Sunday, November 18, 2018

Whooo Hooo!! Feeling Ready

Ahhh, what a lovely day!! It was a nice sunny warm day! Not hot, not humid!!! And I'm still NOT complaining about the cold weather. But the sun today was that lovely type of sunshine that soaks in your skin, then soaks into your bones and just warms you up inside out. Not the sweltering, suffocating, dripping down your crack type. ;) Anyways... so Cindy came this morning and we got Dan's saddles flocked and fitted and chatted. Then I packed the trailer (mostly) for Pine top and got it organized and hung a shower curtain rod for my shower. I'm hoping that if I can get it to work right, I'll be able to stay a bit warmer when I'm showering at Pine Top. Then I gave Fleck a bath to get rid of his skin funk. Then I gave Dan a bath to get rid of his skin funk. I put them in their stalls to dry and NOT ROLL while I went inside to make chili in the crock pot. Then I came back out and turned the ponies out as they were mostly dry and the sun was really warming up nicely now. I tossed hay so that they could focus on that. I went inside to eat lunch and change into my riding clothes. And when I came out.. this is what I saw.....

Seriously Dan?!?! Flecky was clean. Sigh.. but we had to go, so off we went to our lesson.

And it was awesome!!!! Yay!!! It was so nice to have a great lesson and feel like I could ride and not just panic. I could see a distance. I was with him! And he was game :) We jumped a few little smaller fences and got into our groove. I rode the same as I did in the stadium lesson... Got a canter lengthen, then shortened his neck while lengthening. And Beth said that my leg position was better too. And my saddle felt sooooo awesome!! It's amazing how a correctly flocked saddle can make a difference. Note to self... when I start struggling to keep my leg in front of me, have Cindy check my saddle. :) We jumped the ditches just fine and then Dan cantered over the ditch and wall like it was nothing. In fact, he jumped the snot out of it and cracked his back so hard he almost jumped me out of the tack. Then Beth had us trot it. And... everyone started falling apart! I was afraid we would to, so I cheated a tiny bit and may have asked for a canter stride or two right before he jumped it, but... he felt like he would have easily trotted it. So yay! Then we did the training coffin line with the fake trakenher. But we did NOT do the trakehner. That's okay. I would have done it had Beth told us too, and part of me wanted her to tell us to, but.. I didn't want it enough to ask. :) Ha! We worked on the water too and Dan got to do the big kid stuff. We jumped the small log down into the water and then did a bendy line to the corner. Only the first time my line was so terrible and he was so off balance that he couldn't jump the corner and stopped. Totally my fault. So I fixed it and we got better, but sort of took a flyer. We did fix it and got a much better take off spot the third time. Then we went back to the skinny coop roller coaster combo and this time... this time there was no crying!! We didn't make it perfect, but it was sooooo much better and not nearly as awkward. Yay! Then we did a little mini course and did the corner again (but not from the water, from the table) and it was PERFECT!! Like.. he was super balanced and super rocked back and nailed it. YAHOOO!!!!! 

It was such a great day and Dan felt awesome. He was forward and in front of my leg and responsive and I was able to ride him into the bridle and get a nice canter and get him "on the bit". :) Yay! I'm feeling pumped for Pine Top! And.. he was silly. He kept making snark faces at the other horses but then wanted to play with them. In fact, when another horse was naughty at the ditch and wall, Dan and I stood to the side to prevent the horse from running out and Dan was all too happy to make snark faces at him. Hee hee.

Then Kelli met me and we went for a short hack. It got a little chilly in the woods and as the sun started to set. Granted I was also fairly wet from Dan cantering through the water repeatedly. :) But it was a nice relaxing cool down ride. And it gave me time to let my knees and thighs stop freaking out. I was sore!!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Quick Ride

Danny and I had a fun quick ride this morning! Today was Mike's Saturday but I got to sneak in a ride this morning. Ashland was having their CT show so I couldn't use the arena's but the trails were open. I ended up doing a little bit of dressage in the XC field and then we went for a very short hack. But Danny was pretty super. We started out a bit tight and upright and hanging on each other, but we finished with some pretty nice dressage work. The biggest take away was that I need to push him into the outside rein, almost by thinking of leg yielding him out. And really bending him around my inside leg. :) Duh.... But for reals.. one of these days I'll just do that instinctively.

