Saturday, January 24, 2015

Gorgeous and Silly

He's such a goober. I came out to feed and he had that leaf just sitting there on his head. :)

trails with friends

It was a great day to go riding! I took Fleck out with Judy and Kelli and we had a fun trail ride. Fleck was definitely feeling grumpy though. Normally he loves Cash and Arwyn but as you can see, he was being a grump face. I think it's because something is still bothering him. He was just not quite right today. Kelli and Judy both could see something, but.. couldn't pinpoint it. We all think it's somewhat related to the back end. Although... that certainly didn't seem to stop him. Judy went for a gallop and I decided that I needed to go for a canter too if Fleck was feeling it. Kelli made some comment about riding without reins or something, so... as I cantered up the hill, Fleck wasn't kicking it into gallop mode, so I dropped the reins and pretended to fly with my outstretched hands. Yeah... Fleck was like "oh really"! So he took off into a bucking spree. Hee hee.. Gathered my reins and rode like a proper lady from then on. ;) But he did go for a little gallop and didn't seem any worse. So... I don't know what's bothering him or where, but whatever it is, it's subtle. Sigh.... Will schedule an appointment with Dr. Brown and see if we can fix it.

Squeezing it in

So today I worked all day and didn't really have much daylight left. But I really wanted to get a ride in, so I decided to hop on at home. At first Danny wanted to play and we had to fend him off for a second or two, but then he left us alone. Fleck and I warmed up and then started to work. But... something felt off. Fleck didn't feel lame but he was really resistant to bending to the right and was almost throwing his haunches out to the left, even when tracking right. And I'm pretty sure he normally throws them to the right. So... maybe he was actually just straight?!?! But I don't think so. I think something is bothering him. We cantered some and that went fine. Although for some reason I decided to try for a flying change and he threw in some serious bucks. hee hee. I don't even know if he got the change or not. I think he actually did and then started bucking. ;) oh well. We did a bit more work to see if I could figure it out and I never really could tell. But he was definitely wigglier than usual. So.. we'll see how he feels later and I'll adjust him and see if that helps too. Poor guy... I hate when he's not 100%. Especially because he keeps on trying.

Trail riding

Oh how I love this view. I just can't help myself. He's just so much fun. We had an okay dressage school and then hit the woods briefly.


It was SUCH a beautiful day that even though Fleck probably deserved the day off, we had to go for a ride. I was in a t-shirt! We had fun just hitting the trails. And despite my intentions of walking mostly, we ended up doing some trotting and cantering. Because yep... it was just that kind of day. Fleck was game and initiated most of it, so... off we went. Whooo hoooo

Run and Jump All of the Jumps!

Sweetness!!! It felt so good to be back and jumping!!! Fleck agreed. :) It was a beautiful day to haul to Full Gallop and go XC schooling.
I adjusted Fleck before we went out and as I was doing it a group of people came up and were chatting with us. They asked if they could take our picture. Hee hee... Fleck is such a superstar. :)
Then we headed out and Fleck was a bit of a turd at first. He was so excited to be out there that he was running off and wouldn't bend and wouldn't supple. Beth had me canter him in a circle and spiral him in and out and he settled somewhat. We started jumping and after a bit, he calmed down and was ridable. He jumped everything we aimed him at without hesitation! He was feeling good!

Beth knew I wanted to tackle my trakehner so after some warming up we went to the training trakenher. Fleck jumped it fine but it felt skittery. Yes... that's a word! ;) So Beth looks at me and says "You're going to hate me"... and I said "nope.... I'm not... and you're going to make me trot it, aren't you?!". Yep! She said that we were just running at it. I told her I thought that it was all Fleck and not me. But she said that my energy was telling him to run and even if it wasn't, I wasn't telling him to NOT run. So still my fault. :) So... we trotted it. A couple of times. Both directions. And finally, it wasn't even remotely scary and we started jumping it lofty and floaty and not ... skittery. :) yay!
So then we carried on and Fleck jumped the privet fence like a boss. We jumped the water in and out with the upright fence at the edge. The water wasn't very full so Beth said if it had been more full, I would have needed to jump a bit more cautiously in. If we had gone in like we did the first time we jumped it (basically strong and leaving out a stride) and the water was full, we would have had a lot of drag on the backside and I would have risked getting flung off because of the stop of the forward momentum. But if I collected him and show jumped it a bit more (show jump on steroids) he would have dropped into it instead of flinging and it would have been much smoother. Aha! So we practiced that and it was smoother.

