Saturday, March 30, 2013

Soul refreshing day!!!


Yep... that about sums it up. :) 

What a great way to spend the day after working four 14 hour overnight shifts. I was exhausted but luckily some friends were heading out to ride so I was motivated to ride first. Plus the fencing I had planned to do was suddenly a MUCH bigger job than I was capable of doing, so... whoo hoo! And it was GORGEOUS out... I started my equestrian tan already.... white hands, red arms and red neck. ;) 

So... I got to Ashland before anyone else so Fleck and I bonded, groomed, grazed and played. Then I tacked up and took him into the ring while waiting on two friends. He was happy enough to go around and wasn't lame or off.. but just felt the teensiest bit short somewhere. So.. I texted Christina and told her we were coming over after our ride. Poor girl.... I abuse that BFF thing way too much. 
Anyways... Robin, Alex and I headed out. We did the hilly trails, then went into the woods and were having a great time. We saw four deer go bounding by too but the horses all behaved. Then we met Missy by the Halfshire field. Fleck was so happy to see Zhar again! He really likes that little guy. So then we hit the big field on the backside of Halfshire and we all split up and did a little trotting around. Everyone was behaving so we took turns having a little gallop. I let Fleck pick his pace and he wanted to go, so we went. Then we took another lap with Zhar and Fleck really let it rip! So then we headed out on the trails again and enjoyed the chatting and the sunshine. Missy and I wanted to head to the lake but Ike likes to roll, so Robin and Alex headed off separately. At the lake we ran into Kelli and Hannah and hung out there chatting for a good 20 minutes while I soaked Fleck's knees. He and Zhar had fun hanging out and splashing some. Then Missy had to leave and head back so Fleck and I finished our ride with Kelli and Hannah. Fleck sooooo wanted to turn back and go with Zhar. Poor guy.. he really likes him.. Him and Sham are his two BFFs.. and Sunny too! Though he does get along with Arwyn also. 

So it was a great day! It was soul refreshing to get to hang out with friends and chat and catch up and sooooo good to get a little gallop in. Ahhhhhh...

Then I went to Christinas and Fleck looked pretty darn good but did flex a little positive on his right knee. So... it does seem that the IRAP has finally worn off. We debated what to do and decided to surpass and firocoxib and do another round of IRAP after FENCE. However, once I got home.... I decided that perhaps we should just go ahead and inject his knees with HA and that way... he's at least comfy for FENCE and then later I can do the IRAP. I just don't want him hurting for FENCE yet I really really really want to do FENCE. I've been gearing up and planning on this show .... well, since I realized he still wanted to event and felt good enough to be able to. I figure that I'll inject his knees now, then do the IRAP after and see how he feels. If we have to retire after FENCE and just do trails... that's okay. If I get to FENCE and he's hurting... we'll retire before. So... fingers crossed he feels better and we can keep playing. He just enjoys it soooooo much. He's not a happy retiree... Even tonight when I was working with Dan on the long lines, he was following me around, giving me sad puppy dog eyes.... "why aren't you playing with ME"!?!!

So... fingers crossed he feels better. Or... amazing!!! He doesn't feel bad yet... but I don't want him to get there again. And fingers crossed he feels well enough to rock and roll at FENCE... for totally selfish reasons. :) 

I love my biggie.... :) 


Hold... not shorten

 We had a jump lesson scheduled with Beth at 11 am and it was still super cold! But the sun finally came out which helped a bit. We came up as Christina and Sham were finishing their ride and it looked good. Then she had to leave to get to work and Fleck and I continued on. Fleck called for Sham but didn't do much more than that. Hmmm...... Warning flag. So anyways... we warmed up and I told Beth about my counter canter issues and how I couldn't figure out what to do with my butt/seat/legs/etc. So... she said that to go back to true canter... sit evenly and let my inside hip canter with Fleck. So I did... and it worked fine. Then to go to the counter canter.... same thing. Nothing changes. I needed to make sure that I kept my inside leg forward at the girth and my outside leg back and no changing seat bones. So we did the teardrop back to the rail and continued on with counter canter. He did pretty well and held it. I'm sure because of me riding properly. But he did drop to the trot once or twice. Beth said it was more of a balance issue as it's hard and not so much me throwing him off. And as Cindy said.. not to punish him because it was a strength issue. So good deal. I didn't want to drill it and I felt like I had gotten enough in that my brain was back on track as far as where my body needed to be.

So the we started jumping. Beth asked me after a few jumps how he felt. I thought he felt a little sluggish leaving the ground... lurchy. But I thought it was because he wasn't in front of my leg. So we talked about it some and did some more. Then Beth pulled me aside and said she wanted to clear something up so she didn't confuse me. SOOOOO glad she said it! She said that at Pine Top the plan was to collect his stride before the jump and keep him collect and almost continue to collect him to the base... because he does not like the long stride so he adds the shuffle. But if we keep him short, then he can move up to the long spot if he's feeling good or stay powered without the shuffle for the tight spot. And it was AWESOME. However, she did not want me to confuse things and start actively shortening him to the base for every jump. Especially stadium. Pine Top was a quick fix to get us through the competition but now we had to fix it the right way. Which means... shorten him in the turn.. then keep him the same... not lengthening to the jump, not picking and shortening more to the jump, and then... because he is short and connected and has power... he can open up a bit to the spot or stay collected and jump nicely. She was afraid that I would over do it and shorten him and keep shortening him to the base. And you know what?! That's exactly what I was doing. Not that consciously, but.. I was. So once I thought about just keeping him the same... our jumps were much better and less lurchy.

