Monday, January 28, 2013

Poor hard working Flecky

Poor Fleck.. he placed well in the horse trial yesterday and then had to go do a dressage lesson today! No rest for the wicked! Ha... Fleck has not a single ounce of wicked in him. But we had fun. It was a good lesson!

We started out working on the trot and I had to remember to ASK for the good trot. Fleck doesn't just give it to me. Then we worked on the canter. Cindy had me do a square serpentine. So square turns and canter pirouettes (fake baby ones for us) instead of an arc. It was good. But prior to doing that, we had a discussion. I got flustered and was having a hard time keeping Fleck square and upright but with inside flexion. Cindy pointed out that I was asking for one or the other, not both. I would ask him to counter bend and get his shoulder in line but then when I got that, I'd drop him and ask for inside flexion and he would just pop that shoulder back out. So... I had to ask for both. And she gave me a helpful hint. I could use an indirect rein with my outside rein, coming to the inside, to straighten that shoulder. It was essentially the counter bend or the renver without being so obvious about it. It was very helpful. I managed to get Fleck up and straight and square!! No throwing away that outside rein. Then we got to do the square serprentine thing and it was fun. Hard, but fun. 

Such a good boy!

Full Gallop Horse Trials

Another fun weekend for Team Awesome. Fleck and I went to Full Gallop for their January horse trials. We weren't planning on it, but it worked with the schedule and they made it a one day and when I was debating signing up, the weather was gorgeous. So.. I did. Luckily, the weather wasn't horrible. I got some riding in prior, but Friday was miserable cold. It actually warmed up later that afternoon but by then I was already in "do nothing" mode. So I figured he could have the day off. Saturday we loaded up and headed out. We stabled at Jumping Branch that night so we decided we might as well school while we were there. Fleck was a good boy. We managed to jump decently, though I could beat myself for the stupid half coffin again. Argh... I came up to and stared right at it. Argh... Of course he stopped. But I came again and looked up and he went fine over it. We finished with a long hack. And it was gorgeous out! It was so warm I sweated in just a t-shirt. Then put them up and went to Full Gallop to walk the courses. The stadium course looked fun. It was a good fun course... WITH a triple!!! Yay!! Only this triple was a big forward triple, then four strides to a upright vertical slightly downhill. Eeeks! Tough. So then we walked XC. I just ran P/T because ...well, because it was Full Gallop and I'm still scared of the ditch and wall and giant trakenher. :) But.... the ditch and wall and trakenher are NO MORE!!!! They annihilated them and they are gone. SWEET!! And actually, the prelim course looked kinda fun! We didn't walk it, but as we walked training, we passed most of it. It looked quite doable. Training was a fun course. Not big... not tough, but a few questions that would be tough for me and Fleck. Lots of downhill stuff. Lots of stuff that was just tough for us. And one new trakenher that was little... but still a smidge scary. And as we finished the walks, the moon was making it's way out. It was gorgeous!!!! Big, low, and yellow! 

So the next morning dawned a little chilly and gorgeous. The moon was just as pretty that morning. It was cold though. We cleaned stalls, fed ponies, and I braided. Then we loaded up and headed to Full Gallop. I swear it just kept getting colder. The wind was brutal. But we manned up and got ready for dressage. I had a pretty good warm up. I worked on getting his neck supple at first by bend/counter bend, then leg yield in, then leg yield out. We got some nice work and at the end, Beth had me do ten meter circle figure 8's. I had to sit up, sit him on his hiney, and then soften his neck too. So I had him working nicely, but when I lifted my inside hand he really softened and bent around my inside leg and was lovely! So... in we went! And it started out pretty good, but then we lost it. I came in strong and our ten meter circle figure 8 was pretty good. My second circle started funky but I fixed it. Our first canter serprentine was lovely!!! Aside from the slight break to canter because I got him with my spur. Oops. The second one.. sucked. It is always tougher and I guess I forgot to let my hip open and allow him to move. And I didn't allow his shoulder to go so it sorta turned into a half pass, but not a good one. Then our walk work was our downfall again. Argh... I like test B better.. it comes at the end. ;) He started okay but when I went to collect him, he inverted and started to trot. I barely held him together but then of course we were tense and I got grabby and locked and... it went downhill. Our right lead canter wasn't horrid and I actually thought it was pretty decent but not so much. Then I accidentally went to X instead of the quarter line on our serpentine so we got counted down for that. The change of lead through the trot was.. just that. It wasn't great.. but he trotted. But the judge wrote "Changed leads". ??? I thought I was supposed to... ?? Oh well. Our lengthen wasn't great either. Sigh... oh well. We ended up with a 42.3 or something. In last place... out of 5. Doh. But aside from the first place girl.. i wasn't too far off. Oh well.

