Thursday, May 31, 2018

Yay! Getting our mojo back

Super fun lesson today!! Poor Danny. He's getting his hiney worked! But he seems to be eating it up. 

We hauled up to Morning Run for a lesson with Beth. It was HOT. And muggy. Ugh. We warmed up and then went to jumping. Todays lesson was adjustability. :) Great..... (that was written in a very sarcastic tone). But it actually went super well and I was quite pleased with the squirt. :) 

We started off with a small vertical with two ground poles set as bounces. The goal was to compress and get him tight and compact and bouncy. It took a bit. It took a long bit. BUT... when I got him in front of my leg (which didn't take that much work today despite the heat and humidity! Yay!) and got him on the bit, it was a lot easier. 

From there we went to the next line, which was two ground poles one stride out on each side over a gate. That was a "normal" gait. And that was a bit easier to get done but i still had to ride better. It helped when I shortened my reins and got my hands down at the neck and in front of me, rather than flailing around behind me. ;) 

Then we added in the final line which was 3 wide oxers that were set long. So I had to push for reach. However.. the first time through, I rode the same and we ended up getting 4. And it was a poopy four. So then Beth told me to get a bigger stride, but I cheated and basically XC galloped into the line. Yep, that was easier. Ha! So she wanted me to get a bigger stride before the fences but really ask for the reach within the line. THe whole point is adjustability and NOW not... when he feels like it. So the third time was much better and sure enough, like she said, a few more times in and I was almost having to half halt. 

So then we put it all together. And... bless his heart.. my horse is a saint and incredibly athletic! I came gung ho through the 3 stride but didn't bother collecting him enough for the one stride. And when we hit the first pole I think my brain thought "bounce" and I threw myself up his neck. (Funny how earlier the long spot was scary and I held him back and now I'm throwing myself at him.. ugh). But he saved the day but jumping it. And not just jumping it but somehow getting practically underneath it and jumping it with me on his neck, somehow without even touching it, and then getting out over the pole after. Good grief!! He's such a good boy. He got lots of praise and then we came back to it and he didn't bat an eye. Just kept coming and this time I rode better and collected him more correctly and we had a nice ride. Then we headed down to the collected bounce poles and got through there. Not as nicely as when we started there. But we got it done. So then she had us do it backwards. We actually managed that fairly nicely. 

And then we finished with doing the long 3 strides straight to the short bouncy collected bounce line. Ugh. That was hard! And by this point Dan was getting tired. So... we made one big last effort where I really rode and did it quite nicely! The first time through we had to make too big of an effort over the last fence and while I was able to get him collected it was as he was going over the bounce pole instead of in the corner. And the second time it was better but I still waited too long. So Beth suggested that I make life easier by riding a bit bolder into the first of the 3, so that by the time he gets to the third fence I can be a bit more holding and then I can jump that last jump almost as a drop and keep my butt in the saddle a bit and my landing gear in front of me, so that I can half halt more effectively and get the canter for the bounce line easier. And it worked!! We nailed it! So we quit with that.

And Beth gave us great compliments today. She said that Dan was looking great and she was impressed because not many horses his age and level (even horses running novice) were that adjustable. :) YAY!! And then she said that I rode really well too. YAY!! We're getting our asses back in action. :)

So then I hosed him off and let him sit in front of the fan for a bit. And as we were getting ready to leave the bottoms opened up and it POURED! Beth was standing behind him and I was in front of him when a huge thunder boom hit. It scared all of us it was so loud. We all jumped. Luckily Dan didn't squish either of us. After about 10 minutes it settled down enough for us to leave but we had to haul home in the rain and lightning. 

But we made it. And he got a nice big dinner and turned out with Flecky. :) 

This picture isn't from today but.. how cute is he?! He looks so sleepy! Or stoned out of his mind. ;) 

Rodeo Riding

Ha! Not really....

