Friday, November 30, 2012

Fleck and I went FLYING today!!

hee hee....

Doesn't it look like we're flying upside down!!!??? Fleck's so awesome, we did flips!! :)

We had a great dressage school... well, not great... I'll be honest. It was still hard for me!!! But we did have some very nice canters and I was much better about not closing my outside leg. But now I'm having issues with my leg yield to the left off the rail. It's soooo good to the right, but going left he totally over bends and gets behind my leg. We used to be so good at it. :( So... I must figure it out.

So anyways... we ended with some REALLY decent canter to walk to canters!!!!!! The "new" canter makes it so much easier for Flecky to sit on his haunches and do the downward transition. :)

So we went for a hack to cool off and ended up just heading down to the lake. Wow... what a gorgeous day.....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mind.... blown.... kapow!

Ha ha... That was quite the mind boggling dressage lesson today. I think my brain worked harder that it has in awhile. It was tough.... 

We started out with some fairly decent trot work and then when I went to canter Cindy noted that my outside leg came back. I told her that I could feel Fleck falling in and his shoulder flinging out, so my "instinct" was to "catch" him with my outside leg. In effect, I was attempting to counter bend him or even renver him to straighten him back up and get those shoulders underneath him. However, I wasn't accomplishing that and ended up just pushing him farther over. So Cindy reiterated that I needed to ride him shoulder in, which I knew/know... and feel like I'm always trying to ride shoulder in... She also reiterated that I need to ride inside leg to outside rein. I know that too... I also know that her and Beth have both been telling me to straighten him by maintaining a connection on that outside rein. Yes, he has to elongate that side of his body to be able to turn, but he also has to connect it and collect it some. So yes.. I know these things.... And I thought I was doing them... and maybe I was to some effect, but... by closing my outside leg I was throwing him back to the inside and helping him fall in. My closed leg asks his haunches to come in. Short of reaching forward with my leg and kicking him in the neck... (ha ha!) outside leg on isn't going to get him to straighten. Okay.. yes, I know this.... and was a little embarassed that I wasn't getting it. So... then I realized I was doing it at the walk too. Egads!!! So I thought about almost taking my outside leg off. Cindy pointed out that that wasn't the correct answer either... but to allow my leg to drape on him. So... With the outside connection and the inside leg... and not closing my outside leg... He was able to do a shoulder in and go straight!!! Mostly... because I was also grabbing that inside rein for all it was worth. I didn't realize it.. and I sorta felt like it was too long... but it was making Fleck over bend at the neck... So I had to let go. Cindy wanted to prove to me... so she had me take my inside hand off the reins and put the reins in my outside hand only. Then put my inside hand on my head. Simple enough right?! You'd think, but... It took me two laps to figure it out. Jeesh... Once I took my hand off that inside rein, Fleck flung out to the outside and counter bent. So my dumb self countered by bringing my outside hand do the inside... thus effectively turning him farther out. Argh.. Finally Cindy managed to get me to do it right.. If I took my outside hand farther outside, then I was effectively creating a slight inside bend with the reins. Add in my seat and leg.. and WOW!!!! I had a lovely, upright, straight pony!!! Holy smokes!!  So then we went the other way and I got it a little easier. I think its easier for me to get a connection on that left rein. Who knows?! So then we went back to the left and... it still took some really hard conscious thinking on my part, but I managed to get it. And again.. what a lovely canter!! We got loft!!!

And then our trot was nice too! So yay.... brain boggling, but...  the pay off was worth it.

It's just silly... I'm not sure why I'm so...... bad at dressage!! I mean... I know what to do... people keep telling me what to do.. but my subconscious just does the opposite!! But I love Cindy.. she's so good at explaining and demonstrating the theory and physics behind it... and then.. once my brain understands it and it REALLY sinks in... I get it. And then it's easier to fight my body on it.

anyways.... will practice more tomorrow!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunny Fall Day

 So Fleck and I had a fun ride with Missy the other day. She wanted some pictures, so I decided... lets' just hop over a few for pics too. We warmed up over about 3 small fences and then jumped the 3'9" oxer... and got this shot :)

So as his reward, I let him have a sand bath! He enjoyed it I think!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Another good lesson

I really like it when my dressage lessons get scheduled back to back. Because of my work schedule I can't do every Tuesday, so... I tend to do two one week, then none the next week... When my two get back to back... it's oh so helpful! 

