Thursday, September 27, 2012

intervals again!

So..... after our XC school on Sunday and seeing how tired Flecky was.. it dawned on me that our fitness was lacking. Both of us! I was tired too. And sure, it was a lot of work... I made him jump that ditch and tarp about 15 times and then we did a few more jumps and then a course, but... we needed to do some fitness. However..... given his knees... I'm a little paranoid about it too. So we have come up with a plan.  Lots of LSD!! Hee hee... That's short for long, slow, distance! Which we've been doing.... Really, Ashland Farm opening up has been THE BEST thing ever because now... before or after every ride I can do some trails. Which means, he gets some LSD after just about every ride. I know Jimmy said you can walk them fit. But apparently we still need a little bit of some gallops too. The modified plan was lots of long walks, but adding in a tiny bit of canters. Not gallops.... soft happy canters. And only as long as he seems happy.

So I figured since he jumped Friday and Sunday... Monday was an LSD day with Dan, then Tuesday was dressage with Cindy... Wednesday would be a perfect interval day. Especially since he would get Thursday and Friday off because of work. So that was the plan. Of course he lost a hind show Tuesday morning, but... it was a hind and the footing was so good... we went anyways. It was great weather for it too. 

We started with a 30 minute trail ride, working on some leg yielding and shoulder giving and adding in lots of hills. Then we did a 10 minute trot around the field. Then a 3 minute break, then 3 minutes of the left lead canter, a 2 minute break, and 3 minutes of the right lead canter. And... he actually felt good... I was trying to keep it to a slow soft canter, but Fleck busted out a little bit of extra speed for a bit of it. Then he wasn't ready to stop at 3 minutes so we ended up going a little longer and I pulled him up. He was happy to keep going, but... I want to KEEP him happy to keep going. So then we did a 3 minute break and then another 5 minutes of trotting. Then we "hosed" his knees in the lake and went on another 20 minute or so trail ride. Next time I'll up the canters to 3 three minute sets... or 2 four minute sets.. We'll see. And I'm not too worried about the "trot sets". That boy could probably trot for an hour straight and not be concerned. It's his wind fitness I'm really worried about... He could trot all day long I think, and while it's not quite as pounding as a canter... I'd rather work on his wind at the canter and his other fitness at the walk. 

Afterwards we iced his knees and headed home. He seemed happy as a clam the next day too, so.... yay!!! Things are still looking up. :)

And... four weeks until Chatt hills! So we'll keep working smart and keep watching him closely and hopefully we'll still be sound and happy and game and have a great run at Chatt hills. Training level again.... we need to be happy and safe and confident. Then we'll reassess and decide what to do from there. Maybe we can still  sneak in a prelim every so often. :) 

Oh... and his new bridle!!! Check out that face!!! What a goof!! He's so... studly!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Take THAT Ditch and tarp... Kapow!!

It's a start!!! Go pony :)

Today we had a XC lesson at Ashland. It was fun. We had some good parts and some not so good parts, but overall it was a big success. I worked on my hands and hugging Fleck again while keeping my shoulders up. I also worked on my "landing gear", although apparently not on every jump.
Egads!! I promise this was the worst one!

The big thing was trying to find that fine line. Argh... I either close my leg and kick him on, letting him get long and flat. OR... I try to collect him but leave my leg off and essentially just shut him down. Argh... it's that stupid fine line that I can't quite get. At least not all the time. I did manage to get it some of the time and then at the end, I think fatique played a part too. But we did manage to get it for the ditch and tarp!!!! Yay!!!


I had been in a tizzy after walking the prelim course at the AECs and seeing that giant ditch and wall. So we vowed to get me over it. Literally ;) So we started over the ditch today and then Beth built it up with the standards and a tarp. I was joking that I had seen skulls and crossbones at the ditch and wall at pine top, so as we built it up, I told Beth that I was glad I wasn't seeing skulls yet. YAY! And I never really did. I got a bit nervous when it got at the top of the standards (Short standards, but still). But Fleck was awesome. And I did well too!! I did manage to collect/shorten Fleck while keeping my leg on and mostly keeping my hands low and releasing without throwing him away. And I stopped rowing too. Go us. Fleck was brave to it too... never even faltered even when I abandoned him. So yay!!! Sucess so far! I even had Beth make a cross rail on it too so that it was a bit more impressive. Yay for us!


