then buck after and by the end we were both sweaty messes.  Then I went home and thought about it.  I'm not sure what Annie thought about. 

So tonight I rode and I made it my mission to not take no for an answer.  She was going forward no matter what.  We both worked really hard, Annie bucked, and I whacked. In the end I was huffing and puffing but I got some lengthened trot from her down her bucky side so I consider it a small victory.  She was also working on the bit not as nice as before but nicer then she had been. 

So back to boot camp next week and maybe I will find that my hips don't ache quite so much and that we can work on some more fun stuff like sidepassing and haunches in. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Local Tack Maker

I'd like to take a moment here to diverge from my usual horsey blather to recommend a local tack maker for all of your leather needs, especially if you're looking for something from him for the holidays.

Gary Mundy located in Mitchell Indiana is a one man tack making shop that provides quality merchandise to people literally around the world.  I purchased a pair of stirrup leathers from him in a custom size several years ago that are lovely quality and even include my initials on the ends. 

Here's a picture of his leathers, not mine but an excellent example

He's quite famous on the COTH bb, and if you look up his name there you'll see that he has a huge following and is quite popular.

Here is a link to his very basic website, email him for his complete price list.  Keep in mind that he answers all his own emails and makes everything by himself to order.  I got my leathers in a week but if he has several orders in sometimes it takes a bit longer.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bareback adventure

The last few weeks have been light work or no work for Annie, I gave her a week off after the last show of the season and then I got busy at work so although I came out to do stalls the idea of riding was just a bit much.  We're still working on her being a little fresh and bucky in the cooler weather, and the idea of having to work through a balky bucky episode has not been appealing so I've kept the sessions short and given her lots of time off.  I think time off for horses is a good thing, helps them not get too grumpy and bored with work, and the holidays are the perfect time for that.  With spring seemingly so far away and no goals in sight it's easy to be a little lazy. 

At my November show there were several bareback classes which included galloping wildly around an arena and a puissance class that topped out at 3 feet 9inches!  This brought out that itch inside of me to try riding bareback.  As someone who came into riding as an adult and never having a trustworthy bareback horse or anyone to ride bareback with I've only done it a handful of times.

Stanley would buck if you got on him bareback, although I did WTC bareback on him ONCE many years ago after lunging him in sidereins.

Nikki I got on once when it was in the upper 90s and rode her at a walk but well, she is Nikki and is prone to random bolting episodes.

My friend has been trying to move on her pony stallion so I've been lunging him a few times to get a good video of him, he's very quiet, and very close to the ground so a good candidate.  Yes, a stallion who hasn't been ridden in 4 or more years.  Sure, WeanieEventer, why not.  Nobody said I was very bright.  Here he is, isn't he cute?

So I got on him the other night after lunging him briefly.  I stayed on for about 4 minutes, just long enough for my legs to stop shaking uncontrollably.  Yeah me!  It might not be a big deal to some that have spent their entire lives riding without tack but it is a big step for me, to be up on a horse with just my sense of balance. 

We decided that a video of him being ridden might help demonstrate how quiet he is so I ended up getting on him again for a short video.  I didn't bother to put a bridle on, just rode him off his halter.  At the walk.  Sorry folks, not braving trotting just yet! Here's the video of me wobbling around.

We look pretty ridiculous, I'm not sure if it's because he's fat and out of shape, or because I look like I'm going to tumble off at any moment.  It remains to be seen if I'll get on him bareback again in the future!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fantastic end to the show season

We've come a long way baby!

Annie has come a long way from refusing to move forward at the trot and having zero canter a year ago. 

She was a little grumpy for our dressage test, I'm not sure if she has memorized the test and the arena we do it in and she's anticipating the test, or if all the work taking contact in the canter transition is making her grumpy.   I got a buck into canter warming up when I asked for contact.   I'm still not getting the quality of contact and trot that I've been getting at home, but she's easier to warm up at shows, especially considering it was chilly this morning and she's not used to warming up on grass.  She was a little behind the leg and bucked a few times when I whacked her, so we have some more dressage to work on!  I need to focus on making her confident that she can go forward into contact into the canter and obedient enough that she doesn't buck when I insist. 

I was pleased that she was more grumpy with me then spooky at trotting into a new place! 

We're still working some kinks out when we trot into the show arena, she gets looky and then suddenly there's a fence in front of her and she doesn't want to jump it.  I really noticed a difference in my riding in our Green as Grass Derby course, where I was alert enough to make her go over her second scary fence and then brave enough to pilot her zig zagging body out into the XC field and over the fences all by herself.  We zigged and zagged and walked over a couple of the fences but I made her go.  I think it gave her a lot of confidence in herself and a lot of respect in me. 

I decided to add a second round for the derby and boy was I glad I did!  We hit the grass and she trotted boldly over her first two fences, then kept her canter and I let her roll.  She got STRONG but she was having so much fun going FAST!!!!  I wrestled her back to the trot to go up and down the bank and she was royally pissed, having planned to gallop down it so she let out some I WANNA GO FASTER bucks.    I was so excited that I forgot where my last fence was.  Oooops.  She looks fantastic in the video and so confident.

We got a little rest break between GAG and Starter so I let her take a nap in her stall. 

She was hit or miss for our Starter course, the first fence was bigger and there were a bunch of horses to look at so she ran out.  I didn't do a very good job of keeping between the funnel of aids and was more of a passenger then a pilot.  The next several fences were awesome.  Then we came into fence 7 which was near the judge's truck so she wanted to look at them and not jump the fence.  I didn't add enough leg, didn't add enough right rein, AND got ahead with my shoulders so I hit the sand. 

I was SO mad I smacked the ground with my hand!  LAZ came right up and boosted me back up into the saddle.  I remember thinking "heck yes I want a leg up!"  and I finished my course dead on.  I was madder then a wet cat. 

I got talked into doing a second round, and once again boy was I glad I did!  Annie was on fire!  I was determined!  What a brave little horse!!

So overall I felt like I knew what I was doing and I was in control and making decisions.  I failed at a few of those decisions, but I wasn't in a blind panic the entire way around the course!  Annie continues to need some support and guidance from me in a looky situation and I take forever to warm up on course but she really is quite brave.  Tickled pink!  I also noticed that I was only slightly worried warming up. 