We started off so much better today than we used to. We got the big trot with long strides much quicker into the ride rather than me posting super fast and Fleck being quick and short. Yay for us! It was a good ride. We worked on keeping his hips underneath him by me keeping my hips and thighs going forward. Then with the trot lengthen... I could feel it building and just allowed it to happen. Much better than forcing it or chasing it :) I was able to just allow him to go bolder and bigger and... until he tripped... hee hee... it was lovely! We also had some great work in the canter. Cindy had me leg yield him away from the wall while cantering. Similar concept to counter flexing.... It sets him upright and makes him load that inside hind leg. Such a lovely canter we had after that :) 

I also need to work on my canter to walk transitions. Cindy wants me to do it without using my hands.. and I get that, but still can't figure out how to make it happen. However, If I think about changing the bend just a little... it helps. 

I also had an epiphany in the stretchy trot... He really tries to fling himself to the outside of the circle and.. without reins.. it's hard to keep him on the path I want. It's obvious that I hold him with the outside rein while we are much more connected, but... I was able to hold him with my outside leg and thigh while stretching.. it just took a LOT!! But... I can use that to my advantage while we aren't stretching and try to keep him in line with my leg and not just my hand. 

So yep... a good ride. I just need to remember to keep asking for that... all the time... every time.... :) 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Back to work!

So... back to work today :) No more shenanigans! Hee hee.... 

We had a Cindy lesson today and it was a good day. We worked on getting Fleck straight and keeping him through and soft but big. The key thing from today is to remember my hips!!! I think I was locking them in the show ring which was part of the problem. But Cindy pointed out today that Fleck is a wide boy.. and he likes to travel wide behind...sorta swinging side to side. And that encourages me to swing my hips side to side too. But.. if I focus on keeping my belt buckle in front and my hips moving forward and not sideways... he gets his legs up underneath himself and it gets him pushing from behind better. It really did help. :)

We also worked on the half pass... I must keep my hips moving during that too! But I also can't let him lead with his shoulders too much. Half halting him gets him balanced back on his hiney :) 

So.... now to just remember to swing my hips!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Getting our gallop on!

So today I had sort of a rotten morning.... just a bad fight with Mike. So... I felt the need for speed... I needed a good gallop for my heart and soul. And fleck said "SURE THING!!!". :) It was just what I needed!!

We went to Ashland and met Hannah and Grace Face. We started off with a nice trail ride and met up with Missy and Marty! It's so cute cause Fleck knows Zhar now and he's his little buddy. So we went on the trails and decided we would all canter up the hill. Fleck and I led and in the path was this little twig of a stick... but it was across our path. So I yelled back, JUMP, and... we jumped... And everyone followed suit. It was great. It was Marty's first jump and she did awesome. So then we took Marty and Missy home and Hannah and I continued on. We decided to do a little gallop in the field behind Halfshire and Fleck took off!!! He did not want Grace to win so he kicked it up a gear. He was flying!!!! So then we managed to slow them back down to a walk and walked/jigged back to the lake. Hee hee. They actually settled down quickly and we had a nice trail ride. Then Hannah wanted to jump XC so we went back in the field and had fun. They had a great school and Fleck was upset he was just standing around, so I let him have a few more gallops and then we hopped over the hanging log once or twice, then the ditch to trakenher once, and then we played on the "alle oop"!. It was the big rolltops on an arc with a bowl in the middle. So you jumped over the first roll top, went down the bowl, up out of the bowl to the second roll top. It was fun :)

Then we splashed through the water (for pictures!) and I guess it was cold on his belly cause as we came out, Fleck let out a little buck! Wheee!

Then we went to lake and soaked his knees for 20 minutes. Then we headed home. But it was a great day!!! Lots of fun and it made me happy that Fleck felt so good that I had to hold him back and reel him in!! We'll see how he feels tomorrow! But since we have two days of dressage, I figured a little rebellion today was justified :)

ahhhh.... ponies... so good for the soul!

