Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Progress Again

 What a pretty day! I snuck in a ride early and had a blast. Today was a GOOD day. I don't know if I got it right or was just less frustrated in general. Well, I do know.. Both! I focused on keeping a connection on the outside rein and worked more on having him be straight and upright, even if we had to do a bit of counter bending. And I also made sure to sit on my inside seat bone and open my shoulders to the inside (left) since I tend to shift my shoulders to the outside. And it really helped. Danny was much more rideable and I was able to keep him on the rail. (Side bar... I'm still a little worried that I've over thought this yet again and that I'm essentially relying on my outside aids to do the job instead of relying on my inside leg.... and I can still talk myself in circles). He felt more "square" or "four legs on the ground" too. And I was even able to sneak in some inside bend at times. We also had some really good transitions! And our canter did not include the twisted head. Whoo hoo. Even Kelli said that just from glancing over from the trailer she thought that Dan looked more upright and uphill and that I looked more "dressagey". Whoo hooo. 

I did have to kick a little more than I would have liked to get my walk to trot transitions so after our ride I worked on that a little. It helped. Then, because Kelli did it, I decided to just see what he would do if I asked for a canter from the walk. We only did it once and surprisingly, he did better than I expected. I asked and he picked up the trot for two steps and then went into the canter. Not too shabby little boy!! :) 

So yep... a great ride. I felt like we were both more correct and our transitions were smoother. He still wasn't quite as forward as I'm used to with Fleck, but I wasn't having to kick all the time. And we even did some spiral in and out which went pretty well. So yay!!! I'm so glad too, after yesterdays ride. Maybe I won't ruin him after all.
 After the ring work we headed to the trails for a quick reward/cool down. Danny was eager to trot in the woods so I opted to let him have a canter in the field. He was happy to canter politely.
 Getting our canter on

It was a great day. :)


Argh.... sometimes I think I'm ruining him. Sigh. I've been so frustrated lately with everything. It seems like every time I try to do something well, I screw it up. Or make it worse. And it was the same with Dan today. We worked in the ring and I was attempting to work on the left bend issues again. I swear I was doing all that had worked previously... inside leg, sitting evenly, not blocking with my outside leg, not pulling the outside rein. But apparently I was missing something. Danny kept bulging in and then he was jumping out of the arena. I got frustrated and got mad at him. Which totally isn't fair. He's a baby! I'm teaching him horribly. I finally realized that I wasn't pushing my inside leg down and opening my shoulders to the inside. I did that and the last 10 minutes of my ride was decent. We actually stayed in the corner instead of circling into the middle of the arena. So I gave up and took him out for a short hack. Why?!?! WHY can't I figure this crap out? So frustrating.

I did get home and let them graze in the front yard. To add to my frustrations, when I got home, I just needed a hug. And Fleck, usually my hugger, was like "meh". He wanted me to scratch his butt. Which is typical, but usually he knows when I need a hug and hugs me back. Sigh... Interestingly though, Danny was snuggly. Sigh... and now I feel worse. But they did enjoy the grass. So there's that.

Hopefully I can figure this out before I completely screw him up. He deserves better.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Somebody's on a roll!

Some little superstar is on a roll!! 
I didn't get a chance to ride this weekend because Saturday was Ken's funeral and Sunday was raining. Then Monday I was at Dr. Browns all day and had to stop at Ashland and laser and adjust. So I just ran out of time. I could almost have squeezed it in, but...oh well. Today was our lesson with Cindy. 
He was great! And props to me too because I was better too. I was able to ride better and not grip with my outside leg and was thinking "Canter pirouettes" and it worked. So then Cindy upped the ante. Dan was actually starting to take some contact and seek it. But she wanted to make sure that he was seeking it, rather than me micromanaging to create it. When he got fussy in the bridle or when I felt him wiggling and pushing me side to side (instead of forward and back), my answer was GO FORWARD! Danny can't use lazyness as an excuse to play and not work. Forward first! Once I get forward and get the impulsion from behind, the fussyness and wigglies resolve. 

