Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Guess how we finished?!?

Ha ha... I'm terrible! But for reals... Dan WON ANOTHER EVENT!!! So... this makes 4 first places in the 5 recognized events he's entered. The one he didn't get first at, he got 3rd, but if you take out the two pro's ahead of us, we got first. And he also got first at the schooling show in between two of the recognized that we did. :) I have an amazing baby spotty!!! 

So.. the details :) Because it's not about the end result, but the journey and the fun getting there. :) 

So.. I posted about Friday, but... Saturday and Sunday was a completely reformed spotted baby t-rex! Auntie Beth turned us into spotted ballerina's!! And I actually think Danny is getting the hang of horse showing. He's turning into a proper horse. ;) Ha!! Not quite... But he's not charging out of his stall (although I do only clean it while he's eating grain or soaked hay cubes), he's napping, and... well... he still is stealing stuff from peoples stall fronts if it's in his reach and he also pulled his halter into his stall and played with it. And he did steal his neighbors hay through the stall wall, but... he's getting better!!! I think. ;) 

Saturday he walked calmly down to the dressage arena without any antics. And then he warmed up nicely. He felt really good. We worked on the same stuff we did the day before and worked on our transitions. Today it was very much keeping my right elbow at my side, my left rein connected and wide, and my shoulders up to keep his shoulders up. :) I think it worked :) We ended up having a VERY nice test!! I was really happy with it really. Looking at the video, there was some things we could tweak, but overall, it was a nice test. We ended up with a 23.3!! Which put us in first in our division of 12. Beth had the same judge and she ended up with a 23.0 and first out of 14. So... we would have been 2nd out of 26. :) I'll take it. :) 

Our dressage test

 So then Dan took a good long nap. He was so cute.. he was snoring it seemed like but he woke up before I could get my phone back from Beth. He was resting up for stadium. :) Which is good because it was a tough course. Lots of terrain and terrain questions. But it looked fun! We warmed up well and I actually think I'm starting to get a better feel for keeping the pace and energy without letting Dan get longer! We had a really nice warm up. And then.... I lost it in stadium. I understand now why Beth is telling me to shorten my reins. I let him get long and lopey and didn't keep my leg on and keep the energy. He saved my butt over one for sure and at least two more that could have been close calls. Such a good boy. But I do feel like that even though it wasn't as pretty and smooth as it could have been, it was partly because I was riding better. Or at least TRYING to ride better. I think had I gone in and just let him lope around, we would have gone clear and it would have been a smoother round at first glance. But it wouldn't have been good training for later in life when the fences are bigger. So...even though I flubbed it up some, I also felt like I got it right at the end and I think that Dan was jumping better! We managed to go clean despite me, so yahoo!!

Dan's stadium round, saving my bacon! 

So.... that night Beth wanted to go to Tryon to watch the jumper prix they had. It sounded like a blast so we did. :) I decided I had to go shower first because I was so tired of being hot and sweaty so I did. Turns out the power was out in the hotel so I had to shower in the dark and hot, but... at least I was clean. I came back and got Helen and her Mom and then we all drove to Tryon. It is pretty freakin' impressive! It really is like Disney! It's gonna be crazy in two weeks!! It was fun watching the jumpers though. Afterwards I took Helen and her mom back and grazed Dan a bit. There was supposed to be a meteor shower but I didn't see a single shooting star. :( And the stars were amazing out there. I think I saw the milky way. :) 

So anyways... Sunday was also hot and miserable. Ugh... But we persevered and had a blast!! The course was probably the most technical course we have done and he was great!!! First though, I almost fell off before we even started. ;) As we were walking up to warm up a loose horse came galloping past. Dan stood still and was fine but his heart started pounding hard for a minute or two. He settled though and so I asked him to walk on so we could go warm up and he just went straight up!! I almost fell off the back side. ;) hee hee. After that he was just fine. We warmed up and did our turn on the forehand and haunches. Beth went and rode and went clean so she won her division!!! Whoo hoo. She came back to finish warm me up. It was helpful! She had me get him in a small tiny collected canter and get him to the base of a jump. So then she had me let him get a little bigger but still keep him to the base. It didn't work... BUT... I really FELT him get low in the shoulders and lengthen and flop over it. So SHOULDERS UP and I kept him to the base with his shoulders up in a slightly bigger stride. Then we came again in an even bigger stride and I kept him to the base and it was lovely!!! I get it!!!! Now to keep it. ;) 

