Friday, August 19, 2016

Wonder Pony

I am such a bad blogger lately, I keep meaning to blog about how Jetta has been SO good lately. I don't know what has happened, but it's just like I never stopped riding her (much less for an entire year). We have had good ride, after good ride, after good ride. Today just made me so happy because we ran through all the movements in First Level Test 3 and she did them so well. It made me sit back and think of how much I love this horse and the fact that I trained this horse! I know it might not seem like much, to be doing First Level movements, but she has never had a trainer sit on her and has only had a rider other than me a handful of times.

Love having the outdoor to ourselves

Also, let's talk about how tough First Level Test 3 is! I hadn't looked at it this year, but I was thinking of entering a show to do First-2 and 3. Holy smokes there's all sorts of new stuff that I don't remember being in first level, but that's probably because I haven't done it in a while:
  • 10 meter trot circle (not just a half circle either)
  • Leg yield right and then go directly to leg yield left
  • Turn right at B, halt at X, then trot and turn left at E
  • Canter loop
  • Change of lead through the trot
Jetta did it all very well. The 10 meter circle is not an issue at all. The leg yield is a little tough because we have issues getting enough angle to our yield without getting her overbent. The turn and halt at X isn't an issue. The canter loops we've been practicing a long while, though we've never shown it. She does have a tendency to get rushy in the second half but she pulled off a couple perfect ones today, so I was happy. And change of lead through the trot is a little hit or miss. If I get her in a nice fluffy, uphill canter we can have a nice transition, though she still really wants to rush into the trot and if I half halt she protests. And a couple times today she picked up the wrong lead, but I think it's because I'm leaning forward and trying to "help" which really isn't all that helpful. Go figure.

Anyways, it feels completely doable. And I'm just really excited to be riding her again. She knows all of these things and has just been completely on point. Everything I asked her to do, she politely complied - shoulder-in and haunches-in to warm up, transitions within her gaits, etc. Not to mention we did it in the distracting and uneven footing of the outdoor arena!

Seriously the cutest

I really want to start working towards second level because I know it'll be totally doable for her, but it's a little intimidating having never done it before. For Second Level Test 1, not only do we need a collected and medium trot and canter, but also simple changes (lots of them), counter canter, shoulder-in, rein back and 10 meter canter circles. While I know Jetta can do a very nice walk-canter transition, and we've worked a lot on canter-walk transitions, the downward ones still need a lot of cleaning up. Especially since you have to do like 5 of those transitions. Geez. Shoulder-in is fine, rein back is fine, 10 meter canter circle is fine, rein back is fine. She gets a little tense about counter cantering because she thinks it's "wrong" but I'm sure she'll figure it out fast enough. Really, it's the medium gaits that concern me. Jetta has a terrible lengthened trot that we haven't done much work with because she starts to anticipate it, not to mention that we've never even attempted a medium trot. And we'll need to school the transition between medium and collected canter A LOT because she just thinks the medium canter is way too much fun and why would you ever want to collect after that?

So spoiled

Then in Second-2 we need to add in travers and turn on the haunches... I don't think I've ever asked her to do a travers or renvers which is a huge hole that I should not have let happen. Turn on the haunches will be fine. There's also a lot more counter canter, but less simple changes, so that's good I think?

I'm hoping we'll be able to take a couple lessons before school starts so we can get some help ironing out things and make sure we're actually schooling these things correctly. But I'm excited!

Meeting the new barn kitty
The extra exciting part is that we're going to a show tomorrow, so I really hope it goes well! It has been so long since I've shown Jetta. Fingers crossed that it's a good re-introduction for her. We're only doing First 1 and 2, so it should be fairly straight forward. 

Shiny post-bath

Saturday, July 30, 2016


I'm so happy that Jetta is such a good trail horse because I absolutely love being outside and not just in an arena constantly.

So pretty
This week's adventure was to one of my favorites, Willamette Mission State Park. It's definitely a haul, but I think it's worth the occasional trip.

