Moving Right Along

We’ve got a horse show tomorrow, but I’m still riding the high from some great lessons lately.  So regardless of what happens, I’m feeling like the improvement is there.  Here’s some little clips of lessons lately…keep an eye out for:

  • Staying down and soft on the backside of the jumps.
  • Keeping Dee’s shoulders up on approach.
  • Attempting to keep my elbows in, less “chicken dance”.
  • Making a decision on distances and sticking with it.

Here we go.

I struggled at first (and struggle at the end of the other clip) with getting to this single at an odd stride.  But this one was my best ride, and really using my outside rein to keep her body straight.  Yay!

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She is adorbs.

 

Full course, complete with ugly last jump (you can see the second I waffle on my choice & pull).  Also-enjoy Dee’s pre-jump grunting! Ha!

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Eating these bigger oxers up lately. 

So there we are!  Happy with our overall picture and excited for what’s next.  Wish us luck!

 

After 1 Year

I finally jumped!!  And dear God, I remember why I love it so much.  For months, even while jumping, O hadn’t exactly made it a fun experience.  So having the chance to bounce around a little course with one of my trainers schoolies was so nice.  The gelding I was on knows his job inside out, makes the strides, and can take a joke if necessary (shocker-he had to a few times).  I’m pretty sure I said “good boy” about 500 times.

It was for the first time since getting pregnant that I really, truly felt like my old self again. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in being out of shape, or getting disappointed in my lack of strength.  But during this ride, I actually felt like I knew what I was doing.  I didn’t do it perfectly, and I wanted to hold this poor bay’s face all the way over the jump, but the simple fact is that this is what I want to continue doing.  And if I can get some energy and muscle back, it’ll only get better.

We did a little outside line, a bending line around to a long approach single.  Having been riding a stopper for months has created some general busy-ness with my hands and upper body at the base of the jump, but I think having some really honest types take me around a few times will help ease those control issues.  I was proud though, of when Mr. Schoolie wanted to get a little quick, I wasn’t intimidated or anxious.  A big half-halt and we were back on our merry way.

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See that “giant”crossrail.  First jump after a year.  The little vertical next to it was in the second line.  

I’m so excited!  What a fun ride!

End of a Chapter

The past few weeks back in the saddle have felt great!  I’m getting my sea legs back, and looking forward to the future.  But as I alluded to earlier, O has not exactly thrived in our training program.  The past 11 weeks have have proved that she is a lovely riding horse…and that she hates jumping.

She will go around like a perfectly broke, happy, well-adjusted mount.  But if you happen to point her at a jump she looses her marbles.  To put it simply, O has officially flunked out of the program.

We tried two trainers, several riders, the vet and of course myself being back in the saddle.  She is sound as can be, happy under saddle on the flat, but none of that matters if she hates her job.  With the combined advice of my trainer, my in-laws, husband and friends I made the heart-wrenching decision to find O a new home.  Everyone agreed, she is a great horse. But we are no longer the right match.

This is the end of a chapter with O.  I know that it’s my job as an owner and rider is to find her a place where she can be happy with her job, and I’m ready to tackle that next step.  I’m also excited in some ways to see where this leads me as a rider.  I’ll write more after I have some time to really think things through and decide how I feel.  Thanks for everyone for your kind words and ideas; I honestly appreciate it.

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Such a special girl.

 

O @ The Ranch: 3 Weeks In

First, allow me to start with a picture.  Because I love it.

Hubs and horsebeast in action.

Hubs and horsebeast in action.

O has now been at the ranch for about 3 weeks.  She’s been out and about over the land on rides, seen cattle, massive equipment (it’s hay season!) and had my nephews ride their bicycles all up in her bubble.  I hit a rather awkward stage at the moment….and so basically none of my clothes fit, so I was in shorts when I was down there.  The hubs rode horsebeastie for me.

1st fun tidbit: She can now be tacked up in ‘her spot’.  Each ranch pony has a stall that they belong to.  Not only does she go to that spot and wait, but does it without prodding.  It’s kind of adorable.

2nd fun tidbit: My in-laws love her.  They say she’s lovely to be around, and just a nice ride overall.

3rd funny tidbit: She’s the very bottom of the horsey totem pole.  Only friend she has is this little shetland guy.

I love him.

I love him.

As for the ride, we scraped as much of the mud off of her as possible (someone has been rolling extensively) and then tossed a saddle on the mare.  Off we went to their arena area, which was new for her.