And then.. it was colder!!! I was freezing. The wind was brutal. So I stalled a bit too long and was running really late for stadium. I think I was swinging into the saddle at 10:56 and my ride time was 11:03. And I was still at day parking. Eeeks. We trotted the whole way to the warm up ring and went to jumping. Beth was trying to tell me to collect him, but I was flustered and just gunning him. So... I did manage to collect him and then we headed into the ring. Ugh.. it was probably one of my worst rides.. but Fleck manned up and was awesome!! He jumped clean!!! And saved my butt repeatedly. We even put a two stride in the triple. Argh.. But.. the pictures don't look too bad. And we managed to be only one of two of the five rides to go clean. SAINT of a horse!!

So then on to XC. I managed to get him a bit more collected in warm up and was feeling less horrified with myself. The first half of the course was a little screwy. He started out behind my leg and almost stopped at the coop in front of the banks. I think it's because he was looking for Phinn. Goof! But once I put my leg on him he jumped the coop and then up and down the bank. I wanted to kick him on but then we were barrelling down the hill to the treasure chest and I knew I had to balance him. So we jumped the treasure chest and then we turned right to the trakenher. And Fleck almost slipped on the clay. Eeeks. I really thought he was going down. Right before the trakenher!! Eeeks... I'll admit it, the trakenher was freakin' me out a bit. But I was thinking "balance, sit up"... and then three strides and we were there. Yay pony. So then after that we managed to get both of our heads in the games. Then we were rocking. He burned up the hill and jumped the roll top to down bank... Oh, but then the goof spooked at the barrel on the prelim corner next to the fake training corner and almost ran out. I held him in. Then we were rocking. He burned up the hill and jumped the water beautifully! It was Beth's grid... right bend, left bend. But straight over the jumps. Whee. Then over the last four or five fences and we were home. Fastest time. :) 

We finished on our cruddy dressage score, but because we went clean in stadium we moved up to third. So.. that is now two third places at training, which means..... one more clean XC run and we are qualified for the AECs. IF we decide we want to go. :) Good pony.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dressage is fun!

I always have fun in my dressage lessons but this one had me, and Cindy and Peri, giggling.

I should have known it was going to be a goofy day... I had the trailer in the front yard this morning and loaded Fleck in and put the ramp up. Luckily I went to add more hay to his hay net because when I did.. I saw Tilly roosting on the hay in there!! Tilly, aka Matilda, is one of my hens. I had two bales of hay still in the trailer and one was propped upright... Well, Tilly (and apparently Clementine) was perched up there! Eeks... Can you imagine if I took her to High Point with me? She'd be all freaked out and squawking and then Fleck would get all freaked out!! Hee hee. So I picked her up and put her out.. and had two eggs on my hay! So Cindy got some eggs today. 

Cindy always says "what would you say if I told you to do X right now?"... and my answer is almost always the same... regardless of what she's asking me to do. "Urgh......" frowny face then smile because I know that's her way of saying "Get your act together girl... how do you expect to change gait/speed/etc like that'!". hee hee.. And she's always right.... He's never set up properly. Hence the chagrined face. And then later she was "chastising" another student for sitting too far back in the lengthen.. saying "who rides like that?"... and I"m thinking... probably me.. hee hee..

Anyways... aside from the goofies, it was a good lesson! Fleck started a little putzy but got more impulsion by the end. And Cindy told me to "weight my elbows and joints" and it worked! Although she said "Yes.. that word set works for you"... and I'm thinking "Huh... cause I really don't know what you mean by that"!... hee hee... But I need to remember to bend my elbows/lift my hands, and then lengthen my legs and think of my knees and ankles being heavy... Apparently that's what she wanted :) hee hee.. More giggling...

Anyways... we had some good work today and that thought really seemed to help my position. Fleck and I had some pretty nice canter serpentines too. I need to remember to sit to the inside, even when we're counter cantering, because... I need to be riding him inside leg to outside rein WITHIN the bend... I was putting my weight on the opposite seat bone instead, which was throwing his barrel back to the wrong bend side, thus encouraging him to swap. Not that he was, but still. It was better when I sat right.

So yep.. fun day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Ahhhhh...... all is well again!

