Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Torture Devices

Ha!!! I actually really liked it. Cindy had me ride with the "e-cube" thingy today. It's this 4.2 lb black rubber box with handles. You hold onto it while riding and it's supposed to help you learn how to ride without using your reins as much and to help keep your arms, wrists, fingers, and back in the proper position. And it really helped me!! She was nice and only made me ride Fleck with it. :) Ha! Didn't seem wise to use it on the unruly 4 year old. ;) 

So yep. It helped me keep my thumbs up, my wrists even, and not lean forward. It's heavy enough that if you don't carry your elbows by your sides or hunch your shoulders, it hurts!! I'm actually sore tonight. But it really helped me to learn to carry my shoulders and elbows. Then it helped me with my turning. I tend to grab the rein. But instead, because I couldn't with the darn cube thing, I learned to turn my whole upper body and use my leg and seat aids. I thought I was doing it before. And I was trying and getting there a little bit. But this really helped solidify it. 

The other thing it really helped point out was that I didn't need the reins. Fleck was going QUITE NICE by the end. It took awhile. Cindy's been telling me to not use the reins to get his head down. His head is where it needs to be. It's his back and withers that need to come up. By forcing his head down, I'm not fixing anything. So...this really helped me realize that. And sure enough, if I rode Fleck's back up (not really sure exactly what I was doing to accomplish this, but I was thinking about a soft crotch and lifting my shoulders and hips up), he got quite nice and round and lofty. He had a BIG trot today too. :) Of course we lost it some and when she took the cube away at the end, I started to fall back into old habits. But it did help a lot. 

We still had some issues with the right lead canter, which is oh so frustrating for me. But it got better. And at one point, I asked for a nice trot (with the cube still) from the walk and Fleck leapt up into this gorgeous right lead canter! It was lovely! So I let him keep it for a few strides and then we got a nice trot. :) 

I also realized that without my reins, I had to rely on my seat and legs a lot more, which made me realize that I also need to ride a bit to the outside with Fleck too, not just Dan. BUT... for whatever reason, my right leg always wants to be so far forward. I feel like it's back, but it's not. And that keeps throwing them out of the left lead canter. (Wait... that has to be the left lead but I don't really recall having left lead issues.... I'm tired... I don't know anymore). But I do know that Cindy was getting after me for the right leg being too far forward. 

So yep..now to maybe get one of my own, or just make sure I remember how it felt and try to recreate that without having to spend the money. :) 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

And it's hot again

And did I mention HUMID?! Fleck sweated through his ear bonnet. Holy smokes! We waited til evening to ride, but it didn't help. But we at least changed up the scenery for hill work. We rode for almost an hour and a half but my GPS quit working so I don't know how far we went. Fleck was in beast mode and kept trotting! And trotting and trotting. Beast mode! We did lots of hills. Lots of STEEP hills. But he kept trotting. Even when I was trying to get him to walk.

I'm glad he's feeling good. But man, was he hot and sweaty. Me too.
 FORE!!! Hee hee. We did actually almost get hit by a golf ball. Well, not really, but one landed about 10 feet from us. :)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fitness Fun

What a gorgeous day! I didn't get to ride until 11:30, but the weather wasn't too bad at all. It wasn't that hot compared to what it has been. And the humidity was much better AND there was a nice breeze. I adjusted Fleck (PI SI today... interesting!) and then we went out for a ride. We hit the trails and met up with Missy, Marti and Indi so we slow walked for about 45 minutes with them. Then we did some trotting and cantering through the trails. Fleck kept breaking into the trot rather than walk, so I said ok. I think some of it was bugs and some was he was just frisky. :) 

We then headed to the XC field for hills. I wasn't really feeling the 30 minutes of walk, nor was Fleck. So we did 30 minutes of trotting the hills. Well, we trotted up, and walked down. Fleck kept trying to break into the canter too. Goof. I told him I'd reward him with a little bit of jumping. So on our last trip down the hill, we picked up a nice canter and jumped the coop and then the ditch to the log. And then the roll top out of the water and then a coop. :) We had fun. And he was jumping nice. And landing on the right lead happily without scooting. Wheee. So then we finished our trot set up the hill and headed to the lake. We splashed and cooled off a bit and headed in. He was breathing just a little heavy after the 30 minutes of trotting hills (including the jumping) but within 10 minutes he was back to normal. And I never heard the heavy wet raspy noise he sometimes gets. Yay!

 Lots of fun today. I'm so glad that he's feeling better. And we ended up doing 7.5 miles!


I have the best friends! My trailer was getting repaired and wasn't ready. I was a little desperate to ride so Kelli came and picked us up. :) Yay for good friends. 

