Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'm getting it.... I'm getting it!

So... more good work with Fleck! Cindy even said "I'll make a dressage horse out of you yet Mr. Fleck!". hee hee... He's really really getting lovely. The big thing today was my seat. He's soooo responsive to my seat! It really is amazing. Like the canter to walk to canters. Or the walk to canter to walk. Ha! If I just focus on my seat's rhythm, then it works so much better. For instance.. to pick up the right lead, which is harder for Fleck, especially when I make him stay connected on the outside rein, I really have to focus on the right seat. I really have to think LIFTING into the canter with the right hip/femur. And then go right into the canter rhythm. Same with the downward. I have to really change the rhythm from canter to walk, without just stopping the rhythm. Cindy told me to do another flying change today. Hee hee... I'm going to have to tell her I have no idea how to do it! Not properly. 

Anyways, I was also really focused on my chin. It's my giveaway. If it starts really turning in... it's because Fleck isn't. Which means I'm blocking him with my shoulders. But if I turn my shoulders... he bends around too. :) 

We also worked on collecting the canter. It took me a bit but I finally found out how to do it without him having to break. I have to mimic what I want him to do. So... to collect his canter and get him cantering "in place", I have to keep my leg on and lift my hips up higher and at a slightly quicker pace. Pretty much the opposite of the canter lengthens.. where I slow the rhythm of my seat. I almost had to think of lifting his back up with my seat. I was a little afraid I was bouncing too much but Cindy said no. :) Yay!

And... I got a STRAIGHT canter lengthen!!! yay:) 

So yep... good work :) 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


So... another good lesson with Cindy... I FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY got Fleck straight!!! It wasn't but a few strides, but... a few strides here... a few strides there... and eventually it'll be consistent! It really took managing me! If I did all the stuff I usually do to keep him straight, but also really focus on me... keeping my chin between my shoulders (not turning my chin but not my body), and... slightly turn my shoulders in... that works!!! I also need to be very cognizant of not over flexing Fleck. 

Then we had another aha moment.. I was working on the walk to canter to walks...and Cindy said I was stopping the motion completely with my hips. I was thinking canter to halt instead of canter to walk. She said to make my hips go from the canter motion to the walk motion. And it works!!! It's tricky to make my hips do that instead of following Fleck or shutting them down completely but.. it does work! Yay! She also said that for the walk to the canter... rather than thinking of getting him all jazzed up... I just needed to change my hips from walk to canter. It wasn't as hard as I expected it to be. :) In the sense that Fleck did respond.. he didn't need me to jazz him up. It's just hard to... do so little. :)

So yay!! Fun ride.

Then Tuesday I went trail riding with Christina. Fleck and Sham are so cute!! They love each other. They were doing their trot races and really stretching through their backs and shoulders. Then we did a little canter and they were both so polite.. until Fleck gave Sham the "eye" and then they both took off a little. Hee hee. It was fun though!! We also splashed in the lake. 

Then Wednesday we met Kelli and Arwyn and went trail riding. We had fun too and finished with a little gallop or two. It's funny because Fleck will canter on the left lead quite happily and even forward... but once he swaps to the right lead.... watch out!! He digs in deep and just rockets forward! We had fun. :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jumping Bean!

So... I forgot to post about my jumping lesson!!! It was... legend...wait for it... dary! 

Beth wanted us to work on straightness so she set up a two stride and put some poles on either side of our track to help us. I had to focus on keeping him collected, revved up, and forward but straight!!! It was sorta hard. :) But we were getting it. Then she made it harder by shortening the distance. That meant Fleck had to really work and so did I! So we got it a few times and then Beth raised the fences. And then... I thought I needed more power and confused that power with speed. Which meant Fleck got flat and strung out and starting jumping over his shoulder. But THEN.... then Beth pointed that out and helped me get that bouncy bouncy canter... revved up and forward but not fast. She told me to think of speeding up the hind legs and slowing and raising the front legs. It worked... holy crap it worked!!!! 