So... off we went. We walked down and got in the box and the lovely volunteer started the countdown and... 3,2,1, go.... and Dan wouldn't go. He was just standing there. Beth was like "Spank him"!. So I did... and off we went. Turns out he wasn't just being Irish and doing his "I'm not moving"... he was pooping. Ooops. But still Dan... Although in retrospect, he probably could have spent 30 seconds pooping and still have been fine on time. ;) The first fence was easy and then he spooked at a horse coming towards home so our second fence was slightly wonky as we moved off our line. ;) But he was fine and locked back on. The first four fences were great. He was forward and pulling a little but not running away with me. He was "on the muscle" but listening. Pulling, but listening. :) I'll take it. The 5th fence was a ramp on an uphill slope that he was super game to. Then an S turn to a cabin. Then down the hill and then up the hill in the woods. He started to get a little bolty up the hill so I had to make a hard half halt. Because at the top of the hill, once it opened up, we had to turn sharp right to a half coffin. It wasn't a real ditch though, just two fat short logs on the ground. He was game to both and then it was to the water! He jumped the fun hanging log and we turned towards the water. I let him see it for awhile so I kept him at the canter. He cantered right in although he did squirt to the outside a little but went. He jumped the jump out and then it got technical. We had to do a downhill turn to a tiny little cabin, then a sharp right hand turn to a bank on the top of an uphill slope, then a sharp right turn to a big brush steeplechase fence. Then it was three easy fences home. Dan was great and really sat down and listened to me and jumped the cabin very politely so we could make a polite turn up the bank. He kept right up the bank and then we clocked on over the steeplechase fence. Yay!!! We were coming in a bit under optimum, so... we held a very polite canter over the last two fences. 

Yahoo!!! We finished first. :) And turns out, our team (Me, Beth and Helen (who finished 8th in Beth's division) won the team challenge. :) So whooo hooo!!!!

 (Yes, he was peeing, but he wouldn't pose for me and I was getting annoyed that he wouldn't keep his head out of the grass, so.... ha!)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Spotted Baby T-Rex

Rawwwwrrrrrr!!! Danny was a wild man!

Clearly Danny needs more than one ride going into a horse show. This week was sucky so I got my lesson on Tuesday, wimped out Thursday and tried to nap instead of riding, and then... today we left for Windridge. He hauled great and was great on the grounds....He settled into his stall and was good. I tacked up and then he went bonkers. Well not really. Not really bonkers, but he did get sassy. He was spooking at something in the woods behind us while we walked to dressage to warm up. But he was also trying to bolt, so he was spinning to look behind him, then anxious to catch up to others ahead so was jigging and carpiole-ing... then spinning back to spook behind him. Then on the road he was piaffing in place. He was a goober. But then we got to warm up and I just walked him around for 10 minutes and he settled.
So then Beth said that she had a new plan for Mighty (thanks to me actaully... with the turn on the forehand being good for the SI joints) that she thought would be good for Mighty. She had me do a turn on the forehand both directions to start and then a turn on the forehand both ways. She said that it would get Dan thinking and using his body and ready to work. And it did. :) After a meltdown. ;) So yeah.. we actually got pretty good totf and toth in both directions after a little bit of work. Dan does not want to move that right hind over. The key in the turn on the haunches is to keep him moving foward a step then sideways then forward then sideways. That makes it more effective than just spinning on the haunches. But for turn on the forehand he needs to pivot pretty much. But NO backwards in either. So.. it took a bit but we got it figured out.

Then we went to work. Ha!! Dan was SOOOOOO Mad at life. He threw a huge temper tantrum. He was behind my leg and kept getting all balled up instead of going forward. Then he got so mad he did his tongue flinging head flinging hissy fit. The one where his tongue snakes out to his eyeballs and ears... Finally he got over it and we finished with some fairly decent work.  And at the very end I noticed that he had a cute little inchworm on his head. ;) Hee hee. POOR inchworm!!!
Take aways
- start EVERY ride now with turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches.. it'll engage that hind end and make the work easier
-tracking right... he wants to over bend at the neck, not wrap around my inside leg, and drift out with the left shoulder. To correct this.... GET the inside rib cage, keep my inside elbow at my side and almost hold it there... to encourage him to hold that contact, and use my outside thigh to block the outside shoulder. I want to keep his head between his shoulders.. no over bending. Ride him straight!
-tracking left.... he still wants to throw his left shoulder out, so.... lift my inside hand to encourage the correct bend, and keep my outside hand still at my rib cage, so that he can't pull it forward and extend that right side of his body.
-So tracking left... I have to keep him on all four feet square by shortening the right side of his body and tracking right, to keep him squarely on all four feet, I have to shorten the left side of his body....