She was showing this weekend so she wanted to do some ring work. I was feeling like a slacker on our fitness work so I left her in the ring and went and did our hill work. There was a few other people out there schooling XC so it made it a bit more challenging but not quite as boring. :) We ended up doing 45 minutes of hills. We did two uphills at the walk, then two at the trot, then two at the walk, then two at the trot, etc. It was less boring than 30 straight minutes of walk. And then 15 minutes of trot. And with the humidity, I thought Fleck might be happier with some walk breaks in between the trots. But we managed to get 45 minutes in. Then Kelli was done so we went for a hack. It was a good ride. 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Showing Off

Fleck and I had a GREAT lesson today. :) :) 

I was smart and got there a little bit earlier so I could warm him up. We took a hack around the pastures and did a little bit of trotting. That way he was warmed up and we could get to work. As soon as I got into the ring, Cindy commented on how nice he was looking already. I did a canter or two in each direction and then we got to work. 

We had some really nice work. He was doing awesome. We worked on lifting the wither and keeping him powerful but not choppy. We did some tough exercises, which were very helpful for me especially. We did two 10 meter half circles and they sucked! He's not really bending right. I really need to TURN him and keep him bending around my inner leg. And then we realized that *I* need to align my body. I am quite happy to turn my shoulders to the right, but turning to the left is hard. Cindy had me align my sternum with my chin and my shoulders with that. I really have to think hard about sitting down on the left seatbone and shifting my shoulder back and my sternum over, without sending my chin flying way past my sternum. Cindy said if my head is spinning too far to the left, it's because my sternum didn't come with it. Aha!! It really made such a big difference when I started riding with my shoulders directing. 

So then we did shoulder in down the quarter line. It was hard, but much better when just moved my shoulders. That's all it took. So then we did quarter line, starting with shoulder in and then half-passing. We started at the walk and then half-passed into the trot. That was tougher and it took some coordinating of the aids on my end. But we got it. Then we upped it into the canter. Eeeek! That fell apart! Cindy kept telling me to bring my outside leg back. I swear it felt like it was at his tail! And he bolted when he felt me move it the first time. But then we settled and with my leg back "by his tail... ha!! It was only just behind the girth",we were able to get a fairly nice half pass. Yay!

I believe we quit with that. Nope.. wait! We worked on the trot some more. We did some sitting and some lengthening. I haven't sat the trot for that long in eons! But it was great to be back at it. 

Fleck really upped his game today. And Cindy said that I was becoming a better ride thanks to Dan. Having felt a horse with a slower tempo, it allowed me to work on my body. So now, with Fleck, instead of just doing A, B, C, D and panicking... Cindy wants me to do A and feel what happens. If it doesn't work, try B. Then try C. But FEEL what happens first. And it works!! I actually have time to think. I can feel things. Yay! Peri even said today that we were ready for the Sandra Hotz clinic. :) Whoo hooo. I'm starting to feel like a dressage rider. Just a little bit. But that's better than before. :) :) 

Savoring the moments

Wow... what a way to end the weekend!
It started with the fun rides Saturday morning. Then Mike and I went on a fun date night. We started off at Fernbank and then watched an ocean IMAX film. Then we went to "The W" and got a room. We went and had a snack at Mellow Mushroom and walked to Centenial Olympic Park. Then dinner at The Optimist!! Yummy. I had 3 dozen oysters and every last one of them was salty, briny, and delicious! And I can't forget my she crab soup. Sooooo good. Then we had a drink at the bar at the W and stayed overnight in our nice room. Then we headed home in the morning and stopped for donuts. I spent the day cleaning the house (which wasn't too horribly unpleasant and needed to be done). And then I went to go ride. I was waiting for it to cool off a bit, so it was 7:15 before I got to Ashland. Oops. I hopped on Dan first who was pretty darn good. We only rode for 30 minutes. Then it was Fleck's turn. 

Kelli and I went for a hack and it was beautiful out. There was a fog and the sun was setting. It was simply breathtaking! God is so amazing. We just stood in awe and watched, amazed at how beautiful it was. Then we realized it was getting dark so we headed back. I felt like I had shorted Fleck a bit with his hill work even though we hit all the hills we could and there is a fair amount. We got back to the XC field and it was still light enough to see but just barely. The dew/fog was covering the fields and you couldn't really see your footing. And then because it was so dewy, you couldn't hear their feet. It was surreal. I convinced Kelli to stay out and do three trots up the big hill so I could feel like we got in some work. And honestly, it was just so beautiful out, I wanted to stay out there. We trotted up the hill and it was almost eerie with the fog. It was a little bit unnerving because you almost felt like you were in a boat gliding through the ocean. SOOOOOO cool. Such an amazing night. 
I'm so blessed that God has given me my amazing horse to share these moments with. And continues to give me more and more time with him. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Great Day

