Sunday, January 29, 2017


Keepin' it simple! Cause I'm stupid. ;) Or maybe not stupid, but I tend to overthink or over ride and over do and... end up being backwards and inside out. 

Today was a frustrating day but at least I accomplished a lot. I got my grandmothers grandmother clock, got my oil changed, went to Kroger, did birthday lunch with the family, and caught up on some laundry and dishes, donated some stuff, and.. even rode! However, my truck needed some repairs in addition to the oil change so.. .I didn't have it back til 4:30 which meant I wasn't going to have time to ride. And the weather was threatening. Turns out I probably could have made it work and would have had a lovely sunset, but.. oh well. I opted to ride at home instead and it wasn't bad. 

The footing isn't great and Dan tripped some, so we didn't do a ton, but we accomplished some good stuff.

Basically we just did some flatwork. Dan started a bit wild because the weather was cold and windy and Fleck was being a bit bouncy and unhelpful. :) But... after a little bit of walking I decided to do my MX0 stuff. I basically created a connection and asked him to go into it by closing my leg. No wiggling the reins (although in retrospect I do think I did some of it, despite trying not to... guess I am! But I made a good point to stop it). And suddenly, he was working. And happily. And without shenanigans. :) 

We did some walking, trotting and then even cantered. It was lovely! We had some seriously nice work. And I think my position was better too. I could feel my core being worked, so that's something! And then in the canter I felt like my butt wasn't bouncing out of the saddle and that my toes weren't pointing out. And Dan felt lovely!! Very supple and light in the bridle but with contact. And up in his back. :) So yay! Simple! Whether my toes were actually in and my butt was actually in the saddle... but at least I didn't think it was! There are times when I know it is doing what I don't want, so.. the fact that I didn't think it was is something. 

He was a good kid! But he worked hard and was tired. So when the sprinkles started and the wind picked up we ended our ride. It was crazy too because as we got back to the barn to untack the wind picked up something fierce! And both horses got really high and excited. It was creepy tornado like weather. I pulled Dan's tack off quick and let him go as he looked like he was ready to explode. He was good though and they both went to eat hay. I rushed inside to clean stalls before the bottoms opened up and after a few little bit of sprinkles... I looked outside and the sun was out and the sky was blue and.... the wind died. Oh well. ;) 

But yep.. it was a good ride!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Good Lesson

I love my rides with Kelly. It's nice to pick one thing and sort of pick it apart. Plus she tends to say the right things.

Today we started with my position and she touched on my toes. We talked and basically she said it's not a black and white thing so not to panic. Do what I can to tweak it but that regardless, even now, my position was not impeding Dan's gaits or interfering with him. So if nothing changed, it wasn't the end of the world. We did talk about how my leg seemed to be too far back in general, and really far back when I was trying to use my heel. And that I got tight in my knees instead of gripping with my lower leg and wrapping it around. I have beautiful position standing still. Ha! But once we move... I lose it. So.. she suggested wider stirrups and perhaps not the bendy ones, but static ones. So I'll try my jump irons and see if that helps and maybe consider getting those hideous wide ones. ;)

We worked with my feet out of the stirrups at the walk... every time my hip goes forward I need to lengthen that opposite leg. Or the same leg.. I have to feel it again. I think opposite. And it really helped. She also mentioned keeping my seatbones on him. And for whatever reason... I really SAT and could feel both seat bones in the saddle, rather than perching a bit. And it really helped drive him forward. But I don't think I was driving.. not in a bad way. But in a good way. So that helped. Then she told me to bring my belly button to my spine without collapsing and to close my shoulder blades but keep my elbows back at my side. When I picked up the trot, I need to think about keeping my elbows and back in place, and swinging my hips forward in front of the elbows and back. And sit back some. This is the position she wants me in. She said my ears, shoulders, hips (not the back of my butt, my actual hip bone), and heels are in line.

So... then when we went to trot, with my stirrups, she said that as a jumper, I tend to put more weight in them than a dressage rider. So that I should think of putting more weight in the balls of my foot, hence the wider stirrup bed. And think of closing my lower leg down and around and opening my knee some. Which is hard to do. But I'll keep working on it at the walk and on trails and while riding and see if I can get it better. Then we moved on from me because she said it's a gray zone. Do what I can with my anatomy and carry on. :) Which was kind of nice to hear. If only I can make myself take that to heart.

So then with Dan we had to do some shock and awe again. Both sides (ie.. switch my whip). And she reiterated that if Dan does get behind my leg, stop what I'm doing and go back to shock and awe. Don't try to do shock and awe in whatever I'm doing. Just stop and get forward from the leg and then go back to work.

Then... MXO. The goal is to create a solid connection. Which will feel like I'm pulling because I'm too nice. So... I close my hands and create a solid wall for Dan to go into. So the front end (my hands) are creating the pressure that would cause him to halt or do a downward transition. But then I'm going to close my legs and ride forward with my seat to create an equal aid so that he stays in gait, instead of going faster. MX equals zero. :) So... I closed my reins, closed my legs, and Dan goes nice and round. If his head goes up, it's due to straightness, so instead of wiggling him down, I ride the shoulders and worry about his straightness. When he leans in, close my inside leg and bring my reins to the outside to guide his shoulders. (Both hands, but MAKE SURE I KEEP THE CONNECTION and don't let go and soften the outside rein).

And it was lovely! We got some beautiful trot. :)
So yep.. lots of homework. :)

Coyotes not scary. Water sucking devices and Water falls scary!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jump lesson with Ann

Yesterday I was adjusting horses at Halfshire and Missy mentioned that she was having a lesson with Ann Haller today at 4. I figured I would be back in time for a 5 pm lesson so asked to join in. I've kind of been wanting to ride with Ann and see what her take was and I've had a hard time scheduling Beth and Kelly because of their schedules and mine. So I figured I'd take the opportunity that was provided. And I'm glad I did. It was helpful, albeit embarassing. ;) 

We started with some square turns. She had me walk a square and turn him by using my outside aids. So.. soften my inside leg (and not block him), close my outside leg and upper thigh to turn him, and close the outside rein and open the inside rein. Ann explained that this asked him to turn and collected him without trapping him. Oh, and that was the other key. I had to collect his walk just before the turn. So then we moved onto the trot and did the same exercise. At the trot, I had to be careful to lift my seatbone and not drop it into him. After the trot, we moved onto the canter. Ann wanted us to go into the canter from the walk. So we tried. It started out okay, but we were having more troubles with the left lead than the right, interestingly enough. Towards the end I got flustered and started asking wrong and making to worse. I was trying to time my aids with his outside hind hitting the ground so he could coordinate his legs to get the correct lead. But I was then asking with the outside leg instead of the inside leg. So yes, I need to bring the outside leg back, but not ask with it. But... even though it was awful and embarassing and it took us sometimes as many as 8 tries to get the proper lead.... Danny never got flustered or worried and kept trying. And he was getting reactive to my leg and trying to go straight into the canter. So there was that! He was trying and getting hotter off my leg. :) The key is to make sure I've got a nice rhythmical walk first. And use my outside leg as a guide, but ASK with the inside leg/seat bone.

So then we started jumping. Ann set up some small verticals with placing poles and wanted me to ride to the placing pole off a square turn. So we started off with 2 square turns and then another square turn right up to the fence. And it went okay. We managed to get over it without too much spazzyness. In fact, it was sort of the opposite. He was nice and quiet and a bit lazy behind. So we got a few times in and I realized that I was soooo not used to him taking off from the deep spot and not launching that I didn't know how to ride that. And I actually NEEDED to close my leg. Hmmm... Interesting. So we added a few more fences, taking away the placing poles at times, and made some bendy lines. And it got better. It is still not beautiful. I realized some good things though...

By riding like that, he was collected and rocked back and able to push off the ground without being spazzy or running. It closed his stride down to a normal stride length which will make the distances easier. And I definitely need to put my leg on at the base. The placing pole was helpful because I had to ride TO the placing pole which meant I didn't have to spazz at the very end and try to create something at the last second. It also typically kept me from abandoning him. So... I think it was a really good thing. It's just hard because it's hard work for us both and it's not smooth and super pretty yet. And it was hard for me to stay with him because I'm so used to the longer leap and therefore, it wasn't as pretty looking. But I think if we stick with it, it'll get nice and pretty and be effective. :) 


Jumping the big oxer 

Bendy line work 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Biomechanics and Grids

To turn - 
activate inside leg at calf, then tighten right TA, then tighten right trap, and catch with outside leg as needed.

Interestingly... tracking left... I don't THINK I need to use my left trap, as he's already bent, but.. when I do.. he goes from nice to LOVELY!

To Help my position in the canter... same thing... But I have to learn to roll my hips in, and activate my knee and lower leg without activating my thigh muscle. And... keep my leg long. So... same sequence as the turn sequence but think more lower leg. It seems to only be the right leg that won't cooperate. I also have to not get carried away and let my pelvis tilt forward. When it does, that gets my butt bouncing up out of the saddle. 

Stretches: Put my right leg on a chair (Like I was kneeling on it) and put my left leg forward. Squat with my left leg and walk it forward so that I stretch my hip flexor (right above my groin essentially... if I feel burn in my lower back, I'm not forward enough). Keep my pelvis and lower back straight.

Exercises: Get on all fours... and lift one hand straight forward, then alternate. Then do the same with both back legs, one at a time. Make sure I'm keeping it flat and straight and not twisting my hips out. Much harder on the right. Do repetitions...and when I'm strong enough, hold the opposite leg and arm out together. Also engage my side specific TA at the same time the leg is up.


Activate the traps to get the half halts but don't hold with the reins. Must GIVE MY HANDS FORWARD!!! NO rowing. No lifting them in the air. Reach for the neck strap and hold on to it!

We had one moment where I kicked and he bucked and then jumped the grid and I managed to stay on.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Tempting Fate

Ah..... Today was a long day in a long week. And it was a good day, but by the end, I was starting to get a little tired and sad that I had missed out on riding on such a beautiful day. It was another 70 degree day. In January!!! It was gorgeous! Now granted, this does not bode well for June... or heck, even March at this point. But it was lovely today!

And... today is also Friday the 13th. And a full moon. 

By the time I got home and got the horses fed the moon was up and casting a lot of light on the front field. I couldn't help myself. I managed to snag Fleck on his way out for hay and hopped on. No halter even. He was awesome and just moseyed on to his hay. It was wonderful. Such a big peaceful feeling just sitting on my best friend and chilling. But I couldn't help it... I got greedy. I tried to get Fleck to leave the hay and go for a walk about but he said nope... and circled back to his hay. So.... I sat there a minute longer, soaking it up, and then hopped off. 

I decided to give Dan a shot. What could go wrong?! ;) Friday the 13th, full moon, bareback on the 5 year old, Emma loose and somewhere in the dark...  Why not?! :) I did at least wear my helmet and put his bridle on. And you know what?! He was perfect!

He parallel parked at the fence and let me hop on and headed to the front field all by himself. Fleck stayed at the hay pile. ;) We had a nice walk around for a few minutes. I swear too I felt Roany in the corner watching over us. Then I couldn't help myself (I really have NO willpower!). So we went for a little trot. And he was so good. So I said we'd been done, but then... I decided to do a little canter up the hill. It was glorious! We cantered happily and politely up the hill. I did laugh a bit because it was hard to see where the fence was and I definitely did not want to jump it! But it was amazing! It helped my soul a lot. So yay! Lots of fun. I wanted to go again but decided to reward his great behavior and let him get back to his hay. 

I thanked him for being such a good boy and giving me that. And then I thanked Fleck for saying no and letting me and Dan have that memory. I think it's harder on me.. And I told him so. He just smiled and kept eating. 

I'm so blessed. I have two wonderful amazing ponies. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Better... but I've got to give up on some things

So... I rode today and started out with some flatwork. I adjusted Dan Tuesday evening and on Wed, when Freddie came to do his feet he commented on how square his pelvis was. ;) Ha! Good thing. So... I was hoping that he'd be much nicer to ride. And.. he was, but not perfect. Of course I'm sure it's because I'm not perfect. 

It started out a little frustrating again but I was able to stop and not get too frustrated and we ended up having some good work. I had to really think about putting more weight into my right leg and seat, but not just leaning into it... lengthening that right leg and sinking my weight into it. I did some no stirrup work and it helped a little but wasn't really working as well as I wanted because it created the tendency for my leg to creep up. But I think it did help. I was able to get a nice canter with my seat staying in the saddle (I think anyways!) and my legs behaving. Whether my toe did or not... I just had to let that go.
We actually got some really nice 3 loop canter serpentines too, even to the right. I had to think about keeping my weight in the right long leg and keeping the left outside rein half halts. Then I moved to the big arena and lost it but got it back. Peri was saying my right leg was slipping back and asking him, but... I don't think that's entirely it. I mean, that might be the problem, but I cannot make my leg go forward and fix the problem. I think that when I think about bringing my right leg forward I end up jamming my right seat bone into him. But when I think about keeping my weight in a long straight right leg and keeping the outside rein, I end up keeping the counter canter. 
So while I'm still frustrated with my body position and still want to fix it, I am also realizing that I cannot make my body do something it's not able to do and I am not wanting to risk ruining Dan's body for sake of the perfect picture. If my toes stick out... oh well. For now at least. But.. Kelli and I are planning to video each others' next ride so that we can see what we're doing, then try to fix it and video it again, so we can compare. I'm hoping that this will help me figure it out.

Then we had a wonderful trail ride. We decided to try letting Danny trot in the middle and see if that worked. He was nice and tired after dressaging and it was such a warm day (I was in a t-shirt and he got sweaty!), I thought it might be a good recipe. Plus we had already trotted in front and he was polite and didn't cavort on the moguls. And with Peri in the back, maybe he wouldn't feel like he was in the back. Maybe it's not that he's not in front, but that he doesn't want to be last. ???? But regardless of what the reason was, it worked. Kelli kept her mare from going too big and maybe that helped too? Danny was fairly polite trotting behind her. He was curled up and almost on top of her, but he was polite and didn't canter. And Peri was able to get Roux to open up his stride a bit to try to catch up with us.  We didn't go very far or very long but it was good!! I won that battle and Danny was good. :) 

So yep.. beautiful day and good rides!