Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dancing in the Rain

So.... it's "Go time" for the P3D. Technically I still have a LONG time, but since Fleck and I will both require some specifically taylored prep work, we should start early. And really, it's only 12 weeks away. So... Even though I was tired and grumpy, I rode. I mean, technically I wanted to ride. It was just... hot, and I was running short on time, had other things I could have/should have been doing, and I was grumpy. But I went. And I'm glad I did. I pulled in and told Fleck that I was grumpy so he was going to have to fix my mood! And he did. As usual. ;)

We just went for a hack because I am going to jump tomorrow and we had a tough dressage lesson yesterday. I wasn't sure if he'd be a little sore from working muscles we haven't worked in awhile. And I had rubs on my knees. And I was grumpy. :) So we set off and did our 15 minutes of walking warm up. Fleck was jumpy! He was on a mission to find someone and every little noise made him flinch. And he was on high alert. Which made me giggle. So then we hit the open field and decided to do some trotting and cantering. It didn't look horrible out weather wise, but it started to sprinkle.

Well then... the sprinkle turned into a downpour! Doh! And of course, we were pretty far from the trailers. I wouldn't have minded really. It cooled it down and Fleck put his head down and trotted quite nicely through the woods. Although I was expecting being in the woods to be a bit dryer, but nope! Anyways, I had left my truck windows down and the tack room door open, so I was a teeny bit anxious to get back. But I decided to enjoy it! We trotted and cantered down the wooded path, went by the waterfall, and then headed back over the dam. Then we galloped in the XC field back up to the barn. It was GLORIOUS! We danced in the rain. :)
So then I decided I probably should roll up my windows. Turns out, we had done 3.4 miles in 45 minutes, so I figured that was probably good enough. Plus, I was still running low on time and figured since I had put Dan in the trailer, I should probably work him.

Thanks for saving my mood Flecky! You rock! (Oh and I did a teeny bit of two point work.. but man, definitely not as fit as I was hoping... must work on that!)

Dressage lesson with Sandy

Man.... that was rough! I definitely let some bad habits creep back in. Or maybe I just haven't been working quite as hard again at fixing them. But it wasn't HORRIBLE.... I don't think. ;) We got some good work. 
Things I need to remember:
  • turn my thumbs up, especially on the left hand
  • try to keep my elbows at my sides - like I'm holding rolled up newspapers under my arm, but not in a tense rigid way
  • don't roll or tense my shoulders, keep my chest open
  • sit on my butt, not perched, but don't let my legs clench
  • long legs, opening up in the front of my thighs, letting them stretch
  • legs long with my heels out almost, so my inner leg is on Fleck (not toes out, heel gouging him)
  • sit on my butt and make him sit on his butt
  • ride the walk/trot/canter I want, not what I have
  • really think about weighting my inside leg and seatbone. I tend to get shifted to the outside
  • bend my body how I want him to bend. My shoulders should be slightly rotated - the inside one back and the outside one forward and my pelvis should be slightly shifted in
  • Hang my elbows at my side - the weight should be in my elbows, not in my hands or my shoulders
  • keep my fingers closed around the reins, not a fist, but almost. 
And I'm sure there are a ton more, but for now, that's all my brain can remember. It was a good lesson. Lots of hard work and both Fleck and I were so sweaty we were dripping and you could wring us out! But it was good. It's nice to get back in gear. Frustrating, but nice. 

No pictures as we looked like drowned exhausted rats ;) 

Gallop/fitness day with Cindy and Buddy

 Today was a fun day! Cindy and I met up and played with the boys. We rode the "old farts" first and had a fun hack and fitness set. We did some walking, and then about 20 minutes of trotting. Then we did some gallops. I think it was three sets of 3 minutes. The second one was a real gallop as Cindy let Buddy out some. Well, Fleck is like his momma. He gets a little competitive, so we had to stay in front of him. I never know if Cindy holds him back and lets us win or if we actually beat Buddy. I'm guessing she lets us win. Buddy was a pretty good racehorse. I believe he ran for quite a few years and won a decent amount. But regardless, Fleck kicked it up a notch. Apparently our top speed was 24.95 mph. :) Wheee! So yeah, I'm sure Buddy was letting us win. Such a gentleman. But it was fun regardless. We won't tell Fleck that Buddy let him win. ;)

So then of course, we had to go soak in the lake. The boys were like kids. Just chilling but as soon as we went to head home, they had to splash around.

