Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jumping Bean

My poor jumping monkey! But.. he loves it. And WOW!!! He is jumping better than he's ever jumped before. I'm so ecstatic! We went to Wishing Tree today and had so much fun. We worked on the canter mostly. And I was giggling because as I'm getting on and warming up I'm telling Beth how Cindy "yelled at me" about the trot and then realize... Crud!! I'm doing that stupid fast choppy trot again! Doh. Ha ha.. So after a few strides, I got a nice trot. And then we did a short little canter each way and went to work. We started with a trot pole to a vertical and Beth wanted me to get him rocked back on his hiney, although not necessarily collected. I mean yes, she wanted that nice bouncy upper level dressage canter, but not cranked. And then I was allowed to let him out just a bit to move up to a fence if needed as long as he didn't lengthen and get flat. And the trot pole really helped with that. So we did it both leads a few times and then she raised it and we did it a few more times. I finally got the hang of it. Well, that's not true. It didn't take me near as long as it has in the past to get the hang of it. Our jumping canter is really coming along! 

So then we worked on a "terrain" question. It was just three smaller jumps set up on the hills with valleys in between. Like a roller coaster. Only to a much less degree than the skinny coops we just played with at Chatt Hills. So I thought, no sweat! Ha!! I don't know why, but Fleck spooked and almost went backwards the first time through. I had to ride him HARD, but we did it. Then the second time wasn't much better. Beth wanted me to get 6 instead of 5, although she said the 6 was comfortable too. I heard that as "ride him very collected" so I think we got 7, almost 8. Argh. I tried again and it wasn't any better. She said that I needed to ride a plan. Regardless of whether I chose the wrong plan or not. I was waiting too long to see that my distance was off and waiting too late to try to make corrections. So we tried again and I got it. Phew. I think I was thinking I would have to collect but really I just needed to ride smoothly and he made the 6 easily. 

Then we moved on to some courses. They were fun! We did the trot pole, to a natural (hanging stick) skinny (which shared a standard with the corner), to a triple, to a fan, to an oxer or two, and then two upright barrels. Okay, well not in that exact order but those fences. Beth said that I needed to pick a plan and ride THAT plan. She would rather me ride the wrong plan than just sit there and not pick a plan. We did pretty darn good! I lost my canter a few times and got a little panicked and held him instead of half halting and releasing but I also got his canter back a few times and was very good about keeping him balanced and connected through our turns. And I stuck to my plan! I jumped into the roller coaster line fairly big and bold so I yelled out "FIVE" and we did it in five. As we landed over the second in the line I yelled out "FIVE" again and sure enough.. we did it in five. Yay me! Then we did another course and came to the corner for the first time. Poor Fleck... I tried to get to the most narrow part and then sort of chickened out, so he didn't know which jump to jump. Since i didn't tell him, he opted for the skinny and ducked right and jumped that one. Ha ha.. They did share a standard! But once I committed myself and told him THIS JUMP.. he did great. 

Then she raised the jumps a hole or two and sure enough... I panicked and did nothing and it fell apart. BUT... the good news is that the second attempt, I was able to pull myself together and RIDE and it was mostly VERY GOOD!! I was pleased! So was Beth. And so was Fleck! Like I said.. he's seriously jumping better and better each time! And I was quite pleased with my leg too. I tried to fold at the hip and it seemed to help. And Beth's alternating half halts are helping too because it's reducing my holding. Yay!!! So I just need to make sure that I'm not holding, I'm not allowing him to lengthen and run past his spot, and that I am going with him and not relying on the rein and him to pull me with him. But that in doing that, I'm not jumping ahead. That's all ;)

BEFORE I get in the saddle.....

