Monday, April 22, 2013

Heartland Wrap Up

Annie had to hitch a ride to this show, I was a bit worried that she wouldn't load onto the strange new trailer but she got right on.  She was also ok with the open sides, which she isn't used to.  She even backed out well since she usually turns around in the slant.

Saturday morning I woke up to a temp of 29 degrees and snow on my car, and topped it off by getting  a speeding ticket on my way to the show!  My first ticket ever, I'm not sure if I should feel proud or upset.  Not like I didn't deserve it, I was indeed speeding. 

Here is Annie's opinion of doing dressage when it's 29 degrees

At first I wasn't going to braid Annie for dressage, I didn't see anyone else braided and anything that makes me less spazzy is good.  However, I caved and put in a nice 4 strand french braid.  I stepped away to put my gloves and coat on and I hear this commotion coming from her stall.  I look in the stall and she's down on her knees rubbing her mane on her bucket, then shaking like a dog.  Well, F*%$#.  I guess she's going unbraided.

Dressage warm up we pinged around like, well, pin balls in a pinball machine.  She was fast, stiff jawed, and she would only turn in one direction.   When I finally cantered she took off like a rocket and I did a transition to the trot because I couldn't get her to turn!  We didn't even bother with our right lead.  Things got better when I picked up my new mantra.

"I know how to ride"  "I know how to ride"  I stopped letting her dash around and started asking her to focus on me. 

Annie's head got higher and higher on our way to our ring, she is still convinced that judge's booths eat horses, and during the wind on Saturday the papers on the clipboard kept rustling around, plus people were talking from inside it. So in typical Annie fashion she ground to a halt to determine if it was safe to proceed. I gently put leg on. She stood firm. I tapped her with the whip, she stood firm. I booted her like a kid on a pony AND whacked her and she squirted past the booth so fast I almost left the saddle over the cantle. While travelling past the booth at a rather fast rate I yelled out my number, as is customary. FOUR!!!!!!!!!! It really wasn't funny until much later but now I can't stop giggling.

Despite snorting through her entire test she was really a very good horse.  She actually settled down once we got into the ring and became more turnable.  She had prompt non bucking correct leaded canter departs YAYY!!!! And reasonable downward transitions!  Double YAYYY!!!  I didn't get as nice of a freewalk as I do at home, but she actually walked and stretched out a bit. 

It wasn't one of our best tests, but seeing some of the other rides I was a bit upset that it only earned us a 5th out of 7.  I have this secret suspicion that snorty arabs earn lower points then snorty TBs but it's not like I deserved 8s.  I did get several 7s though.  However, we were not as we traditionally have been, dead last.

Stadium warm up Annie was ON IT.  I was once again stuck without anyone to calm my butterflies so I had to chant to myself.

Straight and forward to the fences WeanieEventer.  HANDS ON THE NECK WeanieEventer.  Canter STRAIGHT away WeanieEventer.

I think that Annie still needs a lot of miles in strange arenas, she was obedient to a point but she was very looky and once again we snorted through the entire thing.  She ground to a halt staring at the judge's cart (damn judges), and almost ground to a halt in front of fence 4 looking at a bush which I made her jump from a walk so there.  None of the fences were an issue, just all that EVERYTHING else.  We made it around clean.  I still look like a moron jumping, I was working really hard at staying back and riding forward to the base to get her over the fence so I would then make up for it by jumping ahead SIGH. 

We ended up with a pretty pink ribbon for 5th place.  Not as good as I would have liked, but much better then last year! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ooopsie photo

Yesterday we had another jumping lesson with LAZ.  More course work, including the scary panels which were not so scary at all this time around and Annie jumped them with a bit of a "meh" attitude which is fine by me!  We also got to do a tiny bit of XC, not a lot as the footing was still pretty wet but just enough to wet my whistle and have me wishing for more.

We got to jump a fence and then trot out into the "wilds." There must be some sort of psychological difference for horses between jumping in a sand arena (even without a fence) and then leaving the sand to head out onto grass.  Annie was on high alert and I had to be really aware of my wall of aids to keep her moving forward on track and not looking at EVERYTHING around us. 