Trail ride/hack day with Kelli

Today was a relaxing trail ride day. We joined Kelli and Arwyn and went for nice long walk. I think we did about 3 miles in 1.45 hrs. (Arwyn had some "moments" that slowed us down a little bit). ;) But it was a fun day. It was nice to catch up with Kelli and Fleck got some good work in.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Setting goals.... and feeling good!

So... yesterday was my day back on Fleck after his day (well, two technically) off after Chatt hills. We met up with a friend and had a nice dressage school and then went for a nice little hack. It was a good ride. Fleck worked hard and we even had a full 3 loop serpentine of REALLY good canter to walk to canters. :)

So then on our trail ride... Kelli and I chatted. And I kind of freaked out. It's just so hard. I love Fleck so much and I'm constantly worrying that I'm doing wrong by him. But I'm also a competitive person and I'd really like to accomplish the P3D. With HIM! Not any old horse... (granted, I would also like to accomplish it with Dan, but point is... I want it with Fleck too). And he feels great. I mean, this weekend, he was jumping like a boss and schooling dressage like a freak. So...why is it so stressful. Because it is. Because it's Him. Because I LOVE him. So I pretty much broke down. Kelli told me to give it to God. And I do... but apparently I'm obtuse and can't hear so then I still stress and feel like I'm misreading signs. I just don't listen very well. But anyways, after a long talk... I've got a plan. And I think it's a good one.

We're going big and then it's done. I'm aiming for the P3D and we're giving it all we've got! No more tentatively planning on it. It's a go. Assuming.... that Fleck feels good and I don't get any signs from him or God that we need to hang it up. It's only a few more months. This is when Fleck feels good. It's now or never really. So... I've got 2-3 more events, the Stephen Clinic, and XC schoolings and lessons to get my shit together. Assuming I can pull it together and we have great outings at the next 2-3 shows, then we're going and we're going to be competitive. If I can't get it together and we have more not so great outings, then... we'll either do the T3D, or hang up our hats and admit defeat. I'm not going to ask him to do the P3D if we're both not ready. I'm not expecting to win, but I would like to go and finish on our dressage score, and a respectable dressage score at that! And then... we can "retire" him. Not in the sense that he's done... surely not! But he can retire from Preliminary. :) Maybe we'll still do P/T's, maybe we'll still do schooling shows, maybe we'll just still jump for fun and do local jumper shows, and maybe we will just do dressage and trails. But we will stop doing full Preliminary's. He's earned it. But I would like for us to get this last one under our belt. I don't know why.... pride? Proving he's awesome to the world? I don't know. Proving I can do it? Because I want to accomplish that goal on HIM? I don't know. Call me stubborn. ;) But I think we can do it.

I found a picture... that I'd love to make into a shirt... P3D 2014!!
So anyways.... that's the plan. I'm feeling good about it! I'm also going to have Dr. Kim out to give him a once over and make sure she feels that he's up to it. And I'm going to have Aunty Kathryn work on him. And hes' going to get all sorts of wonderful treatment to keep him feeling awesome - chiro, massages, glucosamine, etc. So yay! And if it doesn't work out, so be it, but I will at least have done my part. He's great. I just need to ride him great.