Today was my last overnight of work and the start of my week off. Sweet relief....The basement is dry and staying dry.... And I had a good day with Flecky pie. It was cold but not too bad. We did some flat work and it was a quick mincy start, but I managed to slow my post and get him to slow down and then we were doing much better! I ran through the test and fixed our leg yields. Mostly... we have a great right leg yield but then going left he tends to trail with his haunches and get behind my leg. But I got my right leg farther back and opened my left hip and that seemed to help. Then we played with the canter and Fleck gave me a nice birthday present! We did a three loop serpentine with three clean simple changes!! YAY!!

Then I went back to the trailer and put the bareback pad on him and headed out to the field to meet Missy. Fleck was keen to head out and we trotted and cantered some.... and then I realized my bareback pad was slowly becoming a bucking strap! It was slipping and ended up behind me with the strap pretty much on Fleck's flank! Doh... that's not going to work. So we headed back to the trailer and put on the jump saddle. Then back out again to meet Missy. Fleck was so glad to see Zhar. We had a nice romp through the woods, a quick soak in the lake, and then a polite friendly canter through the fields. Ahhhh........ so much better!

Then dinner with Mike and Christina and Adam at Provinos. Fun day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Well today kinda sucked.....  I was so looking forward to it too. I had ridden Tuesday in the rain, but took Wednesday off because of work and the weather being miserable. The 30 minutes it wasn't raining was an option but the footing was just so gross. So then I worked Thursday and Friday... so I was really looking foward to Saturday. Only when I got home from work, Mike told me that the basement had flooded again. Really?!?!?! I swear... I can't catch a break. I hate this flippin house. So I was upset about that... because that means more money that we don't have.... More stress....

So then I got Fleck and hauled to Wishing Tree for grids day. I rode Nike first and he was a good boy. SUCH a good boy. We did grids, which are really hard for him and the rider on him! He jumps with such a bascule and tends to get behind your leg... that it's hard! It was a much different ride than Fleck, and even a different ride than jumping him last time. But it was good for me. It's still the same tactics as Fleck and he makes it a bit more obvious. He's not as sneaky about lengthening his stride on the straightaway as Fleck is. So it was good. Only at one point, he was too sucked back and going through the ground poles I knew it... but we were already "in". So I sorta figured he'd stop. Nope.. he bounced all three jumps and popped me out of the tack. I sat the first one and thought "he'll stop now"... Nope. He threw me off to the side of him over the second.. and then kept jumping. I ended up with my left foot still in the stirrup but hanging off his side over the third jump and then managed to land on my feet, reins still in my hands as he landed off the third. Hee hee...It was....awkward... and embarassing. But... we fixed it after that and I managed to get him in front of my leg without letting him get long so we had two good lines to end on. I rode in Jamie's saddle again and this time I felt all over the place in it. Hmmm...

So then it was Fleck's turn. I had him tied nice and loose to the trailer... so he could get water, etc. Apparently he laid down and rolled while tied and then got back up, no problems. Oops!! So I got him cleaned up and tacked up and rode in Jamie's saddle again. I got on him and... he was lame. Like head bobbing lame. But happy to go forward. So Beth said to canter him around a bit and see if that loosened him up. It worked... I don't know if the saddle was pinching him somewhere? Or the girth? Or what, but after that he was sound. None of the other girls saw anything the whole rest of the ride. Though he did buck a few times on landing... but they all said it was happy bucks because he was ears up and forward and being goofy about it. The footing was a little slick on landing too, so that may have been part of it. Bucking through his changes. Which... he kept landing on the right lead and having to change to the left, and he did. Just about every time... And if I'm correct, that's his harder way. So... he can't have felt too bad. So...we did the same grid exercise and we started off fine. Beth said we were coming in a little bit too the right. She had the poles arranged in touching V's and said we were all getting pulled a little too far to the right because of the orientation. So she put the mounting block in the way so we had to stay left. It worked at first... Then I don't know what happened but Fleck started jumping the ground poles and then getting in wrong for the grid. I tried half halting and he ignored me. Repeatedly. So then I started to get pissy... about the fourth time of him flubbering through it. I mean really??? What the heck? So I got mad at him... and I hate when I do that... Argh. So then I thought.. maybe he can't not jump it because now he's too far off centerline the other way. So I tried getting him closer to the mounting block and he was better but still not great. So Beth took the mounting block away and then he was fine again. .... Doh! Then I felt like an ass... So then we jumped fine the rest of the time and we even added a jump after that he did pretty well.

