Friday, May 31, 2013

More dressage

Today Fleck went to Dr. Browns and got adjusted. He was kinda sore everywhere. Oops! Such a trooper though. And he adjusted out of it, so that's good news. :) I need to flex Fleck's accessory carpal bone to get it loose and moving to help his knees. And then after we were chatting and Fleck was schmoozing for treats. Then he suddenly slowly turned around and was putting his butt in Terry's face. Really Fleck?? So I turned him around and scratched his butt for him. And then continued to do so for about 10 minutes. And when I stopped.. he would ever so slowly spin around and creep back into me. Turd!! It kind of got ridiculous at one point. Hee hee.. 

So then we dropped Peri off and went to do some dressage. I know I'm drilling him but I'm a little panicked about our recognized dressage debut! It's first level, so... we should be okay, but I'm still nervous. I'd really like to get my scores towards my bronze medal. And we have to show against the DQ's!! So.. we drilled again. Well, if you could call it drilling. I rode 1-3 for the first time in years. ;) And a second time. He was pretty darn good. I just need to make sure I remember the tests. And I need to get better about riding my corners. Especially at the canter. I think he's a little too haunches in and it's causing us to cut the corners. I must ask Cindy about how to fix that. Otherwise, it was pretty good. 

So then we went for a trail ride. Poor Flecky was hot and tired. But he recovered once we hit the lake. He was splashing around and blowing bubbles! Seriously.. he would put his nose in the water, then blow bubbles, and then fling his head. Ha ha. I have video proof on facebook. 

I love my goob!!

Don't stop the hips

I had a great dressage lesson yesterday! We were working hard. :) The big thing is that I need to get Fleck's neck and head hanging.. not being held. And to do that, he needs to lift his back up and engage. Also, I can't stop moving my hips!! When I lock and hold them.. it shuts Fleck down. So.. always keep my core moving. Especially at the free walk and at the canter to walk transitions. And keep my leg on too!

I also had much better half passes and turn on the haunches because I opened my left rein! Ha!! Take that brain! Oh, and we worked on the stretchy trot. I shouldn't change my body position for the stretchy trot. And the key is to keep Fleck on the bit. Even counter bend him if I need to. The scores will be better if I have a real reach even with shorter reins, than no real reach but on the buckle. Plus then it's easier to pick him back up. 

That's all I can remember now.. though I really wish I had remembered all of it. It was so helpful!



I will admit that I should be wearing my helmet. I will also admit that I wear it 99% of the time. I am aware that things happen... and no horse is foolproof. BUT.. I will also say that I've owned Fleck for 9 years.. I know him like the back of my hand. I know how he acts and how he does, and so... I took a calculated risk. And it was worth it. We had a blast and it was fun and we got some great pictures!

But back to wearing my helmet from now on and out. :)


Catch up

Oops!! I guess I forgot to type in my info for this weekend. Probably because it was insanely busy at work with the full moon AND Memorial Day holiday. Let's see if I can remember....

Saturday I did dressage and went for a hack. It was some lovely canter work. Nice and slow and steady and balanced. We even got our canter to walk to canters and had some lovely three loops. Then we went for a nice hack. And as usual, ended up at the lake. I took some goofy pics. 

(did I mention it was a crazy busy work week?? I was tired!!)
Then on Sunday we went to Ashland for Pony Club. Over the Hilltoppers is our adult pony club. It was just me and Kelli this time but it was fun. Nothing big or crazy so we worked on what Beth and I were doing the last time we jumped. The half halting every other rein as needed. It made a big difference. Fleck was much more balanced and rocked back and jumping nicer. And.. he was jumping out of stride so it ended up being quicker I think too. Good stuff. 

Then back to work crazyness! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ponies, ponies, ponies ALL DAY!

