Wrapping up February

In February I decided that I was going to be a beast and accomplish tons of things.
Accomplishment
The specific list follows with end of month status updates:

1. Walk to canter transitions (they are there, but usually only when she’s feeling fresh)
They are there! We still have some fussy swishy tails sometimes, but O is much more responsive and happy with them.
2. Getting a nice square halt from the trot.
Halt-we are awesome at this. Getting it square is a 50/50 experience still. Hopefully that will continue to get better.
3. Nail the quick/simple changes, and be more objective about setting her up for flying changes.
We are quick changing pros! Every so often I also get a decent flying change, but I’m not really pushing for them yet. Very happy with this one.
4. Ride at least 3 times a week weather permitting with lots of trot work.
When it was over 15 degrees and not an ice storm I owned this task! We mostly rode 4-5 times a week and O was better for it.
5. Do more stirrup-less work at all gaits.
I did do some work with this but overall I was a weenie about it until I got reprimanded by my trainer. More of this work on the horizon.

High points of the month:
Purposeful flying change for O
My readjustment of carriage, while it hurts and is hard still, I can feel when it’s wrong.
Cutie pootie jumping skills by O
Introducing and enforcing a half halt on course
Super fun and random snow day photo shoot

Overall I couldn’t be happier with how things are going. Our first show is a little over a month away and I’m so ready to get out there.

Every equestrian probably goes through the same stages (somewhat) of working, then upping the anty, working harder, then enjoying the rewards. Of course we then start all over again. I feel like O and I are definitely in the upping the anty stage, as each lesson we are pushing harder and asking bigger, harder questions. I’m really proud of my little mare, and even though it’s a ton of work at this point, I can’t wait to see how far she’ll go.
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Personal victory of last night: We did the add stride everywhere and she was so light in my hands. It. Felt. Amazing.

I can happen!

It can happen!

Doing the Stride

Another great ride happened last night! I feel like she was apologizing for being such a wreck on Sunday. We worked hard, we both broke a sweat, and we ended the night by nailing a pole line again and again with the correct amount of strides. I’m not sure how much I’ve focused on this before, but for being only 16hh, O has a gigantic stride. When we first bought her all the trainers told me to not worry about it, it would shorten as she realized she wasn’t at the track anymore and had different muscles.

Fast forward 14 months. While it is much more balanced, and I can actually sit it (sometimes), the canter stride is still monstrous. That being said I love that it’s long and easy to get the strides with. So don’t think I’m complaining. What is becoming difficult is that as much horse has gotten more fit, and more confident I now am half halting my way between the lines. Last night she went through a pole line in 3 strides. The horse before us…he did it in 5. See the issue?

So we’ve been working on being adjustable. Lots of collecting, and relaxing. Getting my horse soft while collected is still not happening, but I can feel that at least I have a better chance at getting the stride. God help us if we ever go into a medal class where they ask for the add stride.

Post ride smart phone photo shoot!

Happy pony!

Happy pony!

Sweaty neck=actually had to work today.

Sweaty neck=actually had to work today.

She suddenly figured out how to pose!!

She suddenly figured out how to pose!!

Remembering she does not pose for blog pictures and quickly does this.

Remembering she does not pose for blog pictures and quickly does this.

Brain overload

I wanted to ride my horse outside today. It’s the last really nice day for awhile (over 40 is considered nice at this point) and she got ridden yesterday. That, plus her normally sound brain, I figured this equaled a good day to go outside and get our hills on. We need to tone up da booty.

Heading outside with her best partner in crime for company, we started out the quiet pair. At first we led the way for the other suspicious horse, and O meandered along ears pricked totally at ease. We went up and down the steep hill a few times, she was great. I was practically swinging my legs along in relaxation and joy. Then I decided to go the flat area for some nice trot work.

I might as well of lit a stick of dynamite, and asked it to not go off. Head up like a giraffe, grabbing at the bit she dragged me around a lap or two. I then shortened my reins, and asked for work and more firmly. She responded with some seriously boss lateral work…problem was I was asking her to trot straight. We come back to a messy walk. We collect. I ask for the trot. I get a rather speedy canter. Sigh, half halt….mare picks up speed…more half halting…more speed trotting. After we finally get back to the walk this is what I get.

ME: Okay start over let’s just bend quietly to the left.
O: We should definitely be galloping!
ME: Please stop being a giraffe.
O: MONSTERS ARE COMING.
ME: That’s a stick, trot now please.
O: I can only canter.
ME: I have faith you can trot quietly
O: I MUST GALLOP

Basically any cue or aid I gave her equaled an attempt at running like a loon. Finally after a few screeching halts, we had an okay circles of trotting. My arms were toast. Time to remove ourselves from the situation. We journeyed over to see the newly refooted outdoor ring for the first time. At this point something enclosed sounded pretty spiffy. It took us a few attempts to get through the gate (another monster), but after the intial lap…my horse finally poked her nose out and quietly trotted around. Thank god. I got off. Her brain was fried. Total overload of all the things. There was wind, there was new things, there were other horses, there was no sign of my quiet little hunter. Oh well, she didn’t dump me and run (even if she thought about it) and she finished the day on a high note. I will call it a win.

Brain fried pony post-ride.

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Sometimes Forgotten?

Subject for the day: Off the track quarter horses.