We've had some really great rides (which I'll write up soon!) so it was nice to give Jetta and myself a mental break to go exploring. It was supposed to be a really hot day, but we got there early enough that it wasn't too awful.

There was absolutely no one on the trails. I didn't see a single person walking, biking or riding. It was great!

I was going to do 2 loops of the park (there's one main loop with two different ways to get back to the river) but it was pretty hot so I decided on just one loop, albeit the long way. We went about 7.3 miles in an hour and a half. It was fun!

Model status
The focus was to get Jetta going along on a nice loose rein. If she had a nice trot or canter I wouldn't bother her, but if she got going too strong, then I'd half halt her until she came back to a nice pace. She was really good, we cantered all the way around the big field even with the tractor harvesting. She didn't even spook when the tractor had to change direction by coming onto the trail directly at her! Such a good pony.

I got to test out a new tack item too... I got a PS of Sweden running martingale attachment. I think the snaps are seriously the greatest invention ever, I hate taking apart reins to put them through the rings so I was super excited for them. The attachment is a touch short for my taste, but it provides good control for when Jetta gets a little too strong on the trails. I love them! Personally I like the blue because it's "our color" though I did already have someone tell me it "looked ghetto to have carabiner clips for a martingale"... oh well.

See the new clippies!

And of course the icing on the cake with this trail is at the end, you can ride into the river to cool off!

Apparently Jetta is a hippo and had a lot of fun sticking her nose underwater and blowing bubbles.


Once we got back and I was untacking, a lady and her daughter were checking out the park map by the trailer parking and came over. Her daughter had an apple that she wanted to give Jetta. Jetta took it so carefully, it was adorable.

Overall, I think it was the best part of my week!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jetta Jumps!

I don't know why I love this picture so much, but I really do!

I actually got to jump Jetta for the first time in forever! My friend at the barn who owns Dundee told me that she was going to set up some gymnastics if I wanted to join and I couldn't pass that offer up! I was pretty worried that Jetta would be awful, but I figured we couldn't go wrong with some gymnastics. Of course when I got to the barn it was super busy and in addition to not being able to find my lunge line, all the lunging areas were taken.

Jetta warmed up extremely spooky. Not that I could really blame her though. There was a horse being worked with on opening a gate so the gate was clanging, the horse was dancing around whinnying for it's buddy who was just outside the gate and the owner yelling at the horse. Then there was the horses being brought inside, the little kids running down the aisle... So I couldn't really blame Jetta a whole lot.  

Warming up I just focused on doing a lot of half halts and if she didn't do them, then we'd halt and back up before going back to whatever gait we were in. This helped tremendously. I was worried she would try to refuse the jumps since we haven't jumped in like... a year or two? But she was game. We just needed to work on not rushing the jumps. Originally we started out with two trot poles to two tiny little fences, then just gradually kept bumping things up. 

After halting Jetta a couple times in front of the trot poles I finally got her to listen to my half halts in front of the line of jumps so she didn't rush... but we still had to deal with her rushing after the jumps. 

I feel like I'm learning how to ride all over again almost! Misty was so different - it was all about riding Misty forward, forward, forward where as with Jetta is a balancing act in getting her to not rush and not be on her forehand. 

That hind end though

Finally once Jetta took off bucking after the last fence (once it got raised way up - Jetta was so proud of herself for clearing it) I told MS's roommate who was graciously helping us, to yell at me to sit up before I went over the last jump. That helped immensely. I just kinda want to curl in the fetal position and let Jetta take me over the jumps, but that's not really going to work. I needed to sit up and give her a strong half-halt before that last jump so she wouldn't take off. After going through the line cleanly without taking off, I called it quits. That last jump looked HUGE to me, even though it probably wasn't all that big. I'm hoping it was 3' but now that I look at the videos it really just looks like it was barely 2'9". Oh well. I was proud of the monster pony!

