Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Fantastic Lesson

We had such a good lesson today!! We worked on lots of little stuff. Stuff like keeping the canter strides more forward, by using my sliding seat. And to keep my butt in the saddle. We also did some counter canter work. Cindy made me do it the hardest way.... True canter.. then cross the diagonal and then continue on the counter canter... short side and then long side. We had to really think about acting like the wall was on our inside. But once I had that visual it was a lot easier to maintain. We got it :) 

Thursday, July 12, 2018


 Today was a Beth lesson day. :) I went to the chiropractor and then the bank. Then I came home and did reports during the hottest part of the day. Then I headed to Morning Run to adjust Butters before my lesson on Dan. Dan seemed so excited to be back at Camp. Traitor!! You don't get to stay! 

 We tacked up and headed to the arena. Cindy was super and let me borrow the monoflap again. I started my warm up and as we hit the far end of the arena Danny went from 17 hands to 18 hands!! DONKEY!!! Um.... I'm pretty sure that the donkey has been there EVERY time we're here AND the entire time you were at Camp with Beth here. He was on full alert though. He was stock still and staring! Then he'd turn and stare at the mule and the ponies, then back to Donkey.. then back to mule and ponies.. then back to Donkey. I finally got him to go back to work. Goober. 

We started warming up and I told Beth that he was behind my leg again and it was so frustrating. And he didn't feel quite as lovely. She said she could tell... he was already lacking "structure". Sigh... Oops. Back to putting him in his box and insisting he stay there. And sure enough.... I ended up getting some LOVELY work out of him. I still have to push him into that right outside rein and ask for more flexion to the right. We did a few transitions and Beth reminded me to keep him connected and not throw him away during the transitions. And.. when I asked for the canter, I got the right lead every time. :) Yahoo!

So then Beth said she wanted to work on some changes. She said that it would help me get that canter and maintain that canter. And that until we were able to keep the lovely canter and get it consistently... our jumping wasn't going to improve. And that once we did get that canter.. the jumping would automatically improve. And it's not like Dan doesn't get the idea of a course, so... works for me. She set two cavaletti's 3 strides apart and had me get a nice collected canter and then canter the poles. We went in a circle on the left lead and she said that once we got into the poles on a nice stride (don't aim for a change if he didn't come into it nicely) we could turn right after the second pole. And as he lifted off to go over the second pole, I was to swing my "Hooker hips"to the left and shift my body aids from left lead canter to the right lead canter. Beth said to exaggerate it at first so that he understood what we were asking. She said that if we didn't get the full change to just come back down to the trot and go back to the left lead and try again. So we started and the first two times we pooped over the first pole. Beth said that this was pretty much what happened with jumps too. He is good around the turn but then gets behind my leg and I don't do anything about it. Sigh... Yep. But I swear I was trying. I almost fell off I was trying so hard! Seriously... pony club kicking is hard when it's 90 degrees and feels like 100. So.. then Beth told me to dig my spur into him. And that makes sense... he's still responding to my leg.. and I won't fall off. ;) Hopefully. So anyways... we got that accomplished and went back to the changes. So... the next time we went through, Dan swapped on his own after the first one. We laughed and praised him. He's like "Sucka's... I've got this!". Only it was because he was falling in on that shoulder so it was easier to swap. So we tried again with him straight and not falling or leaning and he swapped partially but the next attempt he swapped on his own again. So then Beth said that we would just do it over the first pole and skip the second pole. And we got it twice. So then we went to the other lead and it was tougher. Which we knew it would be. But not that tough. :) Yay! We got it a few times and then went back the other way and got it again and then quit with that. :) I joked that Beth was going to be in trouble when I got multiple changes during my counter canter work in my dressage tests this weekend. She said "Nope.. because your body needs to stay on the correct lead" which means he shouldn't swap. Sigh. Yep. :) 

 So then we went for a little cool down hack. We braved the donkey, although he didn't really see him well because the mule and other horses were in front of the donkey. The cows were fun though. :) 

Beating the Heat! ?

 Today I decided that I wanted to ride and I wasn't going to have time to do it after most likely. So I got my hiney up at 5:30 am and was on Dan by 6:30. It was still hot! And soooo muggy. But it wasn't too terrible. The bugs were kind of bad though, so next time... ear net and fly spray. We walked around the front field and did a little bit of exploring. Man.. I need to bush hog and spray weed killer. 