But... it was still a cruddy day because of the stupid house. And then I felt like a turd for getting mad at Fleck. And then I was upset because I didn't feel like I was jumping all that well in Jamie's saddle. Which.. is a good thing I guess. I mean, I'd rather have a magic saddle even if it was pricey. But if it's not a magic saddle... I'll stick with mine. So maybe that's good news... save myself some money. But argh..... just a frustrating day. So I cried the whole way home. :(

But.... today is going to be a better day. Fleck and I will go do some dressage (We better!!! Showing next weekend and I've only done two days of dressage so far this year!) and then a little relaxing soul improving trail ride.  Then back to work.... Hopefully Mike can get the basement fixed up for cheap.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rainy Day....

But it's all good... We rode anyways! Although I will admit that it did take a little bit of convincing myself. I almost talked myself out of it. But I'm glad I didn't. It was mostly just a long walk hack, in the misting rain. But it was fun. And then at the end, we did a little bit of work in the ring - just a little bit of trot and canter.

Fun day though!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Power Trails!!

So... today Fleck and I hauled over to Harbins for "Power Trails" with Liz. We did the 6 mile loop and much of it was done at the trot and canter. The trails here are great but there's a lot of direction changes... Fleck was having to really balance himself and at some points.. he gave up and just bucked his hiney into the air rather than trying to stay on the path. Hee hee... We had fun!

And... it was neat because many of the other trail riders came up and said how big and cool Fleck was. And how he was fit and not fat, and still huge! And he looked like a "Pistol"! hee hee...  He was a little amped up because of some kids in the woods... ;)

Fun day! Tomorrow is larking with Amber and Toby and then Monday is dressage with Cindy again and then something Tuesday and Wed. :) 

Back in Action!

That shoe is on and we're back to work!!! Yeehaw!! We'll be ready for Full Gallop!

So.. Tuesday we had a lesson with Beth. I brought both Dan and Fleck because Dan had a lesson too. Christina also brought May and Sham, so we had the two babies go back to back and then the two big horses go back to back. Guess which two horses were freakin' out and upset and which two were calm and chill!!! Yep.. Fleck and Sham were freaking out!! So we did the babies first and Fleck was okay with May to keep him company, but not quite as thrilled as he could have been. Then once I finished with Dan I unloaded him and put the babies together. They were great! Fleck was a little upset leaving them but was cool because Sham was up at the jump ring. Poor Sham... he was lathered!!!! Now granted.. it was a 70 degree day in January, but still. So then she took Sham back down to the trailer while I rode Fleck... and oh dear! Fleck spent the entire ride screaming, farting, and jigging. OH Flecky... He was all foamy too. But it was good! I channeled that energy. :) It was a good thing.

So we focused on getting that "out of the start box/Nike" canter. I was getting it, but not as good as the other day. I had to really think of posting higher with my seat. And then not letting him lengthen. But we did get it some. Beth had two fences set up at a 90 degree angle to each other and we figure 8'd over it. Then we did a bendy line. And this is where I figured out a big issue of mine. I just can't manage to think it through. I went through that bendy line about four times and did it awkwardly four times... before it dawned on me to change my line. Beth said that it was common... you have a plan, but then in the heat of the moment, you revert to muscle memory. So.... I just need to fix that by doing it right more and more and over-riding the muscle memory. Or maybe just thinking... really thinking! Then we did a one stride combo that was a "little" tight! Ha!! Poor Fleck barely had room but he did it. Repeatedly.. and even as she raised it. Yay for his confidence getting better! Then we did a line of swedish oxers. No problems there. Yay! This was all courses really.. but we finished with a triple bar. I couldn't quite get it. It felt like Fleck was rocking back and up but he was still lengthening and then getting up underneath the triple bar. I rode the course one last time and thought a little more forward and gallopy to the triple bar... and ahhhhhhhhh!!!! It .... was..... awesome!!! It was the perfect jump!!! It was like a huge grand prix jumper jump.. He nailed the distance, floated in the air, basculed beautifully, and.. was just awesome!!! We quit with that :) 

And then Fleck was finally reunited with Dan and he immediately made a grumpy face to him. :) Seriously dude?? ;)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rounding his back

Yay!!! I finally got Fleck's shoe back on, which means I finally got to ride! So.. on this tenth day of the year.... I rode for the third time! Ah... so much better... 

We worked on more power without speed. I wanted Fleck to ride almost like he was spooking from behind! And then he did!! Ha!! Those darn little gray ponies freak him out!! They must taunt him or something, but he seriously gets freaked out about them. hee hee... Then we worked on the canter to walk to canter. I have to really focus on my seat aids and not throw myself forward. And Fleck has to stay round!! He must keep his back up and round and his neck rounded. If he inverts into the canter... or trots... stop and reinback!!

