Saturday, January 7, 2012

A weekend in Paradise

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wow.. it's been awhile, but... basically... Fleck went lame just before Thanksgiving. Not horrible at all...very subtle, but there. Eventually we decided that maybe he had EPM. We treated him for EPM and also treated him for a sore back. We thought that maybe he tweaked his back when he was slipping from the EPM. So anyways... we treated his back and gave him time off, did some light work, got one new saddle and am borrowing another, and spoiled him rotten!! He got adjusted by the chiropracter, massaged, and acupunctured all in efforts to get his back comfy. And it worked!!! We got the all clear to go back to work the first week into the new year. And that's what we've been doing. Or and the weather have been limiting the work we've been able to do, but.. we're working on it.

So..this weekend we went to Paradise Farms for an Eventing Clinic. Lellie has been teaching Fleck and I for a little bit now and everytime we ride with her we learn something. She is a very demanding coach and expects alot from riders. However, how else can we continue to learn and become the best we can! Lellie's clinic this weekend was focused on "safety, balance, control, confidence and fun"! And fun it was! Lellie is a great teacher and very entertaining. You can learn as much auditing a lesson as riding in one. She manages to teach the rider and teach the auditors and keeps everyone captivated. The first day was dressage and stadium jumping, depending on each person and horse. My lesson was a flat lesson. Fleck and I have had some time off due to illness so we were working on making sure the basics were still there. Lellie said that suppleness and relaxation were key. With those, came obediance. We worked on loosening Fleck up so that he could be supple through his neck and shoulders and back. She had us do a great exercise that required me to really ride off my eye and seat and create the suppleness in Fleck. It was working though Fleck was obviously more weak and stiff in his right shoulder. I came home with some stuff to work on so that we can get him bilaterally supple and soft. The other lessons were also very entertaining to watch. What a great bunch of horses and riders!
On Sunday some of us jumped stadium, and some of us did cross country. I opted for XC because how could I not jump her some of her beautiful jumps! I also really needed to get back out as we had not been XC in ages. I knew that we would be really rusty and need Lellie to whip us back into shape. And sure enough... it was a humbling experience but exactly what I needed. We started off by galloping up and down a steep hill. She asked us to give some words to describe what we though when we saw it. Mine were "Wheee!!" and "balance" and "control". I thought it looked like a roller coaster. It was fun, although keeping Fleck straight was harder than I anticipated. The next exercise was to ride our horses through two log jumps next to each other. She wanted us to steer our horses through the narrow opening between the two jumps and hinted that perhaps trotting might be our best bet. Apparently I did not heed her hint and it would have been better for me had I (or Fleck) listened! We managed to get through it at the canter but it wasn't quite what Lellie wanted. Fleck was not listening to me really and it was loose and sloppy. And I let him get away with it. Although we managed to go through the opening without him jumping either side, it wasn't controlled, balanced, or safe really. So you would think that would have woken me up, but no... Not quite :) Our next exercise was a series of a few jumps, including one that went downhill. Fleck and I started and went off like our typical pre-Lellie selves....rocketship style!! We basically just went off and did it without much control, balance or thought to it. Of course when we were supposed to turn left to the banks after the downhill, I had no control and was unable to make the turn. Lellie stopped us there and pointed out exactly what was going on. So.. we managed to turn around and try again to save our egos! (Two very talented but much younger riders managed to do the exercise perfectly so we had to "save face"!). So we tried again, got our "half-steps" and managed to do it in a civilized manner. Which conveniently was more confidence building and more fun! And much safer! We then moved on to another exercise which was really fun. It was a bank down and then two strides to a vertical. The two-stride was an awfully tight line, but Lellie made it that way on purpose. The goal for the day was to teach us to respect cross country and learn how to use our seats and posture to help rate and adjust the horse. When we came down the bank at a fairly nice clip, the horses were unable to make the two strides. So... Fleck and I came down it first and he was a bit too large in his stride. I also leaned forward and he refused. GOOD BOY! cried Lellie. He told on me. So we tried again and managed it in one stride. Doh! Lellie pointed out that I was pretty much aiming him at it and then doing nothing. I was just leaving it all up to him. So.. RIDE!!! So.. we tried again and this time I gave a tiny half-halt and he still jumped it in the one stride. So.. she told me to stop "half-riding" and ride it like I mean it. Well WOW!! It worked. Instead of grabbing the ohcrapstrap and just hanging on, I sat deep, I half-halted and I said "whoa" and wow... he jumped it in two strides like a big boy. What was even more amazing is that I was less cumbersome and in Flecks way. I had been afraid that if I didn't grab my ohcrapstrap I would pop him in the face or something. Turns out..when I "RODE!" I actually stayed with him and was not in his way. It was fantastic!! Redemtpion ;) So anwyays... we then moved on and did some additional jumps. Fleck and I finally got back into the groove and managed to end on a very nice note.
This weekend was a great start to Fleck and I getting back on track! I knew it would take a bit of patience on Lellie's part to get us "back in the game!". Both Fleck and I need to learn to slow down and think things through rather than just forging ahead. After the time off, I knew Lellie would give us the refresher course we so desperately needed. Now if we can just manage to keep that in mind for every ride....

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