Friday, December 27, 2013

Boot Camp!!

And boy do I need it!! 

Beth met me at Ashland today and I had a jump lesson on Fleck. Then I took Tucker out to the XC field and rode him out there. It was maybe his first time out there so we weren't sure what he was going to do. He was great, but more on him later. Fleck first :)

I got tacked up and we headed up to the jump ring. We started off and it was a disaster! I just couldn't get it together. I felt like I was taking away from the bank with every step and Fleck was about 2 jumps away from quitting and telling me to "shove my head someplace unpleasant"! And he had every right to feel that way. I was frustrated. And exhausted!! Seriously.. I'm suddenly SOOOOO out of shape! I was huffing and puffing. So, yep.. must get back to running. (And as I'm typing this I have just finished stuff my face with peppermint cookie dough... but it's PEPPERMINT!!!... argh.. I'm doomed!). I just can't find the balance between a slow tempo and consistent rhythm but with enough power. I close my leg and let him run, or I take my leg off and he's "soft" but underpowered. Sigh... I was getting the hang of getting him supple through his topline and soft but just wouldn't close my leg. So then I'd gun him at it and would close my leg but wouldn't get the suppleness. So poor Fleck was forced to take giant flyers or chip in and heave himself over. Argh... Towards the end of our ride, I started to get it. I literally had to sing "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid" to help get my rhythm and had to pop him a few times with the whip because I just couldn't convince my legs to move apparently. Sigh... Beth was more pleased than me and set the jumps up. Argh.... I did forewarn her that I was getting the urge to get more pace and she told me NO! ;) 

I finally remembered to put my helmet camera on and... lo and behold, I suddenly learned how to ride! I was able to sit down, close my leg, and ride him into my soft hand, while maintaining the rhythm and keeping him supple. Thank God!!! He was that close to giving up on me. So yay!!! And then we went again and I had a bit of a haphazard line but he was getting tired. We're both out of shape I guess. I wanted to finish on a nice positive forward line, so we went one more time. And it was good. We landed nicely after the first jump and so I kicked on a bit to go for the five. Only, he landed nicely.. not gunning, so we had to make a large stretch for the five. But he did it. My brain was thinking that it wasn't the chip, so the 6 was going to be too short. Doh. So we came one last time ( ;) ) and did it in 6... nicely! :) yay!!!

Link to helmet cam of a course! 

Link to the line

Still working on keeping my right shoulder up and back, my right knee in a bit, and keeping his canter soft and supple. He doesn't have to be "on the bit" but he has to not be inverted. So yay... finally a good day. We finished on a good note and we both got a bit more confidence back.

So then he got to hang out at the trailer in his ice while I took Tucker out for a XC spin. I think he's done it before ;) He really is a cool horse. He reminds me a lot of Fleck. He's almost a packer, bomb proof, stoic guy. You can tack him up and he doesn't move, sit on him with no reins, no stirrups, and remove your jacket, and he doesn't move. He doesn't care. But you put your leg on and he's off! He's a safe sane guy but a whole lot of fun! He's got a good go button. He's still needing some retraining which is great. He rides a lot like Fleck but he tells on me. So when I start hanging... his nose goes straight up in the air. He throws that right shoulder out and veers, and if I try to correct it the wrong way...he veers harder! So we worked on riding the shoulders, half halt and RELEASE but keeping the connection and not throwing it away, keeping my right shoulder up and back, and all the other things I'm working on. It took me a few times, but once I sat down and RODE, we got it. I think I've got him figured out. He walked over the ditch like it was nothing. He walked up and down the back like it was nothing. Heck, he even trotted the up and down banks like they were nothing. Cantered into the water without skipping a beat! But he locks onto the jumps and gets a little carried away. Which is where I fall apart. But like I said, we fixed it mostly. And we even finished with a nice huntery canter to the water, through and back to Beth. :) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas to All!!!!

I had a good day. I didn't get to ride because work wore me out and I had to nap. But that's okay. I got pony snuggles! And plan to ride the next 6 out of 7 days!

I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful life... wonderful ponies, wonderful husband, wonderful family, wonderful friends.... 

 And I can't forget this girl.... 21 years together! I still remember that Christmas like it was yesterday... "Shhhh Roany... you'll ruin the surprise"! Oh, my poor Dad... 


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sore day!

So... after yesterdays lesson, today I hauled Fleck up to Beths. I had a lesson on him and a lesson on one of her new horses and then was going to do some chiropractoring on the barn horses. I was already sore from the day before, especially my thighs.