We practiced some fun stuff. He felt much more responsive to my seat aids today. Or maybe I figured out how to use them better, but we got better haunches in and outs. And we also worked on our canter serpentines. On the hills!! And he held them. We also did some walk to canter to walks. The left lead is still hard, especially from the walk but we managed to figure it out. It's not pretty and round and through yet, but at least we're picking it up. We got some nice downwards too and got a fairly nice left lead to walk to right lead. :)

So yep... fun day! Tomorrow hopefully I'll get to bathe the funk off of him and then we'll have a XC lesson. Then dressage with Cindy Tuesday and then.... hopefully a ride Thanksgiving morning and then we leave for Pine Top! So... hope that one jump lesson with Beth lasts. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Well I timed that about perfect today! I slept in a little this morning, partly because I woke up with a migraine. Then I got the ponies fed and did some laundry and dishes and invoices. Then I went to the chiropractor for me. Man I needed it!! It took forever, but it was okay because it was because some older gentleman had to have an ambulance called for him. I think he was okay... it was okay that it took awhile. I still had time to run to the bank and Publix, unload groceries and eat lunch. Then I went to go ride. I was a little worried because it was drizzling a tiny bit when I left the chiropractor. And it was cloudy and some of those clouds were very dark when I got to Ashland. The arena's were closed and it was wet! But the trails were open and I was able to park in the driveway since there was no one else out there. 

Danny was soooo ready to go too. He literally trotted up to me in the pasture like "I'm BORED.... play with me PLEEEEEEAAAAASSSSEEEE". :) I was actually a little worried we might have Danomite but he cooperated in the slick footing. :) We went for a nice long brisk walk hack... and then.. the sun came out!! Very briefly... for about 6 minutes maybe. :) But it was nice. Then it went back behind the clouds and it got a smidge chillier again. We did some dressage in the field. It was a little slushy but we made it work. We found the drier spots and avoided going through the same spots to avoid tearing up the field. Dan was a bit forward which was nice, but he was also a bit bracey. Or though I'm sure it was me being bracey. But we got some good work. We even played with some of the stuff we worked on in my lesson. We still struggle with the left lead canter from the walk but it got better. And I felt like I could isolate my hips and get haunches in or out in the canter, both ways. :) We even did a little bit of counter canter serpentines in the field.

It was fun. And it was good to get out. And honestly... I had fleecey breeches, fleece lined shirt, winter boots, winter gloves, my heat reflective vest over a thin polarfleece and my thin head cover. And I got hot! I actually took my wind breaker jacket off. Of course once I quit doing dressage and we started walking to cool off I got quite chilly quickly. But totally worth it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

So many lightbulbs!!!!

Today was a great day!! It was wet and nasty and chilly, but it was a great day! I had a great lesson with Cindy. It was hard, and mind boggling, and challenging, but it was good!! 

It started out with Dan being lame again. Sigh... but Cindy pointed out that I was crossing his neck with the left hand again and hanging on him and not giving him a place to go. So... the goal is to ride him slightly haunches out, shorten the right rein and keep the right side connected (I keep wanting to throw that away at him), and to get him off my left leg, bending around it. It helps too if I think of leg yielding him into the outside (right) rein. So.. basically I'm making Dan lame. Because... Cindy told me to trot with my left hand at the cantle... and suddenly Dan went from lame to sound. Sigh... I didn't want to pick the reins back up. But I did. And.. if I kept my inside (left) shoulder back (not collapsing and sucked down and foward) and kept my left hand from crossing the neck (basically I rode with it way out to the side, at least in my mind, I'm sure it wasn't that far out) and kept that opening rein without pulling back or across his neck.. he was sound. And quite lovely at times too. 