We had a lesson today and because of all the rain there was about 5 or 6 of us riding in the indoor, plus about 6 jumps set up, and Jessica was sitting on the rail by the gate but there was a fence there too. So.. it was a bit of a tight squeeze. And Cindy wanted me to work on counter canter serpentines. It was tough! Steering was paramount and it was tricky enough, but then Dan kept swapping on me. And when he swapped Cindy wanted me to do a small circle into the rail to go back to true lead... Which was tough because it always seemed to happen when I was in a tight spot. So... yeah. It got a little crazy.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

XC Lesson with Kelly

I was a Princess today. Ha! Beth had mentioned XC schooling at Chatt Hills today a few weeks ago. So I put it on my calendar and was super excited. And then she cancelled because of the weather. I was so bummed. I thought about going by myself (or dragging Mike as a grounds person) but I know we're so out of practice and I would need help. Beth was teaching at Ashland but... I really wanted someplace different. I know that I can learn things and improve over the jumps at Ashland but I really just wanted a change of pace. (I know... I'm so spoiled... Ashland rocks... I'm so blessed!) So I messaged Kelly to see if she could teach at Cedar Ridge and she said yes! Luckily the weather cooperated and we got in a great school. 

Well, it was a great school but it was tough. It was disconcerting how "Off" we are. Well, I am. I don't know what happened but suddenly I want the deep spot instead of the flyers and now he feels too fast to me. Ugh... To be honest, both of us were a bit chicken today. BUT.... we worked through some things and made big progress. And Danny is a saint! I so love this horse!

So... we started off by him spooking and WAY overjumping the little ditch/stream of swamp water on our way to the XC field. Hee hee. But he did jump it. It took some convincing and it would have been at least one XC stop, but he did it. We did it twice but then headed to our lesson. Kelly had driven ahead and I didn't want to keep her waiting. We started off warming up and reminded Dan that leg means go. Shock and Awe! One of these days I hope to not have to remind him EVERY ride, but.. today was not that day. And that's okay. I need to be more consistent. I've gotten much better at doing it at the start of every ride, but as the ride goes on, I get a little less demanding in how little pressure I want to use to get a response. Which is totally not fair to him. As Kelly said today "that's a C". (Side bar... she mentioned my position was a B, which is good... and I said Nope... no it's not. I told her that I was a straight A student and B's were not acceptable. So... she then said my position was an A minus... really not bad and certainly not affecting Dan in any way but that if I wanted an A plus.....hence the C grade). So anyways, back to shock and awe. I need to taper it too. So... in the beginning, during transitions... shock and awe for sure. But out on course... if he's sluggish between fences, use my whip behind my leg and get a response. Just make sure I have enough time before the fence to resituate. And then, if he's been super but it's the end of the course and he's a little tired... and he doesn't respond, maybe instead of a "smack" I give him more of a cheerleading tap. So... useful information, especially as in an effort to be the straight A student I tend to go overboard... I need to hear that so my brain can focus on that and not be bonkers. 

So anyways, back to the lesson. We worked on my 2 point position. Kelly said that I tend to be a bit ahead of the motion. And I laughed as I was noticing that in a lot of my pictures. I feel like my position isn't bad (especially after reading the Jimmy Wofford article about galloping position and not standing in the stirrups) but that I was ahead of the motion a bit. I tended to hover about the withers rather than above the saddle. Kelly had me look down at my feet during my A minus position (Really, it's a B position but she was being nice). And I couldn't see my toes. They were JUST peeking out from my knee. Then she had me kick my feet a little ahead of me, and push my butt a little behind and that was my A plus position. However, I had to be careful not to let my shoulders drop too much or get sucked into the fetal position. She said this kept me closer to the tack too as I tended to make too big of movements. Then she had me look at my feet again. OH!! I can see almost my arch and all my toes. OHHHhhhhhhh... I didn't realize it was that big of a difference. So... now I have a visual check when I'm riding. 