The weather was in the 70s, the show was well run, and the food was fantastic!  Very excited to see what we do over the winter and where we come out in the spring.  BN here we come?!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Horrible weed whacker attack

Annie grows a ton of hair and sweats a lot, in our summer lessons at CAF she even sweats on her nose.  She doesn't get tired so I assume she's just a sweaty beast.

Last winter I ended up having to clip her so we could continue to go to lessons because we would work very hard and she'd get soaking wet even with temps in the teens (shudder, right around the corner).

I clipped her for the second time a few weeks ago.  Then clipped her again the day after that.   Then a few days later, then a week later.  I think I might be calling it quits, I don't think I can make it look any better!

Anyone who has advice on how to clip a straight line across the body is welcome to chime in! 

This is what it looks like.

This was my guide


Thursday, November 1, 2012

November show.....sounded like a good idea when it was 78

Lots of fairly insignificant and slightly significant things have happened since Octoberfest but I've been too lazy to write about them, so here's it in a nutshell. 

I decided to sign up for one more horseshow before winter weather really sets in.  I've realized that I'm a reactive rider and not a proactive rider and while I was able to recognize this at Octoberfest I was slow to react.  I'd like to go into the November show with that in mind and see if I can improve my rounds. 

November show you say?  Well it sounded like a good idea when it was 78 and I was clipping 3 inches of yak hair off of Annie.  And touching it up.  And reclipping it.  And telling myself that next year I'm just going to pay someone to do it. 

Last week I had a good lesson working on gymnastics, the gymnastic was set in the middle of the arena so I could turn into it from either direction.  I found that the easiest way was off the right, which was unusual since she's much more difficult to bend to the right.  To the left I had issues with her bulging her shoulder out and running out.  I think this is because she's more bendy to the left so she can be overly bendy when she wants to be, so it's something I need to keep in mind when I'm doing flatwork. 

This week the weather has been slightly ridiculous.  I elected not to ride on Monday due to a high wind warning and tree branches on the arena roof.  It gets pretty spooky and I just wasn't feeling it. 

Tuesday the wind was better but we were feeling the edges of hurricane Sandy so it was raining nonstop.  I've found that Annie doesn't do well being cooped up all day, add rain and wind and was a beast.  I ended up lunging her for 10 minutes until she snorted slightly less then had a tense and spooky ride.  Wednesday I figured she'd be fine but the herd came in with their tails on fire and Annie was once again a beast. 

That November show seemed less and less like a good idea.

Today she was much better, lazy even.  I did lots of cantering to make up for the lack of cantering all week and really worked hard on keeping the connection with my inside rein by TAKING the connection while bringing my elbow back.  For the first time Annie experimented with keeping her head down in the transition and not trying to pretzel her body into all sorts of shapes to avoid doing it.  Yeah Progress!!!!!  November show looking like a slightly less bad idea.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Octoberfest day two

Octoberfest day two was the hunter show, I had a hard time making up my mind about doing hunters or jumpers but after seeing the jumper ring boy was I glad I brought my fancy coat!

The two foot jumper course was between 2 feet and 2' 6" with a triple one stride one stride and then another one stride.  None of the jumper people complained so I guess this was normal. 

Got out to the hunter ring early enough to school around some, Annie did great. 

Our first round was UGLY.  Annie was distracted, spooky, and gawky.  The arena drag in the arena next to us and the 50mph winds didn't help.  We squiggled, we spooked, we stopped, and we got rung out. 

I did 3 more rounds, each improving, and each a learning experience.

I am just not very good at riding my fences AND paying attention to Annie.  I get motoring toward a fence and I'm not really looking at Annie to see if she's distracted or if she's straight enough.  Then I'm not fast enough to make a correction. 

So I need more work on riding straight down lines, it's harder then it looks.  Much harder.

I need to be a more active rider paying attention to my horse and not just looking at my fence. 

I'm a big chicken and that hasn't changed. 


Octoberfest day one

Well, Octoberfest has come and gone with postive and negative experiences. 

We ran into an issue right away when I ended up being stabled in an entirely different barn from my trailer buddy and my tack stall.  Even though we both put who we wanted to stable with, and I put that my friend was doing dressage only so she was on a seperate showbill I guess that wasn't enough.  Eventually we got it all fixed up.   

Dressage warm up was fantastic, Annie works better in an arena full of horses and just goes to work.  I'm really  learning how to enforce the "pay attention" button and I'm thinking several strides ahead and not taking no for an answer. 

Annie shows her green when you expect her to work right away in a strange arena.  She wants to gawk and stare and drop behind the leg.  If you give her a lap to settle in she's fine, but this really doesn't work for a dressage test.  I used some very strong half halts and a few boots to the side while in the ring to really remind her that she knew better about yanking the reins loose and being gawky.  I didn't feel like it was our best test but I felt like its the test where I've ridden the strongest in and fought for a good ride and not just settled for staying in the ring.  I ended up with a 40 which included an 8 on gaits and a couple 7s so I guess it was a better test then I thought it was!

I had asked the organizer if I could add in schooling rounds via email and was told yes so I added in a crossrails round.  I had the same issues in the dressage ring in the stadium ring, Annie wanting to gawk and look.  I made it over all my fences just fine but ended up with a refusual for a squiggly balky thing in a corner. 

I asked in the office for clarity and decided to ask for more clarity on COTH since I've never had the issue come up before.  The CT was run by HJ people and since each discipline has different rules I wondered if they were reading from different rules.  It's not that I'm fighting the judge or that I'm angry, I'd just really like to know.  I got a ton of different answers from different people, so I was even more confused.  I understand that I'm at a schooling show and I certainly appreciate lenient judges who let me school, but I'd like to know if I got a pass on something that I wouldn't otherwise so I know for the future.  My answer is that yes it was a refusual, but many judges would ignore it but some wouldn't, and I should be glad that the judge was paying attention enough to notice it.

So now that's clear.

I asked for a second schooling round, was told no because I hadn't prepaid.  Which is fine, and is again something I've never had come up.  I'd asked for and added schooling rounds and brought a check by plenty of times.  So I take Annie back to the barn, untack her, and head back to watch the rest of the rounds.