I decided to go all out today with the ponies! It was HOT too but I sucked it up and did it. I got up early and took Danny to Ashland. See his blog for that fun adventures details :) Then I hauled Fleck to Beth's for a jump lesson. He was good. We were working on how to fix my abandonment issues. To start she had me work on his canter. Going up the hill I had to drive him forward and lengthen his hind legs and get him reaching but not let him lengthen his head and neck. Then going downhill I had to half halt him and get him collected and underneath himself. To accomplish this she wanted me to half halt with alternating rein... so left hand, right hand, left hand.. but only as necessary. I was to be soft when he was. In essence, it ended up being my canter to walk canter. :) It's funny.. my walk in my dressage test became my walk to canter walk... and now my canter is my canter to walk canter. BUT.. Beth explained that this would obviously need more power and oomph and even speed when doing courses. But I had to learn to get this canter first. So once I figured that out we moved on to jumping. We started with the grid and he was good and then after the grid I had to get the canter. I started to get a little too half halty without my leg and he started getting a little pogo-y. So then I mostly fixed it with adding leg. We did a few courses and when I rode properly.. he jumped great!!! It was great. By focusing on the alternating half halts... we couldn't hang on each other... I wasn't so fixated on the distance and when the distance wasn't right... I thought "it's cool.. I've got about four more half halts to be able to adjust him with" and because I was focusing on the half halts and whether we needed more or not I wasn't abandoning him and I knew I had to keep my leg on. And amazingly.. when I did that.. he happily jumped from the slightly long spot or the slightly deep spot and didn't have to heave himself over. There was no stopping! :) Yay!!!! It was such a happier feeling than just... not having any idea where we were or what to do. I think Fleck thought so too. ;) So now... until Beth says otherwise.. I need to start every course and finish every fence with THAT CANTER... and then adjust accordingly while on course. I did manage to get the bigger canter without abandoning the initial canter thought process, so yay!

After I got Fleck cooled off and iced, I got on Nike. He's awesome.. he's my second favorite horse (Dan is NOT a horse yet). He's like Fleck but less sneaky about things and more blatantly obvious, which makes him fun to ride because he really helps me learn. He really makes my faults obvious. So I warmed him up long and low and then we worked on the canter. He's tough... he can be so light and fluffy but you have to keep bumping him up and you really have to SIT up tall. If not, he pulls you down and forward and then it's hard to get yourself back up because he has so much neck! hee hee. So I was able to accomplish that and get him collected and then we moved on to flying changes. Well.. Nike did! I was attempting counter canter. Hee hee. But it was lovely. So we decided to just go straight to the flying changes and then he was giving me counter canter. Doh! ha! Finally I figured it out. I had to keep him up and fluffy, and very collected. We kept the right bend, crossed the diagonal, and went straight for a few strides. Then I scooped forward with both hips but slightly more with the new inside hip, put my new outside leg back (more so than I thought I needed) and my new inside leg forward/at the girth, and... change :) But immediately collect and keep him up and fluffy so he didn't run off with me. :) I managed to get two or three clean ones with me actually asking and not Nike just offering. It was great fun. I think it'll really help me with Fleck. Fleck does the exact same thing, but I just don't notice it because he's so sneaky about it. So yay!

And then I got Nike cooled off and linimented and put away and moved on to Atlas. He's an OTTB green bean 6 year old. He cracks me up. He's just so sweet and silly and "la da da". He was fun. We had a good time trotting and then oh my... his canter is LOVELY! Seriously lovely! So then we jumped the gymnastics. Beth told me that he is very green and unaware of his body so I needed to be very precise in telling him where to put it all and very supportive. We did pretty good through the grid. He's definitely wiggly but he was responsive to my leg attempts at keeping him straight. Then we moved on to jumping a course. So tough!! For me at least. He's super fun but wow.. hard! He's got a nice canter but I was trying to collect him a little to help him out and I ended up getting him behind my leg so then he'd have to make a bid for the jump and would just launch himself.. then I'd catch him in the mouth and he'd hollow and hit the jumps. Sigh.. I felt horrible. But it took me forever to fix it. I just couldn't get the hang of him. But... I finally did. Mostly. ;) Poor Atlas pony.. He's plenty game despite me screwing it up. But finally I was able to get a little bigger canter going and keep my leg on during my more subtle half halts and then he was still moving up a bit to the fences but he wasn't making that giant bid for them. And I was releasing over the fences, so yay. 

So yep.. TONS of fun and very good for me. Very educational! I'm sunburned, hotter than heck, and FILTHY, but I had a blast! I hope to do more boot camp days. Good thing these ponies owners are out of town a good bit this Summer. I really liked riding them both. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dressage Brain Day

What a fun lesson day! Cindy had us start with some trot work. We worked on a bigger more reaching stride WITHOUT me posting faster. :) Then we worked on some turn on the haunches. It was much much better but we still have issues going to the left. Cindy noted that my left hand was grabbing him and preventing him from bending around my left leg. I also noted that my left leg was completely off of him. So she had me bring my left hand out in a leading rein. I could NOT grasp that.. .my brain was freaking out!! No, no, no.... it needs to hold him and create bend. Argh!!! Even as my brain was screaming at me to do that... I'm thinking... NO... it's the left leg that creates the bend.. the left rein has nothing to do with it. Argh. Cindy laughed at me because.. once I convinced myself to let go and do that opening rein he actually was able to give me a nice turn on the haunches. But I was so frustrated and mad... Cindy laughed and told me that it was a physiologic response to get angry when I had to force myself to overcome muscle memory and prove to myself that my way wasn't correct. Hee hee.. I'm glad that there is a reason for my anger. Cause I was really pissed! 