Then we did a few more things.. banks, water, etc. And then I finished with a course and.. ugh... I think we were both tired at this point (have made a point to do more fitness work!) but it was either running and flat, or behind my leg. I did manage to sort of salvage it mostly and then we finished on the corner, which he NAILED!!! He just locked on it and took me to it. Yay!!

Like I said... all in all a good day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hugs for Flecky

What a FUN day!!!

But a long exhausting day! Poor Flecky... First we had a dressage lesson with Cindy where we worked our butts off. It was great though. He really tried for me. As usual. :) We were working on straightness and throughness WITH power! Cindy loved his submission and suppleness but wanted more power. And we were getting it. But man oh man was it hard. We worked on the upwards into the canter. We needed STRAIGHT and on the haunches. So I had to think that I could reinback, turn on the haunches, or shoulder in before I asked for the canter. Then... if he felt "right" enough that I could accomplish that, I could ask for the canter. And it worked!! Only I needed to trust it. And not throw myself at him. Also, when ever I felt the urge to correct him by using the left leg (like when he was throwing his left shoulder and ribs into me), I needed to set my elbow at my side first. Firm it up! And then when he broke to the trot... I shouldn't react and pony club kick (oops), but instead ask him to reinback. And when he shifted back onto his haunches (not necessarily completed the whole rein back but THOUGHT rein back), then ask for the canter again. It worked :)

It was funny too because he was cantering down the long side on the right lead and he was haunches in. Cindy has me thinking travers (or renvers...whatever haunches out is)and shoulder in. And when I was thinking that and attempting to push his shoulders in... he gave me a beautiful flying change... to the counter canter... and continued on in this lovely straight canter. Doh! :)

And then I had to giggle... Poor poor Cindy. She's figured out that I'm directionally challenged so today she asked me to do a shoulder in to a renver (or traver.. I still can't keep them straight). She said to do "the SI to the Renver (or traver) which is shoulders in, then bend around the OUTSIDE leg and push his haunches OUT"... hee hee.. I still did it wrong. She was like "Haunches out"... and I went more haunches in... egads!! I don't know why I do that!

But anyways... he was great :) And we had what felt like some pretty awesome lengthenings across the diagonal. :) And when I did my half passes, I remembered to open my rein and not cross his neck. Yay!

So we finally finished up and he got to hang out and watch Sunny and then graze a bit. Then we hauled to Ashland and grazed a bit and then tacked up for our jump lesson. Beth had me ride without stirrups. Egads... She actually took them off!! But it was GREAT!!! We did a gymnastics and it was really low so I was able to work on myself. Beth said that I needed to keep my shoulders up, my legs in front of me (ie, my landing gear), and I had to grab my grab strap! No more throwing him away or "rowing" with my hands, or sucking back. It was time to grow up and make George Morris proud! Ha! Maybe we'll start with much less mortified. It was hard, but I was able to get better with my hand. I didn't quite like the whole grabbing the grab strap thing, so I asked Beth about going back to "Hugging Fleck". It was something we did awhile ago and I'm not sure why we quit. It's basically the automatic release.. Which, perhaps I'm not quite qualified to do, but... it was easier than the crest release for me. I like hugging Fleck. ;) But really... it was just me doing an automatic release without dropping my shoulders, without throwing him away and without pulling back. Hey, it works, so.. yay! So then we jumped some bigger stuff and... doh!! Fleck was a saint but did a litle porpoising. I stayed on, but we realized that I needed better landing gear. Beth showed me how if my leg stayed in the right place over a jump, it automatically tipped me forward and I fell onto his neck. But if I put my feet slightly in front of me (ie, put out my landing gear, or flashlight feet), I would stay more upright up top. Tada!! No falling off :) So I did manage to get it right a few times. Then I got my stirrups back. Ugh... then it got hard again! And Fleck said he was mad at me by bucking and porpoising hard!! Hard enough that I thought if I didn't have my stirrups, he would have got me off. But that big ol' goober knew that I didn't have my stirrups earlier and did know. So I managed to do it right a few times and then it all went to pieces again. He got behind my leg and I was trying to make my turns too square. Argh.. poor Beth. I take things so literal for some reason..... She says "don't hold" and I throw him away. She says "don't throw him away" and I hang on for dear life. She says "Don't do anything" and I literally don't do anything!! So, when she said to bring his shoulder around and ride a square turn... I tried to do a 90 degree turn, which in effect, had me overshoot it. So she told me to ride it more bending or arced and stood in the corner so I wouldn't make it so "square". Lo and behold.. it worked. Ha ha.. She always says she's always right. So yeah.... as we passed her, she said she realized that we were drifting left and that was why I couldn't "see" my spot and felt frantic. He had the right spot, but drifted left and that ruined the spot. So then she stool on the left side of the jump... and holy crud I think we almost squashed her. But we didn't drift nearly as much! ha ha... I told her that Fleck really did like her because he didn't crush her like a bug.
So yep.. it was a good day. I think we fixed some things. I just have to remember to hug my pony, put out my landing gear, and not be so darn literal! ;)