Then someone comes up to us and says that we can add a schooling round in anyway and I needed to get in there.  So I run back to the barn, tack Annie back up, and hustle back over.  To find them taking the course apart.

They put the course back together,  it's a good thing they did because the ring was supposed to be open for another 40 minutes and there were still people over in dressage.   I school again with much better results, and then they let another 7 or 8 people school.

The starter course being put together was maxed out, flames, panels, gates, and several of the fences were over 2' 3"  So I backed out.  After my bad lesson I wasn't feeling very positive. 

It turns out that several trainers lodged a complaint with the course designer and he ended up taking out most of the filler and lowering the fences to 2' 3" but oh well. 

I guess I just confirmed to people that I'm a wishy washy chicken who is probably never going to get above Starter level. 

Pre Show Lesson

This is a recap since I've already had my horse show but I wanted to seperate and analyze my posts.

I was finally able to get a lesson in last Wednesday, and it was a frustrating one. 

I've been having and continue to have problems with Annie launching at her fences a stride early and then I get left behind and get jumped loose or catch her in the face.  If I keep my leg on and get into my position when I think she's supposed to take off I get left behind, but if I put my hands on her mane then I lose control and she runs out.

She ran out multiple times jumping across the diagonal, and I couldn't figure out how to keep her straight and release.  Eventually we got over the fence but then she ran out at the 2 stride just because she learned she could. 

Some placing poles helped with her leaving early but I didn't have a very positive feeling after the lesson.  The next day I decided to school dressage in my jumping saddle and pop over the fences again to iron things out but ended up with the same refusal issue.  I feel like I get her going to the fence and then she gets really wiggly the last stride away.  So I really wasn't looking forward to the show or feeling very confident about it. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Figure 8 no go

This is Annie playing Hide and Don't Seek ME.  I'm not quite sure she understands the game all the way. 

Last night's ride I had a very fresh Annie who is still adjusting to the cooler temperatures.  We did lots and lots of hand galloping in my dressage saddle trying to work on our canter transitions for our next dressage test.  Annie is quite sure that there is ZERO way a horse can make a trot canter transition without using its head and neck for leverage.  I've been getting all sorts of pretzeling, angry faces, and bucking when I insist on keeping contact into the canter.  She has a very obedient hot off the leg transition, and will go right on the bit as soon as she takes it, but we have a missing piece I'm working hard at getting and she's working hard at not getting. 

I also discovered that she can't stand the figure 8 bridle I had her in.  I'm not sure if it puts pressure on her nose, if she doesn't like having her mouth strapped shut (she keeps it shut on her own so I have no idea), or what.  I ended up getting off her, removing the noseband, and riding her without.  POOF instant on the bit.  I think I might mess with it again after the show and see if I can figure out why she doesn't like it, it's a shame to not use a nice bridle.  I'd like to show her hunters in a D ring just to fit in a bit more so I'll see if she has the same reaction to a bit change. 

I finally have a jumping lesson on Wednesday which I'm looking forward to! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Meh ride

I was saving this space for a summary of my latest lesson, but I was unable to get either an away lesson at CAF or a home lesson with Rachel.  So this is a photo of Annie trying out my figure 8 bridle.  Notice that she does not look pleased.  She was kept in all day and was grumpy, although if she were outside in the cold temps and pouring rain I'm sure she'd complain about that too.  Sheesh. 

So I turned her out in the arena to stretch her legs while I did stalls and so she could get some of her kicks out after being in all day and maybe get used to the rain on the roof.  I'm not sure why rain over your stall is ok, but rain over the arena roof is NOT OK. 

Don't get me wrong, she's not a bolter like Nikki (ahhhh, those were the days), she might get a little jumpy and spook in place a bit but that's it.  Her problem is that she doesn't want to put her head down on the bit, or go on the right rein.  All ears must be on the spooky door, and any monsters that might drop off the roof.  She'll trot around fine but she certainly doesn't look like she enjoys what she's doing and there isn't any soft to be found unless I brought a pillow into the arena. 

These are what I call "meh" rides.  Every now and then your horse is going to have an off day and he is going to be all "meh" about being ridden.  Not bad, just not good.  I don't necessarily think of this as a schooling opportunity although maybe that's not the right idea.  I think of it as a get it done and as long as it doesn't  happen often no big.  I never get really good rides out of anyone after they've been in all day, especially if it's raining hard while I'm riding.  I really probably wouldn't bother to ride at all on those days, and sometimes don't.  Tonight I used it as a "I'm going to ride you even if you don't like it" learning opportunity.  So I'm looking forward to a jumping lesson next week, I'm not a big jumping without instruction person and it would be awful nice to get a lesson before my next horse show.  Tonight, meh.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

4 strand french braid

As part of showing horses it is usually necessary to braid their manes for dressage, and if you have a long maned horse you'll need to use a french braid.  There are two types of french braids, a three strand, and a four strand. 

Here is my test subject, plenty of hair to work with.

This link from Lucky Braids  shows you how to do the traditional 3 strand Running braid which is very common.  It's very difficult to get this braid to stay on the top of the neck, and as you add in hair it tends to get longer and move down the neck, especially if you aren't very good at it.   It will also come undone if you let the horse put its head down to graze or eat hay.  Or I just suck at braiding.  I've been experimenting with using 4 strands which is a traditional French braid, sometimes seen with the baroque breeds, as a way of keeping the mane on top of the crest. 

Here is what the braid looks like part of the way down the neck. You do this braid like you were doing a tail, or a person's hair.  You take hair from BOTH pieces that crossover, the top and bottom piece, and not just the top (3 strand french).  So make your first full crossover, then take an extra piece into the part you hold in your left hand, AND pass a piece UNDER the braid to the piece you hold in your RIGHT hand.  Then make a full revolution of turns.  Repeat. When you add to the piece in your left hand pull DOWN hard to make it tight and when you add to the piece in your right hand pull UP hard to make it tight. 

Here's a closer look.  The key here is to get a ladder so that you are standing over the top of the horse.  You want to keep your LEFT hand on the left side of the neck and your right hand on the RIGHT side of the neck so that you keep the braid on top of the horse's neck.  Pull the braid tight as you go. 

