Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I had a good lesson today with the Danimal. We started out quite lovely and got some brilliant trot work! We even got a decent shoulder in, but we had some troubles with our 10 meter circles. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong but we're just not very smooth. But we managed to make it better. I think I need to remember to turn with my upper body and maintain the connection rather than turning him with the reins only.

Then we went to the canter. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It sort of fell apart. I'm having issues geting the correct lead again. Sigh... I'm not sure why I'm doing or overdoing but I know it's my fault. And then we started having all sorts of issues. But it basically boiled down to my right leg. I got frustrated and rode up and told Cindy that I can't seem to make my leg hang down and not pinch with my knee WHILE keeping it at the girth. It feels like I'm at the girth and she keeps telling me I'm not. So... we talked and basically she said that Dan is stronger on the right and therefore he tends to throw his ribcage at me. But it's not just that, it's the whole biomechanics of it. He throws that ribcage out, which means he creates a bulge at my leg, tips to the inside, and his scapula can't bend and he can't bend right. So Cindy told me that while this has always been a bad body habit of mine, and it's going to take time for me to fix it. And it's going to be something that I'm ALWAYS EVERY SINGLE RIDE going to have to remind myself about. Because it's hard for me to sit correctly. So instead of getting frustrated, just get busy fixing it. And... she pointed out that the reason my body can't do what I want it to do, is partly because Dan isn't giving me a spot to put my leg. Therefore I need to create it. It's not him being lazy, anymore than it's me being lazy. BUT.... because he is stronger, he wants to bulge that way. So I have to realize my leg isn't where it should be and I'm not getting true right bend.. because of the bulge, and then create a proper right bend. I need to encourage Dan to lift the inside of his ribcage and compress that side and bend, and that creates the room for my right leg.

In order to create that spot, that bend, I may have to turn up the volume. But then I immediately ask with a quiet aid to say "That's what I meant to say"!. So... ask for right bend, ask for his rib cage to lift, and if my leg can't go in the "hole", then use my spur or stick AT THE GIRTH!! not back in his stifle.

And... once I get it, he actually held it for awhile, so.. he's not as weak as I thought. We got some LOVELY canter and trot then and our counter canter was a bit easier as were the transitions. So yay!

Now to just remember EACH AND EVERY RIDE!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weekend Rides

This weekend was nice in some ways. I ended up not showing at the Horse Park, which was a good choice. I just needed to catch up on some life stuff.

Saturday Mike and I tried to go sailing but it was WAY too windy!! The sails were whipping like crazy and we couldn't get them set. So we headed home but had to stop and visit with his Mom a bit first. Then we had lunch. So it was almost 5 before I was able to get on, but at least I got to ride! We went for a little hack in the jump saddle because I figured he might be a bit rowdy with the wind. He was good though! We had a little 3 mile loop through the woods and trotted and cantered some. But then I wanted to work on some from my dressage lessons, so we headed back and swapped saddles. And then we did some dressage work. He was lovely but for some reason we couldn't get our left lead from the trot. Argh... I'm not sure how I'm throwing him off, but I know I am. He wants to pick up the correct lead but I keep throwing him off somehow. Sigh. But we figured it out eventually and managed to get it right two or three times in a row. And he felt really good. :)

Sunday was a nice relaxing day. I was able to finish the last of my reports in the morning and then we went to ride. I met up with Missy and Indy and we jumped a bit and then went on a nice hack. It was fun. Danny felt really lazy and just like he wanted to laze around in his pj's all day. Me too Buddy, me too! But looking at the videos, he was a good boy. And I was quite proud of him through the grid too. :) And he trotted right down the bank into the water and then even cantered down it. And then later we cantered over the log and down the down bank not into water. :)

 Here's the videos Missy took of us :)
Bounce to the one stride
Cantering down the bank into water
Oxer to Coop
Oxer to Coop to Grid
Oxer to Coop

So all in all, not a bad weekend. Next weekend we'll play Saturday and then go school XC at Fence!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ooooohhhh my core and my hips!

All for the love of the sport. ;)

Today was our first ride back after our awesome weekend. I ended up cancelling my lesson with Cindy Tuesday morning because we were both not wanting to get back in the trailer. And I was too busy playing catch up to fit in a ride, so... it was Thursday before we got to ride. 

I had a lesson with Kelly and since we missed our lesson with Cindy and had jumped all weekend, we did another dressage lesson. It was great!

We continued with our last few lessons and talked about my position again. How I needed to sit on my seat bones (not so much the triangle, but more just my seat bones as that gave me a neutral pelvis). And to NOT tip my shoulders forward. When I felt a little bit like I was leaning back, I was straight. Dan was round and on the bit much pretty much from the get go which was awesome. I need to remember to not give too much with my elbows and keep them at my side. I laughed and said I needed a bungee. ;) So then we worked on pinwheeling. UGH... Before we talked about it Kelly said "Remember that I like you". So... while sitting with a neutral pelvis and my feet out of the stirrups, I had to pinwheel my legs. So I took my right leg and lifted my knee up to the level of the knee roll and then out to the side and then down and back and then back to neutral. Then the same on the left side. And it hurts! The outside of my hip joint was burning. BUT... it did make my hip feel more open and down.