So then we worked on the canter. As soon as I asked for the upward... Cindy stopped me and told me to get off. She had an exercise for me to try. She had me put my spine up against the wall and stand up straight. Then I had to bring my leg back, like I was asking for the canter.. AND keep my back up against the wall. OHHHHHH!!!! That is hard to do. Bringing my leg back almost automatically pulls my lower back away from the wall. Interesting... So then I had to canter with my other hip as my leg pulls back and... that was even tougher. BUT... I figured out how to do it. So then I had to translate that to while I was on Fleck. And I actually did. It was pretty cool. Once Fleck got over the whole "what the heck is Mom doing up there"... we got some pretty nice transitions and my canter was oh so lovely afterwards!!

Way cool!!! So yep... a fun interesting lesson :) 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Scaring the hunter/jumper/equitation trainer :)

Finally!!! A pony club meeting that we didn't get rained out of... oh wait.. it rained... and thundered... and there was lightning. ;) But that's okay... We're pony club tough. ;)

We had a lesson with Alexandria O'Toole, a hunter/jumper/equitation coach. Our lesson was early enough that it wasn't raining yet but it was threatening. I got stuck in the mud as soon as I pulled up. Oops!! How embarassing. Off to a great start ;) It didn't help that Fleck was filthy after staying out in the storm all night. Anyways... I tied Fleck to the trailer and started grooming. They had a wood pile burning and Fleck was FREAKING out!! Seriously?!? It's fire.. you've seen it before! But he was all jittery and spazzy. So we tacked up and got on. And their neighbor drove their golf cart through the woods on the fence line. HORRORS!! Fleck was so very giraffey and on edge. Great... ;)

But once we started to work he did pretty well and settled down. I told Alexandria that our issues were that when I didn't see a spot... I abandoned him and he quit at the big jumps. Also my equitation was sucky. I really liked her. She had us do fun courses, jumper courses! And she was helpful. Basically she said the same things that Beth says.. Don't let him lengthen his stride coming out of the corners but keep the energy up. But she also mentioned counting. She said it helps you see your distance. I don't know if I had the right stridings the time I did count or if the counting really helped, but the times I counted... it was spot on. :) Yay!! We did have a few stops.. .and it was the fences where I couldn't tell fro a stride or two back if we needed to add or go for it. And did nothing. When I asked either way, Fleck obliged. 

(You can see the fire in the background that was freaking him out!)

But we finished decently. It was a fun day :) The unmounted pony club meeting was with Alexandria's husband (I assumed) who is a personal trainer. He had us doing lunges down the aisle way. He said it would help our core and it would also help my spare tire. :) Yay!!! So lunging for me!! I can tell my legs are going to be burning tomorrow. Didn't quite feel it in my core, but I may need to do more. He said at least 20 because we don't want to bulk up. And do it three times a week and build up to about 80. :) So... we'll see how long I keep it up. ;)


Gorgeous day

Today was a beautiful day!!! And there was much fun to be had. Unfortunately I had to work the overnight and signed up to jump judge at Chatt Hills tomorrow. So... I had to decide on what to do... Dover Tent Sale, nap, ride, work Dan... ??? 

I think I made the right decision!!

I ended up napping first and then took Fleck to Ashland. I decided to do some dressage because I wanted to play around with the changes for a bit, just to see. We got on and went to work. Fleck was phenomenal!! We had some good turn on the haunches, some good trot half passes and some amazing canter work!! He nailed the counter canters and nailed the simple changes through the walk. But darn it if I couldn't figure out the changes. And I know.. it's not going to suddenly be magically there, but... I couldn't even get him to think about it. So I gave up trying lest I ruin him and worked on some simple changes again. He is getting really really balanced!! YAY!

So then we had to take our obligatory hack to the lake and soak. Yep.. definitely the right decision.