We started with Tucker and I did a jump lesson on him. I thought I had him figured out working on the flat, but then it sort of went downhill. To the point of me almost in tears. But they were tears of frustration at myself. It was a wonderful lesson because it really helped me figure out the root of some of my issues. Tucker is used to people hanging on his face so he locks his jaw and braces and runs. And throws his shoulder out. A LOT like Fleck. Only because Fleck and I have been together so long, he's sort of sneaky about it. And because of that too, he is sort of tolerant to my bad habits. However, riding Tucker, who is not tolerant of me, made it blatantly clear what I was doing wrong. I was collapsing on the right, dropping my right shoulder and then resorting to lifting my hands high in the air. This was because I couldn't effectively half halt on the right rein. By collapsing my right side, I ended up with a straight elbow. And I can't effectively pull straight back and down that way. So my response was to lift my hands. BUT... if I instead lifted my shoulder, that allowed my elbow to bend and then I could half halt effectively. It took some SERIOUS brain power to talk my body into doing it. And by the time I did, my shoulder was so sore and tired. But we got it finally. Tucker was thrilled that I finally got it too. :)

So then it was Fleck's turn. We opted to flat him and I got on. He was funny. He was full of energy and spooking when the wind blew. I, on the other hand, was exhausted! I was jelly! I didn't manage to ride very long because I was so weak it was ineffective and I didn't want to ruin things, but I did accomplish some really nice work. If I really thought about lifting my right shoulder, Fleck's response was amazing! He was straight and holy smokes... his wither and back lifted and it was LOVELY!!!! So exciting! We got a very nice trot and a very nice canter and even better lengthenings. Beth said he was much more even behind in his lengthens when I thought about lifting my shoulder.

Whooo hooo!!! So worth it. And then I had to do chiropractic adjustments on four horses ;)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Jump lesson!!!

Whoo hooo! It seems like we haven't jumped in forever! And we haven't ridden in at least 6 days since I was in Kansas. Luckily it was warm and it was NOT raining, so whoo hooo!!! We met Beth at Ashland and tacked up. I still had my stirrups off as I was still trying to prolong no stirrup November. Beth saw me grab them and told me "you can leave those here!" ever so sweetly and innocently ;) ha!

We warmed up and Beth worked really hard on my position. I need to consciously pull/push my right leg forward to the girth. It always wants to slide back and that causes me to twist too. I also need to think about almost pinching with my knee on that side. Not that I want to be pinching with my knee, but I need to be rolling my calf in and not poking my toe out and getting Fleck with the spur non-stop. Then through out the course of the lesson, we also realized that I was collapsing on my right side and by thinking about picking my right shoulder up and back, and almost drawing my right knee up at the same time, I would straighten my core and my whole self and could ride more effectively. It also helped even out my hands because when I am collapsing on my right side, my right hand goes forward and gets too loose and giving.

Phew, that was hard work!! Then Beth made me really work on getting the correct canter. That was also hard work, but much easier when my position was correct. Its' the same old story. I had to get the canter and then keep the canter. I was not to allow him to lengthen to the base and thus get long and flat, but I wasn't wanting to shorten him either.

It was fun. And when I could put it all together, it was great :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting our South Louisianna Cajun on!!

I have the most wonderful horse ever!!!!!! I decided that I wanted to ride Fleck in the Christmas Parade in town. I've wanted to for a few years and finally was able to do it. Missy and Zhar joined us which is a good thing because Fleck needed Zhar for support! It was so much fun!!!! And a lot... a LOT of waiting.

They wanted us there at 5:30 at the latest, even though the parade didn't start until 6:30. So we got ready and then got on. Fleck and Zhar were great at the trailer and then once we got on, they got antsy and wanted to go. So we lined up... and waited... and waited... and waited!!! They let the entire parade go through first I think. Fleck was not happy! He was dancy and jiggy and wanted to get the party started!! But he behaved himself as long as I let him dance around. Then finally at about 7:30, it as our turn! We walked out!! That is definitely an experience. I'm sure it was a small parade... but it was soooo cool. 

We walked out into a road with a wall of people on both sides. Lots of cheering and noise and "Horseeeeeee" coming from little girls. And lots of noise from the parade in front and behind us. It was serious sensory overload. But Fleck was awesome!!!! He kept his cool and was such a show off. Sure, he was crab walking some but I think that was because I was trying to hold him back so we weren't right at the exhaust of the WAG van. 

It was really fun. I'm so proud of him. It was nice to be able to feel like rock stars for those little girls. 