We also had the BEST canter depart yet! On the right lead too. It was prompt and uphill as opposed to running into it. Yay!!! I am thinking it happened because the set up was there. We also got a good stretchy trot too. But it also required forward.

So yep. Forward is the key for Dannaroo. But he's getting it. I'm not having to use as much leg/spur too. In fact, today I didn't have my spurs on. I did have to do a few kicks and some whip encouragement, but in general, it's much better. Whoo hooo!!

Baby boy is growing up. And this week he sprouted hips! Like seriously... he suddenly has these huge prominent hips. I guess he's about to spurt in some direction. But he's getting a nicer topline. :) 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fantastic Ride!

Today was a SUPER day! I had a good time with Dr. Brown and made it home in time for a ride. I LOVE daylight savings! Dan and I got to Ashland around 6 but still had plenty of daylight. The rings were soupy so we went up to the jump ring which was perfect. There was no more grids or anything but that was okay. We worked on our "canter pirouettes" to get the inside bend. And shockers!!! It worked!!
Beautifully! And I didn't even have spurs on. I just made sure that I used an opening rein, because crossing the reins just blocked his inside hind. I made sure to sit evenly on both seat bones, made sure to keep weight in the outside but not collapse on the inside... I had to make sure my left shoulder was down and back and that I was lifting my inside hip. And NOT bracing with my outside hip, instead allowing it to float and not block, but to stay underneath me and not get kicked out ahead or stuck way behind. And when I did all that.. it worked! And he got a nice lovely round topline too. Without even having to try.

And know what else?!? He also became more forward!!! Like... big boy power trot forward!!! Possibly because I was no longer blocking that inside hind?? hmmmm. ;) ;) 

So then I noticed that our canter departs needed work. He jumps into them but doesn't quite finish them out. So we did some rapid fire transitions (not that rapid fire...he's still a kid. But multiple transitions rather than holding the canter for laps). It got a little bit better. I need to figure out exactly where it is I'm hindering him so I can fix it. He's trying, so I know it's something I'm doing or not doing. 

So as a reward, (for both of us!) we headed out for a short hack. We went to the lake and got a drink and then on our way back, we spooked at the fisherman. ;) But he was good. We turned into the XC field and I decided to let him canter to the top. Heading home... I know, bad pony clubber. But he was great. He even opened up into a big canter stride!!!! Not quite a gallop, but plenty big enough. It gave me heart that he's not a lazy bum. In fact, I have a feeling I've been the one that's hindering him and his stride. So... more to work on.

It was just such a nice ride to be able to figure things out and get my forward happy boy. And that canter up the hill was the icing on the cake. It was good for my soul. I miss my Flecky gallops. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Very exciting day

Today was quite the day!
Danny and I hauled to High Point for our lesson. It was a gorgeous day - warm and sunny but with a fairly brisk wind. We parked up at the upper barn and Peri was parked down by the lower barn. Something spooked Tess and she got loose shortly after Danny and I got unloaded. Luckily she was good and didn't go very far. But it was sort of an "up" day/atmosphere. Then Kim showed up and we were chatting and suddenly Dan was walking away from me. I had put his halter back on him after Wayne fixed it. I didn't even notice him pulling back but the hay string was rotting anyways. So I walked up to him to catch him and he moved off a bit. He stepped on his lead rope, which then pulled his halter ring open again and so his lead rope basically fell off his halter. I was carrying the keratex as that's what I was doing prior to him getting loose. I guess I made the mistake of jogging up to him thinking he'd just chill. Only he didn't. He trotted off. Man.... And then the horses in the pasture started trotting, so then it was FUN. He ran amuck for a few minutes and it took like 6 of the high point crew helping to catch him. Then he reared up at me and made me spill my keratex... on my face!!.... while trying to beat him. ;) So, yeah.. he settled down after that and I finished tacking up.