It was a good ride. :) And I'm so looking forward to spending the rest of my week off riding! Tomorrow we have a lesson with Beth, then Sat I'll trail ride with Liz, then Sunday... something! Then Monday another Cindy lesson and Tuesday.. who knows!? Then another trail ride Wed before work.

I signed up for P/T at Full Gallops January 27th show, so.. it's time to get back in gear. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I need some cajones!!!

Yesterday I took Fleck to Chatt Hills for a cross country school. Only our second ride of the year. ha!! But it's because I've been working all week. And man... last night sucked... It was like sleep torture. Yes, I am oh so grateful I get to lay down if nothing is going on, but Emma kept me up all day Friday and I knew I was schooling all day Saturday so I was really hoping for some quiet time. I got to lay down at around 1:15, but at 2 something came in. We finished around 3, so I went back to bed. But got woken up at 4 (if I ever fell asleep). Finished that one around 5, and went back to bed. Something came in at 6:15. Argh... So yep... But I was fine... until I got home. I thought I was going to fall asleep at dinner!! But anyways... I managed to chat on the phone there and back so I stayed awake while hauling. :) 

We got there and met our friends and Beth and got tacked up and on. Fleck felt great! We warmed up and Beth pointed out that Fleck wasn't allowed to slow down at the base. Yes, I didn't need him lengthening, but if he wanted to adjust or look.. that was fine, as long as he kept his engine. So we worked on that. It was good. I also rode in Beth's saddle and felt like my position was great in it. So then after we did a few warm up jumps and then the first two fences on the prelim course, she had us do a fun combo. It was a little intimidating. It was two brush fences on an angle. The brush was short on one side and really high on the other so it was a skinny angled to a skinny. Jennifer and Oliver whizzed right through it, but I totally flubbed it. I just can't seem to get my line. Beth pointed out that I needed a better canter. He had to be BOUNCY, energized, "impulsed" hee hee, and sproingy. And straight!!! So I tried it again and it was better but I still couldn't get B. Then I remembered Nike's canter... Aha!!! I wrapped my legs around Fleck, rode him up in to the bridle, and even bounced my seat a little bit and darn if it didn't work! Fleck's canter became up and powerful and stayed the same. Then I made sure that I didn't tip too far forward on landing and he did the line great. Whoo hooo!! Go us. I just wish it didn't take us six times every time. I guess it was only 4 this time, so maybe we're making progress. 

Then we went to the spot where the ditch and wall used to be. Luckily they took that down but they put a GIANT table over the ditch. Just a big table. It shouldn't have been that big of a deal. I should have just been able to gallop him over it. But I knew I wouldn't be able to. I knew that darn ditch was going to freak me out. Despite the fact that it wasn't even a ditch!! Honestly, it was a table covering the ditch. Sure there was a ditch on either side of it... but it was really no different than a table on solid ground as far as jumping it was concerned. Beth had me jump a slightly downhill skinny to the table as the table was on a slight downhill approach. I thought the skinny would help me get my canter. Well.... we had a stop at the table. I could tell he was stopping 6 strides back but I couldn't get him in front of my leg again. Argh... So I tried again... and again... and again! I felt like I was riding pretty correctly the 4th time or so. So then we tried a lead. Jennifer was going to take Oliver over it and have me follow. She mentioned that it looked like I was stopping my hips, and thus, telling Fleck to stop. Makes sense. I do that in the canter too. So I made sure to keep my hips moving and almost got in a light seat rather than sitting and driving (only I think I was sitting and stopping the motion/bracing instead of driving). So off we went. I think he might have gone... except Oliver was too slow for us and we were almost on top of him. So then I circled and tried again. And I really felt like he was going to go, but at the last second he stopped. He was sliding a bit, and this time, he grabbed his shoe and pulled it off. Sigh.... I was so frustrated. I knew he'd go over it if I wanted to, but it just.... I didn't want to. It was big... and scary... and I knew I didn't want to go over it.. I knew he would stop... I was afraid if he did finally go over it, he'd hurt himself and flip. Same thing as that stupid ditch and wall at pine top. I just... didn't want to do it. Only this table wasn't quite as intimidating and I felt like if it was in the open, we wouldn't have had a problem. So I was quite upset as I know that I'm the one doing this to us. Beth made me feel better... and I talked myself down a bit. It's not like we've had a stellar time so far, so it's natural to be a little freaked out about some of the bigger fences. Perhaps if we had been on course we could have just galloped over it. Or maybe if we had done a big table in the field and then come to it... maybe not have made it our fourth or so fence..... and even if I couldn't get him over some fences... well, we know prelim is hard for us both.. So we pick the easy prelims, do P/Ts, and have fun. But I'm still frustrated. What happened to me??? I'm such a wimp now!!