I really need to work on my leg position, I probably should shorten my stirrups a bit to help with that! 

Videos got in a weird order. The 1st and last are of the smaller jump, the 2nd and 3rd are the large jump, with the 2nd video being the one she took off bucking over, and the 3rd is the one she jumped well and we called it quits on.



Friday, July 15, 2016

Trail Ride Extravaganza

It's been a great week for trail rides! On Monday after work, I went on a ride with my vet friend/roommate and her husband. It was really fun and a great way to end the day. I haven't been on a trail ride with another person in a really long time. I really like the solitude and the ability to go my own speed, but on the other hand, a group is really fun!

Jetta was super good and it made me really appreciate her since she hadn't been ridden in 5 days. She loaded perfectly into an unfamiliar trailer (that seriously had a huge step up, at least twice as tall as my trailer!). She stood tied perfectly for getting tacked up and her hoof boots on. She was just great. KP rode her horse Rep and DG rode his mountain bike and we took all three dogs.

Dogs in background
Rep looking handsome
It was super nice to go on the trails with someone who actually knew them really well. I just sort of wander around until I find a trail system I like, then I just always stick with that one. So it was awesome to find a nice loop (albeit with awfully sized gravel, but that's what hoof boots are for!). They've lived in the area for over 15 years and DG does a lot of mountain biking so he even knows all the names for the forest service roads.

Then we had a really super awesome arena ride on Wednesday. I decided that since Jetta's been so good lately, it really is time we step up our game and actually start working on stuff. So we warmed up at the walk with some shoulder-in and leg yields. She was pretty dull to my aids, but still did as I asked, though I did have to get after her a little more than I'm used to. I was expecting some of the same dullness in the trot, but instead she was right on the ball and did everything I asked with just the right amount of aid. I was impressed! Finished up with some shallow canter serpentines and went for a walk in the outdoor. She's looking pretty good right now besides being a bit chunky!

And then yesterday we got to go on another trail ride with a classmate who boards her new horse Dundee at the same barn! He needs to build up some muscles so we tackled the big hill to work on those butt muscles.

Both horses were great, but especially Dundee since he hadn't really ever trail ridden before! The mountain bikers didn't phase either of the horses and they were on their best behavior. Mostly. There were a couple hairy eyeballs at some logs and a couple times Jetta refused to do some silly things - like cross the bridge she's crossed at least a 100 time before - so Dundee bravely went first without batting an eye.

We went for a super long ride, I think around 8 miles? all the way to Dimple Hill which is one of my favorite lookout points. Not bad at all!

Jetta and her other boyfriend Dundee

Friday, July 8, 2016

Teeth Day and Craftiness

Jetta got her teeth done last weekend. The great part of having an awesome vet and being a vet student? I got to do them myself!

I was prepared to feel like a terrible horse mom. It's been three years since her teeth have been done... I felt bad. But, surprisingly her teeth didn't look bad at all. She had some points and a little bit of uneveness to level out, but really her teeth were fine. It was surprising, especially since we did 2 other horses first. The first one, a 9 year old TB, hadn't been done in 2 years and she was definitely due. Her points were starting to cause ulcers on her cheeks and she had a bit of a wave mouth going on. The second horse was a 20 year old WB who was just done last year. His bottom teeth were done growing out and were pretty worn down, plus he had a parrot mouth so he had a large hook on the 106/206 premolar and a corresponding large hook on the lower back molar 411/311.

Jetta was pretty badly behaved though. She took the max amount of drugs and was still bopping her head around, making it difficult for me. This is the second dental that I've done, so I still really feel the need to see what I'm doing instead of just being able to feel it. It's hard to see with my tiny little head lamp when your horse is moving its head every which way!

But I got it done. I did a very nice bit seat too, if I do say so myself. I just need lots of practice, which I think if KP keeps letting me help, by the time I get to 3rd year and actually get to do this at school I'll almost be a pro!

Poor Jetta was so drunk afterwards. I had myself a laugh at her expense.