I decided to leave my spurs off for the ride. ;) We got down to the arena and they had opened up all the doors because the weather was so nice. And they were playing music. And there was a few people riding. But... Dan held it together and was pretty darn good. There was no antics. We had a good lesson. Danny and I were able to get a bit more work accomplished. I was able to take a little bit more contact and he didn't get behind my leg. I was even able to play a little with the outside rein. I was also able to figure out my left bend a bit more. So... the trick is a bit more complicated than just sitting in my outside stirrup. Cindy said that I need to be careful about locking my outside leg and kicking it forward. And I NEED some weight in the inside leg to be able to wrap him around it. So...
- sit evenly in both seat bones, but focus on LIFTING my inside (left) seat bone FORWARD and UP. Then keep my outside seat bone down without kicking my leg forward, and draping it back a little. I can't lock it and block him from going into it, so it just needs to drape. So... think of doing a canter pirouette on the ground, and make my body do that. ;) Sort of how I ride his canter... Or maybe exactly how I ride his canter.
- I also need to make sure that I'm turning my upper body. For some reason my upper body always wants to be shifted to the right instead of turning it left, like the direction I'm trying to turn the horse. ;)
 Relaxing after his lesson

So yep. It was a good ride. So then I needed to adjust two horses. I put Dan in the round pen while I adjusted the one at High Point. I knew he would roll after his bath so I hung out a bit and waiting until he rolled. I was afraid he would roll into the round pen panels. So then I adjusted the one horse and went to get Dan as the other horse was at the Academy. And... noticed that Dan had half pulled off his shoe and the clip was stuck in his sole. What?! Argh. And of course, High Point had Dan out there doing vet work but he had left before I noticed Danny. Luckily though Wayne was just down the road. And despite it being stuck in his sole, Danny was barely lame. So he hung out in the trailer while I adjusted the horse at the Academy and then we went to the barn Wayne was at.

 Ahhhhhh, feels so good

 Turns out it was Kathy Jones barn. The same Kathy Jones that was teaching at Pounds and Huntcliff. Danny was a little up as it was a new place but was fine for Wayne and got complimented by the lesson kids. We got his shoe fixed and finally headed home.

Quite the day. Hopefully Danny will be sound tomorrow. There was a little bit of blood but it went into the white line and not his sole. So... fingers crossed! Tomorrow is all day at the day clinic for me but then Thursday we'll have a lesson with Beth. :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Another First!

Danny and I had fun today! It was a beautiful gorgeous sunshiney day! We met up with Kelli and headed to the jump ring. Someone had set up a fun little grid exercise. It was two sets of two angled poles on a circle and then a long line of about 8 poles in a row with two poles perpendicularly set so that you could trot down the line of 8 and stay in the middle, or you could get on the circle, do the two angled poles, and then come across the long line of 8 poles and skip over the two. Danny did them all. And while he wasn't the most graceful about it, he did manage to stay on the path. Eventually. ;) Apparently we have some work to do on straightness and not be a clodhopper with your feet. :) No boots for him until he learns to pick up his feet!
So then we worked on our bending to the left. I was getting frustrated so Kelli offered to help. Thank goodness she did!! She pointed out that I needed to weight my outside leg, take up a bit more of an outside rein connection, and stop riding him like a greenbean. But nicer. :) And to try closing my knee (like Julie suggests).

She asked if she could hop on. I said YES PLEASE! At this point he was fairly tired as he's still fully coated and it was 70 plus out. So she was feeling brave. (Danny's never had anyone else on him in his entire life! Just me.... ) Well, right as she went to get on, we noticed that Eva (another 3.5 year old) was being walked around in the dressage arena. So of course Dan was on high alert. Hmmm..... Kelli got on though and Dan was good. Then Nikki brought Eva up to the arena. Oh crap! She very politely agreed to stay just outside temporarily. And Danny was fine. He didn't do anything with Kelli. No antics, though he was a bit sluggish. But she worked with him and really helped me out.
Danny's first rider that isn't me - Brave Kelli 

So then I got back on him and it really did make a difference. So... it's pretty much what Cindy has been saying to me, but Kelli added a slightly different thought process which I think it was turned my brain around. Or it just FINALLY kicked in. 