Well... I got back on and we continued on. Fleck didn't tear up his foot and actually kept his pad in! Since the footing was sooooo soft because of all the rain, we figured we could do some more jumping as long as he seemed fine. And he was. We jumped a good bit more stuff (mostly training level and minimal prelim stuff after that). And he was taking off with me and wanting to gallop, so I guess he felt good. The very next jump though was a little novice bending line. He came to it and I was kinda "whatever" about it, because... it was novice. And he slowed down and popped over it. Beth was like "NO!!!" He is not allowed to do that crap. So I rode stronger and he was good. Then it was the same thing going over the roll top to the drop into the water. He stuttered and heaved in. Nope.. not allowed anymore. You have to confidently go forward. Beth said that he had to help me out a little bit. Fine, maybe I'm not riding as positively to a fence or two, but he's got to take some initiative and help me out. So then I started riding more positively, maybe even more aggressively?? Only not really. I just closed my leg and pushed him into the nice canter and maintained it. And he jumped great after that. We had good rides in the water. And I may have figured out the banks too. I think I am holding myself up with the reins a bit, or not quite getting forward enough, because he makes a big effort up the bank, and then almost feels like he hits a wall and backs himself off a bit on top. I think that wall is me! I think I was so afraid of throwing myself too far forward and having another leg laceration type issue that I was not quite staying WITH him. So I thought I'd grab mane. Only I can't half halt and try to grab mane before the jump, so I had to try again. Hee hee. Take two! If I ride properly, half halt when needed, etc, and then AS he jumps up, grab mane... I go WITH HIM. Then when I land, I make sure to stay forward and light and lo and behold.. he feels great! I'm not tipping forward, just staying light and with him, which is essence, is in two point, but... in a good way. whoo hooo.

Then since we had some good positive rides and he was being "braver", Beth sent us over the big prelim table with the cut out. The one that looks so huge in the picture. Well, I knew we had already jumped it, so I was confident. And it was great!!! It was a good ride and Fleck soared over it. Then he galloped up the hill and was aiming for what I hope was an intermediate jump. It looked huge and I did NOT want to try it. But he was game. So we swerved around and then jumped the prelim roll top down the hill and all was fine. It was a good ending because we were both feeling confident and brave.  Now to just ride like that over the scary stuff.

Oh, and the other thing that clicked today... When we first started off, I felt like I was water skiing and Fleck was inverted and running away with me and our jumps were icky. Beth said he was not even close to running away with me. So...I think I was so focused on the perfect canter that I forgot that we were supposed to be galloping. So when I let him go, but made him balance by half halts here and there (rather than fighting him every step) it was so much smoother. I think that might have been the difference between Jumping Branch and Full Gallop. I think at Jumping Branch I just let him go... never touched his face but balanced him with my body. And that's why it felt so phenomenal. I think at Full Gallop, I came out trying to package him too much because he was so "up" and I felt like I needed to control him more... and then he fought me and I fought him and wasn't with him and flailing all over the place. I wonder if I had just let him rip, would Full Gallop have felt smoother too? 

So... a good ride. Frustrating... and also because now I have to get his shoe replaced. Argh... At least he was sorta planning on having a few days off anyways. I suppose I could have ridden today (sunday) because the footing is so soft and nice at Ashland, but I figured after all that jumping.... may be better to just let him rest. Then he'll get mon and Tues off because of work. Then Wednesday he goes to Dr. Brown... so hopefully Kip will come sometime before then and I can get it replaced before my lesson Thursday. Because now I'm missing two days of riding... Which means IF I get to ride Thursday... that will mean only 3 rides in 11 days! Eeeks... Not off to a good start this year. I know I'll make it up, but still. 

So yep.. lots to work on. And I"m glad I'm running P/T at Full Gallop. I think I need to finesse some things and get some more bravery. But then hopefully we'll be rocking and rolling again soon. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Good bye 2012... Hello 2013!!

So... I spent the last day of 2012 on a trail ride with good friends. It was fantastic. Fleck and I had a nice little gallop at the end too.