Dressage fun

We went to Cindy's for a dressage lesson today. He was really good. We worked on our half passes at the trot and even at the canter. He's actually quite good at the canter!! :) And at the trot I need to remember to keep his shoulders more left when half passing left. I'm not quite finishing my turn... he has the right bend, but he's trying to half pass on the diagonal almost by not getting bent around my leg enough... Basically I need to finish my turn... dial him another 5-10 minutes on the clock counter clockwise. Going to the right, we've got it. I do need to slow it down though. Cindy had me do an almost walk at the trot... to get him hovering. Then half pass. It was much more balanced. The ones at the canter were pretty decent and then she said we would do a ten meter circle then come back to the wall across the diagonal but keep the lead  and then a flying change. Wait...what?!  hee hee... I just get so flustered. Fleck was sort of listening.. by the end he heard me saying something.. he rocked back. He just wasn't convinced of what I was telling him. And I was not doing a good job either of telling him. Cindy said she saw my aids and saw me ask... But I don't think I was quite doing it right. We did get one at the very end... not pretty and not correct, but he figured out what I was asking. I was so flustered I abandoned everything and it fell to pieces. ;) Doh! ohwell... It was fun to try. 

We'll eventually get it. :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Best Horse Ever

So.... my prelim pony is also stunt doubles as a jungle gym ;) Man... he is a saint!!!

We went trail riding today after a little bit of dressage and were soaking in the lake. My dumb self was messing with the water with the tip of my whip and plunk! In it goes. Drats!! The darn thing didn't float either. It was up past Flecks knees so I knew I would get wet so I figured... why not try it this way?!

It didn't work. ;) Fleck was awesome and stood there rock solid til the very end... If his mane was 2 inches longer I could have reached it. I ended up bailing because I really like that whip.. it's my Fleck Whip! So I grabbed the whip and got back on. Poor saint of a horse....

I can run prelim and make time... and then be mom's jungle gym....

Oh, and give pony rides to the nephews.....

And then be this awesome....

Proven Prelim Pony!!!!

Not a bad weekend at all!!!

Fleck and I got headed out for Windridge fairly quickly after I got home from work. But then we got stuck in traffic. I was about to scream... between the traffic lights, the slow pokes, the construction... argh!! It felt like we were hauling longer to get to 85 than we were on 85. Which was so not the case. But finally, we were on 85 and moving! We arrived at Windridge and got settled in. Fleck got a nice end stall, which was convenient because I had a plug for his fan. The weather was perfect all weekend long!!! It's such a gorgeous place there! So we got settled in and hopped on for some dressage with Beth. 

I started with some stretching and then we picked him up and went to work. He felt pretty darn good. Even our canter was nice. I told Beth that I was blocking him somewhere and she said to sit a little lighter. I was getting a little too rigid and driving with my seat. And sure enough, it helped a lot! I also had to make sure that I was not throwing away the inside rein. The inside rein helps keep the bend. I was afraid of holding too much with the outside rein and creating a counter bend, but if I didn't hold the outside rein, he'd fall in and I lose his shoulders. So Beth was like.. duh, use BOTH reins.. oh yeah!! Ha ha... If I hold the outside rein connection but also add inside rein, he comes around quite nicely. Yay! Then we worked on the free walk to the medium walk. INSIDE BEND!!! That was the theme of the day in general. When I walked across the diagonal for my free walk, I need to let him out, but then start to leg yield him subtly to the wall before I pick him up. As I'm picking him up, I really need to focus on the inside bend and inside rein to keep him from bracing/inverting/jigging. It really does help. Then he's nice and connected. And I need to remember that my medium walk needs to be the same walk that I have when I'm about to ask for the canter - ie... animated! So we quit with that and Fleck got his bath and was braided. We grazed some and let the horses get used to the peacock noise. Yes.. there are peacocks there and they make a weird noise. The horses were a little worried but not too bad. 

Saturday morning was an EARLY morning. Luckily I had already braided so that helped. But our dressage ride was at 8:07! Fleck was actually really clean so I only had to spot clean three little areas and his braids looked great. So we were on time and even a little early. We got down to warm up and started warming up. He felt great! Beth wanted me to think of riding him behind the vertical. Only because then I ride him correctly. It feels behind the vertical to me but it's actually a true correct frame. She also said that when I counter cantered... to almost counter bend him. For whatever reason that works best for Fleck. If I don't, he tips his nose and isn't in the reins. But when I almost counter bend him, he actually gets straight and gives me the most lovely counter canter. Whee!  Then it was our turn. It wasn't our best test, but not too bad. Especially since we hadn't ridden it in a long time and then only once or twice schooling recently. We started out okay but it wasn't great. I didn't have him up into the bridle enough so he cheated a little. He was awfully haunches in too, though at the time I don't think I realized it. He had a lovely first counter canter but on the second one... it was so lovely that I must have over did it because he swapped on me. I tried to correct it and did, but then it was two strides before we were supposed to trot, so it was ugly. Then I got a little flustered so we kind of went downhill from there. But again, not horrid.. just not good. We ended with a 38.3 I think and were in 7th place out of 11. Argh. Oh well. My fault for not preparing better. And I'm spoiled now after that 31.8 ;) 