So yep.. FUN day, but long exhausting day. I'm sure I'll be unable to walk tomorrow after the no stirrup work, but darn... I need to do that more often. It was so helpful. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Who has the most fanciest fluffiest floatiest AWESOMEST horse EVER?!?!? I do, I do!!!!

I'm so lucky.... My horse's summer off was probably the best thing for both of us. We're back to being a team, he feels great, we've forgotten bad habits, and ... oh yeah, not to mention.. he is making a comeback! I'm so lucky...

Can you tell I had a great ride?! :)

Fleck and I met Kelli and Arwyn again at Ashland (where the magic keeps happening) and had a great trail ride. We probably hacked around for about an hour. Just cruising through the woods. We even went past the waterfall. It was great. Then we headed to the XC field because Kelli wanted to play. I had my dressage saddle on so I put Fleck to work in the field thinking we could do some hillwork/dressage. But he was SOOOOO good!! I was focusing on long and low and soft and supple and holy crap if it didn't work!!! I'm sure he was showing off some for Arwyn, but still. He was LOVELY!!! It was awesome. Even Kelli was saying how great he looked. And it felt amazing!!!

I love my pony.....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dressage Day: Back to work!

Well Poo... no more fun magical trail riding today with a swim at the end. Today... back to work!! Today was dressage day. But it was it's own magical fun too. I mean that! It was a great ride.

The weather is PERFECT this week... blue skies, fluffy clouds, slight breeze, and a HIGH of 82!!! I had to roll the windows up a hair on the way to High Point.

We had an awesome ride. I'm finally finally learning to RIDE!!! Not just do what I'm told, but feel what's going on and start to fix it. I'm not always attempting to fix it the right way, but I'm at least trying. And sometimes it's right. Go me!! And Fleck says "Thank you, Mom!... ahhhh". Plus my new saddle makes it easier for my body to be correct.

We worked on getting Fleck to bend around my inside leg again. And again.. I had to get him straight first. Cindy explained it like a wheelbarrow. And I knew it.. but this helped cement it in my brain. Which is the most difficult part of riding for me. So when he's throwing his barrel against my leg and leaning in... I need to slightly counterflex to get him straight and back up onto that outside shoulder too. THEN I can ask for the bend again by using my inside leg and asking him to bend around it.. at the middle set of ribs. The other way to help is to almost ask for renvers (or haunches out... in other words, butt to the rail...cause apparently my brain thinks haunches out.. is out into the inside of the ring.. cause that makes sense??! ). But I can't think of it as just pushing his butt out.. cause I've done that and it doesn't work.. I really have to think of renvers (or is it travers?? Good grief....) and geting him bent properly which gets him straight. Again, I need to focus on having his neck coming straight out of his withers, not just bend at the neck and not through the wither. Oh, but back to the wheelbarrow. If the wheelbarrow is falling over, tipping to the left.. and I yank the left handle/rein and pull it back.. I'm going to tip it more! But if I use the right handle/rein to straighten it, I can then turn it and create the flexion. :)

Then we worked on the canter. Cindy had a neat exercise.. It was trotting.. then 6 or 8 meter volte in, focuing on riding BOTH SIDES of Fleck... meaning I need to allow my inside shoulder to turn and allow my outside shoulder and hand to follow. Then I cut my circle a little short and leg yield back to the rail. This really gets Fleck into the outside rein, but also straight. Then ask for the canter. Then we would spiral in and out with the canter.

