Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Muy contenta!

Writing this under the worried and watchful eyes of several animals who can’t handle thunderstorms. And this is quite a thunderstorm! I was stupidly turning horses out and I could feel electricity tingling at my fingertips. It was so creepy but at the same time breathtaking. I am now safe inside and praying that the storm passes soon so the ponies don’t get too wet. Thank God for the rain though…after the day we had! It was 103 degrees when I was at the bank today. I waited to ride Pop until 6 pm and I was glad I did. We went for a nice quiet walk and then headed to the field where I usually do my trot sets. Picked up a nice quiet trot….oh wait, that’s actually not nice and quiet, it’s quick and bulging towards home. Tried to correct him with outside leg and rein and he kicked out at me. I figured he was just full of pent up energy from sitting around all day and thought I’d just let him go for a little canter to work off the steam. Riiiiight. Haha. Now I see why he needs more bit on cross-country. Finally he did get tired of it and came back down to a trot and I managed to actually be constructive and have a good ride…this is a huge feat for me because usually I have little sense of direction when I ride. I just go through the motions and don’t really have a thinking ride. This time, I did, and I felt like the session was really productive. He walked home asleep, naturally. I love this horse more and more every time I ride him..he is everything I could ask for. Every ride on him is the best thing in the world and I always get off excited and happy. And now I have something to really work towards…we are going to Millbrook on August 4-7! I renewed my USEA membership today (bye bye money) and realized I’ve been inactive since 2004! So…I’m just a little nervous about competing again but we have a month and change to get ready and I know Charlie will make sure we’re prepared. I feel like dancing! Why am I so blessed???

Also worked with Champ today and got on him and rode for about 10 minutes with no help. He was so obedient and walked/trotted/turned/stopped with no fuss. I’m so proud of him. Today was his first ride since last Wednesday (I’m a slacker) and he didn’t put a foot wrong. He’s gotta be the easiest 2 y/o in the world. And so handsome. I can’t stop smiling…it was just a perfect day.  It was also the first day of summer and I’m so excited to see what the rest of summer has in store. So far it’s been absolutely amazing!

God Bless!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Champeroodle update and POPOPOPOP has a dressage lesson--

I've been skimping on Champ's part of the blog lately and just realized I've missed blogging about his newest big milestone! We have progressed from being roundpenned with me flopping on his back to him actually going forward off leg aids and learning how to turn and stop! All by himself while Hayley watches from outside the round pen. He has grown another inch in the last month and is now bigger than Pop, and with all of the roundpen work he has developed a truly fancy trot with a lot of step. His canter is also immensely more balanced and straight, and he seems more confident with moving out under saddle. I'm so proud of him and love watching him turn into a real horse!

And Pop and I had a super intense flat lesson today that left my legs and arms literally shaking. Nothing like a dressage lesson to make you feel the burn and realize how truly out of shape you really are, and how weak your core is! We worked a lot in the canter today and ended up finding that 15 meter circles with walk/canter/walk transitions are very beneficial for bringing him more up and underneath himself. It's important for me to remember that bringing him up (more or less with a half-halt..the walk/canter is just an extreme halt-halt) does not mean he's allowed to lose the roundness...and his shape should not get too short (especially with his neck)...so I essentially have to keep bringing him up but keeping my elbows soft and asking for the inside bend to keep the roundness and softness, and then put my leg on and make sure my reins don't get too short so his neck doesn't get too short. It was tough but really beneficial and I feel like every ride on this horse improves me SO much. Every ride on him is so much fun and I love every single second. It's also reinforced for me how important it is for me and my horse to be in a program. On my own I would've continued trotting around with him bracing but looking pretty, just happy as a clam, but Charlie caught onto it right away and little by little is chipping away at our comfort zones and truly making us work! He sees things that I don't even have a feel for yet. I'm so grateful for his time and expertise...I'm learning so much!

Here's a super silly video for you...please ignore the fact that frames just skip for no reason. I refuse to use that camera ever again. :D

love and God Bless!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Get Over It (literally!)

I didn’t realize it until yesterday, but there was a reason for my fear of jumping that had never crossed my mind. I had written the fear off as something that develops as you get older, or just being rusty from the track. It never hit me that there might actually be a concrete reason for why I literally contemplated turning my poor long backed, long necked hot dog of a horse into a dressage horse (that would be Aidyn for those who don’t know. He was built the opposite of what any dressage horse should look like, but I had a feeling I’d never be able to jump him without crapping my pants, so dressage horse he would be!)

Well yesterday the light bulb went on. And now that I know the problem, C can go about fixing it.

Pop is amazing. He has such a big heart and I feel so, so safe on him. Yet for some reason cantering over little 2’3” fences yesterday, I felt like I just wanted to go back to shoulder-ins. And I had flashbacks to when I was competing my lifesaver of a gelding, Koter, near the end of his career. Come around the turn, canter canter canter, get two strides out and panic because you have no idea if he’s ACTUALLY going to jump or not. But you pretend he’s going to because you don’t want to get left behind. If he doesn’t, well….nice knowin’ ya.

So Pop canter, canter, canters to this little red wall. And I get two strides out and don’t see a distance. Pop backs off and I throw my body forward praying he still jumps from the very awkward spot I’ve put him into. Then we land in a heap and I shamefacedly look over at C.


Oh. Right. That’s what we’ve been working on on the flat for the past week. And that’s what you work on with every horse you ride and every student you teach. I KNOW THIS.