 So then we went to work. And ugh.. it is so hard to do any good steady work in the front field because the footing is just so... uphill, downhill, and varied. So then we headed to the "arena" because at least it's flat. That was better but it was hard to do some of the first level test moves. We rode without spurs and without the whip and worked on forward from the leg as well as did some regular stuff. 
 We had a good ride. And he was pretty sweaty and foamy so he got a quick rinse and then got to go in his stall under the fans. I changed and then I had a client show up. Danny soooo wanted to be his friend.  :) So.. yep, we'll have to do this a few times so that I can get some extra rides in. Although Lucy did offer to let me come and ride earlier than 9 am. :) 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tough Lesson

Today was a bit of a tough day. Not sure why... I think it's because I'm stressed about Danny not eating well and Fleck still intermittently going after him. I don't want either of them to get hurt, but I also hate to think of them being separated... And what happens when I take Dan to a show in a few weekends again and am gone overnight again?? Sigh. So yeah.. I was a little stressed. 

My lesson started off decently and overall it was a very good lesson with lots of learning and figuring out. It just wasn't all and rainbows and unicorns. :) We worked on getting him straight. Looking in the mirror, especially when tracking left, it appears that his shoulders are out but his nose is in. Sigh... So I had to very much make sure that I was riding his shoulders in line with his butt and then his head in line with his shoulders. Which was tough. So... a bit of shoulders in but really pushing him into the outside rein. ??? I think... Cindy said I was getting the diagonal pair rein aids. So yay! Actually, there was a lot of me actually RIDING today and figuring stuff out and feeling stuff. And a lot of me not reacting in my old typical ways (ie wrong and out of frustration and irritation). So yay for that! I was reacting and using my seat to soften rather than going straight to the reins. So whooo hooo!

I also worked on my seat. I swear.. this is where I really wish I had the soloshot or something. Daily! What I THINK I'm doing vs what I'm ACTUALLY doing are so different... And until I see it, my brain isn't convinced that I'm wrong. So... today, while working on my seat, it really felt like my knees were out like chicken wings and I was pinching up in my leg. Cindy kept saying YES so... maybe it's a work in progress, and that once I get my seat fixed, then we can address my legs?? Or maybe it's not as bad as it feels. But it's really hard for me to relax my butt and keep my legs straight and down. I either relax my butt and pinch up my legs, or get my legs straight and down and tighten my cheeks. Or at least that's what it feels like. So.... ?? It would be nice to see. But anyways, I worked on rolling my butt underneath me and then almost rolling it in the saddle. And using my seat as an aid rather than bouncing around. And then I asked Cindy if I was bouncing because she was saying YES when I felt bouncy. So.. she had me put the reins in the outside hand and my whip in the outside hand and then put my hand underneath my cheeks at the canter. And huh.... sure enough, I wasn't actually bouncing out of the saddle. It also helped me keep my inside shoulder up and back and not collapsed. So... neat trick to remember. And, I need to stop standing in my stirrups and bracing and using my knee bend as the shock absorber. I need to use my ankles... Which also means my seat sinks down into the saddle. Argh...  We also worked on getting a bit more forward with the canter. Which I think is something Beth had said too. He gets a little too up and down and doesn't reach out and forward. NOT down and forward mind you... Nope. We want up, out and forward. So I had to swing my hips forward a bit longer. And it works. Neato!

Of course before we worked on the canter we had to get into the canter. And I swear.. I keep asking wrong. I'm getting the right lead instead of the left and vice versa. Ugh.. what the heck?!?! Seriously?!! How can we have won practically every show last year and now I can't even get the right lead?? Sigh...  And go me, because instead of getting frustrated and taking it out on Dan, I stopped and asked Cindy for help. She pointed out that I needed to put him in shoulder fore before I asked and that I didn't ask with my leg (so therefore I needed to stop kicking frantically) and ask with my seat. Sigh... Ok... Fine.... And doh, it worked. Argh. I honestly kind of thought that's what I was doing?? I mean, I was pushing him into the outside rein and stepping into the outside stirrup to help lift my inside seat.... But when I thought of just doing a hair shoulder fore and then lifting... it worked. Then we worked on the 3 loop serpentine too and it wasn't perfect, but it was getting better. I had to think of making my body like I do when I ride a circle... and then keep that posture yet drift off the circle. I think??? It was hard and I never quite really felt like I got it long enough to accomplish the entire 3 loop. We came close and we actually got it a time or two, but we never really nailed it. 