So then we moved on to the trot and I did some sitting trot. Kelly said that to increase the trot into a medium trot, I needed to increase the up and down tilt of my pelvis. And to compress the trot, I needed to decrease the up and down tilt. It worked, kind of. I need more leg. But it did change the trot. So then to do a downward transition, I need to slow my pelvis tilt slowly and incrementally until he walked. This worked great! It helped to keep him from slamming into the walk.

So then we went to the canter transitions. AHHHH. It was glorious!!! I started with a nice trot and nice pelvic roll, but still staying on my seat bones. Then I put my outside leg back and thought about rolling my butt from the back of the saddle to the front and lifting my pelvis, especially on the inside. And viola!! And BEAUTIFUL canter depart!!! With minimal fussing in the bridle. Yay!! We did the same thing for the canter to trot as trot to walk.

So yep.. Very good lesson. :)
My homework is to work on the pinwheel for a few minutes once a week to start, as it does hurt. And to work on the sitting trot and my core. And to work on my transitions that way. 

Fun fun fun

I have an EVENT PONY!!!!!!

Ahhh, I love this kid! We had an amazing weekend together.
Although, I must admit... I did cry a little bit when we left Flecky behind. He just looked so sad and bummed that he was missing out. But Missy had given me my Christmas present which was a bracelet with Fleck's name on it, so that helped! 

And it also helped that our weekend was AMAZING!!! I am soooo proud of the rugrat. He's growing up! We went to Gibbes for a XC clinic with Beth. And it was a blast!

We got there Friday evening and went for a quick little hack. We mostly just walked around and did a tiny bit of dressage. I hadn't ridden since Tuesday, but... was running out of daylight. Then Cindy and I went to dinner at Cracker Barrel. Yum! 

Saturday was grid day. We did the zig zag poles to work on straightness and then did some gymnastic lines. One was a skinny bounce and one was a bounce to a one stride. They were all kept very low as we were working on form and straightness. My form, Dan's straightness. :) We discussed full seat (dressage seat), 3 point (rolling our pelvis slightly forward but not our shoulders and putting a bit more weight into our thighs and calves) and 2 point (jumping position). Beth wanted us in 3 point up to the fences. (Like my lesson before) so that we could go with the motion of the horses and not get left behind or be too ahead. I also need to think about moving my butt backwards over the fences. Then we realized that I needed to keep my hands low and on his neck and keep my elbows in. So... I got bungeed. ;) Yep, Beth put a bungee around my elbows so that they would stay at my sides. (I think I need this for dressage too!). It really helped, although I'm not entirely sure my elbows are my biggest problem. I think it stems from my hands coming up rather than grabbing my next strap. So I focused on keeping my hands down and it helped. Dan was a good boy and straight for the most part. We did good on our square turns. (Thanks Ann). 

Sunday was XC technical day. :) We started at the water complex and warmed up over the small fences there. Beth had me keep my hands low and at the neck strap. It made a big difference in how he was going. I think the combination of keeping my hands low and doing the 2 point allows Dan to use his back well and not get hollow and get that behind my leg feel, and when he uses his back well, he feels good, and when I'm in 2 point with low hands, I can follow him so much easier and not get left behind. So anyways, we warmed up, then went and did the clover leaf on the pipes and then did the banks. Dan stopped at the down bank but I think I lollygagged up to it instead of powerful cantering to it. But the second time he did great. Then we headed back to the water and had fun. We jumped a fairly big log in and out of the water, plus a smaller one, and then Beth let me play with the jump IN the water again. SO MUCH FUN! We also worked on angling the log before we headed into the water. Danny did that just fine. In fact, Danny was great for all of it. He was well behaved and happy to go and do and after we went through the water again, he was all proud and sassy and got all fired up. It was so much fun!

Boring Up Bank

Boring Down Bank

Trotting up and Down the Bank

The water 

 So then Monday was course day. We warmed up and Beth laughed and said that Dan was the only horses that didn't look tired. ;) We started at the ditches and Dan stopped the very first time over it. In his defense, the horse in front of him had a meltdown and took a good 20 minutes to get over the ditch. And Dan spooked, stopped, and then sniffed the poop on the edge. Once I got his head out of the poop, he jumped it. Which makes me wonder if he wasn't so much stopping at the ditch as stopping to smell the poop. ha! It wouldn't surprise me. After that he was fine with it. We then did a few courses and he was good and happy to go and do, but rideable. Then we went and did the bounce poles, which was fun. Then we went to the second water and did a mini course. Dan felt great!! He was forward and going but rideable and balanced and game. It was soooo fun!! We jumped some fairly big fences and I was like "we've GOT this!!! We're ready for Paradise.. ready for recognized shows!" Yahoo!! 

Then we headed to the bank complex and Dan did the up and down well, although he propped a bit down the down bank the first time, but not the second. We did a mini course and we went up the little hill and jumped a little log and then looped around to what looked like a little black pipe from my view before I started but was actually a fairly substantial three tire stack (flat, but still.. wide at the bottom) jump. I didn't actually ride to it and chickened out and Dan stopped. So then I realized I was being stupid and rode up to it and he jumped it well. Wheee!!! So much fun. We pretty much quit with that as the other horse had a meltdown at the banks now too. But it was fine as Danny was awesome. I sort of wanted to do more as we had been sitting for a bit and weren't tired, but he did a lot and I was so proud. 

  Go Dan Go

 So yep.. SUPER FUN weekend! I feel like Dan has hit that grown up phase and gets it. :) He knows and understands his job now and now it's just up to me to ride him correctly and prepare him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Good Lesson

Yay! Dan and I had a fun lesson today. :) I went in with a much better attitude and decided not to get frustrated with myself. We warmed up well and Cindy mentioned that Dan looked really good from the get go. :) I told her that I had adjusted him on Sunday. Hee hee. Yay! But we had a great ride.

We did some sitting trot and man... my core is weak!! So... lots of work to do. Then we did some canter from the walk. It was hard. And I wasn't being a good trainer... I was being an overprotective mom. I was allowing him to not do it properly cause he's a babbbby. So once I insisted and got him a little revved up and realizing what I was asking... and kept him round by keeping my inside hand down and at my hip, he did it! Yay Danimal!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dressage Lesson with Kelly

Since my jump lesson with Kelly got cancelled on Thursday and she was here this weekend at Ashland, I decided to join in. I didn't want to do a XC lesson mostly because we've done so much at Ashland already in that field I didn't think I'd get as much out of it. So we did a dressage lesson. 

It was great! We worked on the same stuff as the last lesson. Contact with even reins, no "knitting" his head down, and sitting on my bum. But we built on it. 

We started off making sure he was in front of my leg and since we had talked a good bit he was a bit lazy so we re-instituted forward. Then we worked on my leg and seat. Kelly said that my pelvis tended to tip too far forward and down. So I really had to think about lifting it and sitting on my seat bones. And then we had an epiphany... She mentioned that I needed to get rid of the curve in my lower back some. She asked if when I laid on the floor I was able to keep my back flat. I told her no, not without lifting my knees up towards my chest. OHHHHH Wait a minute!!! That totally explains why my seat is better in my jump saddle with the shorter stirrups. It allows my anatomy to create a flatter spine when my stirrups are shorter and my knees are more in front of me. Okay... well, doesn't really help me, but it does at least help me feel better about it. :) So... if I really thought about sitting on my crack... for lack of a better way to put it, it helped my position and my leg. I did feel like when I sat like that, my knees were flopping and my legs were flopping. BUT... this is okay. This is actually good. I tend to pinch with my knee so the loose knees and open hips is a good thing. Eventually it won't be quite as floppy. So okay, cool. We didn't worry about my toes at this point. 
Then we went on to my hands and my upper body. Kelly had me ride a 3 loop serpentine and to start the turn, turn my shoulders, then change my leg, then change my hands. It was amazing though how much more separated movement I felt with my butt and my upper body when I was sitting on my seatbones. I didn't realize quite how much I have been perching. Ugh...  And then to help with my hands, Kelly gave me a very special and very expensive stick. Ha! It was a lovely little twig. I had to hold it straight and keep my hands on it, thus keeping my hands the same width apart as my shoulders. While keeping my elbows at my sides and owning them, I steered with the stick. Which by the way, also kept me from "knitting". So that meant that when he was leaning in, I could take my inside hand and move it to his wither and move my outside hand to the outside. BUT... I wasn't allowed to let my outside hand creep in. The other key factor though is that I had to use my leg first! So.... to create bend, it's inside leg, then inside hand to the withers, outside hand to the outside but firm elbows at my sides, and then it was lovely. If he went and through the outside shoulder to the outside, then I closed my outside leg and brought my hands back to the inside, with the outside hand touching the withers and the inside hand to the inside laterally. But it was always a "T", never a "V" with my stick in my hands. It was pretty helpful and Danny just clocked right along on the bit happily. 

We even did it at the canter and got a fairly nice canter. The elbows and the stick helped me keep a connection and the rules helped me from getting frustrated at him and hanging on the right rein. 

The other thing we worked on was the transitions. He throws his head up and I soften the contact. Kelly said that if I kept the contact, he would be more inclined to stay soft because he woudn't want to "hit my hands" so to speak. So we worked on that. When I closed my legs and he threw his head up, I closed my legs more or added stick and kept my elbows at my sides. After a few transitions he realized it was nice to stay soft and on the bit and then I could stay soft. 

So yep. Very helpful lesson. I like having the concrete rules because it keeps me from getting too frustrated at when I'm not doing or doing and not supposed to be doing and what he's not doing despite me doing something I think I'm not doing.... and it just keeps me from getting worried that I'm doing it wrong and changing it instead of giving him a chance to settle into it. So yep! Good stuff.

Then we went for a short lazy hack. :)