Here's a view from above.  Since I finished this braid off half way down the neck you can see that it's pulling to the side, but closer to her ears you can see how it stays on top of the crest.  I'm still in the beginning stages of learning how to french braid so it's all pretty rough, but that's where I am right now.  Hope you've enjoyed my tutorial and please feel free to ask questions!

Friday, September 21, 2012 review

Well, my Horze items came today after 3 days shipping which was pretty fantastic. 

Here is my review:

Horze Active Check breeches,en_US,pd.html?dwvar_36452_color=CDBR%2fLLG&start=9&cgid=Breeches

Very nice quality, I am usually a 26 or a 28 and I ordered the 26 which fit great. They list the inseam, and it is long. I'm 5' 3" and it comes all the way to my ankle bones so anyone taller would be very happy and anyone shorter would have to hem.

Horze Chooze pad,en_US,pd.html?dwvar_17000_color=BL&start=3&cgid=Saddlepads

Color exactly as depicted, well made with a good level of padding.

Venice Bridle,en_US,pd.html?dwvar_10045_color=BL&start=1&cgid=Bridles-parts

Leather is very soft and does not need oiled to use the buckles, crank noseband is well padded, and the reins are very nice quality. Overall it looks like a much more expensive bridle. I'm having trouble deciding if I like it on her head though. It's definetly a little chunky and the buckles and white stitching give it a very distinct look.

Head on shot of Venice Bridle

anniebridle3 by enjoytheride
anniebridle3, a photo by enjoytheride on Flickr.

Left view of Venice Bridle

Anniebridle2 by enjoytheride
Anniebridle2, a photo by enjoytheride on Flickr.

Venice Bridle

anniebridle3 by enjoytheride
anniebridle3, a photo by enjoytheride on Flickr.

Head on shot of the Venice bridle.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Matchy Matchy heaven

I have the same feelings about horse apparel as I do about people apparel.  I LOVE having nice things that look fantastic, but I'm a terrible shopper.  Usually when I'm out shopping for clothing I run out screaming but occasionally I persevere and I get great fashion pieces for making outfits (Thank you What Not To Wear).  I was recently introduced to a website called Horze, which is a Finnish company that is recently available in the US (and shipped from the US).  They are mostly jumper and dressage oriented but have a HUGE collection of matchy matchy saddle pads and clothing, as well as a line of tack and stable supplies. 

Matchy Matchy Heaven

When I did some googling it seems like it's a well kept secret with people loyally purchasing from them for several years with satisfied results. 

Best of all they are known for having huge sales and currently have a code for %50 off everything.  Yes, everything. 

So I've been busy for the last two days adding things to my cart and removing them.  Do I really need a nicer pair of open fronts?  If I do, what color?  They have like 20 different choices.  What about saddle pads?  Do I really need yet another saddle pad?  At what number do I have to admit to having a problem?  Dressage or jumping?  What color?  What piping?  What design? 

How about purple checked breeches? 

How about that dressage bridle I've been thinking about buying?  I don't really NEED a bridle, the one I have holds the bit on just fine, but the leather isn't super quality and it buckles all the way up instead of in the middle. 

What about a grooming tote?  Fleece dress sheet?


Or maybe I don't spend anything and save my money.  Pffftttttt.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The meticulousity of dressage

I had an opportunity Wednesday to take a dressage lesson with Nancy Kleiner after a friend's horse showed up suddenly lame (and who is suddenly sound the day after the lesson, sneaky beast.)  I had to delay this post so I could ruminate on the lesson and the things I learned.

Nancy is very aware of body position and focuses almost 100% on your body, what it is doing in the saddle, and how that effects the horse.  I ride with my heels way down and my leg firm and stiff, a product of lots of time in jumping saddles on explosive horses.  An excellent way of staying on, a very bad way of staying soft. 

Nancy wanted me to keep my leg loose and almost hanging, lightly on, with my heels almost level in the stirrup to my toes.  She wants a stable upright core with arms that look like "L's."  I really noticed this when Annie wanted more rein and would rudely shove her nose forward to jerk the reins and my entire body forward.  By responding to this with a more stable core and leg I was able to prevent it from happening.

I also needed to give more support in my downward transitions which we usually blast out of.  Letting Annie know where she needed to keep her head and neck by letting her know that I wouldn't be pulled forward AND would be a soft and supportive fixture for her. 

At the canter I lean forward with my body (thank  you jumping saddle) so when I sit up I take my legs off.  I had to work hard to sit the canter while keeping my core still, my shoulders back, my leg on, and following with my seat. 

When Annie got weak in the right lead canter and started picking up her left lead I learned that I don't help because my stiffer left leg and hip allows her to pick up the wrong lead much easier. 

I also spent a lot of time learning how to generate more bend in her hind legs without making her go faster.  It lead to a slower trot that was a better trot. 

We really focused on my seat at the posting trot, and how you should SIT on the saddle.  By sitting softer and staying in the saddle longer you can control the speed of the trot without using the reins.  Nancy wanted me to sit almost slouchy, scooping my butt under me further and almost up then down softly.  When I got this very distinct motion Annie went wonderfully.  It took a lot of concentration to achieve that level of control with my lower back and butt. 

This lesson was filled with highs and lows, spending so much time working on the nuances of body control lead to plenty of moments when Annie didn't look as "nice" but when I got all the body parts in line she looked wonderful. 

Here's a longish video of part of my lesson.  It shows walk, sitting trot, posting trot, and some canter work.  We definitely look like novices here.  It left me with a ton of things to work on.  The feeling of sitting upright and following at the canter, and the scoopy butt motion are two things that I hope to really  nail down.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September show report

We arrived at Come Again Farms with a major storm right on our heels but I was able to get a decent school in on Annie in the dressage arena.  Even though we've been to the farm several times she's only been in this ring once so she was quite looky and spaghetti like.  I was able to draw on some of the things learned from my dressage lesson (keep your right rein stupid) and had a good school. 

We drove home through some of the worst rain and lightning I've ever seen, the storm dumped almost 3 inches of rain on the showgrounds but the facility owner really put a lot of thought and effort into the outdoors so each ring only had a small spot holding water the next morning.  Unfortunately the ground was too slick to run the hunter pace so that was cancelled.  Better safe then sorry.

