Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Birthday from Fleck

Fleck gave me an awesome Birthday!!! It wasn't the best day in general, but Fleck was my shining star! I had some chiropractoring to do, so I didn't get to take Dan with us, but it was still great. We rode at Ashland and did some dressage.

Holy smokes!!! He was awesome!! Right from the start he was soft and supple and lifting his back. It was fantastic! We had some amazing leg yields, some wonderful and square halts!! Like repeatedly! We had some pretty decent canters too and some LOVELY three loop serpentines. And we even did four steps shoulder in, four steps half pass, four steps shoulder in, four steps half pass, etc. We also played with the canter down centerline to the trot to the halt. Lots of fun. Just a really fun, happy, soft and supple ride. :) :) It was great!

Which, come to think of it.... I adjusted his sternum prior to our ride. He was all grumpy and squealed and stamped his hindfoot as I did it, and then immediately licked and chewed and softened. Must have worked, because that was one heck of a ride!!!

At the end we went for a quick hack. Fleck was spooky! But I was giggling at him because during our dressage ride I had my phone playing music. And it was fine... we were just bopping around. As soon as I finished, Cotton Eyed Joe came on. I thought... oh, I bet Fleck likes this song. So I picked him back up to do one or two more loops just to see how he liked the music. Yeah.. negatory on that one!!! He made it abundantly clear he was NOT a fan of Cotton Eyed Joe and was insulted that I would think such things. Hee hee.. 

Goober. I love my guy!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Fleck and I manned up to brave the cold cold weather. And it was worth it!!! It really didn't feel as cold as it was. I think it was actually 35 but the windchill was 24 at the highest. But really, it wasn't too bad. I put a quarter sheet on Fleck, put a scarf over my ears and under my helmet, fleecy breeches, soft socks, my dublin boots, long underwear, sweetshirt, and fleece vest. Oh, and winter gloves. But really... not too bad!

We had fun trail riding. We took it easy because it was so cold and Fleck had two days off. And he had his appointment with Kathryn on Monday. Which was great! She said his knees felt awesome but he was definitely sore in his hammies. Poor guy. He cracks us up. He was giving her horribly dirty looks, but then loving on her. He would hike a leg and wave it at her, but never kicked her. Goofball! So then I adjusted his knees before our ride because he didn't let me do it the other day. And holy smokes!!! Talk about crunching!! Egads... His right knee was wretched. I think every carpal bone was out of place! The left knee wasn't much better. 

BUT... he hacked out great and felt awesome on the trials :) We had a blast. Tomorrow we'll do some flat work and then something else Friday and then it's XC schooling at the Gibbes all weekend. Whooo hooo!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Grid Day!

Tough day... I had a meltdown. Fleck sort of did too. But it ended FANTASTICALLY!!

I really think that this Winter has been tough on me with not being able to ride and jump as much. But it's getting better slowly but surely and I'm getting my groove back.

Grid day was at Wishing Tree and it started with a seemingly simple exercise. Trot poles to a small vertical, then around to two bounce poles to a small skinny vertical. The bounce strides were VERY tight though, so Fleck had to be rocked back into a teeny bouncy canter. It was very hard for us. After a few times through I started to get too handsy in an effort to make him stay small. He would start in a lovely collected dressagey canter and then at the poles, lengthen and scramble rather than stay collected and bounce. I could have sworn that I was collecting him while keeping my leg on, but the more frustrated I got, the more handsy I got. And within two or three runs, he was pogoing and doing half tempi' changes down to the poles. I basically told Beth I didn't know what I was doing wrong and was frustrated. She got on and he was fussy with her but not nearly as bad. And he did it. Then I started crying (no... I just teared up! Difference!) because I told her that deep down there was part of me that was afraid I was hurting him and going to break him. She told me that it was okay to be upset... it's just cause I loved him so much. But to remember that he can do this! It's hard because he has to work a little harder so he's trying to avoid it. But that it was more beneficial to him because it helped protect his knees, it kept him off his forehand, and was just better all around. I know this... I do know this. But my brain just sort of freaks out. 
So I got back on and Beth said to make sure to close my leg (she took my spur off so I wasn't goosing him) and to ride him into my hands. But that perhaps I was getting a bit too jabby/grabby with my alternating half halts. I needed to focus on smooth gentle half halts. (Unless he was running through them, then I could be sharp once, but had to let go). 

So I did that... and counted.. and it was beautiful! Well, mostly beautiful. He got a bit runny a few times but I was able to sit up and make him wait and it got wonderful. Ahhh... yay!