This plank fence was the first fence back in the ring and I think that Annie was so happy to be back on "solid" ground that she didn't even SEE the fence until the last second.  It's also a very light colored fence and LAZ said that she thinks it blends into the sand making it hard to see.  I did manage to stay on and Annie felt really bad about her blooper. 

The next time around we jumped it fine.

Although I did stay back to make sure she went over it and got a little left behind

We also had to jump back into the ring which Annie found a bit spooky and really made me once again pay attention to my wall of aids to keep her moving smartly forward and straight over the fence

I am finding that when there is nothing to worry about the fence I can really feel my leg staying by my girth and my body folds but when the going gets tough and I have to drive I go back to my habit of standing in my stirrups and then my leg slides back.  So much to work on!

Today was the first lesson that I found myself a little disappointed that we didn't jump MORE and BIGGER.  Can you believe that?  Cause I can hardly believe it myself! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jumpy Jumpy

Since last I wrote I've taken two lessons with LAZ and have a third one set up for this weekend, that's a lot of jumping!

Last lesson was after the March show which was outdoors and sunny but when we showed up on Sunday there were three inches of snow on the ground so we were stuck indoors.  The gymnastic set up was a bounce over a placing pole to a one stride.  The emphasis was on forward and straightness, both of which I was lacking so the fences stayed small.  We also worked an exercise where I had to weave over and between all the poles at a trot concentrating on looking where I was going before I was going, which is much harder then it sounds!

Annie is extra bendy to the left so coming off the left rein I had a tendency to pull her too much to the left and get in crooked which made the gymnastic more difficult.  LAZ put up guide poles that I had to get in between then I could stop steering with my  hands and steer with my legs.  I actually found myself grabbing mane and trying to flatten my back voluntarily which is a first for me!

Last Saturday the weather was beautiful when we hauled out for another lesson so I knew I would be outside, I was happy to be outside and a bit nervous.  Annie hadn't been outside all winter, would she be fresh?  Would she run away over fences or on the flat?  Turns out she was just fine.  I also had a group lesson so I had to mind where other people were going, wait patiently while they were jumping, and then get going again once they stopped. 

We ended up doing courses in pieces, putting together a whole course by the end.  Apparently I'm done warming up over crossrails as there wasn't one in sight!  LAZ worked hard at getting me to press my hands into the neck with my wrists straight at least a stride before the fence, a concept that was very difficult for me to grasp and even harder to actually do.  The idea of giving up control of my reins a stride away from the fence was something my brain screamed NO NO NO NO! over.  LAZ said that Annie is honest, knows where she is going, and I can steer with my legs.  Imagine that. 

We did have a few stops at the plank fence when it was raised and the first panel.  These were unfamiliar fences to Annie and I must confess that I sat like a lump to them.  I want to sit like a lump and let her slow down and stop if she wants because if I made her go forward then she'd stop faster and I'd fall off.  Why yes, that makes little to no logical sense.  When I actually supported Annie by putting my leg on and riding forward she jumped them just fine, without even overjumping.

Now LAZ swears that the panels are only 2 feet high, which is totally not true, but Annie felt good over them.  Not overjumping, not leaving long, not panicking.  A big part of what gives me confidence is that Annie doesn't act stupid over new and scary things, and even if she gives it some room she's a flat jumper by nature so she doesn't jump me loose like Nikki used to do all the time. 

We ended up cantering our entire course, including the scary panels which were actually quite boring panels in the end.  It was a fantastic lesson and everyone around kept saying how much I improved in the lesson and how much I've improved since I've started riding with LAZ.

Which is all true, although LAZ still terrifies me.  Which she seems to be aware of.  The thought of being pushed beyond what I'm capable of and giving me a complex well, it gives me a complex!  However, I WANT to get better and I get better at the end of every lesson with LAZ so there you go.   I arrive terrified and leave confident which is as it should be. 

I can feel a difference in my leg, it feels like it stays by the girth more consistently and doesn't swing as much, and concentrating on pressing my hands into her neck and not just flinging at her mane seems to help.  I'd still like to fold a bit more over her as I think it will kill the rest of the leg swinging, but much better besides that. 

Here's an awesome video of us jumping the course.


 Hello all,  Life has been busy and I have not felt I've had anything worth blogging about.  Or that my blog is particularly interestin...