Two blues in a row!!!

We are on a roll!! 

Today was the annual Hilltoppers Pony Club fundraiser show. I volunteered in the morning and then rode Fleck in the afternoon. He was great!

He warmed up nicely despite some antics. hee hee. I love frisky Fleck!! Beth had me do a canter pirouette to help sit him on his hiney and make him load that hind end, thus straightening and improving his canter. It wasn't a real "pirouette" but we were attempting it and by attempting it, we accomplished the goal of improving the canter. So then we went into the ring. I didn't ride very well. I'm not sure what happened but I just... didn't ride very well. He was sorta behind my leg at first.. then he got bolty... I'm not sure if I lost my connection, or just braced.. but it wasn't a very good test. We actually scored our second best score yet though. I think the judge was generous. Accurate, and all her comments were correct, but I think she was a point generous in most places. But for a schooling show, that's kinda nice. We ended up with a 34.8. I was pleased with him though as he did what I asked him to do and willingly. I just needed to ride better. BUT... we managed to not jig through the walk and upwards! We got inverted and resistant but at least we stayed at the walk. His haults were mostly square. Our downward transitions were a bit better. And one of his canter lengthens got us an 8!! with the comment "Bold!". 

Then we got to jump. It was a fun course. He was awesome and went clean! Even when we were coming to the one stride and another horse came out of the woods.... Fleck spooked sideways but kept coming to his fence. He's such a good boy!

It was just Sarah Beth and I in our division and Mick wasn't cooperating very well in dressage, so we won. But it's all in fun. If Mick had behaved himself we probably would have been second as she had a beautiful stadium round also. 

It was a good day :) I also scored a bareback pad for Fleck.. only I have to add some length to the strap for his big ol' barrel. hee hee..

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just cause he's awesome!

So... nothing exciting happened today... except it was another glorious ride on my glorious pony!!!

We had a good dressage school and then a lovely hack through the woods :) 
I love my goober!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Renver Magic

What a good day... minus starting it off by flooding Roanys stall. Doh! I filled the water trough and forgot to turn the hose off..... 2 feet of water later in her stall... Ugh. Oh well. It was quickly forgotten by a peppermint milk shake from Chik-fil-a! First of the season!!! I MUST start running or insanity again. Anyways.... Chil-fil-a Tuesdays means it was a Cindy lesson day with Peri. 

It was cold, wet, rainy, and windy, so I was super glad we were heading to High Point for our lesson. This was "Yeah, maybe I won't ride today" weather. But in the indoor, there's no excuse. :) And I'm sooooo glad I did. Fleck was AWESOME!!!

Today was a very eye opening lesson. I told Cindy that I was very much aware that Fleck was haunches in to the right and while I was fixing it at home and even away, it all fell apart in the show ring. The judge even wrote "Horse is crooked some of the time, use shoulder in and shoulder fore to help improve suppleness and straightness". I KNOW.... yet, I can't make it happen in the ring. So we worked on it. 

It's especially prevalent to the right, but really, in both directions, he is haunches in. And it's not really because he's haunches in... it's because he isn't straight in his shoulders. He's leaning and not bending around my inside leg. In order to fix it, I have to get him straight first. Isn't that the FIRST thing on the pyramid!? So.... a good way to accomplish this... is to renver! And I think we had done this previously, but I talked myself out of it. In my brain, it got translated to pushing his haunches back out. And I knew that wasn't the right way to accomplish straight... the right way is to bring his shoulders in. AHA!!! That's it... that's the whole point of renver really.... You bring the shoulders in, then you bend around the outside leg and put the haunches out. And you know what that accomplishes???? A horse that is STRAIGHT and upright in BOTH shoulders!! THEN.... once he's straight, he'll start tracking straight behind too. THEN, I allow the inside bend and suddenly... oh suddenly the trot..... THE TROT!!!!!! Ahhhhhh.... what an amazing trot I'm getting!!! So... when I feel Fleck falling in (which is about all the time going to the right), I ask for a renver, then we he's straight, I allow the bend to go back to the inside and viola! Then I can ask less and less for the renver and suddenly, I think renver and he straightens back up. Yahooo!!!! 