So anyways, today we had a jump lesson and we're off to a good start! He was a little lazy starting off as it was super early. Before his normal breakfast time. ;) But he was good and listening, just not fired up. So we warmed up and Beth had me work on myself, making sure I do the "clam". I'm getting it, I really am! I even found that if I do the "clam" in general, like even on course and through the turns, I ride much better and get my changes. Whooo hooo!! I feel like a weirdo but Beth assured me that my legs are actually in the proper position, and not in front of his nose like they feel like. ;)
So then we had a 5 stride line. He jumped in quiet and I immediately went to half halt and then was a bit late to push him to open up so he really had to reach for the 5. Beth said my reaction time was too slow. So we worked on fixing that. We came to the swedish and on take off and landing I was instructed to "GO!". A little kick, a little whip. But only once. And I could not touch his face or sit down on his back. I had to say "Go" with my body too. So we did it but I did it for too long the first time. So we did it again and it was better. Then we did it a third time but with me sitting a bit more in the tack - ie stadium style, not XC style. I finally got it.

So we did a few courses and they were actually really good!!! Fleck was in front of my leg and going for the slightly long spots. Beth said it's a fine line with me... and she'd rather me have him going and be a bit long, then behind my leg, but that eventually I would need to be able to refine it a bit and get him a bit more collected but still forward. So we had some good rounds and then we finished with a figure 8 over a square oxer. The first time to it, we came in weak and had a pukey jump but he landed and said "GO" and our loop back around to it was AWESOME! So we came to it again and he jumped it beautifully both times. Beth said that because I reacted and corrected the issue, he was able to regain confidence and continue on. Rather than me being a spazz and having to fight to correct it and it going downhill. It was great!!

A great ride! He felt amazing and I felt like I was riding well. We were together and with it. Whoo hooo!! Off to a great start!

Oh how I love this guy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chatt Hills....

Well... we came home safe and sound. A little disappointed though. But thrilled in other ways. 

Short story: Fleck was awesome in dressage and awesome in XC. I goofed and we retired on course 5 fences from home. :( 

Long story:

I spent a good chunk of the day Friday cleaning tack and getting packed and organized. My tack was sparkling!! And man, did it need it. After all the lake riding, it was in rough shape. So we hauled out and made decent time despite traffic and rain. We unloaded and got settled and then Beth joined us so we got on to school. Wow!!! Fleck felt AWESOME! We had a good school. Beth made sure that I really went for it on my canter lengthens! Like I do on the long side. BUT... the key was keeping that outside connection and keeping his jaw soft. Sooooo much better. :) Then when I focused on collected trot in the canter/trot/canters, they were much better and had the right amount of steps with the right amount of energy, impulsion and connection. Wheee. My trot lengthens felt pretty darn good too! And my leg yields were good except I need to make sure to keep the right bend. Lately, he isn't wanting to bend to the right as well and keeps counter flexing. We noticed that at the halt and rein back too. So... right bend, right bend, right bend. Even into the halt and rein back. But Beth was impressed in general :) Yay! And did I mention Fleck felt GREAT! Sproingy even. :) 

So then we bathed and went to walk XC. Egads! I'm getting to the point where it's not terrifying me, but I know I'm going to have to RIDE. Like really really ride. It's tough but doable. But I guess that's good. The course was simple to start... basically three gallop fences, starting out easy and getting bigger and wider and more upright. Then the fourth fence was the sunken road. But really, an easy sunken road compared to Paradise. Not as big and vertical coming in and exiting, without brush. But the D was on a bendy line. But not bad at all. We've done it before, just not recently. So then you went over another big fence, then a fun mogul thing... over a cabin, uphill to the top of the mogul, then downhill to another cabin on a bent line. Lots of fun! Then another big rampy thing (good thing I jumped that one at Cedar Ridge!) with a bowl effect/valley then uphill to a seemingly small but actually huge and wide brush fence. Then onto the A frame teepee thing. Then... this is where it got a bit tougher. Straight uphill alongside the down bank (the man from snowy river down bank!) then a sharp turn, down the down bank, then diagonally down the hill to a teeny cabin. Then into the water and over a big cabin, up the bank out of the water, two strides to a skinny. Okay... then it's a long gallop to another table, then through the woods to another tough combo. A tight roll back turn to a very upright vertical brush. You could jump the right or left side, but the right side was VERY inviting for a run out. If you jumped left, you had to then do a sharp right turn over a small brush to get out. Not too bad but technical. Then a short ways to the giant honking table over what used to be the ditch and wall. Eeeks.. It's a big table. And it's just a table... just a table that anywhere else would be fine. But because it's OVER the ditch ... even though it's completely covering the ditch, it freaked me out. Then just four easy fences home...the stone wall, the chevrons, angled to a small table/cabin that you could angle, and then the final fence was an easy brush fence shared with intermediate. So... the course wasn't that hard... as long as you could get in okay. If you couldn't get in, then you would definitely have issues getting out. 

