Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dressage Aha's!

Great lessons today!!!

Fleck must be feeling GOOD because he's been a bit of a twit lately. Last night he was a bit goofy at dinner and I almost had to really smack him. But after I just had to giggle because his face is just so innocent and cute!
But anyways... at our lesson he was a bit spooky and naughty but it was fine. We started off a bit inverted but I managed to get him relaxed by leg yielding in and out. And Cindy told me to think of BOUNCE when he got inverted and work on getting the bounce in his stride and back, rather than focus on his head. Bounce was the theme of the day. :) So... working on the trot, I thought more about getting a bouncy trot and achieved it by almost thinking trot lengthen, but not quite. We actually got some fairly lovely work. :) 

Then we worked on the downward. I tend to be a bit... abrupt and aggressive. So Cindy had me think about bouncing into the walk instead of driving down into the walk. AHA!! It made so much more sense. It was great. I bounced him up into the walk. It was glorious!! 

We also worked on the small counter canter serpentine. I told Cindy after that I was so glad we worked on it because it's in my test for the show this weekend and she said "I know"!. Seriously... that woman has ESP! Or is just even more amazing than I thought. :) So we started off and it was okay. I tried to ride with my outside leg slightly back, like with Dan. And it helped stabilize the canter. Then Cindy told me to keep the bend, but push him over with my big toe. However, he can't lean, so I had to use my outside rein to support him and keep him upright, but really keep my seat cantering on the right lead so that I don't get a swap. But man... was that canter LOVELY!!! Cindy said it was 3rd level correct canter. :) Wheee!!

So that was about all we did, but it was worth it. Such an awesome lesson. Now if I can just channel that and keep it for the weekend. :) 


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spooky Boy

Today was another overcast day but at least the rain wasn't as prevalent. It was just cloudy and icky. We had lunch with Chan and Britt and Wes and Natalie for Chans' birthday so it was 5 pm before I could go ride. I met Cindy to get my saddles checked and reflocked. Thank goodness as they were desperately needing them. 

I hopped on to see how they were fitting and Fleck was spooky and weird. But the saddle felt better. Then I put the jump saddle on and it felt MUCH better! It was easier to keep my leg where it belonged. Yay!! So hopefully I can fix my position now for good. 

So then after Cindy left I put the dressage saddle back on and attempted to fix the dressage. Fleck was still a bit up and spooky but we got some nice work. We ran through the test a few times and worked on balancing the lengthens and balancing the downward transitions. 

Then we went for a short hack to see if we could see the super moon. Nope... :( Too many clouds. Bummer. But it was a fun hack. Despite all the deer spooking us. :)


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Getting It Done

Today was an icky horrible weather day. It rained all day yesterday and today started out the same. It wasn't down pouring but it was a solid steady heavy drizzle. More than just a sprinkle. It was a light rain. But it was non-stop and relentless. Luckily, Kelli motivated me and we decided to meet at Harbins. At least that way we were under the trees mostly.

So we went and it was fun! We actually got in a pretty good work out considering the footing was a little slick. Not too shabby. :) And hey.. better than nothing. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jumping ahas

Ahhh... what a stressful day! But Fleck was my wonderful shining light in the day. :) (well, Dan was pretty good too after the fact!). But anyways, we had a great ride! 

We rode with Caroline and Jack and it was fun. Kelly set up some good stuff and we also worked more on my position. 

So we did a triple line and worked on my position. We started out with Kelly telling me that I needed to keep my upper body more upright on landing with my feet out in front of me. I tried that and I got stuck and stiff and felt like I was standing upright. So then we chatted a bit about it and Kelly made a great point! She said that I needed to keep my leg and upper body how it is up to and at the apex of the jump. BUT... when I start to come down from the jump, that's when I need to send my lower legs forward and slide my upper body back up (no ducking) and tuck my hips (rotate my hips, tuck my butt, and bring my belly button to my spine) and push my hands down. Aha!!! It was much easier when I did it that way. I wasn't able to keep it all the time and certainly not when things got wonky with Fleck, but.. it's a start.

Fleck was great. Wide hands to skinny stuff. Don't worry about his head, worry about his shoulders. If my hands are wide, his shoulders are within my aids, not outside of my aids

Fitness Wednesday

Fleck and I managed to sneak in a ride today. :) We opted for some fitness before Windridge. We ended up running into Jeff and Beau, but as I wanted hills, we parted ways early on.

It was a wildlife filled ride! We saw 3 deer, 1 big raccoon (at Raccoon loop, go figure) and a unicorn!! Okay, so maybe it was a deer with only one antler and one point, but... maybe not!