So we started over the little baby tootsie rolls and worked on my position and making sure Danny was in front of my leg and responding to my leg. He was a good boy and I sort of got it figured out. Kelly said that I needed to get more bend in my ankle (Which is funny because I don't think I've ever heard that... but I get what she's saying). My ankles are bendy but I tend to put the weight on my toes rather than letting it sink into my heels. My ankles are bendy so it LOOKS like I have nicely bent ankles but I'm not actually using them like it's intended. I'm still sitting on my toes. So....she wanted me to sink my weight into my heels and know that my leg will move up and down a bit as my ankle moves as my weight goes into it. Then she said that I was really good at bending at the waist and in the ankle but my knee didn't seem to want to bend as much, so... if I felt like I was getting too "fetal position" or too "jockey style" or hunkered down... to make sure my knees were bending. 

Gracious! That's a lot to think about! So we started a little mini course and of course, I got a little too hunkered in the tack and abandoned Dan but once we got that figured out it got better. We started out okay and then she had us jump what I thought was a fairly substantial training level ramp jump. I hate ramps! She said it was novice height but could be on a training course. We walked up to it and discussed the theory of it. It's basically an oxer. Heck, almost EVERY XC course out there is an oxer or a vertical. Mostly square and ascending oxers though. So therefore, I didn't need to ride it as anything but. That helped. So we came around and the first time over it we nailed it!! Now granted, it felt a little fast and strung out but he jumped it right out of stride and it was lovely! And then... the next two times it was not good. I got too carried away with getting him in front of my leg and taking the flyer that I ran him at it and jumped up his neck a stride early. Luckily he is a saint and kept going over it both times, thus saving my hide. So we regrouped and attempted some other fences and fixed the issue. Basically what it boiled down to was a few things. One, I was being a bit of a chicken. Two, Dan was being a bit of a chicken. He wasn't quite confident jumping out of stride like that. Which is interesting, because both of us used to be much braver. But maybe that's because the fences were smaller. Maybe it's because we both have improved and our canter has improved and we realize we need a better canter. Who knows?! But we both chickened out a bit. Danny was better than me and it was more of a slight hesitation before take off and/or patting the ground rather than stopping. The other issue was that I was running him at it a bit in an effort to get him in front of my leg and totally forgot about balancing him. And I was riding to a spot vs riding the canter. So we tried again and got a much better jump even if it was a bit deeper of a spot. Kelly said it was perfect because the rhythm never changed and he jumped right out of stride. I told her it felt less "frantic" but like we didn't have quite enough impulsion. She said that perhaps yes we could have had more energy, but really, he jumped it out of stride and nicely so be glad with that! So we did a few more little courses, including through the water, and he was good. We worked out some kinks and once I started riding rather than just trying so hard to do exactly as she said.... it got great. Not that what she said wasn't important or worth following, just that I had to do that but also balance the canter and keep my shoulders up and count and etc. I had to RIDE. 

Phew... it was hard work for us both. But in the end, we got some really nice jumps and it built both of our confidences. :) Yay!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Danny turns 7!!!!!

Today Danny turns 7!! Eeeeks..... my little baby boy is growing up!! It's equally exciting and equally sad. I'm so proud of what he's become and how he is doing. And so excited about what is in store. But.... I kind of miss my little baby horse! 

We had a fun day celebrating! Cindy was letting me try the epiphany again so I wanted to do some dressage. It was a good ride although I made it quick. Then we went for a nice long hack :) 

Dressage Drilling and a bareback halter swim ride

Today was a fun day, but... I was a mean mommy. Dan and I did some dressage in the epiphany again. Cindy was litting us try it for a few days. We had a really good ride but we kept getting the wrong canter lead. I'd ask for right, and get Left. I'd ask for Left and get Right. Ugh... I know it's me. It's not him. It's all me. And it's not the saddle, because we were struggling the last few ridest oo. I can't see to get my aids right. And the more I try, the worse it gets. Ugh.... So I drilled Dan on it. Well, I was drilling myself but it meant that he got drilled too. I'd get it twice and be ready to quit and then feel like I needed one more to make sure I had gotten the aids right. Shame on me.... That's so mean to my poor pony. I praised him a lot, but still. 