I find myself mulling this subject over more and more lately as we approach show season. I am the proud owner of an off the track quarter horse. On her papers, O is an appendix quarter horse, and she was bred and trained to race. Although she only made it to the track for one race (she was horrible=see video below), she lived the racehorse lifestyle for years. After her failure on the track, they utilized her as a pony horse for training.

While I am so pleased to see the the OTTB has caught the public’s eye and is helping so many of these brilliant equine athletes find new jobs…I guess I’m a bit confused why people are not pushing this for off the track quarter horse racehorses as well. There are numerous quarter horse races in the US. And from personal experience, I can say that they are great athletes as well, and also need second careers.

I will say that when I hear about the only OTTB classes at shows, I get a little jealous, because the off the track quarter horses seem to have been forgotten. Of course it doesn’t make me cheer any quieter when I hear an off the track horse is competing in one of the big shows. I still feel a kinship with other off the track owners no matter what the breed. I just wish that there could be a more general off the track class versus the thoroughbred only classes. But again, maybe that’s just me. πŸ™‚

I understand that the quarter horse racehorses numbers are smaller, but it shouldn’t diminish the importance of finding them second careers as well. And why not use them in the English world? In my mind, O is a perfect combination for me. Her genes bring out the size and movements that thoroughbreds are prized for, while her quarter horse side presents a solid body and quiet brain that is ideal for hunters. Both breeds are equally athletic. So why I wonder, is O the only off the track quarter horse I’ve ever run across in the hunter/jumper world? I have to believe there are many more OTQH’s like her that need a job.

Anyway, I’m off my soapbox for now. I just wanted to share some thoughts!

Quarter horse in dressage.

Quarter horse in dressage.

However, I did collect a few cool sites if people want to learn more about quarter horse racing!

Statue of Refridgerator, one of the best sprinters of all time.  He was an appendix as well.

Statue of Refridgerator, one of the best sprinters of all time. He was an appendix as well.


http://www.aqha.com/Racing.aspx

This organization re-homes both QH’s and TB’s from the track in Texas: https://www.facebook.com/LOPETEXAS?ref=ts

Or this Facebook group who focuses on QH’s as well: Group

Does anyone out there have an off the track quarter horse?

And now for some humor….my horse’s race video. Go to about 2:12 to watch her race. She breaks from the 6 post.

She was incredibly slow, and I’m glad! That brought her to me!

Kudos to O

Last night O and I were able to squeeze into a group lesson with two other adult ammies and we had a great time.

We did a nice but quick warm up on the flat and headed straight into jumping. I was excited to jump for the first time in two week, and obviously O felt the same. She bounded down the lines and left me half halting like crazy and to little effect. After the first round my trainer have us the go to let her stride out and get the stride versus the add we were looking for in the exercise. She laughed saying O’s mammoth stride just wasn’t going to fit. Next time down in the 4 made a much happier pony and a less grabby rider. After she relaxed and began to accept my leg without galloping like a loon we moved to this twisty, winding course with two new jumps for her to mentally work through.

To my pleasure on the long approaches I felt like I was riding a really broke horse who went along soft and quiet. Problem was I would enjoy it so much that when we did approach the jumps I had a ton of horse in front of me. We got to a few sketchy spots, but O was totally willing and jumped it all. The best part of my lesson was my trainer yelling at me to take note how nice she was jumping, how slow and relaxed she was actually over the obstacle. Gone was my hurling horse, and in its place I had something that felt amazing! O definitely put her on her big girl girth today. Although I felt I could have given a better ride with distances, trainer was really happy with her, touching on the fact that now she’s jumping from pretty much anywhere and comfortably. Major kudos to O that I’m actually able to spend more time working on myself, and the distances knowing that she will take care of the rest (for the most part).

And since it was completely dark and I had no one to take pictures…here’s a picture from last week after a lesson!

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Rocking the argyle socks with crazy rainbow rain boots.

Boots for me!

The last time I bought tall boots I was 15. And god only knows that I used and abused those poor ariats throughout my junior years.

Last night…I bought new boots!! It was a goal of mine for 2014 to find boots that would fit my rather beefy calves yet could still accommodate my very long legs all while still looking pretty. I tried on several types, and discovered that sadly Ariats just did not fit me anymore. My trainer is a huge promoter of Tredstep boots, and loves her own pair. Coming from someone who practically lives in theirs, I have been keeping my eye out looking to buy the somewhat cheaper version (budgets suck) of the boots.

And then yesterday, in between two meetings at work I saw Tackoftheday.com was selling the Tredstep Da Vinci Tall boots…in TALL! HALLELUJAH! And with savings of almost $300, lets do this!

First pass at the husband earned me narrowed, suspicious eyes…I poured him another beer, got myself a hefty glass of wine and tried again. This time I followed him to grill and held the plate of burgers for him while he ignored me. Finally, over dinner he gave in.

These beauties are on their way to me!

Pppurrrddddyyyy

Soooo sshhiiinnneyy!

Point is, I’m super excited. If they fit like they are supposed to, and how my trainers do, I’ll be set. Tackoftheday-you are the best! Also, husbands who continue to let you obliterate the budget…they are pretty cool too!

My saddle is still craving this amazing stuff! Equestrian at Hart’s Giveaway for Higher Standards Soap is ending soon!