I have terrible show nerves (nausea and tingly feelings) and combined with a crisp breeze and a rather fresh Annie our warm up morning of started off rough.  We got it under control and when we marched slightly crookedly into the dressage arena we put off our best test to date, good enough for 4th place.  We really lacked a free walk but since this has just been developing at home I wasn't expecting much.  What we did have was a prompt left and right lead canter transition and we held the canter the entire way around.  A huge difference from shows past was I was able to look at the 20m circle figure and ride it as "points" counting the number of steps in each quadrant of the circle to make it rounder and more accurate.  GO ME!

Moving on to show jumping my butterflies were more like Olympic level trampoline gymnasts and Annie steaming around the grass warm up like her tail was on fire didn't help.  I had to draw deep and rely on my own internal coaching monologue.  "jump the damn crossrail"  "now jump it again and try to look up"

I even, bless my heart, jumped the oxer.  There's something about that lonely oxer in warm up that makes me spazz out, but this time I had enough confidence in me and in Annie to jump it.  TWICE.

Trotting into the stadium ring my plans to confidently canter most of the course went out the window as Annie Arab Snorted her way around spooking at various things.  We squiggled our way over fence 1 but I was discombobulated and Annie almost ground to a halt over fence two. 

One of my issues is that if I think my horse is going to jump big I sit back and don't do anything so I don't make them jump bigger (why yes, I am aware of the faulty logic).  So I was sitting like a lump on approach to fence 3.  Which she stopped at her first time over in a lesson.  So I should have known better.  Eventually (I'm a slow learner apparently) I realized that my good ol right rein was flapping in the breeze.

I circled back chanted "right rein legs right rein legs right rein legs"  No really, I actually did.  Out loud.  And poof we jumped it.  The rest of the course rode well and I cantered down one of the more difficult bending lines with ease.  The correct tract for the last fence was under water and I had discussed my options while walking.  I could try and go through it, or I could go around it and come in at an angle.  By then I was good and mad at myself and I had finally gotten my stadium legs on so I decided that we were going through the water.  Damn it.  So we did.  So there. 

Reflecting back I still need to ride more confidently on course and I need to work on getting and keeping Annie's attention when she's looky.  My instructor suggested that I not stand around waiting to go in letting her get lazy and sleepy and instead school some dresage while waiting in the cue.  So I'll try that next time.  I also need to fumigate my show nerves.

Here's a video of our dressage test

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A real live dressage lesson

The hurricane finally reached us and it was pouring rain by the time I got to my lesson.  So I decided that I would probably melt in the rain seeing how I am so sweet (ok ok, I'm a wuss), and I really needed a dressage lesson. 

This lesson started out with being more focused on making Annie go where I wanted her to go and not going where Annie wanted to go.  The far end of the arena has an opening to the barn area and that end was also open to the outside so she didn't want to go all the way into the corners of that end. 

I got a good focus area of giant orange cones almost all the way against the wall to ride between.  I really had to focus on keeping my inside rein short and fixing my  hand on her withers so she couldn't escape through her neck and evade sideways and using my inside leg to push her against the wall.  This is counter intuitive to your first reaction of taking the outside rein and trying to pull the horse against the wall.  Horses are pretzels and don't have to go the direction their head is pointed at if they aren't so inclined. 

Next we focus on riding accurate figures by riding the 20m circle like I was riding to each specific letter in the arena.  Many of my previous dressage tests are more in the vein of "oh god let's get it over with" then actual planning and strategy.  I think that riding the circles as points will help me with more accurate figures.
Here's a nice picture of us trotting to the right, which is our more difficult direction.  I like how she's tracking up all the way and looks focused and engaged.

We did this at both the trot and the canter. Her weak lead is her right lead and I discovered that since she is weaker and tends to fall in on this side I don't need to be as firm about steering her in this direction, more just looking and thinking about turning right and she'll turn right. 

In conclusion (can you only say that when giving a closing argument in a court room?) I thought the dressage lesson was much needed and should put us in a good position for our show next weekend. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Flying Changes or the lack of

This week I've been focusing on dressage work and teaching Annie how to do simple changes.   I want to put flying changes on her, or at the very least a smooth simple change for jumping courses.   I've done a lot of thinking and talking with hunter friends about flying changes and the lack of them in the eventing world.  My hunter friends don't understand why more eventers don't change.  My eventer friends say they're waiting for when they need it in dressage.

Horses that do hunters have their flying changes as soon as they can canter without falling over and hunter riders don't think it's a big important long to do about teaching them.  If these horses eventually become equitation horses they have no issues learning how to counter canter, so I don't think that teaching changes before you teach counter canter is a big issue as long as you do it right.

Hunter changes should be forward, even, and straight.  Hauling a horse into a change in a corner will earn you less points then a change on a straight line but just like anything there are good hunter changes and bad ones.  The biggest difference I've seen between dressage and hunter changes is that hunter people want changes to be smooth and part of the course, and dressage people want them to be obvious and have more jump in them.  In fact, dressage horses turned into hunters need work on taking the jump out of their changes because it makes the round less flowy (that's an official word).

My personal opinion is that many eventers simply don't know how to put a flying change on a horse, myself included.  It's simply not an eventing skill set because it doesn't take off points in a round.  I think that a good simple change is just fine, but I've seen plenty of ugly simple changes or none at all. If you can hold the counter canter more power to you.   Everything I've ridden with changes has come with them pre installed.  Nikki the Grey and Snorty had auto changes.  We once changed 8 times down a 5 stride bending line (figure that one out) because I couldn't make up my damn mind.  The hunters I rode just rolled their eyes at me and changed leads.

My belief is that I'm never going to get to the dressage level where I need a counter canter and neither are a large majority of ammy eventers but I have more of a need for it over fences. 

So my plan is to polish our simple changes through the trot and if she feels like she's ready to do a flying I'll ask.  If not it's no big deal.

