Sunday, January 20, 2019

Princesses don't knit. Neither do Unicorns!

Okay.. I needed today. And while today wasn't exactly what I wanted, it was what I needed. Ahhhh.... 

And I almost didn't ride today. It is a high of 34 with the wind chill and 20 mph winds with higher gusts. BUT.. it was dry and sunny. Kelly messaged me saying the wind was "Inspirational" and asked if I still wanted to ride. I told her if she was going to be able to stay warm while teaching, I was happy to ride. Thank goodness she agreed. It was actually VERY pleasant today! Honestly.. Jess's farm must have been in some weird hole or something because the wind was not bad. Well, her arena.... Her arena wasn't bad. After our ride we hacked on her bridle trails and that was pretty windy. Or maybe the wind just died down for my lesson. Point is.. it was actually rather pleasant. Even when I watched Kelly ride Dan.

So... I told Kelly what was going on and how I was frustrated with the right rein hanging and inability to get him off my right leg and still not sure about whether there was still rein lameness and....  So.. she wanted to hop on. She said she was "curious". ha ha! Dan was a good boy for her and she spent some time working on getting him even in the connection, up through his back and feeling out what I was complaining about. Basically... I told her that I couldn't get him to "hang" his head into the bit. That he was "hanging" on the right rein but in a bad way and I couldn't get him to just soften and drop into the connection in the good "hanging" way. :) So she played around and felt him out.

Basically what it boils down to is that he is not reactive enough (or at all) to my right leg. And I'm too active with my left leg. So at least props to me yesterday for getting after him some for not reacting to my right leg... albeit way too aggressively and not in a good training way. :(  So... she got him bending around her right leg and reacting to it and reaching into the bridle and lifting his back and using his hind end and basically being lovely. And then I got to get back on. She told me to stop knitting... My fingers were not allowed to wiggle to get him into position... because while it worked, it only worked for a second. So... if we were at the end of our medium trot across the diagonal and he started to get a little above the bit and rushy, I could wiggle my fingers a bit then. But otherwise.... a wiggle here and a wiggle there turns into knitting. And Princess's don't knit! So... My hands and elbows belong to me and they should be steady. Kelly had me create a triangle.. with wide hands and his nose as points. My goal is to ride the shoulders between my hands. Don't worry about his nose, ride the shoulders. But the wide hands help direct the shoulders which helps direct the nose. So.. when we tracked right.... I pushed his ribcage out with my right leg. Not his haunches.. not his shoulder, but his ribcage. If he didn't respond, a tap with the whip behind the leg. She made it a point to tell me that I'm not riding harder when he doesn't react... because then I have to work harder and he gets to work less. So instead of kicking harder... I just tap with the whip. Then I ask again nicely with the same pressure and if I still don't get yielding to my leg, tap with the whip. He eventually figured out it was easier to just respond to my leg. And it wasn't perfect and it wasn't every time, but it was better than before. She also told me... and this is big so I will high light it...   If I ask for something and he tries even 1%, reward that one percent. Soften and reward lightly. And then tomorrow ask for another 1%. And in 100 days, we'll be at 100%!   And obviously we're not going to get 1% every day and there will be days we back track, but the point is... Reward the Try, so he keeps Trying!! So anyways... When we are tracking right, I do have to pull his nose in a little to initiate the bend, but the majority of the aids are from my right leg. She did make me feel better about it. She said that because he wasn't reacting to my right leg, I pulled his nose in to create bend. And because he was still not bending around my leg, I felt it, but attempted to correct it by pulling harder on the inside rein. She said we all do it. So.. I need to address the lack of bend to the right by engaging that right rib cage. So... mental note.. when I notice myself hanging on the right rein and having to pull him into the bend, (especially tracking right), I need to stop and realize it's the right rib cage that's not bending and address it at the girth. And yes.. I realize I've been told this repeatedly by multiple people. Part of why I get soooo frustrated at myself. Why do I keep doing this crap? I have 3 trainers.. I take lessons all the time... Why do I still suck so badly at the main simple components of riding?!?! Why can't I progress?? Ugh.. anyways... tracking right, I also have to remember to not throw away the outside rein. It doesn't need to go forward. It's the outside rein that creates bend. So...under Kelly's tutelage we got some really nice bend and I was able to soften and holy moly!!! He felt amazing... He was supple, he was hanging like a chandelier in my hands, his back was up... And I was sitting his trot and even for only a few circles my abs were killing me because he was that engaged and soft and supple and through. Yay!! So then tracking left.. it's the same thing. Triangle hands. This way he tends to fall in or bulge out, so I actually will have to direct his shoulders back into the circle by counter bending his rib cage and making my triangle go backwards. :) Counter flexion if you will. But only for a second. We got some nice stuff this way too. Oh, and... I need to be careful that I'm timing my aids correctly. I can't just kick, kick, kick at him.. I have to time my kicks with the rhythm. For example, my right leg aid needs to happen when my left hip comes forward. 