I have a new mantra.... and I must remember it BEFORE I get in the saddle. And remind myself as I swing up. And remind myself as I start to warm up. And KEEP reminding myself. ;) 

And that mantra is... We will NOT go choppy, fast, and mincy. We WILL go BIG and BOLD and forward and LOFTY!! No more fast choppy trot steps. From the very get go, EVEN in warm up, I need to sit and wait with each post. I need to encourage Fleck to take big forward long strides and track up behind. He CAN do it. It's just not what he naturally wants to do. But the more I encourage him to do it, and the less I allow the choppy fast stuff, the more likely he will be to stay that way. And it's so much healthier for his joints and his soundness too. 

So anyways, once Cindy got onto me for warming up in that shuffly trot, we had a nice ride. She put kinesio tape on my shoulders and I really think it helped me with not rolling my shoulders forward and hunching. We worked a good bit on the trot with halfpassing and shoulder in to renvers. It was fantastic. I really got some good half pass trots in. :) 

So.... NO MORE SHUFFLY FAST TROT!!! EVEN if I'm just "warming up". ;)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kristin Schmolze Clinic

Today Fleck and I got up early and picked up a friend at Ashland and headed over to Coyote Creek for a lesson with Kristin Schmolze. I'm so glad we went! She was very helpful. It was super hot and muggy and poor Flecky was a bit tired I think. But he manned up and was a good boy. We started with a grid. We did two cross rails in a bounce and then two oxers in one strides, eventually finishing doing it backwards. It was fun. Kristin told me that I needed to supple Fleck more prior to the fences. To do that I had to bend him around my inside leg and push him into my outside rein. And then for me, I needed to fold at my hips more. She said I was good with keeping my shoulders upright but that if I folded more through my hips I would make it easier for Fleck to use his neck and body. I tried and wasn't really successful at doing it right I guess. It felt a little too flingy and I lost my lower leg. But then the next time around I figured out how to fold a little more without throwing myself at him. So then we did a little mini course and went to work on the corner. It was a little frantic and desperate at first. Kristin explained that I was letting him get long and flat. (shocking.. haven't heard that one before! hee hee). But she also suggested that I ride a little closer to the inside corner so he doesn't have to jump quite as wide and that to do that, I swing a little wider out. It helped a lot. And we got much less frantic! Whoo hoo.

So we finished with another course and it was okay, but not great. I did feel a difference with me bending more at the hips but I wanted to instill it in. And I'm so glad we did. Cause it was AWESOME! We nailed it, even the corner! And I bent more at the hips, which this time... pushed my seat back a bit more, which made my legs more secure, and Fleck jumped like a beast! It was great. I really think that it will make my struggle to keep my lower leg under me better. And because my seat was back, I didn't feel tipped or insecure. WHOO HOOO.

I'm so excited to jump again and make sure I can maintain that. But poor Flecky.. he's been a jumping bean! Luckily he gets dressage tomorrow, then jumping again Tuesday. ;) Poor kiddo... I will give him a ton of cookies and ice :)

Chatt Hills Schooling fun

My original XC schooling plans fell through, but I ended up heading over there with Cindy and we had fun playing. We decided to take the kiddos too so we left them in stalls while we took the big boys out. And man... was Fleck pissed. But he settled down and once I got onto him he started jumping. He gave me some side to side crazyness and even stopped at the first combo (the coffin). Turd. But once he started paying attention he was fine. In fact, he even surprised me by doing some pretty technical stuff! We did the skinny cabins that were on the two mounds. It was like a roller coaster! And then we did the angled brush fences. In three, not two, but we did manage to eventually get it in two. It was still a bit of a stretch for Fleck because I just couldn't get myself convinced enough to jump in bold. We did a few other fences and then went to the sunken road. And he just sailed right through it all! Well, he jumped it fine. Once I let him be a bit bolder, he jumped boldly through and did fantastic! I was so proud!

We had a good time. Then Fleck had a hissy fit while he stayed in the stall and Danny went out to play. And then when I tied them both to the trailer, Fleck bit Dan. Ha ha.. Silly spotted pony.