What I'm doing is coming across the diagonal.  Go down to an orderly forward and soft trot, leg yield over onto the new bend, ask for the new lead, canter off.  In theory you are waiting until you can do a smooth and quiet simple change using your legs and as little rein as possible so you don't make them crooked.  When you feel the horse shift his weight in the canter in anticipation for the leg yield, change of bend, new lead, that is when you ask for the change.

I can SEE the moment when the flying change is hiding inside the canter from the ground while helping another rider, but FEELING it in the saddle is another thing!

Right now we get awful excited about our simple changes and pretzel across the diagonal with angry faces because less trotting leads to more cantering so we're a long way off!  So stay tuned for an exciting new development 12 years in our future!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trailer Loading

I figured I'd talk about a subject near and dear to my heart, trailering.

My retired horse, Stanley came without a loading button.  Actually he came without many buttons but that's another blog for another time.

I had to walk him 6 miles through the suburbs (literally) past two schools, through people's yards, a construction zone, and over a rail road track to get him to his new home when I moved him.

It was Stanley that taught me all I know about loading horses and I've worked with several poor loaders using the tricks he taught me.   At least he's good for something bless his heart.

Annie was always a skeptical owner until a horse show in April where I latched her trailer tie before the bar was done up on the way home.  Now I've NEVER done  up a horse in a straight load trailer for fear of them backing off, but in the slant load when the horse rides in front or the middle it's not uncommon to latch them, walk back, and shut the partition.  Unfortunately this time Annie was in the last slot so she fell off the trailer and thrashed around before her halter broke and she came off. 

I felt horrible (still do) and I'll never ever do it again. 

So Annie changed into a reluctant loader.  She started to take longer and longer to load even going places on a regular basis.  You needed one person on the trailer and one person behind whacking her. 

I decided that I'd take advantage of the trailer being parked in the upper pasture and load her every day.  I like teaching a horse to self load, I think it's easier to send a horse onto a trailer then to try and get them to follow you.  You can react a lot quicker if the horse decides to back off. 

After a session of about 20 minutes Annie learned to self load, and after a few weeks she now loads up right away.  Last night I moved her into the middle stall with the window down and hay in her bag to finish off the self loading.  I want to load her up, close the divider, then walk around to tie her up. 

Apparently the hay was extra tasty as I had a difficult time getting her OFF the trailer!  

The real test will be when we go to our next lesson and come home again, I'm hoping her lesson will stick. 

Later I will talk about my "technique."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Whack a Horse or Boot a Horse?

This week I've been reading a listserv about dressage that has the occasional heated discussion.  You know the type

 "I ONLY use black saddlepads.  Anything else is abusive."
 "Oh yeah, well I think Yellow pads are best because that's what my trainer says."

"Well the ODG's (old dead guys) wrote in archaic Latin that black saddlepads were the best and I believe in the classics"

"I think that the modern methods of padding are less cruel and my yellow pad is superior."

"Oh really, well I think you're a poo poo head."


There was a discussion about "leg boxing" which in layman's terms is known as "kicking a horse."

Several posters stated that they have indeed kicked a horse that was behind the leg. 

One poster stated that she had never kicked a horse in her life and would never start and anyone that abused her horse in the ribs would be ripped off  and beaten senseless with her dressage whip.

She described an intricate, month long system of training which basically boiled down to teaching a horse that if he didn't go forward she was going to hit him really hard with a whip eventually. 

I added fuel to the fire by stating that I've never had an instructor tell me NOT to kick a horse that was behind the leg and lazy.  She was appropriately appalled and said if any trainer suggested she kick her horse in a lesson she would dismount, pack up, and leave. 

I'm not sure I get the logic behind teaching a horse that if he doesn't go you nail him with the whip being less abusive then teaching a horse that if he doesn't go you will boot him in the sides.  Frankly, I've even been seen doing both (go ahead and report me.)  I also refuse to believe that a rider exists that has once not booted a horse in the sides.

I think that not going forward off the leg is the number one vice in horses and properly reschooling a horse to go forward with either the whip or the leg is the best response.  If you teach a horse the right way that he needs to go forward then you don't have to do either unless he needs a reminder. 

Now, off to the barn to kick my horse a few times.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Opposite ends of the spectrum

Last night I had a jumping lesson at home with my other instructor.  The fences stayed much lower then in my outdoor lessons but the difficulty remained.  Annie was pretty excited to get out of dressage land and she showed her enthusiasm by launching herself at all the fences.  The lines were set for a slower pace since we have a small indoor and I had difficulty rating Annie's pace. 

We also jumped a very difficult line where we jumped three fences on an angle in a straight line.  My eye wants to jump the fences right in the middle and I kept trying to adjust our trajectory after each fence which didn't work out so well.  We back tracked a bit and I rode the line as groundpoles and gave me something to sight at the end of the line (mounting block) and when the fences went back up it rode much easier. 

Now, for something different!

I enjoy Hunters.  It's something that looks easy while being very difficult.  Tonight I'm watching the USHJA International Hunter Derby finals at the Kentucky Horse park.  The derby is an effort to bring hunters a little close to actual hunting.  Large natural fences and the need to gallop more while looking effortless is the name of the game.  It's harder then it looks.  Your pace needs to remain the same and the rider needs to look like they are just along for the ride while in reality they have to control their horse's pace without looking like it.

The derby is a newer division that has had a hard time figuring out what kind of horse does best.  Bold brave horses coming from the jumper world are tidy over their fences but don't look as pleasing to ride (needing a stronger grip).  Traditional hunters look easier to ride but don't have enough ummph around the course.  How do you maintin a faster pace, with an even take off spot, and a round jump all while making your horse look easier to ride?  Factor in the large outdoor course and the derby round being under lights and you have a serious competition.

Tune in tonight or catch it on the replay to catch the action.   

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dressage Doldrums

We are stuck in the dressage doldrums (a word I love which always makes me think of The Phantom Tollbooth).

Or at least, Annie thinks we are. 

The last few weeks I've been working on my seat in my cursed dressage saddle.  It's a really nice saddle, it fits me really well (at a 16.5) and it fits Annie really well.  It has nice leather, a deep seat, and exposed blocks.  I got it for a song (not really because if I had to sing for anything I'd be homeless). It's my body conditioned to a jumping saddle that hates it.  I can sit my butt in a saddle at a hand gallop but in my dressage saddle I struggle to keep my stirrups.