After helping Beth and Stephanie and watching them go it was time for stadium. The course looked super fun but was TOUGH! It was almost in a little bowl... so lots of terrain and some really tough questions. It was an uphill oxer to a vertical, roll back to another uphill oxer, right hand turn on a slant/slope to a vertical, then downhill to a triple bar, then to an upshill two stride, then a roll back to a bendy line of a skinny to an oxer, then roll back to the triple combo, then another vertical. I was bound and determined to not have any stops. Oops! We warmed up pretty good and I felt like I almost did it right on course. We started out pretty gung ho and forward and were only slightly chippy to the first two fences. I think the "long" distances are starting to scare me so I take my leg off and hold so Fleck adds. They aren't necessarily tight spots but he loses power so they aren't smooth. So the first three went okay. Then we got to fence four and I buried him. He was so deep that Beth said in order to jump he would have had to go backwards. Doh!! Darn it me!!! So we circled and I gave him a horrible awkard approach but kept my leg on and supported him and he jumped it. Sigh... Then we got our act together and jumped the triple bar quite nice. I got a little frantic and long to the double and he chipped but cleared it and then the rest of the course was pretty nice. He nailed the triple! Sigh... so one stop. No time though. ;) But I really need to get my act together. I think some jumper shows are in our future this Summer. I need to get better with the "longer" spots again. He does not like to get that deep to the bigger jumps when I don't help him any.

So we enjoyed the rest of the day helping the others and then walked XC. It looked like a really fun and doable course.. until about half way through. Ha!! There was a decent sized trakenher that wasn't bad at all.. but on a downhill approach. It made me a bit nervous but I knew we could do it. Then a huge wide table, but I ignored the wide and figured it would be fine. But then.. it got scary! A sharp 90 degree turn to the biggest steeplechase fence ever!! It was very upright and very big AND.... on the back side was a three or four stride bendy line to a very big very skinny hanging log. Okay...THIS was going to be a test for me and Fleck. I just didn't like how vertical it was. Then it was along the hill parallel to the drop to a skinny and then another cabin, then the water, then an upbank to a skinny and then a hanging log and done. The course was long and gallopy but so pretty! I was smart this time and scoped out ALL the short cuts!! Including cutting across the field and going over some moguls. :) But I was still pretty nervous!!! eeeks. 

Sunday morning was an early morning too as my ride time was 8:32. Luckily, not quite as early. Fleck felt good and we went for a little walk and studded up and tacked up. We warmed up and he felt great. Rarin' to go with plenty of energy. We roared out of the start box and were off. The theme of the course was "BURN RUBBER!, Let it BURN!" So we were off at the gallop. The first three or four fences were a bit sticky in that I was still holding a bit, but I figured it out and we started to gallop them properly. The coffin rode fine and then we headed to the corner. I knew I had to go outside for the right line but in our gallop we went a little farther outside (after almost running into a tree while I was deciding!). So... we ended up about 4 strides from the corner but VERY diagonal to it. Eeeks.. I thought about circling to get a better approach but then decided no.. we would just get it done. And Fleck locked on and despite a less than stellar approach, he owned it. yay!!! Then we galloped down past the lake, up to the rest of the course. He was jumping great now! We stumbled our way through the moguls but managed to keep our balance and got the pheasant feeder done. Then we came downhill to the trakenher. I think I over balanced and checked too much because Fleck really backed off. But I felt it and said 'No... I mean balance but go" and put my leg on and he went. Yay!! Then we flew over the wide cabin, sat back and balanced and NAILED THE STEEPLECHASE!!! Whoo hooo. He flew over it with room to spare and we just sailed over the skinny with an opening rein. I LOVE THIS HORSE!!! Then we overshot our turn a bit to the drop but he trotted a few strides and crossed back to it, plopped down and smooth as silk jumped the out. The rest of the course was perfect and we made it over the finish line a second or two under optimum without having to rush for it at the end. I was soooooo proud of him!!!!