So long day of then braiding and walking and getting back to the hotel. I didn't even eat dinner. In bed at 11:30 pm and up at 5 am. At least i got to see the moon, which was super gorgeous. :) 

Dressage warm up was pretty darn good. He was feeling great and Beth was working me hard. But we got some good work in. Then I was waiting and waiting forever for them to let me go down and they wouldn't. Then apparently I wandered off and they were calling me repeatedly. Doh. I finally heard them and the judge blew the whistle as I was still an arena away. Egads. I told myself not to rush. I had time.... but I was still rushed. Which, I probably would have been anyways. I always get rushed and locked in the actual test. But it wasn't a bad test for us. Really not bad at all. We ended up with an 8 on our leg yield to the left. YAY! Finally, back to 8's. And while I thought our trot lengthen was MUCH better, we only got a 5. But mostly 7's otherwise, with a fair amount of 6's. So we ended up with a 37.8, which put us in 12th of 16 I think. But we were against some big pro's too. I think we could have scored better had I slowed myself down, but... that's always the case. 

Got prepped and ready for XC and made it down on time. He felt GREAT! Ready to rock and roll and feeling good. We schooled some fences and he was jumping big and bold. My last minute reminders were "Keep the stride from lengthening to the fence" and.."more leg". :) 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.. have a great ride! We were off! And it started so well! The first three fences were awesome - he just clocked on over. Then the sunken road went beautifully too! I think he did put one pitter patter step going down, but he got the two and two to get out. Wheee!! Off we went to the next few. The roller coaster mogul one rode great and was fun. Same as the valley thing and he jumped the stew out of the A-frame! We were on a roll!! So I rode my plan... galloped up the hill, tight turn keeping his shoulder and leg on and LEAP!!! We lept super big and bold off the giant drop and of course... I landed in a heap. Eeeks. Forgot my landing gear or just got jumped out of the tack. I lost a stirrup but by golly we got over the little log out. It wasn't pretty. Ha!! (wait til y'all see the picture... hideousness!). But we got out. Well then I had to get resituated. I wasn't about to do the water complex without a stirrup. So I halted him and got my stirrup. In my brain... I couldn't circle. DUMB!!!! I NEEDED to circle. I knew we had to have LOTS of energy to get over the giant fence in the water, so I spurred him and GALLOPED into the water. But yeah... Fleck said "really mom? Four strides in water and you expect me to jump the giant table? I can't"! So... yeah. We circled proplery and got our gallop on OUT of the water and then came right around and jumped it beautifully. Then up the bank and over the skinny. It was a bit tight to the bank since he jumped so bold over the water, but we managed it. Then galloped on over the table. At this point, Fleck was breathing pretty harsh. He really doesn't like the humidity. I was a little concerned, but he was still galloping strong. He wasn't trying to slow down and I wasn't having to leg him on. But I could tell he was getting more tired. But we were close to home. So through the woods and then to the final tricky combo. He jumped like a beast over that hedge. I mean, like a beast!!! Again, I got thrown out of the tack, but we managed to get over the out. He's looking for the fences, so I pointed in the general direction and he angled out over it. Love him!! Then... I was still a bit discombobulated but I think I tried. I sat down and closed my leg. I used my crop. But that darn table... I could feel him stopping a few strides out. And I just didn't make it happen. :( So... that was our second stop on course. I had one more. BUT... I really didn't want to get eliminated. And I had a feeling it wasn't going to happen. He was tired, I was tired. I was just afraid that if we tried again, it wouldn't happen and I didn't want to risk another E. So... I retired. 