It was oh so helpful! Fleck's canter got really bouncy and he was using that butt! And the trot after was oh so lovely. It was great... Lots of good work today :)

I really think having the summer "off" was so good for us.

Tomorrow... is a day for Dan! It won't really be a day off for Fleck as keeping Dan in line isn't easy, but at least it won't be hard work. And.. he got an awesome massage from Amanda tonight to make up for all his hard work recently.

The Magic of Ashland!

Today was another grand day!!! I'm so grateful that Ashland farm allows us to play in that beautiful playground. Its a wonderful place, a magical place.....


So magical.. that Fleck turned into a Unicorn!!

We met our friends Missy and her gorgeous black Arabian Zhar and started off. We had a lovely hand gallop through the open fields and some nice leisurely trail riding. Then we hit a patch of trail in the woods and had a nice canter down the wandering path. And suddenly our way was led by a big horned owl! It was amazing! We went past the pavillion, which always seems like a magical place to me... and it didn't disappoint. We hit it just as the sun was sinking and creating my favorite time of day... sideways sun! It was beautiful.

We then went to the lake and had a nice wade. Fleck still won't swim despite my repeated attempts to get him in farther. But he was having fun blowing bubbles! I don't know why, but he loves putting his whole nose in and splashing around. We finally decided to leave and I turned Fleck out. He walked up a little closer to shore and then stopped to paw again. He likes to splash so I didn't think too much of it. Although in my brain, I was thinking "he's kinda acting like he wants to roll... but Fleck doesn't roll"... Then suddenly he was buckling his knees. Still I'm thinking "really??? Fleck doesn't roll!". Splash... down we went. Goober!!! I guess I did want to get wet, but jeesh! So then we got up and got back on and carried on our way.

This was Fleck saying "Hey Zhar... check this what I'm about to do to Mom"!
Success!!! muhauhauaaaa 

We ended our ride back at Halfshire Farm where Zhar lives and the sun was so pretty we had to take a quick photo shoot in the field. Then we had a quick romp around a few fences still set up. I was quite proud that we hopped on over the swedish oxer with no problems. That tends to get us.

(we only walked into the field for a quick photo shoot, then back out the path we came in on! These are the hay fields)

So a quick rinse off, a little graze, ice boots on his knees, and back home we headed... basking in the glow of the magical day!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What an absolute lovely day today!!! It was a gorgeous Fall day.... nice cool breeze, no humidity, only about 85, gorgeous blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds... Just GORGEOUS!!!

And what better way to spend a day like today than on a horse!!

Fleck and I met some friends and went out to play at Ashland. We got on and headed out to the cross country field for some jumping. Holy toledo!!! Fleck said that he was off "gallop restriction"! I planned to spend a good ten minutes walking him, then some trotting and cantering and then start jumping. Well... we walked to the XC field and then walked about 3 minutes before Fleck suddenly jumped up and down about 6 times and then just took off. Like flat out bolted with me. It wasn't vicous... it was "I'm DONE with this not having fun crap...we are galloping and we are galloping NOW"! The little turd was going so freakin' fast.... I don't think he's EVER gone that fast!! It was so fast that I started to get a little worried and I don't think he could turn real well his little legs were going so fast! I finally pulled him up and tried to trot a little and he took off with me again. I think we did about three mach 50 bolts before he finally settled enough to "warm up". Ha!! I'm soooo glad he felt that good but sooooo worried about his poor knees.