Then the jumps got bigger and then much bigger! I was so proud of myself because I was able to keep riding properly and adjust him. And you know what?! He was so much happier!! And not even compared to when I was losing my cool with him, but even before. Jumping was easier for him and he was soft and supple, so he just relaxed and was happy and confident. Yay!!!

Jeesh though... one of these days I'll keep it together. 

Dressage Lesson

Giggles... I'm still not sure whether to be mortified or flattered... We had another lesson with Sandy and she just seems so flabberghasted at us! She keeps saying that she just can't believe the difference in the two of us from when she first saw us. She said we win the award for most improved in the least amount of time. Really though... I think it was all there. We just needed someone to push us to get that last 5 percent to complete it. :) 

It was a good lesson. We worked on the same usual stuff. Still boot camp for basic dressage. Ha! Dressage for beginners ;) 

It was good though. We got some really nice lovely canters! Nice and uphill and balanced and supple. He floated!  I still need to find the balance with the left rein when tracking right. I can't hold too much because then he can't bend, but if I don't hold some, I lose his left shoulder. But we figured it out a bit more. 

And then I really need to focus on that left hand. I really need to keep my thumbs up and not cock my wrist. And I need to pull down and back. And my right hand needs to stay back with my elbow bent. No more raising it. 

It was a good day. Cold, but Flecky worked up a sweat. As did I! :)


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Trail Ride and Canter/Walk help

Fleck and I are both suffering no ill effects from the face planting that occurred yesterday. :)

 Fleck got some new shoes too. Not super different but slightly different. They have a farther back break over an thus more sole support, as well as allow the shoe to go back a bit farther to help support his heels better. Yay!
 So...given those two events, and the fact that we wanted to trail ride, we trail rode! Peri joined us and we had a good time. We started out hanging out with Kim so she could school with Bear. After she finished, she left us and Peri and I went on a long walk. We had a good time. At one point a giant crane took flight just about under our feet! Both ponies were good and Fleck barely flinched. When we finished, Peri even hopped over a few fences with her new girl in the XC field. Yay! Fleck and I watched and then we made a pit stop at the ring as we headed back in. I wanted to see how he felt with his new "kicks". Peri watched and said he looked great. I didn't feel any ouchies or anything. Yay! And that was without meds. So then I did a quick canter to walk just for fun and Peri mentioned that I was bracing too much and needed to not lean back and brace because it was making him invert and slam on the breaks. So I tried to go with him a bit more and it was pretty decent. Then she suggested that as I come down to the walk, I ask him to leg yield just a step or two. So, for the right lead canter to walk, ask him to leg yield to the left for one step. It was VERY helpful!! It helped both of us not brace and it snagged Fleck's attention, which meant he wasn't immediately wanting to jump back up into the canter. Yay! Plus it helped keep his butt underneath him. Way cool!!

Now back to work :( 
But I've got a lesson with Sandy on Saturday and then I'll trail ride after. Then Sunday grid day at Beths' farm. Then Monday is his session with Kathryn. And I adjusted him after our ride today. Need to finish him and do his extremities tomorrow. Then he gets Tuesday off and then Wed is the start of a FUN FUN FUN week!!! Wed ride, Thurs ride, Fri ride, Sat and Sun XC schooling at the Gibbes!!! And then Mon another ride, Tuesday my lesson with Cindy, Wed another trail ride, and then back to work. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Epic Faceplant

That's right...for both of us. :( 

But we're both just fine. :)

We had a jump lesson with Beth today and started out just fine. We were jumping and working on keeping him forward and in front of my leg but balanced and supple. Beth wanted me to to ride him into the wall created by my hands. And I just wasn't getting it. But I finally had a few good jumps and then... splat! Fleck jumped just fine and landed just fine, but then one or two steps later... he just didn't pick a foot up and fell to his knees. He skidded a few strides and then pretty much almost flipped. Of course, he threw me and I went flying into the ground. I was afraid he was going to land on me, so I tucked and rolled right and got out of his way. And he avoided me. Poor pony. He had dirt all in his bridle and on his face. He gave himself a slightly bloody nose and nicked his fetlock, but was otherwise fine. In fact, he acted like nothing went wrong. I think he was worried about his friend that had gone back to the barn. ??? He trotted out sound so I got back on. 