It was a perfect way to end the year! And that got me thinking... What a great year it was! Despite the .... mess... in the middle. I still hate myself for not seeing it for what it was sooner, but... it is what it is and we've moved on. But... I'm Holly and I live in Hollyland so I'm focusing on all the greats... I've accomplished so much with that spotted boy.... So much! All I ever dreamed of... He's amazing...

We continued on our move up to Prelim and while it didn't go as planned... I honestly feel that it was only because of discomfort. I think if I had realized it... we would have had a much more successful season. But at least it meant that I figured it out and was able to treat Fleck. For a while I wasn't sure what the outcome would be, but he's back and feels better than ever!!! We made our redebut at Chatt Hills, running training, and came in third! He was ON FIRE and ate up that XC course. He's back!! Then we ran prelim at Jumping Branch and won!!! Out of a lot of people, many pros. Sure, they were probably on greenies, but still. And we were the fastest!! The only ones who almost made time. Go us.

We spent a ton of time playing in the lake at Ashland.. and while we didn't ever officially "swim", we came mighty close. We spent a lot of time out there rebuilding our relationship and just having fun.

We got to clinic with Lucinda Green! It was a great time as there were many friends there and Lucinda was really cool. Fleck impressed me with his ability to jump the skinny stuff without even blinking.. He was jumping great!

I really feel like we made some progress too!! Our dressage feels like it's improved immensely... like I'm finally getting it and Fleck is like "Thank God"! Our jumping has also improved. It's just nice to feel like I'm riding... and getting it... and able to realize what I'm messing up and how to fix it. Ahhh... it's a nice feeling. And we semi-conquered our ditch and wall fear. :)

Then we beat our best score ever... at prelim again. Only at a schooling show this time, but that makes TWICE that we got under a 32 at prelim. A 30.9... almost broke into the 20's.  YES!!! It's coming along quite nicely. 

Then we got to check off an item on the bucket list. I got to take Fleck to the beach and gallop him on the beach. It was amazing.... I will definitely do it again. We had so much fun.

 So yep.. considering the downs... Fleck and I had a fantastic year!!! He owes me nothing else...

So the plan for 2013... is not the year of awesome... the year of prelim awesome... it's the year of .... what will be, will be... and we'll have a blast! Or something like that. I plan to have fun and enjoy him.. if we can keep competing at Prelim and P/T and doing well... great! If we can go to the beach again, Hellsyeah! We will get him swimming.... and we will have a blast! I can't wait :)
And maybe.. .just maybe... I can convince myself to enter a recognized dressage show. It would be amazing to be able to get my bronze medal on him. But like I said.. he owes me nothing. :)

Boot Camp

Whoo hooo!!! What a fun day!! Beth did boot camp for me. I rode FOUR horses! It was fun, but I'm definitely sore. I hauled Fleck up to Wishing Tree and asked Beth what the plan was. She wanted me to ride Nike first. 

Nike is very cool!!! He's a 19 year old Dutch who was an Olympic driving horse. Beth bought him and then sold him to Jamie, who he loves. He's an amazing horse. He's so well trained. I told Beth about Cindy's comments about the flying changes and she said "Perfect, Nike is a great one to learn them on). So... I got on Nike and started to get used to him. He's bouncy!!! But so lovely. He's so slow!!! In his rhythm.... it really pointed out well that Fleck and I tend to make our rhythm too fast. It's "one............twoooooooooo.....ooooonnnnneeeee.......twooooooo", not ""... ;) I had an absolute blast on Nike. He's oh so lovely. So then we cantered and it's so nice! So then Beth told me the aids for a flying change. To go from the left lead canter to the right... I have to move my right (outside) leg from the back to the front and move my left leg (inside, but will be the new outside) to the back, while also changing the bend and moving my weight from my outside seat bone to my new inside seat bone. I did it a few times on Nike and it took a few minutes, but we got it. I wasn't obvious enough about my aids so he was a little confused. But I got it. Sweet... 
So then we started to jump. He's just goofy... He reminds me a lot of Fleck. Same sweet goofy personality. But I could tell the difference in the warmblood. Not quite my ride, although not as bad as I expected. Fleck just always has that bit of nervous energy.. the want to go forward. Nike was quite content to just stay in whichever gait he was in and even at that, I had to keep my leg on. But it wasn't like a school horse... just none of that forward nervous energy. But once he moved up a gait, the power was impressive. I don't know... different, but still pretty cool. Jumping was fun. He really helped point out my flaws and was better about not accomodating them. I had to get the up bouncy canter (and on Nike... it was labelled the "Out of the start box" canter...). RIGHT from the get go.. up, bouncy, powerful! Then I had to keep that canter and not let him lengthen out. He was making me giggle too. He's got a little bit of hotness in there... He sorta got a little worked up. And going to the left, he would get a little behind my leg and I had to push a bit more. Going to the right, he got revved up and got quick and long. Yeeaw! It was funny...So going to the right, I had to package him more. Then Beth wanted me to stick my feet forward more. It was easy to do in Jamie's saddle... man, how comfy that saddle was! So anyways... a really really good time riding Nike. It was very helpful and oh so much fun.