After our ride he was so hot and sweaty. I mean, it was hot and miserable with the sun just backing down anyways, but the trot to canter sets was tough. He was so sweaty he had butt foam and that had dripped down onto his boots. So... I decided to take him to the lake! But no way was I riding the epiphany down there. So I untacked and decided to even take his bridle off. He was super!

We were chilling and relaxing and then all of a sudden Danny scrambled up out of the lake and was 1/2 second away from bolting! I had the halter on. No bit. There was no way I was going to stop him if he bolted. Luckily it was Clay in the car and once Dan realized what it was, he breathed and was fine. Phew! We had a nice relaxing ride back home. 



Sigh.... I rode in the epiphany again today. And... yep... I loved it. I was able to ride in it for my lesson and I jokingly told Cindy Thaxton that I wanted to NOT like it as I didn't need another saddle. I liked my current saddle. So.. we did our lesson and it was a good one. Afterwards Cindy said that she really loved me in the epiphany at the trot work and didn't have to yell at me to keep my right leg where it belonged! But at the canter, I had to work a bit to get my seat how it needed to be. But she liked me better in it. And sigh.... to not be fighting that right heel..... So nice...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pony Club Show

What a fun day!! Hilltoppers Pony Club always puts on a good show! And they didn't disappoint. It was hotter than heck though. And of course I gave myself a headache. But Danny was super. Especially considering how hard he had to work! 

We did two first level tests. And he was super. We scored a 68 and change in both!! Which still put us in 2nd place I think in both. Taylor and Leah beat us. But I was pleased with my rides. There are definitely things I need to fix though and things to work on. 
First Level Test 2

First Level Test 3

After I finished my 1-3 test, they had asked me to do the Dressage Equitation class so there were more competitors. There was only 2 other adults, so they wanted to make it a bigger class. So I said sure, why not?! It would actually be good for Dan. So I stayed on and we ended up riding in the arena with the juniors too. We spent a good 10 minutes all circling the arena while they figured out some logistics and then they split the class into 3 sections. So we hung out in the shade and waited our turn. And it turns out that there were more than just 2 others in the adult class. I think there was 6 of us total... Me, Jenny, Courtney, Caidy, Logan's mom, and... maybe one other person... So we had to go around the arena together and I kept practically running over Caidy on the halflinger. Hee hee. We walked, trotted, sat the trot, and then cantered. We did trot lengthens across the diagonal one at a time. So we finished and... I won! Ha ha. What?!?! Dressage Equitation?!? Ha ha... Cindy would be so proud. Jenny made me laugh cause she was being all competitive (jokingly) and said it was flashbacks to her and Cazzie and me and Roany. Hee hee. But it was a fun thing to do. 

So then I untacked him and got a quick drink and then we had to hurry up and get tacked back up in our jump gear for the prix caprilli. Only it turns out that we didn't have to rush as much so poor Dan just hung out in the shade with me on him for another 30 minutes or so before our turn. At this point we were both pretty tired and I was brewing a migraine so we did minimal warm up. And then in we went. It was actually not too shabby of a test considering. We survived at least. :) I don't even know how we placed. I know Logan and his momma won. They made it look so smooth and beautiful! We were NOT smooth and beautiful, but we weren't bad. :) It was fun. 
Prix Caprilli

Once I finished I pulled tack off and me and Kelli and Fiona went bareback to the lake to let our super stars cool off and relax. Yay! So much fun. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Icky day

Today was just an icky day. It's hot... so hot. I'm sweaty... tired... cranky... tired of being hot and sweaty... and have a headache that I can't get rid of. Sigh... But.. we had a good ride. We basically just hacked around. I hopped over a few fences just because.... And now I feel better :) 

It still works

Today was a good day. We practiced a little bit of dressage and the right elbow planting thing still works. Yay! It was a good ride, although we didn't do much. We went for a nice hack after and had lots of fun. We made it back to the trailer literally as the rain started! But at least we didn't get poured on during our ride. :)