The plan was to just jump that jump and be done, but... I messed it up. He jumped it fine at the trot and then at the canter but I was upset. Not about the fall. That really had nothing to do with the jump. But I was upset with myself. I can't get my act together. I would get a few strides out and just freeze. And apparently when I think I'm freezing, I'm throwing my shoulders at him and taking my leg off. Sigh. So we did it another time or two and it was better but I told Beth I was still not riding well. So she made me count. Out Loud. I counted every stride until we jumped, and then I started counting again. And darned if it didn't help a lot. Beth said that I tend to overthink and by counting, I have to occupy the part of my brain that overthinks. So therefore, I just ride naturally and it works better. :) And yep.. it does. :)

So we ended with three good jumps and headed back in. Fleck was fine and stayed fine. No issues with him. I'm fine too. Not really sore even. The ground was soft. 

Fleck also got new shoes today. Wayne put slightly different wedgies on him to see if it'll help his heals. They have a bigger plate up front to help pull his breakover back and it gives him more heel support. We'll see if it helps.

So... trail riding tomorrow and then I probably won't get to ride until Saturday when I have my lesson with Sandy. And then grid day on Sunday with Beth. But jeesh... I need to get my act together. I feel so .... horrible! Prelim is so out of the question right now... I feel like I can't even get it together for novice. Sigh... But it'll come... I know it will. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

I missed you too Buddy!

Ohhhh Flecky Fleck... you big weirdo you! I missed him so much!

We basically had two weeks off because of work, then the flu, then Kansas. Oh, and the awful weather wasn't helping the situation either. But whatever, two weeks off is no big deal. He's had a light Winter already as it is, so... meh.

But today we're back in action!!! YAY!! The rain held off and it was quite pleasant out. I loaded both boys into the trailer and we headed off to Ashland. Danny stayed on the trailer while Fleck and I went out and did some dressage. He was pretty darn good for having two weeks off. We did our usual warm up and then got to work. He was tracking under well and there was no scuffing. But he was falling out behind more than usual, so we'll have to focus on our fitness and do some hills. We did our canter work and Fleck loved it. He cracks me up how excited he gets when we do walk/canter/walk transitions. We had some really good ones and then he felt like he wanted to do more, so...we picked up the canter and cantered down center line and did "five tempis"! :) We did five steps of canter, then walked five steps, then five steps on the other lead canter, then walked five steps, then five steps of canter, then halt! It was awesome fun. We quit with that and Fleck was still full of spitfire.

We headed out to the XC field to do some hill work and say hi to Kelly Eaton and friends. We said hi and Fleck and I started our hill work. They were finishing up so after about 6 up and downs the hill, they were heading back in. I figured Fleck would want to go too so we headed that way. But he had other ideas. He basically bolted and took off towards the end of the field. I wrestled him back (I had my gloves off and the icky ouchy reins and his dressage bit) and headed back up to the path to the parking lot. Well, he bolted again! So fine... you want to gallop, why not?! Let's gallop! That little turd galloped all the way to the lake, turned around and galloped all the way back up the hill to the path to parking! What on earth is going on Flecky?!? hee hee... I just had to laugh. I was finally able to get him to head back home after that. Guess he felt he deserved his gallop! And who am I to argue?


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014!!

Fleck and I rung in the New Year right!!! Just the two of us, on the trails of Ashland. We had an awesome trail ride that included some gallops! :) Man I love this horse!

Again, I just hope to have another years worth (and many many more to come) of fun with this big guy. If all the pieces fall into place, I'm aiming to celebrate our 10 year anniversary together in Kentucky for the P3D. I'd also love to get some more dressage shows in and work towards getting our bronze medal. And on the bucket list for the year is to go back to Beaufort and do some more beach riding, more summer swimming at Ashland, more trails, maybe skijouring if we get enough snow... more fun! We checked parade off our list, but perhaps we can do the 4th of July one this year too. My ultimate goal is to spend time with him and keep him happy and comfy. He loves to compete, so as long as he's happy, we'll keep doing that too!


Good-bye 2013

Fleck and I said Good-Bye to 2013 with an excellent dressage ride! We worked on what we've been working on. We even got some really nice counter canter serpentines!

And while I'm not super eloquent with my words... I would like to try to commemorate some of the most fabulous moments of 2013. It was a good year. Fleck made an amazing comeback and I couldn't be happier with him. While I'm hoping that 2014 is also an amazing year, I'm just glad to have my friend. He really is the coolest, most fun, goofiest, awesomest BFF ever!

 We kicked January off with an awesome schooling show at Full Gallop. Fleck and I ran prelim and aside from one rider error stop, we rocked it.
 We froze our butts off at the Buck clinic but had fun and learned to "ride the landing".