Off she goes!

Off she goes!

She walked.  She trotted.  She cantered.  She never put a foot wrong, even while crossing water to get to the arena.  Oh and during all of this my Farrier-in-Law was dragging the arena for us with his tractor, and my bro-in-law plus nephews were tossing haybales at O so she could jump them if the mood struck.

SHE DIDN’T LOOK AT ANYTHING.

Good mares don't care.

Good mares don’t care.

In fact the only time she even got remotely sassy was when my husband decided to play flying changes.  The first was silky smooth, the second was spicy but successful.  Both her good direction, but still.  She just loped around like it was no biggie.

Just toodling along.

Just toodling along.

Then the hubs wanted to tempt fate.  Let’s just see what she does with the bales, he says, as he trots her at the hay.  Mentally I’m thinking 2 options in play here.  She’s going to stop.  Or, she’s going to rocket launch.

Well, she went with rocket launch.  Once we laughed that off, he circled her back and popped her over it a few more times.

Learning no rocket launching is necessary for hay bales.

Learning no rocket launching is necessary for hay bales.

Loping over them at this point.

Loping over them at this point.

She stared it down once or twice, sure, but never even thought about stopping.  In fact, she gave this face (look below), and started to take him there.  He actually laughed, and asked who was really teaching who here.

Mare sees jump.

Mare sees jump.

Mare goes to jump!

Mare goes to jump!  (her ears are forward, and she was locked on)

Not exciting enough to use her knees.

Mare doesn’t bother actually jumping the jump. She got wayyy close to the bale on this one.

I was bursting with pride at all of this.  My husband has never really purposefully ridden to a jump of any kind, and my pony actually stepped up and acted like the horse who knew her job.  I feel validated in that this was what she needed, a true shake up of her daily life.  And while I miss her so much at home, I don’t know how many times we’ll have this opportunity.  I want to be sure we get everything out of it.

Hiding in the barn while her Mule overlord waits outside.

Hiding in the barn while her Mule overlord waits outside.

Just over 3 weeks down, and we are looking at roughly 8 more depending on how she’s doing.  Hopes are high!

Another Month Into Magnesium

I wanted to do one last update on magnesium as we continued down that path to alleviate the overly spooky tendencies that had sprung up this winter.  A month or so ago I posted my original I love magnesium post.  We had started O on 3000mg of magnesium, and that is the dose she has continued on.  Since she lives outside, she doesn’t get it at the same time everyday or anything, but rather each of the 5-6 days a week when she does get ridden.  In my first post I raved about how much less spooky O had been since starting the Mg.

Wild beast here.

Wild beast here.

Today I’ll be repeating myself a bit.  She still eyeballs things, but it is so much less dramatic than before Mg.  Does she still peek at jumps?–Absolutely–but I cannot remember when she last stopped at a jump.  It has probably been a month or more.  This is a big deal.  I can deal with a peeking horse!  Better yet is the desired side effect.  Since she is relaxed enough around the ring’s ‘scary’ jumps we are able to reinforce that when she does something good, she gets rewarded.  When she does something good over/around/near something scary she gets bigger rewards (pats everywhere).  Since her brain is quiet enough to let her soak in this idea, I’ve been much more successful.

In fact in my lesson this week, I swung up and she immediately marched across the ring to a jump that had been slightly undone, the standards were leaning wonky and the poles were askew; the very same poles that we had stopped at only weeks ago (oh yes-she refused a scary blue pole).  Without guidance from me she power-walked to it, and without missing a beat climbed through the awkward set up and continued to march confidently around. Small victories!

Basically I’m not saying that it works for everyone and it may not seem like a big deal, but Mg is giving my horse the chance to really process what is going on around her, without getting anxious.  She’s now having those confidence building moments, and I’m able to reward her.  Even further, the more confident she gets, the better she is actually jumping.

Cute pony.

Cute pony.

Showing Off: Nov. 2nd Show

Well the morning started out on a rough note.  I was carrying a hot drink while staring at the ring full of horses, and walking…and walked right into a fan.  Needless to say I jumped around a bit, and spilled some of my trainer’s drink.

Secondly, I found my horse, got on, and did a little w/t/c then we headed to a little single vertical.  O was all “it’s scary, it’s scary, it’s scary….I’m going into bunny hop launch mode.”  And then changed her mind and she spun left HARD and I did a rather awkward slow motion dismount from the saddle.  As in, literally I put my left leg over and down to the dirt, then my right leg slid out and I landed on my feet.  I tried to convince my trainer it wasn’t even a real fall, she laughed but didn’t quite sound convinced.