So then we worked on the canter. Cindy pointed out that I really need to focus on keeping my right hip moving forward. I tend to stop it, or worse, move it backwards. This tells Fleck "stop cantering"... and he does! But if I can keep my right hip moving forwards.. he maintains the canter. It was nice. I need to make sure that I also stay upright though. Then the counter canter was lovely. 

We had some really really nice trot lengthens too, but we definitely need more in the canter. I think I was holding that outside rein too much. With good reason... once I had a better connection, it became painfully obvious that he was not supple in the left jaw today. In fact, he was locked and when I tried to unlock him, he took that as stop! Not a half-halt or a suppling aid. Argh... So I must work on that. 

So yep... an awesome lesson. I'm getting greedy for that straight upright horse now :) Whoo hooo!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Props where Props are due

So... I just wanted to send a shout out to ALL who have helped Fleck and I achieve awesomeness. It takes a village! ;) 

I think that it just finally came together for us... Fleck feels good, I am understanding how to really ride and... it's just working. Every one has contributed somehow. Even if it was way back in the day.. there's always something I learned from each and every person. Certainly I owe a large THANK YOU to Christina, Dr. Brown, Kim, Amanda, and Kathryn for getting Fleck to feel good and keeping him feeling good. Kip keeps his shoes on and his feet in great shape and helps his legs continue to feel good. My sweet dear husband who takes care of the other critters when Fleck and I leave and who puts up with my obsession. And Karen for selling me the most awesomest beast ever and putting such a good base on him and me. And to my trainers... past and present. Cindy who has taught me how to be a thinking dressage rider. Beth who has taught me how to become a prelim rider and a competent partner for Fleck. Julie has helped me immensely with some cram sessions! The clinics with all those great clinicians... all who have given me something...

Like I said.. it takes a village. I really think it's just finally coming together for Fleck and I. And I thank God... each and every day for giving me every moment with the most wonderful spotted beast there ever was! And for the people who have helped me become competent enough for said spotted beast. 


Guess who just got a blue ribbon... at PRELIM!!!!!

That's right!!!!

Can I tell you again how freakin' utterly amazing my horse is?? What a freakin' rock star!  And what a great weekend. We had so much fun!

We hauled Friday to Jumping Branch. Flecky was a fire cracker again! I spent my ride giggling at how silly he was. How old are you again Fleck?? :) He was bouncing out of his skin again and spooking at the horses in the woods. At one point, he even did a flying change while half passing at the canter. NOT on purpose... I believe I was wanting to trot. ;) And then he spooked and in the process, hunkered down and squatted. Hee hee... Even Beth was giggling. Despite the antics, we did accomplish some decent work. The take aways were...
  • Really make sure he's bending around my right leg. He likes to be stiff in the ribs on the right.
  • Really ride FORWARD in my downward transitions. Keep the leg ON and ride him into it. 
  • When tracking left at the canter, think of lifting the left shoulder and keeping his neck a little straighter. When tracking right, almost think overbend to help bring his shoulders around and his haunches back out. Ride shoulder in to the right ALL THE TIME! 

 So he got a bath and then dinner and then I walked XC and stadium. XC was a fun course. It wasn't that tough, but the jumps were decent sized and there was some technical stuff. It started off pretty easy with a hanging log stack thing. Then an upright skinny in the woods, to a very open picture frame. Then the two stride mulchies (where Fleck was annoyed with me a few weekends before), to the bullfinch. Then it started to get technical. A skinny chevron, sharp turn to a upright hay stack under a log to the drop, down the lane to the roll top, then left turn to the downhill half coffin (which was a fairly substantial roll top). Then up hill to the airy triple log, to the water with a small drop, then to the skinny on a bending line out. Then to the "honkin' log", then through the pastures to the up bank, over the "ditch" to the next bank, to the skinny and on to the dreaded ditch and wall! Then a sharp turn to a fairly decent corner, then to a stone wall then to the last fence which is a brushy thing. Then we walked stadium. It was a fun course, but nothing too exciting. However the oxers were fairly substantial looking!! Of course I had just run training, so I guess my eye had shrunk a little. But no triple :(  So then it was time for dinner. Then back to the hotel and to bed. Only... it was a bunch of giggling for an hour and a half before we went to sleep. Hee hee... And there was two songs... one awful (It's Friday, friday....) and one good (Pocket full of sunshine, take me away!!!). hee hee. It was fun!