 FENCE!!! Whoo hooo! Fleck and I had an awesome show. We were actually in FIRST PLACE after dressage!!! What what?? That never happens! We had some time on XC and dropped back to 6th, but that's cool. Clean at prelim :)
 Another clean Prelim run at Windridge. This one was kinda scary, but Fleck ROCKED through the steeplechase to bendy skinny line and was awesome.
 We made our debut at recognized dressage and got started on the bronze medal!
 We ran P/T at Pine Top and had the most incredible XC run. We were both foot perfect and had so much fun!
 Another run at Full gallop Prelim and we rocked it again!

 Awwww, snuggle time with the bestie.
 Lots of night ridings!

 We did a second recognized dressage show and showed 2nd level! We managed to get our second 1st level score and our first Second level score. Go Fleck! Way to hang with the big kids. I think there was even 4 in that class. :)
 We tried our hand at competitive trail and did pretty darn well. I was quite impressed with how well Fleck handled things. He did great. We'll definitely do more next year!
And... Christmas Parade pony!! Again, he amazes me at what he tolerates. :)

God... thank you for giving me this joyous beast!

More Boot Camp

After the last boot camp with Beth, I didn't get a chance to ride again. I had to work 8 - 8 Saturday, which turned into 8 am to 10 pm. Poor ponies didn't get dinner until 10:45! And then Sunday it was raining and gross and I went to Dover and it took a lot longer than I thought. So no riding. :( But... I did get my new riding jacket exchanged and new reins and more hoof polish. And I ordered Danny a new leather halter. So... it was productive.

Monday was another boot camp day with Beth. I got there in the morning and rode Tucker. He's gotten much better since the first time I rode him. I really like him. We were in the ring since it was so wet in the fields. Beth set up two  barrels with wings on a large circle and we worked on me. She had me trot him over both and work on my position and not dropping him. I was having problems when we got to a deep spot. I would half halt to ask for the add, and then drop him - no leg, even throwing the reins at him. FINALLY at the end, I managed to half halt for the add while keeping my leg on and not abandoning the reins. Yay! This was going to be so helpful for Fleck. Fleck doesn't react so much when I do this to him because he's used to it. So it was nice to have Tucker to ride and spell it out for me. After riding Tucker I did a chiropractic adjustment on him and then we got Nike out. I did the same exercises with him. He's so much fun too! He cracks me up. He's so cute with his upwards. It's like he gears up and then explodes into them and then immediately settles. Hee hee. He was fun too and I got much better at getting and holding the engaged canter while keeping my leg on and immediately sitting back down and getting the canter back after the jump. Yay! Then after Nike's ride, he also got an adjustment. I then adjusted L.C. and Atlas. Then I had to stuff my face.

Then it was Fleck's turn. Poor guy had been standing at the trailer, but he was munching on alfalfa and had the geldings in the pasture to hang out next to. I got him tacked up and we flatted him. We worked on getting him round and soft and straight, upright in both shoulders. We also worked on my position... keeping my right shoulder up and back. And wow!! We got some good work from him. He's really getting quite fancy! I had to get him really stretchy and loose in the warm up. Don't waste any steps!! Ride like a professional! No more farting around.. make every stride count. He's only got so many left. So we worked on getting him supple in his back and then gathered him up. By lifting my right shoulder up and back, it allowed me to not be sitting and digging so much with my right seat bone, which allowed him to lift that right shoulder. I just need to make sure that he's really bending through his ribcage and whole body, not just his neck. So then we worked on collecting the canter into a small bouncy canter. It was tough! Fleck thought so too. But he did it. I just have to keep my leg on. After that we moved on to the canter serpentine. Beth said I have a tendency to move his neck too much. I guess I thought I was supposed to change the bend as we went through the serpentine. I think I thought that overbending him to the true bend/canter bend was "cheating". So... I had to work on keeping him bent to the inside and moving his shoulders. It was tough! But he also didn't fishtail. Of course the first time we did it the hard way, we couldn't turn. Ha ha!! We started our counter canter and then just carried on across the ring. Hee hee. doh! But we got it. Yay!

So lots to work on but I'm excited. After I finished, Beth hopped on to try some flying changes. Whoo hooo!!! Going from the left to the right, he nailed it!! It was clean! Sure, it wasn't super collected and he leaned in a bit, but he was clean. :) Going the other way was much tougher for him. He ran through two of them before he got them. But he did it twice his hard way! Both times were clean, albeit not pretty. But still, clean!! YAY! Good pony.

We finally  headed home. It was a long but fun day!