Another check for the bucket list! Another check for Fleck's resume :) 


Monday, December 2, 2013

More dressage

Fleck and I had another lesson with Sandy. She came out to Ashland and it was oh so convenient. :) It was another good ride. We're still working on the same stuff, but I do think perhaps we're getting somewhere!

I really need to focus on me! My right arm tends to creep forward and be way too giving. My left hand needs to shorten up the reins instead of puppy dogging. And I need to be aware of how uneven they are. When I feel like I'm riding with my hands even... my left hand is way behind my right hand. Fleck still needs me to really close and hold with that right hand and really not be so grabby with the left. I still feel like he's going to careen to the right when I don't hold onto the left rein. BUT... I can combat that with riding shoulder in, using my hips to push his shoulders over. And also closing my outside leg to keep him from drifting. I should ALWAYS be thinking shoulder in and leg yield or doing it. ;) 

Our canter was a bit better, but he tends to take over the tempo some. So I need to SIT and maintain the tempo, and really really hold with that outside (right) rein. Even going to the right... still hold the connection in the right rein. I also need to then push his haunches out a bit... so again, think shoulder in and a bit of leg yielding. This is accomplished by my hips turning in, my inside (left) leg pushing in, and my outside rein holding steady. Argh... so much to think about!!

But it was good. And Sandy said again how pleased she was with us. Now to get someone to video to prove to me how uneven my hands are. Or do what Beth made me do and ride with the whip in my hands. ;)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Epic Trail ride

So... Fleck and I have had some fun lazy trail rides after our dressage lesson. Partly because I'm working this week and partly because we wanted to. :) But bareback :) Still no Stirrup November!

So yesterday I met Missy and Zhar for a fun ride. We had a good hack through the trails and ended up at the little haybale. I told Missy how I had jumped it and she asked "want a picture?". Um... challenge accepted!! ;) So we jumped it... and got a picture :) Then Missy wanted to try it and I got a picture of her. After we finished with that as we were walking away, Missy noticed two really deep holes nearby. So she hopped off and broke some sticks to fill the holes with. Zhar was just grazing nearby and I was just sitting on Fleck, letting him graze and looking at the pictures on my phone. Something suddenly spooked Fleck and Zhar because Fleck dropped about a foot and scooted forward about a foot at once. I ended up on his hiney on my back with only one hand on the reins. I knew it wasn't going to end well. Fleck and Zhar both bolted and I landed on my left side. It hurt. I landed on my thigh first, then my left arm, then my left cheek. Luckily I was just sore. Not even any cool bruises really to show for it. ;) Also luckily... Fleck and Zhar didn't bolt very far and then went back to grazing. We caught both of them and then I walked Fleck back to the haybale to get back on. After the jumping, but prior to the bolting, we were joined by another girl and her horse. After I got back on Fleck she mentioned that she saw a bee. Odd... it was COLD! Well about 2 seconds after she said that Fleck started bucking. Oh no! So I hopped off and then noticed that the hole where Missy put the stick was swarming with yellow jackets! She disturbed the nest and they were pissed. So I dragged Fleck away and he kept bucking and swishing. He had a yellow jacket stinging him on his sheath!! Poor dude. I was able to swat it away but it drew blood. So I then had to get on by climbing on the gate and we hightailed it out of there.

Quite the exciting day. ;)

Today he looked pretty good and felt pretty good. I'm a bit sore where I hit and then my neck and upper back are sore when I move certain ways. But overall, not bad at all. So I went for another bareback trail ride ;) This time with Liz and Cindy. And of course we had to play a little in the cross country field. Fleck and I did some jumping and some galloping. Initially with very little steering and very little breaks. But he finally started paying attention and we had some nice jumps. We even jumped into the water down the bank and over the log on the bank quite nicely. No stirrups still :) Go me. I swear I do down banks better without stirrups. Fleck always seems happy but with stirrups he gets pissy and bucky. I must brace or something. We then had a fun enjoyable hack. I made sure to keep Fleck connected for most of the walk rather than letting him continue to go around inverted and hollow. Muscle memory!!! :) Cindy reminded me it takes 21 days... so I'm really going to try to be better about it so he'll be easier to keep connected and happier.

Oh, but before the two bareback rides... Dr. Heidi came out to do Fleck's chiro adjustment again. She made me "adjust my own damn horse"!. hee hee. But it was great. I was nervous but actually did a good job. I felt all the right things and at the right places. And once I got a little bit braver and used a bit more force, I even corrected him. She also taught me how to do his jaw and his sternum. Cool beans :) She said that his body looked better than the last time she saw him. Yay!!!