So.. then we were almost done and Cindy called me out on using the whip and not having him in front of my leg. It felt a little bit like she was picking on me but she wasn't. It was totally me being all "victim-y" and sensitive... and it's because I know she's right. I tried to make an excuse that I felt like I was beating him all the time then.. And she helped me out. She explained that she had fallen into that trap too. And that the whip was different than the leg. And that Dan was a championship horse... which means, we'd end up in championship classes... and you're not allowed to use a whip. So I had to back up my leg aids with LEG AIDS! And that I was riding way too hard and that my leg aids were supposed to be whispers to pay attention and listen to what I'm about to say. Not a constant aid to keep him moving. How on earth am I supposed to get an extended canter or pirouette if I have to work that hard just to keep him trotting? Sigh.... She's right. And I wanted to cry. Because I KNOW THIS! I KNOW THIS yet I keep falling into this trap. I start off my ride demanding it but then I get sucked into it. And I feel like people are judging me for constantly beating my horse. But I guess I'll just have to man up and deal. And drop the whip for a couple of rides (or more) and use my legs. Pony club kicking style commencing. So we played with it a little bit. And sure enough... after a few reminders, he was hot off my leg and forward and going. And our leg yields were way better! Because he was moving forward and I could direct the sideways instead of direct the sideways and push him forward. Yeah.... #shetoldmeso #alsobethtoldmeso #alsokellytoldmeso #iknowthisyetcantseemtograsptheconcept 

So yeah... A good ride with lots of good moments, but some frustrating aggravating ones on my end. My plan is to get up super early tomorrow and ride at home before work so that I can practice without the whip and practice some before the show. I've got a lesson with Beth but I really want to jump with her Thursday. Because... Tues dressage, thurs dressage and sat dressage.... That's a lot of dressage. ;) 

So... tomorrow morning.... no whip. Pony club kick if necessary then back to whisper. Butt in the saddle and rolled under me. Inner calf aids not heel or spur (In fact, I may take my spur off too), upright left shoulder (tall rebars) and forward a hair longer each stride. So... we'll see. :) 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

One last vacation hack

Or not..... ha ha! 

Today was a great day! It was almost chilly this morning!!! GLORIOUS weather!!! I slept in, snuggled with Mike, and then went to feed the ponies. They hung out together a bit while I was getting their feed ready so after they ate, since it was such lovely weather, I turned them out together. And success!!! Thank goodness!!! I know Danny is happier. And it makes my life easier. So while they were out I went ahead and bush hogged the arena and behind the old barn. Then I went to the grocery store. And then I went to do some work but my cavanti was not working so I went for a ride instead. :) It was a bit hotter by the time I got out there, but it was still quite nice.

Danny and I headed out for a trail ride. It was a pretty chill ride but we did some trotting and cantering and had fun. Then I wanted to hop over a few fences just to work on pushing my butt back and staying behind the cantle. And a few fences turned into a few more fences. But we had fun. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Relaxing Hack

Today was supposed to be Dan's week off.... after Boot Camp with Beth and then Boot Camp with me and him in Aiken with Beth, I figured he deserved a week off. Only... we had our lesson with Cindy which I didn't want to miss. And then I just really wanted to go for a hack. I figured a walk hack would be good for him. It wasn't too strenuous and he hasn't been out for a true lazy hack in awhile. We've been doing lessons and showing and schoolings... nothing lazy. So I figured he would appreciate it. And boy did he!!! I'm thinking I'm super glad I took him out as he was energetic. I'm afraid that if I had actually given him an entire week off, my first ride back might have been naughty! Maybe not, but... we had fun. 

He was on a mission and power walked most of the way. We started off heading through the woods alongside the XC field towards the lake. Well... Clay was working on the tractor right on the fence line. He was wearing ear muffs and concentrating that I don't think he ever realized we were there. Dan was fine... until he was just about past it, and then he spooked. He went up, bounced, tried to run, etc. But he settled down and I got him a few steps past it and then he was fine. I don't think he was scared... I think he was playing. :) Luckily Kelli and Arwyn were okay and we were able to carry on. We ended up hacking for about an hour and put in 2.7 miles I think. It was awesome. :)