So then she raised the jumps up and gave us a course. It started with the skinny. (No biggie as my jumps at home are ALL skinnies so skinny verticals don't phase either of us). We got the right canter and he came up to it perfectly. And then.... it was like he started to jump... sort of changed his mind.. and basically half jumped it half ran through it. We pulled up and chatted. Beth said she thought that he just looked like he didn't want to leave the ground. Either he was hock sore and not wanting to push off... or fearing discomfort on the landing. Sigh... no.... not again!!! I knew it would come back eventually... and without any real signs... other than maybe I just know him so well, I had sort of had that thought in the back of my mind. I was planning on IRAPing him again after FENCE, but.. now I didn't have time before FENCE. Argh... So we dropped the fences back down, jumped him over a small course of about 4 or 5 to end on a good note and quit. And he did end on a good note. He was quite happy and willing to jump... just not big. And he tried... the poor guy tried.

So poo.... I'm not sure if it was the fact that it was cold and the footing was a bit compacted. Maybe he was just a bit stiff and sore. He's not lame. He's not showing any real symptoms.. just the subtle clues that we pick up on but can't quite define. Argh... so I planned to give him some time off and reassess as I had to work the next four days anyways.

Fingers crossed he feels better. But I have noticed that he isn't as bouncy and aggressive to the other two at feeding times.... :(

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dressage day

I took a lesson with the working student at High Point today. I like her. She has some really good exercises. We got Fleck working quite nicely at the trot and had him nice and round and supple. He was working hard! We worked on the shoulder in a bit and I made sure to not bring my right leg too far back when tracking right. She also said that I needed his neck a bit straighter and to use more outside rein. I ended up doing a little bit of an indirect rein and it really seemed to help. Then we went to the canter. She really wanted me to get his haunches out before the transition up to the canter. So I spiraled in and then spiraled out and then asked for the canter and it was much nicer. She also pointed out that I was tipping forward ever so slightly for the upwards. HA! I think she was being nice.. I think it's a bit more of a tip than "ever so slightly". But I was trying to not tip. Then we did the three loop serpentine with simple changes and she pointed out that Fleck would almost halt. I wanted to keep the forward energy to get him to go forward into the canter. I told her that it was because I either couldn't get him to walk.. or we would halt. I couldn't find that fine line. She explained that it was because he wasn't rocked back enough, so... We started the serpentine but just before we were to do our simple, she had me do a ten meter circle. I was to really use my outside aids to really get him sitting. It worked!!! We got some lovely downwards. The upwards were still not round and supple, but getting better. I just need to remember to ride that outside rein for the upwards too. 

Then she said that I was tipping to the inside a bit and I needed to sink more weight into my outside stirrup. I think those were the magic words!! I believe that's what Cindy was trying to tell me but I couldn't manage to get because I was more focusing on my seat. Yes.. it translates to the seat bone but by thinking of sinking more weight in the stirrup, I was able to accomplish sitting better without grinding. Of course it didn't go that great... for whatever reason when I was focusing on my seat and legs... the canter got long and strung out and horrible. And we still kept breaking. Argh.. .I played with it a little on my own as Danielle had to do another lesson, but.... just so frustrating. I know I need to fix it... but it wasn't so bad until I tried to fix it. I don't think. 

But.. I'll play with it more later. Flecky was getting tired and it's not fair to him. He's only doing what I'm asking... which is apparently the downward by stopping my hips and/or not giving his back a place to move. So.... must figure this out and soon!!

But he was a good boy and was trying. And we did manage to get a correct full half circle on the short side of counter canter without breaking and without being too hectic or desperate. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rainy Day Fun

So... this weekend has been miserable weather wise. It's been raining all night and icky, cold, rainy and dreary during the day. It kinda foiled my fun plans. BUT... it started clearing up and stayed that way so I figured.. might as well. :) So I grabbed Flecky and we hit the road. 

I really wanted to jump since I had a feeling that our Pony Club meeting (XC with Beth) was going to get cancelled too. So.. I tacked up (with stirrups... bad me, but.. it just hurts in the new saddle.. once I break it in, I promise to go back to no stirrups) and we headed out. I noticed that Kelli and Judy's trailers were there and sure enough... as we were heading out, they were heading in. So they joined me in the jump ring for a bit. :) Yay! 