Shocking the judge!

So... after Fleck lost his shoe schooling XC, we got it put back on the next day. But then I had to fly out to Kansas. (A day early...that's a whole other story! But it meant I missed out on a ride). When I got back in town Fleck and I had a good dressage ride but he felt a bit more tough to get into the right rein than recently. But all in all a pretty decent ride. Then I did a day clinic shift and by the time I got back it was dark. So then the next day it was back to work again. But I managed to sneak in another lesson with Sandy Osborn. And it was great!!
Yet again it was blustery and cold. But I worked up a sweat. When we pulled in I went to pick out Fleck's feet and there was an actual nail in his foot!!Eeeeks!! Luckily it was laying flat in his frog and didn't actually puncture his foot. Jeesh. Scary stuff. Anyways, we tacked up and warmed up at the walk and headed out to the ring. The horses were running around in the pastures around so Fleck was a bit distracted. But within 10 minutes he was going pretty solidly. I was getting an even connection in both reins and a fairly straight horse. yay!! Even Sandy was impressed. She said that I was clearly doing my homework because Fleck was where we wanted him in 10 minutes whereas last time it took the entire lesson. We worked on the connection in all three gaits and while there were moments of fussing, spooking, and inversion, all in all he was pretty good! My position was getting better too I guess as she didn't have to fuss at me for pinching with my thighs. Maybe no stirrup November is really helping! (And yes... I had my stirrups for my lesson). But I still need to poke my bellybutton out more and sit up taller.

Then we worked on some transitions and keeping the connection during the transition. I really have to remember to not give with my right hand. It always creeps forward. BOTH directions... I need to almost use that as my "outside rein" both ways. And on the flipside, again, I'm not elastic enough with my left hand. I need to follow more, and allow that stretch. 

We then even moved on to the shoulder in. Poor Flecky... shoulder in is much harder when you're really on the aids. He was trying all sorts of things to get out of it. He was cantering instead of trotting, fish tailing, crow hopping, etc. I was just giggling. Sandy kept telling me to ride it out and just sit still until he figured it out. She also said to play connect the dots! To connect the dots of Flecks inside hind, my inside hip, my outside shoulder and my outside rein. I think. It made sense and when I did that, she said I was right. So cool! We finally got a few stretches of proper connected shoulder in. Sweet!!!

At the end of our lesson Sandy sounded rather shocked and said that after our first lesson she figured we'd have to repeat that lesson 15 times or so before we could move on. But she was quite pleased! hee hee.. shocking the judge by his amazingness. Go Flecky ;) 

I am really excited!! It's so cool how it all is coming together. I know it's not that Sandy suddenly is making him awesome. It's a culmination of all the hard work Cindy put into us, him feeling good with proper vet care, my saddle working with me, and the biomechanics I'm learning in chiro school making sense in my brain, and then the last little bit of connection that Sandy fought for... brought it all together. And I'm sure it'll all fall apart again, and probably soon. But it's nice now. :) I'm enjoying it.

And hopefully I can get back on track and get more consistent lessons with Sandy and Cindy. And then show it off sometime. :) We still have that second 2nd level score to get. :) 

Take that ditch and wall!!

Today Fleck and I hauled to Bubba's for a XC school. It was a long drive for a quick school, but they had the ditch and wall that was adjustable. :) And it was fun. Despite the fact that Fleck lost a shoe 3/4 of the way into it. Sigh... Doh! I was also testing out the helmet cam but I didn't charge the remote battery and kept hitting the wrong button when it was on top of my head. Doh!! Man..... Oh well. Next time.
I love how he always has a snack ;)

We warmed up and I forgot some very important pieces of information. 1) Fleck was freshly clipped. 2) It was a bit chilly out.(initially... it warmed up quickly) 3) I had on decent sized spurs. Ha!! He let me know when I accidentally goosed him and went on a little bucking spree. Hmmm... this seems to be developing into a habit. ;) We had some good warm up jumps and I got him in front of my leg and connected. Then we had to walk the ditch a few times to help out the green bean. Fleck still rolls his eyes at Beth when she makes him walk stuff, but... it really does help!

We did the bank complex and even nailed the up bank, over the ditch, down the bank thingy. :) Yay! Then we did the ditch and wall. He didn't even flinch. But admittedly, it was a small ditch and wall. Even when we put two poles on top, it was still small. I was sooooo close to going ahead and entering Pine Top, whether that ditch and wall was on there or not. I'm at the point where I want to attack it!! Until I actually see it in front of me ;) But still. I was feeling good. Then we did the other bank complex, which has a double up bank bounce. Or double down. We did both. The first time, Fleck was a saint and saved my hiney. The second time, I rode and it was nice. :)  Both up and down.

