Sunday, November 24, 2013

Epic Trail ride

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

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

Quite the exciting day. ;)

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

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

Shocking the judge!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take that ditch and wall!!

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

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

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

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

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

Jump lesson

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

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

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

It was a good ride. Lots of fun. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Helmet Cam!!!

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

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

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

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

More Fall Lovelyness

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

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

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

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

Lots of trail fun this time of year!