Then onto the trakehner... The prelim one. I asked if Beth was going to make me trot it. Heee! I'm actually surprised she didn't. But she did say that if I came in too fast, she would! She said that Fleck needs time to see and plan on the "scary" jumps. If I give him time to think, he will jump it fine. If I run him at it, he can't plan and so he runs out. So I came super slow to it and it was glorious! Okay, it wasn't super slow... it was normal speed but at least we weren't running. But by having him slightly slow and balanced and rocked back, I was able to move him up to it at the last step or two when I saw my distance and he jumped it lovely! We did it a few more times and once was even too slow and he had to heave over it, but it was a non-issue. So it was nice that we learned how to go slow and think it through. I really think it'll be helpful. Because not only is it helping Fleck see what he needs to navigate, it's helping me see my distance and thus I can react! Rather than just hope and pray. ;) I think I can use this for ALL my scary jumps! ha... I mentioned this to Beth and she just rolled her eyes at me. Like..."duh! I've been trying to tell you that for eons!". :)

So then we moved on to the banks and we did the double up and down bounce banks again. Jeesh those are scary! But kinda fun. Fleck has a tendency to stop halfway down because I'm being dumb up top. So we learned that while I need to lean way back, I can't pick my hands up. I think I'm holding his head up and keeping us from falling but in reality... by holding his head up, I'm hollowing out his back and causing his back legs to stop, which makes us stop in the middle and makes it awfully hard on him. So what I need to do is actually push DOWN with my hands onto his wither. Thus giving him his head and not messing with his back, AND.... pushing myself up off his neck, which is where I tend to want to land. We got better... well, he was great. I got better, but not perfect, but I didn't want to punish him and keep doing it. The double up went much smoother.

Then we headed to the water and my only issue there was that I was asking him to jump down off a bend and Beth said it was much wiser to jump straight into the water, then bend. Duh. And Fleck was a big boy and even big boy jumped into the water. No patting the ground first.

Whoo hooo. We finished with a big gallopy rampy fence and I had to ride better to get a better more balanced NOT FLAT gallop. But we did.

Fun fun day. Both of us were very happy to be back out and about and jumping. And Fleck felt great over the prelim stuff. :)

Another dressage lesson

I love my boys! I really am so blessed.
Fleck was good today and we worked more on getting him into that outside rein and using his shoulders and forelegs to push himself up off the ground and lifting his withers, rather than just sitting. He needs to lift that fore. We also did a fun half-pass off the rail, then leg yield to the rail, then canter exercise. It was a little tricky but we got better at it.

Good stuff. It's so good to be back in consistent work.

Grid day at WT

Grid day at Wishing Tree!! It's always an adventure. ;)

Beth always seems so innocent, but she's not! She likes to set up hard, sneaky, challenging grids. But while they are always tough, they are always helpful. Today was no exception.
She started us out with alternating rails coming into the grid, which was three bounces. The trot poles made us really have to slow the rhythm down so that the horses could concentrate on their footsteps. And sure enough, if they ran through it, it was awkward. When I slowed it down and let Fleck see it, he was able to dance through it properly. And that set him up on his hiney so that he could get through the bounces without losing energy. It wasn't too tough at first, but as the fences got bigger, it became more obvious when they were losing power. Beth did the alternating angled fences in the bounces to help us focus on straightness. By alternating them, the horses had to really rock back on their haunches and fire evenly off both hind feet. You can see it in the video. But man... was it hard!

But look! When we got it right, Fleck was really rocking back and firing!

Fleck is such a silly boy! Oh I love his heart and try.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Right Obliques

Aha!! I love lightbulb moments! And in reality, I knew it already... I just couldn't quite find the right spot for my leg to make it happen. Thank goodness for Cindy!