Zero response while the neighbor horse gallops back and forth

So drunk

She had a few days off for the 4th of July weekend and then I lunged her on Wednesday and rode her on Tuesday. She's still being so good! I'm still blown away. We had a short ride because she was just being awesome, so I think our next arena ride we will have to actually get to work on some real stuff, not just walk-trot-cantering around. I'm excited.

Unfortunately we didn't get into the show this weekend. I'm pretty bummed about it, since Jetta's been so good. But oh well. We'll just go on a trail ride instead.

And lastly, I decided to make Misty a shadow box. I got a 20x20" for a great deal and put my 2 favorite pictures of her (well minus one that I'm going to get printed large), plus most of her ribbons (except a couple blues that I have out displayed elsewhere) and her nameplate from the barn.

I think it turned out pretty well!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trail Dressage Mule

I took Jetta on her first trail ride in a very long time. She's been super good all week, so while I didn't ride yesterday I thought she'd be fine. I was a little worried I should have lunged before I left because she was a little antsy for getting her legs wrapped and hoof boots on but I shouldn't have worried. I have the best trail dressage mule! (I think this should be her new title: large ears + riding dressage + trail rides = trail dressage mule)

Are you done taking pictures yet?
We did my favorite little trail and it was perfect. We were having some boot wardrobe malfunctions plus I want to work on building those butt muscles so I made her walk all the way uphill. Finally got the boots all fixed so when we popped out the other side of the hill to the logging trails, I let her trot for quite a ways and even canter. She was pretty much on her best behavior the entire time! She had to do a nice, dressage quality trot the entire time, which at first she resisted with her best llama impression, but soon settled down into a nice soft trot.

We didn't go all the way to the lookout, which I think is about 7-8 miles round trip because I didn't want to make her too sore, but she was raring to go the entire time. I forgot to turn my tracking app on, but I think we went around 4-5 miles. She then proceeded to speed-walk the entire way back down the hill which I must say is incredibly uncomfortable to ride. 

Best thoroughbred mule beast
At the very end as I was untacking her, this older couple came over and the wife asked to pet Jetta. They were super nice, telling me about the history of the area and talking about how she wished she had a horse at my age. The husband proclaimed that he knew Jetta was a "trail horse, trained to cross bridges and things". As they started to walk away, the husband said "Oh! She's got sandals on!" to which I replied that they were her tennis shoes! They thought that was pretty funny.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Jetta Monster

Be forewarned, I have no interesting media so you get lots of Jetta lunging pictures.

Jetta is back to being the only child, which I'm not sure she's too thrilled with. I have finally gotten back in the saddle with her and it's been strangely... undramatic.

Not enthused

So far only two rides, but she's been strangely good. Lots to work on, and we're aiming to go to a show on July 10th. I'm not sure if that's a good idea or not... but it should be fun. I don't think she'll be ready to go right back to first level, but hopefully training will be doable.

Currently she's getting lunged in side reins before I ride, then I hop on and keep the rides short and simple. The first ride back she was extremely dull to my leg which was so unusual for her.

We did lots of walking and getting her on the bit nicely, trying to get her in front of my leg (unsuccessfully). Finally we trotted and she was just so quiet and good that I even threw a canter in even though I hadn't planned on it.

Is that actually an uphill canter I see??

Ride 2 was done with spurs. Finally got her much more responsive to my leg and we did lots of leg yields, shoulder and haunches-in to get her paying attention. She was really good again, we had one baby spook but otherwise she was quiet again, despite being in raging heat. We even cantered in both directions! Yay for my 10 year old horse actually acting mature.

She needs to get steadier in the bridle, but for the most part she's really steady. Transitions, especially downwards, need work. Her canter is really nice, but the trot needs to get a little more balanced. Overall though, it really shouldn't be too much work.

I'm planning on taking her for a trail ride one day this week, adding in some cavallettis and poles to our rides and working on preparing for a show!