So anyways, we had some decent trot work and some decent leg yields. Cindy also reminded me that I was getting him with my spur non-stop. And she told me to turn my heels out. I did.. but it was hard for me to hold that. So then she told me to ride like I would if I didn't have the stirrups to hold me up. So I "dropped" them and felt a little like I was pinching with my knee and upper thigh but when I did that Cindy was like "YES!!!! THAT!!!"... Well okay... I can do that easily enough. So I spent the rest of the ride (when I wasn't overly focused on something else) thinking of riding like I was riding without stirrups. It seemed to make Cindy happy and Danny too.  Cool beans. So then I was starting to play with the canter some but then Cindy had me try some stuff. She had me do some shoulder ins. BUT... the trick is... it's not a leg yield... it's not a circus trick. It's purpose is to get the horse round and into the outside rein and soft and supple. So... especially tracking left... I need to make sure my inside leg is forward by the girth, so that I am asking Dan to bend around my inside leg. Not just pulling his shoulders over and pushing his haunches out. Aha!!! It DID make the trot SOOOOO much better. But it's hard to do. :) 

So then we started to canter and Cindy wanted me to canter, do a 10 meter circle, and then canter haunches in. Holy moly it was hard. We started tracking left and I just couldn't get it. Even though apparently that is how he typically travels that way at the canter (haunches in). Cindy kept saying that I was sitting to the right and not to the left. I just couldn't get my body to cooperate. So we went the other way and it was so much easier. I thought about riding it as if it was at the trot and just moved my seat and it worked. So then we went back to the left and I tried much harder to think about shifting my seat left. It was hard! SO hard! So then Cindy told me to drop my right stirrup. OHhhhh...... Dan kept falling out of the canter but.. it made the canter so much better with my right foot out of the stirrup. And then I was trying to sit on my left seat bone instead of sitting to the right. I tried digging it in.... really sitting heavy on that side.. I even got so desperate that I threw my shoulders to the left and about fell off the side of my horse. Cindy laughed at me. BUT... I did eventually get it, but really it clicked into my brain when she said to sit left but LIFT my left seatbone. Ohhhhhhh.... I think I was trying so hard to sit left that I was cramming my left seat into him and shutting him down. Once I thought of lifting the left seatbone it magically got way better. And then he broke... and we were both tired, so... We left it at that. I got it. He was able to go haunches in! So.. Cindy said to play with it at home. She also pointed out that when I thought about lifting my left seat bone I tended to engage the muscles just underneath my butt cheek. And that created tension in my knee. So instead I had to think about lifting the left seat with my muscles in front of my hip, not quite my groin muscles, but almost. My core really. OOOOOHHHHHHHH... So sure enough, that works. :) So.. yep, lots to play and practice with. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

I got my Mojo Back!!!!

Or.. my brain back. :) Seriously.. I've missed it! I'm guessing the stress of Fleck, Mike, etc... really messed with my brain more than I thought. I had a lesson with Beth today and after the first few minutes, I thought... MY BRAIN IS BACK!! I CAN THINK AGAIN!!! It wasn't anything earth shattering but I just felt like I could actually focus and do what she said and think and act... not just dumbly sit up there and let things happen. I'm not saying I didn't make mistakes, because I did, but... it was nice to not be a slug up there. 

We had a jump lesson and I told Beth that while I realized it was the canter that was the problem... I wanted to do a course lesson because I wanted to do well at Pine Top. And she pointed out that they tended to ride big and forward, but connected forward, not strung out and on the forehand forward. So.. that's what we did. And it was SOOOOOO helpful!

It's crazy how the phrasing can change things. Basically... I had to ride a canter lengthening and then shorten his neck. Beth said ultimately, what I was accomplishing was putting him on the bit while keeping the forward, but... when she told me to put him on the bit.. I didn't accomplish that. This did. So... whatever works. :) It was a great canter!