Fleck jumped like a fiend!!!! Like hang time in the air fiend!!!! It was awesome!!! And we got it more than just once :) YES!!! Now to just make sure I keep aiming for that :)

Nailing it!!!!

So tonight was a hectic day.... I drove to Aiken and back (without Fleck!! The horrors!!!) to deliver Midget and her pal to a new home. Then dropped stuff off at the clinic and then got feed. So when I got home, it was 4ish... Perfect... plenty of time to play with Dan and ride Fleck. ONLY.. not so much! I had left the door to the feed room open and someone (coughDanielcough) had snuck in and wreaked havoc. So I had to clean that up. Then I worked with Dan and then it was just hitting sunset. So I decided to ride at the house.

And Fleck was GREAT!!! We only rode about 20 minutes because he was so good. The sunset was pretty and Fleck was just .... Up in his shoulder and round!! It was great! We got a great trot up the hill and then some nice work. And then... we got our best canter to walk to canters yet!!!! They still aren't perfect, but sooooooo much better. Yay :)

We're so getting it!!!! :)

Another perspective

So.... today I got a lesson from the working student instead of Cindy because Cindy was sick. She said if I didn't "get my moneys worth" she would teach me a make up. Holy smokes... I think Stephanie worked me harder than Cindy does! Hee hee.. Fleck and I were both whooped. :) But it was good. Stephanie was pushing for a bit more forward in the gait. She had a neat way to help me think about it. She said she learned it from Scott Hassler (I think). She said to think of the rhythm and tempo of the gait as a number. So Fleck's trot was a five. She wanted me to adjust the tempo and forwardness within the gait.. So go from a five to a six.. then back to five.. then down to four.. then back up to five. Then occasionally.. go for seven!! It was fun. And we were pretty good at it too and Stephanie complimented us on it and said it was obvious we had been doing it at home. Yay! We also did a lot of the "baby" renvers to help straighten him up. She also pointed out how his tempo and rhythm and balance changed when we do the serpentine. So we really focused on keeping it the same. 

It was a lot of work but a good ride!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lean Mean Prelim Machine....

So... Fleck and I headed to Aiken for the schooling three phase at Full Gallop this weekend. It was a one day...and I wasn't going to go.. except it sounded like fun. Plus, Julie was designing the XC course so I figured I wouldn't have to jump the huge trakenher and the huge ditch and wall. :) So we went.

Flecky was great. We had a good school the night before.  We worked on my trot lengthen. Fleck was good at lengthening his stride but he was too much on the forehand. When he tried to sit and rock back, he ended up cantering instead, because it was hard. So, we practiced that some and I got the feel for it. I really had to keep the connection and REALLY sit up and almost behind the vertical.

Dressage was nice and early, but without adding in braiding, it wasn't too bad. We got to ride in the fog, which is nice because it makes for nice pictures. We had a good warm up. Beth said that he really needed to sit back and on his haunches and it was easier for him when I sat up and back. Then she noticed that when we cantered to the right, I really needed to sit on my right seat bone. It felt like I was crooked but it really helped Fleck balance. I think I was actually straight.. just not used to being straight so I felt crooked. Of course most of this went out the window when I got into the ring, but that's okay. It was a good test though. He was obediant and he didn't jig in the walk. It wasn't pretty, but he didn't jig. Our counter canters were maintained and our leg yields were pretty darn good. We scored a 30.9!!!!!!!! Holy smokes.. that's our best test ever!!!! Even at novice!!! Of course the judge was very nice and we were tied for fourth out of 8 with that score, but still. :) I"ll take it and claim it!