What a rock star!!!! We ended up finishing with just the four points for the stadium stop and moved up to 5th place. Because of our cruddy dressage score, even without the stop, we wouldn't have moved up any. So whooo hoooo!!! I'll take 5th out of 11 at prelim. :) It's official now.. he is officially a proven prelim horse!!! The problems we were having were all my fault and/or knee pains. And now that he feels good again.. he's golden. The stadium issues are all mine.

So proud of my rockstar!!!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Intervals and Icing

This morning was a bit rushed as I had to get back in time for my Mom to come visit with my four nephews. Then this evening I'm heading to Atlanta (The Optimist!!! YAY!) for dinner with Dad, Mike and Gramma. So... I got up early, cleaned the house, and put Fleck in the trailer. We got to Ashland and I tacked up and headed out. We did a ten minute walk warm up and then started our intervals. I did three 5 minute trot sets, with a 2 minute break in between each. Then we did a 3 minute breather before we did our canter sets. We only did two 4 minute sets but with only a 2 minute breather in between. And our canters included little bursts of gallops. :) Then we spent another 5 minutes or so walking to cool down. Fleck went from 80 breaths/minute post.. then 5 minutes later he was down to 60, then another 2 minutes later he was down to 40. And within 10 minutes post he was eating grass. So not too bad considering I technically haven't done any true interval work this year. Then we went to his lake and soaked for a few and headed back in. I ended up trotting back up to the barn some because of time but he was happy to go. He got iced on the way home and is back out enjoying the grass :)

Prelim Test B

So after I dealt with the mess that Danny and Fleck had created in the feed room... I hauled Fleck out to Ashland to practice some dressage. And wow... this horse is just so easy suddenly. I'm sure I'm not being quite as tough as I could be, but he's really just so fun and easy to ride lately. It was great. We warmed up and had some really good stuff. We worked on leg yielding and then shoulder ins and even turn on the haunches. We also worked on our canter stuff and dammmmnnn if our canter to walk to canters on the three loop aren't getting good!!! Too bad I still can't figure out how to do them on the diagonal ;) But they got better.

Then we went to the upper ring, which was much sloppier, and ran through Prelim Test B twice. It went pretty good. But at the second canter Fleck suddenly felt like he was stuck in the mud. I think somehow I'm blocking him because when I went up into two point and let him do a stretchy canter.. he felt normal. But when I sat back down and collected him.. he felt crabby... Like he didn't want to either stretch out his left side or collect and bend his right side. It was odd. I couldn't figure it out. He was happy enough to canter, but seriously felt stuck behind. I'm guessing I'm blocking him somehow because in two point.. back to normal. Argh.. but other than that.. not too bad considering we hadn't ridden in it awhile. Of course now I think I like Test A better, but oh well. ;)

We then took another hack. Of course ;)

And the sun sneaks out

Unfortunately our lessons with Kelly Eaton were cancelled because there was just sooo much rain. It was predicted 100% of rain today too... And guess what happened??? Very little rain most of the day. The sun even peaked out. But.. the rings and grounds would have been WAY too wet to safely jump and work so it was the right decision to cancel. 

However, since the sun peeked out... I went for a ride! Christina and I met up at Ashland and trail rode. At the end we did a bit of trotting and even some polite cantering. Fleck just adores Sham so he didn't have to beat him. :) The footing wasn't bad at all for what we were doing but was too slick and mushy for jumping I think. But we had fun! The boys were glad to be out and about and the sunshine was very good for our souls. 

 But... proof of how much rain we got and how wet it was became crystal clear upon getting home. I slid a tiny bit in the mud at the gate turning the trailer around when we left, so I was smart and unloaded Fleck at the bottom of the driveway. But there was NO WAY I was getting the truck and trailer through the slick mud at the gate, even without him. I'm not sure why it wasn't working this time... other than I think the mud clogged my tires so that when I finally hit a barer spot there was no traction. So then I tried backing down halfway and turning around in the front yard. That didn't work either... I spun out on the slick mud and moss. Argh... So then Mike and I tried using a chain link fence piece. Not successful. Argh. I finally gave up and managed to get the truck and trailer into the grass and out of the driveway but not turned around.

