Friday, May 16, 2014

Dressage fun

I had another flat lesson with Beth today. Flecky was good! We worked on the ol "KISS" method. :) And then we worked on more fun stuff! Like leg yields and trot lengthens. And even canter lengthens.  :)

For the leg yields... it was much better when I had the proper connection. :) I just need to remember to keep the shoulders and the haunches. And then with our lengthens I need to remember to build in the corner and then don't let him all out at once, but let him build. That way our second half is better than the first half. So to build in the corner, I almost think about dribbling him with my core. Or my seat. At least in my brain. ;) Then I need to half halt but with my leg on, and without the judge noticing because I change the rhythm. But I do need to balance.

And then we perfected the change across the diagonal through the trot. It was good in the good direction and better in the bad direction. I need to remember to collect the trot and show at least four steps. And man, it was beautiful!!!

Now if I can just keep these same rides and ride that way for Paradise! Eeeks... one week away!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flecky has lost his mind!

Oh Flecky... you are a fool!! hee hee... I took him and Dan to Ashland today. It stormed and POURED all last night. And today was supposed to be more of the same. But it actually turned out fairly nice, despite being windy and about 15 degrees colder than usual. So I messed with Dan (rode him actually!!) and Fleck pitched a fit for most of the time, stuck in the trailer. So then it was Fleck's turn.
We started out and he was very fresh. Which was great, since he was sore yesterday. He has a big nasty gross frog sulci infection that was making him tender. But the bute seemed to help. So we were off! Fleck was on a mission! Trek on!
As usual, I was letting him steer and apparently letting him pick the speed too. Which was POWER TROT! So finally we hit the hay field and broke into a canter.. and then a gallop. He was cracking me up. He was running and neighing and looking for friends. I don't know if he was looking for Danny... or trying to find Cash or Zhar or Arwyn or Tess??? But he was being ridiculous. :)
Then he saw Luisgi and Amy out in the field behind Halfshire. FRIENDS!!!! I thought we were going to give Luisgi a heart attack. I managed to walk Fleck up to say hi. Then we had to leave because Luisgi is better alone. And Fleck had a tantrum! A hissy humpy bucky hissy. Then once I got him moving, he took off with me (more or less). Sigh... silly boy. I'm glad he's feeling this good.

I'd like to say that I eventually got him calmed down but no. I let him gallop in the XC field and we hit 25 mph. ;) But then I could only manage a short happy trot before I realized it just wasn't worth the fight. I managed to keep him to a walk for a good bit heading back. We made it back to the trailer and Fleck was like... "Oh... him... yeah.. I forgot it was HIM that I was so anxious to get back to". Doh! Silly boy.
I love the fool! Man do I love the fool!

Trails and flatting

This week was rough at work. And then Mike and I were fussing at each other. And chiropractic work was stressful. So I really needed to do this. Fleck and I had fun by ourselves Saturday and then we had a quick hack with friends Sunday. Ahhhh....

Keep it simple stupid!!

Yep... You see the look Fleck is giving me. Duh.. 

So yeah... Dressage is simple.. it's just not easy. And apparently I make it way more complicated than I need to. Way more complicated. Sigh... 

But the good news is... now that I have had this pointed out to me... yet again... I can fix it. Hopefully ;) I had a really good lesson with Beth and then one or two good rides on my own. Basically I just need to go inside leg to outside rein and sit and wait. If Fleck fusses or doesn't cooperate, DO NOT change things. Don't decide that he's bulging out his outside shoulder so therefore I must close my outside leg and then... because he falls in... I must cross my rein in an effort to get him to stop leaning. And then because he's leaning, I want to fix that and must .... and the cycle goes on. Get my point... Just sit there and wait. Fleck will cooperate but it might take a few strides. 

And get this.. it works!! :) Inside leg to outside rein. The key is that I must remember the outside rein needs to stay steady. And especially on the right side, back. Basically I need to keep my elbows at my sides. 

So yep... in my lesson I was doing just that and then Beth had me do a few patterns... and then she had me halt. And she asked me "Now... WHY can't you ride like that in a test?"! hee hee. I do not know... I do not know. Sigh... So that's the plan. Ride SIMPLE! 

Oh, and then I mentioned that Sandy has said my downward transitions were too abrupt. So we worked on that. Beth had me add leg during the downwards. Only I couldn't manage to do that. So then we did a few transitions of canter to trot and right back up to canter. Only two steps of trot. After a few of those, she had me just come back to trot and stay at trot. Fleck threw his head up and was like "wait?! no canter?!" BUT... it accomplished what we wanted. I learned how to close my leg and ride an upward balanced downward transition. :) wala! 