 Super frustrating as that was really an easy gallop fence. It was a hard approach, but an easy fence. And then four easy fences home. We would have been done. Argh... And Fleck felt so good and was going so well. I know I let him down. And I'm mad at myself, for not getting it done. It's an easy gallop table. I think I was trying to get him too show jumpy and shut him down. And I  just quit. I felt him back off and said "Yeah, me too" instead of "no dammit, we're so close to home". 

But all in all, I'm proud of him. He was jumping like a beast, and I have some AWESOME Xc photos to prove it. I wish they had let me stadium jump, but oh well. And I wish I had finished as I know he only has so many days left where he feels this good. I hate that I screwed it up for him.

But the plan is to dig deep, get it done, and go out in style at the P3D. We'll aim for Full Gallop, then Stableview, and then hopefully Windridge too. Then the P3D, and then... Fleck can retire from prelim eventing. I can't promise we won't do some trainings or even P/Ts, but he'll retire from prelim eventing. And obviously if he doesn't feel good all the way to the P3D, we won't do it, but... he feels great now, so... I just need to learn how to ride better. And get fitter myself. 

Lovely last day before Chatt Hills

 Ahhhhhh...... Yesterday and today were so hectic. On Wednesday, I took a nap and then got in a quick ride with Peri. I did a quick hack and then jumped him into the water on XC. He was a bit unsure at first, and kept doing his pitter patter and then landing on all four. Peri said that I was a bit tipped forward, so maybe between him being unsure and me being forward, he was trying to protect himself. So I sat up a bit more and he leapt off like a big boy! Yay! Problem solved. Then we jumped in the ring. I just did one course to make sure we were together. And we were! He jumped from the long spots when I asked and from the tight spots when I asked him to wait and was jumping well. We didn't do anything huge as I didn't need to. Just wanted to feel him out. So yay!

Then Thursday I was running around ALL day trying to get stuff done before the weekend. Then it ended up raining pretty hard for about an hour or two as I was hoping to go ride. Finally it quit and Mike said he didn't mind, so I hauled to Ashland for a quick flat. We warmed up and ran through our test twice. The first time was great. The second time, he got a little quick in his canter/trot/canter transitions, but we smoothed it out. Then since Judy and Cash were there, we couldn't resist a short hack and a dip in the lake. It was gorgeous out and I'm glad we did it. A nice end to a rushed day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fitness Day

 Today was a great day for fitness....nice and cool and a beautiful day. We did our usual....20 minutes of walk, 15 minutes of trotting, and then three 3 minute canter sets. We finished up by soaking in the lake for a good bit. He must have been pretty hot because he got in deeper than normal ;)

XC lesson: not as much cobweb dusting as I expected!

No pictures other than this cute one of the boys, but... Fleck and I did have a great XC school at Cedar Ridge. It was a good prep for next weekend, though I still kind of wish I had more time to get one more in. Preferably at Chatt Hills, as many of the competitors will have shown the weekend before and then schooling is open in between. But oh well. It just isn't going to work out for us. I'll have to hope that we don't "Need" to school it before we show it. 