Saturday am was GAME DAY!!! Bring it!!! It was chilly but since it was a schooling show I didn't have to braid. Yay! So we got on and headed up to warm up. Fleck was much calmer this morning but as warm up got busier, he got more amped up. He threw in a few bucks for good measure. Finally it was our turn and in we went. It wasn't a bad test, but it wasn't great either. He was a little scrambly and VERY much not off my right leg. Very haunches in and crooked. But we did manage a 7 and a 8 on our leg yields and another 8 some where. Oh, our enter down center line. BUT... he only jigged for two strides and then held it together pretty well for the rest of the free and medium walk. So we headed back to the paddock and I gave Fleck his beet pulp. I went to the bathroom, and then... Holy Crud... I had to jump in 45 minutes!!! I hadn't put in studs or anything! So I rushed to get his studs in, put on his boots, tacked him up, put on my gear, and hopped on. My stadium time was at 10:26. I think I left the trailer at 10:20!!! Needless to say we trotted to the warm up and then cantered once we hit the warm up area. We jumped four jumps and they let us in. Luckily, they were nice and I think they let me jump a little late. Fleck jumped pretty good in warm up but my hands were starting to get high again. So I concentrated on keeping the connection and... what a nice course!!!! Fleck was great!!! He jumped huge and cleared everything! We landed a little long and strung out before the roll back. Oops! But he jumped amazing and cleared it all. It was a gorgeous round! (I thought anyways!). So then over to XC we went. I was a little rushed, but it was nice... no time to get nervous. We jumped the roll top twice and he was a little behind my leg over it the first time but got amped up for it the second time. In to the start box we went and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...have a great ride! Off we went. And it was going to be A-ok!!! Fleck was on fire and looking for the jumps. I kept the connection and he was on! He cruised over the first 4 and then looking for the chevron. I managed to get him locked on and straightened out his shoulders and over we went. He leaped down the bank and flew down the path. We rocked the roll top and then... down to the half-coffin. I gave him a little tap with the whip about 5 strides out, but I didn't need it. He leapt over it, up the hill, rocked the water in the 3 and 4 and we continued on our way. He cleared the log and then bounced up and over the bank. The ONLY jump he even slightly hesitated/peeked/thought about was the ditch and wall. He was going, but I gave him a tap.. made sure to sit my butt in the saddle, wait my face and keep the connection. He went but maybe peeked at the ditch as we went over. Then onto the corner. He was on it!!! Not a thought of even running out. Yeah baby!!! Home free... He took the flyer over the stone wall (oops) and the we continued on to the final fence. This one I thought he might take the add/chip but nope, he took it long and I caught him in the mouth. Oh man... I hated that I got him on the final fence. But he got a TON of good boys and pats to make up for it. And.. we finished only 4 seconds over optimum time. 

 Since Fleck had been eying the sand pit... I promised him AFTER the show.. he could roll. So I had to keep my promise. I hosed him off after we jumped and walked him over. He was in heaven!!! He rolled THREE times...with much groaning and grunting with joy. Hee hee... Then he sat at the trailer munching on alfalfa while I iced his legs. Then I plopped myself down on my butt and took out his studs. He was such a cutie.. just stood there for me to de-stud him... after running prelim!

So... turns out... we were 9th after dressage. With 13 in our division. Probably about 5 were "pros". So, sorta disappointing, but regardless.. he jumped like a fiend and was on fire. So I didn't care one bit about that 39 dressage score. What an amazing horse I have!! He just ate up that course!!! So I took him back and got him iced. Then Beth texted me. Turns out... we were the fastest ride! We only had 1.6 points of time added to our score. I guess a few people had rails and/or refusals and there was a ton of time... so we moved up. TO FIRST!!!!!! Holy batman!!! What a good boy!!!

So yep... we made our comeback and we ROCKED IT!!! And Fleck had a blast too!!! I don't think I could have pulled him off those fences if I tried. :)