We started out and Fleck was a little sticky. All my fault of course.. I wasn't collecting him and so he was running past his spots. Bless him though... as he jumped everything. No stopping like last time. :) So then I started to ride like I did last weekend. Collecting/shortening his stride but keeping the energy. And it worked! It got much better. So then I hopped off and bumped everything up a bit and went for another round or two. It was 90% great!!! We got really long to a few and then really short to one or two, but he jumped and I managed to fix it after. I'm totally LOVING this new ride :) 

Then we went for a short hack just to stretch his legs and enjoy the day as it still wasn't rainy. 

And of course... today Pony Club was cancelled.. even though it stopped raining around noon.  But it's so slick and wet. I'm debating whether it's worth going out to try and get a ride in. It poured and stormed last night. I could probably do dressage if Lucy hasn't closed the rings, but.. it's a good day to chill too. It's just that I'll ride Mon and Tues and then I work Tues night in addition to my Wed, Thurs, Fri nights, so... I'll either have to suck it up and sneak a ride in somewhere in that... or I should ride today. We'll see.. Right now I'm thinking about a nice nap on my warm couch next to my space heater. :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

A little bit of everything

I couldn't decide what I wanted to do today, so... we did a bit of everything! :) 

We started off with some dressage in the dressage saddle without stirrups. Man.. it's been too long since I did any no stirrup work... that was hard! But we got some good work in. We started at the walk and I tried to get him stepping over with his hind going left, like with halfpass and turn on the haunches. I still can't figure out my aids, or he's much stiffer on that side or both. We did manage one or two steps of correct, but there was a lot more of incorrect than correct. Oh well. We'll keep plugging away at it. Then we got some great trot work and he was stretching and reaching. We got some great 10 meter circles too. Then we went on to the canter work. hee hee.. He cracks me up. He get so excited about transitions and cantering. We managed to do the counter canter fine. I think I was over thinking it and misunderstood what Cindy wanted yesterday. I'm sure I'm still perched a bit and not sitting deep enough, but... baby steps. So then I played with canter, walk, counter canter, walk, canter, etc on the circle. Fleck is definitely much better going to the left than he is going right. Especially for the counter canter, but he did good. So then since he was amped up and having fun... I thought... let's just see... I tried to do canter, walk, counter canter, walk, etc... on the long side... with only 2 strides of each. Like mini "tempes". hee hee. He was good but they were very abrupt and not at all while staying round. But he did it. So then we went back to the trot and did some half pass (still really tough to go left) and then finished with a beautiful lengthen and then stretchy trot. Yay!

So then I pulled that saddle off and put my new jump saddle on and then put the stirrups back on. We headed out to the trails and hopped over about 5 jumps just because. Then we headed for the woods. It was a great trail ride. We meanedered and went to some fo the paths we don't take as often. Lots of fun. I think we were out there for about an hour. It was a good day!!

 I love this part of the trail.. the cattle pens!!! But they look creepy in "negative"

The creek  down by "the Bottoms"

Pit stop for some grass... because look at that grass!! How could I deny him?

 We had to do a little gallop here when we hit the open field behind Ashland... and then we ended with a soak in the lake!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dressage boos and whooo hoooos

So.... today was a good day, but a frustrating day. We had our lesson at High Point and it was great to be out of the wind! BRRRR!!! First day of Spring my butt... it's frigid out there. We started out with some walk work and I managed to get Fleck pretty loose and we had a pretty decent trot to start out. But I still need to slow my tempo down. Of course when I do, Fleck breaks to the walk, but if I could just remember to slow my seat but keep the leg, we'd be golden. So then we worked on the canter some and that was going better. I felt like I was able to play on the outside rein some and help compress the outside of his body. Then Cindy had us do a counter canter and it all went to pieces. I got frustrated because I thought I was doing what she was telling me to do and he kept breaking or attempting to change leads. Or maybe I was confusing what she was telling me because it was counter canter and not true counter. But regardless, apparently I was not moving and cantering with my inside hip (Inside to the bend/canter). Which... normally I would do but I thought she was telling me to sit on the inside seat bone... which... in essence, she was... but when I sat on my inside seat bone... I obviously did it wrong. Because I would sit and lock, effectively asking Fleck to swap or stop. And by locking my inside seat bone that sent my outside hop to cantering/moving, which was also asking him to swap. Argh... She kept saying it was a new habit and I'm thinking "yeah, because I'm trying to do what you're telling me to do"!  But once I realized that she wasn't quite telling me to do what I thought she was telling me to do... things got better. I focused more on moving that inside seat and thigh and hip than sitting on that inside seat bone and it improved. She said "good" so... hopefully I was sitting the way she wanted me to. So then we took a breather and then came back and did some trot work. I am digging the ten meter circle on the outside aids plan and I did make sure to move my shoulders. It must have been decent because Cindy didn't yell at me for moving my head too much in. Then we did some shoulder in. Apparently going to the right especially I bring my inside leg too far back. It's not a leg yield... it's a bending around the inside leg. So when I focused on keeping my leg straight down, it was much better. 

So yep.. a good ride. Fleck was still feeling great and some of the other horses were a bit frisky, so he had some good energy. 