We did 20 minutes of walking and then a 30 minute trot. Then we caught back up with Jeff and Beau and they decided to join us for our canter sets. I meant to do 4 minute intervals but told Jeff 3 minutes, so I stuck to the 3 minutes. They go a lot quicker when you have a pal. And Beau hung with us. We added a little gallop in two of them and Beau kept up by taking the inside track. Wheee. Fun! I may have to do all my fitness work with them. They are tough! So after we did the 3x3 we hacked to the lake for a little soaking. 

It was a good day. 

Okay, so... our 30 minute trotting set MAY have been interrupted some by some photo ops. :)

Tuesday Dressage

So.... another helpful and good ride today with Cindy. :) She is so smart. :) 

We were working on the canter to walks and she pointed out that I'm going from canter to halt, not canter to walk. It's a seat aid to a different gait, not stopping it altogether. Aha!! 

The sad thing is... I know that. I've been told that before. Doh! But it did help. :) 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Busy Friday and Lazy Sunday

Friday was a ridiculously long day but I got out of bed early and headed to Ashland. Kelli was running a bit behind so Fleck and I did a 15 minute walk and then did some hill work. We then headed to the ring and got started on our flat work. And yeah.. it's been awhile since we did any flatwork other than in lessons. Any serious flat work at least. But it was good. Kelli came and joined us and got video of us running through the prelim test, but my camera misbehaved and she only caught the tail end of it.
Practicing the Prelim Test
Meh.. it wasn't our best, but it wasn't too bad either. It was nice to see the video so I know where we're at. So... I need to sit up a bit more to encourage him to get a bit more on the hindquarters. Our lengthen definitely needs more lengthen and less rush. And he was a bit fussy during the leg yield to the left, but... progress. (that wasn't even on video but I knew I needed to work on it). But it wasn't too horrible either. So... hopefully we can finesse it up a bit before Windridge.
Then we went on a quick hack and then it was time to go see all my patients.

Saturday I took a "Mike and Holly" day and didn't ride. It was fun though. I had to adjust a dog in the morning and then we went to Skyzone, the trampoline place. It was fun. For about 30 minutes. Then we were just exhausted. Then we went to the Lawrenceville Festival and walked around a bit, killing time until Oyster Happy Hour at the Optimist. YAY!! I had 3 dozen yummy oysters! I still spent $36 on oysters, but it was way better than $100. :) Then we came home and I typed up all my reports from the day before.

So anyways, when I woke up Sunday my neck was so stiff on the left side. Ugh... I can barely move it. Stupid trampoline flipping. I spent the day catching up. I went to Church, adjusted one, went to the grocery store and then cleaned the house. So then I was pretty tired by the time I got to ride. I rode Dan first so that I could have a sunset ride with Fleck. We just mostly hacked around but I tried to find hills and I also did some trotting and cantering. We even played a little in the field and worked on a few of the test movements. Though it's hard to do fancy dressage with XC length stirrups. :) But it was a good day and put me in a better mood. :)

 A great way to end the weekend.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Today was an exciting day. I went to adjust horses at Silverthorn and Kelly was going to be there teaching so I asked if she could teach me too. Caroline let me toss Fleck out in a pasture while I was adjusting so that he could chill. He was happy enough in his gorgeous pasture and I was able to adjust the three ponies. 
Afterwards I went to get him and there must have been something in the air. He was fine coming up to me but when I went to shut the gate behind me, I dropped the lead rope so he didn't tip his water bucket. Unfortunately, he decided to take off and went walking, and then trotting, down the lane. With his tail flipped up over his back. Sigh... I went after him but he stayed ahead a bit and riled up all the pasture horses. Luckily he was sniffing noses and let me catch him. But then he spent the walk back up on his tippytoes dancing and blowing. Goof!

He chilled out while I tacked him up and then we headed to the ring. As we started to get to the far side, Fleck suddenly became a very stiff giraffe! What the?? Oh.... goats! A whole herd of them. Granted, they were just laying down and being very quiet and still at the edge of the fence near the arena. But GOATS!!! Poor Fleck. His little heart was pounding. Sigh. I managed to get him to go past them sort of. We spent about 10 minutes trying to settle down and I finally gave up and just worked on relaxation in the other end of the arena. Of course, he also saw the goats in the far end of the other field so then he was convinced they were everywhere and was on high alert. Goober!