For awhile I wondered if maybe the saddle wasn't right for me, or maybe it didn't fit Annie.  She'd snark around in it with her head in the air and fling herself into the canter which felt like a jackhammer.  She wouldn't lift her back or go on the bit.  Then one night I rode in it entirely without my stirrups and I had my good pony back. 

It's not you it's me. 

I think it's the deeper connection it forces me to have with my horse, and inability to jam my heels down and clamp my lower leg on when the going gets tough.  So I've vowed to ride in it until I don't suck anymore (see you next year!). 

So the last several nights I've been working on adjustability within the gaits.  I spent months whacking the forward into Annie and now that it's permanently installed it's all she knows.  Which isn't exactly a bad thing.  Except our canter, while excellent for jumping, is more along the lines of hand gallop.  Not so good for the dressage.

She can go more forward at the canter (oh boy can she hang on to your saddle!) and at the trot.  But she doesn't understand that there is a slower gait then the working trot.  So I've been installing the half halt.  A few nights ago I installed half halt1.0 beta version.  Which is actually a whoa.  Oooops.  Now we have half halt 1.7.  She'll slow down while putting her head straight up in the air.  Getting closer.  So now we have a slightly slower trot (with snarky faces), a regular trot, and a steam engine trot. 

The canter.... hmmm..  We have regular hand gallop canter.  Then we have huff and puff and moan and swivel the ears for 7 strides of a very nice working canter because she hates it.   In fact it was so nice tonight I asked for a real hand gallop as a reward.  Luckily we have walls in the arena.  To the right, well, I'm just glad I stay on to the right forget about asking for any flexibility within the gait. 

I have a jumping lesson on the books for Friday to shake things up a bit. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Not as advertised

After two days of much needed rain brought beautiful temps for riding and watching the Olympic Freestyle Dressage had me in the mood for a good solid ride I left the barn tonight feeling unsatisfied.  You know that first time you cut open a Hot Pocket after looking at the photo on the outside of the box?  Not as advertised. 

We can canter courses of fences, jump through gymnastics, and hand gallop in a field. 

But can we manage a 20m circle without looking like an ostrich? Nope. 
It started out well, work on really using my outside rein, I imagined that I couldn't ride any straight lines so everywhere we went it had to be on some sort of a curve.  Pretty good.  I still get the feeling that she stands up too much on the inside rein so I concentrated on the feeling of the reins in my hands and if she felt even in them.  I really have to work on keeping her supple and travelling through going to the right which is her stiff direction.  She doesn't step under herself as well. 

Then we worked on our downward transitions.  This is really a weak spot for me and I don't do nearly enough of them so my horses always have crappy downward transitions but oddly enough pretty good upward ones.  Obviously something I need to work on.  Annie let me know that horses stop by putting their heads straight up in the air.  So the key to this is doing multiple transitions.  Nope.  In Annie's mind if you're going to ask her to come back to the walk after 4 strides why bother trotting at all?  Sheesh.  Stupid human.  So we go from walk to jog trot back to walk while making faces the entire time.  Eventually we accomplished some decent downward transitions if you ignored the pinned ears. 

Then we tossed in her favorite gait, the canter.  Or truthfully, the hand gallop.  We can hand gallop 3/4 of the 20m circle, ostrich trot, then back to a hand gallop.  Don't even think about doing it to the right.  Angry ostrich pony face, hi ho silver into the canter, splat out of it.  Since we've cantered once we're obviously going to canter again so insert angry ostrich faces and frequent grabs at the reins to let me know that she really wants to canter again. As I switch direction minding my outside aids and get rocked to the back of the saddle during a transition that certainly had plenty of...lift... but an equal amount of snark.

Since I have to feed on Saturday I might try switching back to my jumping saddle to see how much my lack of skill in my dressage saddle is interfering with her movement. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ditches and logs and sharks oh my!

This week I got to do some more gridwork as well as school XC and it was a fantastically positive experience.  I left my camera at home so sadly no video. 

I found that the poles in the grid rode better this week and I had an easier time keeping Annie straight, we didn't have any run outs and we maintained our forward pretty good.  I was actually able to count out loud through the grid, although it did make my brain spin a bit!

This week's grid was a one stride bounce one stride which we rode from both directions, it went up pretty darn fast.  Afterword I was amazed that I didn't spazz out at the size of the fences.  They weren't Olympic sized, but they were certainly bigger then something I am normally comfortable with so yayy! me.

Next we got to go out and school XC.  We started out going up a bank which rode easier then last time, I am getting the hang of what to do with my body up a bank and was able to stay out of the way a little bit better.  Then we started schooling jumps in the field. 

One thing I'm slowly starting to figure out, but have yet to act on, is Annie's bravery level.  With Nikki I would point her in the general direction of a fence and she would jump it no matter what I was doing.  Since she'd over jump anything that was scary looking and never really stopped at anything I would just take my leg off to avoid making her go faster and sit passive.  Yes, it makes much more sense in my head. 

So there we are trotting toward a shark's tooth jump.  I'm staring it down so it doesn't get up and move away without me knowing it, legs dangling loose.  Yep, went neatly around it.  Annie's not really SCARED of anything but she's not into doing things of her own accord. 

We also got to school the ginormous training level ditch.  I don't seem to have a ditch phobia, and nothing I've ridden had a ditch phobia so this rode fairly confidently for me.  I don't have a lot of experience over things that are flat so I had to figure out how to jump it with my body.  I also got to jump a really big log, which went really well the second time around.  Be Supportive. Be Supportive.  As well as a Skinny, but that was mostly because I couldn't figure out what the smiley face log was.  There I am trotting toward the smaller but very narrow log, trying to figure out if I saw a smiley face in the knots.  Wrong fence. 

We finished up over a combination of the bank and a table type thing.  It wasn't very big at all, but it rode hard for me because I would stare at the bank, then stare at the ditch, then go around it.   After some instruction I lined up a water trough in the distance, and just kept my eye on that.  Jumped up the bank, galloped over the table, presto chango, she's done a line.   