Now if we can just stay warm and find some time to ride amidst the sleet/snow/rain mess we have predicted for the next three days, I'll be happy!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Trail fun

I almost rode on the trails Monday after the horse show, but... it was cold and drizzly all day and I had pictures to edit and oooh and ahhh over, so... Fleck got the day off. And then because I worked Monday and Tueday overnight, he got Tuesday off too. So, I was a little anxious to see how he felt because not only did we run a horse trial (and I am ever cautious despite poulticing etc) but also because he got his feet done by a new farrier. He was very close to being due anyways and after XC we had a loose shoe. So while I was there... I just had him done. I figured if I didn't, he'd lose the shoe by Wed when I was able to ride again and I'd be frustrated, so... we went ahead and did him. We did something slightly different, but... Fleck felt good today!

He was leaving Kelli and Arwyn in the dust! Hee hee... I rode in the new saddle but since I had given stirrups up for Lent, I took them off. Man though... the billets and girth are definitely NOT comfortable without stirrups yet. I miss the monoflap for that reason. But it was comfy on my butt. We did a 4 mile loop but with our Woof Wear "Track my hack" app, it ended up being about 6 miles. We took an hour and 45 minutes to do it but were mostly walking. 

It was a fun day. And I'm glad Fleck is feeling good! That always makes me happy!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

But Fleck saves the day!!!

And we had an awesome weekend after all!!!! 

I sooooo needed that too. I'm sooooo mad at work right now.... I think if I hadn't been able to get away to the horse show I would have quit. So... yay :) Feeling so much better now... It was a fabulous weekend!!!! Such fun friends and fun ponies and fun dogs.. 

So we got there Friday and worked on dressage. Beth totally gave me a new plan that really helped supple Fleck and unlock the resistance at the base of his neck. And it's so easy too. I had to leg yield him out, but to the point of throwing his shoulder out and almost overflexing his neck in. Like Kim was having me do awhile back... trot straight but have his head to the inside. Then once he was unlocked I could close the outside rein, touch him with my outside leg and bring him into the outside aids with my inside leg. I just have to remember that inside leg. It's all the same stuff everyone (including Beth) has been telling me all along but now I'm finally able to unlock his neck and shoulders first which then ALLOWS the rest to happen. Yay!! I can do it at the walk, trot, and canter. And she pointed out that what I felt was too much bend and flexion was proper bend and not nearly as much as I was thinking. :) So whoo hoo. We quit with that for the day.

Saturday was a super early day as my dressage was at 8:03. But Hannah and Jamie braided the night before for me and we put the slinky on Fleck. Hee hee.. I wasn't sure how it would work because I was afraid he'd rub all his hair out. But he was awesome... as usual, and the braids looked great in the am. I'm totally doing this from now on!! It'll save me some serious time in the am. So we got warmed up and Fleck felt great!! Our test was pretty darn good. I felt like he was a little.... not quite forward enough. It was a nice test, but we didn't go for brilliance. But that's okay. That arena is just tiny!! And like I said, it was a nice test. All 6 and 7's and one 8! Our halt probably would have been an 8 too but I screwed it up. Argh.. So we ended up with a 35. Not too shabby for us. I think that put us in 6th or 7th place of 9. Then we got ready for stadium and went and warmed up. Fleck was ALL FIRED UP!! Like bucking and hopping in place! He seriously couldn't wait for his turn! The course was tough but looked like a blast. A double and a triple!!! Whoo hooo. So we went in and we jumped the first four fences awesomely... Then as we landed off of fence 4a, which was the two stride... I felt him drift left.. and it crossed my mind that he was drifting and I just... sat there! And did nothing. So Fleck drifted past his spot and quit. Doh!! Bad Mommy! So I circled and he jumped it great that time but then I got flustered and let him get long and flat and I was all discombobulated up there. I resorted to high hands, pinching knee and getting by on a wing and a prayer. Fleck pretty much said "fine... if you aren't going to fix it... I'll just do it myself' and got us around the rest of the course with only one more rail. So... 8 points and 1 point in time were added to our score. Ugh.. Or more than that because we somehow ended up with 60 penalty points. Ugh.. I was so mad at myself... And Fleck was PISSED at me... he was prancy and bucky and just mad. So we went back to warm up to fix me and Fleck was still jumping great but I just couldn't get the hang of him. It was like he was so fired up that I wasn't putting my leg on because before I could even think go, he was already bouncing up into the canter and dragging me. And I KNOW I need leg, but.. my brain wouldn't do it. But we finally ended on a good note and quit to avoid punishing him. And then it was beer thirty! 