Anyways... lots of fun! I'm so excited that Fleck feels so good. He's jumping well, he's jumping bravely and boldly and he's having fun! YAY!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dressage Lesson

And ugh... I had gotten as bad as I thought! So glad to be back at Cindy's so she can whip me back into shape. Fleck worked hard and we had some good moments. But we also had some "what the heck am I doing?" moments. Hee hee. The big theme of today seemed to be my left/inside shoulder. It needs to be mobile and loose but not getting forward. The other big theme was that every ride I need to remind myself of my new mantra... "I will NOT go fast and flat"... :) Now slow my post, sit my butt, and get that lift :)

Last minute Jumper Show

One of the farms in Athens was hosting a jumper show. I really wanted to go as it was laid back, close, and had fun courses and more accurate ride times. BUT, I had long ago scheduled a chiropractic appointment with Dr. Brown, so we couldn't. But, the jumper show was an evening show and my chiro appt got pushed up an hour early so it actually worked out perfectly to go straight to the jumper show from the chiro. It also meant for a long day in the trailer for Fleck, but that's not unusual for him and he had Sunny to keep him company and I bought a fresh new bale of orchard/alfalfa, so they were happy. 

Fleck had a good visit with Dr. Brown. He was actually a bit sore in his right hind and SI and his right TMJ, which has never been a problem for him before. But Dr. Brown said his knees didn't seem to be bothering him really at all. SCORE!! Gotta love that IRAP!! And that was even with the scraped up knee. (Though it really was just a flesh wound). He adjusted quite nicely out of the SI pain and Keelin even said his muscling and top line looked good. Yay! 

We got to the jumper show with the perfect amount of time really. I checked in, brushed him quickly and threw tack on and headed up to the warm up ring. It was so much fun. It's such a relaxed atmosphere. Everyone else was done but stayed to cheer us on. It was just me and Cindy riding and Karen, Kelli, Peri, and Brenda all stayed to cheer. We had a blast!! We started with the 3'/3'3" class and had fun!!! Super fun courses! There were lots of roll backs and bending lines and s curves. We did a lot of angling fences. And Fleck was phenomenal!!! 

He was locked on and taking me to every fence! There were a few times where I held too much and he added. He wasn't thrilled about it but he did it. And he only knocked down three rails in a total of 5 classes or something like that. And they were totally my fault. He was rocking and rolling and rocked back on his haunches. We got a good chunk of our lead changes and even did a two tempi when I got lost. Hee hee.. He was really good at the roll backs even... I felt a bit like I did on Roany! Such a good feeling. And it was a blast with everyone cheering. At one point Fleck was coming to a vertical like gang busters and I said "Easy there Big Red"!. hee hee. Not sure where Big Red came from, but.. it seemed appropriate at the time. He was so keen! Kelli even said that he was like a border collie...on a mission and locked on! hee hee. Our last class was 3'6" and he was amazing! He jumped like a fiend despite me not riding as well. I held too much over one fence and he basically heaved himself over it (without touching a rail) and then I decided we were going for the bending line vertical 4 strides out and he manned up. He then showed his displeasure by bucking on the landing... hee hee. But he manned up. Not a single stop!!! He was on fire!! So I let him quit with that. I felt kind of bad. It was a lot of jumps with tight turns in a short time. And he was just adjusted by Dr. Brown! Doh. 

But it was so much fun. You could tell he was having a blast too!! And it was fun hanging out with our friends too. I'm so glad I made it. We'll go to another one in August. Can't wait!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Catching up....

So... Monday was an icky day... It rained.. and rained... and there was lightning. I'm not sure if it actually rained at Ashland when I would have been there (after work) or not, but... it just looked so bad I opted out. But Tuesday I was able to go ride. I ended up joining Robin and Alex and we had a good time. We went to the jump arena and played around. It was SOOOO good to be back jumping. Fleck felt great too. He was taking me to them and jumping well. Whee!!! So then we went to the lake for a quick rinse and a short trail ride.

