Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday Aha's

Lesson day.

We got a LOVELY soft canter. He was round and carrying himself and his back was up. But it was hard and he kept breaking. I must keep my leg on more.

Cindy also gave me a good indicator. She said that anytime he fell to the right with his withers and leaned it, it threw his forelegs to the rail. And I felt it because my heel starting digging into him but it was back behind the girth doing it. Which was just aggravating the situation. She said when my brain felt that... to look down and see that my leg was wrong. Then pick my inside shoulder up, put my leg in front of the girth (or at least at the girth) and then I could dig my heel in if I wanted to tell him GET OFF MY INSIDE LEG! Instead of completely collapsing and making it worse with my body... I need to sit up, lift the inside and front (ie... my seat, my hip, and my shoulder and core) and bring my right leg forward and up (Not up as in lifting my heel and knee. I still need to be careful about keeping my leg long) and ride those front feet back underneath his chest. :)

Good ride today. We also worked on straightness in the walk to trot to walk to halt to trot. It was getting there but boy do I have to think. Also we had some good lateral moves at the leg yield one way again too :)

Sprinklers are Scary

And I jinxed myself. :)

Rode Sat for a bit doing hills and the field work (or really ended up talking to friends then keeping Dan contained while another person galloped). Then we headed to the arena and Peri joined us so I did some jumping. He was awesome. Then we went for a hack.

We were talking about how he's not spooky and was being so good, even being behind LE. He really was... quiet, flat footed, on the buckle. No shenanigans.

Then we saw the sprinklers and the hay trucks. He went up on his tippy toes... but no biggy... we can do this. So we carried on out of view again. But then when we got a bit closer, he started dancing. He was still flat footed and really on the buckle but much much more animated! A very springy walk!

Then we hit the halfshire field and he saw them again and then we started jigging. And we jigged pretty much the entire way home. Man... Peri is right. That is exhausting. He kept it together but barely. And for awhile it felt like one more thing would really blow his top. Luckily we survived. But yep. I jinxed myself bragging on him. ;) Although I suppose I could still brag on him. He's 5. They were scary sprinklers! :)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Well Hot Damn!

Hee hee.... I got home with just enough time to sneak in a quick ride. I figured that I would spend all of Thursday studying even though I'd have more time to ride after the dentist, but... this way I could get in a ride and spend all day studying Thursday. (Ha.. that didn't work quite how I wanted but I did study and not ride Thursday). 

So... I tossed him on the trailer and headed to Ashland. Kelli was working in the arena already and it sounded like Arwyn may be better without the distractions so we tried to sneak to the field. Plus I just really wasn't in the mood for a straight up dressage ride. I figured Dan wasn't either. I was right. ;) 

We started doing a little bit of field work but he was just not relaxing. He wasn't bad or naughty just up in his head carriage and wouldn't soften and use his back. We managed about 10 minutes of work and then we did a little canter.... and he begged. Oh how he begged. So I said you know what?!?! Why not?! Kelli had just texted me asking where we went so I figured I had to be quick. So I got him straightened out and let him bust into the gallop! He was soooo ready! He'd been itching since we got there so he was ready and off he went. It was intense!!! We started at the bottom on the flat area, took off across the bottom by the lake and then galloped full tilt up the hill. It took me from the top of the hill to the blue swing to get him stopped. So we gathered ourselves, made sure Kelli hadn't come out yet, and had another rip! It was rip roaring fun!!! I swear it felt faster than the 33 mph we clocked ourselves. It was so fast and fun that when I got him pulled up I just let out a "Hot Damn!" without even thinking. Hee hee...

So then we probably could have/would have taken a third spin but Kelli showed up while we were walking past the path to the trailers so we decided that was enough. Luckily it satisfied both of our souls so we were able to go on a polite trail ride. We finished up fairly quickly as it was getting dark so I hopped in the arena for a minute for a quick little trot and canter. 

So ahh...... We both needed that. :) 

Now to just find time to go out to the track and really let him rip! :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dressage Fancy Pants and Body awareness

Today was dressage day (And also Taco Tuesday, but... whatever!). And Danny was great!!

Today was a lot of epiphanies for me. Danny was great and gave me some lovely work but I think a lot of it had to do with my body and what I was allowing/asking him to do too. Basically Cindy focused on my left shoulder. We were trying to do shoulder in, which is soooo hard for me. She was saying that I needed to keep my hips straight and square and turn my shoulders, mirroring what I wanted Dan to do. And I thought I was. But apparently not. My left hip kept wanting to slide forward and my left shoulder was not turning. So she had me grab the cantle with my left hand. Ohhh...... Ooooooohhhhh. That really turns my left shoulder (well, my whole chest). And... then when I did that my left hip wanted to slide a bit forward so I had to focus on keeping my weight in the left seat bone. Actually I had to focus on that a lot today, not just when we did the shoulder in. But it made a big difference. Of course I almost felt like I couldn't do it without physically grabbing the cantle. So... I need to work on that. It did help to think of lifting that shoulder up and back rather than just turning my chest. 

I also was very aware of my body in general and tried very hard to keep my hips even and straight and bend my body how I wanted Dan to bend his body. And that helped a lot with the ribs and the bend. 

The other thing I was trying to work on was not riding on my toes. I almost had to think about dropping my stirrups and lifting my toes to avoid standing on my toes. Which did help my butt sink into the saddle, which made Dan halt. Doh! But if I did that AND lifted my core/belly button and thought about lifting my chest (opening up the hinge that wants to collapse between my shoulder blades), it kept him moving forward nicely. And Cindy complemented my seat at the canter when I did that so yay!!!

It was great fun. We did some sitting trot and then worked on the leg yield. We tracked right and leg yielded left down centerline the first time. And it was at the sitting trot. And it was glorious!!!! Like he just danced along and kept the impulsion and the bend and the cadence. Cindy said it would have been an 8/8.5!!! It felt awesome. Of course we blew it going to the right. He doesn't want to cross over with that right hind. And I get grabby with the left rein. But we did salvage it and get a few nice steps. 

Oh, and then after the lesson I mentioned to Cindy that I was worried about how he would throw that head up in the air and "hop" on the front right occasionally. I figured it was him just throwing himself into the next gait, but... I wanted to make sure she didn't see any lameness. She said that it was basically because I wouldn't let go of that darn left rein! I was basically so hung on the left rain with it braced into his neck, and so loose and free on the right rein, that I was blocking his left side and opening up the right side so he could pop up. She did soften it and tell me that he was also right handed and that it was easier for him than real work so he did it. But... sigh!! So... it makes sense now. It doesn't feel like I"m really hanging on that rein, but I know I am. But at least now... now that she pointed it out to me... I can hopefully start to realize that I'm doing it. She said I correct it when she tells me but if her voice isn't in my head... I bop along not addressing it. So perhaps now... when he flings himself that will trigger in my brain "Hey... you're holding the left rein...... and abandoning the right rein" and I'll be able to fix it.  

And man... I do love this saddle. I can feel soooo much more in it. Not just what Dan is doing underneath me but also what I am doing and how crooked I am. SOOOO helpful!

It's nice to have good rides and feel like you're making progress :) I'm sure some of it is the saddle, some of it is that Danny is a LOVELY horse and making progress, some of it is that I'm making progress (and partly because Danny is a nice horse and I can feel some things I couldn't on Fleck and partly because I've grown and am riding better than I did on Fleck), and partly because of Cindy's expertise on my body awareness and how I influence pony. :)
And then we can't forget Kelly and Beth's help too. :) It's all part of the puzzle. :) 

So fun!  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

3 Rides this Week

Ugh.... life is hard right now. I'm so stressed with studying for acupuncture finals, mostly because I don't have time to freakin' study! And even with taking two days off a week... I'm still not studying! And it's not even like I'm riding a ton either. Sigh... I haven't ridden Fleck all week and Dan only got 3 rides in. But they were good rides. :)

We had our lesson Tuesday and he felt pretty good. We had some troubles with the canter serpentines and clearly we need to work on our 10 meter circles. I apparently can't steer. But Danny was pretty good and we had some really good moments. Honestly, right now that's all I can remember from Tuesday.

So then Saturday I finally got to ride again (the thunder and lightning ruined a Wed night ride and a Thurs night ride) even though I had to get up early and squeeze it in. I thought about taking Fleck but that would have taken too much time and he didn't look like he felt great. Sigh. But anyways, I took Dan to Ashland and we played in the dressage arena. I wanted to work on our circles. He was great! I realized that I had to ride his shoulders and also how important my body position is. I really thought about bending my body in an effort to bend his body and it seemed to help. I also had to keep that right shoulder from flinging out by keeping my right hand at the withers in both directions. So we ended up getting some decent 10 meter circles. Then we did some fun stuff. (Oh.. that's right... Cindy had us do this in our lesson, although I tweaked it today.... on Tuesday we did down centerline, 10 meter circle to the R, leg yield to quarter line, 10 meter circle L, and then leg yield to rail). We ended up doing the long side, 10 meter circle at rail, then leg yield to centerline, then 10 meter circle, then leg yield the other way back to the rail. Or.... ?? Something like that. Circles and leg yields and rapid outside rein changes. He got pretty good at them. We also worked on our counter canter serpentines. They are still a work in progress. But we had a good ride and he tried very hard. So then we headed to the woods for a nice hack. Dan was weird on the hack though. He was tired I guess. :) He just kept wanting to stop and smell and sniff and stare. Weirdo!

Today was a FUN day though! And Danny was NOT tired... Not one bit. :) We had a lesson at Cedar Ridge with Kelly. Caroline rode Bandit and Julie rode Romeo and me on Dan. The babies were BABIES today!!We all had moments but we also all had some really good education installments and some really good rides too. In fact, we all finished quite nicely. Dan was great at the trailer so I thought I may have been out of the woods, given our last Cedar Ridge outing. ;) Unfortunately not... He was rowdy on the walk to XC and went up in the air a few times. (Little pop up rears.. nothing major). And apparently I was really tense because as we started to warm up, he got really tight and bouncy and balled up. It may have been some of me too. We had a few moments of him getting balled up and going up and I may or may not have smacked him on the forehead once or twice with the whip. Kelly ended up having us canter up the hill, stop, then turn and trot politely down the hill. 5 times. It was suicides! Like in gym class. Hee hee. It worked, although it took a few attempts to get polite up and down the hill. By the end though he was tired enough and was able to go forward enough that he returned to normal Dan instead of Danimal. :) Then we had a fun good cross country school.

Basically we did the banks, the ditches, the water, and some mini courses. I have to remember to not row with my hands. Kelly still wants me to keep them a bit higher, so that I keep that straight line from bit to elbow. I also need to grab mane some so I don't row, although for some reason that is hard for me so I used the neck strap. Kelly said it's not as ideal as it drops my hands, but whatever works for me. I need to remember to stay in the back seat and keep my hands wide and up as we approach "scary" stuff. I actually was getting better (mostly) about doing that and keeping my landing gear in front of me. Although it's still an issue on landing. I can keep my leg underneath me at the base and over the fence but landing I still want to tip forward. I started thinking about landing in the back seat a bit and helping keep Dan's face up out of the ground and that helped. So did grabbing the neck strap. And I think that if I focused harder on the 3 point and 2 point (like I MEANT to....) it would have helped too. Though overall, better than before. Dan felt great too. He was doing his snorting with his strides.. which I love! I know a lot of horses do that but none of mine ever have so I like it. Though we definitely didn't keep the same rhythm the whole way. Oops! I also really need to sit the trot to the trot fences, at least the last few strides, otherwise I get caught in the up part. We also worked on keeping my butt in the saddle on the down banks. I have found that if I think about dropping my stirrups (or even just lifting my toes out of the irons ever so slightly) it helps keep my butt in the saddle. I also need to grab the breastplate (not the neck strap.. that almost encourages me to two point) which helps me think of more of a dressage seat. And then I need to keep the butt in the saddle til he pops me up out of it. :)

So yep.. Super fun day. Danny even jumped some "big boy" stuff. :) He is so funny. He sometimes acts a little scared and then he almost has to make up for it by showing off and being super brave and "Rolex" to another fence. I love this little houligan!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fun Saturday!!

What a super fun Saturday!! (aside from Fleck looking awfully sore, so he got to stay at home. :( We missed him!).

I met Peri and Kelli and we headed up to the ring to play for a bit. Danny felt awesome and we warmed up well. It's so nice that he's in front of my leg mostly now. :) We worked on the trot, some medium trots, the canter, the counter canter, and some transitions. Then we jumped some. They were set at maybe novice height, but I was kind of lazy, so... we jumped them. We came to an oxer as our 4th fence and it was a bit wider than I had thought. I was a bad bad mommy and came up to it and just chickened out. I took my leg off and basically abandoned Dan. He was going lovely too. And then when I backed off, so did he. He basically petered out to it but he's a good boy so he jumped it, from a very wimpy puny canter, and we pretty much landed on the back rail with his hind feet. Of course he broke the pole and landed in a heap. I landed on his neck but my County Conquest tractor beamed me back in place. :) He got lots of praise and thanks. Sigh.. Bad mommy!! So.. we came back around and he just loped over it the second time like he didn't just have the issue. I was better and closed my leg this time so that helped. ;) But he was so non-plussed about it. It was awesome. So we jumped a few more things and then went to the grid. It was alternating ground poles and low vertical bounces/half stride things... but the last vertical had the mounting block underneath it. Dan didn't care.. He just loped on through. Soooo smart!! So we jumped a few other things. We had our issues. Mostly mine. I can't quite figure him out yet. I guess because he's so much more balanced and uphill naturally than Fleck... his canter feels awesome but it's just so big so we get to funky spots. But if I try to collect it, I feel like he's got nothing (which isn't the case) and then I chase him. Sigh. But we managed a few decent jumps. We even finished with the line with the oxer and I kept him straight and we managed a decent distance. And the good thing is that when I ask him to wait, he waits, and when I ask him to move up, he moves up. I just have to get better about feeling it sooner. 
It was a lot of fun though. And then Peri let me hop on Ticket again. He's much more forward than the last time I rode him. Fun times. We just jumped a small vertical and then the grid without the last fence. He was good. 