So... I need to make sure to keep my left leg at the girth and not back at his hips. He can't bend around my inside leg if it's back at his hips. (Cindy has said this repeatedly too). Then I need to keep a slightly firmer connection, take a little hold of the outside rein, and use an opening rein. (I believe Cindy has said this too but it didn't exactly sink in and I kept crossing over with an indirect rein. It took quite a few reminders from Kelli, so it's a really bad habit of mine). He has to turn his nose in to be able to bend around my leg. So start with the turn by using an opening rein, little bumps with the inside and outside reins as needed, and most importantly, push with my inside leg at the girth BUT.... (here's the part that I think made the difference) keeping my weight in the outside stirrup. In reality, I don't think I should have all my weight out there, but for the moment, it's working for me. I think I've gotten so obsessed with pushing him out to the outside, I'm collapsing to the inside and effectively pushing him into the inside. If I focus on sitting in my outside stirrup and think more of pulling him to me with my inside leg, it really helps realign me properly. And then Danny can cooperate. :) YAY!!! Thank goodness because I was getting frustating.

So... track left. Weight in my outside stirrup, close my inside leg the WHOLE WAY DOWN and even close my left knee if I need a little extra more. No spur, no kick, just a light press or tapping even. Opening rein on the inside and then soften when he gives. And it works. Despite him being tired, he did get it. And it's lovely because when I get his body lined up right, he naturally falls into this lovely soft frame and reaches for the bit. :) 

So now, just to remember that and not fall into the old traps. Sigh. So anyways... We went for a fun hack afterwards and as Kelli exited the ring with Arwyn, Dan jumped into the canter and scooted off! Ha ha.. His antics returned. We had a nice hack and Danny was pretty good. Though he did spook at a stump, although it was right as I was thinking about asking Kelli if we could trot some. And then he trotted just fine. And then as we were walking past the hay barn some birds flew up inside and we could hear the wing flutter. And he bolted/scooted sideways and spun and then was completely fine and back to walking on the buckle like nothing happened. Hee hee. He's such a weirdo. 

 But I love my weirdo. 
Oh, and then tonight, I was lasering Fleck and he put his head on my head and used it as a headrest. He's such a goof. But I was able to vaccinate him with two shots with no halter, loose in the pasture. Good, but goofy, kid. :)

Friday, March 13, 2015


Most excellent! Cindy noticed today that we were making progress :) Me AND Dan!
We really have been doing our homework. Even with the weather and not being able to get in the ring, we really have been trying. I've been trying VERY hard not to pull him to the rail with my outside rein and instead ride him into the outside rein and get him off my inside leg. I've been trying very hard to sit down on the inside and bring my inside shoulder back and down. I'm trying to steer him with my seat and body and not my hands and I'm trying to influence his go button and stride with my seat instead of my legs. And I'm getting better! It still is there, but I am making progress. And therefore Dan is too! Because I'm not hindering him, he is able to do what I am thinking I'm asking now. 

In our lesson today he was super. It was pouring down rain and the ring was crowded. And Danny was very good. There was no naughtyness today. The only "bad" thing he did was try to slow down and yield into Ari as we passed him. Twice. ;) He would occasionally get behind my leg but it was SOOOO much better than it has been. And he is trying. I was able to keep my leg much quieter today and I wasn't nearly as exhausted as I have been riding him. Because I was able to stay quieter and didn't have to chase him. :) Yay!

If I position myself properly, he will be able to go where he needs to go. And by doing that, he almost puts himself into a correct "frame" (for his age and training level) without me having to do it. Which is great! 

