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 http://www.bitofbritain.com/  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

Unriding

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

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7862785@N04/4022560230/in/photostream/

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. 

http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?171696-Brag-About-Your-Gary-Mundy-Leathers-Here-PLUS-Educate-The-Masses

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.

http://www.rtccom.net/~gleather/

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!

Molly Sue Kinnamon Clinic

Last weekend I participated in a Molly Sue Kinnamon clinic at local dressage/eventing barn  Greystone Equestrian Center .  Although I had s...