And then... that night they stayed out in the front field because after dinner (me and Mikes') they wouldn't come in. Then in the morning they came in and ate and all was well. I shut the gate to the front field so they would eat some hay. Only... I didn't notice that Mike had left the gate open when he got the chain link fence. This meant that sneaky Danny found the opening and went into the little dog pen area and then... straight into the feed room. I had left the door open to let it air out because... there's no way for them to get in. Argh... They made a giant mess!!! Three of the feed tubs are broken and strewn about.. thus dumping a brand new bag of Danny's feed everywhere, 1/3 of a bag of dynamix (which luckily... I was trying to use up anyways), and some of the grow-n-win. Then they had knocked all the supplement containers off, luckily only spilling the msm, which is cheap. And it was actaully salvagable as it landed on the other feed tub. They didn't manage to open Fleck's tub and eat some of it... ate some beet pulp.. pooped int he corner... tore apart some hay. Oh, and ripped open the bag ofhchicken feed. Argh... All in all though I got lucky. They didn't seem to actually eat that much feed. Mostly just made a mess. I was curious when I didn't see them earlier in the morning. I just assumed they were in their stalls. Then I saw Fleck poking his whole head into the barn.. and assumed he was just bored.. didn't realize he was watching Dan! Argh...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Put your Eventer panties on and ride!

So... we had signed up for the High Point Schooling show today. We planned to do 2-1 to see how it might go in June at the recognized dressage show. And then we signed up for two stadium rounds. 

Friday was cold and windy and I was hoping to do some intervals but I got stuck at the day clinic so.. no riding. And then.. it started raining.. and kept raining... and raining... and raining!! I woke up and went to feed and decided to scratch. It was cold... and wet.... and cold... and wet! But... Beth talked me into it. She said that we NEEDED another stadium round before Windridge. And that I could put studs in. And that it wasn't that bad. Sigh..... So I went. And it was fun.... And again.. Beth is always right. ;) 

We got there and tacked up in the rain. And got on... Poor Flecky.. he was trying to hide his head because he doesn't like the rain on his eyelashes. But he was pretty darn good. We didn't warm up too much as it was rather slick in the grass warm up area, but... we got it done. Then we went in and did our test. It wasn't our best by far, but it wasn't too bad. He was a bit more rideable than I am used to and so my half halts were much more effective than usual. A fact I did NOT remember when we did our second counter canter loop... he broke. But it was because I over half-halted. Doh. Our canter to walk to canters were pretty darn good considering. We got counted down for a trot step or two but for us... pretty darn good. We even got some 7.5's on our trot work. Yay! We ended up with a 63%. Which... quite frankly, I'm quite pleased with. Sure, it's no 70% but still! It would have been a qualifying score. :) I'll take it. 

So then he went in his stall and I went and checked out the course. Tacked back up and then I realized how cold I was. Everything was wet. I tacked up way too early and had to wait on Beth and Hannah to finish their dressage tests, so I went back to the barn and Fleck and I hung out out of the rain for a bit. I shivered the entire time. It sucked.. But then we went back out and got warmed up (literally and figuratively). The warm up jumps were in the grass so I had to be careful and Fleck slid a little. But it wasn't too bad. He was jumping great too. He wanted at them! So we went in for the training round first and he was a little behind my leg to the first and second fence and then we started rocking and rolling. Although my leg kept slipping but it might have been because they were numb. Anyways... at fence 5, which was almost perpendicular across the arena, he stopped. I didn't close my leg and he got to it to a deep spot and without my help and leg.. he decided it was easier to stop. I wailed on him with my princess wand and then he jumped the rest of the course fine. 

We hung out for a bit while the others changed tack and did their course and then raised up the fences for the prelim rounds. I warmed up over two more warm up fences and he was on fire! So then we sat for a minute and then went in. I wanted to simulate the show grounds since we have had a few stops lately. Anyways.. we went in with GRRR and energy and it was awesome!!! He jumped like a beast! He was a little skittery because the footing was getting slicker, but he jumped great. We had one rail down, but no stops!! Yay!! So... for next weekend... GRRRRR!! :) 

And you know what made me happiest!? Flecky just keeps getting happier and happier!! He's back to his lean mean prelim machine self :) He was sooo excited about jumping :) YAY!!! I think he likes his aluminum wedgies back. 

So.... quite the miserable weather but quite the fun day!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dressage Day

Today Fleck and I got back to High Point for lessons again. It was fun! We started off and Cindy said that she liked how I was slow in the up part of my post but that I needed to be just as slow in the down part of my post. By posting down fast, I'm telling him to bring his hind leg down fast. And that's not what we want. So... I tried. But holy smokes that is hard!!! Seriously hard!! But we must have been making some progress because Cindy said it was working :) Then we moved on and focused on the canter work. NO tipping forward into the canter. I got better at it. Then I just need to remember to make my elbows heavy (Ie.. bend them and keep them by my hips) and keep the connection. Fleck was REALLY getting my half halts today! It was awesome. He got some serious sit! Of course I need to remember to keep my seat cantering and not stop, thus turning the half halt into a halt. ;) I also need to keep my hip moving up in the canter to the right. And keep my right leg down and long. And forward... and when I did that.. it settled right where it needed to be and Fleck could bend around me. :) yay!!