So yeah.. hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better and we won't have the spotted baby t-rex. Jamie said that she was going to make t-shirts... Jurassic Eventing... starring Baby Brontasaurus and Baby Spotted T-rex. ;)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tuesdays with Cindy

When he feels heavy in the right rein/not supple in the right rein, it's because his right barrel is flinging into me and he can't bend around my right leg. Instead of addressing his head.... address his right rib cage... But not by nagging. Get in, get out, get it done. :) Then make sure to leave his right side alone with my leg until I need it again. Remember, I'm training him to be responsive to my right leg and seat, not dull!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Feelin' the Burn

We had a fabulous lesson today! 

We started off doing some trot work and some 10 meter circles and then moved on to the canter. In the canter Cindy had me come down centerline and then leg yield (at the canter) to the rail. It was tough to think about leg yielding vs half passing. Cindy wanted me to move a bit more diagonally and not so much half passing. She told me as we were tracking left to swing my hips left and move my seat left, rather than focusing so much on pushing with my right leg. OHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Lightbulb moment!! Duh.. it's not so much about pushing him over, as allowing/guiding him over. SOOOO much better when I did that. 

Apparently that's my big problem with my left side. My left hip doesn't want to swing as well. So... when we kept the counter canter on the short side, I kept shutting him down. Cause yes, she made us then counter canter on the short side, cut across the short diagonal, and then go back on the proper lead. :) So much harder on the left lead. And that's why. So... now that I know that and had it brilliantly displayed to me.. I think I can fix it. :) :) 

So then... poor Dan. Hee hee.. I swear he is so freakin' smart. We've been working on the counter canter a bit and not having him swap. Then we also worked on picking up the correct lead from the walk... and he kept picking up the wrong lead. So now... when he broke in the counter canter, Cindy had me pick up the counter canter on the rail. And of course... he gives me the true lead. Dang it horse.... I can't ask correctly apparently. Even Cindy noticed that he gave me the counter canter and then corrected it himself. It's like he knows what I'm asking for but also realizes that I'm asking wrong. (well, wait... I guess when I am working on true canter, he picks up the wrong one and then swaps after he gets aggravated at my inability.. but today, he picked up the counter canter and then decided I had gone batty and we were supposed to be on the true lead so he'd swap after one stride, so... maybe he's as smart as I think and MAYBE I also got better about my aids!). But regardless he's a trooper and was trying. 

So then we did some trot work. Cindy had me pick up the sitting trot and we worked on getting more lift and sit and push. She said to half halt in the up part of the gait. We half halted when his legs were off the ground, so he would sit and push  more. I'm not exactly sure how to accomplish that at the trot, but.... the imagery of it worked as I was able to half halt a bit differently and Wow!!! Danny got lofty!! Suddenly my core was engaged because I felt the burn and his trot got super nice feeling. :) It was hard work. I think I rolled farther back on my seat bones a little, "slouched" a little and then altered my half halts to create that. It was nice!!!

We finished with an attempt at a trot lengthen across the diagonal but I messed it up. Cindy said to think about trotting over longer trot poles... it was a slower tempo, even if we covered more ground quicker, but definitely not a quicker tempo. A slower tempo because the stride length is bigger. And I know that, but for some reason I can't quite convince my butt of that. So hopefully the trot pole thought will help.

Yay. Fun ride!!! Danny was falling asleep in the cross ties after his rinse. Hee hee... Being a grown up horse is hard work. :)

Monday, July 31, 2017

XC Schooling with Kelly... aka #isurvivedbubbas2017

Today I hauled Dan up to Bubba's (Sandy Hills Farm) for a XC lesson with Kelly Eaton. That part of Aiken is really pretty! Anyways, when we got there Mr. Sandy greeted us with donuts! YES!!!  :) We chatted a bit while I was grooming and then he went to leave with his four wheeler. Dan had been giving it the hairy eyeball (and... when I went to take him out of his stall after breakfast he acted like he NEEDED to go do his gallop I had a feeling it was going to be that kind of day) so when he started it up, Dan jerked back and broke the trailer tie and trotted around. Luckily he only trotted around the trailers and let us catch him quickly. Mr. Sandy has a gallop track and I was so tempted to take Dan out there to warm him up. Unfortunately I didn't get tacked up quick enough and didn't have time.

But it didn't matter because despite my premonition, he was GOOD!! Like... the best behaved actually! #thatneverhappens! I rode with Caroline, who was riding a 7 year old Hanoverian who hadn't been off the farm in a year or two and he was a little bit rowdy at the beginning. He's also huge... like 17.3, 18 hands huge. It was odd to not be on the biggest rowdiest horse. ;) The other horse was a Hanoverian who never grew past pony size but she was cavorting a bit. Dan just warmed up like a professional. :) I sort of miss the antics. :) And he maintained his cool the entire lesson..... He's growing up!!!!