I think putting things together in lines, and actually having enough sense about me to think about what I was doing with my body really made me feel like an eventer this week and not just somebody pretending to be one.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Grid

Here we are jumping the grid.  This is after 3 of the jumps went up slowly from just poles to actual fences.  I found this grid difficult because it was set for a good forward even pace so if you came in too slow or got crooked it rode really bad.  Annie's a good deal smaller then the other horses jumping it so it was extra important that we come in forward enough.  The first time through  I not only didn't go in forward, but didn't maintain, and eventually got crooked and had a run out.  I'm supposed to be counting out loud here, and you can hear me counting through a bit of it.  I have a really difficult time processing a bunch of things at once so counting out loud was hard for me to do. 

The second time in we were asked to canter in which made it ride much much more smoothly.  You can see how it makes the grid like simple instead of a struggle. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cantering on course

Annie cantering by enjoytheride
Annie cantering, a photo by enjoytheride on Flickr.

Here's a snapshot of us motoring toward our next fence. We both look like we mean business.

In which we sweated a lot and learned some stuff

The stars aligned and I was able to get out for a lesson at the fabulous Come Again Farm. 

I got tacked up and hacked around on part of the cross country field while the lesson before me (full of Training level riders) finished up with an enormous gymnastic.  Turns out it was our gymnastic too!

Annie and I were faced with a sea of poles and she jigged and jogged and scrabbled all over the place, eventually I learned how to be a steady rider to help my horse be steady and the poles started to form fences.  The gymnastic ended up being 3 canter poles, about 3 strides, 3 more canter poles, then a small step over fence, over a placing pole, to a one stride.  Phew.  The poles were both helpful and a hinderence.  If we weren't moving forward enough we stepped all over the poles and took down the jumps.  If we moved at a forward pace then it was like the poles weren't even there.  This was a difficult exercise for me as I tend to sit like a passenger when faced with an issue.  I had to be confident, supportive, and stear with my legs and not my reins. 

Then we added a few fences after the gymnastic, they were small fences but the first one was off a turn and my eye needs work so we got there wonky a few times. 

After that we moved onto a simple plank fence which Annie stopped at several times.  She was tired and I guess I thought if I just sat there like a lump she'd jump it.  Nope.  Then we jumped our first impressive filler fence, and finished it all off around to a very big to me vertical which jumped like it was nothing. 

All in all I was very satisfied  (and very tired) with my lesson.  I made lots of mistakes but with the instruction I was able to learn from those mistakes and get it right a few times. 

Here's a picture of us over the filler fence.  My leg has slipped back during her effort, but it felt pretty solid over most of the gymnastic so that was good.

Annie jump

anniejump by enjoytheride
anniejump, a photo by enjoytheride on Flickr.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spastic week, good results

This week hasn't really been that crazy (compared to last week) or stressful (compared to next week at work) but I seem to be a bit spastic anyway.  Who knows what I'll do next week. 

On Tuesday (Too Damn Hot To Ride on Monday) I left my boots and half chaps at home, I was determined to ride so I got on in sneakers and breeches and did most of my work sans stirrups (ouchy pinchy ouchy).

Wednesday was another TDHTR day so I lounged at home and thought about riding.

Before leaving for the barn today I made sure I had my boots and half chaps in my trusty bag, but I didn't bother adding breeches (I blame the bag, bad bag) so I rode in shorts, paddock boots, and half chaps.  Let me tell you that is both a fashionable and a stylish way to ride.  So I spent the entire time in my dressage saddle (cursed thing) without stirrups.

I think the no stirrups work in my jumping saddle has started to pay off as I didn't feel as discombobulated without them in my dressage saddle.  I felt Sooooo confident in fact that I had a little canter without them.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, although the downward transition without them on a green pony/horse was a bit jouncy.  I'd like to continue that work to help make me a stronger and braver rider in the future.

Eventually, at some point, I'll have money in the bank AND time for a lesson again.  I'm looking forward to having Rachel come out (more on her later) and travelling up to my favorite eventing barn Come Again Farms (more on that later).

Monday, July 16, 2012

The heatwave continues

Well, the temps are finally cooling off (If, by cooling off, you mean down to 94 from 107) and I am back to riding.  A major car accident and dealing with useless insurance companies also kept me out of the saddle.

One of the things I like about Annie (there are many) is that she's the same horse after a few weeks off as she is after a day off.  Her version of "fresh" is trotting a little quick.  She doesn't get spooky.  Despite the temps she's willing to motor along in her new mantra of "forward is better."

Today I kept it simple since I had to go pick up my car from my mechanic, 15 minutes of walk, trot, and canter work. 

I touched some on our "long and low" work otherwise known as "Annie goes like a hunter."  She's really gotten the idea of it and she really likes to work out towrd the end of the reins while staying on the bit.  The use of her back and the quality of her trot work have improved by a huge amount.  She's not as good to the right, and she will come up if she wants to look at something but I'm getting long periods of good quality work.  We can canter long and low but it gets more into the hand gallop range and less into the canter range. 

I've been working some without my stirrups at the beginning of each ride, eventually I might work up the nerve to canter her without them.  She's got a big canter for such a little beast and it makes me a bit nervous.  I'd also like to ride her bareback.  Maybe. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Adorable buckskin pony with awful name and huge potential

I found this pony while surfing the internets and I think he's really something special.  Only 5 years old, originally ridden western, and currently ridden by a rider new to english riding and dressage.  I thought he was a cut mover with potential and then I saw that trot to the left.

Knocked my socks off.  Where this QH pony with the awful name inherited that extended trot from I do not know.  I doubt that his rider asked for it, and that's what I think makes him special.  I can see him with someone more focused on dressage, and I see him really excelling in dressage.  Somebody go get him!  He's located in CA.

Long Time Reader First Time Blogger

Well, after a stupid hot weekend I have come to the realization that Facebook simply can't handle the amount of stuff in my head so I've decided to start a blog!  Kind of scary, for me, and for the general public! 

This blog will be about my attempted adventures in Eventing as well as pretty much anything else I find interesting!  Pictures, ramblings, etc to follow!  Welcome dear reader.... you are out there aren't you?

Moving forward.

Hello faithful listeners, it's been a year since I've blogged so anyone reading now must actually be faithful, or have nothing bet...