What a great way to start the weekend! Fleck and I got up early and started on our hill work. We met Gail and Be for the last 10 minutes of the hills so we had company for that. Then we went for a nice long hack with lots of trotting up hills and even a nice canter. Schoolhouse trails aren't as buggy as the others. We saw a few hawks again too. And Fleck even politely cantered with Be around the Halfshire gallop track. Granted, he made sure he was in the front, but still. He didn't bolt off or buck at all. :) We ended up in the lake for a splash party. :) After Fleck played for a bit, I swapped and rode Dan bareback so he got to play too. But Fleck was having fun. He cracks me up when he flips his head up and down. And then he usually finishes that with his lip in the air. He also kept dunking his head. Hee hee.

Splash Party

But Fleck is feeling pretty good and getting pretty fit up the hills. Today I didn't notice any heavy breathing. Well, not like he gets when it's so muggy and he's hot. So yay!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wild man

Today was a fun day! I met Kelli and Peri and we went for a 30 minute hack, finding as many uphills as we could. We mostly walked and chatted. While I bravely fought off the cobwebs in the lead. :) We did a little bit of trotting too. Then we headed back to the XC field so I could do my hill work. We did about 20 minutes together and then both Peri and Kelli had people show up that they knew. They went off to talk to them while Fleck and I finished our 30 min set. Which pissed Fleck off. ;) He wanted to go see all the new ponies, so it got a little bit more entertaining. But not too bad. Then I decided to do 10 minutes of trot work and it got even more exciting. ;) He was ready to go. I let him have a little canter on the flat ground and then we did our trot work. He was worked up and kept breaking to the canter but we managed some decent powerful uphill trots for our 10 minutes. By then everyone had left us, so I let him go join Kelli and Peri in the jump ring.

We did a teeny bit of work but he was amped up. Someone had set up the two stone walls as a skinny line and it just looked so tempting, I couldn't resist. Fleck jumped it happily. So then I took him to the outside line, which was set at novice maybe. He jumped it awkwardly because I did nothing to help him. So then I came back and actually rode it, and he jumped it much better. And guess what?! He landed happily on the right lead and didn't scoot or scamper off. He landed happily and kept cantering happily. It wasn't quiet or slow, but it wasn't rushed or panicked either. Yay! We got a nice happy canter pretty quickly and quit. Kelli and Peri said he looked better than he has in a LONG time. And I could still feel the slight hesitation on the right front, but it wasn't bad. Considering he has arthritis there and we weren't doing anything for it - no bute, no previcox, no injections - yet, I was pleased.

Then I mentioned that I was tempted to do the big stone wall oxer but was going to be good and not do it. So Kelli told me to hop on Arwyn and take her over the outside line, which was a solid novice, if not training height. So I did. And it was fun. Arwyn was perfect. She was just how I like the ride. A bit game and forward but balanced and ridable. She cantered up to that line and I was able to adjust her and then send her forward and she nailed it. Then Kelli told me to do the oxer. Okay! Twist my arm. ;) And she locked onto that and nailed it too. It was a lot of fun!

Cindy saves the day.

Another dressage lesson day. I rode Fleck second so that I would have time to warm him up better. And it helped I think. But Cindy said that he needs some trot to canter to trot transitions to help soften his back. And sure enough, she's right. He's better after a long warm up, but he's even better after some trot and canter work. She said "he's not lame.. he's just stiff and needs to work into it". And the canter/trot/canter transitions really help with that. So, from now on I'm going to try to get to High Point a lot earlier and get on him about 20 minutes before my lesson and do a nice long hack and then some w/t/c work before my lesson, so that he's ready to work.
Because after that, he's pretty fancy. He's trying! And I'm getting better too. I'm so much better at keeping my cool and riding better when he loses his balance and inverts. I've started staying calm and quiet and keeping my hands still and there but bringing his back up again through a soft seat and forward legs and suppling. And he's responding. It's fun because he feels much better when he's good. We're kinda getting this dressage thing. About darn time right?! :)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Emotional Roller Coaster

This has been a rough few days. And I know it's not going to get any easier. I took Fleck for another hill work session today and a hack. I cleaned out the trailer so we didn't get started until almost 8 pm. It was beautiful out as far as the view. We watched the sunset and saw at least 2 big bucks and their does. However, the weather was still pretty awful. It was just so muggy. Both Fleck and I were dripping sweat. And the bugs were HORRIBLE! Out in the open they were no big deal. But in the woods, they were horrible. 
So we hacked out, finding as many hills as we could. Unfortunately we had to trot or canter through the woods because the bugs were so bad. And Fleck was just bad today. He was on high alert for some reason and kept stopping and staring. And he was going around inverted and hollow and choppy. And it was frustrating. I want him to build good muscles. And when he is like this, it's so hard not to get frustrated. And then I'm frustrated because I am frustrated. I know he's just on high alert. I shouldn't be getting mad at him. Sigh... 