Either way, with the warm up ring getting more busy, the trainer suggested the working student take her over the first few to get things rolling.  I was fine with that.  I was surprised (and guiltily a little bit pleased) that O did the same move again.  So hey, at least I’m not a total flop.

Fast forward to our warm-up class where O refused 2nd and 3rd jumps on course.  It was an outside line, and one that she hadn’t see during warm-up.  She wasn’t dirty about it, just simply slowed down (while I kicked like crazy) and finally stopped about a stride out before I got her to walk up to it.  She jumped around the rest of the course great and second time around she launched over the two she originally stopped at.  As soon as I came out my trainer said it was fine, she was just having a baby moment and to just keep thinking forward.

Our first judged class went well!  We were adding strides on this one to make sure pony was paying close attention, and wasn’t going to pull any wiggly stuff.  It wasn’t a concern, she jumped around quietly, and while I was a bit defensive (aka not pretty) around a few of the spooky jumps, I feel it went okay.  We did nail  the lead change and she landed correctly on the rest.  We grabbed a fourth place in this one out of 10 or so horses.  Sorry no video action from that one.

Hello uphill pony with shoulder muscle.

Hello uphill pony with shoulder muscle.

Second judged class was the one I was hunting for all morning.  Now that we had her attention, I could soften after the jump and let her move up for the correct strides. She ate them up, and took me down the lines like it was nothing.  These jumps were actually set to 2’6” with fill (let’s face it, sometimes the height varies a bit) , and she was cantering over them like it was no big deal.

"I got this Mom"

“I got this Mom”

Better yet, she responded well to my half-halts and was really ridable around the turns.  I came out of the ring smiling like a fool and giving her plenty of pats.  Trainer and husband met me at the gate!  They were super pleased with her just like I was.  We snagged the 2nd place ribbon in this class.  Video provided by my Mom is below.

It’s funny that the hubs is excited to see her jumping a bit bigger!  He says it’s way more fun to watch that way! Ha!   I’m really excited and proud to say that after that ride my trainer is planning to move us up!   Not very far mind you, as in our local circuit there are 2’6” classes (what we did at this show) and then 2’6”-2’9” Pre-Adult Hunter Classes which just bump up the oxers and maybe a vertical or two.  It’s only a hole higher, but dang it I’m so excited!  We got off to a very rough start that morning, but we pulled it together and did pretty well against some very nice horses (prepping for Zone finals) who were there.

The hack went really well, she was a little tense/fast at the trot, but I thought our transitions were much better than last show.  We came out 3rd out of 6!

Basically guys, I really, really like my horse.

 

 

 

July Horse Show Video Footage

Thanks so much for my parents and awesome husband for their support at this show.  The commentary is brought to you by my Mom and Dad who were playing with the phone.  Sorry no fancy video-amindst the throwing me into the tack and being super late, I would rather them be cheering than running for our nice camera.  

Here you are….

Flat Video, we placed 3rd

Favorite voice over, when my Dad asks if maybe the judge wasn’t watching when I broke up to the canter.  Tehe, thanks Dad.

After watching–there were some people doing crazy things in this class…not sure what kind of competition I was really dealing with.  That said, I did break to the canter from the trot, and my horse giraffe’s a bit in the downward transitions. I was actually beat by a place by a girl who I ride with a lot, she and her little mare are awesome.  

Over Fences, 4th place, 5th place 

Warm up round…

Judged rounds…

Favorite voice over here: My mother scolding my horse by using her ‘full name’ (Olive) when we get a crappy quick change headed to the far outside.  Thanks Mom for not thinking it was my fault…truth-it probably was.   Also, the short discussion on whether I’m actually supposed to getting the 4 strides.

Videos do not lie, and while I see a lot of picky-picky-not-so-great things, I do like some of what I see here: I like that she’s willing to squeeze the strides in, and that I’m committed to asking her to do so.  I do not like how tight I get her on the far outside line.  We struggled that morning too, but dang, it was really tight.

Happy pony.

Happy pony.

Pros:

Mare is responsive

Mare isn’t having issues with size the jumps

My shoulders are staying back better

Cons:

Holy crazy hands batman!

On the flat, I still look a little hunched

Swingy leg comes back every once in a while over fences-need to lock that *hit down.