So then we worked on the canter/walk/canter on the second quarter line. That's hard for me. I can do a decent canter/walk/canter anywhere else, but doing it at the second quarter line on the short diagonal is hard! Cindy said to just visualize a fake wall to my side. I didn't think that was what the problem was, but it really helped. We got a really decent one. Yay! Maybe this weekend won't be a total disaster. :)

Oh, and while warming up we worked on the turn on the haunches, and I think Fleck and I are getting it! Whoo hooo!!!

Good days!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Under and Over Achiever Me

So... Fleck had Thursday and Friday off because of work. Saturday was a pretty day and I was determined to ride despite being exhausted. I ended up taking a short nap and then managed to get Fleck to Ashland before the rain was supposed to start. That meant I missed Peri's dressage ride though. So I get tacked up and I noticed that Flecks left front has started to shift to the side a little. Not too bad though. So off we go down the trail. I get about 1 minute into it and suddenly Fleck is walking funny. I look down and his darn shoe is twisted out to the inside. So he's walking half on a shoe and half off. ARGH!!! I REALLY REALLY wanted to do intervals with him. I was so bummed. So we walked back to the trailer and I was able to pull it off the rest of the way. The good news is that it was 90% chance rain on Sunday and our pony club clinic was already cancelled. So at least I wouldn't have to be double bummed about missing another day or riding. 

Kip was able to come out Tuesday morning and redo his feet. We put him back in his aluminum wedgies which he seems to like best! 

So Wednesday I was good to go for my jump lesson with Beth! Yay! And Fleck is back to feeling himself! He's back to snorting and going after the others at feeding time and just... sproingy again! :) Me... not so much. ha! This week has kicked my butt in work and I'm just exhausted. Even after sleeping pretty much all day Sunday. I didn't sleep well Monday day because I was stressed about work contract negotiations. Then Tuesday I had to stay up for Kip and then once he left the people who were cutting down trees arrived. So the chainsaws kept me up. Then work was slammed again. So this morning I only managed about a 1 hour nap before our lesson. I told Beth if I was ignoring her... it wasn't that I was ignoring her but that I had fallen asleep! 

But it was a good lesson!! Fleck felt great! We worked on a fun grid. It was a big cross rail with two ground poles then a one stride to a vertical with ground poles on both sides. We jumped it both directions and I had to keep him trotting in, then push a little for the out. And it highlighted the left drift over the vertical out. Fleck was too smart to drift left over the very high crossrail. ;) So then we did a few courses. Beth made me put my stirrups back on the ball of my foot.. not rammed home like for XC. She said that it would make my ankle more flexible and thus help me keep my knee off the saddle and from pinching. It did! Of course it also felt like I was standing on my toes, but she pointed out that was just because it was actually almost on my toes for the first time. It did help. Despite the fact that I felt like I was going to slip out of my stirrups every stride. ;) 

The first few courses were just not together. Beth said that I was letting him get long and strung out. And sure enough, he had to take some flyers. And then this one stupid vertical kept getting the best of me. TWICE I flung myself up to Flecks ears with at LEAST one more stride. And Twice FLeck said "Excuse me Mommy... I cannot possibly jump this with your entire weight on my head"!. So then she reminded me to not let him lengthen. So then I went from not doing anything... to overdoing it. I would over lengthen and then he was chipping in and not having enough energy. Argh... 

We finally got it though... Balance and half half EFFECTIVELY (ie... take a good pull and give when he gives vs snatching repeatedly) on the turns and approach to the fence, connect him but keep the energy, and even shorten him. But then... when he's within 5-10 strides away.. just sit there. Settle and be there supporting him, but don't adjust. And it worked. Like magic! We got some beautiful fences, even when she jacked them up. And I stopped riding the vertical like a freak. And I managed to not squeak my foot back too far home in the stirrups. :) 

So then we went for a short hack to the lake and soaked his legs for a bit. It was neat... the sky was a little creepy cloudy and there was a big family of hawks soaring and calling.. then a herd of bounding deer! Fun times. :) 

So... now if I can just remember to do everything right for Windridge, we should be good :)