We did have some issues today. And while they are probably not new issues, this is the first time I've been able to address them because we've gotten through some of the other more pressing issues. He tends to not want to bend left. He likes to counter bend and fall in. So I focus a lot of sitting down and back with my left leg and seat, keeping my left arm at my waist, and getting the bend. Yet today, it became a little more apparent that he also is really not even turning. I need to bring his head around and then his shoulder. So I need to use my outside leg a little bit. Which is hard, because I'm trying to get him off my inside leg. But I think I need to bring my outside leg forward a little bit more to get his shoulder to come around and encourage him to turn. I also need to pay attention to my chin. If it's turning way to the inside... something isn't happening with Dan and my chin won't fix it. ;) It was also showing up in the canter. Going to the left he likes to cock his head. The problem is originating from him falling in, so I need to really address that with my inside leg and seat. But I also have to ask him to turn his nose. And while I do that, I'm half halting subtly on the outside rein. And riding his shoulders fixes his head. We also worked on the stretchy trot. Cindy reminded me to not just throw away the reins. If he wasn't stretching into contact, he wasn't stretching properly and I wasn't really teaching him. Or was teaching him something I didn't want to teach him. So we worked on keeping the reins with light pressure and elbows where they belong. He can still stretch that way. 

At the end of our ride we had our best most forward downward trot to walk transition. Good pony!! Then we headed outside for a quick hack since the rain had stopped. He spooked at the tractor a little bit but then walked past it. I noticed that the liverpool was set up in the jump arena so we went to investigate. Danny was a little spooky about it but after about 4 tries, he walked up and sniffed it. Then he stepped on it and jumped a teeny bit back. And then he walked over it, a little excitedly. But then he walked over it again, non-plussed, and then a third and fourth time. Yay! Liverpools are uneventful so far. 

It was a great day. :) 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Good dressage baby

Eeeks... at some point I have to stop calling him a baby! Maybe when he's 5. ;)

Today was a relaxed day but I'm glad we got to ride. The weather was supposed to be awful all week but it pushed back to later tonight so I was able to get in a ride. Luckily the rings had dried out enough that we were able to flat. Danny was highly distracted by friends in the beginning but we managed a good 30 minute dressage ride. We are getting more even with our heads. Him and me! I'm not cranking mine in so much and he's also holding his between his shoulders more consistently. We even had a smidge of an outside rein again today. He's getting pretty good and yielding his barrel off my inside leg, sometimes to the extreme as we hopped out of the arena and took out the letter E. ;) Doh! We had some pretty decent baby leg yields at the trot and some nice trot. It started out pretty forward, then got a little bit behind the leg, but forward again after our canter. Then we got some better upward transitions to the canter. We played a little bit with the baby counter canter. He was really trying. If I turned too tightly though he would swap in front. Oops. Sorry Dan, my bad. But when I planned a much smoother and mroe gentle arc, he held it. We worked on square halts too and also walking forward from my seat aids. So good stuff today.

Then we went for a short hack to say hi to Devon and her ponies and also ran into Sarah Beth and Ann. We splashed briefly in the lake and did a bit of hill work and headed back. We stopped at the stadium ring to chat with Kim and Nicky and he stood like a gentleman for the most part.

So now he'll get Tues, Wed, and Thurs off because of the weather, my work schedule, and because he deserves a little rest. Then Friday it's another lesson with Cindy and maybe Saturday a lesson with Beth.

Just 5 more minutes.... PWEEEZE?!

Hee hee. Apparently I wore the Danimal out. :) 

Sunday was another glorious beautiful day. I got up early for Church and left the clothes on the ponies because it was still a bit chilly. When I got home it had warmed up quite a bit so I felt a bit bad. I went out to undress them and found Dan passed out cold! I let the dogs out and that didn't even faze him. 

So I snuggled with him and messed with him some and he still wouldn't get up. 

Finally after unbuckling his clothes and some clucking, he got up and I was able to fully undress him. Ha... Good thing he gets today off. Lazy bum!

 Such a goober. I love this kid.... 

 Once he was up, he and Wyatt snuggled some too.