We did the water too and that went fine. Then we went to the skinny chevron and my dumb self ran him at it and then jumped up his neck a whole stride early. Thus giving Beth a near heart attack. We tried again and I fixed it and he jumped it quite nicely. Then we did the trakenher, which was a little intimidating looking. It didn't ride great, but rode well enough.

All in all, a great day! Minus the missing shoe. But Fleck got magic cushioned and it was put back on the next day. Yay!

Jump lesson

Ooops... somehow I missed posting on my jump lesson with Beth! It was fun. As usual. We did a neat exercise... it was four very small verticals on an arc. Beth said that even the big guys don't ever jump them higher than 18" or so because it was a tough exercise and designed to test things other than height ability. You had to canter through but maintain your line. If you drifted out the striding was off. If you drifted in, you hit the standards. :) 

Fleck and I actually did it pretty decently when it was trot poles. And even when it was raised on one end we did well. Beth was a bit surprised ;) And then... when they become itty bitty verticals, it started to fall apart. :) But we fixed it. Basically I need a bouncy canter. Think flying lead change canter :) And think bend.... and it worked.

So then I had to do the arc poles and then carry that canter to some jumps in a course. And it got harder to keep that canter. But we managed to get it back. And it was cool!! Beth pointed out too that if I ride him connected, jump connected (ie.. don't abandon him), then when we land, he's listening and easy to put back together.  But when I abandon him and then suddenly grab the reins and ask him to do something, he wants to tell me to piss off. 

It was a good ride. Lots of fun. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Helmet Cam!!!

Santa came early!! Mike got me a helmet camera as an early Christmas present. I told him I could wait til Christmas but he let me play with it now. :) YAY! It's fun.

Fleck and I managed to squeeze in a short ride tonight before the sun set. It was cloudy, so no spectacular sunset. But we had a blast. We saw two or three hawks (unless one was the owl), multiple deer, and just had fun. The helmet cam is neat. I opted to go bareback since I was running out of light and you know... no stirrup Nov. :) 

I even jumped the haybale again!! But this time I've got it on video. He's so awesome!
 Jumping the roundbale!
Oh, and... we're moseying along like usual. And like usual, I was mostly letting him pick the paths. We were heading back along and I asked him if he wanted to take the Great Northern path home.  He passed it, so I said "okay, how about Hoot N Holla then?". I was thinking it was the first path on the left, but he passed that one. Then he looked at the sign and turned left onto the next path... which WAS Hoot N Holla. I swear, the boy can spell and read!! What a hoot!!
Bareback Trail Hack video 

Anyways... XC schooling tomorrow. I'm excited :) Flecky feels good and was happy to get out tonight. 

More Fall Lovelyness

I was running out of daylight but Fleck and I managed to sneak in a ride! It was gorgeous too. We just did a short hack and had a blast doing it. 

Then early the next morning Cindy and I met up at the horse park for an early morning ride. It was gorgeous with the mist at the horse park.

Then to continue no stirrups November, but not DIE while doing intervals (and more importantly not flop around and make Fleck back sore) I opted for super short stirrups for an interval day. 
 And yes... we did jump that :) And Yes, it is a haybale.. but yes.. it is a baby one. ;)

As usual, we finished with a soak in the lake :) Luckily, I had clipped Fleck that morning so he wasn't too miserable. :)

Lots of trail fun this time of year!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fall Foliage Festival

And Fall has arrived!!! In full bloom. And it is gorgeous!

So gorgeous that Fleck and I decided to do our dressage at the horse park today on top of the hill. And since I started "No stirrups November" a day or two was exciting. He was working really well and we even got slobber! Then we went to do our canter work and that was a bit too exciting! Especially with no stirrups. Hee hee. He wasn't bad... just very forward! And very big. But he came back quite nicely and we got some really nice round bouncy canters. Even got two lead changes. When I asked! But they weren't exactly dressagey. Hee! They were...exuberant! He was really good though. It was fun. And then we had a good trail ride that was very colorful and peaceful. Minus the big gallop up the steep hill!

Is it time to gallop yet Mom? I was good, right?!

Okay, so half of these were at Ashland and the other half at the Horsepark. Both places are so beautiful right now!

I had to add a few more!! I forgot to include them. So yep, we've been doing some fun trail riding and some fun stirrup-less dressage and even a bit of jumping work. :)