We had a good time at dinner too and Fleck got a nice sunset graze after his good work that day. Sunday was a later day so we slept in a teeny bit. He was nice and happy with tight cool legs in the am so after his little walk, pee, and hosing off of poultice, I left him with alfalfa and went to go watch some of the prelim XC. I had walked the course Friday for fun and... man, it looked like FUN but also like a really tough course. And the ditch and wall was the fifth fence on course so I would have likely been eliminated or retired right there. But the rest looked fun. So anyways, I finally got to get ready and Fleck and I were ready to roll. He cracks me up. He was half asleep while I was tacking up but as soon as we hit warm up... I could hardly control him. We did a lot of cantering instead of walking and trotting... a lot of sideways movement instead of stopping or walking.. But.. with Beth's help I got it figured out. And HALLELUYAH! we figured him out!!! It's so simple, but for whatever reason I was finally able to put it all together. Beth said that he likes to lengthen as he gets closer but that it scares him and he doesn't like jumping from the long stride, so he shuffle steps and loses energy. So... she told me to shorten him to the jump but KEEP THE LEG ON!! If he gets there short, then perfect... if he gets there and I see the slightly longer distance, because he is short and balanced and bouncy, he's right there ready to move up to the longer distance. Aha!! And it seriously worked!! As long as I kept my leg on. I was able to manage the fire breathing dragon and he jumped like a boss! So we were ready!! We took a few minutes of walking (or attempting to walk) to let him catch his breath, then jumped one more and then another short breather and then it was our turn. He was ON!! I had to circle him around the start box because he was so fired up. He was bouncing... literally bouncing!! They were laughing at me at the start box. He was the VERY happy appy. He shot out of the box like a rocket and we were off. It was probably one of the most perfect XC courses we've had. He nailed every single fence. We were in sync over every single fence. I saw every single stride and was with him. And he was tearing it up between fences! It was SOOOOOOOOO much fun! I almost may have to just be a professional training level ammy. hee hee.  It was a really fun course. He ate everything up and jumped everything with his big boy panties on. I'm soooo proud of him. And of me... I shortened him up to a nice bouncy energized gallop and we were just spot on! We made time easily despite me letting him take some slightly longer stretches but I knew we were right on our time because of the minute markers. I'm so freakin' proud of him!!!!

So we didn't add anything to our score but because of the horrid stadium, we stayed in 7th... out of 9. Although there were two eliminated in stadium, so.. we were last of the finishers. Ha! But that's okay... that XC ride would have been worth just about anything. SO MUCH FLECKEN FUN!! 

I love my pony.... And I'm feeling SUPER confident for our redebut at prelim at FENCE. I honestly think that IF *I* could have ridden him that same way on the prelim course, he would have jumped around like a boss on that course too... ditch and wall included!!! BUT... I'm not sure I could have ridden him like that being more nervous on the prelim course. But he seriously felt super amazing!!!

whooo hooooo!!!!  

well double crap

That was not the ride I was hoping for... sigh....

It's totally my fault... I came to battle unprepared!! Beth had to cancel our lesson so Christina and I decided to jump and trail anyways. I set up some fun jumps... nothing huge, but not all wimpy stuff. But because I was thinking it would be a fun day... I didn't put on my spurs, left my crop, and rode in my dressage bridle. And I guess my mentality was more of a "let's just hop over some stuff for fun" instead of "let's prep for the horse show" without realizing it, so..... It wasn't a great ride prior to a show.

He jumped the first few low jumps just fine but then I came to the oxer and he stopped. Christina said I picked and shortened and never added leg. So I came back with a lot of leg and he stopped again. Argh!! So I smacked him a bit. Came again and he jumped it. So we carried on and then he stopped at the coop a few jumps later. So I smacked him again, even though I believe that one was my fault too. So then we jumped and it was scattered crazy jumping and he was bolting on landing. So I got mad and smacked him, then started crying because I knew it wasn't his fault and I was still smacking him. Sigh.... Christina talked me down... And then I really started riding and Fleck took his punishment like a man and manned up. We even got to the swedish oxer on a cross canter, crooked and way to the left.. and he jumped it!

We finally ended with some really good jumps. And Christina pointed out that maybe it was a good thing to get the "brawl" out and done with before the show... that way I'd ride sharp and correct at the show. Yep... good point. And once I got in the right mindset, it was fine.

So then we went for a hack and had fun splashing in the lake! It was a good day after all. Now just a few more days of work and then off to Pine Top!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


So... I need to remember to NOT work my ass off prior to a horse show. Sigh.. I don't know what I'm thinking sometimes. Between the 82 hr week, then the 40 hr week, then another 82 hour week coming up... the bad weather, the stone bruise, and the missing shoe.... Poo.. Just POO!! 

So yeah... after our AMAZING XC school (I'm going to focus on that!!), Fleck got Sunday and Monday off. Luckily I was able to get Kip to meet me today and get the shoe back on before our dressage lesson. And Fleck was sound.. if not really loose... It was like riding an octupus. And I guess it's just because I didn't have him really connected? I don't know. It was sort of a frustrating ride today. 

I started out trying to get his back up and it took awhile...I was trying hard not to do too much, but still felt like I was constantly fussing at him, especially at the walk. Then Cindy got a hold of us and had me halt and reinback. Ack.. it was fussy! So we fixed that (yay) and then Cindy had us walk on. She said to pick up the trot but imagine reining back first. So... in other words, really half halt and sit him on his hiney. I really like this trick!! It was really helpful for me. So then we did the same thing from the trot to the canter. Good stuff! 