And Beth said that if I ride like that, it won't matter one bit. We'll be awesome ;) So... how was riding like "that"?? Basically, I had to rev him up and get him in front of my leg but in a nice forward but energized semi-collected canter. Yes...he was galloping and at speed, but he couldn't be strung out. We had one moment of UGH..... ;) My bad totally. We were doing a little course and we went downhill to the small little tree branch fence, then uphill to the up bank and then over a little log. Well... I came down the hill and was trying to balance him but totally left my leg off. So he poo pooed down the hill and had to heave himself over the little branch. It was so bad that I'm pretty sure my heals went so far back that I was able to click them together over Fleck's back. Ugh. So we went back again and this time I rode him with impulsion down the hill and energy and we had a great ride. :) 

We also did the big corner and the little corner and a bendy line of skinnies. Granted, the skinnies were small, but we were working on technique. Then we did a small bounce. Again, small, but the point is the same. Beth just reminded me that I need to keep him collected and on a short stride. He's game to go for the flyer, but he can't if he's strung out. And it would be more obvious over the bigger jumps. We also did this scary ramp looking jump. I don't know why they scare me but they do. I just need to remember to ride looking at the base rather than the top. Otherwise, I can't see my spot. Of course it doesn't really matter where my spot is if my canter is correct. ;)

So yep... Fleck was great and other than the rampy thing, nothing looked scary. Which was exciting since it had been awhile. I still felt like they were a bit small but Peri said they were as big as they've always been. ;) 

So yep... the plan is to do fitness tomorrow, then off Mon and Tues, then a jump school (quicky) and hack Wed, dressage Thursday and then leave Friday. Eeeks!!!


Dressage Fun

 And back to work!! We've done some dressage since it dawned on us that we are entered in Chatt hills in a little bit more than 2 weeks!!! EEEEKSSS. But guess what?! It's prelim test B! In a big arena. Whooo hoooo. So much fun. I think this test will be good for Fleck as it's got three halts and a reinback. :) Fleck tends to like those. So fingers crossed we'll score well. 

I had Kelli watch us run through the test and she gave us some great pointers! First, I need to just ride the darn leg yields straight. If i focus too much on leading with the shoulders, I end up getting all twisted and wonky and doing some funky cross between a half-pass and a leg yield and it's just not right. I'll fare much better to just have straight leg yields. Then, she said I really need to keep that outside connection. Every once in a while (And that's Kelli being nice), I lose it and he bulges with his outside shoulder. It's a much prettier picture if I can keep him in that outside rein. So... HOLLY!!! HOLD ONTO THAT OUTSIDE REIN AND KEEP PUSHING FLECK INTO IT!!!! Ha... that MIGHT do the trick ;) And then finally, when we do our simple change across the diagonal, Fleck was bracing and rushing and losing the suppleness. It's because I was expecting him to rush into the other lead so I was bracing. Kelli suggested that I soften my hands but hold with my core, so that he can't brace. And lo and behold, it was lovely! He was bracing because I was bracing. And then because I was hanging, he was rushing into the other lead to protect himself. Now, I have to really keep him engaged and use my core, otherwise he falls on his forehand, but it's still a much nicer picture. And then, the only other thing I need to remember (well, not the only other thing.. jeesh, but one other thing), is to really keep his trot and canter collected except when it's supposed to be a lengthen. His canter and trot tend to border on medium in general. I need to ride him much more collected so I can show a true difference. :) 

Easy, right?!? ;)

But so far he seems to be feeling great and is ready to go :)

And just because we're "off" vacation, doesn't mean we can't still play in the lake after we work :)

One last Vacation Day!

 Fleck has mostly gotten the month of June off. We've hacked a bit but mostly just played in the lake. Then I went out of town for vacation/CE and Fleck got 10 days off. It coincided well with his final round of IRAP. So, I'm back in town and it's time to get back to work. BUT....we'll have one more play day!

 It had started raining as soon as we got out there, so we're a little wet and bedraggled, but it was a light rain and quit soon enough. We were there to get wet anyways, right?!

Funny enough... I spent 8 days at the beach without getting burned and totally forgot sunscreen today and ended up burning the tops of my legs. Doh!!

It's good to be back on my boy!!! Oh how I missed him!