By the end of the ride we had 2 out of 4 jumps that were smooth, forward, round and pretty (on a little course). The first two were the good fences. The last two were the product of poorly planned turns and fatigue on my part to keep riding him to the fence. But we’ll get there….he was super game despite my indecision and the two good jumps? Perfect. He is so stylish over fences and he seemed so happy. I truthfully couldn’t be happier to be riding him….he’s a dream come true.

I have to keep him up in front of me and forward but NOT fast. The second he starts getting low in his neck or running I need to half-halt and re-establish the shape I want for him to jump successfully. I have to ride forward through the turn and then settle a few strides out. I have to trust him. I have to avoid micromanaging him because he does know what he’s doing.

I’ll keep you updated…he will probably have a flat session tomorrow and I can’t wait. I look forward to riding him every day. He is such a true blessing and joy in my life!

Also quick note: We took four to the Lumber River Starter Horse Trials today and everyone was super. Ardy had two much improved and beautiful tests, including one Prelim test that he’s never done before. Val had one rail in SJ and was super on XC, Flag just did a CT and was the best I’ve seen him, and Cory had a lovely test and jumped the heck out of the stadium course…he actually got oohs and aahs from the sidelines and despite having the last fence down was MUCH improved from last time. Good kids!
God Bless,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Get it Poppin'...

Just had an absolutely amazing flat lesson with C on Poppers. I had been having trouble on my own "unlocking" him and getting him to free up his back, and instead had him bracing against my hands and helplessly trying to soften his jaw without remembering his hind end. After being quite frustrated with myself yesterday, I feel like we had a breakthrough today and now I can't stop smiling! C wanted me to get him really deep while riding him straight and forward (which means keeping his hindquarters from shifting right, and keeping his neck straight and not too short). It took me about 20 minutes of trotting (and several transitions back to walk) before I felt him unlock and soften. It's really like night and day....he suddenly transforms into this amazingly light and balanced pony that I could literally ride all.day.long. We discovered that the right rein is the key right now to getting that extra level of deepness to bring his back up. He responds to the right rein more than the left in both directions...so tracking right we have him bent almost in a shoulder-fore with his hindquarters straight or even slightly to the left if necessary, and tracking left he is bent ever so slightly to the outside. He comes down in his neck, the rhythm staying bouncy and forward but not quick and not "up-and-down" which means he's stuck...so he's traveling beautifully underneath me and is straight and light in my hands. It's kinda like the most magical ride ever. I LOVE THIS HORSE.

And I love taking care of him. He gets his little fly boots during the day and lots of fly spray to keep him from stomping, and before we ride a layer of Tuff Stuff on his feet to seal them. Then after we ride, he gets a good bath (today was Vetrolin/Bigeoil mixed because he worked so hard for me) and then goes on the drying rack for a few minutes, when he'll get a layer of Kopertox to get the moisture from the bath out of his feet. Then his tail gets conditioned and he gets his fly boots back on and gets to chill in his stall with his hay. He seems happy here and although I know he misses his Mom, she comes to visit him all the time :D And he's certainly not lacking in cookies!

I'm also trying not to complain about the heat, but wow is it hot. A little rain wouldn't be a bad thing!

God Bless,

Saturday, June 4, 2011

This must be....POP!

The most fun thing about having a horse named Pop is that he has lots of songs and words that work with his name. :D

As Katie so wonderfully put it, Aidyn sent me a birthday present this year in the form of a 15.3hh chestnut TB gelding. As hard as it was to celebrate my birthday without having Aidyn to celebrate his, I know in my heart he wouldn't have wanted me to mope, or feel guilty, or cry over him. And two days after our birthdays, along came Pop, from the most wonderful and generous and kind person in the world.

You've heard me talk about Lizzie and what an incredible rider she is. I have learned an immeasurable amount from just watching her lessons. She's so much more than just an outstanding equestrian, however...she's kind, generous, giving, humble, and she has given me (by the grace of God) a horse more incredible than I could have EVER hoped for. A horse can teach me the ropes, be patient and kind as I bumble through this eventing thing again...a horse who makes me feel safe and secure, and gives me confidence...and a chestnut with chrome, which as everyone knows, has brought me pretty good luck in the past (yes, Koter, I'm talking about YOU!)

He's been here a couple of days now and I've had a wonderful flat lesson on him. I have so much stuff from Aidyn that has just been gathering dust and it's been so much fun to finally get to use it again! Aidyn's bridle is a tick too big and so is his bit, so I spent a good part of the afternoon tracking down some pony-sized cheekpieces and Lizzie is going to lend us a bit tomorrow. I also bought him a bee-yoo-tiful fly mask that is purple, blue and gold (:D) and some bell boots for turnout. And his very own, low protein feed. It's like Christmas and it's not even for me!

I want to write more but I'm going to leave you with a couple of short video clips of C riding PopPop today. I have a long night of video editing and feed unloading ahead of me and my eyes hurt...still have the True Prospect folks and horses in my heart and prayers. It's been an amazing reminder to me that God giveth and God taketh away...at any moment, with no warning, and usually it seemingly makes NO sense to us at all...but we grieve, we lean on each other and on Him, and our lives continue. The clock doesn't stop ticking. No matter how comfortable we feel in our lives, or how safe we think we are, we have to be eternally grateful for each breath and for each wonderful, blessed moment with the animals we love so, so much.

Hope everyone is having an amazing weekend! I'm about to go try Pop's new fly mask on! Love and God Bless,