Then she had to sneak away for her meeting because she ran late, so I let Fleck have a breather. Peri helped me with the turn on the haunches. I just cannot get it!!! Still, going left.. I screw it all up. Peri told me to ride it by starting it with a haunches in instead of shoulder in. That actually really helped. It's essentially a half pass pivot. Not a shoulder in pivot. So that helped, but of course I'm blocking him with my left hand and left leg. And I have to really get my right leg back to keep him from stepping over with that inside hind instead of turning. Well, when I do that.. it works for a step or two and then I get all scrunched off and off balance. Sigh.. but we did make progress.

So then Cindy came back and we went back to work. We did some canter three loop serpentines and one was bad (I was leaning forward, rushing, and sliding side to side instead of forward with my hips), and one was good. Then we did some canter half-pass. Although I doubt it was a real canter half pass. BUT.. I did have two or three steps of what felt (and looked in the mirror) like a true canter half pass. Yay! But in the process of that... we sorta had an all out come apart! Fleck isn't truly in my outside rein on the right (tracking left) so he's too strung out and then bracing on the left rein. So I try to correct it on the left rein, but instead I should be connecting him and putting him together and upright on the right rein. I felt like I was really trying but I just couldn't hold on to him long enough. Argh... so we had a freak out, but then I managed to get it. And then we had a nice canter to walk, so we quit with that.

So .... good work, but a little frustrating too. But oh well. I've got stadium tomorrow with Beth, then it's a day off because of work, then off to Pine Top! I hope we can get back to last Saturday. I think mostly it was because of my mood. I'm just grumpy because I'm sick, haven't been sleeping well, and am sick of working and working and working!!! One day off to myself is just not enough. Especially when you add in the bills, the grocery shopping, the laundry, the inventory for the e-clinic, etc... I'm just .... tired and grumpy. 

But I'm sure that Flecky will cheer me up tomorrow :) Maybe I'll even sneak in a trail ride first. That always cheers me up. AND... my jump saddle should arrive tomorrow too!!!!! So yep.. reasons to smile. I'll feel better soon!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

This horse is on Fire......

Alicia Keyes style ;)

Fleck was awesome today! I had so much fun. We went and had a XC lesson with Beth and Fleck was awesome!!!! She had us warm up how Buck did.. Lots of forward and collect and forward and collect in the canter. Basically, when I close my leg, that means MOVE NOW! He should shoot forward. And he did :) I was giggling because usually the collection is the harder part. But he was pretty good with that too. So then we warmed up over some jumps and it took one or two but we got our groove on. We even rode straight and corrected our left drip mostly! Beth asked "who are you and what did you do with my student?" because I was riding so well too. I was so proud! I still let my leg slip and I still did plenty wrong, but in general, I was pretty darn good!

Fleck was hilarious! He really was on fire! He was rarin' to go and would go immediately into the "start box canter" and even got a little feisty! A few times I had foamy froth flying back in my face! hee hee. But then he was all go and as soon as I pulled him up, he would immediately go down and eat grass. Ha ha... It was chomp, chomp, gallop, gallop, stop, chomp, chomp, gallop! hee hee..

I had set up a vertical at the prelim bank and there was a coop already set up. AND... someone had left three handy barrels. So we were set! We went up and down the novice bank and worked on me. I need to not balance on his face, but not get left behind. But definitely don't jump ahead. Although our one fence that was a little scary was more because of his long strung out canter than me truly jumping ahead. I need to go with him, so that he can land and carry on. So then we did up to a bounce pole, then up to a bounce barrel. So to get him moving forward, Beth wanted me to land and go. Well, dumb me... landed, let my leg slide back and goosed him with the spurs. Poor kid.. he threw his head up and porpoise bucked about 8 times. Ha ha.. Oops, sorry budyy! After that though, Fleck was great and moved forward at each landing. Without me goosing him. Then we did the prelim line. We started with the vertical on the bendy line to the up bank to the coop. He NAILED it!! It was awesome. Then we turned around and did pretty darn well down too. Then Beth set up a single barrel (Not upright) with no ground lines and said if I came downhill and did it perfect, she'd buy me dinner.. and a milkshake! I asked if she set it upright... would she buy my saddle? Ha! She said NOPE! But I didn't get dinner... or a milkshake. It took us two tries. But only two tries. Then we did the one bank to the other bank. Then we ran our loop de loop thing. It was fun.

Then we did some mini courses and jumped some roll tops in a line up hill and downhill, then the coop to the water in. And Fleck jumped like a big boy. Jumped in, not puttered in. The stutter step is ONLY allowed at down banks. And I MUST keep my leg on him to avoid it from becoming more than just a stutter step to help get an extra peek. Then we did the ditches and trakenhers and he did well when I rode forward. I think we finished with another mini course which ended with the water. It was great! I am so proud of him.

So then we went to the lake to soak his knees and Fleck was pawing.. and then suddenly tried to go down. I managed ot keep him up, but... apparently he lost a shoe. Doh!!! Mannnnn, we just got over the abscess. Oh well... It was such a good day! He was awesome and rarin' to go.. and I rode well and even managed to ride my plan and fix issues as they were happening. It was a glorious day!!