We ended up doing 30 minutes of hills but again, he was awful. He was great trotting up the hill. But going down he kept bulging and inverting and trying to get back to the trailer. I was really getting angry. Then I was sad because I was angry and I just wanted to have a nice ride on my favorite horse. What if that's the last one?! Here I am being all mad at him for not cooperating and frustrated because he's not doing his "physical therapy" right and ultimately... just mad and frustrated that he's broken. Sigh. So then I start crying and thinking that maybe I do need to just let it go. Let him retire to my trail horse and if he wants to go around inverted and hollow, I should let him. Then I'm crying more because... now I'm ruining our relationship because every time I ride him, I'm upset that he's not better. I managed to pull it together and we decided to go chase the sun. We cantered to the lake and sat in the lake for a minute. We missed the sunset but that's okay. He was actually in pretty deep. I think he was just glad to avoid the bugs. Then I saw the sun through the trees and thought we could catch it on the dam so I made him trot down the dam. He was freaked out and being all spooky and then I saw why! Another big buck and his doe jumped down the hill. And we ended up not catching the sunset again. Doh! We headed back up to the XC field and I actually got him to pick up the right lead canter. Yay! Then we power trotted up the big hill once more and went to the dressage arena. He doesn't feel horrible, but I'm still feeling the lameness in the right front. We had a fairly decent trot in both directions and again picked up the right lead on the first attempt. So yay for that.

Then I hosed him off and gave him a bath since he was so gross. On the way home I started crying again and was listening to the Fish on the radio. Earlier in the day they had talked about how a guy was listening to a particular song in a bad moment and it spoke to him. But he wanted to hear it again so the message would really sink in. And the DJ came on the air and said "you know, I'm probably going to get fired for playing this song twice, but I feel like someone needs to hear it again". So the guy told God that if he played it a third time, he would quit his job and follow Gods plan for him. Lo and behold that DJ said "I'm definitely going to get fired for this, but I feel the need to play this song a third time". So... I do think that God can talk to us in music. I didn't like the song that was currently on so I started swapping through. I've been praying that God tells me what to do. And then I thought, maybe he is... maybe the fact that it's such a struggle is my sign. So I thought... okay God.. play that "say something I'm giving up on you" song if it's my sign to give up on Fleck. I flipped through all of my stations and it wasn't on. Then I flipped to my "radio 2" stations and flipped through all of them, and still didn't hear that song. Phew! So then I put it on the other Christian station and guess what song was playing?! The one that goes "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me". Yep... So... well played God. Well played. I am not dumb enough that I realize that God loves me no matter what and the song is not about my horse. I know God was telling me that he still loves me. But I also still love my horse and I'm not giving up. Not quite yet. We still have half the month of hill work and seeing if the shoes work. I want to tweak his shoes at his next cycle and create a better break over point. And then, if he's still sore on the fetlock, then I can decide if I want to do IRAP, PRP, etc on that foot. And quite frankly... it's hard. It's frustrating. BUT... Fleck hasn't once acted like he doesn't want to go and do. The boy is cantering and trotting happily. Granted he's not really sound, but that isn't stopping him. So I will keep putting in the miles and efforts to make him happy and comfy. And if all we do is play, that's fine. As long as he's comfy. 

I do think I'm going to give him some bute for our dressage lesson Tuesday and see if that helps. Just to make myself feel better. Hopefully.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Trust me Fleck... I KNOW!!!!

 Poor Flecky. Poor me. I went with Liz, Peri, Devon and Danielle to Aiken to go cross country schooling today. And I had to leave Fleck at home. He pouted. I know buddy, I know! Trust me..... It was killing me not to be taking you over the training and prelim questions. They looked so fun!!! Sigh... On the plus side Danny was great and we had fun. But it would have liked to have had fun on Fleck too.

 But we did 6 miles yesterday at Harbins with Liz and he seemed frisky. :)And Kathryn worked on him and was optimistic. Really.... not even just for my sake. She does think we need to bring his breakover more forward on all four feet even more, but she said thought he was more comfy in the hind end for sure. And that earlier she was concerned it was his back, but now she thinks his issues were hind end related. So... perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel.