Sunday, June 10, 2018

Our First Novice!!!!

So.. this week was crazyness!! We had a lesson Tuesday with Cindy and tried the epiphany again after my lesson. I also tried the 17.5 inch seat, but I like the 17 inch seat better. So yay! Done deal. Chocolate brown :) Now to wait 3 months and try to sell both of my dressage saddles to help pay for it. :) And honestly, at this point I'm so brain fried that I can't remember much about my lesson. Ugh..

So then Thursday I worked instead of taking the day off since I took the day off Friday to go to Chatt and XC school with Liz and show. 

So... Friday we went to Chatt and XC schooled. Danny was a bit on edge and after having a light week, he needed a run. So once we got out there I let him gallop a hair. I kept him in check and didn't let him go full out because I didn't want to overdo it or have him hurt himself. We still had to school XC and then do a one day the next day. And it was our first novice! So I kept him under wraps but let him gallop. We still clocked at 27 mph. And he was cross cantering/galloping some. And then we schooled. I felt a little bit like I was cheating because I jumped all but the last two novice fences. But you know... it's been 10 months since our last event and we have never done novice at a show and we've only XC schooled at Gibbs, cedar ridge and then ashland, so... I felt like that it was putting money in the bank more than cheating. ;) We had to jump them all individually for the most part because of other people schooling but it was okay. We did one or two training tables for fun. He was good! We jumped the up bank to the table out and as we came up to the novice one, he spooked at the training log stack next to it, so I figured we could just continue up the BN bank and out and then we circled around and jumped the novice one and he was fine. Hee hee. Then they had a nice table with wings on the side (kind of like up in the air wings, so... half a keyhole in a way) and I joked that I kind of wanted to jump that. Turns out, it was on the novice course (shared with training) so... I did. :) I let Dan walk up and see it and then we circled and he jumped right on over it like it was nothing :) Yay!

So then I iced him and wrapped him and walked him some after dinner and went to bed. Saturday was so freakin' hot!!! It was sweltering! And it's only June! So he mostly stayed in his stall with the fans. 
Dressage was good. He warmed up nicely but one of us was hanging on the right rein. Our test went better than warm up I thought! I thought it was quite a nice test. We scored a 32.6 which put us 4th out of 7. Oops. Oh well. 

Stadium was tough.  That was a really hard time for me. The fences looked HUGE compared to what I was expecting although once we started on course, they didn't necessarily look as big. But my eye was off. I kept riding him and then checking and half halting and shutting him down and/or burying him under the big fences. He was getting pissed at me. I thought maybe it was the tight warm up space but even on course I did it. Granted it was a tight course and the jumps came up super quick. I just couldn't get in the groove. I think I managed one decent fence out of all 9. Ugh. Danny was a saint and got us out of all of them with no rails. But he was mad!! He tried to spook at someone hitching their trailer and bolt up the hill to the barn. Sigh... 
But we finished on a great note! We had one warm up fence on XC and then headed out. It was great. He was super and I was able to get my eye to cooperate a bit more. We only had a few funky fences. He was brave and bold and went right in the water! He tried to drift out of the V jump but once I closed my leg, he was like "oh, okay then" and politely went to it. We finished JUST before speed faults and had to zig zag a good bit before the second to last fence but we had fun!! Yahoo!!!!

We finished in 3rd place on our dressage score. :) Yay!
I'm so bummed as my helmet cam didn't cooperate and it should have been recording but there were "SD card issues". Ugh.. Drats.. So the only video I got was one schooling over the V and then my terrible stadium round. Oh well. :) 

But he's now a novice horse :) :) :) 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Jumping Bean!!!

Oh I love this horse!! We had a great lesson today! We got to ride with Jamie and Atlas so we got to be cool and ride with the big kids. ;) 

It was grid day, so we started off over the tidy collected bounce pole, vertical, bounce pole "grid" to start.  From the very beginning Dan was better. Well... let me rephrase. I rode better so Dan was better. :) We got a pretty nice bouncy canter and for the most part, he stayed in front of my leg. So then we headed to the grid. It was a bounce of little verticals to a one stride big oxer then another one stride to another set of bounce little verticals. Beth said the goal was to keep that tidy collected canter through the bounces, then jump the big fence in a slightly more open stride, and then land and let the bounce teach the horses how to collect back up. It should have been pretty tough but both Atlas and Dan rocked through it from the very beginning. :) I mean, it was still fairly tough and we both had to ride hard, but it wasn't as disastrous as I was expecting! 

Going through the Grid

Danny kept himself fairly collected and other than a time or two that we got a funky distance to the first fence (but we fixed it before we finished the line!!!) where he either got a little behind my leg or he asked if she should move up or rock back and I just ignored the question so he had to flounder a little.... he was great! He kind of clocked right through them! It was a blast! Beth kept raising it and that middle oxer got kind of wide and scary looking with the rails up in an X form. But it rode great. 

A little behind the leg over the first bounce, but we fixed it

So what we did work on, since Dan was being so super, was my release today. Beth had me ride with my hands a bit farther up on the reins and that way I could half halt with just a little bit rather than having to make too much movement with my hands and arms. And... while I was afraid at first that it was going to put me too tipped forward and in front of the saddle... It helped my position. I think anyways. It felt like I almost had to push my shoulders away from hands so it helped. Beth said I needed to release more down, not just forward. Like hugging Dan! So we worked on that. It's a lot easier to work on it in a grid rather than over each fence individually. I also worked on my leg position and keeping my feet in front of me a hair. And then Dan was drifting a little bit to the right in the beginning, but by the end, he stopped. Whether I got better about closing my right leg and opening the left rein or he just got straighter because his canter was more correct and he wasn't trying to find more room... I don't know. But he was straight. :) 

So yep... a really fun lesson! Hot though.. holy moly it was hot!  And Dan even got his front feet iced because Jamie had the ice in the boots all ready to go and Beth needed her so.. instead of having it melt before Atlas could get in the boots, she let me use it for Dan. So he got spoiled. He was a good boy too and we managed to even keep the boots upright the entire time and not spill them when he came out of them. :) Yay!

After we got back, the boys got turned out and Mike and I went to the lake for some fun!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Leif Clinic

So.. today we did something different. :) We went to Dana Clarks place for a lesson with Leif Aho. He trained with Mary Wanless and is big into biomechanics. I was excited!

I ended up having the boys in all day yesterday because it was so hot so I turned them out last night. And I knew Danny would be muddy. So he got a bath this morning and then I left him in his stall for a bit while I went to watch the beginning of the clinic. It was neat! I like Leif. I was able to watch all of Nikki's ride, some of Dana's and most of Peri's before I had to go get Dan. Pam was there too but had gotten her truck and trailer stuck. I was paranoid and threatened to park in the church next door and walk over. But I didn't. I took Nikki's spot after she left and stayed on high ground. We've just had SOOOOOO much rain lately. So anyways... I got Dan there and he was a bit alert but not bad, since it was a new place. We had gotten on and were just starting to let him look around when the two truck pulled up. So... props to the kid because he held it together while they wrenched her truck out. They couldn't get her trailer. So I kept walking him around. Dana has 3 sets of mirrors in her arena. Danny was funny. He'd look at himself and then try to peer behind the mirror. Hee hee. Then we started to trot and he was hilarious!! He'd see himself in the mirror and head that way, then catch himself in the corner of his eye in the other mirror and whirl around like "where'd he come from" and then catch the other mirror and turn the other way. Hee hee. He was funny. So then he got himself all worked up and was doing his springs imitation. My post was lasting about 12 seconds each post. Hee hee. Lots of up and down but very little forward. Of course after about 6 laps he got bored and we just went to work. :)

Leif changed a few things, which was tough. Not so much tough in theory.. just tough to change my body memory and tough a little bit because of how my body is built. He had me bring my lower leg back a bit so that my leg was more underneath me and had me drape more thigh on Danny, rather than just calf. He also wanted me to open my knees a little but not pinch with them, but keep my upper thigh on the saddle. Then he wanted me to just rise a bit more in the up part of the trot. Which... was a little tricky because as I rode in the saddle, with my legs a bit more behind me, I was tipping and it wasn't allowing my hips to open as well as they should have. But I tried it. Not sure how successful I was, but we tried.

We also discussed how I allow that right side of his to get longer and longer. So Leif had me picture two things or rebar up the back of my shoulders and two up the front of my shoulders. He said to keep the right hind rebar nice and straight because I was collapsing my right side and allowing those muscles to be weak and thus allowing Dan to just get longer and weaker. And to keep my elbow attached to my side. So basically... the magic bullet Cindy had taught me that I have to keep fighting to maintain and work against body habit. So that helped a bit. He also suggested that I don't overturn my body (hmm..... I am positive Cindy has said that too!) in the turns and instead almost turn a little to the left when turning right and vice versa. Oh, and another helpful image he added was to picture vaulting handles just in front of my saddle and have my pull the right one to the right to get Dan to turn right. It was a helpful analogy.

So anyways... we worked on my alignment a bit, thus getting Danny straighter, and then we went on to the squigglies. The goal of this is to keep Danny's shoulders evenly "fluffed". Or "Stuffed". So.. a stuffed animal should have firm fluffed/stuffed arms on both sides. Dan's shoulders and contact in the bridle should also be evenly stuffed. When he bulges out the right shoulder, he's unstuffing the left shoulder blade and rein. So the squigglies helps keep that stuffing even. So... at the walk, trot, and canter, we would turn right, then turn left, then turn right, then turn left, etc. The goal was to get them to lift their shoulders and turn in the front, and the back would naturally follow. But he had to stay evenly fluffed. And it was a helpful way to think about it and to see the holes. When we turned left, a few times I could feel Danny just tip over that left shoulder rather than lifting it out of the way. So yeah.. Pretty helpful. And at the canter, it was a great tool, because it helped me realize that to improve my counter canter, Danny has to allow me to touch both reins and to keep both sides fluffed. He wants to swap every time I touch the outside rein because I'm throwing him off balance. So... this will help us realize that he can turn R and L within the canter and doesn't have to swap his leads. Leif said that if he does swap, to just get him back into the canter and carry on. No punishment, as it's not a true disobedience.. he was just offering an answer to a question I didn't meant to ask. (Again... Sounds like Cindy). So... yep. It was an interesting ride. I feel like I got some good takeaways. And Danny was good in a new place.

After I walked him out a bit and we were able to open and close Dana's gate. He even closed it with his nose. Hee hee. Then I had him tied to the trailer for a bit and I was bragging on him as Dana and Sherry were impressed he'd stay there. And not 2 minutes later he got all animated and starting dancing at the end of the lead rope. I knew it was coming and sure enough... he pawed it with his foot and broke the haystring and went running around. He let me catch him quickly though and then he got put in the trailer.

Some Trot Work

Canter squigglies

Last batch of canter squigglies