Kelly came in then and laughed at us. So we started off with some flat work in the safe end of the arena. Basically, it was my last lesson with her. Sigh... it sounded awfully familiar. And it was a little depressing that we were in the same spot as a year ago. But oh well. It was good to hear it again and Fleck was quite nice by the end of our flat warm up. The gist of it was...
- when tracking right, I needed to ride the inside to outside to push his shoulders out. He wants to lean in and instead of holding that outside rein to hold him up, I need to push him out, soften the outside rein to give him a place to go, and then ask for inside bend with the inside rein. Once he softens and drops, I need to then "wiggle" the outside rein to get him round on it. Amazingly it works. It's so hard mentally though to open the outside rein when I want to just hold him up.
- I need to keep a steady connection. My tensing and softenings should go from 7-10, not 0-10-0. And surprise, surprise, when I do keep a steady connection, Fleck stays steadier. Duh. But it is a bit of a heavier connection. I can't keep throwing him away.
- I should ride him in this frame, even if it's training level and not first or second, but focus on the relaxation. Then he keeps his rhythm and tempo and softness and his stride opens up, rather than getting tense and tight and in a fake frame. 
So then we started jumping. We started with a grid and worked on keeping the connection and keeping the rhythm of the trot the same, regardless of what his head was doing or what the goats were doing. :) I managed to mostly get it. Kelly wanted us to focus on getting the same tempo, having my half halts go through and keeping my feet out in front of me over the jumps. We did that a few times and Fleck started to pay better attention to me and the jumps rather than the goats. So then we added some more fences. We did the same course multiple times so I could fix things and Fleck didn't have to worry too much about the goats. It started okay, got pretty darn good, and then fell apart again a bit. Basically we were doing okay when Fleck was up and high because of the goats, but then when the goats meandered off and Fleck was getting tired, he got behind my leg and I couldn't figure out how to ride. Sigh. It was a lot to work at all the same time. Especially when I had to focus on riding him and not just fixing myself. 

So, for jumping....
- Keep the rhythm and tempo. Count, Sing, do whatever it takes. Because basically if I keep a good canter, the jumps come to me and by counting I can see the stride quicker. Therefore I can adjust quicker. And correct whatever needs correcting quicker. 
- Keep my landing gear in front of me (ie.. kick my feet out in front of me and slide my hips back). And don't DUCK! No ducking! I need to stay more upright in my upper body and more back in my hips. That gives Fleck more time to come up to me and allows him to jump better. 
- Keep a good connection. Don't throw him away.
- When Fleck loses his cool and gets spooky or freaks out, I need to use an indirect rein to help him settle. It works!! So, if he's spooking to the left and I want him to stay on the left rein but pushed out to the right, I need to turn my left hand so that my thumb is down (instead of up) and press it into his wither. I need to kick my inside leg forward and push him away from it. AND... the key to making this work, is to open my outside rein so he has a place to go. It's so hard not to pull that outside rein for some reason, but...I need to open it. And yet again, it actually works. Then I need to soften and get him round again and focused back on the job. 
- When Fleck gets behind my leg, rather than holding and chipping in, with no leg and me leaning forward.... instead I need to kick him forward, WAIT until he leaves (not jump ahead or assume he's going to take the flyer), and keep a steady connection with my legs closed. I can't help him up with my heels, so I need to focus on keeping them in front of me.
So yep.. it started good and got a little icky in the middle, but we fixed it mostly. And she set up a pretty big oxer that we kept taking on a curve because of the scary goats. I kept my legs closed and managed to get the non-chip spots and it felt pretty amazing. Like we were flying over this huge massive jump, all olympic jumper style. Hee hee. And we landed beautifully on the turn and smoothly went to the liverpool. 

Such a beautiful day for it too. So, hopefully we can fix it long term and make it pretty too. Sigh... I want pretty pictures!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dressage Squats

So... today in my lesson with Fleck I had an "aha" moment. We were working on getting Fleck to take longer strides without getting quicker. And I was hitting him in the back with my butt. Not horrid, but too much. I can't seem to get it on him as well as I can on Dan. Cindy suggested that I think about squatting. I wasn't sure what she meant, but I played around and I think I figured it out. Because she said "Good!". :)

So... (and maybe this is common knowledge, that all dressage riders know and I'm just clueless, but...) I thought more about squeezing with my thighs and calves and not quite sitting, but more hovering over my saddle. Kind of like sitting over the toilet at the gas station. ;) Which actually helped me keep my toe from turning out. And really helped me keep from smacking down onto the saddle. Yay!

We had a good ride today. Cindy made us run through Third Level Test 3, only we did simple changes instead of Flying Changes. Wheee!!! Fun stuff. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Fun Day!