Minus the missing shoe. ;)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hog Heaven! Sounds about right!

So.... not much time to ride this week because of work Sun, Mon, and Tues and then the day practice Thurs, Fri and Sat morning. So that meant that I needed to ride Wednesday. And of course, Wednesday was super cold and windy. But... I WANTED to ride! Not only did I need to ride, I wanted to ride. So we did. I bundled up and put Fleck's quarter sheet on and we braved the weather. We had a pretty good dressage school. Again, no stirrups! We worked on what we worked on with Hokan. Mostly getting him stretched over his topline and connected. Then I did a few movements from the prelim test. We had some good work and probably one of our better leg yields off the wall to our bad side. And we had some good canter work too. Of course we also had some spook and bolts when the wind was especially brisk!! Silly almost half TB. :)

Then we did a quick trail ride because once we stopped working.. it got cold!! 

So yep... Can't wait til Saturday! It's supposed to be back up to the 60's or higher. Not like today... high of 45 with a windchill of 35!

No idea how we managed this!! I got off and this is what his bridle looked like. Hee hee... I guess he rubbed or something at some point. Doh!! Fleck's trying to bring back the side pony! :) I'd say he's ROCKIN' it!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dressage Weekend

So yay!!! Flecky is still sound. Guess it was either a bruise or he popped the abscess. We'll find out at the next shoe cycle I guess. Either way... I'm happy!

So on Friday I got an email saying that they need a rider for the GDCTA Scribe clinic and I had offered to help, so... I was riding 2-3 at 1:45 on Sunday. Ackk!!! I haven't ridden a straight dressage test in eons! Like... literally a year! And 2-3 at that! Egads... 

So Saturday I headed out to ride. No stirrups again because I'm being a good girl. It was COLD and windy and brisk and miserable. Fleck was quite spooky and didn't really settle down but we managed some decent work. We ran through the test twice and the first time was wretched. The second time we accomplished it but it wasn't pretty. But at least we accomplished it. Lucy was working on the arena fence for the show next weekend so I decided to quit with that and go for a trail ride. Man was it cold!!! By the time we finished, we were both shivering. And I had on fleecey breeches, long underwear, a long sleeved shirt, polar fleece sweatshirt, and my vest with fleece lining. BRRRR.

 (this was taken with my "solarize" option on my phone. It FELT this cold!)

So then Sunday we headed to High Point... dirty, unclipped, unbraided, but neat and tidy otherwise. ;) We warmed up and the footing was pretty bad where we were warming up. It was frozen and pocketed because of all the rain and then the freeze. So we tried to stay in the smoother areas. I worked on just getting him supple. Then Danielle, the new working student, came to warm me up. Since we only had about 10 minutes, we worked on the canter transitions. I told her that I was having a hard time keeping him cantering when I tried to collect him and that our 10 meter circles were too wide. So she watched us and said he was bulging right. She had me really get him into the left rein by leg yielding out a bit and shoulder in-ing. So then once we got that, our canter transition was much better, especially if I didn't lean forward. Then as long as I maintained that outer rein, our canter was great as was the downward. Like.. surprisingly good. At least for us. :) So then we did our ten meter circle and since he was drifting out, she told me to take my inside leg off. Well duh! I did and turned him with my outside aids and it was amazing the difference it made. He suddenly turned and stayed in a 10 meter circle. YAY!! Then we played with the turn on the haunches. Sigh... I just cannot coordinate my aids for that darn movement. Either way. One was is too rushed and more spinning, the other is not forward. Argh.. oh well. Then we had to go ride our test.

Sandy Osborne was the judge who was teaching the scribe clinic. She's .... tough! I think she was very correct and very right in her scores and I loved that she used the whole scale. But she's true... she doesn't give out any points just because. So I was extra nervous. We went in and Fleck was great... but I panicked. I didn't even feel that nervous but I just focused on the test only. I didn't ride my horse, the gaits, the balance, the rhythm, or anything. I just rode the movements. And sure enough.. we got all the movements in the sense that we did them where they were supposed to be, without breaking gait, and he picked up the counter canter. BUT.. it sucked!!! He was running, on the forehand, not connected, not supple, not engaged, etc. Not his fault.. he did what I asked.. which was to just do the movements. So... I got nailed for it. And she basically said that we weren't ready for that level. Which is no surprise. We're not! I will continue to ride 2nd level at schooling shows but no way are we showing recognized yet. I think we're capable of 2nd level work when I can focus on the gait and balance but not when I try to run a test. So.... it was pretty much what I knew and was expecting to hear. And it was sorta nice to have the reminder that yes... I really need to get my act together. I know he can do it... So... now I'm all motivated to go out and hit up the schooling shows and practice RIDING in my tests. :)

I actually really like 2-3. It's a great test for Fleck. I think he does the SI to renvers pretty well, the canter work is all last, and it comes right after the walk, so no worrying about jigging and getting worked up as much. So.. we'll see. I guessed we would score a 55 if she was generous. We actually got a 57, so... not too bad. Especially considering I haven't ridden a true dressage test in a year or so and we had only run through it twice the day before. :)

Now two days off because of work and then we'll play Wednesday!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Well poo!