The next step was to go untack and head bareback to the lake!! Fun times. We got there when Elizabeth and Missy were there so we joined in the party. Oh, and then Judy joined us with Cash too. Danny was having fun. We even got to go for a few short swims!! This time without soaking my saddle and without the completely underwaterness. It was super fun. 

 Danny swims!

After that we headed for a trail ride. Danny was a bit of a punk as he wasn't in the lead. He had a few little antics of bouncing which was fine. Except the one time... He had his antics ON the bridge! Which was scary because I was afraid he would slip. But he didn't and he settled down quickly. Dingbat!

And then.... after we got back, Kelli took a quick minute in the arena so I decided I couldn't resist and did too. We had a very lovely trot, which I had to sit as I was bareback. But he was lovely! And then we cantered both directions. Holy amazing!!! His canter is just to die for! That may have been the first time I cantered him bareback. oooooohhhhh.... so darn lovely! 

So yep... Wonderful day :) After dinner I adjusted him as he was needing it. He was good. I finally got some good licks and chews and yawns out of him. Yay! Hopefully he can feel even more amazing now :) 

Monday, August 8, 2016

More Fancyness... Man I LOVE this horse and I LOVE this saddle!

Today was a fairly quick ride. But since I was hoping to jump this weekend, I decided to do some dressage. In my lesson on Tuesday we were having some issues with him hanging on the right rein and not wanting to go into it. I know it was because I wasn't keeping a consistent connection, so.. I wanted to try and fix it. 
So we rode in the arena. It wasn't great in the beginning but it got nice towards the end. We have some really nice trot work and his more balanced collected canter is getting easier. The counter canter was a bit hard to the right, but he got it pretty well after a few attempts. Well, he got it when it was shallow and loopy, but once I tightened it up, we had some swapping. But we did manage to keep it twice even tightened up. :) Yay! The left lead serpentine was quite nice. And we finished with some really decent leg yields from centerline to the rail. He even went into both outside reins :) YAY! I even got a nice shoulder in for half the long side too. :)

It was such a pretty day that we went for a quick hack after too. He was weird on the hack though. He kept trying to spin and go back towards home and then on the way back home he wanted to get into the woods and kept creeping on the edge of the trail. Oh well. Who knows?!! He behaved. 


Fancy Prancy Pants

I really am enjoying the Danimal. :) 


He's starting to really get more interactive with me too and seems like he wants to hang out more. Like when I turn him out, he hangs at the gate for a minute or two for snuggles. Or shenanigans. ;) And in my lessons, (aside from the weird exception like the other day), he really steps up to the plate. :) 

 Danny shenanigans

So... yeah....  ;) 

Anyways, we had another lesson with Kelly this weekend. It was awesome!! Danny came to work and we had a great ride. Kelly noticed that the connection was much better and overall he was much more in front of my leg. :) So... we worked on that a good bit. He really felt REALLY NICE!!! Like 2nd level nice!! 

Some reminders for me....