Stadium was great. He was awfully hot and excited in warm up but jumped well. Once in the ring, he jumped awesome and we were a good team. We jumped clean and I was feeling good about cross country. It was a good course... some big fences.. some technical stuff, but nothing horrible. There was one I was worried about and it turned out to bite me. Fleck was on fire and hopping in place! We ended up jumping the gun and exited the start box at 1 instead of go.. oops! Anyways, all was great until our bogey fence. It was the fourth fence and the first combination. It was along the fenceline, where Fleck was looking the opposite direction trying to find his buddies. Then we veered off and jumped  small coop, did a bent line to the up bank, one stride on top and then a jump over a big roll top, then one stride, then down the bank. I always worry that Fleck lands dead on top so I knew it would be tough. Well.. we got the first four fences just fine but Fleck was awfully strung out and crooked and I couldn't get it together. He jumped up but couldn't safely jump the roll top, so he stopped. Completely my fault. I turned him down the ramp and we re-approached. This time we were straight and connected. It wasn't the prettiest, but he jumped up, over and down. Then he sorta took off with me and we went a little careening around the course. I managed to get him somewhat together and we made it through the rest of the course, but I was all over the place. I lost my stirrup about four times... and just couldn't find my groove. Luckily Fleck was locked on and I just had to point and he did the rest. He jumped the other two combinations in the water (Both very similar to the bank combo) just fine and the skinny great. I managed to get my act together for the last three or so fences, but it was frustrating. He was only a teeny bit more amped up than two weekends ago but suddenly I didn't know how to ride. I LOVE him amped up, but I've got to figure out my groove and learn to stay with him and out of his way.

All in all, we ended up 5th out of 8. Two others had a stop also. I'm glad we went and did it because it was a good learning experience. And I'm so glad that my bad piloting didn't mess with Fleck's confidence. Or mine.. we have all the pieces now.. we just need to put them all together properly. And it was very encouraging to hear quite a few people say that Fleck has never looked better!!! Yay!!! So I will gladly take the silly rider error at the schooling show... even if I know it also means my lovely dressage score will likely also happen at the schooling show instead of the recognized show. ;)

But we had fun and that's all that matters.

I am so blessed

I might just be the luckiest girl ever!!! I have checked one item off my bucket list and it was awesome...... Ever since I was in 6th grade and we went to visit Alaska.. and I got to go trail riding on the beach.. I've wanted to do it again.. but with MY horse. Well.. I finally did it!!! It was utterly amazing! A friend and I were chatting about it and... we just made it happen. Another friend works at Camelot Farms in St. Helena Island near Beaufort, SC. And they had a rental house with two paddocks and had trails and a short beach ride. Then she told us it was only a quick haul to Hunting Island, which is open for horses and has a ton more room. It sounded exactly like what we were looking for so we booked it! Well, God was looking out for us on this trip! We had originally scheduled it for November and luckily, Missy checked and realized the horses weren't allowed on the beach at Hunting Island, the state park, until December 1st. We were able to change our reservations and it was all set. God gave us beautiful weather! It was perfect! No rain and warm!!! Like 60-70 degree weather in December warm! It was perfect. And Missy found a photographer who wanted some horses so we got an incredible photographer at an amazing deal. AND... his church was having the actor who played the jockey in Secretariat there that weekend and we were invited to watch the movie, meet the actor, and go to church. It was so neat!! How crazy is it that on the weekend we are there.... we get to do another horsey thing!?! Like I said, God was so good to us... and still is!
We left Saturday morning and Fleck and Zhar hauled like champs. They are BFFs after all their trail riding adventures. We got there in about 5 hours and settled them in their paddocks and unloaded our stuff. Then we decided it was time for a ride. Because we wanted to make the movie we decided to just go around St. Helena. The area is beautiful.... gorgeous oak trees with spanish moss... It was so pretty! And we also made our way to the beach. The boys were a little surprised and excited. :) But they are good ponies and we got them on the sand and almost touching the water that first time. We headed back and the boys settled in together in their paddock like they had been life long pasture buds. We went and watched the movie and met the actor, who was a real jockey too. 