So... it was cold and icky out Saturday and since it was "Mike Day"... I opted out of riding. Really wishing I hadn't because on Sunday Fleck was lame. :( Well poo! We had a fun XC day scheduled with Beth at Ashland. I spent almost an hour carrying standards and poles out to the field so that I could work on some technical stuff. And because it was so wet out I did it by hand, not with a truck. Argh... So then I got all tacked up... studs, boots, martingale, breastplate, etc. Walked him down and as I picked up the trot, he suddenly went lame. Almost three legged lame! What on earth?!? So I hopped off... nothing in his foot, nothing in his boot. Got back on and he was better but obviously off. So... I did some cantering thinking maybe he was just locked up in his stifle and that would smooth him out. He was happy enough to go too! Not like when his knees really hurt and he just didn't want to. So we cantered a bit and then trotted and he seemed almost sound. So I thought I'd see what happened. He's got scabs on his hocks from sleeping and I thought maybe he busted one open and it just smarted. Well, we trotted over a baby log and he was happy to do it.. but still off. So I quit. Not worth it. But... almost worth it...argh! I was really looking forward to the jumping lesson. And we had a photographer... Sigh... oh well.

So back home we went and I ended up bringing Danny back out to play. Which was fun. Poor Fleck was worse by the time we got home. Really ouchy and holding his foot cocked. It was a back foot so I wasn't super panicky. I knew it wasn't his knee, so... I was okay. Mostly. Luckily, my BFF is super vet and she said she'd stop by on her way home that evening. So I uploaded everyone else's fun pictures while I waited. She got here and it looked like it was an abscess. He was definitely tender in a very specific spot near his toe that was hot and soft. And he was walking toe to heel and resting that foot. So... soaking and wrapping commenced! I was hoping that it would pop quickly because it was so acute and so painful!
 Not so though. The next morning he was still off and ouchy. So more soaking and more wrapping. Although I will say that he was MUCH better. But not quite right. Tuesday was the same. I cancelled my dressage lesson. :( Then Wednesday rolled around and he looked 95% sound. So I thought well... I'll just go for a nice slow walk hack. He's going to be walking around in the pasture anyways.. and I don't weigh much... and maybe some forced exercise will force it to come out! So we went over to Ashland. Despite the sunshine it was bitter cold! I rode in my dressage saddle so I wouldn't be tempted to do much. And I was a little worred about his jump saddle and his back. Christina chiroed him while she was looking at his foot and she said his back was a little tender. So anyways.. no stirrups day four for me. We did some trotting in the fields and he was actually pretty sound so I trotted along. Unfortunately we hit a patch of gumballs and suddenly Fleck was lame again! Holding his foot up in the air lame. Argh.. I got off, checked him out, and within a few minutes he was putting weight on it again. We headed back in and by the time we got back to the XC field he was 75% sound again. So then I started to wonder if it was a stone bruise. It just seemed like he was okay until something touched it or pushed on it and then he would be super sore for a bit, then just slightly sore, and then gradually better. I guess an abscess could potentially do the same thing to. So we headed back and he actually wanted to play and canter a bit, so I let him. 

Then on Thursday he looked much better so I headed out again for another trail ride. This time I was hoping to jump the jumps I had spent the hour putting up. I had to take them down today so.. it was my only chance. But I was brave.. and put on my jump saddle without stirrups! Day four! We mostly walked on the trails as Christina wasn't feeling great, but we did some trotting. Fleck felt great! Of course I cheated and gave him some equiox. Although I gave it because of the jumping not because of the foot, but I figured it couldn't hurt either way. I knew it wasn't a tendor or anything... and a bruise or abscess wouldn't be hurt/made worse by a little bit of pain relief. So Fleck felt great so I decided to do a bit of trotting and cantering in the field. He still felt great so I thought I'd at least jump the angled line I set up. It was supposed to be a Doug Payne exercise he posted about in Practical Horseman, but I'm not sure I set it up right. It said to set up a vertical in the middle. Then walk 25 feet from the standard and place another standard. Then make it a jump perpendicular to the middle jump. We did this on both sides, so it was a triple with two strides on a bending line IF you did it parallel... but if you did it perpendicular... I saw no way to jump it without....??? No way to jump it! So I made it parallel and Fleck rocked it!! He stayed straight in the middle of all three. Whoo hooo!! We did it 3 times and then I called it quits. But go me too for not having stirrups and still keeping a pretty decent position.  :)

So... it wasn't the big schooling I wanted, but at least I got to jump some of the stuff I set up. He gets Friday off because of work and then hopefully Saturday and Sunday he'll still be sound. So far so good. Then it's a long week of ER and day clinic work so I'm hoping to squeeze in many rides. Because soon it's Pine top!!!