So we then did a real warm up... sorta! Hee hee... I can't help it.. I wanted to get on with it too. That's why we're such a good match. So we did some warm up and then started jumping. And he felt great!!! We jumped pretty much everything out there.. the corner both ways, the water drops, the log in and out of the water, the trakenher (which jumped Amazingly well for us!), the ditch and wall (novice sized but still) and the big coops and such. He even did the big prelim down bank. And he was oh so smart about it! He came down to the trot and went softly off it. Yay!!! Save those knees buddy! We had a blast!! And our friends were awesome too. We all had a great day.

Then we went back to the trailers and took off boots (ours and ponies) and saddles and hopped back on bareback to go to the lake. We had a great time splashing around. I still can't get Fleck to swim yet, but... he went out much deeper. We're just going to run out of hot weather potentially... But we still had fun. Then we went for a little trail ride and headed home.


All in all, a marvelous time with wonderful friends. Everyone was so thrilled with their horses... the weather was gorgeous, and the horses were also having the time of their lives. It was just a perfect day!

Jumping Bean!!!

So... we're back to work officially I guess now :) Although, still.... I'm still making our mantra "Day by day".... I am making plans for the future but not going to stick to them if the need to change them arises. I think it's a good plan. And Fleck agrees!!! Although apparently he thinks we need to be a little less wishy washy and a little more "go-ey". :)

Anyways... we had an adult pony club lesson this weekend. Luckily for me it was with Beth, my regular jump coach. I ended up with a private lesson because the other girl I was riding with had to cancel. It was nice. We were the last of the Over the Hilltoppers and then there was a lunch break and then the Hilltoppers went. So.... Fleck got to show off :) He had the OTHers still around and then the Hilltoppers were all getting close to getting ready and were around, so... Fleck was in hog heaven. He likes being ooohed and aaahed over. And I will admit... I like it too! Not me... and certainly I was riding like a drunken monkey.. But I like to show Fleck off... I LOVE when people tell me how awesome he is. I know it, he knows it, but it's nice when others see it too.

Anyways, we had a good ride. Beth really got us working and changed things up as I needed them to be. So it was a very successful ride. We worked on getting back into prelim mode and speed, getting him rocked back, and keeping his shoulders through the turns and riding forward through the turns!!!! We also worked on my position and FINALLY my hands are starting to improve. :) Now to work on my leg. It's always something.


We did some fun roll backs and some bent lines. It was good stuff and Fleck was so happy to be jumping again. I was pleasantly surprised later to find out that they were very much set to training height and perhaps one or two even prelim height. I was thinking they looked sorta big and impressive but figured they were probably really only novice height. So it was nice to see my eye (or courage) hadn't shrunk that much. Yay!

Onward we go!! :) Still enjoying every second we get to have again. :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ahhhhh, life is good!


Pretty much....



Let's Roll!

So... we're BACK baby!!! At least for now... Baby steps, but... yay for jumping cross country again!!  We've done a jump lesson with Beth and then a cross country school at Ashland. Fleck was very happy to be back in work. As was I! So then we decided to go to Pine Top. Someone must have told Fleck because when I woke up that morning and went out to feed... this is what I was greeted with. hee hee... Fleck says "Let's roll... I"m ready"!

So anyways... we went to Pine Top and had fun. Fleck was a good bit and was so glad to be back out there. We didn't do much... mostly novice stuff, but it was still great to be back out there.

When we were done Sunny (who was being hand walked because he was in trouble for dumping Peri) got a little excited and got loose. I hopped off Fleck and grabbed him. I gave Sunny back to Beth and he pulled back again so he got in trouble. Fleck took this as an opportunity and ... REARED UP!!! What?!?! I looked up at him and said "um, excuse me... Who do you think YOU are"!? He came back down to Earth... and then I said "You don't do that"!. And then he shook his head NOOOO, no I don't. Hee hee... It was hilarious. He was having so much fun he just couldn't help himself.

So... not exactly a great day as Peri came off and ended up with a concussion and we didn't do a ton, but... A FANTASTIC day cause Fleck and I were back out there playing. And we had fun. So... day by day... But I'm loving each day!