We started our lesson by getting our canter. Beth had me canter on a circle and then lengthen. Then she told me to bring him back. Then lengthen him again but shorten his neck at the same time. I had to ride T-Rex style... keeping my elbows to my side and not giving. And... when I did that... OH MY!! His canter!!! It rocked back and got uphill and powerful!!! It got "Big Boy" cantery!!!  Oooohhhh.... I can see how that is the canter you want when you jump!! So then we started to jump. She said that she wanted to see me get my canter on my own and then go jump. She told me three fences to jump and then let me do my thing. It actually went okay. So then we tried again and it fell apart. She said that I never got the neck shortened. So.. we realized that I have to do the exact sequence (for now at least)... I have to get a canter.. then lengthen... then shorten his neck while shortening the canter.. and then lengthen again while shortening the neck. Then, and only then, I have the canter!! 

We did a few courses and it was sooooo much better!! We even did the same line we had soooooo much trouble with the last time. And this time, It felt like I had 20 more strides in between.. I had so much time! It really was amazing the difference it made. And it wasn't perfect. We had a few issues. And in the lines, I let him get a bit more long in the neck and not quite so collected, but.. it still worked. And... AND!!!! I was able to see the distances! Which is because the canter was correct. And not only could I see the distances, I could see whether I needed to hold or leave and had time to react and make my body cooperate to allow us to do that! It was AWESOME! We did a couple of courses and fixed a few little tweaks and then.. we both started to get tired. So we had a few more bobbles, but then we fixed it. Oh, and we even had a TERRIBLE approach to the skinny chevron where I basically asked Dan to angle the skinny. He looked at it and then thought "nope, she can't be asking me to do that" and then I said "Yes please" and bless his heart... he tried... but he basically chested the standard and fell over it as it fell. I mean, he remained upright, but it came down. Poor guy. I felt so bad! After that, Beth walked the line for me. Ohhhhhh..... yeah.. that's not how I rode it. :( She said there was plenty of time for a square turn, whereas I was more just... angling it on a straight line. Doh!! But we came right back to it and I rode it much better but he just popped right over it like it didn't just bite him. What a good boy!

So yep... Ahhhhh.. it feels so good to not be such a disaster! Hopefully we can maintain that :) And hopefully we'll get to ride again before Pine Top. It's supposed to rain for days... and then more days... 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Two Point Tuesday (I mean Saturday) and Planksgiving

Today was another soggy day. And COLD!!! Deliciously cold!! It rained ALL day yesterday again and some of the night. Today was dry but super cold. The high was only 52! I did a bunch of errands and tried to postpone my ride some in case Kelli could make it, but alas, she couldn't. So... off we went. Unfortunately the arenas were closed because of all the rain, so... we hit the trails. We did some trotting and a little bit of cantering and lots of walking. It wasn't too sloppy out there but probably way too wet to jump in the XC field. 

It was a good ride though. Danny was pretty super. We saw a ton of deer too! And.. I didn't do No Stirrups November, but... I figured I would do a lot of two point work and then I started my planks again this evening. :) 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Soggy Riding

Well... the weather was icky yesterday. It rained all day. So... our lesson got cancelled because the arena was too sloppy. So Danny and I went to Ashland for a nice trail ride and then did a little arena work. The trails were gorgeous! The leaves are changing and it's so pretty, despite the soggy weather. 

After the trails we did a little bit of arena work. Actually, a lot of arena work. We had some pretty nice leg yields and some pretty nice shoulder in and haunches in. Our canter was still a struggle. I don't know what I'm doing or not doing but the left lead is still tough. We got it but it took a little bit of attempting. We did some of the 3 loop serpentines and they're not too shabby, although the right lead can't quite make it to the rail without him swapping or getting very inverted. We also played with the three loop with simple changes. Those need more work. But... we've got a long time until the Feb dressage show. :) We also ran through the novice test before Pine Top and that was lovely. :) 

Good day!