So today was an awesome day!!! It was another blue sky, 75 degrees, no humidity kinda day. A GLORIOUS day to be on horseback. And luckily, despite going to bed with a migraine last night and waking up with it today, I managed to have it mostly gone by the time I got on to ride and it disappeared before I finished. Yay!

I met Liz and Devon and we went for a little hack around the field and up the hill. Then we went to the jump ring. We helped Liz jump a few courses and then we set the jumps up for us. I don't know if they were all prelim height or not, but they were all at least training. I set up some fun stuff too. A corner, a very wide oxer with a pole over the top, a triple, and some bendy lines. We also set up a super skinny with no wings. And Fleck was great! I was actually pretty darn good too. And that's what got me into trouble. :) I was pretty happy with how things were going. I felt like my leg position was pretty darn good. I still think I could be just a bit more back with my hips, but at least my legs are mostly underneath me now. My hands are not floating up high and for the most part, I'm going with Fleck, not abandoning him and not rowing. He was jumping quite nicely and from good distances without twisting and heaving. So... I should have been quite pleased. But then... I got greedy. Doh! I wanted to get rid of the left drift and be straighter. I wanted to get our simple changes. And I wanted my hands and legs to be better. And when I got greedy it fell apart. But luckily, Liz helped me fix it. She reminded me that this was fun!! And, in much nicer words, to be glad that I was jumping Fleck at height again and not get greedy. So... I did. We just jumped the skinny and the oxer and I relaxed and we had fun. And of course, it was a beautiful two fences. :)
But in my quest for perfection I did realize a few things. The left drift seems to occur in the air over the fence. It's almost like he gets straight to the fence but drifts left in the landing. At least that's how it happens when I focus on it and really put my left leg on. I also found that he stays straighter if I put the whip in my left hand (not so much because it helps him from drifting but because it keeps me from crossing my left hand over his neck) and keep a bit of a tighter connection on the right rein. I do wonder a bit if his left drift is a bit to help him be more comfy on landing. So... you know what? I'm okay with that. As long as it's subtle and I can keep him from drifting before take off.

After that we headed out to the field for a little splash in the lake where we played and had fun. Fleck got me drenched with his pawing. Goofball! So then we went to the field because Devon wanted to play a little bit more. I figured I might as well do the drop into the water too. So I did the handing log, to the ramp, to the trakehner and then to the drop into the water. It wasn't bad, but he drifted. Liz said it was only because he was counter cantering and the terrain just pulled him left. But it wasn't too bad and he wasn't avoiding the fence. Still, I fixed it and rode it better the second time. So we quit with that. :)
 Fun day! Both Devon and Liz looked awesome too!! It's so much fun to ride with them and get their opinions. And of course the video really helped me to see what was going on and what I still need to work on. And was pleasantly surprising because I'm happier than I thought I'd be with our progress. :) :)

Jump course

More Jumps

Still more jumps

Still jumping

One more oxer spread

Saturday, September 12, 2015


So...maybe I had more time doing ER work. But I do love my job! Unfortunately I haven't been able to ride since my lesson. But no worries. Today was a great day!
It is a high of 76!! And nice and cool! And tonight the low is in the 50's. GLORIOUS! I took both boys to Ashland and hopped on Fleck first. It was still a bit overcast and chilly so we did our fitness work. We did 20 minutes of walk and then 20 minutes of trotting, as usual, finding all the hills we could. Then we did a little walk break while I talked to Liz. Then we did 3x3 canter sets in the big field. Fleck wanted to gallop though!!! So most of that was a gallop and not a canter. Wheee!!! He feels great. :) I also made sure that we did most of our work "on the bit" and round instead of just western pony style. 

So yep. It was a great ride. He was breathing heavy but not very loud and didn't seem very winded. We took a quick hack before heading in and his breathing was improved almost immediately. Whoo hooo.

Now to just make sure that I can schedule myself some riding time so that we're ready for Windridge. That means some dressage and jump schools too. :)


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fancy Pants

Today we worked on not going backwards with my seat. For some reason Fleck tends to encourage me to fall back in my seat. I'm not slamming into him, but I'm not encouraging an upward lifting stride either. So I need to think about my seat going up and forward (similar to the difference between posting up and down and posting more foreward). We also worked on leaping up into the canter. Or bouncing up into it. We're not diving down into our canters and we're especially not throwing our heads up but dropping our withers into the canter. Then we did some serpentines with walk to trot to walk, worked on half pass to the rail (got an AWESOME right half pass)!, and then walk to turn on the forehand (inside hind goes INTO the bend) to the canter from there. Then counter canter to walk, to turn on forehand to canter again. Then counter canter from walk. Good stuff