Wednesday I rode before work and Fleck was good. I assume... I can't honestly remember what we did now... flat work I guess. Oh yes.. because they were logging. So we did some more flat work and got some nice work and there were no falling trees to scare us despite the warnings. :)

Then he had Thursday and Friday off and we were scheduled for a jump lesson with Beth Saturday. Yay! Well Thursday morning when I got home he had a big poofy right knee!! ACCKKKK! Luckily it was only a scrape! Tis but a flesh wound. ;) He had scraped it on something and given himself "Rugburn" again. And of course, Princess that he is, it swelled up and was hot and oozy. Argh.. so I cold hosed it, sprayed it with silver spray and gave him some previcox. Then the next morning it looked much better but now he had a chunk missing from his coronary band! Oh for Pete's Sake Fleck! GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER!! ha ha... Anyways... fixed that up and added SMZ's for the knee as it was still oozy but much happier and crossed my fingers. I REALLY wanted that jump lesson.

Luckily for me... He was sound. Yay!! I hauled him and Danny to Ashland (see Danny's blog for that story!) We got there and Christina and May were there for their lesson too. We double dated. hee hee. So... Christina's friend was helping so when she went up with Sham for their jump lesson, her friend Jennifer took May up there. Fleck was a little sad that Sham left him but he was good. I groomed him and Danny and got tacked up. I took Fleck up to the jump ring as Sham was finishing and surprisingly Danny was awesome. He just stood tied to the trailer like a champ. Didn't even fret. Once I got up there, Christina was pretty much done and heading down to the trailers again. Which was good for Dan. BAD for Fleck. And he let us know it. Hee hee.. It cracks me up... He's so funny because he was soooo worked up, but... you just know he's not going to do anything bad. He's silly.. but not stupid or naughty. So he spent the first 15 minutes screaming, head up, and dancing in place when he wasn't running forward. Hee hee.. I love it! I have to admit it.... He's way easier to ride that way though.. He's so focused on his buddies back at the trailer that he doesn't question anything I ask of him. He just does it... granted, while somewhat braced and inverted, but not horribly so. And.. I got an AMAZING collected canter!!!

We did the square of doom. It was fun! It was basically a square of four verticals, one stride apart. One set slightly tighter than the other because of logistics. We got a very nice rocked back collected canter. A fourth level dressage canter!!! It was seriously lovely. We joked that we would start taking Dan or Sham to shows and then suddenly pull them away so I can get that lovely canter. Only.. I'm not sure I'm joking... it was phenomenal! Anyways, we did the jumps set low and worked on getting him collected and rocked back through them so the distance was easy. And it was easy! So then we bounced the corners of the rails. So instead of jumping straight through, we jumped through the corner but did it as a bounce, not a full corner. It was easy once I got the right line to it. I was cutting my corner too much which was making it too easy. :) Then we raised the jumps to make it a challenge. I started out okay but then she raised them a bit higher and it all fell to pieces. Of course... this was when Debbie, Denise, Nancy, Judy and someone else showed up to watch. Argh.. I looked like a monkey. Fleck was jumping in nice enough but jumping me out of the tack and then having to heave over the second one because it was so tight and throwing me more out of the tack. So.. I worked on keeping him collected and balanced.. and not getting him so collected in the turn so that he got behind my leg and then lengthened. I could let him get a bit bigger in the turn and then almost collect more to the fence. I had to wait for that extra stride, then doing a landing half halt.. where I almost use my hands as a block... or a wall for him to run into as he's landing, but then soften. And then half halt again before the second fence. WHAT?! That's a LOT to do in a split second Aunty Beth! But I must have managed it somehow because we had two or three nice runs at the end. I even managed to keep my feet underneath me some too :)

So yay!!! We quit with that. :) It was most excellent and very educational!