Anyways, Kelly asked what we wanted to work on and I told her that part of me wanted to put more money in the bank and let him look at the water.. but the competitor in me wanted to challenge it. In theory, there should be enough money in the bank now. So.. we decided to attack it and see what happened. Kelly had me do two logs and then a blonde coop (although I totally forgot about the coop) and then another log into the water. She told me to ride it very aggressively with my body position. In other words, sit up, sit back, shoulders wide, whip at the ready, and even give him a little tap after the log to get him paying attention. I was also going to pick a spot with my eye and ride to that spot!! The plan was forward to that spot. If he went left, I countered, if he went back, I countered... but we were going to that spot!!

So.. this is what happened.... Attacking the water
 Of course he was great!! ;) Even after "drowning" yesterday during our swim. :) Good boy!! So... there's that. I'm not sure it'll translate to AEC's, but we've got the water at Windridge to practice on going in blind again and then we'll have the Clayton clinic at Stableview for another water practice before AECs, so.. Fingers crossed. :) But I do think I can use that "ride" to my advantage. Maybe he was going in anyways, but maybe... because I rode like that... he went in. :)

So then we worked on some ditches. Dan just hopped on over like it was no big deal. Yay! We jumped a few other jumps too, all little stuff. Then we went back to the water and did some more fun stuff with it. We walked down the bank and then up the bank. Kelly made me keep my butt in the saddle. It's been a forever issue with me. I've constantly struggled with it. And I tried holding my saddle or neck strap to keep my butt in place, but... I can't seem to make it work. So today I tried something different. I didn't hold on! I thought, maybe... if I stop trying to hold myself IN the saddle, I wouldn't push against my stirrups so much. And.. it worked!! Or maybe it's timing... maybe it's my saddle...maybe it's Danny dropping instead of launching... who knows? But I got it!! Not every single time, but... more often than not. :) :) 

 So then we upped the ante and trotted in and out and then we even cantered in and out. :) We did the sunken road.... Cantered down the bank into the water, through the water, and then out over the bank. :) And then Kelly added a small vertical one stride after the out and we did that! It was tight and he sort of peeked at it, but... he did it without hesitating. It was more of a peek like... "how do I do this?... oh, that's how!". :) Then Kelly raised it a bit bigger and we did it again! Wheeee!!

So then we moved on the bank complex and Dan went up and down again and I worked on my seat again. So then Kelly made me a mini course. I had mentioned that I was sort of interested in doing the ditch and wall. Because he had done the one at Ashland.. and I had Kelly there if we had any issues... But I also said that it might be bigger and more impressive than I was willing to do today. Kelly walked over and looked at it. The height was small but the ditch in front was fairly deep. I probably wouldn't have tried it on my own (well, maybe... you never know, but... ) but Kelly said it was doable, so.. she made me a course. And we did it! On the first attempt!! He peeked a little bit, but not bad. And again it was more of a "what is this?" peek than a "OMG DITCH OF DEATH" peek. :) hee hee...
The ditch and wall!

So then we did another course. She told me to do the open oxer lincoln log thing... EEEKSS!! I hate those things. They freak me out. And our course finished over the fairly big (training level?) mushroom cap thing. So.. I started out and the first attempt he was a little behind my leg. Or maybe not so much behind my leg as I had him a bit too compact and not forward enough. (Although I suppose he was too collected without the in front of my leg part). So he got over all of it but it was a bit ... oofy!. So Kelly told me to let him open up just a bit and it was MUCH better. He jumped the big coop thing too. :)
Mini course

So yep... tons of fun!! And very helpful! I learned how to keep my butt in the saddle on drops... hint.. don't hold myself down with my hands.. just keep them up and focus on my seat. Now I've got to figure out my darn hands... sigh...  I also need to focus on my landing gear, although that was better today. She didn't have to say anything about it but I did find myself pinching with my knee some.

We also figured out a good thing for me to think of... Dan tends to lengthen to the fence and at the last stride or two, he drops his shoulders while he's lengthening and "peeks". It's not a real peek but for lack of a better word, he peeks. In order to avoid this, I need to keep him from lengthening to the fence but also keep myself up and my shoulders up and keep my hands up to keep him up. I am worried that I'm holding his head and neck and preventing him from using himself jumping well, but Kelly reminded me that it's a good solid connection, and I'm not catching him in the mouth. And it's helping keeping him from ducking his head down and dropping his shoulders. So if I can figure out how to accomplish this without holding him and preventing the bascule OR looking like a moron, we'll be on our way to looking better in our photos. :)