Luckily I'm able to barter with Cindy for lessons so I'm back to consistent dressage lessons again. Yay! And I get to take both boys. Whooo hooo.

Anyways... I got on Fleck and Cindy said that while he's nice and round in his butt and back, he needs to be through in his neck. I know I KNOW!!! She said that to do that he does need to be forward but in the right way. She had me get his trot snappier. To do that I had to be a bit bouncier in my posting and focus on the up more than the down. She had me imagine trotting him over poles. And then imagine trotting him over cavalletti's. That got him a bit snappier. Then... I had to imagine trotting him over higher cavalettis. Apparently it worked because his gait improved. Whooo hoo. She also told me to remember to swing my crotch and not to let it get stuck in the saddle.

Tracking right has been an issue lately. I knew he was leaning in and bracing on the outside rein. And I knew that I was bracing right back. But I just couldn't figure out how to get him to soften other than throwing the reins away. Duh.. the answer was inside leg! Okay, I should have known that. And maybe I did and was trying but not quite the right way. Cindy told me to engage those lateral obliques to lift his ribcage up and away. Then it would create the space to allow his neck to soften and drop. Aha! But holy moly it was hard work. For me and Fleck. :) I really had to sit on the right seat bone, drop my right leg and make it long, and then really think about lifting his ribcage up and over. But it really helped.

Then we did some downward transitions. She wanted me to keep swinging my pelvis in the downwards because Fleck and I were bracing too much and I was stopping the swing. It took a few tries for Fleck to trust me, but we got much better downwards. They were much smoother.

Yay! Lots of fun. I can't wait til our next one. :)

Oh, and then we got hay on the way home. I managed to shove 10 bales in the back with them. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Yay!!! After a month or so of not jumping - other than the tree at the beach! - we had a good jump lesson. It felt good to jump again and I think Fleck enjoyed it too. :) We weren't as bad as I thought we would be. Yay!

We started off with some pole grid work, focusing on the canter. Beth wanted shorter strided, bouncier canter. And he had to be supple! Soft in his jaw! It worked. We got some nice jumps with Fleck using his body well. Then we went from the grids and poles to poles to a jump and kept it. The trick was not letting him lengthen his frame prior to the jumps and not letting him brace at the base too. We managed to get it and had some lovely jumps. I also wanted to work on my leg. Beth said I was pinching with my knee and that was making the landing hard on me because it took me longer to recover. She had me focus on taking my knee off the saddle over the fences. It kind of worked, but apparently I did it better when my brain thought of kicking my leg forward. Go figure. ;) We finished with a figure 8 over an oxer. She wanted us straight before and straight after and working on the nice soft supple canter. And I worked on my leg. It was a lot, but we got some good jumps. I just need to remember to use my inside legs in the turns and help support Fleck with it. Especially going to the right where he has the tendency to lean  and motorcycle in. When I did that he was getting his leads too.

So yay!! It felt good to be back to jumping and Beth said that we looked good! Not even "we looked good for not having jumped in a month".. .just "we looked good". :) She said that!! So whoo hoo.

I'll have to keep working on my leg position though. And man... definitely need to get fitter. That was a bit more tiring than it should have been.

No pictures because it was COLD!!! Seriously cold. Not too bad while I was riding Fleck, but the wind picked up and was frigid for Dan's turn.

Thinking it through

 Fun day! I decided to just ride Fleck since I was riding Danny twice this week already. So we had fun. I took a little nap after work and then Fleck and I headed out. I warmed him up with a short little jaunt through the woods. Then we went back and did some dressage work. It wasn't going well to start. He was very inverted and tense and while we did our warm up, the canter just was icky. He wasn't hanging his head and was bracing against me. I started to get frustrated but then stopped and thought things through. I knew it had to be something I was doing. I focused more on my seat aids and then gave him more rein. At least going right, he needed it. With a bit more rein he was able to hang his head and neck and be soft. And sure, it wasn't rocked back as much as I'd like, but I was happier with soft and using his back and in a training level or first level frame than a fake inverted second level frame. I figured it's strength. So we got some good work and then went back to the trot. The trot was then quite nice!! Yay! We did try the leg yield off the rail to X and then back to the rail. Egads. That is tough. Especially leg yielding to the left. Hmmm.... Not sure what I was doing wrong. We got a little better but never well enough to leg yield to X and back all the way. Oh well. Thank goodness I've got lessons soon! 
Then we went back out for another hack. We did some good hills and some trotting and had fun. Fleck is goofy! He saw a horse grazing in the XC field (with it's rider on his back) and was all spooky and goofy. Really?!? :) Turns out it was a chiro client of mine. Yay! We chatted and made plans to try to ride together.