  • Keep the steady connection in both reins and when he softens, soften but keep my elbows by my side and own my elbows. Soften by softening my hands on the reins, not letting my elbows creep forward. 
  • Keep my hands wider than I'm used to. The same width as my elbows. Duh. :) 
  • When he comes "off the bit", first think "Is he straight?" and address that issue by getting the hind end in line with the shoulders and the shoulders in line with the hind end. Then think "Is he forward?" and address that by riding him forward up into the bridle.
  • Speaking of, set my elbows, and then ride him forward into them. Don't wiggle his head down. Use my leg, my seat, and my whip as needed. Then when he gets there, soften slightly. There should be a fairly heavy feel in my hands. That's the connection. It should be steady and when it's steady I can soften some. It's also okay, for now, if he leans on me just a bit. This is helping him as he's weak still. As long as he's not pulling me down to the ground and I can stay firm in my core, he can hang a little. 
  • Watch his ears. Whichever ear is down, that is the side I need to half halt on. 
  • Hold him "up" with my core. Think of the feeling I want when jumping. It felt a little bit like I was sinking down into my seat while still lifting my crotch and almost pushing my feet the teeniest bit forward (flashlight feet). And sit up tall and lift my upper back. And don't look down. If I look down, it's much easier for him to pull me forward and down. If I stay chin up, I can feel him start to pull me down and sink into my core and hold him. (Remember the feeling when Kelly took the reins and had me sink down into my heels and seat). 
  • When tracking left he wants to lose that shoulder to the right. So I counteract that by bringing my right hand to his withers and opening my left/inside rein. This guides his right shoulder back over. 
  • When tracking right, he still wants to lose his shoulder to the right. So he falls in. It makes me want to counter bend him and hold him up on the left side. Which is.... not really what I should be doing. I should be kicking him off my inside leg and putting him in the outside rein. But baby steps. So, first, make sure that I am actually turning my body to the right. I tend to block him and throw my shoulders and pelvis to the left, so I have to really think about shifting myself to allow the right bend (Remember from my Cindy lesson when I had to look down at my shoulder... duh, bend my body Holly!) Then I need to bring my right hand to his withers and open the left/outside rein. However, I can't throw away the outside rein and throw it forward, keep the connection but open it a bit. And think more bend, without allowing him to just break at the neck. Ugh.. that side is hard. Especially because I want to intuitively do it wrong. 

So then we went to the canter. We started talking about how when he gets to that most lovely place he was giving me, then I can start to do anything.... the lateral work is there. We discussed the counter canter and I told her it was hard but we were getting better. She said that he probably gets a bit flat and I agreed. So we decided to work on the canter. And getting it "collected". Not so much in the true sense of collected canter, but just a more rocked back canter that would make the counter canter easier. 
WOW!!! Baby horse totally stepped up to the plate! We started out cantering and Kelly made me sit up and tall and almost back. Not leaning back, but tall in my upper back. Then she had me hold my elbows firm. Then I started to half halt some when needed and get him into a nice "frame" and nice canter. Then.... we started to half halt a bit more and add more leg and really get him collected. Holy Moly!!! It was lovely. And then he broke to the trot. :) Of course. It's HARD! Kelly said that I needed to make that hard for him. When he breaks, I need to get after him, make him turn on the forehand, etc... Like Cindy says. It needs to be harder work than continuing to canter. Now, we realize he's young and it's hard, so we tried very hard to ask him to hold it just a few steps more when he wanted to break and then asked him to come down to a trot so we could reward. After a few tries, he held the canter and it got amazing!! Then when he was just about to break, I'd close my leg and cluck and he would save it and keep cantering. It was that awesome rocked back lovely floaty uphill canter. :)
So we didn't actually get to the counter canter, but... it'll come quickly once he's strong enough to hold that canter. :) 

Wheeee!! So much fun today!

Pool Party

Today was a fun day! I finally got to meet up with Missy and Indi for some splash time. :) We wanted to go bareback so I decided I should probably ride first and get any antics out before we went bareback. Plus, Indi is a year younger and I didn't know if Dan would get him excited too.

So I got on and headed out to the XC field for some hill work. We walked for 10 minutes and then trotted for 6 minutes. He wasn't really even winded. Then I realized I only had about 20 minutes to get some energy burned off, untack him and get back to the lake! Eeeks. So... we jumped a few jumps. And he was naughty!! Or.... I didn't get the right canter. We kept either hitting them at a hugely long distance and he would almost bolt to it or we would hit them at the chip and puke. Ugh. I managed to get a few good fences in here and there but we kept vascillating back and forth with the pukes and the launches. Finally we finished with 3 good decent ones in a row. So we headed back. Poor Dan. He was puffing!!! He was happy to go and run and play and jump but it was so hot and humid.

So then he was dripping sweat and I got back on bareback. Eewww! But I didn't want to have another saddle soaking. Of course he didn't swim at the pool party but he did splash around a good bit. Him and Indi had a blast with each other. They were such little boys. They were showing off, splashing, playing "Bitey face" and kept trying to get into each others personal space. It was fun.

Danny was fairly polite the whole time. There was only one squeal and bounce up and down brief moment on the way back. :)

Fun day!