Then on Sunday I paid for all the fun and woke up at 3 am with a migraine. By the time I slept it off I only had a few hours before work and ended up cleaning out the basement with Mike instead of riding. Oh well. Wednesday will be here soon and then it's back to work full force!!
Wed I'll ride and then go see Dr. Brown. Thursday is dressage with Cindy. Friday is trails with Julie. Saturday is XC at Chatt Hills. Sunday is a jump lesson with Kristin Schmolze. Monday is an early dressage lesson. Tuesday is another jump lesson with Beth and then Wednesday will be a relaxing trail day with Sham and Christina hopefully. Phew!! But... we're aiming for Prelim at Full Gallop in August and then Texas in Sept!!! (training level for the AECs, but still!).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rain is a good thing.... Right?? Really? Are you sure?

Argh.. it's been raining for what seems like eons lately. But I've been riding :) Nothing too exciting...Wednesday we went for a dressage ride to get back in gear. He was good. Then Thursday we did more dressage and went for a trail ride. Then Friday, the one sunny day!, I ended up not having time to ride. Argh. But that's okay... He got new shoes. And I had a fun date night, so... it was okay that I didn't ride. Then Saturday I had to work at the day clinic but I managed to get home in time to sneak in a ride. We went for a trail ride that converted into fitness. We walked to warm up and then spent the next 25 minutes trotting the trails. We walked in the really mucky areas (which shockingly were very far and few between) and over the bridges. But otherwise, all trotting. It was a pretty good work out. Then we walked a bit to settle and did two canter sets in the field. I figured two 3 minute sets was good for getting back into the swing of things. Plus it was so hot and muggy. So then we soaked in the lake a good bit and headed home.

Today we did a quick dressage work during which Fleck was really good!! He gave me some lovely half pass work and then we played with 8 strides canter, 8 strides walk, 8 strides counter canter, 8 strides walk. On a Circle!! :) He was pretty darn good! I was so proud. Then we went on a trail ride with Sarah Beth and Jennifer and had a good time.

Tomorrow we'll jump with Christina and Sham and then hopefully ride Tues night too after work. Then I'll ride Wed before work and then not til Sat.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A little break from vacation

So I realize that Fleck deserves a real vacation, but... he had 10 days off! Plus the week before he was only ridden once or twice.. and this week he won't get ridden too much... so I went for a little ride. He was happy to be out and about too! I just couldn't help myself!

I hauled him and Dan both to Ashland and rode Peri's mare for her since she came off of her yesterday and was sore. She's fun. Tough, but fun. Then I knew I was going to have to beat the weather and since I knew it was still Fleck's vacation and that Dan was super bored.. I took both of them to Ashland. I lunged Dan first and then since he was a bit tired.. I decided that Fleck would be happier if I took Dan with us. Well.. maybe not. Fleck kept pinning his ears at him and getting mad!! And Fleck wanted to go!!! He was really wanting to move out and trot and canter and go! So we did a bit of trotting and cantering with Dan. It actually went pretty well. Then we went to the lake for a bit. Fleck chilled and Dan went for a swim. Then we did some more cantering and...Apparently Fleck did NOT like cantering with Dan. He reached out and nailed him 2 or 3 times with his hind end. Argh! Dan peeled off so I let go of him. Then hopped off to check him out. He was holding up a leg but I think it's where his hoof had peeled back. He's got such flaky feet. He had a little nick that was bleeding but I don't think it was bothering him. Within 20 seconds he was walking on it again fine. Phew.. So I got back on and we headed out at a walk. We got back to the trailer and I tied Dan up and thought I'd take Fleck back out for a bit. Because obviously he wasn't happy taking Dan with us. Well.. he wasn't happy without Dan either! Maybe he was just all riled up but he was all up and antsy and wouldn't pay attention. I finally managed a decent canter and decent stretchy trot so I let him quit with that. Guess I should have left Dan at home, but...we had fun. And it kept me from working Fleck too hard. Though the big guy felt great and was raring to go!

So today he'll get his third IRAP again and then another two days off. I'm hoping to ride him Sat and Sun. Just leisurely trail rides.. by ourselves! :) Then he'll get Mon and Tues off and then it's back to work on Wed!

Now to find another show to aim for so I have something to work towards. 

Man did I Miss him so! It felt so good to be back on his back!