And I have been able to mostly maintain it too! See... foamy mouth. And even better... equal foam on both sides! Yay... now to just see if I can do this at Paradise and not panic and revert back to my old bad habits. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jumping with a dash of dressage

Fun day today! I hauled Flecky up to Wishing Tree for another grid day. Beth always has such fun grids. We started with a long grid - ground poles working up to fences with ground poles. Then we added another grid... bounce pole to crossrail oxer, four strides, to another cross rail oxer and a bounce pole. Those were tough. Especially because I seemed to have lost steering all of a sudden. I don't know what I was doing, but I suddenly couldn't steer and resorted to flinging my hands all over the place. Sigh.. but once I sat down and rode him into my connection, it was much better. Still not thrilled with my ride today but it was a good lesson. Just frustrated with myself. We ended with a fairly decent round with some crazy lines, so that was good. And I managed to get some lead changes today too! When I asked :) Yay!

So then.. at the end of my lesson I told Beth I had a dressage question. I was getting pretty frustrated the other day and couldn't figure it out. I knew if I didn't ask her, I would continue to fight it and get flustered and take it out on Fleck. Or even just confuse him more. I told her that it felt like he was very much popping his right shoulder out and overflexing to the left when we were tracking left. I felt like I couldn't get him into the right rein because when I closed my inside leg, he would throw that shoulder out. So then maybe I was closing my outside leg trying to get him to straighten up. ??? She got on and felt him out and said that basically... I need to quit overthinking it. I need to set myself up properly and then let him come to me. But to give him time. I think that's what is happening. I'm asking inside leg to outside rein, but then freaking out too quickly that he's evading and then contorting myself to try to fix it. Which then puts my position out of place which means he can't be correct. So she worked him a bit and got him looking nicely. She told me that I also needed a pretty strong connection on the outside rein. But not to hold it without being elastic. But I also didn't need to give it away, especially going right.
So I got back on and tried it. Holy crapballs!! Flecky felt NICE! He was up and straight in the withers and his back was lifted. NICE!!! And actually, I was able to get him to do it too. There was a bit of shenanigans and his shifting. Beth reminded me to keep my inside leg (especially the right one) at the girth!!! If I put it at the girth it signals for him to bend. If it slips back, like it tends to do, it's telling him to throw his haunches out. So... what it felt like to me... was to keep riding inside leg to outside hand, but to use that outside hand to block him from flying out the outside shoulder. But not by hanging... by half halting. And amazingly enough.. I had a half-halt! It was nice!!! I opted to just trot both ways and canter both ways and then quit. He had already been jumping awhile and it was hot and he was tired. But it was AWESOME! I wanted to keep doing it. But I didn't. So now.. just to remember that when I ride tomorrow (hopefully). :) 

I swear... I amaze myself at how disoriented I get. It's NOT THAT HARD HOLLY!! Seriously... inside leg to outside rein. I know this... I *thought* I was doing it.. but now I realize I"m totally not. And it's not like people aren't telling me to do that. I don't know how my brain and body get so twisted around..  Jeesh... It's a good thing Flecky is such a saint. Sigh....

Fitness and Fun

It's kinda been a poopy week. I've been stressed about the chiropractic stuff. It's like being a new vet all over again. I *know* I know what I'm doing and I *know* that I can't expect a magic cure and I know I've told clients such, but it's frustrating when their animals aren't "fixed". So I've been letting that get to me. And then the e-clinic has been busy. At least it hasn't been too stressful. And I'm trying to do more stuff with Mike but he was a total butt today. Sigh... So it was a yucky day. We were supposed to go school XC but that got cancelled. So I was kinda bummed. Well, really bummed. I took both boys to Ashland because Danny just really wanted to come. I was planning on dressaging as I've been bummed about that too. But then I decided I was too grumpy to dressage and Fleck and I might as well do fitness work since that was the original plan with XC schooling. So we did. Dan hung out in the trailer while Fleck and I went on our fitness schedule. 
We walked for 15 minutes. Then we trotted for 20 minutes. Then we tried to walk and take a quick break, but Fleck was having none of it, so we did our canter sets. We did 3 three minute sets with only 2 minutes in between. Until the last one. We ended up at the dam, so we had to take a 4 minute breather to make it across the dam. Especially because the darn egret (or heron) wouldn't really leave. He flew off and came back twice! But Fleck was game and felt great! It was a gorgeous day too! I even worked on my "clam legs" while we did it. :)

 So after our fitness work, we headed back to the trailer and got Dan. And Dan was a little spunky so poor Fleck had to do a bit more work. We did a short little trek and trotted some. Then we went to lake to soak Fleck's knees and hocks. And watch Danny play. I swear, that kid is like a kid at the pool. He wouldn't get out. Fleck got to soak for a good 20 minutes while Danny just played. Hee hee. (see Danny's post for hilarious videos) Fleck played some too but mostly just watched. Though he did use Dan's butt for a scratching post. hee hee.
 Such a fun day!  I met up with Judy and we had a blast playing with the ponies. We flatted some and then went for a ride. The boys had an absolute blast playing in the lake! Fleck loves Cash so much. We honestly sat there for about 30 minutes just talking while the boys played. Fleck had so much fun splashing and got me soaked! Literally, he kept hitting it just right and causing massive splashes to come straight up at me. My legs and thighs were soaked. My boots had water in them and they didn't even touch the lake! It was from the splashes dripping back down my legs. Goof! But they were so cute!