So yep... a very educational and helpful ride. It sucks but sometimes taking a step back and doing a walk (and tiny bit of trotting) is a very helpful lesson. 

Danny seemed to enjoy himself too and he felt quite nice. So hopefully I can sneak in a ride tomorrow and work on it some more before my lesson with Cindy. It's easier to do at the walk and then I get to working and trotting and moving forward with my ride and fall back into all my bad habits. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Avoiding the Rain

So.... today sucked.... this year sucks... I'm just.. miserable. :( And I don't know why. My life is good.. I'm just.... sad... I can't find my way back to Hollyland, full of rainbows and unicorns and puppies. Sigh...

I just wanted to have a fun ride today.... partly jealousy of my friends that had awesome jump lessons recently... partly sadness that we weren't at Gibbs with everyone else... partly frustration at our dressage recently.. I just wanted a fun jump ride.

NOPE... I ruined it. I got frustrated with Dan.. I couldn't see a distance to save my life... I got a few nice canters and a handful of nice jumps, but most of the jumps were too tight or too long... and I just couldn't figure it out. Then I got frustrated and mad and took it out on Dan. And then I felt even worse...
Sigh... so then poor Kelli had to just sit there while I cried and felt like a horrible horse mom. Then we went for a hack. In silence while I cried... and then finally I sucked it up and ignored it and we had a decent last half of the ride.

I'm really struggling.... like.... I realize that it's stupid and I don't actually feel this way but right now I feel like I suck at everything and Dan and I are a terrible team and I should just sell him or just trail ride... I'm never going to be able to get a good jump canter and good jumps... never going to be ready for 2nd level recognized... I just want to cry...

And I know what the root of my sadness is.. .I just don't know how to fix it... how to address it. And then I get mad at myself and tell myself to just ... tell it NOPE.. and find joy. And part of me wants to do that, but part of me just... can't...  Ugh... this sucks...

The good news is that we managed to stay dry. I think we rode in the best window to stay dry. It was raining some in the morning and drizzled as we were tacking up and then started to rain once we were leaving, but it was dry while we rode. So yay for that.

Dressage Ride and a Quick Hack

Practicing for the ride a test. Much better than when he was sore. But still a long way off from recognized ready.... :(  And weedy fro forelock

Feeling blue...

Cindy Lesson

So... Cindy felt like the pads made a big difference for Dan! She said he came out much more free in his shoulder and his gaits and was working nicely through his back and topline from the very beginning rather than just at the end. :)

We have pads!

So... Danny got his pads put in yesterday so I took him for a test spin today. He feels better.. much better. He doesn't feel lame anymore, but I still feel the rein lameness. But... we'll give him a few days, or at least one more shoeing cycle and see where we're at.

We had a nice long hack with a tiny bit of dressage in the end to see how he felt.

Thursday, January 10, 2019


Okay, so... Dan had a vet visit today and hopefully it's just sore soles on both front feet and he'll be good as new once we get some pour in pads or something. I started painting his feet already with formaldehyde and iodine. And Freddie is coming Saturday, so.. fingers crossed. 

But... LOOK WHAT WE GOT!!!!!!

I'm ridiculously excited about this. But LOOK.... LOOK AT HOW ADORABLE HE IS!!!! 

Well Dang....

So... I finally got a lesson with Kelly Eaton again!!! Except Daniel is lame still. :( Ugh... And more lame... We played a little trying to figure it out... We worked a little on the turn on the forehand. Kelly used the "whip of encouragement" to help us get a little more oomph to them. :) She said it was better to have our circle be too large and get points off for that than to have him get stuck or lose the energy. We then tried to do some canter work but he was obviously more sore today as he started to struggle in the canter too. Ugh.. Kelly thought it was left front. So... I have no idea where it is. We did a little canter work and realized that... when cantering right... Dan can have inside flexion or counter flexion and maintain the canter, even while counter cantering. However, when we try to get counter flexion on the left lead true canter.. he cannot do that. He falls out of the canter. Hmmm.... But what does that mean?? Kelly suggested looking into his neck as he seemed to not be muscled evenly. 

So... yeah.. we quit riding as he seemed a little bit more uncomfortable despite trying pretty hard to do what I wanted. Even Kelly said he was game today as much as he could. 

So.. fingers crossed I can figure out what the problem is asap.