The next morning we got up early and took the ponies to the beach on Hunting Island to get them used to the surf. We were so glad we did because they were flabbergasted!!! Fleck's eyeballs bugged out of his head!!! He was snorting and just sooooo ..... flabbergasted! It was hilarious! We walked them out in our jeans and boots and got them used to it. Fleck would walk up to the wave line... snorting and bug eyed.. and then jump back with each wave. Hee hee... Then Missy finally got Zhar walked into the ocean. Fleck was like... "well if he can do it... I can do it!".. .and he did. They were both so brave!! So then we decided to just hop on and do some playing. It was so much fun! We were glad we got them used to it a bit because that afternoon we were meeting the photographer.


Our photographer and his friend got some amazing shots!!! I can't wait to see the rest of them. We had fun playing in the forest and in the sand. We had a great dinner out with Taylor and walked around downtown Beaufort a bit. What a gorgeous town. And so friendly...

Monday morning we went and got breakfast at an awesome restaurant and then were planning on some shopping before hitting the beach with the ponies. But it started to cloud up and the forecast said possible rain. So we hurried back to Hunting Island and played again. This time we found some jumps to jump! Can you believe how amazing this beach is??? Us and the ponies had an absolute blast just playing in the surf and sand. And it never did rain! We played for a few hours and that afternoon, we were all tired and we enjoyed the afternoon looking at photos. 

Tuesday was our last day so we got up early and got the horses to the beach just at Sunset. It was breathtaking.... We managed a little bareback morning ride and then played a little. Then it was time to head home. On the way out, we stopped at a little shop and got some Christmas gifts and the yummiest to go lunch ever!!! Seafood gumbo and tomato pie!!! Oh my!!

It was a most wonderful trip.... one that I'm so glad I got to spend with Fleck. He is the most caring, funny, wonderful, brave, trusting, hilarious, best buddy ever! I am forever grateful for having him in my life and for the opportunities he has given me. And I thank God for providing such a beautiful place for me to enjoy my beautiful beast and friends. I have a feeling all four of us will be back again next year. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Back to real life

But real life is still fun!!!

It may not have been galloping on the beach or jumping driftwood... but our dressage lesson today was fun!!!!

Cindy wanted to work on getting a base for starting canter pirouettes. So, we worked on the turn on the haunches. Which, YAY, for me.. because I think Cindy fixed it!!! We started off and the right sided one was okay.. but the left sided one fell apart like it always does. Cindy figured out what I was doing wrong and sure enough.. it's ALL me... Doh... I'm attempting to bend him around my left leg, but that was causing me to shift my hips to the right, thus sending him to the right. Then I was getting mad and digging my right heel into him asking him to go to the left and... he couldn't. So. Cindy had me get off and hop on my left foot, hopping left. So... what I ended up doing was taking my left leg completely off. And Fleck went FINALLY.... idiot!!! And went left! ;) It wasn't perfect.. and it wasn't even really a true bend. But it was moving left!!!!!!! yay!!!!

So then we went to the canter. She wanted us to canter on a 20 meter circle and on one half of it... attempt to get him to canter in place. Or... fit as many strides as possible into that section. Hee hee.. He's such a goof. When I started on the right lead... he kept breaking to the trot. And when I didn't let him trot, he was swapping leads left and right! Mostly just in front, but sometimes all the way around. Hee hee. For whatever reason (probably a stronger right hind) he maintained it going to the left. But it was fun. He got the hang of it and started to sit! And that meant he could do the canter to walk easier. We ended with a beautiful canter to walk.

Oh, but I was giggling because Cindy was wanting me to canter and I started to prepare him for it. I didn't technically ask yet, but Fleck gave me a beautiful transition. I told Cindy I hadn't asked yet and she laughed and said she was going to quit teaching me and just teach Fleck. She told me to give him the ear buds. Hee hee.. I imagine he's a MUCH better student. ;)

So yep.. a good day! Even if it's not sunrise at the beach. But don't fret... we will go back there!!! And maybe even move there!