2015: First ride of the year

 And it was a wet and wild Mrs. Toad's Wild Ride! :) It was rainy and gross and supposed to storm more. And it is supposed to keep raining for 3 days. So I sucked it up and went anyways because I hadn't been able to ride yet this year and I was itching to! (Granted it's only Jan 2nd, but still).

Work was so crazy that I had to take a little nap first, but I wanted to beat the weather. I only had time for one pony and since the weather was icky and I wanted good footing the whole way... I decided to go to Harbins. We did the 6 mile loop and worked on our fitness.

 It was fun! We started off without any rain but ended up having a light mist most of the way. Until the end. Then it become more of an actual rain and by the time we left, it was pouring. But it was fun. Rather magical in the woods with the rain. And it was just us. We had a grand time. We did a long long walk. Then a good solid 15 minutes of trotting. Then after a little breather we did about 5 minutes of canter. We walked and trotted some in the last two minutes but only because of the footing. It was twisty and turny and Fleck and I were having fun. Wheeee! Then we did more trotting and a smidge more cantering to get back to the trailer quicker as the rain was picking up.

Ahhh.... I feel better now! Happy 2015!

Goodbye 2014

Oh 2014... it's been a good year for us. Not exactly what we wanted, but plenty of highlights. We missed out on our P3D goal, but it's okay. I learned that Fleck seems to have a tougher time in the Summer, so I plan to give him time off this Summer and focus on showing more in the winter, when he's happier. I have decided that some days he's going to have bad days. And that's okay. He can have them and it won't bother me. If he's having a good day, then great! If not, it's just a show fee and some time. I learned that he still wants to play most days and in general, most days are good days. We also got to go to the beach and had a fabulous time again.

All in all, a great year. Another year with my best friend, my soul mate, and my partner.. You can't beat that!

We celebrated with a lovely trail ride on a lovely day. I just wish that I could ring the New Year in the same way, but I've got to work tonight. And I have a feeling it will be busy.


It was a very long day for us today. But it was a blast and very educational. We got up at 5:30 in the morning and Peri picked us up at 6:30. We got to High Point and left the ponies snuggled in stalls with hay while we went to the lectures and learned about judging. It was interesting. It's neat to hear how the judges think and do things. We watched a few videos of some movements too and that was helpful. 

Then we went back to high point for lunch and then the riding demo's started. Fleck and I were in the first level movement group. There was two others - Kitty Coman and Julie Cochran. They are both so nice!! We all ran through movements of the new first level tests and then got to listen to the discussions on what everyone gave us. It was helpful. And they were nice. :) Fleck received mostly 6 and 7's, some 7.5's and there was a few more moves that he would have gotten higher but he was irregular in his hind end or he jigged from the free to medium walk. Doh! But at the end... he was just done. We were trying to finish on the canter change of lead through the trot at x. He can normally nail that movement. Ha! He kept running through it. She asked us to repeat it once or twice and Fleck just kept getting worse. He was saying "Heck NO... I am DONE with dressage for today!" Doh. But he was good until then. 

And... lucky for me! Cindy said she would barter with me. So I can get lessons on both ponies in exchange for adjusting horses. :) Yay! A good day. 


Finally!!! I feel so much better today and got to ride both boys!! Bliss..... 
It was such a beautiful day too.

 It dawned on me that Fleck and I were supposed to do the L Judge demo thing for Cindy at High Point, so I figured we should do some dressage!! It was time to get back in gear and out of vacation/beach mode. So we did. And Fleck was pretty good. We also went for a short hack too because I just didn't want to quit riding. It was just such a pretty day.