So then it was Fleck's turn. Beth hopped on him at first to ask him for changes and make sure he understood the aids before I messed them up. I was so excited because she said he felt great!!! More even, more correct and consistent in the bridle, and just nice!!! Whoo hooo. She asked him for three changes and you could see him trying, but he was always a few strides off behind. She said that I should ride Nike at least once more and practice changes again before I ask Fleck again. Just to insure my aids are good and I wasn't making him stress out about it.

So then it was my turn.  I wanted to try Jamie's saddle on Fleck just to see if it would fit him.. and then decided to try riding in it. Oh my..... I LOVED It... it was so comfy and easy to sit in.. and my leg just fell into the right place... and look... LOOK!!!!

Now granted... its probably a culmination of good riding, really getting Flecky into an awesome canter, and all our hard work... BUT LOOK!!! My leg looks like it used to look.... And again, this wasn't all that high of a jump... or a whole course.. but Beth was pleased and said Fleck was jumping better too. And he was so happy.. he was stretching his back out and cantering so beautifully! And happy. Dammit..... So anyways... we had a great ride. I really think riding Nike helped. Fleck and I are such a good team, that we let each others bad habits slide by. So when I messed up on Nike, he quit. But Fleck says "ehhh, it's okay".... and lets me get away with my bad habits. But after riding Nike, my bad habits were fresh on the brain, so I was able to fix them. I was able to really get that "out of the start box" canter on Fleck too. And WOW!!! Oh WOW!!!! It was a very subtle change... but he went from nice to "ahhhhh...."... he felt up, powerful, rocked back... soft, and supple. It was lovely! Beth wanted me to keep his neck collected but lengthen his stride. I think it was what Kim was asking me to do way back in the day but I couldn't accomplish then. Now, we were ready. And Fleck gave me some beautiful canters!!! And he jumped great too. It was so much fun.
So then Beth wanted me to canter the jump, then cross the diagonal, and then canter the jump on the other lead. Well, since I was going to confirm my aids on Nike, I was doing simple changes. But.. one time... I came across and Fleck was really bent and really into my outside rein. I guess I inadvertently shifted my weight and changed the bend... and lo and behold... Fleck gave me a BEAUTIFUL complete flying change!!!! It was awesome. Beth was giggling and so was I. :) Yay!!!

So much fun.... Then I helped her ride two other horses. It was fun... All of her horses are nice and it's neat to see/feel the differences. It's also nice because as nice as the other horses were.... Fleck is home. I love him... and I love riding him.

Although I was joking about taking Nike home with me too. He's pretty darn cool. Oh, and then it was so cute... while I was riding the other two, I put Fleck in the pasture next to Nike... They were showing off to each other over the fence, squealing and snorting and carrying on. I decided they were arguing... "Your Mom said I was really cool".... "Yeah, well my Mom also said I was the best and she loved me"... hee hee... Silly goobers!

Boot camp again next week! Can't wait!

Eventers do it in the cold

So... it was a miserable kind of day. Cold, windy, spitting mist.... I was supposed to work until 1, then go ride at Beths (boot camp style). But I got stuck at work til 1:30 or so.. then with the weather... I called her and we decided to post pone it. So I went home, ate lunch, and was ready to just sit and chill and let Fleck enjoy a day off. BUT...... I sorta wanted to ride. So.... the rain that was threatening wasn't happening... yet, anyways.. So with a little motivation from a friend... I decided to go ride. Sarah Beth said she'd meet me at Ashland, so... away we went. 

Since it was icky out and I figured the footing wouldn't be great, I decided to bring Dan. (Meaning, that the footing wasn't great for more than walking and some trotting, so Dan could come... as opposed to being good footing and wanting to gallop and jump). I took him in the Micklem and he was good.

We had a nice trail ride though it started to spit mist at us and got cold! We cut it short, but we did it. :)